How to Buy Floor-Standing Speakers

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How to Buy Floor-Standing Speakers

The power and sound quality of a pair of well-designed floor-standing speakers is unmatched. Whether consumers are planning to use their speakers for a stereo or home theater system, floor-standing speakers can enhance any listening experience. Floor-standing speakers come in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices for any home or office. However, some speakers are more equipped for music while others are better for watching movies and television.

Consumers should educate themselves on how to buy floor-standing speakers to ensure they get the most bang for their buck. Besides learning about specifications and technical aspects of speakers, buyers should also learn about proper placement and accessories. Once this knowledge has been gained, buyers can then head to places like eBay for the widest selection.
 

Learn About Floor-Standing Speakers

Floor-standing speakers are self-standing speakers which hook up to an audio outlet to produce sound. Either sold as a pair, individually, or as part of a home audio system, floor-standing speakers are typically consumer-grade electronics meant for personal use. Many floor-standing speakers can produce a full-range of sounds, including high and low frequencies. However, some buyers might need to purchase a subwoofer as well to hear heavier bass noises.
 

Where to Place Floor-Standing Speakers

The placement of floor-standing speakers in a room makes a huge difference in sound quality. Floor-standing speakers are harder to place than surround sound or bookshelf speakers because the floor and nearby objects will interact with the bass. Try to place speakers as far away from the wall as possible (at least six inches). Fabric, like sofas, chairs, and curtains, also absorb, so try not to place any objects between the listeners and the speakers themselves. Additionally, large rooms and high ceilings can cause reverberations. Carpet will absorb additional noises while hardwood floors might add an echo. Larger rooms will need louder speakers to accommodate for the loss of sound.

After purchasing floor-standing speakers, experiment by moving them around to different parts of the room. Avoid stuffing them in corners but also realize it's impractical to place speakers in the center of a room where people need to walk around.
 

Speaker Sound Measurements

Buyers will typically find the technical aspects of floor-standing speakers measured in Watts, Hertz, and Decibels. Most of these measurements are somewhat useless when used on their own but can be quite helpful with one another.

Watts

Measuring the rate of energy conversion or transfer, watts (W) are helpful in understanding what kind of amplifier to hook up speakers to. Watts are not indicative of how much volume a speaker can produce but rather how much electrical energy the speaker can handle. Try to match up the wattage of a speaker to the wattage of an amplifier . Buyers should know that "peak power" expressed in watts measures the speaker's ability to handle short bursts of power while the RMS rating measures how well the equipment can handle longer periods of power.

Decibels

Consumers searching for the loudness factor of a floor-standing speaker should look at the number of decibels it can produce. Decibels (dB) are used to measure the intensity of a particular sound. Buyers looking for very loud speakers should purchase equipment that can reach a high decibel level. Note that a difference of 1 dB is hardly noticeable but the change between 10 dB is huge. Amplifier power needs to be doubled for each 3 dB increase in volume level.

Hertz

Hertz (Hz) is a unit of sound frequency used to measure various sound levels in speakers. One Hz is equal to one cycle per second. Humans can hear between 20-2000 Hz. The lower of Hz number, the heavier the bass sounds will be.
 

Speaker Drivers

Drivers are the mechanism inside the speaker which converts electrical energy into sound waves. Different drivers produce different types of high or low frequency sounds. Some speakers contain multiple drivers while others contain only one. The most common types of drivers are tweeters, woofers, subwoofers, full-range, and mid-range.

Tweeters

Tweeters produce the highest frequencies in a speaker, typically from 2,000 to 20,000 Hz. Generally, speakers will contain a tweeter and a woofer but many will simply have a tweeter so it must be used with a subwoofer. Inexpensive floor-standing speakers might use cone tweeters while higher quality ones might use a dome tweeter. Professional-grade speakers commonly use a ribbon tweeter.

Woofers

Along with a tweeter, many floor-standing speakers contain woofer drivers. Woofers create low frequency sounds, from about 40 Hz to about 1 kilohertz. Named for the low frequencies of a dog's bark, woofers generally operate by using a paper cone that is driven by a voice coil. The coil is typically surrounded by a magnetic field.

Subwoofers

Speakers specifically designed to only emit low frequency, bass noises are called subwoofers . They are composed of one of more woofer drivers which produce sounds at 20-200 Hz. Subwoofers can be used with floor-standing speakers to increase the quality of the bass.

Full-Range Drivers

Drivers specifically designed to produce a wide range of frequencies are called full-range drivers. Also known as wide-range, a large portion of the floor-standing speaker market is composed of full-range drivers. A combination of parts known as cones and whizzers create the full-range effect. Full-range drivers do the work of both woofers and tweeters in a single driver.

Mid-Range Drivers

Midrange drivers are found in three-way multi-driver speaker systems and produce 500 to 3000 Hz. As the name suggests, they create mid-frequency sounds.
 

Floor-Standing Speaker Specifications

Speaker specifications can be difficult to interpret because there are many variables in the way speakers can be measured. The best way to evaluate a speaker is to listen to it, but there are those of us who insist on thoroughly examining the specs. If you're going to read the specifications, make sure you know what they mean.

