The quality and power of a pair of well-designed floor standing speakers is unmatched. Whether an individual plans to use the speakers for a home cinema system or a stereo, floor standing speakers can enhance any listening experience. Floor standing speakers come in a variety of styles and sizes for any home or office. One important consideration is whether the speakers are better equipped for music or for watching movies and television.
The typical speaker is built upon an ingenious concept: the conversion of electric current into sound. This is achieved by causing a cone, made of paper or plastic, to move, by passing an electric current through a wire inserted into a magnet that is attached to the cone. The interaction between the wire and the magnet causes the wire to move the cone, thus creating disturbances in the air, producing what we know as sound. This method was developed by Ernst W. Siemens, for the moving coil transducer. Alexander Graham Bell took this technology and applied it to his method of audible transmission when he patented the telephone in 1876.
Modern-day floor standing speakers were developed as a companion to the stereo. In 1931, Alan Blumlein filed a patent for binaural sound, which covered stereo records, stereo films, and surround sound. Hollywood adopted its use in the 1950s, solidifying the popularity of stereophonic sound. Stereos began to be sold as a system with the now familiar two-speaker configuration.
Tips for Choosing the Right Floor Standing Speakers
Several factors should be considered before purchasing floor standing speakers. Space, utility, and appearance are all factors that will impact the choice and type of speakers best suited for any given situation.
Whenever a major home purchase is made, whether furniture or electronics or other item, the first question asked is always ‘How big is the room?’ A room’s individual characteristics will affect the speaker’s sound; it is not about calculating the maximum size speaker that simply fits inside the space available.
Another key factor is precisely how open the room is. A small, closed-off room with walls on all sides, for example, is not the ideal environment for really large floor standing speakers. Large speakers not only take up a lot of space but they also tend to load the atmosphere with lots of bass, which can result in an unsettling experience filled with ‘muddy’ sounds and shaking walls. Conversely, large, open rooms will make smaller speakers sound small and localised, whereas large speakers in a large, open room keep the sound lifelike, immersing the listener in a seamless listening experience.
There are some challenges when considering speaker placement. If the speakers are going to be placed inside of an entertainment cabinet, then stay away from speakers that produce a lot of bass. Bass generates sufficient vibration to make the speakers bounce around inside of the cabinet, producing unwanted distortion and resonance. If the speaker must go inside a cabinet, then a smaller sized speaker would work better, such as those designed for bookshelves.
Placing full-range, floor standing speakers on either side of a television set that squares off a corner can also be a bad idea. This arrangement of electronics will cancel out the bass, often the very reason many customers decide to purchase floor standing speakers.
If the room is full of large, smooth, hard surfaces, the sound will bounce off and distort. To figure out if the room is ‘live’, stand in the corner of the room and clap your hands. Echoing is a sign of a ‘live’ room, and steps should be taken to lessen the effects and help the speakers sound their best. Carpet, drapes, and furniture can help break up long, hard surfaces.
Before purchasing a set of speakers, consider how the speakers will be utilised. If an individual primarily listens to music, with the occasional TV or movie, then one set of speakers will suffice. If an individual is an active listener of music, a set of floor standing speakers with monitor will give a ‘hair blown back’ type of immersion. Floor standing speakers with multiple drivers can deliver a full-sounding, highly satisfying experience without taking up a lot space. A sound bar and subwoofer combination is an excellent choice for TV and movie buffs who appreciate a high quality sound experience. Another option is surround sound that makes an individual feel as though he is part of the movie.
Floor standing speakers, also referred to as ‘towers’, are a vestige of old stereo pairs that rose to be waist high. If a significant amount of money is being spent to buy high quality speakers, and the room is well decorated, it might be worth taking the extra time to shop for a pair that complements or blends in with the decor in a pleasing fashion. With the options available to a consumer today, there are often sets available in various furniture-grade finishes that will integrate nicely into the room’s color scheme and overall appearance.
Importance of Specifications
Speaker specifications can be difficult to interpret because of the variables utilised in measuring. The best way to evaluate speakers is simply to listen to them. If an individual prefers to judge by comparison of the specs, then it is helpful to understand precisely what they say.
Frequency response is the range of sounds a speaker can reproduce. The best set of floor standing speakers will have a balance between high and low frequencies. Full-range, mid-range, and speakers containing multiple drivers will be capable of producing this type of variance. When purchasing a set of speakers, is it important to remember that manufacturer’s specs may be misleading. The best measure of frequency response incorporates size of room, test signal, and distance of measurement. The best measurement to trust is one where there is a small variance between numbers, such as .7dB (decibels) and 2dB.
Sensitivity is the measure of sound pressure level (SPL). The number is measured in dB per single watt per metre. This indicates the amount of volume emitted for a voltage, describing the relationship between power input and sound output. The more sensitive the speaker, the higher the SPL rating will be.
Efficiency is the measure of the speakers’ ability to convert electrical power into acoustic energy (sound). The rating goes hand in hand with sensitivity, and the highest quality speakers will have an efficiency rating of 20 per cent.
Impedance is the resistance to electricity that speaker drivers and amplifiers encounter while converting power into energy. Impedance is expressed in ohms, and can assist in matching speakers with amplifiers and monitors. Poorly matched equipment without similar impedance ratings will cause sound distortion.
Power handling is how much power a speaker can take without the sound becoming distorted. This is also called a wattage rating, and is important when connecting a floor standing speaker to a home cinema or amplifier.
The Importance of Listening
The sound of speakers to the listener is the most important quality when making a selection. Go to several local brick and mortar stores that sell electronics and listen to different models of floor speakers with different specifications. When listening, try to match the speakers with accessories similar to that found at home, to lessen the likelihood of being disappointed when making a purchase and getting it home. The best listening experience can be found at ‘big-box’ stores that feature specific listening rooms acoustically tuned for hearing speakers with superior clarity.
How to Buy Floor Standing Speakers for Your Home Cinema on eBay
Before you begin searching for floor standing speakers for your home cinema on eBay, assess where and how you will be using your speakers. This will help you initially narrow down the choices in appearance and style, as a general search for ‘floor standing speakers’ will result in thousands of choices. Descriptive keywords will best enable you to find what you are searching for. Helpful in making a choice is to determine whether the seller includes information on specifications.
Before making your decision, visit one or more local electronics retailers, where you can listen to the speakers to get a sense of what specs, size, type, price, and design suits your preferences. The sound of the speakers is the major quality in consideration when making a selection, so a clear, concise sound with little feedback is desired. Once you have narrowed your selection, check eBay for competitive offerings that might prove superior in price.
Many retailers do not allow returns on electronics outside a certain period, so check with the seller on the precise return policy. Verify whether the speakers are new or used; if they are used, the condition is very important. Speakers that have been damaged or neglected are not a worthy purchase.
Floor standing speakers are overall an excellent investment to complement the power and enjoyment of a home cinema system. Even if the intended use is music/audio, the right set of speakers can make or break the musical experience for the listener. This is particularly important in a family or communal environment with multiple listeners. Choosing the wrong pair of speakers can make a consumer rue the day he bought them, if the aesthetics are not right for the room or stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise attractively decorated room.
A consumer should consider first the features of the room in which the speakers will be used, whether there is sufficient space in the area to sustain a floor standing set versus a more modest shelf-sized set, and what kind of specifications may be desired for optimum sound quality. TV and movie enthusiast who wishes for an immersive experience should consider investing in the highest quality set they can comfortably afford for long-term pleasure and satisfaction.