If you're new to the sound system world or not sure exactly what you want or what type of speakers are the best way to go for your requirements, the amount of choice out there can quickly become overwhelming. That's why we've put together this handy guide to ensure that you get the best speakers for your needs!
This guide will compare the pros and cons of selecting bookshelf speakers vs. tower speakers. We will analyze these two different products and provide all the details for both home theater system use and for listening to music. Then you will be free to make the most informed decision on which setup suits you best.
Bookshelf vs Tower Speakers - What Is the Difference?
We'll start with the very basics. In the following sections, we will clearly spell out what the difference is between bookshelf vs. tower speakers in a brief overview.
1. Bookshelf Speakers
Bookshelf speakers are named as such because they are small and compact enough to be slotted into, you guessed it, bookshelves.
Bookshelf units usually come as a pair, although some more expensive models may incorporate additional units. They are usually simple two-way designs, although again, some of the more expensive models may feature a three-way design consisting of tweeters and small midbass driver units.
While affordable and convenient to fit into your living space, bookshelf speakers are usually somewhat limited in their ability to produce powerful low-end bass sounds. This means that they are well suited to casual television viewing and quieter music, although home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles will miss that depth of sound quality.
What We Like
What We Don’t Like
2. Tower Speakers
Tower speakers, also known as floorstanding speakers, are named after the fact that they are usually large enough to be freestanding without needing to be propped up or slotted into a shelving unit.
Usually, tower speakers will utilize multiple drivers in their design, often incorporating a dedicated bass driver, a midrange unit, and tweeters. The design of tower speakers also lends themselves to better use in surround sound systems than bookshelf speakers, as they can usually be placed anywhere in the room.
You will most likely get more bass and generally better sound quality out of a tower speaker than bookshelf speakers. This is good news for your home theater system and fans of deep bass music.
What We Like
What We Don’t Like
Now that we have covered the basic overview of the pros and cons of each speaker type, we will take a deeper delve into each category.
The comparison of price between bookshelf and tower speakers is not a cut and dry thing. It really all depends on exactly what your total budget is and what you are looking for out of your sound system.
Generally speaking, if you are shopping with a strict budget, you will want to go with bookshelf speakers. If you only want to spend a couple of hundred, you will be getting more quality for your money choosing a higher-quality bookshelf speaker for the same price as a lower-quality tower speaker.
This is because cheaper tower speakers will be lower quality than bookshelf speakers of the same price. After all, they are larger and more complex pieces of equipment that are more expensive to manufacture.
However, if you are not on a strict budget but wanting to get the most quality out of your money, we would recommend opting for tower speakers - as long as your price range extends to the point where you are able to buy a good quality tower speaker product.
Winner: Bookshelf - unless you have a high budget and are looking at the price to quality ratio.
For Room Size and Space
You will also want to take into consideration the space that your speakers will be occupying.
If you have a small, confined space as the destination for your speakers, then it makes more sense to shop for bookshelf speakers. These can be put away cozy and flush inside a bookshelf, on top of another type of shelf, or even mounted on a stand.
When it comes to bookshelf speakers, you have a lot more options when it comes to placement. They are ideal for home offices, small bedrooms, dens, and studies. They are also much more compact and easily moved if your setup needs some tweaking or if you are the sort of person who likes to change their feng shui every now and then.
However, tower speakers are perfect for rooms with a lot of standing space. They can be used to create excellent surround sound arrays and can really help to give your room that home theater atmosphere.
Comparing Audio Quality
Unfortunately, bookshelf speakers are typically always going to suffer compared to tower speakers in terms of audio performance and frequency range. Towers are more complex units with more room for all those things that make for a fuller listening experience.
Bookshelf speakers prioritize compactness and convenience. They are designed to fit snuggly anywhere you could desire them. This does mean that they suffer in terms of power and quality, though.
Bookshelf speakers are usually composed of one or more tweeter units and a midrange, all contained within one powered unit. This means that they have a limited output when it comes to volume, as well as the different frequencies they can faithfully replicate. Bookshelf units will struggle with low-frequency sounds, good quality bass, and overall high volumes.
