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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

jcbrum wrote:

manicm wrote:

jcbrum wrote:

mikefarrow wrote:

if upgrading to a speaker with more drive units, does this result in a fuller more solid 3d sound ?

 

No.

 

It's possible that the sound would be more distorted.

 

JC

According to whose theory? So all high-end loudspeaker makers are wasting their time with 3-way speakers?

 

I think it's highly probable that many of them are.   They end up with very compromised designs, in which the crossovers intrude heavily into the critical response areas, and at best produce varying degrees of distortion, which some people claim to prefer.

 

Good headphones generally produce better fidelity than multi-driver loudspeakers.

 

Headphones are not as pleasant to use in a domestic sitting room for recreational purposes, ime, however, many younger people use them a great deal.

 

Ideally a perfect loudspeaker would comprise a single full-range transducer, which acts as a point source.  This is not acheivable with current technology, so transducers (drivers) have to be limited to their acceptable performance ranges.  

 

The crossovers are the critical devices employed to do that, and are usually not very good at it.  IMO, active crossovers do the job better, but it would be best if no crossovers were needed, or at least the number employed be kept to a minimum.

 

One way to do that would be to make the best two-way loudspeaker possible, and employ a separate sub-woofer, with a tailored response, so as to achieve the 'crossover' acoustically.  i.e. no electronic crossover for the bass region.

 

JC

It's all rather academic if the makers are competent enough, and I would hazard they are. And subwoofers are actually not the solution for everybody - I had a 2.1 speaker system for about 6 months - and if you can't place a sub in a corner then forget it. Well the one I had anyway. And a 2.1 system has its own potential pitfalls as well - such as sub/satellite integration, phase adjustment etc etc. And again it's down to the manufacturer as to how well it will perform.

There's no real design paradigm that says a 3-way design is necessarily bad to my knowledge. More complex yes, but again if you have good engineers....

Complexity should not be a hindrance to anything.

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

I have 75, 150 and 300 watt amplifiers from the same manufacturer. Not had the 75 watt one long enough to properly compare against the others. Initial impressions are that with my speakers there's not much difference between them.

 

I also have an amp from a manufacturer that quite openly admits that their less expensive 8 watt amp sounds better than their more expensive 16 watt amp. The 16 watter is there for people that need the power.

 

Generally speaking, the larger the speaker the lower the power you require from your amplifier.

 

Using multiple drivers to cover the same frequency range can make a lot of sense from a sound quality point of view. Trouble is, far too often, you have two or three 8 ohm drivers wired in parallel resulting in an amp unfriendly low impedance. Four 8 ohm drivers wired in series and in parallel results in an amp friendly 8 ohm load. Arrange them in a vertical array and you have good in-room dispersion characteristics at the expense of comb effects in the nearfield.

 

 

And as for 2 way active speakers with a subwoofer offering some sort of optimum compromise when it comes to sound quality in speaker design. Well I'd be happy to put that to the test by chucking an amp and some passive 3 or 4 way speakers into my car and coming to compare them against anyone's 2 way actives plus sub.

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

Already done it, but thanks for the offer.

 

JC

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

JC would you care to share with us, exactly which speakers you have compared directly to your 2 way actives plus sub set-up? Directly as in same room at the same volume playing the same recording one after the other. And to tell us in which ways these other speakers sounded better and in which ways they were worse?

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Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

It would take a long time to compose such a post, in detail, and I have lots to do today, but I don't mind briefly outlining what I did.

 

I have evaluated a lot of speakers, over an extended period of time, basically, in three different rooms.  Basically I used a comparison system.  The speakers which were used as 'controls' were ESL57, Spendor LS3/5a and BC1s, and AVI pro nine+. Amplification was always AVI, mostly Lab series Integrated.  Sources were variously Revox B77, AVI cdp, Mac and WinPC, an RME Fireface, an Apogee Mini-Dac, a portable flash card recorder, Sony mini-disc, or an iPod running Wavs.  I never used vinyl, or compressed lossy files, for these tests, but I did check out lossy compression, and records for other reasons.  Most of the time I used Revox RR, Apogee Dac, or RME Fireface, with Macbook Pro laptop.

 

I became very familiar with the sound of the 'control' systems.  Evaluation tracks which I used constantly were Diana Krall Night in Paris, Katie Melua Stardust, Eastman Wind Band Liberty Bell, and a live recording made locally with my own equipment in the Adrian Boult Concert Hall of an ensemble consisting of Piano, Cello, and Clarinet.  I also used my own live recordings made at the Imperial College Concert Hall, where my son was lead Oboe.

