When it comes to renovating your home, you will find that few areas of the house will eat up as much money as your home theater. After all, there is a lot of audio-visual equipment that you’ll need to buy fully setup a proper home theater.
You wouldn’t want to settle when it comes to your entertainment. Would you?
That being said, it is essential to know what every device does when you are setting up your home theater, and certain products are made specially for these setups. One of the most recognizable parts of a home theater is a set of floor standing speakers, but there is more that goes into them.
We will be taking a look at floor standing speakers at length, but before we dig in, we should make sure that all of our readers are on the same page by going over speakers. What exactly is a speaker? While we understand that this question may sound foolish, it has a little more depth upon closer examination.
While we understand what speakers are and what they do, most of us don’t understand exactly how these devices work. How do you plug something in and then it makes noises? That is what we will be looking at in the coming section.
You may be tempted to skip ahead to floor standing speakers and why they are unique, but unless you are an acoustic engineer, you may just learn something new in the next part.
Let’s get right into it.
What Are Speakers?
By the most common definition, a loudspeaker is an electronic device that can convert electrical audio waves to sound waves. If you want to put it into more technical terms, a speaker is an electroacoustic transducer, which translates right back into our definition when you take out all the scientific jargon.
Many different methods can be used to achieve this transduction. The most common type of speaker that you will come across and the one that is used today is the dynamic variety. Magnetic induction essentially pushes a diaphragm back and forth which causes vibrations in the air.
It is difficult to understand how a speaker works if you don’t know what exactly a noise is. A sound is a wave of vibrations that are propagated through the air. that can be compressed in different forms to reach different notes we hear sounds because they cause a resonance in the fluid and bones of our eardrums, which is then converted to neural impulses.
Obviously, a loudspeaker would be unable to function if it could not create vibrations in the air, so the whole point of one of them is to convert electricity into these waves. As we mentioned earlier, there are a few different ways that this can be accomplished, but the most common method is the dynamic one.
When a dynamic speaker functions, a current that contains an audio signal is run through a coil that is surrounded by a permanent magnet. Once this coil moves due to induction, it is connected to a diaphragm through one of several different methods, and that diaphragm produces vibrations to the tune of the signal.
Of course, there are only so many sounds that can be created with a particular diaphragm before the shape needs to be altered to achieve different acoustic properties. This is where the differences between drivers come into play, and we will address that later on in this article.
The more power that is fed into a speaker, the louder it will go, but there is an upper limit to the volume that speakers can achieve due to diminishing returns as the wattage is increased. More energy is lost as the speakers function, which makes it more difficult to get higher decibels.
There is also the issue that you can only make a speaker so resilient before it begins to tear itself apart from the inside out due to the extreme vibrations that it has to undergo to create loud enough noises. As you can see, speakers are relatively complicated pieces of equipment that are not so widely understood.
While this may come as something of a surprise, the first loudspeakers that were ever invented were the ones that were used for telephones, and this makes sense when you think about it. Up until the 1860s and 1870s, there never was a use for an electric loudspeaker.
Once Alexander Graham Bell came up with his ingenious device, other inventors began looking into ways to increase the size of speakers so that they could be used in other applications. The first speakers that were used on telephones were only capable of reproducing a short range of sounds, however.
While the dynamic speaker was first thought up near the end of the 19th century, it took until around 1920 for them to become reasonably efficient. Since the 1920s, the design of dynamic speakers has improved drastically.
From the 20s until the 50s, dynamic speakers were primarily implemented as fixed attractions at stores, fairgrounds, and other public areas, as they were too bulky and costly for most to buy. By the time the 1950s rolled around, televisions had begun to pop up in houses around the country.
Once TV was a staple in every household, the dynamic speaker would follow along. The TV was a bit of a catalyst for the further development of speakers, though relatively simple dynamic speakers had been available for phonographs and record players for some time before.
While music players rarely made use of more advanced dynamic speakers, they were relatively necessary for televisions. The smaller size of newer speakers made them more suitable for use in TVs, where the space was relatively limited for the bulkier speakers of previous years.
After the 50s, speaker development reached a bit of a peak around the 1980s, where the designs reached their (nearly comical) crescendo in terms of power. Since this point, speakers have been further refined, but these changes have primarily consisted of many small refinements as opposed to anything massive.
