10 Best Floorstanding Speakers | March 2017
- accurate sound reproduction
- bass never gets muddied
- have to buy each one separately
- made with non-resonant enclosures
- simple but sturdy design
- mids can sound muddy
- known for extra deep bass
- great for rap or heavy rock music
- sound better after a break-in period
- dynamic high-end frequencies
- paired 5-way binding posts
- attractive copper colored cones
- stylish addition to any room
- enough low-end to use without a sub
- gold-plated connection terminals
- eight element internal crossover
- no distortion at high volume levels
- impressive bass reproduction
- cabinet has smooth rounded edges
- rear-firing bass port
- can handle 200w of power
Floored By The Sound
It was only a matter of time before people began to question the American aesthetic paradigm that directly correlates size with quality. In other words, "bigger is better" no longer holds sway over the land. Nowhere is this more evident than in those hallowed halls of IKEA, the hugely popular Swedish furniture outlet.
In their recent floor plans, IKEA has touted the improbable ergonomic wonder of squeezing a family of four into a 600-square-foot living space. Most Americans couldn't imagine occupying less than 500 square feet on their own, let alone with a spouse and two kids. The privacy issues alone are enough to have you burning down your tiny home and reverting to camping for the sense of space.
Whatever your living arrangement, the odds are that you value the space you have, and you want to make the most of it. If you also value your audio quality, you may find yourself at an impasse. One the one hand, you want to fill your room with delicious sounds, with the booming bass of a quality sub-woofer, with the chirping highs and clear, grounded mids of an array of bookshelf and satellite speakers. On the other hand, you don't have the space to shove all that hardware.
Fortunately, these floorstanding speakers make brilliant use of the most underutilized aspect of our homes: vertical space. Think about it; most of your furniture, from the bed and the couch, to the TV stands and tables, all cut off at about the waist, leaving you a ton of cubic feet to fill.
Floorstanding speakers take the depth of the sub-woofer, the punch of the more standard mid-range speakers, and the twinkling highs of the tweeters, and they stack them all up, one on top of the other. The woofer lives on the floor, where it can reverberate through the floor; the mains live in the middle, where they pump the most info through the room; and the tweeters live up top, popping out your highs as high as they can go, creating a totem pole of total audio.
Tiny Hands, Big Problems
I could never figure out why speakers came with grilles. On an aesthetic level, I always thought speakers looked better when you could see all of their workings, when the beautiful design of the silken domes was on full display. It also seemed silly to put anything between you and the audio reproduction that the speaker's engineers worked so hard to establish.
Then, I paid a visit to a friend with kids. I should note here that I don't have any children, so the following scenario never crossed my mind. My friend had purchased a very nice sound system as a house-warming present to himself. In addition to a few bookshelf speakers to create surround effects, the system had two lovely floorstanding speakers that lives on either side of his television.
I noticed that he kept his grille covers on the floorstanding speakers, but that he took them off of the bookshelf speakers, which were placed higher up in the room on ledges and bookshelves, so I asked him about it. Then, he removed the grill of the left floorstanding speaker and showed me where his curious little kid had punctured one of the speakers with his finger. He had left the covers off of the other speakers because his kid couldn't reach them.
There are plenty of variables to consider when purchasing floorstanding speakers. The number of included drivers is one important measure, and the fewer additional speakers you have set up in your space, the more you want built into your floorstanders. There's also size and color to take into account, to make sure that whichever speakers you end up with look comfortable wherever you place them. Whichever you do choose, make sure you keep those grill covers handy, even if you don't have kids around at the moment. I hear they can sneak up on you.
Audio amplification of any kind reaches way back to ancient Greece, where actors performing in amphitheaters wore masks that had little megaphones built into their mouths. These allowed the actors' voices to carry through the theater and all the way to the back row, thanks to the most rudimentary application of amplification.
It would be a very long time before that amplification design met with anything electronic, but the invention of the audio recording and its attendant phonograph started a revolution in human expression that continues to evolve (some might argue devolve) to this day. That was Thomas Edison, back in 1877, who wrapped metal cylinders in tinfoil and translated incoming sound onto grooves carved by a metal stylus. The same device could read those grooves and play back the vibrations.
Vinyl records work on much the same principal, and if you want to experience something a little crazy, disconnect a record player from any speaker system, put a record on and bring your ear up to the needle as it makes its way along the grooves. You'll hear the music playing in the vibrations of the needle head.
Of course, when you translate those vibrations into a voltage–and in the digital age, into zeroes and ones–you can send them through the wires wrapped beautifully around a speaker magnet and reproduce sounds with a clarity and accuracy that Edison himself may not have imagined.