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Should I "feel" the sound more with floorstanding speakers vs bookshelves?

djwo013

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After reading a lot on this forum, I decided to go try out some revel speakers for a 5.1 home theater setup. I demoed the M105s and F208s as the L/R, paired with multiple centers and a JL audio 12" sub. I listened to various scenes in Interstellar as my test material. The speakers were sitting next to each other, I didn't replace the positioning precisely. I walked into this expecting that I would come out with buying the M105s for my L/R speakers, as my novice knowledge set felt like there shouldn't be a big difference between good bookshelves and floorstanders when paired with a sub. I believed this due to many claims on multiple forums that bookshelves with a sub should be equivalent, and the low frequency capability of floorstanders isn't useful when paired with a sub.

What I found was not a difference in detail between the M105 and the F208, but there was an obvious difference in how my body reacted to the sound. Scenes in Interstellar are quite tense and the F208s caused an obvious tingle in my spine and tension in my chest. My wife was with me and was able to blindly tell which speakers we were listening to based on the same feeling. We figured it must have been due to a volume difference, but I measured with an app on my phone and at the same setting on the AV receiver, the M105s actually were playing a couple DB louder. This feeling made the movie so much more alive and enjoyable, so I don't care about any differences in clarity/detail/etc.

I was actually quite disappointed in this realization due to the massive price difference between them. Is there an objective reason I felt this way? Do the larger woofers on the floorstanders do this somehow? I am new to this and very curious what is going on here.

(btw my wallet was also disappointed in what seemed like a clear increase in dialogue clarity with the C208 center vs the C205, but we didn't test that blind).

Thank you for any input! Glad to be here, I am appreciative of all the information posted here.
 
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HansHolland

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Bigger woofers can go louder and/or deeper, both will give the impression of more "feel". Now it is fasion to build floorstanders when using a big woofer, but also standmounted speakers (I think that the term bookshelves is wrong) can have big woofers.

To your question: no, floorstanders don't have to give you more "feel". But, big woofers can do.

Remember, there are also floorstanders with small woofers.
 

Josq

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Huge difference in the low frequency range. With the f208, you had 2 extra "subwoofers".
 

AnalogSteph

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Huge difference in the low frequency range.
Indeed. There is little difference down to 70 Hz, but the -10 dB point is at ~25 Hz instead of ~50 Hz, with a dropoff shallow enough that fairly little boundary action would make up for it (and speaking of which, the F208's BR port is closer to the floor as well).
 

ppataki

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Bigger woofers can go louder and/or deeper, both will give the impression of more "feel". Now it is fasion to build floorstanders when using a big woofer, but also standmounted speakers (I think that the term bookshelves is wrong) can have big woofers.

To your question: no, floorstanders don't have to give you more "feel". But, big woofers can do.

Remember, there are also floorstanders with small woofers.

Totally agree
The feeling of being there is connected to how much air is being moved in the room
The volume of air being moved depends on the total surface area of your speaker drivers + the excursion they have
Total surface area * excursion in one direction = Volume of air being moved

Usually the bigger the better!
 

Jim Taylor

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.... my novice knowledge set felt like there shouldn't be a big difference between good bookshelves and floorstanders when paired with a sub. I believed this due to many claims on multiple forums that bookshelves with a sub should be equivalent, and the low frequency capability of floorstanders isn't useful when paired with a sub.

Bookshelf speakers have midwoofer designs that necessarily make compromises between extension, SPL capability and treble smoothness. Those physical characteristics remain there, whether you cross over to a sub or not. The limitations may not be all that obvious with music, but the bombastic soundtracks in cinema productions can make them really obvious. The design of multiple-driver floorstanders involves fewer compromises.


Jim
 
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djwo013

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Thanks for the input everyone.

The feeling of being there is connected to how much air is being moved in the room
So a larger woofer will move more air while still producing the same frequency and dB level as a smaller woofer? I don't quite understand the physics of it, and my intuition would say that more air moving would produce a different frequency or volume, but again I am a novice here.

