I've become quite intrigued by single driver speakers of late, those that are often referred to as "full range", "wide band" or another similar moniker. Basically, satellite speakers using a single driver and no crossover. In my case I use them with a subwoofer. This type of speaker is unobtrusive, often possess some remarkable engineering and generally sound very nice (relative to their dimensions, of course).
I was so taken by the concept that I bought a set of the Classic Two's from Orb Audio, and converted it into a 3.1 system. Since I'm hampered by a less then ideal furniture arrangement in a rather small living room (13x17x9) a 3.1 system works fine for me, so this has proven (mostly) sufficient.
Honestly, I have very little negative to say about these speakers, especially given their physical dimensions, but I do have some concerns about the dynamic range, specifically in the lower midrange. While I'm certain a portion of that is due to physics -- realistically, how much range can a 3" driver produce? -- I suspect there is something to be gained by replacing the satellites themselves. However, I'm still enamored with the whole full range concept, so I want to stay with something along those lines.
Thus far I have found a number of potential candidates, chief among them of course are the Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Micro and A'Diva. The difficulty with this solution being they are a bit more money then I think they're actually worth, and they have no dual-speaker mount that I can use for a center (I have a dual center and singles for the FL and FR channels). I believe I can reuse the Orb Boss Horizontal stands for the A'Diva Ti's -- my first choice -- but it would require modifications, something I'd prefer to avoid if possible.
Looking further I came upon the following other possibilities:
Cambridge Audio Min 10 and Min 20. The Min 10 uses a single 2.25" BMR driver, while the Min 20 uses two of them. Logic dictates that I could simply use Min 10's for the FR and FL, and a Min 20 for the center. The former goes down to 140 Hz while the latter goes to 130 Hz, both within the upper range of most smaller subwoofers. However, I have some qualms about the lower midrange I'm getting with the 3" driver in the Orbs, so I can only imagine how deficient it would be from a driver about 30% smaller.
Cabasse makes the Alycone but that only goes down to 250 Hz, not nearly low enough, so they're out.
JohnBlue Audio makes the M3 but there's no frequency range given on their website. Frankly, the page describing the M3's is appalling. Emails to the company requesting additional information have been summarily ignored. And, to be blunt, they aren't all that esthetically pleasing.
Glow Audio has the Voice One, which is far too large. And it's very bizarre looking too.
Continuing my search further I found several coaxial versions of micro-monitors. I would have normally dismissed this type of setup were it not for the fact that some of the companies making them are known for quality speakers (my primary concern being the tiny midrange would have it's dispersion and output compromised by the tweeter obstructing a substantial part of the driver). However, because of the reputation some of these companies enjoy I'm willing to explore them further. The most notable ones I've uncovered are:
The Morel SoundSpot SP-1 only goes down to 180 Hz, which is the absolute upper limit of the subwoofer. I'd prefer to have a little more "breathing room" then that, so these are out. Morel also has the SoundSpot SP-2 which goes down to 120 Hz, so that's better. It contains a 4" midrange driver too, which in theory implies it should have a bit more depth in the lower midrange/upper bass range. That's one of the area's I think the Orb's are somewhat lacking.
Cabasse has the EOLE2 which only goes down to 170 Hz. Similar to the SoundSpot SP-1 I think that probably cuts it a bit too close.
Canton sells the Plus XS.2 which is claimed to go all the way down to 65 Hz. Personally, I find that a little suspect, but I have nothing to disprove them so I'll go with it. They look a little "plasticy" though, which is none too appealing.
The Boston Acoustics SoundWare was a contender as well, but it seems they're no longer offered in black. That would instantly kill the deal for me. It also appears as though they're an indoor/outdoor speaker, which generally means it does neither particularly well. Shame too, because they can supposedly go to 90 Hz.
Finally, there's the Mirage OS3 SAT. This doesn't really fit what I'm looking for, but I found it's design interesting nonetheless.
So that's my list. For anyone else looking for something similar I hope this information helps you out. I do have a question to pose to anyone still reading this; are there other diminutive full range speakers available that I missed? If you know of anything post a response and I'll add it.
Doing a bit more research uncovered a few other coaxial variants. For those like myself, who are interested in this type of speaker, these might be worth considering as well...
Focal Dome. Like most things Focal I would imagine they're expensive and sound good.
Kef HTS2001.3. Interesting shape. Nice finish too.
Monitor Audio R45HD. Just a little cube, but with the tweeter rear-firing? Guess you need to be fairly close to a wall for that to disperse properly.
