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How to Choose a Floorstanding Speaker

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Floorstanding speakers are big and some times bulky. That said there is no denying that the more drivers you have the more likely it is that the sound will be more open than say a bookshelf speaker. This article will not deal directly with what sounds better in floorstanding, sometimes called tower speakers, as it will with the different features you can find on different models.

2 Way vs. 3 Way
Tower speakers come in 2 way and 3 way configurations. (See difference between 2 way and 3 way speakers) One will not necessarily sound better than the other but in general a 3 way speaker has a better chance of sounding more natural because it offers 3 speakers, each tuned to provide for a specific frequency range. Specifically, adding a mid-range speaker of 3-5.25" may make vocals sound more natural. 

Number of Drivers
Because of their size floorstanding speakers usually have more room for multiple drivers and usually the more drivers the more "open" the sound-field the speaker will produce. It is not unusual to see floorstanding speakers have 3 bass drivers, 1 mid driver and a tweeter. Sometimes this goes even higher.

Size and Position of Bass speakers 
Front firing - Some towers will rely on multiple smaller bass drivers facing forward with a well tuned port (or more than one port) on the back or front of the speaker to add more bass. This allows for a smaller cabinet.

Side Firing - Others will use larger 6, 8 or 10" bass speakers that are located on the side of the speaker. These speakers must be purchased in matched pairs since they are distinctly left and right.

Many tower/floorstanding speakers will include feet or carpet spikes to lift the speaker off the floor to reduce any resonance the speaker might conduct through the floor therebpossibly distorting the sound from the designers intent.

Many high end floorstanding speakers will offer bi-amping, the ability to use multiple power sources to power different speakers within the speaker. This is accomplished by using more than one set of binding posts on the back of the speaker. Depending on your ability to purchase separate amps and your level of listening involvement you may notice a difference with this approach.

Safety issues
Tower speakers sound great and can look even cooler but they are usually heavy and tall. Given this you should always be careful to anchor your towers to a wall if you have small children as tipping them over could cause injury. If you are not sure please consult a professional for advice on how to do this.

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