Deciding which speakers to select for your home theater can be quite a pain. There is a plethora of information out there, but none of it is specifically tailored to your needs. That said, it can be helpful to do a side-by-side comparison of your choices like in-wall, bookshelf, and tower speakers.
While in-wall speakers are sleeker in appearance and have a lower cost, they remain stationary once put in place. Bookshelf speakers are a smaller, more mobile option, but they do not have the same power as tower speakers. Tower speakers provide the best bass, but they are large and cumbersome.
In-wall, bookshelf, and tower speakers each have their own unique advantages. However, choosing the type of speaker that is right for you will ultimately come down to your budget, home theater room design, and personal preferences.
Let’s take a look at a comparison between in-wall speakers, bookshelf speakers, and tower speakers to see which one might be the right choice for your home theater.
Also read: Tower Speakers vs. Soundbar for Home Theater
How Do In-Wall Speakers vs. Bookshelf Speakers vs. Tower Speakers Compare?
Truly, you can spend years taking the time to research the ins and outs of various types of sound equipment, much less testing each device out in your own home theater.
Deciding which type of speaker will work best for you can seem daunting, but there are several areas to consider that can help point you in the right direction.
|Feature||In-Wall Speakers||Bookshelf Speakers||Tower Speakers|
|Space Requirements||Minimal, as they are installed within the wall cavity.||Moderate, require shelves or stands for placement.||Largest footprint, require floor space for placement.|
|Aesthetic Integration||Seamless integration with room design, hidden from view.||Visible, but can be integrated with room décor.||Highly visible, can be a focal point in room design.|
|Audio Quality||Can offer good audio quality, but may be affected by wall construction and vibrations.||Typically provide good audio quality, especially in small to medium-sized rooms.||Often deliver the best audio quality, with a wide frequency range and powerful output.|
|Installation and Flexibility||Requires professional installation, limited flexibility for repositioning.||Easy to install and reposition as needed, offering greater flexibility.||Relatively easy to install, some flexibility for repositioning within room.|
|Bass Response||Can have limited bass response due to wall cavity constraints.||Moderate bass response, depending on speaker size and quality.||Usually deliver the best bass response, often with built-in subwoofers.|
To compare in-wall speakers, bookshelf speakers, and tower speakers, consider the following categories:
Size is going to be one of the most immediately noticeable factors when it comes to comparing different types of speakers for your home theater.
Especially for someone who is new to the audio world, size is what newbies will notice immediately- and for good reason. The size comparison between in-wall speakers, bookshelf speakers, and tower speakers is quite vast.
In-wall speakers are going to be one of the most compact, sleekest options of the three. Since they are placed inside the wall, you might have a difficult time even finding them in your home theater. They will sit hidden away rather than being something noticeable when you walk into the home theater room.
This has its advantages and disadvantages, though. While in-wall speakers are more compact, you will likely end up spending more on high-quality in-wall speakers that can perform with such a small physical capacity. Yet, at least they do not create a cumbersome space or take up precious floor space in your home theater.
Alternatively, bookshelf speakers are another compact option when it comes to smaller or medium-sized home theater rooms. They can sit on a literal bookshelf, or they can be placed on another type of shelving unit or a creative setup.
Bookshelf speakers can vary in size, but since they are designed to sit on a shelf, they will not be overly cumbersome to look at.
Still, they do not fold into the wall itself like in-wall speakers, but their smaller size is appreciated for those who want a more sleek and less visible option for your home theater.
Bookshelf speakers are not hindered in their small size in terms of capacity, but they might be limited in the bass tones that they can provide since many lack a woofer for low-frequency audio signals.
Finally, tower speakers are going to be one of the largest options that you can find in the audio world. They boast multiple drivers and typically include a woofer for low-frequency audio signals.
Their size can be intimidating to some (especially those with smaller home theaters), but enticing for those who want to see their sound equipment bring a truly transformative experience into their home theater.
The larger size of a tower speaker can leave you confident that the sound streaming from the multiple channels of audio sent to its drivers will be able to fill a home theater room- no matter how large the room is.
So, if you are working with a larger space and are not concerned about room on the floor, tower speakers can be a great option for you.
Along with the size of the speaker options comes the natural aesthetic that this will create in your home theater room. While this will reflect your personal preferences, it might not be something that is as big of a deal to some as it will be to others.
