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  1. #1
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    Towers vs. Bookshelf Speakers

    This weekend I was able to spend about an hour listening to my Jamo C 601 bookshelf speakers in the 14 x 14 room with the 10 foot ceiling. Hard wood floors and currently no furniture in it.

    I was absolutely stunned to feel the room shake when playing some Three Dog Night tunes at a moderate audio level from my Qinpu A3 tube/solid state hybrid amp. The entire room was filled with audio even though I did not have any stands to use. Propped them on the floor about 8 feet apart and toed them up about a half inch which gave a real concert hall effect though with a slightly boomy bass, even when they were a foot away from the wall. I then mounted them on a couple of 2 foot tall boxes and I noted the bass became tighter but was still shockingly strong. The sound stage became more expansive and open as a result of the height.

    Now I am very confused. I have never heard a small bookshelf speaker behave like a small tower before. My only other experience owning small speakers was a pair of Yamaha NS4 circa 1981 and then JBL 2500's in the mid 1990's. Neither of those could even come close to sounding like these Jamo's in any way, shape or form at all. None.

    This being the case, I have to wonder what the differences i.e. pros and cons are to bookshelf speakers and towers. I was thinking that I should buy a pair of towers for my next main speakers to use after my Mirage OM 10's bite the dust but now I am wondering if I can achieve the same objective by using a high quality bookshelf.

    Can anyone explain the best and worst points of each kind of speaker?

  2. #2
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    Options and variety are overwhelming. There are plenty of small speakers that can outperform larger speakers. Sometimes it is just a preference of one vs the other for looks and placement or WAF. I have a tiny pair of Dynaudio 42s being driven by a Stratos amp and I am continuously amazed at what they will do. I also have floorstanders that are 4.5' tall and do not have deep thumping bass, but have more tone, timber, and detail than my Dynaudio 82s.

    There are many killer small speakers and if you evr get a chance to listen to a pair of JAS Orior speakers driven with comparable gear, you would have a hard time convincing yourself they were not bigger.

    I also have an older pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s that more than fill both my family room and kitchen with plenty of reserve.

    Another example using the older Dynaudio Audience line would be the 122c center channel. It is the same speaker as the floorstanding 122 but with a foot of cabinet cut off. If you got two of them and stood them up, you would have almost the same sound performance as the 122.

    Keep in mind a totally empty hardwoord floor room is pretty easy to fill and has so many reflections, you may be hearing more loudness than detail.

  3. #3
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    With all things being equal, brand, drivers etc. physics tells you a floorstanding speaker will be able to play lower than a stand mount. Sometimes stand mount speakers are voiced with a bass hump to make them sound fuller and often times you get enough midbass to be satisfying. But with program material with true low end you will notice the absence.

    You do have to be comparing apples to apples though a quality stand mount can sometimes outperform a less quality floorstander for sure. Or, at least be more desirable

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billiam62 View Post
    I was absolutely stunned to feel the room shake when playing some Three Dog Night tunes at a moderate audio level from my Qinpu A3 tube/solid state hybrid amp.
    Now I am very confused. I have never heard a small bookshelf speaker behave like a small tower before.

    This being the case, I have to wonder what the differences i.e. pros and cons are to bookshelf speakers and towers. I was thinking that I should buy a pair of towers for my next main speakers to use after my Mirage OM 10's bite the dust but now I am wondering if I can achieve the same objective by using a high quality bookshelf.

    Can anyone explain the best and worst points of each kind of speaker?
    Ah-ha, see you got to experimenting with what you already have in stock. Taking a page out of JM's recent experience with speaker positioning you may already have all the speaker you need for your listening environment.

    The listening experience you just described reminds me of similar listening experiences with the CA-S30 and what was even more room shaking was the puny Mordaunt-Short Avant 902i. Some stand mounts can really deliver the goods in the right system and in the right room and it appears to me that the Jamo C-601 just may the the ticket for you on proper stands with great attention to locating the best placement for SQ.

    The Pro's of a bookshelf are normally lower purchase price, overachieving performance, soundstage, and easy to move around. The cons are need proper stands, and if you want deeper bass or really like to play music loudly the smaller speaker will reach it's max limit quicker.

    The Pro's of a floor stander is no need for speaker stands, can usually get more bass depth and slam, and are usually more db efficient than a stand mount. The con's are you usually need a larger room to place them in to sound their best, can be harder physically move around, can be more costly to purchase.

    What would you expect a floor stander to do in your listening room that your Jamo's aren't already doing for you?
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  5. #5
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    LeRoy. Thanks for the insight.

    Yes, it appears that I will need to purchase some stands in order to determine how to position these for the best sound that they are capable of. I have been using the Castle Conway 3's in my apartment for stands and they sound quite good even though they are mounted up at 3 feet at the top of the Castle's. I can't really crank them up here for obvious reasons but will be able do so at the house. I will buy some stands and then try them in different spots in the house the next time I get there.

