Speakers are the bread and butter of a good home audio setup. Good speakers can not only bring the music to life but can also make the media and movie watching experience more realistic.

When shopping for speakers the first hurdle for the consumers is which type of speakers they should get. Although coming in a lot of different variants the two most common types of speakers include bookshelf speakers and floor standing speakers.

On the surface, the bookshelf and the floor-standing speakers may seem similar but in reality, they have a ton of differences and are used for different applications. Therefore, to better inform the consumer we have compiled this article which will not focus on technical jargon but address the bookshelf vs floorstanding speakers debate in a more practical manner.

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What Do I Need to Know Before Buying One?

Well for starters one should know the basic analogy behind these two terms. Unfortunately, most people fail to understand the basics of these two types of speakers because the audio industry today is filled with jargon that is not graspable for a person who is just there to buy good speakers for his setup.

Let us try to explain these two types of speakers to you in simpler terms. Bookshelf speakers came into mass production after floor-standing speakers. The main purpose of the bookshelf speaker project was to design small-sized speakers because consumers at that time were demanding more space-conscious speakers.

This is the reason bookshelf speakers have a compact enclosure when compared with other types of speakers. The bookshelf speakers were also meant to be placed on an elevated surface. On the other hand, floor-standing speakers have existed for a while now and these behemoths contain multiple drivers in a single enclosure. As the name suggests these speakers have a base and are seated on the bare floor.

With the basic stuff out of the way let’s get into the details that separate bookshelf speakers from floor standing speakers. While explaining the details we will also sprinkle in some buyer’s advice on which speaker you should buy for specific needs. This way you can have a better understanding of both speakers and make a more informed decision.

The Type of Sound

The first and the foremost question regarding any audio product has to be how does it sound. Well to grossly simplify, due to the compact cabinet and the small size drivers bookshelf speakers generate weak low-end frequencies and also lack loudness.

The floor-standing speakers on the other hand generate more oomph and thump in the sound as they have large as well as more drivers. Floor standing speakers also sound much fuller when compared to bookshelf speakers.

Here the main differentiating frequency is the bass. Floor standing speakers have much more impacted and deep sounding bass when compared to bookshelf speakers so for the bass heads out there floor standing speakers are the way to go.

Room Size

Room size is another important determining factor between the bookshelf and floor standing speakers. Since both speakers have different sound generation capabilities each one is better suited for its optimal environment.

Floorstanding speakers require open and large room for the sound to accurately disperse. In a closed surrounding floor standing speakers tend to have desync in the drivers. On the contrary, bookshelf speakers lack the depth to perform well in a large room.

Another factor to consider here is the amount of space you can vacate for the speakers. Due to being large, floor-standing speakers will require more real estate and are also heavy to maneuver around. While not being feather life bookshelf speakers still weigh less than floor standing speakers and also require less space.

Stereo or Surround Listening

Bookshelf and floor-standing speakers also differ in this regard. For stereo listening floor standing speakers are hands down better but when it comes to surround sound setups they fall apart.

Due to the convenience of size as well as better integration for multi-channel receivers bookshelf speakers are the preferred choice for surround sound setups. The flexibility of wall mounting also plays a huge part in this purpose as well.

Supporting Gear

By supporting gear we basically mean the receiver and the amp you are going to use with the speakers. In this regard floor, standing speakers require astronomical power to work. Therefore, if you have decided to go for floor-standing speakers be prepared to buy high-end receivers and amplifiers.

On the other hand, bookshelf speakers are not that power-hungry and therefore will work on most receivers. There is no need of buying a high-end receiver for bookshelf speakers until and unless if you want to go for surround sound setups.


The final straw that is capable of single-handedly changing one’s decision. When we look from price to performance perspective entry level floor standing speakers cost twice or even more as much when compared with high-end bookshelf speakers.

Most people who just want better audio in their home setup are not willing to fork out that much amount of money for floor-standing speakers. So ultimately when we look at this from a price to performance perspective the bookshelf speakers clearly win.

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Should You Buy Bookshelf or Floor Standing Speakers?

There is no definite answer to this question since it’s all subjective. Although the above-stated detail allows for some conclusion but still a concrete answer for this one is just not in the books.

All we can say however is that if you have a fixed budget and limited space go for bookshelf speakers. Also if you plan on setting up a surround sound system bookshelf speakers should be your choice.

On the contrary, if you are the type of person whose main priority is sound quality and you want to listen to music then go for floor-standing speakers. Just make sure that you have a flexible budget because on top of the speakers you will also need to buy additional gear and also ensure there is enough space in the living room for two large-sized speakers.

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