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I am far from an audiophile so I figured I'd run this by you guys. I was telling a friend of mine that I was looking for a new system for HT/Music. I mentioned a few things to him, Axiom's, Ascend, Hsu, SVS. I told him I was looking at the Axiom M60's for fronts. He told me I shouldn't get teh Axiom fronts. Not because they're not great speakers, but because they aren't neccessary. (here comes the theiry part) He said that because I will be buying a subwoofer also it is a waste to have front speakers that I will never use the bottom 2-3 octaves of since I'll cross over at 80Hz. He said I'd be better off with a good pair of bookshelves/monitors that go to 60Hz and handle the power in order to save a few $$$ for other things. He also said I wouldn't have to worry about the fronts boundry response from 80Hz down and the less load on the amp are advantages.


I will be honest, this is like Latin to me. Maybe someone could explain. I am assuming that regarding less load on the amp he means that there will be less power needed for say a 340SE as opposed to a M60 due to the M60 having the extra woofers and whatnot?


I'd love to hear some opinions on this.
 

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It's not like the only reason for more drivers or a floorstanding cabinet is to produce bass. Take the Ascends for example, the 170's are a simple MT - one woofer and one tweeter whereas the 340's are a MTM - two woofers and one tweeter. But in both speakers the woofers operate up to around 2000hz, and are responsible for reproducing the vast majority of critical information. A tweeters job in comparison is relatively simple.


Now the difference between the two speakers is more than just bass extension. The most important difference is dynamics - the 340's are going to be able to play much louder, and will have more headroom to re-create dynamically musical peaks. Another benefit to the MTM is sensitivity, Ascend says there's not much difference between their two in that aspect, but I expect the 'real' difference is more than listed on paper - MTM's will always be more sensitive than a typical MT given the same drivers. That means less load on your amp to produce the same volumes.


The answer to your question isn't as your friend proposes. Extra woofers mean dynamics generally, not just more bass. Dynamics are perhaps the biggest difference between live music performances and what speakers are able to reproduce. Attend a symphony performance and you'll understand what dynamics really are! And movie soundtracks demand dynamics just like music does. Axiom M60's would be an excellent choice - they also have the benefit of a dedicated midrange driver, meaning they can crossover the bass drivers earlier which in turn presumably means less distortion, a smoother response, and mitigates the effect of cone resonances.
 

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He's kinda right, kinda wrong as Ryan points out. Tower speakers cost 2-4 times a similar bookshelf because of the cost of bass reproduction. Probably the best value for low distortion and maximum capability across the board is when you have a high-end 3-way bookshelf with dual midbass drivers that perfectly match a center speaker and then add one or two subs to that, at least for high output. Tower speakers do often have an unfair advantage over bookshelf speakers because they have acoustic suspension midrange drivers and most bookshelf speakers do not. It really comes down to individual brand and design as to which way to go.
 
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