However, it is worth mentioning considering the vast amount of time that you might consider spending in this room and the resources you will pour into making it a unique and beautiful space.
In-wall speakers, in that they are sleek and compact, create a more professional appearance. Most often, movie theaters have in-wall speakers located behind an acoustically transparent screen. This removes the visibility of the speakers and allows the viewer to simply look at the screen.
Alternatively, bookshelf speakers are another great option in creating a less robust appearance, although they are not as easily hidden as in-wall speakers. Still, they can be placed in unique locations to keep the focus on the screen while still providing a high-quality audio experience.
Finally, tower speakers are going to be quite visible due to their large size, so if you are not in the market for speakers that will stare you right in the face, you might want to consider another option.
While some people will not appreciate looking at tower speakers, others will appreciate the dedication that including tower speakers in your home theater setup brings to the table.
Cost is obviously going to play a large part in which type of speakers you select for your home theater sound system setup. With budgets not often being endless, it is important to spend your money wisely and invest in high-quality equipment that still meets the needs of your bank account.
With that said, there are a few things to consider with the cost of each of these types of speakers. In-wall speakers are most often the least expensive type of speakers from the start.
However, you need to consider that these have to be installed into the wall, and while this process is not overly complicated, it could require professional installation if you are not comfortable with installing them yourself.
Along with that, you can find inexpensive in-wall speakers, but choosing to invest more in high-quality in-wall speakers that will have comparable sound quality as other types of speakers will mean that you will likely spend more on this type of speaker because of the capacity range that is lower with less expensive in-wall speakers.
Then, looking at bookshelf and tower speakers, you might find that their costs are relatively comparable depending on the model of speaker and manufacturer that you choose to go with. But, the budget does not stop here with these speakers.
You will need to consider the added costs that can come with the need to add a subwoofer like if you go with bookshelf speakers that cannot produce bass.
While tower speakers have a woofer, you might also want to add a sub to this setup to enhance the low-frequency audio signal emission.
So, just be sure to incorporate the total cost of the entire sound system (amps, additional speakers, cables, installation, etc.) before saying yes to the initial price tag of the speaker alone.
Finally, you need to consider the sound quality that you will be able to achieve with each type of speaker in your unique home theater room.
The dimensions of your room, the natural acoustics, and other variables can transform what you need vs. what you prefer to pay for in terms of sound quality.
While some argue that in-wall speakers cannot provide you with the same sound quality that other types of speakers can, this is not necessarily true. However, you might have to spend more on in-wall speakers than on bookshelf or tower speakers to achieve the same level of sound.
Specifically, $500 might not go as far on in-wall speakers as it would on other options. But, if you are willing to invest in high-quality in-wall speakers, you will likely find that there are some pretty advanced options that can help you to achieve high-quality audio in a small, medium, or large-sized home theater room.
Keep in mind, though, that once in-wall speakers are installed, it is extremely difficult to change the desired location of the speaker considering the unique type of installation that is required. So, you will want to be sure to test out many different options before placing these speakers securely into the wall.
On that note, you might be able to place the in-wall speakers behind an acoustically transparent screen that will allow you to place the speakers exactly where you want- not having to worry about them sitting too high or too low on shelving units. Instead, you can place them exactly at the right height for optimal sound quality to be achieved.
Taking a look at bookshelf speakers, then, you can achieve high-quality sound in a small to medium-sized home theater, but you should consider another option in larger spaces.
Bookshelf speakers can be a great option for your home theater speakers, but they will need to be paired with a subwoofer to achieve the bass that your movies and music will require to have the robust sound you desire.
Still, you can spend a good amount on bookshelf speakers without going over budget and find that you are incredibly satisfied with the results. Plus, their installation is as inexpensive as moving them around the room yourself when testing out the sound, so this cost should not add up too much.
Finally, tower speakers are going to have the most robust sound quality of the three options comparatively due to their large size as well as the number of drivers that they use.
Because of this, tower speakers can produce high-quality sound in larger home theater rooms without the worry of the sound reaching all corners of the room.
The main concern here is that moving them around the room to find the perfect spot for them can be a bit cumbersome. But, the effort is well worth it once you find the perfect setup for your home theater room.
So, considering all of these categories (as well as your unique needs, budget, and personal preferences), hopefully, you will be well on your way to finding the perfect sound system setup for your unique space.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.