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Plenty of range
Supported high frequencies
Overly simple design
Not the best sound quality
Lacking bass features
The Polk Audio T50 is the perfect floor-oriented speaker for anyone looking to save a few bucks but still wants to build a quality home theater system. Each speaker in Polk’s T series features a background of well-researched acoustics and the sound-quality-minded construction that goes with that. The speaker arrangement offers four separate cones: a one-inch silk tweeter for sparkling highs, a 6.5-inch “extended throw” composite driver as the main horn, as well as two additional 6.5-inch composite sub-bass speakers to support the low end.
The cabinet comes in a sleek black oak finish and is built with acoustically inert, furniture-grade MDF to make sure that all it does is hone and project the sound forward. The look is further accentuated when you remove the front grill off to reveal the cool speaker configuration. Each unit is 7.75 x 8.75 x 36.25 inches and weighs 20.35 pounds. This thing is about as affordable as you can ask from a 6-ohm, roaring 100-watt tower speaker.
Classic Yamaha sound
Slim, sleek design
Small main drivers
Somewhat tall for the size
Finding lean and compact floorstanding speakers that are perfect for smaller rooms is quite a challenge. In this particular category, larger is often better, as it means more room for more powerful equipment. However, Yamaha’s NS-F210 super-slim design manages to fit a great sounding budget-priced floorstanding speaker package together that’s perfect for smaller rooms. To maximize space, Yamaha squeezed in undersized drivers in order to offer something lean and small-room friendly. The modern design may or may not be for you, but it certainly feels right when placed next to a flatscreen TV.
Yamaha’s slim 41" tower offers dual 3-1/8th” woofers and a 7/8” balance dome tweeter which, unfortunately, doesn’t produce huge bass notes thanks to the aforementioned undersized drivers. However, given that you’ll be in a small room and not looking for earth-shattering sound at this price range, the sound is more than good enough.
Sizeable main woofers
Lacking in some clarity
The Onkyo SKF-4800 two-way bass reflect floor-standing speakers feature fantastic sound at a wallet-friendly price. Sold as a pair, the 40-inch tall, 11.1-inch wide and 12-inch deep speakers can be used to complement an existing stereo system or as the basis for an entire surround sound system. Featuring twin 6.3-inch cone woofers and a one-inch soft-dome tweeter, the maximum input power of 130W is more than enough to offer a great audio experience. Each Onkyo speaker weighs 28.7 pounds. They feature a rear panel that houses a bass port, and even have connector ports for banana plugs, pins or stripped bare wires (like the 11.5-feet long speaker cables that are included right out of the box). As for the sound quality, it's both clean and detailed, without feeling warm or overcompensated.
Four dedicated woofers
Loud, powerful sound
Heavy and bulky
Budget brand name
It’s interesting to think that a brand like Polk Audio made the “best-sounding” spot on the list, in part because the brand is normally known for making affordable, albeit good quality consumer audio. The TSi500 brings Polk into the high-end pack, though, with a set of specs meant to "wow" any ears. There’s a one-inch silk dome tweeter that’s pretty standard on most speakers of this size and variety. It’s the four (yes four), bi-laminate woofers within the tower, made of a warm, organic material that gives this thing truly impressive playback. They’re all powered by a trademarked Dynamic Balance sound tech that lets you hear full, loud sound without that unfriendly crunch of distortion.
Built and braced with a solid, furniture-like MDF (available in either high-gloss black piano finish or a rich cherry wood), and supported further with quarter-inch baffles, the enclosure on the TSi500 complements the speakers and dampens out almost any artificial acoustic resonance. At the factory, they’ve optimized the frequency response range with a Klippel motor and it's laser tested to ensure accurate performance up and down the spectrum. And it's all held up with fat, rubberized feet to make sure virtually no unwanted frequencies are transferred through to your floorboards.
This pair of Fluance floor speakers costs a lot of cash, there’s no doubt about that. But for the average buyer, if it’s $1,000 for a pair, then it still falls squarely in the “reasonable” category, especially when you factor in the quality of the sound and the construction. There’s a one-inch, neodymium, balanced silk tweeter that is cooled by what the company is calling ferrofluid. The midrange is covered by a five-inch woven glass fiber cone that sits in its own dedicated chamber within the cabinet. Finally, the pair of eight-inch subwoofers carry a clear, commanding, decidedly undistorted kick all the way from 35Hz, which will go perfectly with the rumble of an action movie.
