Do you think smaller speakers ever sound clearer, crisp, and more detailed? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you ever hear smaller speakers that sound more detailed than larger, even more expensive, counterparts? Example, I have heard bookshelves from the same makers that sound better than the floor standers. I've heard Energy speakers, smaller ones, that sounded better than my Tsi300 speakers.

Of course they lacked bass, but they sure sounded detailed. LIke when something crumbles in a movie, you can hear it all.

I don't think I'd like it for music though, not enough range I don't think. OTOH, I don't know if I'm missing soundtrack music.

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post #2 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 12:26 PM
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Define small. I would not have anything smaller than what I've owned since '79...24" tall 3-ways w/subs.
When I walk into a room where speakers, smaller than mine are playing (which means they most likely lack good mid-bass) I can tell right off.
If you compare the Revel Salon2, Studio2 (both floorstanding) with the Revel Gem2 (24" tall 3-way), the upper/mid/mid-bass ranges should be about the same. The difference comes in with the two floorstanding models having 3 & 2 bass drivers, respectfully.

Most floor speaker's boxes are not just one large enclosure...but have sub enclosures for the midrange and mid-bass, as if they were in a smaller enclosure.

How detailed a speaker might be has more to do with its engineering than the size of the box.
But when comparing speakers, one has to take into account as to if they are all setup right in the room to get the maximum from each.
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post #3 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 12:31 PM
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They can... It depends on too many varables to say ...all bookshelf speakers are clearer in the mid tones and high tones that towers. It depends on too many moving parts.

If you cross over bookshelfs correctly to a good sub or two...you can get a clearer mid and high than the comparable floor speakers...in some lines.

That being said...clarity isn't everything either. Fullness of sound stage also matters...and you will all most always get a more full sound stage with towers because they can handle increased mid range. Sometimes the bass or other things muddles it a little but its a trade off...just like everything is a trade off. Depends what you like when you hear the speakers as to what you are willing to trade.
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post #4 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

They can... It depends on too many varables to say ...all bookshelf speakers are clearer in the mid tones and high tones that towers. It depends on too many moving parts.

If you cross over bookshelfs correctly to a good sub or two...you can get a clearer mid and high than the comparable floor speakers...in some lines.

That being said...clarity isn't everything either. Fullness of sound stage also matters...and you will all most always get a more full sound stage with towers because they can handle increased mid range. Sometimes the bass or other things muddles it a little but its a trade off...just like everything is a trade off. Depends what you like when you hear the speakers as to what you are willing to trade.

I don't understand. What is difference betwen the mid-tones of a bookshelf and a mid-range of a floorstanding speaker? The bookshelf sounds better on the former. I don't know what I'd be missing.

Example, on my speaker, TSi300. It has the two 5.25 woofers and one tweeter (sorry if that's wrong words). It has a port on the bottom of the enclosure and it's on speaker spikes.

Some bookshelves have the same size woofer, I think tweeter. Why would I get more out of two of the woofers than one, if they produce the same range of sound?

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post #5 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 01:20 PM
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It can go either way on who ends up with the more clear midrange.

Consider that a bookshelf is inherently less resonant (smaller) than a similarly built tower. The Baffle is different (shorter, and usually less wide as well). At a similar price, more money can be devoted to the crossover per-driver (and the mid no longer needs a high-pass filter to split off to the bass driver). There are a number of reasons.

The reverse can also be true. In the Primus line, one reason I like the 363 over the bookshelves is the ability to use that excellent 3" midrange (which would cause problems getting to sub-crossover on a bookshelf). The drivers are driven more in their natural ranges and so sound better.

With each speaker design, the optimal balance can change.
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post #6 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 04:37 PM
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It can never be a blanket statement that a bookshelf speaker is better than its floorstanding counterpart or vice versa.
It will strictly depend on the engineering on an individual bases.

For most if not all bookshelf speakers I've auditioned, they usually lack in the mid-bass, and I can not have that. And adding a sub does not address that short coming.
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post #7 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by likemovies View Post

I don't understand. What is difference betwen the mid-tones of a bookshelf and a mid-range of a floorstanding speaker? The bookshelf sounds better on the former. I don't know what I'd be missing.

Bookshelfs normally can only house one driver for mid-tones...whearas a tower can house 2 or 3...somtimes they only have one...allot of times they have more.
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post #8 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

It can never be a blanket statement that a bookshelf speaker is better than its floorstanding counterpart or vice versa.
It will strictly depend on the engineering on an individual bases.