You can find our handy guide to the ten 10 best bookshelf speakers in terms of audio quality right here to help you decide.
On the other hand, Tower speakers are large enough to include more of the components that make your music or movies sound better. They are usually composed of multiple drivers, which should feature dedicated bass drivers, midranges, and tweeters.
This makes them able to produce all the frequencies and details of your audio at a higher quality. You will get more low-end bass output, and you will be able to turn the volume up higher than with bookshelf speakers.
The only exception to this analysis is if you are shopping for a pair of speakers with a very limited budget. At the lower range of purchase prices (a couple of hundred dollars, for example), it is likely that bookshelf speakers will outperform towers of the same price. This is because tower speaker units cost more to produce.
You can also find our handy guide to best floorstanding speakers for under $1,000, if you need some help picking out the right unit for your budget.
Winner: Tower speakers, unless you are limited to a very small budget.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Are bookshelf speakers as good as tower speakers?
This is quite a subjective question with no absolute correct answer. It all comes down to what you want them for.
It is important to remember that the quality of both bookshelf and tower speakers will vary between the individual brand, product, and model. A very expensive, high-quality bookshelf speaker, for example, will usually outperform cheaper tower speakers.
The most important thing to consider is the limitations inherent to bookshelf speakers. As you are looking at a small, compact, and self-contained speaker system, they simply don't have the room for components to maximize bass, volume, and fidelity. If these are your most valuable features, you are better off buying a good quality tower unit to play your music or movies.
However, if you are more concerned about having a convenient, compact sound system at an affordable price, then bookshelf speakers are the way to go.
Are tower speakers good for home theater?
The design of tower speakers makes them perfect for a home theater setup. Their freestanding nature makes them ideal for standing at various points around the room to best recreate the surround sound systems you would hear at the movies. Not to mention they truly look the part. Nothing screams home theater more than some carefully positioned towers.
Tower speakers are also better able to produce low frequencies and will allow you to increase the volume higher than their bookshelf counterparts. This means more immersion for you, your family, and your guests. Towers give you the best chance at feeling that explosion in your bones or letting that emotional soundtrack move you to tears.
A good place to look for advice regarding home theatre setup is the dedicated Reddit page r/HomeTheater
Are bookshelf speakers good for movies?
While, as we have just stated, it will be hard to beat floorstanding speakers in terms of home theater performance, bookshelf speakers are still more than good enough to keep you and your family entertained with movies at home.
Bookshelf speakers can be paired with computers, televisions, and even projector units to make your home movie viewing all the more rewarding. You don't have to shell out for expensive floorstanding units, just make sure you purchase a good quality set of bookshelf speakers, and you're ready to go.
Most importantly, no matter what the size of your room, you will be able to find bookshelf speakers to fit the space. Plus, if you find yourself craving a more immersive home theater setup later on down the line, you can always mount your bookshelf speakers on stands to create a surround sound system.
Are bookshelf speakers good for music?
Again, just because floorstanding tower speakers offer the best sound quality and bass reproduction, this doesn't mean that bookshelf speakers cannot necessarily fulfill your listening needs.
The great thing about good quality bookshelf speakers is that they'll fit anywhere. This means you can have your music listening setup placed wherever you would like - and the quality will be much better than most standard portable Bluetooth speaker setups.
When asking whether to choose bookshelf or tower speakers, the answer really comes down to what exactly you are looking for. Different people with different situations and needs will have different answers to this question.
To summarize, if you have plenty of money in your budget, plenty of space in your room, and want the best audio quality for your home theater setup or music listening experience, then floorstanding speakers are the way to go.
However, if you are limited on space, budget or simply want a quick, compact and convenient audio setup, you really can't beat bookshelf speakers.
Remember, if you're looking for a little bit of extra punch after your purchase, most bookshelf and tower speakers can be paired with a subwoofer. Having a sub will allow you a greater range of sound, more power, and that all-important bone-shaking bass! If this sounds like your sort of thing, you can find a whole bunch of subwoofer guides and products right here.
Whichever option you decide to opt for in the end, we hope that our expertise has allowed you to come to an informed decision that will suit you and your family's needs the best. Good luck, and happy watching and listening!