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Choosing Between Floorstanding and Bookshelf Systems

So what type of speaker system should you buy—floorstanding or bookshelf? It depends on the type of listening you do, how much floor space you have (or want to carve out), and your budget.

Listening-wise, if your speakers are primarily for home theater use—that is, for watching/listening to movies—then the bookshelf + subwoofer option is best. You'll get all the bass you need from the subwoofer, and bookshelf or satellite speakers are easy to position in your home theater room.

However, if you listen to a lot of music (and if you're a bit of a golden-eared audiophile), go the floorstanding route. Nothing is better for reproducing orchestral music than a good set of floorstanding speakers. Nothing. And you can supplement them with a separate subwoofer for movie listening.

Of course, floorstanding speakers are only an option if you have the space or the taste for them. Esthetically, bookshelf speakers or satellites fit better in most home theater installations. You have to really like the look to go with a set of big floorstanding speakers.

Price is also a factor. If you're on a budget, bookshelf or satellite speakers are probably a better choice. Floorstanding speakers typically require a larger cash outlay. That's just the way it is.

So if you want great music reproduction, have the space and budget, and like the look, buy a good set of floorstanding speakers. Otherwise, stick with the bookshelf + subwoofer option—and get the best speakers you can for your money.

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