For most if not all bookshelf speakers I've auditioned, they usually lack in the mid-bass, and I can not have that. And adding a sub does not address that short coming.
+1 A sub does nothing for mid bass.
The answer to this question lies mostly in money. If you spend more you will get better sound. This is a very general assertion but mostly true. And of course, engineering and materials. But that is part of the cost.
You can get some awesome bookshelf speakers that put most towers to shame if you can afford it. This doesn't mean that you can deny physics. A 2" driver, no matter what material and engineering will produce bass like a 15". But you can get some bookshelfs with a 6" driver and a good sub and get better sound than many towers. That being said there are advantages to multiple drivers also. Having say 3 6" vs 1 6". That's why usually the best speakers are 3 way. But in order to take advantage of that you have to have an excellent crossover system which is what most speakers lack.
Again, it depends on what's it worth to ya.

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post #9 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

+1 A sub does nothing for mid bass.

That's not true at all.

http://renegademinds.com/Portals/0/GDT/Remove-Instruments/Interactive-Frequency-Chart.png

Let's assume "mid bass" here is upper-bass: say 150hz-250hz (cause if it's below that: the sub may actually be the source depending on crossover).

Now I want you to imagine the LF driver of the bookshelf trying to put out a pair of waves. One is 90Hz, and the other is 200Hz.

Remember that the distance traveled to make a given noise increases as the frequency drops. So here's this little speaker pushing itself near XMax to get this 90Hz sound out with good volume and, while sitting at one of those peaks, the 200Hz signal also peaks. You peg x-max and get physical clipping. Not good for sound quality.

Now let's imagine that we've moved that 90Hz signal off the bookshelf entirely and asked our subwoofer to do it. Now that driver is sitting with nothing to do except the 200Hz signal. It can do much more moving for that signal than it could before (more SPL) and is no longer clipping.

Better "mid bass" thanks to a subwoofer.
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You can get some awesome bookshelf speakers that put most towers to shame if you can afford it. This doesn't mean that you can deny physics. A 2" driver, no matter what material and engineering will produce bass like a 15". But you can get some bookshelfs with a 6" driver and a good sub and get better sound than many towers. That being said there are advantages to multiple drivers also. Having say 3 6" vs 1 6". That's why usually the best speakers are 3 way. But in order to take advantage of that you have to have an excellent crossover system which is what most speakers lack.
Again, it depends on what's it worth to ya.

It's not just that though. Let's assume that our speakers must perform from 80Hz to 20,000Hz. That's about 8 octaves. Let's assume that the load is split evenly among the drivers.
That means each speaker in a 2-way design is primarily responsible for 4 octaves of sound. Each driver in a 3-way is primarily responsible for less than 3 octaves. It becomes much like a discussion of uni-driver speakers (except the degrees of difference are lower).

This midrange on a bookshelf must go lower than the midrange on a 3-way because its crossover point is lower (it has to reach the sub). As a result: it's often larger, and therefore has to start lower, which means that the tweeter is also being asked to go lower... and remember what I said earlier about LF signals interfering with sound reproduction at higher frequencies? That still applies.
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post #10 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 05:52 PM
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Often speakers that are closer can seem that way. And smaller speakers tend to be closer to the listener in many setups.

Headphones would be the extreme case, which prove the point.

Larger speakers need to be property placed in the room, which rarely happens for most real life situations. And a lot more things can interfere.
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post #11 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove 
Let's assume "mid bass" here is upper-bass: say 150hz-250hz (cause if it's below that: the sub may actually be the source depending on crossover).

You are not even close to being right. All the speakers I've owned the mid-bass drivers runs from 80 ~ 800 htz, give or take a few herts. Therefore the sub has NO bearing on mid-bass. And if I go into a room with bookshelf speakers that lack that 80~800 range to the degree I am used to hearing, I will notice it right off. Those speakers maybe putting out some in that range but not as it should be.
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post #12 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post

You are not even close to being right. All the speakers I've owned the mid-bass drivers runs from 80 ~ 800 htz, give or take a few herts. Therefore the sub has NO bearing on mid-bass. And if I go into a room with bookshelf speakers that lack that 80~800 range to the degree I am used to hearing, I will notice it right off. Those speakers maybe putting out some in that range but not as it should be.
I own Sig S2's. They got to 36Hz. If I run a sub to 80Hz, then I take load off the LF driver on the Sig2 and so reduce the likelyhood of clipping trying to produce midbass simultaneous with <80Hz from the same driver.
I have Salk SCST's. They go to 32Hz. If I run a sub to 80Hz then I take the load off the LF driver on the SCST and so reduce the likelyhood of trying to produce midbass simultaneous with <80Hz from the same driver.