Of course, the most significant change to speakers over the past few decades has been in terms of size and connectivity. Instead of needing cables, we can now connect to our speakers through Bluetooth, wifi, and a host of other wireless methods that make it easier than ever to enjoy our music.
There are several different types of speakers, especially ones that you would use for a home theater or other home applications. Keep in mind that this will by no means be an exhaustive list of all of the different speaker types that you will come across, merely the best ones to use in your home.
Over the course of this section, we will be taking a look at a little bit about each of these speaker types, and then we will be looking at their pros and cons. You will find that floor standing speakers will be put in focus due to the nature of this article, but the other overviews will be sufficiently in-depth.
This is the most common speaker set that you will find used for computers and sometimes TV and game system combos, depending on the size of the setup. Satellite/subwoofer combos are so named because they consist of a group of satellite speakers that are all connected to a subwoofer for power.
The satellite speakers will often feature mid-range drivers coupled with tweeters to provide all of the needed highs and mids, and the subwoofer will create all of the bass notes. This type of system offers a decent range of sound while maintaining a relatively small footprint, which is ideal for desks.
Most satellite and subwoofer combinations will feature either two or four satellite speakers, but this number can range up to eight or even twelve, in extreme cases. Satellite speakers can feature different audio channels that determine where each satellite should be positioned relative to the listener.
These speakers may not be loud, but they are much more convenient than many other speaker varieties due to their layout. When you couple the convenience of these speakers with their relatively low price point, you will find few options that can even hope to compete with them.
|Low cost||Relatively low volume|
|Ease of access||Less specialized than other setup types|
|Decent sound range|
Floor Standing Speakers
As you may have guessed by the name, floor standing speakers are a type of speaker that is meant to be placed on the floor. To achieve a good soundstage, you will find that floor standing speakers usually need to be about as tall as a person or often slightly shorter, so they take up quite a bit of room.
Since floor standing speakers tend to be larger than other speaker types, they will often be more expensive and feature a more complicated design. You may have to find these speakers at a specialized audio store, or you may even have to search for them online to ensure that you find the ones you need.
Floor standing speakers are often used in home theater setups since they are about the same height as a reasonably large TV on top of a stand. Since these speakers can be placed next to your home theater without the need for installation, you can avoid costly fees for them to be set up in the first place.
While floor standing speakers will typically feature a decent range thanks to their implementation of several different driver types, you may have to deal with some muddled sounds. There is most often an issue with the mids or the lows of floor standing speakers, as the highs tend to be quite clear.
Apart from the availability, floor standing speakers tend to be praised for their versatility as they can be ideal for many different forms of entertainment. For example, floor standing speakers are suited for use while listening to music, watching movies or TV, playing video games, and much more.
|Decent range and volume||Not ideal for computer setups|
|Relatively small footprint||Can be heavy|
|Ideal for use in a home theater||Takes up floor space|
|Cheaper than professional setups|
|Requires little installation and assembly|
Bookshelf speakers are a little more outdated when you compare them to the other speaker types that we have looked at so far. You will find that these speakers tend to be smaller than different varieties, though they are larger than the satellite speakers that we took a look at earlier on.
While these speakers are not obsolete, their design represents a bygone era when most home speakers were too large to be conveniently positioned in most areas around the home. When bookshelf speakers were introduced, it was something of a novelty to be able to place them on a raised surface (like a bookshelf).
These speakers are meant to be placed on a raised surface because it allows them to project the music (or anything else) at the perfect height to be heard without distortion. If you position bookshelf speakers on the ground, you may find that their sound profile is compromised.
Since the bookshelf design for speakers is so dated, you will typically only find them sold in speaker sets where they provide a complimentary sound to other speaker types. There is nothing that is particularly bad about these speakers, but they are less versatile than would be ideal.
The recommended uses for bookshelf speakers are either as part of a home theater setup or as a home stereo. If you have a room that is exclusively dedicated to listening to music, you may want some bookshelf speakers to augment a set of loudspeakers that is already present.
|Compact and easy to position||Design is a little obsolete|
|Relatively affordable||Relatively narrow sound range|
|Low power draw|
|Works with many sound system types|
A speaker driver is just a fancy way of saying the speaker itself. While a speaker consists of its drivers, you will find that a single one can contain multiple drivers. So why would a speaker need to include various smaller speakers? We have already touched on this subject, but let’s go a little deeper.