 

I used to visit my local HiFi dealer every day, and gave him the instruction that I wanted to listen to every speaker, new or second-hand, which passed through his shop.  I did this for a period of more than 10 years.  When I first started these test, Ashley James worked for ATC, and that's how I got to meet him, since he visited that dealer on behalf of ATC.  Later, when he joined AVI, he and Martin Grindrod visited to listen to some of my tests, since they were becoming interested in 'computer music', and I like to think it played some part in the creation and development of their active speakers with digital inputs.

 

Similarly, although not every day, I very frequently used to visit Digital Village, which is a local dealer of professional sound equipment, with massive stocks of 'pro-grade' loudspeakers, and a very good 'dem' room.  Their engineer Nick was very helpful to me, and I installed my own loudspeakers in their dem room for direct comparison with their stock.

 

At home, I had my own studio, equipped with Studer Revox equipment, and more latterly AVI.  Originally (in the '70s), I started with Quad II systems, and ESLs, and moved through 33 / 34 / 44 / 303 / 405 / 306 etc.  Initially I was interested in making my own recordings, but more latterly I was interested in transcribing records and tapes to digital files, particularly 78s.  I used to borrow the most preferred loudspeakers to check them out, there.

 

Consequently, I was always interested in using 'monitor' loudspeakers with a very high degree of fidelity and transparency.  I was very un-interested in anything which provided a 'coloured' sound, and strongly disagree that hifi systems should be chosen on the basis of 'an unusually characterful sound'. A replay system should be ruthlessly accurate and transparent, otherwise how can one appreciate what the recording is supposed to represent.

 

For years I did my monitoring on LS3/5a, but I agree they fell short of the range of a BC1, or a better 3-way system.  The problem was always that the best 2-ways (I liked ATC 10s, a lot) were so good on voice and mid-range, and 3-ways, whilst more extended in the bass region, were always muddied in the mid range. This affected voice and female opera very noticeably.

 

Eventually I came to the conclusion that deficiences in drivers, and crossovers, were the main inadequacies, rather than cabinet design or cost.  Many expensive loudspeakers were just not worth the money, and seem to be produced as 'a mugs eyeful' to sell to gullible consumers.  

 

So, the answer, for me, seemed to be use the best drivers available, with active crossovers to preserve tight control, and keep the number to a minimum, and preserve the purity and transparency of a 2-way.  This meant the lowest octave (say 30-60Hz) had to be supplemented with a separate loudspeaker. These days some people call them 'subs'.  I tried various subs ranging in size from 18" drivers in cabs the size of a dining table, to small 8" units.  They varied greatly in sound quality and were usually awful.  However there is not much content below 50Hz in most music, and the human ear is not very discriminating in that region either.  Modern movie sound effects, and throbbing Citroen Saxos playing rap, might be considered by some to be an exception.  AVI designed and produced a sub-woofer, which is exceptionally good, although a bit expensive, and uses an 'acoustic crossover' technique which perfectly matches their loudspeakers, and can be adjusted for room response.  That completed the puzzle for me.

 

JC

 

 

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RE: Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

So, I suppose you could say I do use a 3-way system, since I use a sub, but it's active and tightly controlled, and is an 'acoustic' match to the system.   There is only one electronic crossover, which is the one that controls the tweeter, and it's active, not passive, so doesn't splash over into the mids and upset the mid driver.  My solution does however need five or six amplifiers to drive it, but they are contained within the loudspeaker enclosures, and specifically designed to exactly match the needs of the individual driver transducer, to which they are individually direct connected.

 

It gets rid of all the problems of 'mix and match' separates, which have only one amp being asked to service multiple drive units through passive crossovers, and all the distortions and compromises which that method brings.

 

JC

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RE: Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

p.s. I don't believe in 'super-tweeters' either.  -  JC

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

Whether one type of design is superior to another is partly dependent on how well each of these designs have been executed. Let's assume that we're talking about well executed designs.

A three way speaker is certainly better quality than a two way. In a two way design, a bass driver has to reproduce low bass notes with high excursion as well as trying to reproduce smaller excursions at the same time to produce midrange frequencies. Add in a dedicated mid driver, and the bass driver is then free to do what it is supposed to do, and the load on the HF unit is heavily reduced as well as it no longer has to produce high (albeit very small) excursions to reproduce higher midrange frequencies. The result is very easily demonstrated. 

The difference between the CM9 and CM10 is pretty big in the high frequency range. Removing the HF unit from any effects of the mid and bass drivers as well as the cabinet gives the higher frequencies much more delicacy, so it is able to reproduce the finer nuances much more clearly. The treble is much more like that of the PM1s, which is one of the best sounding speakers for detail and openness in it's price range. 

