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Speakers: Bookshelf, Floor Standing

Bookshelf speakers
The next step up is ‘bookshelf’ speakers, which retain a compact, manageable size while providing greater power handling capabilities. Although their name would suggest that you place them on a shelf, it’s often better to put them on stands (which is why they’re often called ‘standmount’ speakers), which provide the stability needed to avoid unwanted vibration and make them perform more efficiently.

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Floor Standing
But if you have more floor space, a bigger budget and you’re serious about home cinema sound quality then you might like to go for floorstanding or ‘tower’ speakers. The benefit is that they’re designed to be placed on the floor and transmit sound at the correct height for the ears without the need for stands. And because they use larger cabinets, floorstanders usually boast bigger and more powerful drivers than bookshelf or satellite speakers, which can result in much better sound quality. Because they’re designed to be placed on the floor, these towers are usually supplied with spikes or rubber feet to reduce movement and vibration that can affect audio performance.

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Finally, there’s another option worth considering – in-wall or ceiling speakers (from companies like Stealth Acoustics) which are installed invisibly within the wall cavity. They’re a common feature of custom installations, but the downside is that they require more effort to set up than the types mentioned above, and could require the services of a pricey professional installer.

Whichever type you go for, it’s always best to choose front, centre and surround speakers all from the same manufacturer and even from the same range. Speakers all built to the same specifications across a range should, in theory, be tonally matched to complement each other, which helps to deliver a consistent, homogenous soundstage. If you mix and match speakers from different ranges or brands you run the risk of getting an unbalanced sound that could distract from your enjoyment of the movie. And if you need to mix sizes – for example use towers for the front channels and bookshelves for the rears – then again make sure you pick a system that offers differently sized but tonally matched speaker options.

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