    The C601's a bit warm sounding on the low end of the mid range. That is the only aspect of this speaker that I am not enthusiastic about. Otherwise they are great speakers and were well worth the cost. I still prefer the Mirage OM 10's because they do throw a larger sound though not by much and they offer that enveloping omni polar sound that a traditional box style speaker does not. This being the case, I am thinking that a tower speaker might still be best. I do have to consider the pet factor as well. They won't be able to knock over towers but may be able to take down the bookshelves on stands.

  6. #6
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    I just ordered the following speaker stands.

    Amazon.com: VideoSecu 2 PA DJ Club Adjustable Satellite Speaker Stand 1B5: Electronics

    Adjustable height and they can even be tilted upwards around 10 to 15 degrees. I figure these will give me some different placement options allowing me to find the best spot for the speakers in the new place.

  7. #7
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    My man! welcome to the world of Shock! I know what you are talking about. I have a pair of stand-mount speakers that never wants for bass. They go low. I was shocked when I first got them into my space. Yeah, with the right engineering they can design a stand mount to deliver the bass. And I don't have a bass hump so to speak...these things have excellent engineering, and knowing Jamo, they've been doing what they do for a long time. And I' ve heard your speakers years ago when I lived in North Carolina...they are a very fine speaker. Well it was the bigger C-603 and I heard the two floor standers. Great speakers.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billiam62 View Post
    I just ordered the following speaker stands.

    Amazon.com: VideoSecu 2 PA DJ Club Adjustable Satellite Speaker Stand 1B5: Electronics

    Adjustable height and they can even be tilted upwards around 10 to 15 degrees. I figure these will give me some different placement options allowing me to find the best spot for the speakers in the new place.
    Price is right with all kinds of options for positioning. Looks to be a smart choice for your needs.
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    Options and variety are overwhelming. There are plenty of small speakers that can outperform larger speakers. Sometimes it is just a preference of one vs the other for looks and placement or WAF. I have a tiny pair of Dynaudio 42s being driven by a Stratos amp and I am continuously amazed at what they will do. I also have floorstanders that are 4.5' tall and do not have deep thumping bass, but have more tone, timber, and detail than my Dynaudio 82s.

    There are many killer small speakers and if you evr get a chance to listen to a pair of JAS Orior speakers driven with comparable gear, you would have a hard time convincing yourself they were not bigger.

    I also have an older pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s that more than fill both my family room and kitchen with plenty of reserve.

    Another example using the older Dynaudio Audience line would be the 122c center channel. It is the same speaker as the floorstanding 122 but with a foot of cabinet cut off. If you got two of them and stood them up, you would have almost the same sound performance as the 122.

    Keep in mind a totally empty hardwoord floor room is pretty easy to fill and has so many reflections, you may be hearing more loudness than detail.
    I believe Dynaudio is another Danish company like Jamo. What are the characteristics of their speakers? I heard Dali, another Danish company is also a highly regarded manufacturer and is popular in Europe. Both companies make a couple of entry level priced speakers for less than a grand that I may want to consider.

  10. #10
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    Hard to say but they are very truthful, have great bass. The Audience line has slightly rolled off top end. As I said above, it is really hard to believe that the tiny 42s can fill a room like they do with very convincing bass. The newer Excite lineup are even a bit better sounding, easier to drive, and a slightly smaller footprint. As you go up in lines, it just keeps getting better. I have not heard them all but many of the lines including the huge flagship Consequence.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    My man! welcome to the world of Shock! I know what you are talking about. I have a pair of stand-mount speakers that never wants for bass. They go low. I was shocked when I first got them into my space. Yeah, with the right engineering they can design a stand mount to deliver the bass. And I don't have a bass hump so to speak...these things have excellent engineering, and knowing Jamo, they've been doing what they do for a long time. And I' ve heard your speakers years ago when I lived in North Carolina...they are a very fine speaker. Well it was the bigger C-603 and I heard the two floor standers. Great speakers.
    Yes these Jamo speakers are definitely unsung in this country. I've read the C607 is almost as good as the C807 which is a top notch speaker for the price.

    I had the C603's but returned them because they appeared to be used or defective or both. Bought them from an Amazon Seller and the baffle had some pink specs of paint on it and the normal satin finish had blotches of gloss black on a couple of area of the speaker. And the speaker itself sounded broken in when I first hooked it up and the audio was weird. It sounded like it had a veil over the music. Returned them for a refund. May look at the C803's now as well.

  12. #12
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    I just had a bit of a brain storm regarding the Castle Conway 3's. Since the bass in these overwhelms the midrange with the Qinpu Amp and since this has something to do with the design of the speaker which does not lend itself well to tube type amps (according to a couple of friends that are engineers in broadcast media) I am going to try stuffing some foam into the ports at the bottom of each speaker to see if that will inhibit the bass enough to allow the midrange to breathe. If not, then I doubt there is anything I can do to make these speakers work with this amp.