If the speakers you are used to, as you say, only go to 80Hz and not lower, and if you are not crossing the subwoofer higher than 80Hz (which I would recommend you do if the bottom end of your speakers is 80Hz), then you are correct that your speakers will not be helped.

However: for the majority of us who set a crossover that stops the 2-way from producing its full range of sounds; the loss of use of x-max from producing the bottom end will free up the LF driver (which does "mid bass" (you haven't said what freq you think this is)) reducing clipping at signifigant volume.

Did you not read my previous post or did you just not understand it?

You tell me. You have a driver just touching X-Max producing a 75Hz sine and you ask it to then make a max SPL 100Hz wave as well. Will it clip?
Same driver, no longer producing the 75Hz wave only asked to do 100Hz. Will it clip?

Replace "100Hz" with whatever you consider "midbass". You'll see the problem.
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post #13 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 07:07 PM
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Let me follow up with some specific numbers for those that like math.

You have a single 5" driver producing a 70Hz signal at 100db @1m. This driver is having to move 9.01mm
This same driver is also producing a 200Hz signal at 100db @1m. The movement for this is 1.1mm

If this driver has an xmax of 9.5mm, it could produce either of these sounds without ever clipping.
If it tries to produce both of these sounds together then, when there's a shared peak, there's gonna be mechanical clipping.

(if I've summed these wrong, anyone who knows the math better can certainly see the point and introduce more signals to make it work)

The driver could produce the 70Hz wave or the 200Hz wave but not both (without clipping).
So if I take away the 70Hz wave (say: give it to a sub) then the 200Hz wave will no longer clip when both are playing.

Worse than that: what if it had an 8.5mm xmax? Now you are clipping with just the 70Hz signal. Does anyone think that a speaker clipping will not affect its ability to (at the same time) produce another signal?
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post #14 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 07:42 PM
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Big subwoofers did nothing for mid bass? Assuming one has bookshelf speakers with 6.5" driver and a subwoofer with 15" driver, XO at 100Hz. To get the mid bass punch, smaller subs are required? What if we buy smaller size subwoofers (like the SVS SB1000) and hook them to the L+R channels for mid bass?
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post #15 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

You have a single 5" driver producing a 70Hz signal at 100db @1m. This driver is having to move 9.01mm
The problem here isn't about a driver's nearing mechanical "clipping."

The 70 Hz signal, due to the 9 mm excursion, will pollute any mid or high frequency content, introducing significant modulation (Doppler) distortion components. That is, if it is simultaneously being fed a 1 kHz tone, the 1 kHz tone will be radiated accompanied by sideband tones of 1070 and 930 Hz.

This is the biggest handicap facing small drivers trying to work wide range, and in extreme cases (some of the early Bose 901 type systems) can produce distortion magnitudes over 10%.
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post #16 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 08:31 PM
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Can we agree that both are problems?
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post #17 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 09:08 PM
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Looks like there is some confusion on mid bass and mid-bass. Are we talking about middle of bass which i think is around 40-100hz, or midrange through bass which i think is 2000hz-whateveer the driver can reach.

Anyway, to the OP, i really dont think size have anything to do.
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post #18 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 09:11 PM
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I don't need to know all the complex math to know that a sub by definition produces SUB bass frequencies. Therefore no mid bass frequencies. Therefore no help with mid bass. I understand that a sub can be helpful depending on how you set your crossover in the 80-120 range but that is still not mid bass. The proper thing to do is set the crossover on the receiver a little higher than the lowest point that your mains can handle so that you are not stressing them and therefore will not get distortion. Then you let the sub handle everything below that. As far as clipping your center and rears you just set them as small and take them out of the equation unless of course they can play below 100 or so and do it efficiently at high volume without distorting (read as not bookshelfs for most purposes). So, in the case of your Sigs2s that go down to 36. I would set the crossover at 60 just to be safe. That will take the load off of the Sigs and most likely they are not playing efficiently below 50 or so anyway. Certainly not as efficiently as the subwoofer. And by setting it a little higher it also takes stress off of the receiver amplifier.

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post #19 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicardoJoa View Post

Looks like there is some confusion on mid bass and mid-bass. Are we talking about middle of bass which i think is around 40-100hz, or midrange through bass which i think is 2000hz-whateveer the driver can reach.

Anyway, to the OP, i really dont think size have anything to do.
I was just typing something up to that effect. I think the confusion is about mid bass and sub bass.