Frequency Response

The range of sounds a speaker can reproduce is called frequency response or frequency range. Full-range, mid-range, and speakers with multiple drivers will have a good frequency response as those will be able to produce low and high frequencies. Determining frequency response can be tricky because there are so many variables involved, so manufacturer's measurements might be misleading. The size of the room, the distance at which it is measured, and the test signal can all have various effects on frequency response. In order for a numerical value to have any real meaning, the manufacturer should give the frequency response in addition to the maximum number of dB that the response varies. This number will be relative to a reference frequency. A buyer might see something like "40 Hz to 10,000 Hz, +-2dB."

The best floor-standing speakers will have a good balance between high and low frequencies. Buyers should look for full-response floor-standing speakers with a small variance, between .5 dB and 3 dB.

Sensitivity

The measure of the sound pressure level (SPL) is known as sensitivity. This number is described in dB but measured decibels are per 1 watt, per 1 meter. Most manufacturers express this number in terms of X dB per 2.83 V input. Sensitivity indicates how much volume speakers emit for a given voltage, describing the relationship between the power input and sound output. The higher the SPL, the more sensitive and efficient the speaker will be.

Efficiency

Efficiency goes hand in hand with sensitivity. It is a measure of the speakers' ability to convert electrical power into sound, or acoustic energy. Consumer-grade floor-standing speakers will most likely have an efficiency rated from 1% to 10% but some high-quality speakers might go as high as 20%. Efficiency is difficult to measure as many variables exist. Manufacturers don't often list this spec on packaging.

Impedance

The resistance to electricity that speaker drivers and amplifiers encounter is known as impedance. While in use, the speaker's actual impedance level will vary slightly, but manufacturers will list a standard specification as general information. Impedance is generally expressed as 4, 8, or 16 ohms. These measurements are helpful for matching speakers and amps together because poorly matched equipment could sound distorted.

Power Handling

When connecting a floor-standing speaker to an amplifier, it is important to understand its power handling ability. Power handling, also known as a wattage rating, is the amount of power a speaker can take without becoming damaged or distorted.
 

Researching Floor-Standing Speaker Brands

Some top bookshelf speaker brands include Bose, Sony, Polk, Pioneer, Bowers and Wilkins, Definitive Technology, MartinLogan, and Mirage . With over 500 home electronic brands out there, this is but a small list. Before buying, research the reputation and consumer reviews of a particular brand. Make sure other people are satisfied with the product. Talk to home electronics experts and visit company websites as well. Some brands are more budget-friendly while others appeal to a higher end clientele.
 

Purchasing Floor-Standing Speakers

Before buying floor-standing speakers, consider where they will fit into the home. Make sure there is enough room for them to achieve maximum sound output. Consumers should carefully read over what kind of cables, if any, they will need to purchase with the speakers themselves.

Buyers looking for a home theater system should also consider buying surround sound speakers, a DVD player, and a subwoofer. Consumers in the market for a stereo system will need an amplifier with a tuner, CD player, Mp3 docking station, and volume controls.

Buyers can find floor-standing speakers in electronic stores, department stores, through Internet retailers, and on auction sites like eBay.

Buying Floor-Standing Speakers and Accessories on eBay

With a plethora of sellers listing thousands of floor-standing speakers, eBay is a great place to find a wide selection at reasonable prices. Buyers can also find all the accessories and equipment they will need to start listening to their new home speakers.

Search for Speakers and Equipment

In the top left corner or middle of most eBay pages, you can find a search box. Type in keywords like "sony floor-standing speakers" or "40 inch speakers" into the search box and start looking for the perfect set of speakers. Or, you can head to the Electronics portal on the eBay main page. From there, you can narrow down your search to Home Speakers & Subwoofers in the TV, Audio, and Surveillance category.

Buying on eBay

Before buying, you will need to register for a free eBay account. Then you can bid on an item or "Buy it Now," if that option is available. Buy it Now ends the auction right away and the item is yours. Reviewing the seller's feedback score and ratings can help you feel confident in your purchase. Always make sure you can accommodate the seller's accepted payment types and the shipping guidelines are agreeable. All eBay buyers are protected by eBay ' s Buyer Protection.
 

Conclusion

To get the experience of having a movie theater or live concert right inside your living room, pick up a pair of floor-standing speakers. Before purchasing, however, consumers should educate themselves on where to place speakers to maximize sound quality and output. Lots of fabric, furniture, and carpeting absorb noise, as does placing speakers too close to the wall. Speaker specifications, often measured in dB, W, V, ohms, and Hz, can help determine the speaker's sound output, frequency range, quality, and help consumers decide what kind of amplifier to connect them to. Oftentimes, buying floor-standing speakers isn't enough; buyers might also have to purchase cables, wires, and additional equipment. With the right knowledge, any electronics novice can go home with a pair of fantastic floor speakers at a great price. With the help of eBay, leaving home isn't even necessary.

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