Best Floor Standing Speakers

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Floor speakers are the most important aspect of any home theater system; realistically, they're the only speakers you could use on their own and still wind up with respectable sound. Some folks might try to get away with just a center channel like a sound bar, but it's really not the same. Some tower speakers can create enormous sound fields that approach that of full surround sound, which a lone center channel or sound bar could never accomplish. Floor speakers come in all shapes and sizes, and are designed for a variety of listening styles and intended uses; rather than looking solely at ranking or price, remember to consider how and where you will use these speakers when reading reviews. I'm sure the Focal Grande Utopia EM or Sound Lab U-1PX would sound great no matter where you put them, but they are designed for large dedicated listening spaces; smaller speakers like the Triton Two would probably sound (and look) much more appropriate in a master bedroom or smaller den.

There are two main types of floor speakers: dynamic and electrostatic. Dynamic speakers are your traditional air-moving cones with a diaphragm, they account for virtually all "normal" speakers. Electrostatic speakers utilize a charged field within which a very thin membrane vibrates to create sound waves; the resulting sound is very fast and can produce an extremely large soundstage with peerless imaging, but they have a smaller sweet spot, meaning that you should point the speakers directly at your intended listening position; the sound won't be as realistic or spacious from outside the sweet spot, which is usually big enough for 1-3 people. Dynamic speakers have a sweet spot, too, but it is usually much larger, and they sound better outside the sweet spot than electrostatics. Electrostats are usually bought by audiophiles who use their speakers mostly for music, but with a supporting subwoofer they can sound great with movies, too. If you've never owned electrostats, please try to demo before buying, as they sound noticeably different from dynamic speakers and are considered to be an acquired taste by many.

The speakers that comprise the following lists range from excellent budget models, which deliver great bang for your buck, all the way up to peak HiFi setups and the kinds of speakers used for mastering in the world’s most renowned studios. I advise most first-time buyers to start low; many non-audiophiles won't feel the need to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get very satisfying budget models, and I would bet that most people will be happy with speakers like the Pioneer FS-52 without feeling the need to upgrade. That said, you get what you pay for, and if you’re ready to shell out a thousand or more, you'll get serious audio that will make your local movie theater sound muddy and undetailed, and if you decide to roll with the big dogs and spend over $5,000, you're getting into the realm of professional-class sound and will probably never want to go back.

In the end, every speaker listed here is great for its intended purpose, and no matter what your budget, there are speakers out there for everyone. Have a good read, and prepare for a big package to show up on your doorstep soon!

Best Mid Range Floor Standing Speakers:

There are plenty of budget-friendly options for speakers that compete with pricier brand names and upmarket models sold in retail. But for those with a slightly broader budget, truly HiFi-worthy sound can be had for those willing to breach the thousand dollar mark. Well-known enthusiast favorite brands like Klisch, Revel, and MartinLogan place their midrange audiophile-targeted setups within very reachable prices in hopes of luring new sound addicts into the upper echelons of HiFi. To those without golden ears, such speakers will likely deliver what they are looking for: sound quality that approaches that of truly high-end kit without breaking into the land of ridiculous diminishing returns and aesthetic over-selling occupied by brands like Focal, Wilson Audio, and Calyx. This is the sweet spot of home theater: if you can stretch your budget to the $1,000-$5,000 range, you are beginning to look at very serious audio.

The speakers in this list have been chosen on a basis of overall sound quality, price to performance ratio, and their ability to appeal to a particular listening style. They are ranked here in terms of perceived sound quality. Be sure to consider your listening environment and personal tastes before buying a speaker; more expensive does not always mean better, and individual preferences and listening styles should be a real factor, as speakers can have very different sound presentations, so read carefully before you buy.

GoldenEar Triton Two Floor Standing Speaker

GoldenEar is a small company with deep roots: founder Sandy Grossman, a speaker designer who has played an integral role in the commercial success of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, has set out to compete with the bigger brands hes helped foster. The Triton Two is his answer to their midrange products, boasting a massive soundstage and impressive bass performance: an ideal solution for those who want full-range sound for home theater or music without spending extra on a subwoofer. Read Full Review

GoldenEar Triton Two Floor Standing Speaker

Revel Performa F208 Speaker

Revel always has quality offerings for a reasonable price, and the F208 is no exception. With a balanced sound, sweet treble, neutral midrange, and very impressive bass performance, they are a peek into serious high end audio at a more obtainable price of $5,000, a reasonable asking price for speakers that compare with much pricier offerings from more popular firms. Read Full Review