Indeed. There is little difference down to 70 Hz, but the -10 dB point is at ~25 Hz instead of ~50 Hz, with a dropoff shallow enough that fairly little boundary action would make up for it (and speaking of which, the F208's BR port is closer to the floor as well).
So even though the sub was set to crossover at 80Hz, this is still relevant because the other speakers don't entirely stop doing work below 80Hz and get mixed with the sub's output?
 

mj30250

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There are several factors to consider, one of them likely being that a single 12" sub may not be sufficient to overcome the advantages of the 4x 8" drivers in the pair of F208s, particularly in terms of upper bass, which is where a lot of that "chest thump" comes from. Room configuration / setup also plays a large role. The sub could (inadvertently) have been placed in a bass null, where the F208s might have had the advantage of boundary gain, etc. Short of knowing the specifics of the listening room and how the electronics were configured, we can only speculate.

But yes, all else being equal, larger drivers move more air. You can get there via large floorstanders, or large(ish) subs, or both. Your room layout, flexibility, and budget will determine which path is the best / easiest.
 

fieldcar

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A big thing that I've noticed comparing between my JBL 590's and 530's is that the 590's are a TON more efficient on my X3700H. This means that I can't get the 530's to play anywhere near as loud. Combine that with limited woofer excursion/displacement, and you just don't have a good experience for movies. The crossover being fixed at 80Hz doesn't help the smaller speaker for sure, but raising it makes the subs localize-able, so you kind of ruin a dual purpose setup for music.

Why don't you consider the JBL 580/590?

review of the 590 with measurements:

1664296480395.png
 

ryanosaur

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Agree with most here... the larger cabinets and larger drivers will allow for greater dynamics, possible increased efficiency, somewhat lower extension, and depending on design possibly greater TR.

I think it gets tricky in some instances when you try to compare capabilities, say, of 2 or 4 8" drivers to a 12" Sub in that the 8" drivers may not have the excursion capability or power handling to compare to what some Sub Drivers can do.
I get that its fashionable to go with bigger and bigger Subs in some circles. Hell, I'm working on 3 dual 15" Subs myself to replace 2 13.5" Subs. But just comparing Driver Sd doesn't tell the whole story.

Anyway, the moral of the story comes back to looking at things from the most level field and keeping the compare and contrast respectable. :) Comparing JBL 530 to 590 is no competition. 570 to 590 puts things on a more even field. :D But from an argument about Stand Mount vs Tower, it is a clear decision almost every time in that rare is the Stand Mount that can hang with a well designed Tower.
 

Sancus

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. I believed this due to many claims on multiple forums that bookshelves with a sub should be equivalent, and the low frequency capability of floorstanders isn't useful when paired with a sub.
It's not about floorstanders vs bookshelves, but woofer output. Subwoofers only help in the range they're playing. There is still a LOT of power needed for the mid-bass, especially if you are watching something with over the top bass and SPL like most of Nolan's stuff.

Also, most sub integrations are poor, IMO. To perform a comparison like this you need 2+ subs integrated perfectly and both setups need to be room corrected properly with extensive measurements. Without this, there are too many other factors.
 

test1223

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One important point which wasn't mentioned yet is the more directional bass due to the larger and more bass drivers in a typical floor standing speaker.
The directional bass and even mids at some level hits you harder because of the directional vibration of your body from the front. While the same spl at your ear in a diffuse sound field causes less vibrations of the front but about the same vibrations from all sides. It is less focused at one surface and therefore perceived as less "power".

The other important aspects is low non linear distortion which less you choose a higher volume since it doesn't sound as loud as the same spl with more distortion.

Also the lack of power compression can add a bit of harder hit.
 
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Peluvius

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I don't think your testing was definitive. Perhaps a good indication of how critical it is to integrate subs with monitors and how great Revel floor standers are....

I have heard great floor standers sound very similar to great bookshelves if the sub/s have been properly integrated and placed. With the quality of speakers you are talking about I think it is more likely to be a setup and integration issue. How big was the room?

It isn't easy to properly integrate subs which is why there is special software and tutorials all over the place on how to do it (not all accurate unfortunately). Many of the HiFi shops I used to frequent did not properly appreciate this either (or didn't really care)....

My own experience is that I "feel" sound below 150Hz, I have no idea if this is scientifically accurate but those are the frequencies that make the difference to that type of tactile experience in my HT system and most of that is produced by a sub (or GIANT floorstanders).

