A good quality pair of floorstanders can instantly supercharge your hi-fi system and deliver room-filling sound. With larger cabinets than bookshelf speakers, floorstanders tend to create greater scale, authority and bass.
Floorstanding speakers have been a cornerstone of home audio systems for decades. Also known as tower speakers, they are able to deliver a big and full sound that’s difficult to match. Even as more complex home theater systems have become common, they remain the go-to workhorses that provide the most important part of surround sound.
Not only do they look good, drawing focus to a sound system and making it stand out rather than blend in, but they're known for sounding spectacular. They're designed to slot in next to bookcases and TV cabinets, taking advantage of vertical space and resulting in a smaller footprint.
1. Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2:
Whether it’s budget or high-end speakers, B&W usually delivers on the engineering front, and the 603s are no different. Traditionally, a 600 Series speaker would sport B&W’s trademark yellow kevlar midrange cones. B&W have moved on from using attractive dark yellow Kevlar cones to a new silver-finish synthetic material in a midrange unit they call Continuum, first introduced to its flagship 800 Series Diamond. Point being their recent 603 S2 Anniversary floorstander moves even further into synthetic fibre cone technology for squeaky clean sound devoid of colour – and certainly not yellow.
The Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2 Anniversary is a 2.5 way floorstanding speaker and the flagship of the 600 Series range. This is a notable moment for the 600 Series as it has been on sale - in various forms of course - for 25 years. This is a significant achievement when we stop to consider that there are complete Hi-Fi companies that have not survived as long as that.
The new 603 S2 adopts a refined and upgraded version of the proven Decoupled Double Dome tweeter, offering 38kHz breakup performance. The result? An accurate and immersive reproduction of your favourite music.
Voices and instruments are delivered with purity and precision, thanks to the revolutionary Continuum™ cone midwoofer, as found in Bowers & Wilkins flagship 800 Series Diamond. Once reserved for only the company's most revered models, Continuum brings you a cleaner and more accurate performance.
For powerful low frequency performance, the 603 S2 features two optimized low-frequency cones that combine terrific extension and superlative accuracy to give high levels of controlled bass with your favorite music and movies.
In addition to the celebratory cosmetic changes, the 600 Series Anniversary Edition also benefits from a new optimized crossover design featuring carefully selected components, offering greater insight from your music.
There aren't many speakers at this price point that handle vocals so superbly and extract as much detail.
Pros and Cons of Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2:
Brilliant with vocals Impressively spacious soundstage Impressive levels of details Powerful deep bass
Not the most relaxed sounds Build lacks a luxury feel
With its new custom drivers and improved cabinet design, the Debut F5.2 is the foundation of a serious two-channel system or the nucleus of an impressive multi-channel setup. The ELAC Debut 2.0 tower speakers are powerful beasts. With their Debut 2.0 lineup, ELAC aimed to crush the budget audiophile market, and they’ve definitely proved that they belong at the top of any list. They’ve managed to make premiumspeakers affordable. The F5.2 speakers provide crystal clear sound through their entire range, and exhibit very little distortion
Everything about Debut 2.0 has been improved, including completely redesigned custom drivers that deliver greater accuracy, and robust cabinets for even higher resolution and freedom from resonances.
A new silk-dome tweeter features a wide-roll surround and takes response up to 35,000 Hz for even more lifelike high frequencies. The waveguide improves directivity control and eliminates the diffraction modes inherent in traditional box enclosures.
The ELAC’s step response is nice and tight, with a very good sustain, giving the sound precision all over. Its bass is especially tight for its price point, giving drums a very punchy feel. In particular, the ELACs have a shelf boost past 1.5kHz, which gives treble an extra sparkle and brings more atmosphere to the sound, but also leaves the speakers sounding a little thin and harsh sometimes.
The revised shape of the aramid cones offers even greater stiffness and damping, far superior to polypropylene or paper. The added strength allows more flexibility in design to achieve a smoother, extended low-frequency response.
It is a spacious soundstage too, without losing focus. Strong organization ties instruments together, particularly as each is given its own little space in which to dance. It’s a generally airy presentation, but nothing feels detached, as if it doesn’t belong to the whole. Plenty of speakers can dig impressive levels of detail out of a recording, but what helps Elac stand apart here is that the F5.2s are also full of life.
There are hundreds of high-end loudspeaker manufacturers, so it is understandable that consumers are confused when they take their first steps into this category. Fyne Audio is both a “new” loudspeaker brand but also one with some of the most experienced loudspeaker designers in the world.
A two-way, rear-ported design, the F302s house a 25mm polyester dome tweeter and 15cm multi-fibre mid/bass driver in each of their relatively sturdy cabinets that look the part.The expensive part – which is even more interesting considering their affordable price. Their 90 dB (8 ohms) sensitivity rating makes them very easy to drive, but unlike the Monitor Audio’s Bronze 200, they are far pickier when it comes to amplification and source components. Drive them with the wrong combination and they will not impress.
There is further detailing surrounding the bass/mid driver too, though more than mere aesthetic flourish, this tyre-like design aids solidity and makes it more difficult to distort, in a similar fashion to twisting or folding a sheet of paper.