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post #20 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

I don't need to know all the complex math to know that a sub by definition produces SUB bass frequencies. Therefore no mid bass frequencies. Therefore no help with mid bass.

Did you just not read the previous posts?

A clipping driver will not play any frequencies well.
A driver playing multiple frequencies can introduce Doppler distortion on the higher frequencies.
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I understand that a sub can be helpful depending on how you set your crossover in the 80-120 range but that is still not mid bass. The proper thing to do is set the crossover on the receiver a little higher than the lowest point that your mains can handle so that you are not stressing them and therefore will not get distortion. Then you let the sub handle everything below that. As far as clipping your center and rears you just set them as small and take them out of the equation unless of course they can play below 100 or so and do it efficiently at high volume without distorting (read as not bookshelfs for most purposes). So, in the case of your Sigs2s that go down to 36. I would set the crossover at 60 just to be safe. That will take the load off of the Sigs and most likely they are not playing efficiently below 50 or so anyway. Certainly not as efficiently as the subwoofer. And by setting it a little higher it also takes stress off of the receiver amplifier.

You've just repeated (and suggested a sub-based solution) to the problem you are denying exists.
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post #21 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 09:51 PM
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I never denied that ANY problem exists. In fact I dont even know what problem you are talking about. Clipping maybe?
But anyway, I re read your post and I do see that you are splitting hairs by stating that a sub can be helpful in the extreme lower part of the midbass range (between 120 and 140) by taking some load off of the other speakers.
Very well.

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post #22 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

I never denied that ANY problem exists. In fact I dont even know what problem you are talking about. Clipping maybe?
But anyway, I re read your post and I do see that you are splitting hairs by stating that a sub can be helpful in the extreme lower part of the midbass range (between 120 and 140) by taking some load off of the other speakers.
Very well.
You failed to understand the issue(s) at hand and failed to understand what I said. You are responding to something entirely different that what I said. I am not discussing a subwoofer producing "midbass" (however you like to define that range). I'm discussing the negative affect on midbass on a driver which is attempting to produce both midbass and bass, and how freeing that driver from producing bass improves its ability to produce midbass.

A speaker which is clipping because of a 90hz wave it's playing will not be able to play 200Hz properly (because it's clipping).
A speaker which is near clipping because of a 90hz wave can be driven into clipping by a 200Hz wave.

That same speaker, with the 90hz wave moved to a subwoofer, would not be clipping on the same 200Hz wave, and therefore your 200Hz signal is improved by the presence of the subwoofer taking the 90hz wave.

Then there's the doppler issue mentioned by another poster. He's completely correct.

I'm sorry that you don't understand what I've said. I'm really not sure how to make it more simple for you.
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post #23 of 44 Old 02-02-2013, 10:33 PM
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Seems to me that we are both stating the same thing with different wording. And since we both have done so at least twice now I will say Thank you for the discussion and have a good evening.

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post #24 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 03:14 AM
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I own Sig S2's. They got to 36Hz. If I run a sub to 80Hz, then I take load off the LF driver on the Sig2 and so reduce the likelyhood of clipping trying to produce midbass simultaneous with <80Hz from the same driver.
I have Salk SCST's. They go to 32Hz. If I run a sub to 80Hz then I take the load off the LF driver on the SCST and so reduce the likelyhood of trying to produce midbass simultaneous with <80Hz from the same driver.

We are not talking the same thing Those S2 are a 2-way, I am talking about a 3-way w/8" mid-bass driver which is rolled off @ 80. That 8" has no problem running from 80~800. So therefore the sub has no real effect on it. If I turn the sub off the 8" is still on a 18db/Octave acoustical roll off.
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post #25 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

Let me follow up with some specific numbers for those that like math.

You have a single 5" driver producing a 70Hz signal at 100db @1m. This driver is having to move 9.01mm
This same driver is also producing a 200Hz signal at 100db @1m. The movement for this is 1.1mm

If this driver has an xmax of 9.5mm, it could produce either of these sounds without ever clipping.
If it tries to produce both of these sounds together then, when there's a shared peak, there's gonna be mechanical clipping.

Presuming two front speakers, I can confirm your math. My model says pretty much the same thing.

The good news is that the mechanical clipping is usually not going to be as obvious as electronic clipping, but the SQ is going to suffer and it might be pretty audible. The sound is probably not going to sound more crisp and more detailed than a speaker that can easily handle this nominal situation. We're probably talking about > 10% THD. If you think about how hysterical people get about 0.1% THD in amplifiers we can see how iffy this situation is.

