Should I graduate to floor standers or will larger bookshelves suffice?

Hey guys,
I moved into a larger space several years ago, more of an open floor plan, and soon realized that my current speakers, Legacy Studio HD, in a surround array, might be a bit overwhelmed. It’s a weird, asymmetrical space, but it’s also significantly larger than my previous one. So the title of my post says it all…can I still get adequate coverage with bookshelf speakers, or do I now need floor standers? A friend told me to basically “sit closer to the tv” but that isn’t practical.

I thought about the Calibres from Legacy as an option, which is about my price range…up to 7k or so. I also see all these great internet only brands, like Fritz, or Philharmonic, etc, and I hear about their prodigious extension and sound stage, but can these bookshelves fill my room, or any room for that matter?

Let me also add, I have no problem graduating to floor standers, so suggestions are also welcome.

Thanks in advance.


Trying to make bookshelves sound good is a lot like eating vegan.  Apparently there is some good tasting vegan food but it is very hard to find.

If you like the sound of your excellent monitors I’d seriously consider adding a couple good subs to fill in the bottom octaves.  You’ll get down to an honest 20Hz or below, which most floorstanders can’t, and the subs will let you better integrate the bass into your room. A pair of SVS SB2000 Pro subs will cost you as little as $1700, and they offer a totally risk free, 45-day trial including shipping both ways so absolutely no risk to you.  They also include an app that lets you dial in the subs from your listening chair with your phone, which is really nice, and they also offer excellent customer support should you need it.  I’d highly recommend exploring this in your situation, and best of luck.

@carlsbad2 i think a lot of people on here would disagree with that, but I think there definitely are situations where bookshelves are out of the question.

It is really hard to say what is the best general approach you should take, much less specific recommendations.  The larger cabinets of a floorstanding speaker suggests deeper and stronger bass response, but whether that is “better” is hard to hazard a guess.  I once heard a demonstration of two ProAc speakers—one a bookshelf speaker on a stand, the other a more expensive floorstanding speaker—both were good, but I preferred the smaller, cheaper, speaker.

As for subwoofers, I find them to be a bit tricky to properly integrate into a system, and I don’t like having to constantly fiddle with adjustment.  How deep must your bass go to be satisfying?  I think most people will be surprised about what constitutes great sounding bass.  I know a custom builder who makes systems that sell for as much as six figures.  He now uses 18” woofers that are made to his specifications.  They are designed to deliver a wide frequency range and a very fast and clear sound, which means very light cones and restricted excursion.  I hear what is great bass from these gigantic woofers and was surprised to find out that went down only to around 40 hz.

There is a middle ground between floor standers and bookshelf speakers.

Stand mounts they are called.

I own a pair of Reference3A DeCapo I "stand mounters".  Way too big for bookshelves, but half the height of floorstanders.  Surprisingly copious cabinet volume which of course helps the bass.  I think they are 10 or 12" midwoofers.

I tried Proac Floorstanders, they were magnificent but required too much power (this was before Class D and I am a Class A/Tube guy).

The DeCapos are 90/dbw and incredibly musical...

Bookshelves that are well made will thump just as well as many floorstanders. Genelec 8351B or Dynaudio Confidence/Contour lines, or ProAc. And if you really need the low end, which in modern city apartments is seldom missed on speakers like these, you can add subwoofers which add value to floorstanding too. Note that Genelecs are 3-way, as are Dutch & Dutch or Kii Three. 

If you have the space of a gigantic house to house floorstanding , sure. But the notion that you need that format for a "full range" sound is tediously passe. 


Good advice from @soix

Might check in with The Music Room, Ascend Audio or Zu Audio ... especially Ascend.  All have models in budget and have 30 day return policies.

Stand mounts are a good suggestion. Wharfedale, Mission  and others are offering throwback big baffle speakers that are selling at a wild pace…at Mid Fi prices. I love my Wharfedale 85th Anniversary Lintons, stand mounted with good cables and a speaker level output REL T-Series sub.