What is the point of all of those drivers on a speaker? As we mentioned before, each of those drivers is assigned a particular sound range, which allows for a much more accurate representation of a song or sound effect. More fidelity in your sound makes for a more enjoyable listening experience.
The first speakers all consisted of a single massive driver that was optimized for mid to low range sounds. Over time, these larger drivers evolved into what is presently known as the woofer. We won’t get into the specifics of every driver type, as that will be addressed in the coming section.
Each driver consists of a coil, which the current runs through, a static magnet, a diaphragm, and a “spider,” which holds everything in a sturdy, moving cradle. Since drivers contain all of the individual components that make a speaker operate, they are the most integral parts of loudspeakers.
The tweeter is the part of the speaker that is responsible for the reproduction of high sounds, so these will produce noises that are more shrill than other drivers. Since tweeters have to produce high-frequency sounds, they are often the smallest parts of a speaker, though they are still powerful in their own right.
Woofers are meant to reproduce low sounds, though they are not the same thing as subwoofers. These drivers can create low tones that are closer to the midrange and feature a less resounding noise than other drivers that are focused on lows.
This form of woofer is more suited to the recreation of the lowest sounds. If you are going to be listening to music that is heavy in bass, you will want a subwoofer that is powerful enough to recreate the sounds with some degree of fidelity; there are few options like a subwoofer.
The last type of driver that we will be going over is the full-range variety which is suited to playing all sorts of different sounds frequencies. Since these drivers are not optimized for any single type of sound, you will find that they are perfect for users who need a sound system that is as versatile as possible.
Keep in mind that more versatile speakers will have to give up their specialization to be useful in a wide range of situations. If you need your speakers to excel in one specific range, you will find that full-range speakers are not the best option that you can choose.
How Do Speakers Work?
We already addressed how speakers work earlier on, but in this section, we will be condensing the information so that it is easier to understand for the casual reader. The first thing that is needed for a speaker to work is an electrical current that is made to match an acoustic signal.
When this acoustic signal is transmitted to the speaker in the form of electricity, it will go through the coil in the drivers, agitating the coil. The electricity running through the coil makes it move due to the power of magnetic induction (since it is located between the poles of a fixed magnet).
Since the coil is connected to the diaphragm of the speaker by the spider, any movement of the coil is amplified and then transmitted to the diaphragm. When the diaphragm moves, it creates sound waves, which is where the noise comes from when you use a speaker.
Active Vs. Passive Speakers
If you are searching for speakers, you will come across the terms active and passive. You may be wondering exactly what these terms mean, and you will find that they are quite simple. An active speaker is a speaker that comes equipped with an amplifier in its factory condition.
Passive speakers, on the other hand, will not be equipped with an amplifier, so they will necessitate external amplification. An amplifier can do many things for a speaker, but the primary purpose of one of them is to bump up the sound that is produced by a speaker, as you may have guessed.
You may be wondering why you would want to opt for a speaker that comes with a pre-installed amplifier. The main advantage to an active speaker is that it can be connected directly to a mixer without having to be connected to a separate amplifier system.
What Are Powered Speakers?
Now that we have gone over active and passive speakers, you may be wondering what a powered speaker does. To put it simply, a powered speaker is an active speaker. These terms are typically used interchangeably in the audio world, and powered speakers are rarer than you may expect.
Even in professional settings, you will often find passive speakers that are hooked up to professional amplifiers. Many view powered speakers as hit-or-miss since they are highly dependent on the amplification hardware with which they come equipped.
How To Position Your Speakers Perfectly
When it comes to the positioning of your speakers, you will want to carefully consult the owner’s manual to make sure that you are placing them in the right area. Most speakers will be labeled so that you can rest assured that you are putting the speakers in the best possible space.
Of course, there are a few guidelines when it comes to the positioning of speakers. You will want to keep them at around ear level, and you will want them placed at a decent distance from you. If your speakers are too close, you may find that their audio is distorted.
We hope that you have been able to learn everything that you have wanted to know about floor standing speakers. Now that you know about these speakers feel free to move on to our buying guide, in which we look at the five best floor standing speaker models on the market.
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Roy is the leading content creator here at Home Theater Heroes. He is as passionate about planning a home theater setup as building it. He blogs about IT, cybersecurity, business, and more at Davis Tech Media.