I have been playing with a new pair of speakers recently and with some of the furniture out of the way, my acoustic professional friend Nic and I could play more freely with the position of the speakers. Instead of being forced to plaster them close to the full, we could then move them further out into the room, widen the space between, and compare.
Indeed, there was an incredible increase in soundstage, depth, and imaging. Drums got tighter, the voices clearer, whilst the space between instruments and definition all benefitted. All this without spending a cent on any equipment upgrades or even acoustic treatment.
So before we consider buying new gear, we may want to try moving our speakers around, vary the toe-in, and also the listening position.
Conversely if we are unable to play with these variables, we should seriously consider if buying expensive new gear is really the answer. Some of us have to live with constraints like kids, family etc, and moving the position of the speakers is really out of the question. Then the question is, which do we value more? And we may want to shelve that upgrading project and instead spend more on software like new CDs or DVDs instead of worrying about something that we can't really fix.
I mean, if the answer is to move the speakers two feet forward into the living room and that's impossible, buying a bigger and more expensive speaker is probably the last thing we should do. Oftentimes, we see large tower speakers squeezed into the corners of the living room, and the owners wonder why the sound isn't up to their expectations. Floor stander speakers need room to breath, and when they come into the more space, they usually perform better.
So if space is an issue, then we have to understand that a bookshelf speaker is better, and correspondingly the bass will be lessened. It's simple physics, and if we really desire deep bass, we can use a subwoofer or live with the compromise, or accept muddy bass. There aren't that many variables if we really take a step back.