Now, let’s talk power; these speakers operate under a sensitivity of 89 dB and have a power handling of 200 watts (though it’ll be more like 90 watts on a continuous basis). They’re compatible at the 8-ohm level, which is standard for a home stereo, and Fluance has even engineered a rear bass port that is slightly dampened around the edges to carry the right bass resonance on the back end without too much of a ring. Each tower is 47.24 x 10.9 x 15.4 inches.
Plenty of volume
Included center-channel speaker
Bulky center-channel unit
Clunky speaker stands
The BP9000 series from Definitive Technology is an excellent generalist speaker setup. That’s because the manufacturer is including plenty of features you’d normally need to cover in external units—things like powered subwoofers built right into the enclosure bolstered by the patented Intelligent Bass Control, as well as a Forward Focused Bipolar Array. This essentially means that the sound coming right out of the pair of BP9020 floor speakers will be more powerful (and bassier) than you might expect from standalone floor speakers, without losing much of the detail you’d expect from a main pair of stereo speakers.
In each BP speaker there are two 3.5-inch mid-frequency drivers, a 1-inch tweeter, and that 8-inch subwoofer with built-in 150-watt Class D amp. This package also comes with a matched center channel unit (the CS9040) that features two 4.5-inch mid-frequency drivers, its own 1-inch tweeter and an 8-inch top-firing subwoofer speaker (though this one isn’t powered by a dedicated amp). The designs are also pretty unique as, rather than just opting for an all-black color scheme, Definitive has put some sleek, futuristic silver accents. This isn’t the most affordable pair in the 9000 range, and as such, you’ll pay a premium for the capabilities. But on power and clarity alone, this setup will be hard to beat for those who want movie-quality sound right at home.
Classic Klipsch design
Reasonably priced for the features
A bit heavy
No dedicated woofer driver
Klipsch is a brand known for its mid-level home audience expertise, and after one look at the RP-5000F, with its classic Klipsch spun-copper drivers, you’ll see that these floor speakers fit the lineage well. Each enclosure houses two 5.25-inch cerametallic woofers that lend the speakers that classic Klipsch look, but also give you some pretty solid sound performance. That’s thanks to both to the dual-coated ceramic cones themselves, but also the engineered steel basket that rejects some resonant artifacts. This essentially means that, even if you’re pushing the speakers, you won’t get much in the way of harmonic distortion or other vibrating quirks.
There’s also a vented tweeter (updated for this model) made of titanium—a fact that seems a bit strange when so many manufacturers opt for silk. Klipsch is saying that the lightweight supports the clarifying capabilities of silk, but the rigidity of titanium gives you more power. Both the tweeter horn as well as the bass port use Klipsch’s Tractix horn technology, which is just their fancy name for a proprietary shape that aims to project sound in specific ways. While there isn’t a dedicated sub involved here, these ports certainly lend themselves to powerful low end, and an ultimately powerful sound spectrum.
Unique wood-based woofers
4 color choices
Bulky in size
Dali is a brand that rejects the norms of other speaker manufacturers in a lot of ways. First off, on looks alone, the floor standing Oberon 5 speakers are pretty unique. Rather than going the dark gray and black direction, Dali has outfitted the 5s with a tan, wood-grain housing and lighter slate grills on the front. To us, this look will lend an elevated vibe to a living room, rather than commanding attention with an all-black construction. You can actually choose darker colors, but for our money, the Light Oak design is the way to go.
The other key differentiator is the main woofer pair in each speaker. Rather than building the cones out of metal or some foam polymer, Dali has gone with a wood fiber blend, made of fine paper pulp with a reinforced grain. Dali promises that this will give you a lot more detail, due to the micro-vibrations in the grain itself. There’s also some magic happening with the magnets themselves as Dali has patented an SMC disk, rather than a more traditional iron disk.
It’s hard to be sure how well this all works without comparing the environment of these speakers with a more traditional pair, but by all accounts, their research points toward less harmonic distortion. But, if their numerous consumer audio awards are to be believed, in practice, these speakers sound just as good as they look.
Room size and setup - It’s not just about the speaker, but the size and setup of the room it’s placed in as well. Hardwood floors and windows will reverberate the sound whereas carpet and curtains will absorb it. Bigger rooms will require a more powerful speaker, while a smaller room won’t demand the same. Survey the room and go from there.
Sound quality - What sounds amazing to one person might be lackluster to the next. Sound profile is a matter of personal taste, so before buying a speaker, bring along your favorite album and give it a listen. It should sound balanced and easy to listen to for extended periods.
Frequency response - Measured in Hertz, frequency response refers to the frequency range that a speaker can reproduce. The average ear can detect a frequency range of 20Hz to 20KHz, so look for a speaker that covers as much of that range as possible.