9 mm is a lot of Xmax for a 5 inch speaker. I know that some premium-priced 5" drivers can do this, but we're probably talking about a speaker system that runs more than $500 each to cover the ca. $80 cost of the SOTA driver.

If you move up to 6 1/2" drivers it only takes 5 mm Xmax to do the same thing. One of the interesting things is that it is easier to build more Xmax into a larger driver. A 6 1/2 inch 5 mm Xmax is a good driver, but now we are talking medium-priced drivers, not SOTA drivers. A good speaker with a 6.5 mm 5 mm Xmax woofer might sell for around $100.

I would prefer the larger driver also because it has better directional control in the lower midrange.

Thing is, 100 dB SPL is not a a lot. For nearly live concert music levels it takes more like 110 dB SPL.
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post #26 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Skylinestar View Post

Big subwoofers did nothing for mid bass? Assuming one has bookshelf speakers with 6.5" driver and a subwoofer with 15" driver, XO at 100Hz. To get the mid bass punch, smaller subs are required? What if we buy smaller size subwoofers (like the SVS SB1000) and hook them to the L+R channels for mid bass?

80 Hz crossovers are generally safe, that is they are less likely to produce problems with bass imaging. This goes down hill pretty fast as the crossover frequency goes up. At 100 Hz your options for positioning the subwoofer are getting narrower.
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post #27 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 03:39 AM
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Do you ever hear smaller speakers that sound more detailed than larger, even more expensive, counterparts? Example, I have heard bookshelves from the same makers that sound better than the floor standers. I've heard Energy speakers, smaller ones, that sounded better than my Tsi300 speakers.

Of course they lacked bass, but they sure sounded detailed. LIke when something crumbles in a movie, you can hear it all.

I don't think I'd like it for music though, not enough range I don't think. OTOH, I don't know if I'm missing soundtrack music.

First off, we may be off in your personal preferences some place.

Secondly, it is well known that reducing bass changes the timbre of sounds and makes them sound more crisp.
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post #28 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Bond 007 View Post

+1 A sub does nothing for mid bass.
The answer to this question lies mostly in money. If you spend more you will get better sound. This is a very general assertion but mostly true. And of course, engineering and materials. But that is part of the cost.
You can get some awesome bookshelf speakers that put most towers to shame if you can afford it. This doesn't mean that you can deny physics. A 2" driver, no matter what material and engineering will produce bass like a 15". But you can get some bookshelfs with a 6" driver and a good sub and get better sound than many towers. That being said there are advantages to multiple drivers also. Having say 3 6" vs 1 6". That's why usually the best speakers are 3 way. But in order to take advantage of that you have to have an excellent crossover system which is what most speakers lack.
Again, it depends on what's it worth to ya.

Spending more does not always equal better sound. The DIY guys can definitely tell you this to be true. Consider something like this:
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion15-kit.html

About $500 finished per speaker. Find me three commercial speakers, even at double the price, that can match what these can for home theater.
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post #29 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

Spending more does not always equal better sound. The DIY guys can definitely tell you this to be true. Consider something like this:
http://www.diysoundgroup.com/waveguide-speaker-kits/fusion-series-kits/fusion15-kit.html

About $500 finished per speaker. Find me three commercial speakers, even at double the price, that can match what these can for home theater.

Not everyone wants to build their own, or even have the ability to do so. All companies have to make a profit, which depends on their overhead as to how much they make.
Just b/c some manufacturer puts up a web site showing drivers and other speaker parts, there is nothing proving that the parts are actually worth buying. Showing 96db only says its loud, it does not mean its good. I've auditioned many horn speakers that will cause your ears to bleed.
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post #30 of 44 Old 02-03-2013, 06:16 AM
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Not everyone wants to build their own, or even have the ability to do so. All companies have to make a profit, which depends on their overhead as to how much they make.
Just b/c some manufacturer puts up a web site showing drivers and other speaker parts, there is nothing proving that the parts are actually worth buying. Showing 96db only says its loud, it does not mean its good. I've auditioned many horn speakers that will cause your ears to bleed.

The waveguide speakers sound nothing like cheap Klipsch speakers you may have auditioned at Best Buy. But I agree, most people don't want to build their own. I get that. And yes companies do have to make a profit. But saying that spending more money will get you better speakers is not really true. The Bose Lifestyle V35 system is about $3300 at most retailers. Now I am pretty sure I can find a much better system for about 1/3rd the price that would destroy the Bose system. So no, spending more money does not always equate to better sound. I have seen the same arguments with amplifiers and cables.

When someone claims you really need a $3K amp + $1000 cables to drive your $2K speakers and to get the best sound...
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