Whilst speakers usually become more efficient as you move up the range (more and larger drivers), I do find that even though they don't need as much power to drive them, they do require better quality amplification to control them and the (usually) deeper bass they produce. A tight, punchy, solid bass really underpins the rest of the speaker and can help it to sound much more realistic, giving some instruments the illusion of being 'life size', sometimes even bigger in some cases! 

Your example of the CM9s and accompanying amplifiers, you should find that the M6500 will have a tighter grip over what the speaker is doing, giving bass more agility and speed. In cases like this, you can sometimes find that the bass suddenly has more presence, as better amplification is able to bring out 'real' bass in some speakers - the KEF Reference range is a good example. With insufficient amplification, they sound lean, and bordering on brightness. With the right amp, they're smooth but detailed, and the bass has real solidity and punch to it, without lacking control.

So if you're working to a budget, sometimes it is better to have the lesser speaker with better amplification, as the last thing you want is a speaker that is underforming. Of course, if the budget stretches to both the better speaker and better amplifier, life can be less stressful Smile

DavidF @FrankHarveyHiFi, Coventry.

"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light"

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

matt49 wrote:

I haven't upgraded from fewer drive units to more within the same range, but I have done a few demos of this kind. For instance, comparing the 2-way Sonus faber Cremona Auditor Ms against the 3-way SF Cremona Ms (I preferred the 2-ways and bought them). I also compared the 2-way SF Olympica Is with the 3-way Olympica IIs: I preferred the 3-ways.

Which just goes to show how important implementation is and how in many cases experience trumps theory.

Talking of theory, and going back to jcbrum's post:

jcbrum wrote:

The crossovers are the critical devices employed to do that, and are usually not very good at it.  IMO, active crossovers do the job better, but it would be best if no crossovers were needed, or at least the number employed be kept to a minimum.

One way to do that would be to make the best two-way loudspeaker possible, and employ a separate sub-woofer, with a tailored response, so as to achieve the 'crossover' acoustically.  i.e. no electronic crossover for the bass region.

You can pretty much forget all of that when you move from dynamic speakers to electrostatics, as the amount of distortion created by a good electrostatic is a couple of orders of magnitude lower than for dynamic speakers. In theory a decent passive electrostatic will beat a decent active dynamic speaker hands down.

Matt

I agree 100 percent with your statement.. I once listened to a pair of electrostatic speakers & i have yet to hear a sound thats even remotely comes close to it. Just incredible sounding. But I think it was about 9 grand a pair.

 OPPO 105EU, Arcam AVR450, Boston Acoustics M340. Dac: Musical fedility V90.

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

Multiple driver can achieve a bass punch just like a larger woofer. But my advise is to pay for quality component not quantity of cheaper ones. If you want a super defined clean bass a single woofer speaker is the better choice IMO. I have yet to ear a decent vintage speaker that missed the point for rock or pop while today many speakers lack vibe and room filling and produce sound without music.  I still havent found the exact explaination for my last claim but its either the larger woofer or the larger wood cabinet slight coloration. I suspect today designer go way to much with science and not enough with their feelings. People who thinks like me probably escape the modern audio trend with tubes and larger woofer wooden speakers. 

 

 

 

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

pyrrhon wrote:

Multiple driver can achieve a bass punch just like a larger woofer. But my advise is to pay for quality component not quantity of cheaper ones. If you want a super defined clean bass a single woofer speaker is the better choice IMO.

 

 

 

:shame: Nope.. I got Boston Acoustics M340 speakers with 4 bass drivers on each speaker.. Yet the bass is full deep musical & tight.. I will eat my own head on this one.

 OPPO 105EU, Arcam AVR450, Boston Acoustics M340. Dac: Musical fedility V90.

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RE: more drive units or more power equals fuller more 3d sound ?

once again, thanks for all further input.

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RE: Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

jcbrum wrote:

It would take a long time to compose such a post, in detail, and I have lots to do today, but I don't mind briefly outlining what I did.

 

I have evaluated a lot of speakers, over an extended period of time, basically, in three different rooms.  Basically I used a comparison system.  The speakers which were used as 'controls' were ESL57, Spendor LS3/5a and BC1s, and AVI pro nine+. Amplification was always AVI, mostly Lab series Integrated.  Sources were variously Revox B77, AVI cdp, Mac and WinPC, an RME Fireface, an Apogee Mini-Dac, a portable flash card recorder, Sony mini-disc, or an iPod running Wavs.  I never used vinyl, or compressed lossy files, for these tests, but I did check out lossy compression, and records for other reasons.  Most of the time I used Revox RR, Apogee Dac, or RME Fireface, with Macbook Pro laptop...

