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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having a conudrum (sp? meaning?). I need help deciding whether to go with the towers or bookshelf speakers for the LCR (definately using bookshelfs for the rears). They are strictly for HT but I like concert dvds too and any good music in a movie gives me goosebumps!


Details:


receivers crossover is nonadjustable and at 80hz, all speakers will be set to small, subwoofer set to yes


the towers go down to 45+/-3db(anechoic),

and the bookshelfs go down to 68+/-3db(anechoic),


I am uncertain if the speakers should have an envelope around the crossover point say overlap it by 25%? the bookshelfs are very near the crossover point (is that bad?) while the towers are well past the crossover. If a speaker says 68 does that really mean it plays better ( less distortion not straining etc) at say 90-100?


It would seem like a simple answer would be just go with the towers but I much rather prefer the small size of the bookshelf, and cost etc. So if they would work in my situation that would be great. Your thoughts?
 

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The word you're looking for is "conundrum". With that out of the way...


You're sure to get lots of differing opinions on this, but mine is to go for smaller bookshelf models and use a good sub. Emphasis on the good. I have floorstanding speakers and am in the early stages of moving to small monitors.


The reasoning is that with a good sub that has fast, responsive bass, you won't miss the lack of bass in the mains. Also, maximizing bass out of speakers is usually in direct conflict with getting a good soundstage. With smaller speakers and a good sub, you can handle each issue optimally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Linda,


appreciate your input. I agree with your points and I also am on the side of the fence (ecspecially on my small budget) that says let the subwoofer(s) do the bass.


Still, I am concerned about the information around the crossover.

I guess my thinking is to have the mains mated well to your crossover point. For ex: if the monitors cant reproduce the bass below 120-100 and your crossing over at 80, theres a 40-20 gap there.


Should the monitors overlap the crossover by a certain amount? In my case the monitor would only overlap by 10 hz. Is that enough to ensure a smooth transistion to the sub?
 

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This is mostly a matter of taste and space. In general, the prices will be the same for a similar quality bookshelf and floorstander if you add stands to the price.


I personally think that a "good" floorstander adds a little more soundstage and depth to music. Having a seperate dedicated midrange and woofer (usually only found in floorstanders) lets each driver do what it is meant to do better. This is just my opinion...and I have seen bookshelf speakers that can do just as well (ex. Paradigm Studio 60s) or better. :D


As far as crossover is concerned, you definately want to have some overlap. How much is debatable, but often if a speaker's spec says it can cover x to 20khz frequency range that lower number may be wishful thinking (depending on the company). I would make sure your speakers can go below 80 because anything above that is more directional, so you don't want your sub producing the sound.
 

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I generally recommend getting the "best" speakers that you can afford for your mains. And I completely disagree with those who say that bass information below, say 60Hz, is not relevant for a loudspeaker if you are using an external sub.


Let me give one example: I know of someone who compared (in his home) a set of bp30's + external subs to a set of bp2000TL's + external subs. Now, the bp30's have the exact same drivers as the bp2000TL's...minus the built in sub in the latter. But this person found the latter setup to be superior to the former setup!


Keep in mind that I feel virtually any loudspeaker can benefit from an external sub, particularly for movies.


The lower your main speakers can play, the lower you can cross them over. Many many audiophiles prefer to cross over lower than 60-80Hz...particularly for music. Also, there is arguably bass information which is directional in soundtracks. Another point is that driver blending will almost always be "better" with a near full range speaker vs. a sub/sat setup...in the former setup, your bass drivers are located literally right next to the other drivers, which is ideal for driver blending.


To discount the ability of a loudspeaker to reproduce bass below 60-80Hz is a big mistake IMHO.
 

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I've read that folks who didn't like using subs with their mains for music simply didn't have good enough subs. I don't have the experience to say one way or the other. On paper, the argument sounds good though.


Bean, you will definitely want some overlap in the main speakers range with the sub's range. If your crossover is at 80hz, you wouldn't want your mains to start rolling off at 100hz. You'd want your mains to go down to at least 80 and maybe 60 just to be safe.


BTW, I heard a relatively small floorstanding speaker last Saturday that might fit your bill though I don't know what your budget is. It's from a company called Meadowlark and the particular model was the Shearwater Hot Road and I'm going back to do more extended listening tomorrow. It didn't go terribly deep, but it was very tight and articulate in its bass response. Of the half dozen or so speakers I've auditioned so far, I've liked it the best by far.
 

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I'm considering either the JBL S310's or the S38's. So I'm kind of in the same boat. I like the looks and sound of the floorstanding but I wonder whether the sound would be better with the S38 along with a sub. I'd get a sub either way but for music it seems the floorstanders would be better.


Linda, did you see those speakers at a retail store? I'm in Maryland.
 

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I have no problem using a sub(s) for music...but mine happen to be built in! They are literally right next to all the other drivers...this is ideal IMHO for driver blending.