A very high book shelf will image better ,if you have a very high quality subwoofer then no problem for it’s necessary if not then a bigger floor stander Quality does count !

@ltmandella maybe I’m mis-labeling my speakers as “bookshelves” when they’re really “stand mounts”….I have Legacy’s Studio HD speakers. They’re about the same size as your DeCapos. I actually considered yours before I bought my mine. 
Bass is good, and I have a good subwoofer to compliment it, but I was thinking I needed more coverage in my larger room. Maybe soix is right….just get another sub.

Book shelves in all honesty mid 40hz if you are very lucky 

you need agood power subwoofer or 2 like the Svs SB4000 not ported seamed sub it’s faster and more accurate . That’s for sure  depending on budget.

the 805 B&W a very nice book shelf ,much better stil the MBL 126 stand mount my favorite with matching stands in the $16k range.

Are you using a subwoofer? Room correction? Are you using them all around or just in the front?

Looking at the Stereophile measurements, these don’t seem to be full range speakers at al, but close to the HT definition of a satellite. They are amplifier punishing below 150 Hz, along with a 100 Hz output peak and, while ported, the port adds very little to the overall output.

If you really like the sound quality, and are using some sort of EQ, either vai Roon or room correction, my suggestions would be:

  • Plug the ports (increases dynamic range, reduces distortion at high output, reduces excess output slightly at 100 Hz)
  • Add a subwoofer
  • Hi pass the satellites ~ 80 Hz or higher (improves dynamic range, reduces amplifier strain, improves midrange resolution)
  • Examine your amp to make sure it’s up to driving them
  • Add room treatment to balance the mid/treble energy with the bass energy.
  • EQ the bottom octaves of the Legacys to flatten it and make it more sub-friendly

Bookshelves+stands and floorstanders typically have the same footprint. When a dude's claiming he saved space, he did not ( it was just psychological for the dude). Unless you're stuck with nearfield listening distances (where drivers don't have room to sum) or budget constraints, don't bother with dinky lil bookshelves.

When a manufacturer offers both floorstanders and bookshelves, typically the engineer's maximum time and devotion goes to the floorstander (the bookshelf's the dinky lil afterthought). Always go with the floorstander when possible.

I never got the "logic" of using stand mounts when they take up the same floor space and are inferior to Floorstanders.

I also thought that it makes no sense to go with stand-mounted speakers that take the same floorspace as floor standing speakers.  But, there are many examples of stand mounted speakers that are really good and sound better than many comparably sized and priced floor standing speakers.  One should not automatically make assumptions based on general characteristics.



  • Cost
  • Room / Speaker integration (output levels, bass integration)
  • Subwoofer integration

@secretguy don’t many proponents of stand mounts talk about superior imaging? That’s what I always heard the advantages were, along with cost, etc. 

The conversation takes on a circuitous flavor.  Some just want more bass; not necessarily distinct bass, but more of it, driving.  

Others want to hear the bowing differences between Eddie Gomez and Ray Brown. Yet others want both.  And there is the rub.

Non-ported bookshelf speakers are usually better at the distinct characteristic while struggling with the driving bass delivery.  They usually image better too.

Floorstanders do the volume delivery thing while struggling with the distinct.  They give the boom boom boom.  And, it's tough to make them disappear like bookshelf monitors.

It takes a lot to nail down the perfect storm of both (distinct bass, driving bass) done really well.

I've found attention to detail upstream to delivery just as much as the speaker itself. Proper cabling rectified as much as speaker design, isolation, positioning and room treatment.  It's all a game of step-by-step analysis and improvement in the entire chain.  The weakest link syndrome.  Best of luck on the journey.

Does anyone have opinions about the smaller companies I mentioned, such as Fritz or Philharmonic? I’ve heard nothing but praise for both, but most of that praise was of the paid-for variety, so I’m curious about what they’re saying on the streets. 