 

 

Thanks for that. So your "control" speakers have been:

 

ESL57's - electrostatic speakers. I like these a lot due to their magical midrange. However due to their dipole nature there are some rooms in which they wil not work so well and they do have limitations in the bass and treble. They also benefit from refurbishment every 15 years or so.

Ls3/5a - tiny sealed two way speakers. I have found these fine for speech. Not very good at all for music.

Spendor BC1 - 3 way ported speakers. I really haven't enjoyed BC1's when I've heard them. Too tubby and lacking in crispness and dynamics.

AVI Pro Nine + - tiny ported 2 way speakers.

 

Always with solid state amplification.

Nothing in that list has an efficiency of over 90dbs/2.83v/1m.

Nothing in that list has a bass cone bigger than 8".

 

I have four pairs of speakers that are different to all of your control speakers. None of them would ever have been stocked by your local hi-fi dealer that you used to visit every day and none of them would have been stocked by your pro-dealer when you visited him.

 

It's interesting that you said that you're after "A replay system should be ruthlessly accurate and transparent, otherwise how can one appreciate what the recording is supposed to represent." In my experience, the systems that I've come across that have been described as thus are all left brain and no right brain. Good for detail, but dynamically compressed and on the lean side of tonal neutrality. Great for people who want to analayse recordings. Flawed for people such as myself who want both their left and right brains to be stimulated. To get the detail as well as the bounce, the fun, the rhythm, the dynamics of the music.

 

For the 3 and 4 ways that I've compared against 2 ways, it's been the 3 or 4 ways that have had greater clarity on vocals at more generous volumes. That could be entirely down to the particular speakers that I've compared. Or it could be something else.

 

It seems to me that our opinions on speakers are so different because your priorities and my priorities are differerent in terms of what we're after in a system. Also, I've tried some equipment that you've apparently never used. Plus your evaluation tracks are way different to mine.

 

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Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

lindsayt wrote:

jcbrum wrote:

It would take a long time to compose such a post, in detail, and I have lots to do today, but I don't mind briefly outlining what I did.

 

I have evaluated a lot of speakers, over an extended period of time, basically, in three different rooms.  Basically I used a comparison system.  The speakers which were used as 'controls' were ESL57, Spendor LS3/5a and BC1s, and AVI pro nine+. Amplification was always AVI, mostly Lab series Integrated.  Sources were variously Revox B77, AVI cdp, Mac and WinPC, an RME Fireface, an Apogee Mini-Dac, a portable flash card recorder, Sony mini-disc, or an iPod running Wavs.  I never used vinyl, or compressed lossy files, for these tests, but I did check out lossy compression, and records for other reasons.  Most of the time I used Revox RR, Apogee Dac, or RME Fireface, with Macbook Pro laptop...

 

 

Thanks for that. So your "control" speakers have been:

 

Always with solid state amplification.

Nothing in that list has an efficiency of over 90dbs/2.83v/1m.

Nothing in that list has a bass cone bigger than 8".

 

You might have mis-understood what I meant by 'control' loudspeakers.

 

Those are simply the ones which I am very familiar with, and they are reasonably portable for comparisons in differing locations.  Do not confuse them with the 'best', and I have used and listened to plenty of speakers with bigger and more numerous speakers.

 

That is the purpose of a 'control' loudspeaker, to provide a sample with which others may be compared, to determine whether the 'subject' loudspeaker is better or worse.

 

lindsayt wrote:
I have four pairs of speakers that are different to all of your control speakers. None of them would ever have been stocked by your local hi-fi dealer that you used to visit every day and none of them would have been stocked by your pro-dealer when you visited him.

 

I wouldn't be too sure about that, he sells a lot of second-hand speakers, and has been doing so for more than 40 years.  He is very experienced indeed with vintage and classic hifi.  Generally, with a few exceptions, I'm not such a fan of old kit. Possibly I could have kept my Quad II amps, which were of course valves, but they just had no further utility other than nostalgia.

 

Also it may interest you to know that he was a Klipsch dealer, I tried a lot of those, and used to have weekly meetings with Guy, the Klipsch importer at that time.

 

Generally I think 'big old' loudspeakers are a load of junk and trouble which take up too much houseroom, and are far surpassed by the best modern designs.

 

However, I understand nostalgia, and your liking for what you enjoy, but it's not really hifi in the best up to date sense, as I see it.

 

JC

 

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RE: Re: Lindsayt's request about comparisons

p.s. The Rugby is starting on telly   :grin:  England is playing Wales, right now  :wave:   - JC

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