Revel Performa F208 Speaker

MartinLogan Electromotion ESL RMS Speaker

Bringing electrostatic speakers to the masses, MartinLogans Electromotion series is one of very few affordable electrostatic setups targeted at midrange buyers. The ESL speakers offer an appealing compromise between the classic fast, airy, detailed electrostat sound and consumer-friendly warmth, with integrated woofers adding the extra punch that some find lacking in electrostatic panels. Read Full Review

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    MartinLogan Electromotion ESL RMS Speaker

    Tekton Pendragon Floorstanding Loudspeaker

    Tekton is not an exceedingly large company, nor are they well known outside of the niche online audiophile community, but they offer incredible value for affordable speakers. With a fast, dynamic sound and exceptionally three-dimensional soundstage, the Pendragon sounds better than many more expensive speakers and is an ideal choice for home theater applications. Read Full Review

    Tekton Pendragon Floorstanding Loudspeaker

    Klipsch RF-7 II Floorstanding Speaker

    Klispch's Reference series is a staple in the world of high end audio, known for its forward, powerful sound and solid bass performance. The RF7-II is the top-of-the-line floor speaker in the Reference line, and, as such, the standard bearer for Klipschs speakers, epitomizing their house sound and creating a truly explosive home theater experience. Read Full Review

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      Klipsch RF-7 II Floorstanding Speaker

      Best High End Floor Standing Speakers:

      This is it: the absolute summit of floorstanding speakers. If you've come here, you are looking for the best of the best, and you are probably expecting to pay top-dollar; if youre not, stay tuned, because there are a few deals in here... relatively speaking. Make no mistake, you will still need a fair chunk of change to play in this sandbox, with the good deals going for around $5,000 a pair. But dont be intimidated by the price tags: while the very best of the best will push the limits of any budget, you can still achieve absolutely phenomenal sound quality for a reasonable price, and this list is about finding the right speaker for anyone. There are price-no-object speakers out there, like the Focal Grande Utopia EM at $180,000 a pair, but something like the JTR Noesis 212HT would probably be preferred by a strong majority of those looking for standard home theater speakers on sound alone, and they only cost a few grand apiece.

      If you read that last sentence, and immediately thought, "ONLY a few grand?!" then this is not where you should be looking. But if you want the best, you have to pay for it! The speakers listed here have been chosen on the basis of offering the best sound quality available at any price for a variety of listening applications, and are ranked here in terms of perceived sound quality. Please read carefully to find the best speaker for your needs, and enjoy!

      Focal Grande Utopia EM Floor Standing Speakers

      The reference upon which reference speakers are built, Focals Utopia Grande has undergone various design iterations since 1995, and from the outset it has been one of the standards against which all speakers are compared. The current model, the Grande Utopia EM, features nearly every one of Focals numerous innovations in speaker design, and delivers true-to-life sound that truly has no equal. Read Full Review

      Focal Grande Utopia EM Floor Standing Speakers

      JTR Noesis 212HT Speaker

      JTR is a very small, privately owned company that has gained an impressive reputation over the last 5 years for offering supremely natural, dynamic sound at a price far below what sound this good typically fetches. Their Noesis 212HT speakers are supremely versatile, and deliver sound quality typically found in speakers as much as ten times their price. The Noesis is an incredible versatile speaker, and easily one of the best values in all of the high-end audio. Read Full Review

      JTR Noesis 212HT Speaker

      Sound Lab U-1PX Floor Standing Speaker

      While not nearly as well-known as MartinLogan, Sound Lab is one of the oldest and most dedicated makers of electrostatic speakers. They craft every unit they sell by hand, including the U-1PX, which is capable of producing notes all the way down to 24 hz, just shy of the absolute limit of human hearing and easily the best bass performance of any electrostat in production. Read Full Review

      Sound Lab U-1PX Floor Standing Speaker

      Seaton Sound Catalyst 12C Floor Standing Speaker

      Seaton Sound is a small but growing company that has many followers in the niche audiophile community, and with good reason. The Catalyst 12C is a fantastic speaker for the price, offering balanced, smooth reproduction with the kind of detail retrieval one might expect from speakers many times Seaton Sounds asking price, and the ability to reach positively insane volumes without distorting. Read Full Review

