Do Floor Standing Speakers Need a Subwoofer?

Floor standing speakers themselves have enhanced bass response. Hence a subwoofer isn’t necessary with floor standing speakers. Having said that if you’re an immersive audiophile and a movie buff who loves high frequency movie scenes then a subwoofer will only level up your audio experience.

Floor standing speakers also known as tower speakers are ideal for watching movies or playing games. The sound effect from standalone speakers is enough to have a great audio experience.
Subwoofers when connected to your tower speakers will take your bass levels to extreme levels.

If you really think that you need a subwoofer then many retail outlets sell subwoofers on a home trial basis. You can get them. Experience the sound without them and decide if you want them to be a part of your sound system.

Why You Might Need a Subwoofer With Your Floor Standing Speakers?

  1. As mentioned above, if you have bought quality floor standing speakers then you don’t need a subwoofer as the sound quality and bass is good enough to have a great sound quality experience. Having said that, if your requirement is to experience intense low frequency sounds known as LFE’s (Low Frequency Effects)/ below 20 Hertz then buying a subwoofer is a good choice.

  2. Subwoofers are more ideal in auditorium size halls where propagation of sound to all parts of the large area is a must for a good sound experience.

We Asked Industry Experts About Buying Subwoofers With Floor Standing Speakers

We did a small survey and asked 10 knowledgeable sound experts in their field and we can sum up their response as mentioned below. Also do keep into consideration that the feedback is primarily based on their affinity towards having professional sound experience and budget isn’t a constraint too.

High Level Sound Experience: – Good floor standing speakers + Good subwoofers

Good Level Sound Experience: – Good Bookshelf Speakers + Good Subwoofers

Decent Level Sound Experience: – Good Floor Standing Speakers alone would do a decent job.

Below Average Sound Experience: – Just bookshelf speakers are enough.

So now you have a birds eye view and this will help you in deciding if you really need subwoofers along with tower speakers.

What Are Subwoofers?

Subwoofers are typically loudspeakers which are made to reproduce low frequencies which are in the range of 20 to 200 Hz which calls for extreme bass. Instruments like kick drum, bass guitar produce such sounds. Low pitch audio frequencies are known as BASS. To enhance the bass experience, we use subwoofers along with surround sound or tower speakers.

Are Floor Standing Speakers Better Than Bookshelf Speakers?

The best way to compare floor standing speakers and bookshelf speakers is to understand their pros and cons. So we give you a detailed comparison between them below: –

Floor Standing SpeakersBookShelf Speakers
They sound better than bookshelf speakers giving you the best sound quality.Sound quality can be inferior to tower speakers as these are ideal for small rooms
Floor standing speakers are a bit priceyBookshelf speakers are a bit cheaper and can be a good addition for your sound needs if too much bass isn’t a constraint
Tower speakers handle LFE’s (Low Frequency Effects) betterBookshelf speakers aren’t ideal to handle low frequency bass.
These need to be placed at least 12 to 16 inch away from the back wall for best sound. Hence lots of space needed.As the name suggests, it can be put on a bookshelf for best sound output, hence not much space needed.
Floor standing speakers are more dynamic in design consisting of a dedicated bass driver for better sub bass quality output.Bookshelf speakers are generally two way or three way designs which comprises of a tweeter and a mid bass component

Where Should Floor Standing Speakers Be Placed?

Placing the floor standing speakers largely depends on the type and how big your room is. The best way is to follow the rules mentioned below: – 

Golden Rectangle Rule: – This rule focuses on placing the tower speakers as far away from rear and side walls. If there is not enough distance from the rear and side walls then it may result in low bass quality due to boundary loading. A minimum of 3 feet distance from the front wall is ideal.

When placing your speakers, ensure that the minimum distance from the side walls is a minimum 1.6 times the distance from the front wall. If your room is wider than longer then reverse rule should be applied. This implies that the distance of the speakers from the front wall should be 1.6 times the distance from the side walls.

Distance Of Floor Standing Speakers From The Wall
Image Source: – qacoustics.co.uk
Once the speakers are placed based on the above rule, then rotate them at a 30 degree angle so that they are facing the listening spot. Your listening spot or the sofa should form an equilateral triangle with the tower speakers.

A point to note is that the most common problem with all floor standing speakers in the bass region is SBIR (Speaker Boundary Interface Response) cancellation. SBIR is nothing but a term used to describe how the proximity of your floor standing speakers from a hard boundary like walls would change the response of audio. Specially at low frequencies. 
Now in order to move SBIR below tuning frequency, just follow the golden rectangle rule explained above and keep adjusting for the best sound experience.

End of the day it’s all about experimenting with the distance and angles of the speakers from the wall and the listening spot. All these depend on the room you have so keep adjusting till you find the optimum output.

Avatar of Akbar Sheikh
About Author
An engineer and MBA, who is a technology and a gadget freak. I write about smart home solutions and gadgets like all wireless devices, technology brands like Apple. Love to follow the latest trends in the technology space and write about latest developments.

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