As for treble, Fyne has done a great job with seamlessly blending in the woofer to the tweeter which in turn helps to not make the tweeter stand out in front of everything which can take away from the music listening, the treble in this case sounds very cohesive with extending from the woofer where there is clarity and good refinement.
They are available in walnut, black ash and light oak finishes – described by Fyne as ‘superior vinyl’. These are understated finishes, offset by a glossy black headband framing the tweeter.
It’s rare to find floorstanding all-rounders that are able to compete in every respect with the wealth of quality standmount speakers available.We would recommend the F302's for anyone looking for a well designed pair of speakers that play very well in the music department on a budget for small to mid sized rooms.Quite simply, the F302 offer outstanding value.
Pros and Cons of Fyne Audio F302:
Full bodied entertaining sound Fantastic timing and dynamics Plenty of low end presence
Speaking of Q-Acoustics from the United Kingdom, everyone’s first impression is that it has a young and fashionable appearance, which is unique among many speakers. In addition to its eye-catching design, its products also focus on the advantages of affordable and good sound and have long been the first choice of many young music lovers. The Q-acoustics 3000 series speakers were top-rated.
The 3050i is an elegant speaker that looks surprisingly narrow when you get it out of its box.They look positively sylphlike with their slender width and gently curved shoulders. Unlike many floorstanding speakers, the 3050i aren’t square and blocky and they certainly won’t dominate a living room.
Standing 40 inches (1020mm) high, the 3050i isn't small but its curved lines cut a distinctly modern look. The speaker features two coated paper 6.5-inch (165mm) mid-woofers, a cabinet-decoupled 0.9-inch (22mm) dome tweeter, and there's a large bass port on the speaker's rear panel.
The speakers feature something called Helmholtz Pressure Equalizer (HPE) technology which is used in the Q Acoustics flagship Concept speakers and involves filling a tube with damping material which is then placed in the cabinet to deaden any internal soundwaves from bouncing around inside the cabinet and interfering with the drivers. The bracing across the 3000i Series supports the parts of the enclosure that need to be stiffened making the enclosures exceptionally rigid, improving the focus of the stereo image and giving the soundstage more accuracy than in previous ranges.
The 3050i is a worthy flagship - with twin woofer units the bass depth and dynamics are effortlessly deep and powerful. Despite the exhilarating sound, they’re far from unrefined. Thanks to high quality components and clever design, they still have the same skill with extracting the finer subtleties of music. The big scale sound created by the 3050i’s also makes them ideal as the front speakers in a home cinema set.
Whether it is pure music listening or multi-channel home theater performance, it is terrific. It surpasses the old models by many levels, and it is almost difficult to have a rival in the same price range.
Pros and Cons of Q Acoustics 3050i:
They have terrific dynamics and detail. The construction and design feels premium, despite the comparatively low price. They are powerful and authoritative with a good rhythmic drive.
They don’t perform nearly as well with music as they do for home theater.
Wharfedale had already been in business for 50 when it launched the primary Diamond Series loudspeakers in 1982,except for many contemporary Wharfedale fans, the arrival of these first Diamonds was really the birth of the modern-day Wharfedale as we all know it now. While the company still makes some superb high-end offerings, like the $10,000/pair Elysian 4 flagships, it’s probably best known (especially here within the USA) for the value-oriented Diamond Series. Simply put, the Diamond Series has been one among the foremost successful speaker lines of all time.
The Diamond 12 series showcases affordable genuine hi-fi loudspeakers that capture the spirit of music whether you choose to listen to rock, classical, jazz or electronica whilst precisely reproducing the recording. Made in collaboration with a leading loudspeaker designer; Karl-Heinz Fink, the Diamond 12 has a modern industrial design that is still distinctly Wharfedale and excellent acoustic design and engineering that makes it a new ‘budget’ benchmark.
All of the Diamond 12 speakers feature newly-developed mid/bass drivers using a proprietary cone material called “Klarity,” which replaces the kevlar used in previous versions. The material is composed of Polypropylene (chosen for its low-distortion characteristics) infused with mica, which reportedly adds stiffness to reduce flexing within the cone.
The new 1-inch tweeter in the Diamond 12 Series is made from a woven polyester film treated with a high-loss damping coating “to deliver open and smoothly extended high frequencies.” By optimizing the tweeter’s magnet system and the design of the front plate, Fink and his team sought to achieve wide dispersion and uncompressed behavior from the tweeter. The tweaked magnet system reduces compression, resulting in lower distortion at high volume levels.
In terms of the cabinet, the rear-ported enclosure of each model is precisely sized so that the internal volume works in harmony with the drive unit system to deliver the desired sonic result. The cabinet walls are made from sections of wood fiber board of varying thickness, constructed to optimize each speaker's sonic profile.
These Diamonds also sound good at lower volume levels. Too often we come across speakers that only come alive when pushed hard, but the 12.3 can be enjoyed at levels that won’t wake the kids or upset the neighbors late at night.