      Seaton Sound Catalyst 12C Floor Standing Speaker

      Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond Floor Standing Speaker

      Hailing from one of the worlds best known names in audio, the 800 Series Diamond is one of the most well-respected and best known speakers on the planet. Famous for being Abbey Road Studios speaker of choice, it is unquestionably one of the finest pieces of audio equipment money can buy, and delivers sound rivaling many more expensive audiophile collector pieces from the likes of Focal and Wilson without quite as much pomp, circumstance, or bubble wrap. Read Full Review

      Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond  Floor Standing Speaker

      Best Budget Floor Standing Speakers:

      Finding affordable, high quality speakers can be a challenge. The whole audio industry is inundated with slick sales pitches, fancy terminology, and constant claims of revolutionary new technology that are usually just rehashed versions of designs that have been around for at least a few decades.

      That said, there are always competitive offers in the lower echelons, and with the internet introducing a new dawn of do-it-yourself enthusiasts, new smaller companies, and direct dealers, the market is more competitive than ever. A serious system can be built for less than a grand, easily, and generally the more of that budget that goes into good floor speakers, the better the systems overall performance will be. Some of the biggest names in audio have really competitive offerings in the under-$1,000 per pair segment, and a few smaller companies have begun to disrupt the market as well.

      The speakers listed here have been selected for their price to performance ratio and are ranked here in order of absolute sound quality. When making your decision, keep in mind that some speakers are designed to cater to certain room sizes or a particular listening style, so read carefully before making a final purchase.

      Pioneer SP-FS52 Andrew Jones Designed Floorstanding Loudspeakers

      With renowned speaker designer Andrew Jones at the helm, Pioneer has taken their speaker game to the next level, offering high-end sound at very affordable prices. The FS52 speakers are the centerpiece of these new budget models, ringing in at under $300 a pair with sound quality that simply embarrasses most offerings less than triple their price. Read Full Review

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        Pioneer SP-FS52 Andrew Jones Designed Floorstanding Loudspeakers

        JBL Studio 190

        The Studio 190 delivers JBL's characteristic house sound: dynamic, punchy audio with an enhanced timber that is not quite what I would call neutral, but sounds great with movies. With substantial bass response on their own and an exciting, open sound, the 190s are a great choice for any home theater. Read Full Review

        JBL Studio 190

        Paradigm Monitor Series 7

        Sporting what is like the widest sound stage in the price range, Paradigms Monitor Series 7 is on the high end of this price segment, but it earns the extra cash. With a very natural sound and immersive presentation that is ideal for home theater and listening to live music performances, the Series 7 are a solid buy at $900 for the pair, and worth it over other speakers in the price range if you can stretch your budget. Read Full Review

        Paradigm Monitor Series 7

        Infinity P363BK 6.5" 3-Way Passive Floorstanding Speaker (Black)

        Infinity is the budget-oriented wing of the Harmon group, and its Primus 363 speakers are priced to sell at just over $600 for the pair. With an enveloping presentation and clean, natural sound, the P363 is incredibly hard to beat at MSRP, and can occasionally be had for even cheaper, up to ? MSRP, from online dealers, making them one of the best values in this segment. Read Full Review

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          Infinity P363BK 6.5" 3-Way Passive Floorstanding Speaker (Black)

          Magnepan MMG Floor Standing Speaker

          For those who prefer the airy, well-separated sound of electrostatic panels, the Magnepan MMG offers an incredible value, capable of producing full-range sound with clarity and speed that will impress anyone. These are not for lovers of thumping bass or warm, lush tonality, but rather for those who prefer detail, precision, and clinical accuracy. Read Full Review

          Magnepan MMG Floor Standing Speaker

          Best Floor Standing Speakers for Music:

          When watching movies, most viewers tend to prefer more emphasis on bass and midrange; this keeps dialogue clear, and makes sound effects like explosions, fights, gunfire, and just about any kind of action more explosive and realistic. Those who use their speakers primarily for music, on the other hand, usually prefer an emphasis on speed and treble frequencies, as well as more precise imaging and instrument placement. This helps highlight more skilled musicianship by bringing tiny details to the front: things like the quiet brush of fingers against a guitars wooden body, a vocalists breath, and the tiniest tweaks of strings on an electric guitar can add such realism and presence to the music as to make it feel more live and truly real.