JAS Audio Bravo. Comes in several colors, all of them high gloss finishes. Information on their website is woefully inadequate though.
Pure Resonance Audio. The MC 2.5B and the UniSat. Frankly, except for some very minor cosmetic/cabinet differences I don't see a lot that distinguishes the two of them. Even the spec's are identical.
Audio Pro SB-1 and Cabasse Idea iO2, both suggested by Bazzy.
Actually, I did find one other speaker... for those who want to see the other side (low end), and might need a good laugh, Pyle makes the PCB3BK that can be had on amazon.come for $22. No, that's not a typo.
Role Audio Skiff. Fairly generic looking speaker, but the few reviews I was able to locate are quite effusive. Good size too.
Role Audio Sampan-FTL. A satellite utilizing a folded transmission line? Never thought I'd see that design is such a small speaker, assuming you can call a satellite that's 9.5" deep 'small'.
Aperion Audio Verus Forte. Somewhat unique appearance. It's a bit too large for my needs though.
Jamo A 102 and A 10 CEN. Basically the same coaxial drivers in a different size cabinet.
BIC America DV1. Dinky 2.5" driver. Frankly, the speaker element looks like it might have come from a clock radio.
Kef HTS3001SE. Essentially the bigger brother to the HTS2001.3, which is mentioned above. Suggested by DS-21.
Tannoy Arena. Dual-concentric speaker. Their website is a bit odd though. In order to see these you'll need to clicking on Home Theater, Arena, then the little Arena picture. For some inexplicable reason they randomize the URL each time you click on a link, so the one I get will be entirely different then the one you get.
Eclipse has several models; the TD307II, TD508II, TD510 and the TD712zMK2. Sized from decent, all the way up to 2 feet tall. No kidding.
Mission M-CUBE. Has a 25mm "exciter", which I assume means driver. It is a BMR, which is a good thing, but 1"? C'mon. There's also the M-isphere Mini. Product description says "Single driver capable of exceptional high frequency response", yet it only goes to 14kHz (at -6dB no less)". Riiiight. Last, but not least is the M-isphere. Ever want an Orb Mod1 the size of a bowling ball? Well, here's your chance.
James Loudspeakers. Want tunes outside instead? You have your choice here. For single drivers there's the 310DS70 and 620DS70, which look like outdoor lights. Seriously. If you prefer coaxials instead then the 43CUBE or 63CUBE might suit your fancy, either of which could double as a birds nest if need be. Okay, maybe not.
ELAC 301.2. Similar concept to the 'ol 6x9 speaker used in car stereos years ago. Not sold in the US though, like a lot of the neat little speakers listed here.
Quadral Maxi 220 W. Listed as a "weather resistant" speaker, which I guess equates to indoor/outdoor (a term that always confused me anyway; is it an indoor speaker or an outdoor speaker? make up your mind - they're two entirely different types of speakers).
Look, up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane!! It's Super Orb!!! Not quite, but it is Everything But The Box's Venus. And yes, that really is the companies name. You have to see these speakers to believe it. Actually, these folks have several other, um, "interesting" speakers to choose from. Want an odd-ball looking speaker with a totally customized color? Here's your chance.
TL Audio Fatboy MK II. Suggested by Bazzy. While this one is neither full range nor coaxial, it does bear enough of a resemblance to the Orb speakers to warrant inclusion. It's like a Mod1 with a growth on top.
SLS Audio CM141CC. A 4" coaxial -- with a ribbon tweeter no less -- in a mere 5" cube.
Funky Waves FW4.1. A 5" cylinder that contains a 4.5" full range driver. Alas, this one is no longer available, which begs the question; if it's discontinued why still advertise it on your website?
Looks like Pyle decided to come out with a speaker even better then the critically acclaimed bastion of sonic excellence that is the PCB3BK (which is mentioned above). The new benchmark is called PCB4BK. It's only around 50% more then the PCB3BK, so it must have some significant engineering behind it! What does that mean for you and I? That this gem can be had for a mere $32. Do you have any idea how hard it was to type that with a straight face?
Look, up in the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane!! It's... wait, I did that bit already, didn't I? Oh well. I guess you can be the judge on what the Sonance Zemi is then.
The Reckhorn S-22 is a coaxial speaker in a ceramic enclosure. Pretty slick. Since the website is woefully lacking in specifications I sent them an email asking for more details. Based upon their response this thing is 24cm (9.4") in diameter, the stand is 14cm (5.5") high and the speaker weighs in at a whopping 10kg (22 lbs)!