An external sub would be fine for music, but you would probably need to place it close to your mains, if not in between the mains. Also, it might be preferable to use dual external subs when using them for music. Of course, in using these external subs for music, you will almost certainly lose the additional output associated wiith corner loading an external sub. Hence, for a system used for both music and movies, I would recommend the "best" speakers that you can afford used in conjunction with a quality external sub(s).
 

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Joe,


I've never heard them so I can't comment on them. But here are some things to consider.


Most floorstanders are capable of being more well-behaved at higher volume than most bookshelf speakers. But, most bookshelf speakers will image better. Obviously exceptions will exist for both, but that's a rule of thumb.


I think, and hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong, that it's primarily a function of the number of drivers. Fewer drivers means that sound is more precise because it comes from fewer sources but requires more of those sources.


I think many of us suffer from the bigger is better syndrome and buy speakers that are too big for our rooms because there's a subconscious feeling that a bigger speaker must be better.


Pick a few cd's with tracks that your are familiar with and use them as your demo material. Make sure you hear the system with the sub and without so you can determine the sub's contribution. Maybe the speakers sound great but the sub is mushy or vice-versa. That demo material and you are likely to be the only constant in your demos so make the most of them. You may hate those pieces by the time your done, but it will help make comparisons. Also, try taking notes while your listening. I know that I have a hard time recalling the exact details from speaker to speaker but jotting some notes really helps me remember what I heard later (and this from someone who never took notes in school!).


Hope this helps!
 

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>>>It would seem like a simple answer would be just go with the towers but I much rather prefer the small size of the bookshelf, and cost etc. So if they would work in my situation that would be great. Your thoughts?
 

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I don't think it's a right and wrong sort of thing, but more of a how do you want to allocate your funds and what will work better in your room.


I'm going to go out on a limb (I have no concrete data to support this) and suggest that spending $1-2k on a good sub and $3k on mains will probably outperform a $4k mains only. At least with the right selection of components...have to make sure I qualify virtually everything I say :)


Still, the mains are responsible for all the mids and highs plus the upper bass and some of the mid bass when crossed at the typical 80-90hz that most processors allow. Does it make sense to spend for a main that extends down to 30hz when it's going to crossed at 80?


Maybe. It depends on the other qualities of the speaker. If you know you will be using a sub, and had to choose between speaker A that rolled of starting at 50hz and speaker B that rolled off at 25hz but were otherwise identical (don't know how likely this scenario is in reality), I'd got for A. But if B had tighter mid/upper bass or more articulate midrange or clearer trebble, I'd probably go for B even though I was going to cross it at 80hz. Or I might spend more time looking for speaker C that had the attributes of B but not the low bass extension to save a little cash.


Just one, dazed and confused girl's opinion....
 

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TV is right on with this one.

You can get much better control of bass by using a separate sub.


The performance of the speaker is largely a function of economics;


All other things being equal it costs more money to make a loudspeaker play lower. If a designer is shooting for say a $1000 price point, if they decide the bass will be limited to, say 60Hz, they have more money to play around with getting everything above that to sound better.
 

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Quote:
I'm going to go out on a limb (I have no concrete data to support this) and suggest that spending $1-2k on a good sub and $3k on mains will probably outperform a $4k mains only.
Any loudspeaker will benefit from the addition of an external sub, particularly for movies. Will a $3k set of mains + external sub be more satisfying than a $4k set of mains for music? Not necessarily.


Since I feel that you should always (if possible) add an external sub to a loudspeaker for a movies/music setup, than it would be more interesting to look at $3k on mains + $1k on external sub vs. $2k on mains + $2k on external subs. If I felt that the $3k mains were more satisfying musically than the $2k mains, then I would without a doubt go with the former setup, even if it gives up some headroom down low compared to the latter setup.

Quote:
Still, the mains are responsible for all the mids and highs plus the upper bass and some of the mid bass when crossed at the typical 80-90hz that most processors allow. Does it make sense to spend for a main that extends down to 30hz when it's going to crossed at 80?
First you have to remember that a crossover is not a fixed point...there is definitely overlap between the loudspeaker and the sub both above and below the crossover point. I would think that if someone had a set of mains which could go down to 30Hz, they would consider crossing over at, say 40Hz-50Hz, instead of 80Hz...this would be especially desireable with music IMHO. With movies, using this crossover point you would let the quality external sub do what it was best designed to do: handle the lowest of lows.


If you can, compare a setup of near full range mains + external subs to a setup of bookshelf speakers + external subs (assuming that all the speakers are quality speakers)...only then will you realize the benefits of having speakers which can play with authority below, say, 80Hz.
 

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I don't think it's fair to compare bookshelf speaker w/ floorstanding speakers from the same speaker line. For one, the floorstanding is more expensive than the bookshelf. It would be more fair if you're comparing bookshelf that cost the same as the floorstanding (maybe the higher line of that speaker brand). For example, comparing B&W 601 w/ B&W 603, plus an external sub in both case. Probably the 603 + sub will sound more fuller than the 601 + sub. But if you compare the 603 to say CDM 1NT, it's get a bit harder. You probably get better high w/ the CDM 1NT, and the bass would be much better than the 601 (maybe not as low as the 603 still).


