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January 28, 2011

Which surround sound speakers? Bookshelf or Tower Speakers?

Filed under: AV question — Tags: , — Alan @ 3:33 pm

Q. My room is 19 ft. x 11 ft. x 8 ft. and I sit 8.5 ft. from the speakers. Should I use the QS4’s or QS8’s for my rears? My left/right separation for the front towers will be 5 or 6 feet. I like the M60’s, but should I go for the M22s? Thanks. — Phil L.

A. Given the size of your room and listening distance, you could certainly use the Epic Grand Master system, which uses the QS8 surround sound speakers . The latter are a slightly smoother tonal match to the M22’s or the M60s. By the way, the QS surrounds should go to each side of the listening area, per Dolby Lab specs, not the “rear”. You can use them at the rear if you wish–they’re very accommodating–but the side walls are preferred for a correct Dolby installation because that’s how 5.1-channel movies are mixed, with the surrounds on the side walls of the listening area. See the diagram below for best placement. If you add the extra single speaker for a 6.1 setup, or additional two rear surround sound speakers for 7.1, the rear wall is the intended location.

The M60s have a somewhat “bigger” sound than the M22s and of course are capable of significantly deeper bass extension and output as well as higher, cleaner volume levels than the M22’s. I use the M22s (with a sub) in a slightly larger room and they play as loud as I ever want. However, some of my younger friends and colleagues listen at levels I wouldn’t dream of using! So think about whether you want to “crank” the system up with high-level rock ‘n’ roll. The tonal balance of each model is very similar, with identical midrange and upper-octave detail and clarity.

The QS4s are very good, but have slightly smaller woofers, so they won’t play quite as cleanly at loud levels as the QS8s. The QS4s are more suitable for modest-sized rooms and lower power-output receivers.  Good luck choosing the right surround sound speakers for your room!

Alan Lofft was, for 13 years, Editor in Chief of Sound & Vision, Canada’s largest and most respected audio/video magazine. He edited Sound & Vision (Canada) until 1996, when he moved from Toronto to New York to become Senior Editor at Audio magazine.
Lofft has been writing about hi-fi and video professionally for over 20 years, ever since his first syndicated newspaper column, “Sound Advice”, began appearing weekly in The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. In the late 1970s, he became a contributing editor, columnist, and equipment reviewer at AudioScene Canada, the leading national consumer electronics magazine at the time. Find out more about Alan in his bio.

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