Of course all that in itself might cause you to lean towards floorstanders, can be less hassle to integrate bass....:) but you still need a sub anyway.
 
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djwo013

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I don't think your testing was definitive. Perhaps a good indication of how critical it is to integrate subs with monitors and how great Revel floor standers are....
Yes, I agree this isn't the most scientific, although I do feel like I was biased against liking the more expensive speakers more :)

I have heard great floor standers sound very similar to great bookshelves if the sub/s have been properly integrated and placed. With the quality of speakers you are talking about I think it is more likely to be a setup and integration issue. How big was the room?
I would guess the room was about 17'x17'. So you think it is possible with the M105s and dual subs configured correctly that I could get a similar experience to the floorstanders? That would still be cheaper since upgrading to the floorstanders is an additional $3000. Unsure how much I can play with the dealer's configuration/what my abilities are though, so it is tough to go off of this and purchase without experiencing it directly. I suppose I will still have a lot of usable speakers and could always add the floorstanders if I was still disappointed, but there is just a really good Revel Performa3 sale going on right now.

It's not about floorstanders vs bookshelves, but woofer output. Subwoofers only help in the range they're playing. There is still a LOT of power needed for the mid-bass
What frequency range do you define as mid-bass? Doing a quick google search doesn't seem to come back with consistent results. Assuming you mean over 80hz, the M105s measurements seem great at that point, similar to the F208s, so what is the difference there? Or by power do you mean that to get the "feel" I am describing you need larger woofers producing those frequencies?

Thanks again everyone.
 

Sancus

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Assuming you mean over 80hz, the M105s measurements seem great at that point, similar to the F208s, so what is the difference there?
I mean 80-250hz or so, it's not strictly defined. The measurements show a very stark difference(as you would expect with a tiny 5" midwoofer vs 2 dedicated 8" woofers). Amir doesn't really try to measure maximum output or compression, but distortion shows far higher in that region on the M105(65-75dB) vs the F208(below 50db). At 0dB volume with most HT content, peaks can be as high as 105dB in the non-LFE channels *with a flat room curve*. The M105 is going to have problems reproducing those levels even in a very small room. And most people dial in some amount of bass increase over flat, which makes this even more challenging.

Also, without configuration details, it likely wasn't an apples to apples comparison. The fact that it was not level matched based on your phone app is cause for serious concern. If the volume levels were set the same, that means the two setups were not even properly room calibrated. And It doesn't necessarily mean the M105s were advantaged, if they were being pushed too hard and compressing at low frequencies, that could make the sound seem anemic even if it was louder.
 

chych7

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Remember folks, a microphone measures sound pressure, it does not measure tactile response. So, conventional SPL responses are not going to explain this. Tactile response is more related to sound intensity, which can increase with things like ports. This is why a ported sub typically has more tactile response than a sealed, for the same SPL.

So, probably the F208's lower port tune is creating higher sound intensity around the port tune frequency, which induces tactile response/mechanical vibration to things that respond at those lower frequencies.

After I realized this, I added a near-field ported mid-bass subwoofer to my system to complement my sealed subs. My SPL vs. frequency response didn't change much (after miniDSP/MSO integration), but I have a ton of TR now that I didn't have before.
 
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Peluvius

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I would guess the room was about 17'x17'. So you think it is possible with the M105s and dual subs configured correctly that I could get a similar experience to the floorstanders? That would still be cheaper since upgrading to the floorstanders is an additional $3000. Unsure how much I can play with the dealer's configuration/what my abilities are though, so it is tough to go off of this and purchase without experiencing it directly. I suppose I will still have a lot of usable speakers and could always add the floorstanders if I was still disappointed, but there is just a really good Revel Performa3 sale going on right now.

The impact of the room and the calibration of subs is so critical to your experience I would try to get something to try in the room you will be using them in. I just read that the two setups may not have been level matched which is also a critical aspect of any comparisons.

My experience has been that you will be able to create a system with bookshelves and subs which is every bit as visceral as floorstander options but also remember i am just some guy on the internet and you are the one that will need to live with the speakers ;)
 
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kongwee

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The difference between air vibration. Anytime with more woofers.
 
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