In my experience you need at least an 8" woofer for a speaker to play large scale music to my satisfaction.  It's not about deep bass, I think it's dynamics in mid and upper bass.  In a 3 way speaker a 10" woofer is about ideal.  It only matters for orchestra or meaty, loud rock.  If it's small scale acoustic music I think bookshelves and a sub are fine.

I loved my Fritz Carrera BE speakers.  Well made.  I much preferred them over my KEF LS50 metas or Harbeth P3 ESRs.  Reach out to Fritz.  Great guy and he can answer any questions you might have

Fritz are excellent. The sliced cone drivers have an amazing amount of bass and he expertly mates them with top end tweets in relatively small packages

Floor standers are Always better than bookshelf speakers...I've got some great bookshelf spkrs but they don't have the musical impact of a live show like the kick ass floor standers, Period. IMHO


You mentioned your room is an open floor plan and asymmetrical. I’ve lived with such a room for decades. There is a conventional corner behind the right speaker and a more open area with a corner behind the left. With conventional box speakers, the right speaker’s bass is more reinforced by the corner. There are also some imaging problems due to the asymmetry.

I discovered that dipole planar speakers helped to reduce these issues. I had the Magneplanar IIIa and then Apogee Duetta II. I had the latter refurbished a few years ago, and they’re better than ever. If the issues I described above apply to your situation, I recommend you consider planar speakers. They excell at producing a realistic, 3-D soundstage and realistic-sized images. Many often have exemplary tonal reproduction. If you like realistic bass, I would recommend a refurbished set of Apogees. If you listen to less bass-heavy music, then Maggies or electrostatics deserve consideration.

if you really love your current speakers, try a pair of subs...otherwise get floor standers - and maybe subs also...I prefer floor standers, but have friends who in small rooms love the sound of smaller monitors, and yes, they know they take up the same space...

@drmuso thats a good point. I think my room really sucks for acoustics, and it may be a large part of my problem. These speakers sounded a helluva lot better at my old least their weaknesses weren’t so pronounced.

@erik_squires I wish Fritz made floor standers, but he’s obviously more enamored with the virtues of stand mounts.


I'm sure it's not a matter strictly of what he's anamored with.  He's a tiny tiny operation and with his trial at home model this is probably all he can afford.

As I've said elsewhere, I'd hate to try to be a speaker maker today.

I have floor standers and stand mounts, prefer the stand mounts, both the same brand. People like what they like. You will never get it @secretguy

@jacobsdad2000 its funny how I hear that a lot, as well as on this thread. Which is obviously why I asked that question in the first place. Do I just need a better speaker as a stand mount than my current one? I’m willing to spend a good deal more money…maybe that’s  all I need. Or will only floorstanders suffice?

The Legacy Calibres are superb and have the advantage of a great soundstage because they are a hybrid open baffle / dipole speaker, which provides a dispersion similar to Maggies, but with better bass and dynamics.

I’ve got some great speakers (Linkwitz Orions, Magnestand Maggies, Harbeth 40.2’s, Emerald Physics 3.3’s, etc…) - and I like the Calibres because their sound rivals the others, but they are in a much smaller package, which is much easier to move and position.

@bassdude thanks, those definitely are on my radar for candidates. They look perfect, and they should be able to handle my larger room. 

I don't have dog in this hunt.  Mikey at OCD Hi-fi has the Fischer & Fischer (stand mount  speakers) for sale.  He is a dealer and somewhat of the anti establishment audio guy but does have good gear.  I heard these on his site and was impressed with their sound relative to their price so you never know. 

Look into the Philharmonic BMR HT Towers. You’d have to spend close to 3X the money on nearly any other brand to get similar performance. Add a sub for the lowest octave and still save thousands. 

