For serious audiophiles out there, who are building your own at-home surround sound speaker system, you want to do it right by choosing the best quality equipment you can. That means choosing the best floor standing speakers to deliver an amazing sound experience. There are two main types of speakers to complete your system: bookshelf or floor-standing, also known as a tower.

In this article, we’ll compare these two speaker types. How do they stack up against each other in terms of size, design, inner components, and price?

Speaker Size

There are marked differences between the two speaker sizes of bookshelf or floor-standing, with the latter being the larger. It might surprise you to learn that a bookshelf speaker on a stand is often the same size as one of the slim-line floor-standing speakers. Bookshelf speakers are not designed to go on the floor, so you would damage one if it fell.

Another factor to consider is room size and shape. As any auditorium designer could tell you, a room’s shape determines its acoustics. A pair of smaller bookshelf speakers might suffice in a room that’s less than 300 square feet, which makes them perfect for a bedroom, dorm, small apartment, or den. While a room that’s larger, like a great room, converted basement, or ballroom would need floor-standing speakers and a more advanced audio setup.

If the room is a larger size, tower speakers work better with the greater volume, increased bass, and not require a subwoofer.

Let’s say you want to include a subwoofer in your entire sound system setup. You’d then have to make a provision for the added space. That increases the overall speaker size requirements.

Speaker Inner Components

A speaker’s inner components directly influence and determine its sound quality. Basically, when you want to immerse yourself directly in the sound, a speaker is only as good as the parts it’s made from. Let’s look at these components in detail.


For many of you out there choosing between bookshelf and floor-standing speakers, the bass is probably the number one deciding factor. It’s certainly become one of the most popular aspects of speaker design, too. It’s especially tricky to get the bass right in a speaker, although it is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of speaker quality.

Bookshelf speakers can be supplemented with subwoofers to handle a thumping bass, which is the preferred setup for these smaller speakers. These smaller speakers do have bass, it’s just not as powerful. If you’d prefer not to purchase subwoofers, then you’d choose a tower speaker that would handle the bass.

More air moves through the drivers of floor-standing speakers, plus they have more woofer drivers. You’ll get a deeper, low-frequency bass. When it comes down to it, your personal sound preferences determine which setup is best for you.


When you have a subwoofer, that makes all the difference in sound, no matter whether you have bookshelf or floor-standing speakers. It also levels the playing field for bookshelf speakers to compete with towers, since the subwoofer handles the low-end frequencies and bass. Subwoofers are integral to in-home theater setups, which include an LFE (low-frequency effects) channel in the surround sound mix.

Like Atlas with the world on his shoulders, the subwoofer supports the low-frequency sounds.

Develop and add depth to your entire bass spectrum by including a subwoofer. Of course, it will also take the bass experience from a floor-standing tower to a much fuller sound. Incidentally, woofers are the drivers that produce these lowest frequency sounds. The better the driver, the better the sound.


While the bass gets all the attention, it also helps to pay attention to the tweeter drivers that produce the higher pitched sounds along the treble. They emit sounds at higher frequencies between 2,000 and up to 30,000 Hz. There are several types of tweeters found in speakers, including horn, cone, dome, and planar-magnetic tweeters.

They’re made of different materials and provide a different level of detail within the sound spectrum. The horn tweeters are probably the most numerous because they can also support the midrange sound spectrum.


Sound volume, measured in Hz, is also called output and loudness. Both bookshelf and tower speakers convert watts into decibels. Within your sound setup, you probably have an amplifier. A higher quality speaker has more sensitive components that don’t need as much amplifier power to play at higher decibels.

This is where bookshelf speakers don’t measure up to floor-standing since the latter is built for higher volumes due to increased sensitivity. Want to crank up the volume on your guitar, stereo, or during the latest blockbuster? You’ll choose the floor-standing speaker.

Speaker Price

Obviously, whichever speaker you choose will depend a lot on your personal budget. Due to the expensive quality of their inner components, speakers can range anywhere from under $100 to in the tens of thousands. What drives up the price? As with other audiophile equipment like headphones, it comes down to the specific design. The drivers are of a better quality, too.

Tower or floor-standing speakers are typically more expensive than bookshelf speakers, but you can fill a bigger space and, in general, they’re designed for the highest sound quality available.

What you can do, is compare the exact components of both bookshelf and floor-standing speakers. That way, you can purchase a less-expensive speaker that has the same components. You might find that the bookshelf speakers do the job just as well as floor-standing speakers, given other factors like room size and shape. Of course, many speaker buyers will need to get stands, too, so that’s an additional cost factor.

In Summary

So, after looking at this in-depth comparison between bookshelf and floor-standing speakers, it really comes down to your preference. Remember, that just because they’re called bookshelf speakers doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be the best on a bookshelf. Get the speakers that will give you the best sound for the money – and you’ll be happy you did!

What speaker size are you currently looking at? Sound off in the comments below.