The EbenLee Audio Mini Cube and Mini Cube². These are hand made speakers by a small company, but with a twist; the cabinet is built like Fort Knox. Don't believe me? Check out the video of the Instrument 2 loudspeaker they make. It weighs over 400 lbs, is filled with concrete and sand, and contains about 100 braces! Think this guy is serious about cabinet rigidity?
Pyle is at it again - I just found another one from them called the PDWP5BK. Looks remarkably similar to the Boston Acoustics SoundWare, doesn't it?
Want to build your own Orb speaker, out of wood no less? Well then, the Omnes Audio BB3 is for you.
The Palo Alto Audio Cubik speaker uses a 2.5-inch Peerless driver, an internal amplifier, DAC and rear ported cabinet. They can be found at the Apple store, yet oddly they're only available in black. Go figure.
The Dantax X70 has a 5" full range driver housed in a cabinet with a volume knob, yet there's no indication as to why there actually is such a knob (like, for example, if has it's own amp).
Saaaaay, don't the Bandor Trident II satellites look awfully familiar? They're identical to the EbenLee Mini Cubes.
The XTZ 70.12 uses a 3" driver in a ported cabinet. Nice looking little speaker, to be honest. They come in several colors too, not just black.
What would it look like if you took small, medium and large Orbs and made them into a 3 way speaker? Probably just like the Proclaim Audioworks DMT-100.
The Haniwa HSP1C07 is a 7" coaxial speaker in a... um, well, a large black cereal bowl is what it looks like to me.
Davis Acoustics has the Delta speakers, which are kinda unique looking. Sorry for the google translate link though; there was seemingly no way to change the language used on this webpage.
The SoundScience QSB uses a 1.5" square BMR driver with an internal 15 watt amp, all run through a single USB connection. Portable hifi? Seems to be the case.
The UFi UCube uses a 1.5" square BMR driver with an internal 15 watt amp, all run through a single USB connection. Portable hif... hey wait a minute, I just said that! Except for the enclosure these two seem to be clones.
The Cambridge SoundWorks MC55 almost didn't make the list. Sadly, I have first hand experience with how awful this company is, but since this list is not a recommendation by me I decided to include them.
The AAD Audio E 30 has a 3.5" full range driver in a cabinet that's only 4.2" high and wide, but almost 10" deep?! Holy ridiculous Batman! Although, quite honestly, that's probably a typo, because the pictures imply otherwise.
The AvantGarde Solo is an aptly named coaxial speaker. Think Han Solo. Why? Because it looks like a laser gun you might find on the Millennium Falcon.
New Wave Audio only sells these satellites as part of the HT-2000 5.1 system, which consists of a crappy subwoofer and run-of-the-mill center. So why include them here? Well, to me these satellites appear to be virtually identical to something from a company that rhymes with "toes".
Wright Audio might take the prize as the company with the most inventive speakers in this entire list, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Want proof? For starters there's the Ambience 10W. Ever want to cross a flower pot with a speaker? Oh come on now, you know you have. Well, here's your chance skippy.
A flower pot speaker too pretentious for you maybe? How about a flower planter speaker instead? If that's more to your liking then you need to take a look at the Ambience 10PH.
Perhaps horticulture isn't your thing. Then how about a speaker that allows you to pop your zits while you listen to music? That's right, these little gems -- OK, Jewels wise@ss -- are covered in bronze mirrors! That means you can lean over them and "freshen" your face while listening to your nasty old Madonna tunes.
That's where the innovation ends though, because their last offering they simply call the Mini Speaker. Yup, Mini Speaker. Really? They couldn't come up with anything better then that? After audio for ferns and personal hygiene I guess they just ran out of ideas.
SonoDyne LS 101 and LS 201. Single and dual 4" full range drivers, respectively. They come in black and "creamy white", which sounds a little creepy to me.
Swan H2 and H2S. Single 2" driver, in gorgeous cabinetry (which is a Swans hallmark). Almost unbelievably low sensitivity, at only 80db, yet they're driven by a measly 3 watt internal amp? I'd like to know how they pull that off. Seems a bit suspect if you ask me. I find that rather odd too, because I actually own Swan (HiVi) speakers, and they're darn nice. They also have the S3W, which looks like an Orb that can be collapsed. This one has a much better frequency response then the other two do, but still only a 5 watt amp.
Equator Audio Research makes a few awesome looking coaxial speakers, with the Q8 being the smallest. I want a pair of these because they're just plain cool.