As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that your main can go 1 octave lower than the x-over points. So if you're x-overing at 80 Hz, it would seem the tower speakers would be better. But if that speaker brand has a higher line of bookshelf, then all is up for grab.


But one thing for sure, don't compromise the sub. Especially if you'll be watching movies a lot. SVS would be good... Adire would also be good... :)


Joel
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by JoelO
As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that your main can go 1 octave lower than the x-over points. So if you're x-overing at 80 Hz, it would seem the tower speakers would be better. But if that speaker brand has a higher line of bookshelf, then all is up for grab.
I've never heard that before. It seems a bit extreme to me as this would require a speaker being crossed over at 80Hz actually having a 3dB down point of 40Hz.

That would dictate a large speaker.

I don't think you can have a "rule of thumb" without knowing the crossover slop.

Most crossovers included in receivers are either 12dB/oct or 24deB/oct and in neither case would I say a -3dB of 40Hz would be required to adequately cover the crossover range.
 

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Quote:
TV is right on with this one.

You can get much better control of bass by using a separate sub.
Buzz, what do you find unsound about my arguments? So you would say that the ability of a loudspeaker to play under 80Hz is basically irrelevant if used with an external sub...correct?


This type of thinking is much too simplistic IMHO. What about a system used with music? What about driver blending? What about directional cues in the bass? What about formats such as super audio/dvd audio where bass management is apparently bypassed? What about the user who found his powered towers + external subs to be superior to his nonpowered towers + external subs, even though both speakers had exactly the same drivers (other than the built in sub)?


Sure if I had to choose between simply a set of loudspeakers with no sub vs. a set of cheaper loudspeakers + external subs, I would probably choose the latter setup if I used the system for movies and if I had no intention of upgrading. But for most people, in the long run they will be better off getting a "better" set of mains and adding external subs when convenient IMHO. I do not mean to imply that everyone should only consider near full range mains...that is why I say they should get the "best" speaker that they can afford (whether floorstander or bookshelf-type speaker)...but they still should not discount the abilities of a main speaker to reproduce bass, particularly if they are using the setup for movies AND music.
 

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I am interested primarily in music.

I find that a multi-channel system that is properly setup for good music reproduction will do well for film also, but I care much more about music so that is what I concentrate on.

For the reasons outlines before, it is much easier to get good smooth bass when using a sub. By funneling off bass below 80Hz to a sub, you have a much better chance of flattening out the response.

In almost all rooms your frequency response below 100Hz is going to be very ragged, often =/-10 or worse. With a sub you stand a chance of correcting that. And until you do, everything else is pretty moot. I hate boomy uneven bass.


Also the subject being discussed is best performance for his given price range and if one assumes a sub, you can usually do much better speaker wise if you are wiling to forgo bass extension on them It's the economic figure I mentioned before.



You prefer something different and your priorities may be different as well.


But I would venture to say that in 95% of cases, a smoother more accurate response can be obtained by using a well placed sub and an 80Hz crossover then one can achieve with full range speakers. Room modes are a part of physics that inexorably effect most listening rooms.

I've never had localization problems with this, and I will happily trade away some subtle blending problems (which can usually be ameliorated with proper time alignment) for a much smoother, tighter more accurate bass.

Regarding SACD and DVD-A lack of bas management; that is a short term problem and we will eventually be able to apply both proper management as well as time alignment (also critical), But that is down the road and does not seem to be the issue here...
 

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I am interested mainly in music too.


Why is it that so many audiophiles prefer near full range speakers to sub/sat combos for music? IMHO driver blending is a big part of it. And why is it that so many audiophiles, when using subs for music, prefer the stereo config? Again, blending one sub into each main channel is what they seek to do.

Quote:
But I would venture to say that in 95% of cases, a smoother more accurate response can be obtained by using a well placed sub and an 80Hz crossover then one can achieve with full range speakers.
I've always said that a quality external sub can benefit virtually any loudspeaker. But for a system used for music in particular, you have to look at user input...and from almost everything I hear said from users, audiophiles seem to prefer near full range speakers to sub/sat combos.

Quote:
I've never had localization problems with this, and I will happily trade away some subtle blending problems (which can usually be ameliorated with proper time alignment) for a much smoother, tighter more accurate bass.
An external sub will provide tighter and more accurate bass than a quality loudspeaker??? First of all, we really don't know what is "accurate". Second of all, by most accounts I have read, audiophiles would much prefer the musicality of a loudspeakers bass over an external sub.


You work at Tag McLaren...they make near full range loudspeakers correct? From what you seem to be saying, it really doesn't make sense to buy a near full range loudspeaker.
 
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