    I had another idea that requires some feedback. I am certain that the reason the cat that I have that likes to jump on the Mirage OM 10's is due to the fact that the black sock and design of the speaker looks like a tree trunk. I got to thinking that she has no interest in the Castles wood veneer and so I figure a lighter color sock over the bottom half of the speaker would dissuade her from trying to climb on them again.

    Can anyone suggest some kind of material I could use to wrap over the lower half of the speakers just below the drivers? I believe there is one rear port at the bottom of each speaker but my guess is that something similar to the current sock but in a different color won't impact that air flow or sound if it is not too thick.

    Any ideas?

  13. #13
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    Partial success has been achieved!

    I just moved the Castle's about 20 inches from the back wall and removed the Plinth which for some reason Castle recommends should be used. By doing this, my midrange has returned! I have been doing a comparison test between these and the Jamo's for the last half hour and I can hear no discernible difference in the sonic quality of either speaker less the wider sound stage of the C601's and the slightly warm lower midrange. Aside from that they are virtually indistinguishable. Both are quite neutral and have excellent detail in the high end as before.

    Looks like I will NOT be shopping for new speakers at this time. If I do decide to do any upgrade now, it will definitely be another pair of Jamo's such as the C803 or C607 towers. At this point I am amazed that the $500 Jamo's (list price) are virtually as good as the $2,300 Castle Conway 3 towers! If I had auditioned the Castles today I would not even consider purchasing them at even half that price because it is evident you can now purchase a speaker costing a fraction of that will sound just about as good as the high end stuff.

    Still need to get this issue with the Mirage speakers solved. If anyone has any ideas about what to use to cover the bottom portion of the speaker without harming the sonic quality of the speaker, please let me know.

    At this point I think changing cables if I want to make any improvements to the sound is all that I will consider.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billiam62 View Post
    At this point I think changing cables if I want to make any improvements to the sound is all that I will consider.
    Congrats on the latest tweaking and tampering success. You had new speakers there all along. Do you still have the Qinpu 3 on the Jamo's? Were you going to still going to investigate the tube options?
    My audio lab:
    Qinpu A-6000 MK ll Integrated Amp
    Blue Marble Audio Speaker Wire
    Tannoy Mercury V4
    HHB CDR-850
    Grant Fidelity DAC-11/Phillips 7DJ8 tube

    Parasound Zamp V.3/Parasound ZPre2 Preamp
    Signal Cable Analog 2 Speaker Wire
    Dali Ikon 2 mk 2
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001
    Stello DA 100 Signature DAC

    HT:
    Arcam AVR 200
    Signal Cable Classic Speaker Cable
    Mirage Nanosat
    Rel R-528 Subwoofer
    Marantz SACD/DVD DV6001

    Various power cords, I.C.'s, optical, coax, and analog cables.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeRoy View Post
    Congrats on the latest tweaking and tampering success. You had new speakers there all along. Do you still have the Qinpu 3 on the Jamo's? Were you going to still going to investigate the tube options?
    Thanks. It is a relief knowing that I won't have to get rid of the Castle speakers. They still sound great after all these years and now they are going to be compatible with the Qinpu. Yes, still using the A3. Will be shopping for the model you have before the year is out now that I know I won't have an issue with the speakers that I currently own. Now if I could just figure out how to solve the Mirage issue... At least through a cost effective method. I could have someone custom build a veneer to cover the bottom of each speaker but that may cost a few bucks.

  16. #16
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    I finally got the stands and was able to accurately compare the sound of the Jamo C601's against the Castle Conway 3's. No question moving the Castle's about 20 inches out from the wall made a great deal of improvement to the sound. With the solid state amp they worked fine even a few inches from the wall but I guess the damping factor of the speaker when matched with a tube style amp requires more breathing room for this speaker.

    The Castle's do have a bit more spacious bass sound than the C601's. But the C601's can hit the deep notes just as effectively in terms of the frequency response from what I have experienced. The sound stage on both is now about equal in terms of the width but maybe a slight edge goes to the Jamo book shelf. The stage depth is now virtually equal and both exceed ten feet now. The Jamo sounds a bit cleaner than the Castle speaker. Both are quite neutral and never fatigue the ears even when listening for hours on end. High end appears to be about the same and the mid range probably has a bit more depth with Jamo speaker.

    I will have to spend more time doing this when I get them into the new house. In the meantime, the few basic tests I did in the apartment proved invaluable since I now know that I can keep both pairs and don't have to shop for new speakers. Will work on upgrading cables to increase the detail (already excellent in both pairs of speakers) and to clean up the sound a bit more.

  17. #17
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    Love those Conways. What wood finish do you have Billiam?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHills44060 View Post
    Love those Conways. What wood finish do you have Billiam?
    Cherry. Yes, they are excellent speakers. They matched up extremely well with the Cambridge Audio amp that I used to own. I think once I get a chance to move them around some more I can find a spot that will improve upon the sound a bit more. I'm glad I didn't get rid of them.

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