Laufer Teknik offers the Monitor-C5. Not for bohemians though; it appears to be one of those "if you have to ask what the spec's are you can't afford it" type of speakers.
TBI sound has two entries, the Diamond I and the Diamond IR. I want a pair of the Diamond IR's also, because they're cool too and I want to see if a single 3" driver can really play down into the 30Hz range. Nope, that's not a typo my friends - it's really what TBI claims.
Tekton Design has the 81en, although you can't tell the name of this speaker by the webpage because it's simply not listed. Must be one of those superfluous items, like spec's, because the webpage doesn't have any of those either. Shrewd...
Elipson has the Plant M and the Planet L. Both of these are identical to the Orbs, except a lot higher end. And coaxial. With nicer grills. Bigger too. The Planet-L is even bass reflex, and not acoustic suspension. OK, so maybe they aren't the same. Want to see something really over the top? You can grow tons of them, on a Tree!
For the plumber who likes full-range speakers I give you IkyAudio. Do you pronounce the "Iky" part the way I think you do? If so, then these really are for plumbers!
How about one from a manufacturer someone's actually heard of? For you I present the KEF Q300. This coaxial is a bit large, but the spec's look very impressive.
OSD Audio has the "fruit" speakers, and they're exactly what you might think they are by the name. Ever want to hear music emanating from a head of lettuce? Well, now you can!
OSD Audio also has something quite a bit more conventional, called the Sphere 1. So you have a choice; you can be adventurous or staid.
NSMT has a few single-driver speakers, but the 20M is about as close to small as they make. One thing that's definitely not small is the price. Some of them are astronomical.
That brings me to MSD (Metal Sound Design), a company making speakers that I struggle to describe. Some of the words that came to me were exquisite, incomparable, striking, mind boggling. Ever hear the term "form follows function"? Well in this case it would probably be function follows form, because whoever designs these has a boundless imagination. A sampling would include the Lyra, Comets and the Minima. If you have some time browse through this companies catalog of products. I guarantee it will be time well spent. Amazing ingenuity.
LaCie Bobourg. Looks more like a cyborg. Designed by Neil Poulton, whoever that is.
JA Audio JA-D2 and JA-B3. If these are as bad as the company who makes them they probably blow up the minute you start to use them.
Salk Jordan. Yawn...
Nutone ES113BL. They make range hoods, ceiling fans and medicine cabinets, so why not audio products as well?
Cambridge Audio Lusso. I guess CA felt they needed another tiny satellite speaker to round out their line of tiny satellite speakers.
Arctic contributes the USB powered S111 to the list, which is all of $17. Yup, I said $17.
Gradient has the 5.0, which is neither a 5.0 system or a 5" driver. Go figure. However, it is a 7" coax with a passive radiator. Sounds interesting to me at least.
Well Rounded Sound has several different models, all named after dogs. Except for the WRS, which isn't named after a dog (at least no dog breed I've ever heard of anyway).
Vandersteen is even getting into the act with their VLR-1. When a snooty company like this gets involved does that mean it's now legit?
TruAudio brings two models to the table; the SAT3 and the SAT3CC. Oddly, the SAT3 has a single 3" coax, yet supposedly goes down to 60Hz, while the SAT3CC has two 3" coax speakers, but only goes down to 80Hz. What am I missing?
The Neumann M 52. Well now, here's something you don't see every day; a single driver studio monitor.
Serene Audio has a few speakers with no name, which are single driver speakers made from bamboo and leather that are shaped like... um, well they look similar to... actually, they sorta resemble... ah, the heck with it. You figure it out.
KEF LS50. Well now, here's something you don't see every day; a single driver studio mon... hey, didn't we just have one of these?
OrigAudio sells about a dozen speakers with various names, which are made from cardboard. Yup, that's what I said; cardboard.
NuForce has the Cube, which comes with a DAC and works with anything that has a 3.5mm connector, and the S-X, also known -- by me anyway -- as the "lipstick" speaker. Don't lie, you were thinking the same thing.
Vibe Audio brings two offerings to the table; the Alpha 5, a 4" coaxial, and the Horratone (scroll down), which is a "true studio classic". Hold on, studio? As in studio monitor?! Enough of these already!
If you have personal experience with any of the speakers listed above by all means leave a comment about it. You don't have to create an elaborate review if you don't wish to, just some general information about likes/dislikes would suffice. If someone is searching the forum for this type of speaker your comments might end up helping them. Therefore, I encourage you to leave a post about anything here you have experience with. Let's make this a living thread!
Edited by JimWilson - 5/26/13 at 8:47pm