Sometimes your home theater needs more than just a great sounding set of speakers. Sound quality is essential, but so is a bit of style, a little flair, some panache for many discerning audiophiles with a pension for great design. There's something to be said for having a conversation starter in your home theater as well. How better to do that than picking a set of loudspeakers to dazzle not only the ears but the eyes as well? Here are AVRev’s Top 10 picks of floorstanding speakers that will make your guests do a double take at your audio setup:
Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus
We kick things off with the tried and true Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus. It's designed after the shell of the sea creature of the same name and to incredibly cool effect. Unlike the nautilus pompilius itself, which can only grow to a size of 10 inches, the B&W Nautilus is massive, measuring 47 inches high, 43 inches deep and 17 inches wide.
It may seem like there's more form than function here, but the strange sharp tube aiming towards the back of the Nautilus is actually there for an acoustic reason. B&W channels sound from the back of the drivers into the tail, eliminating unwanted audio.
Wilson Audio MAXX 3
The MAXX series has been around since 1998 and was not only reviewed incredibly well, but sold well to boot. Wilson Audio is now on to the third iteration of the line, keeping audio quality as the primary focus.
It seems obvious that audio is the focus of the MAXX line, since the visuals are so dreadful. The MAXX 3 looks like different things to different people, but whether you see a hunched over old man or an old-school arcade cabinet you almost certainly see a speaker that you don't want in your living room.
The MAXX 3 isn't pretty, but it's what's on the inside that counts. For starters, Wilson co-designed and reengineered midrange drivers to suit their needs and completely overhauled the crossover. The aesthetic look exists for a reason too – it ensures that you're getting an even mix from every speaker, rather than just hearing the mids as you might sitting in front of other speakers.
There are plenty of speaker manufacturers around that employ strange shapes in order to set themselves apart. It's not that the Floe isn't odd looking – it definitely is – but the look is only the second most interesting thing about it.
Rather than employing traditional speaker construction, the Floe projects sound through a large glass sheet. The folks at Greensound Technology boast that their design offers full 360 degree sound and a speaker that will last forever, without ever breaking down. The company offers glass subwoofers in addition to the glass floorstanding speakers.
You're not going to find a set of speakers like the Duevel Planets anywhere else. They enclosure itself isn't much to talk about since it's just a tall rectangle, and the up shooting speakers aren't too out of the norm. It's the "planets" that set these speakers apart.
There are two chrome balls suspended over each of the top firing speakers – a five inch woofer and one inch tweeter – to aid in dispersion and create omnidirectional sound. Planets speakers aren't just designed for high-end home theaters either, since they run just over $1,000 each.
MartinLogan CLX Art
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention a set of electrostatic speakers from MartinLogan. You won't surprise anyone familiar with loudspeakers with these – they're fairly ubiquitous. If you're showing them to someone who expects traditional speaker design though, they'll be blown away.
The CLX Art utilizes the same electrostatic technology that you're familiar with from MartinLogan, but they've got a look that's all their own. They sport a 57 inch double diaphragm transducer with a slight curve to enhance dispersion and ClearSpar spacers to stiffen the assembly.
MartinLogan's CLX Art also incorporates EcoSound material thanks to a partnership with Klip BioTechnologies. Not only does it provide better damping than MDF, but it's made of renewable bamboo and post consumer recycled wood and paper so it's good for the environment.