Bookshelf Speaker vs Tower: 5 Key Differences

Bookshelf speaker vs tower? Most speakers used for home audio setup fall into two categories: tower and bookshelf speakers. Often, sound experts get asked about the difference between bookshelf speakers and tower speakers. There is no absolute winner and the style of speaker you choose depends on your needs and sound goals.

The difference in their size is apparent, moreover, both speakers have their own distinct strengths and weaknesses. The following comparison of bookshelf and tower speakers will make it easy to choose the right style of speaker.

Bookshelf Speakers

This style of speaker derives its name from its size and placement. Due to its compact size, it is usually placed on an elevated surface like a bookshelf.

Well, it is just industry jargon, the speaker can be placed anywhere according to the listening position.

These 2-way speakers have a dedicated mid-bass driver and a tweeter. It lacks a subwoofer and does not produce low-end bass output well.

These audio devices have improved bass and audio performance paired with a subwoofer.

Tower Speakers

Tower speakers, colloquially called floor-standing speakers, are tall and heavy as opposed to compact bookshelf speakers.

These speakers are considerably larger than bookshelf speakers and are meant to be positioned on the floor. They have larger cabinets and multiple woofers, drivers, and tweeters.

In addition, tower-style speakers cover a low-frequency response range to widen the soundstage. Owing to the substantial footprint, a lot goes into positioning the tower speakers.

Difference Between Bookshelf and Tower Speakers

Things are not as simple as they used to be due to the wide array of speaker styles available. As stated earlier, there is no winner, choose any of the devices after weighing the pros and cons and determining which would be the right match for your audio setup.

Sound Quality

First and foremost, many serious music listeners and audiophiles take into account the sound quality and bass before buying any audio device.

Tower speakers have the ability to produce superior sound and impactful bass due to their bigger cabinets and multiple drivers. Besides having multiple woofers and drivers, these speakers allow more air circulation through drivers for immersive sound and deeper bass.

There is no need to pair the subwoofer together with the tower speakers due to the excellent bass output.

On the other hand, bookshelf speakers also have room-energizing output with potent highs and mid-ranges. Most bookshelf speakers lack deep low-frequency extension and a sensory experience.

Pairing with a subwoofer instantly extends the dynamic range and frequency response. Importantly, many latest full-range bookshelf speakers produce excellent low-end bass without a subwoofer.


Tower speakers have better volume capabilities and sensitivity ratings. They can produce louder volume with absolute ease and handle amplifications better. These speakers can produce higher volumes without any hisses and distortions.

In contrast, bookshelf speakers are also capable of producing louder volume but at the expense of sound quality. With these devices, clarity is lost when producing higher volume. Read Bookshelf Speaker vs Soundbar comparison for volume quality.


The price of the speaker is almost always an important consideration when buying any piece of audio equipment.

One would expect that tower speakers having a larger size and more components would be expensive. It is certainly true that floorstanding speakers are pricer due to larger cabinets and drivers. Usually, the price of high-quality tower speakers starts at around $500 or more.

In comparison, audiophiles with budget constraints can opt for bookshelf speakers. Most bookshelf speakers are easily affordable, averaging around $150.

Additionally, full-range bookshelf speakers may cost more than $250. It should be noted that high-end bookshelf speakers are more expensive than lesser-quality tower speakers.

Size & Space

Tower speakers differ greatly in size and footprint in comparison to bookshelf speakers. A pair of tower speakers can never be discrete, instead, the most attention-grabbing equipment in any space.

While the tower speakers occupy more space, the tradeoff is superior sound quality. Further, they deliver louder and deeper sound for large areas.

Comparably, bookshelf speakers are barely noticeable and fit on a small shelf or cabinet. Although bookshelf speakers are compact and offer placement versatility, they may not offer top audio performance in larger spaces.

Placement Flexibility

Tower speakers do not offer placement flexibility due to their massive build. They do not function well in smaller spaces and should be placed in a spacious room. Plus, the furniture needs to be rearranged to make room for these gigantic speakers.

Conversely, bookshelf speakers provide the best sound output for small to medium-sized speakers. Simply place it anywhere at ear level and you are good to go.

Bookshelf Speaker vs Tower – Which One is Better?

A tower speaker is your best bet if you want impressive sound output, volume capabilities, and fuller bass. In contrast, bookshelf speakers have good audio quality and function well in smaller spaces.

The decision to choose one depends highly on the fact that how much sound you want the speaker to produce in a room.

Tower speakers are declared winners when it comes to deeper bass, sound quality, and frequency response. However, these bulkier sound systems accommodate more space. While bookshelf speakers may not produce as impressive a sound as tower speakers, they have a compact size and can fit easily in a room.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Tower Speakers Need to Be Placed on the Floor?

Yes, as the name implies, tower speakers are taller and heavier, therefore, should be placed on the floor or a sturdy shelf. In case there is not much space, they can be mounted on the wall.

Are Bookshelf Speakers as Good as Tower Speakers?

A few high-quality, full-range speakers are just as good as tower speakers. Generally, tower speakers produce better audio and impactful bass due to multiple drivers, woofers, and other components.

Do floor speakers sound better than bookshelf speakers?

Mostly yes, these speakers sound better and louder than the bookshelf speaker, suitable for larger listening spaces. Otherwise known as tower speakers, most audiophiles prefer them for their top-notch audio performance.

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Cian has 7 years of experience in the musical instruments industry. His press and research articles are published in many well-known journals. Cian is part of our product testing team so he knows the criteria for the best products. Here at sound keen cian covers how to set up instruments and selection criteria for new products.

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