I’m a little older and listen to a couple different genres. Last night was Slayer ,Wilco and Dylan. Today it’s a good version of Carnina Burvana(spelling?). I’ve owned many pairs of floor standers at a top new price point of around $10k. Lots of B&W’s ,floor standers and stand mounts ,Quads ,Revels ,Wilson’s ,Dynaudio ,on and on over the years. I’m not a spec reader or wavelength expert but I know what sounds great and for me I’ve never heard floorstanders that stood up and pleased me for very long. The magic of evolved BBC monitor type speakers is what I like and now own. I have big Harbeths for my streaming and mid sized Harbeths for my turntable. Spendors I hook up every so often. I love them ,I’m keeping them and I know there is a magic to these speakers that appeals to me. And to a lot of others

Klipsch Cornwall IV or Forte IV.  Nothing fills a large space like horns. Aside from a speaker upgrade you get an amplifier upgrade as well since it won't have to work nearly as hard.  The Cornwall and Forte are close in performance, with the Cornwall offering just a bit more of everything, but they tend to dominate a physically and aesthetically which is either a pro or con depending upon your perspective.  

@helomech those speakers really interest me. I’ve read nothing but glowing reviews for them, it’s almost a “too good to be true” situation. I’ve also read from the stand mount fans that the bookshelves are even better because they image unbelievably. The floorstanders appear to have no weaknesses, except for possibly low sensitivity. I’m close to pulling the trigger on them.


Yeah, the BMRs are low sensitivity, but then so are most stand-mount speakers in reality. Despite exaggerated specs that many manufacturers like to claim, it’s rare to encounter a medium size stand-mount speaker with a sensitivity over 86dB. 

I don’t see your amp mentioned in this thread, but if you have at least 150 WPC/4-ohm at your disposal, you should be fine with any of the BMR models.

And though stand-mounts generally image better (often not by much), they nearly always necessitate the need for a subwoofer, especially in a large room. That’s a whole other can of worms. I used to be a fan of stand-mount/subwoofer combos but finally concluded the small benefit in imaging doesn’t outweigh the hassle of sub integration. Seems no matter the speaker/sub combo, they never blend quite perfectly. I couldn’t even get them to blend right when using an active crossover designed specifically for that purpose. 

As for overall sound quality, you’d be hard pressed to find anything around $7K that remotely approaches the Philharmonics. Who else fits >$2K worth of drivers into $4300/pair speakers (HT Towers)? The HT Towers have a relatively slim baffle so they should image pretty well and take up approximately the same footprint as stand-mounts.

I'll second the Legacy Calibre. I have the XD model and I bi amp them with a Rogue Cronus Magnum running the mids/highs and the powerful XD internal amps powering the bass.

They are like a floorstander in a big bookshelf package. The have an 8" woofer with two passive 8" radiators, a 7.5" midwoofer and a large AMT ribbon tweeter. Not many bookshelves can boast of that kind of firepower. The drivers are all substantial, high end components. 

Highly recommended. 

I am with celtic66...the ATC scm 40 is got one of the nicest mid drivers made...well controlled,No ported.Needs power?

Definitely like the Fritz Carreras BE, they’re awesome!  Give Fritz a call, he’s more than happy to speak with you.

As has been mentioned in a few different ways, to get the best performance out of a bookshelf speaker they really need to be on their dedicated stands. A slender floor standing speaker takes the same amount of space. But because the floor stander is optimizing cabinet volume (when properly designed) it has the ability to give greater bass extension. Others have suggested subwoofers to accompany a pair of bookshelf speakers. But now you're getting into the ideal of being able to properly blend the subwoofer with the smaller stand mounted speakers. If you are a careful listener you'll likely find (in most cases) the sonic discontinuities troubling. Why not go for the floor stander within that loudspeaker's series. One of the best slender floor standing speakers you'll ever encounter is the Vivid Audio Kaya K25. The bass is amazing and the sound is coherent, smooth, and 3D.