          For this reason, many who design their home entertainment systems for music listening often choose electrostatic speakers. These are not your traditional dynamic speakers, with a cone and moving diaphragm. Electrostatic panels utilize an ultra-thin diaphragm that is electrically charged, which vibrates in an electrostatic field to generate sound waves, rather than allowing itself to be physically moved by air. This allows electrostats to pick up the minute details that are sometimes missed by even the most advanced traditional speakers. It does mean that they are generally less dynamic-sounding, as less air is being moved, but they make up for their lack of excitement with ultimate levels of detail and incredible speed, which combine to deliver incredible stereo imaging with such realism that the sound produced by electrostatic panels sometimes seems hyper-real.

          This sound isnt for everyone, and many people will find themselves asking Wheres the bass? if they are listening to electrostats without a properly integrated subwoofer. They are also very picky about positioning: they must be placed far enough away from walls or other large surfaces, and angled precisely in order to create the "sweet spot." Electrostats definitely aren't for everyone.

          Luckily, there are plenty of dynamic speakers that excel with music, too, and I recommend them for anyone who usually listens to bass-heavy music, has a large space that is used to entertain company, dance, or move around in, or really wants to crank up the volume and rock out. Electrostatic speakers' sweet spot is relatively small, so they don't work very well for parties or outdoor use; dynamic speakers have a fuller sound, larger sound field, and more physical bass response, making them better suited for such applications.

          As you can see, there are plenty of factors that should play into your choice of speakers for music. The speakers listed here have been chosen on the basis of their overall sound quality and how realistically they present music, and are ranked here by perceived sound quality, but be sure that you are choosing the proper speakers for your particular applications; it doesn't matter how much money you spend if you don't really think through your exact needs.

          As a general rule, if you will do most of your listening alone or with perhaps one or two others, and don't find yourself yearning for gobs of bass, electrostatics will treat you to something different and new and very impressive. But if you will be entertaining guests, their large physical size coupled with the small sweet spot will probably be a hinderance, and you should look into dynamics. Whichever type you choose, every the speaker listed here offers incredible sound quality, and a few are very good values for their price. Enjoy!

          Sound Lab U-1PX Floor Standing Speaker

          Electrostatic speakers are the preferred method of sound delivery for those who desire the fastest, cleanest presentation of music, and the U-1PX is arguably the best, and indisputably the most technically capable electrostatic panel ever built. With bass extension that is simply unheard of from an electrostat, and precision imaging that makes high end custom balanced armature earphones sound muddy, the U-1PX is quite possibly the best full-range pure music speaker ever designed. Read Full Review

          Sound Lab U-1PX Floor Standing Speaker

          JTR Noesis 212HT Speaker

          For those who dont care for the airy delicacies of electrostatic speakers, and really just want to rock out, the JTR Noesis 212HT is probably just about the perfect speaker for music. Sporting a clean, balanced response and reaching insane volume levels without distorting, the Noesis is JTRs finest speaker, and one of the best dynamic speakers on the market, period. Read Full Review

          JTR Noesis 212HT Speaker

          Quad ESL 2912 Floor Standing Speaker

          A slightly more reasonably priced alternative to the U-1PX, Quads newest top-of-the-line model doesnt have quite the same bass extension, but it does produce phenomenally clean, well-separated and precisely imaged music. If you plan on buying a subwoofer anyways, the 2912 will give you performance that is very close to Sound Labs top offering, perhaps even better in some respects, and will save you a good chunk of change. Read Full Review

          Quad ESL 2912 Floor Standing Speaker

          Tekton M-Lore Floor Standing Speaker

          Producing some of the most dynamic, effortless sound from any pair of floorstanders under $1000, the Tekton M-Lores are ideal speakers for those whose systems are used for both movies and music. With tight bass, a balanced, versatile signature, and the ability to play at obscene volumes with minimal power and no audible distortion, the M-Lores are great do-all speakers, and definitely earn the extra cash they cost over other budget speakers. Read Full Review

          Tekton M-Lore Floor Standing Speaker

          Magnepan MMG Floor Standing Speaker

          For those who prefer the airy, well-separated sound of electrostatic panels, the Magnepan MMG offers an incredible value, capable of producing full-range sound with clarity and speed that will impress anyone. These are not for lovers of thumping bass or warm, lush tonality, but rather for those who prefer detail, precision, and clinical accuracy. Read Full Review

          Magnepan MMG Floor Standing Speaker
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