2 way versus 3-4 way [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-22-2007, 03:24 PM
I currently own a set of Sansui SP-2500X, which are 3 way, 5 speakers, which I have had for approximately 25 years. They still treat me right, and have taken very good care of them. I have been considering upgrading to a new set, but am a little leary of the 2 way systems out there. Anything more than 2 way's, are seemiing to get up there, in the $'s, and have never heard any 2 way's, either a friends or in a stereo shop. Can anyone supply some info, on if they think that the 2 way's are much better in quality and sound reproduction? If you have had 3 way's in the past, and have upgraded to 2 way's, have you noticed better low's, and or highs. I know that I need to get somewhere, to hear for myself, but that is a little bit of a quandrum, as I live no where near any big Sound City, or Crutchfields, or Circuit City. I do like AC/DC, but haven't really cranked it up past 3, on my amp, for fear of loosing my window's, and having the neighbors complain. My Sanui's are hooked up to a 5.1 system,and have no problem with listening to cd's, or watching dvd's.

Mr Peabody
10-22-2007, 08:39 PM
2-ways are more widely used because it is very difficult, and costly, to build a good 3-way or more crossover. There are probably some other obstacles but I can't think of any now.

It's not that 2,3 or 4-way in itself sounds better but more the individual speaker's design and quality. Not to mention how subjective a speaker's sound is to various listeners.

There are some killer 2-way designs out there. And as you noted the good 3-ways are expensive. Generally a 3-way is not necessary unless the speaker is using a large woofer or possibly multiple woofers. Then a midrange may be desirable for clarity of the mid frequencies and to keep a flat response, no dip in the mids. Or, to use a woofer that plays low but don't go up high enough to cover the midrange.

Many of the vintage speakers were for the "more is better crowd", more of a sales gimmick. I remember first being fascinated by audio and seeing these tall Kenwood speakers with a big woofer and a row of 5 or 6 tweeters down the side. This looked cool and caught the eye of a nieve enthusiast but the design was not practical and I bet if I heard them today they'd sound like crap to me.

I used a 12" 3-way Infinity Kappa 7 for years. My 2-way Dynaudio kills it. Granted it cost more but it just shows it's not how much you have, it's how you use what you have. I had used the 7's so long it took me a lot of listening to other speakers to understand the differences I was hearing in them. At first listen I was not convinced the Dyn's were better. As my search continued I had come full circle back to the Dyn's but by that time when I heard them I realized the differences and appreciated them, if that makes sense.

jim goulding
10-22-2007, 09:20 PM
If you don't mind a little assembly, visit Danny Richie at GR Research. You'll save a wad of money and this cat builds some right sounding two-ways. And larger than that, yes sir. Contact him. He'll give you a tour. And he's got a ton of references.

10-23-2007, 03:35 PM
Hey, I appreciate your input. If I go with a sub, then a two way, would be enough to take care of my lows, which, at this point of my life, aren't all that much. I still like to hear the bass, and the drums, and have gotten to listen to some instumental's, but not for the enjoyment of being able to hear the voilins,or trumpets ( have a copy of Chris Botti live, and I like it) I guess growing up in the 60's, has me still thriving on the good old stuff, and ocassionally I like to pull out the old LP's, and give them a turn.

If anyone wants to see my Sansui SP-2500X, you will have to visit the photo gallery, and click on my user ID

Thanks again...

11-20-2007, 01:09 PM
Many of the vintage speakers were for the "more is better crowd", more of a sales gimmick. I remember first being fascinated by audio and seeing these tall Kenwood speakers with a big woofer and a row of 5 or 6 tweeters down the side. This looked cool and caught the eye of a nieve enthusiast but the design was not practical and I bet if I heard them today they'd sound like crap to me..

There were some great designs in those days that used rows of tweeters because it improved line of sight (hearing) imaging. Not because they were better because of number. This is one reason that electrostatics became so popular. Check out Roger Russell's web page and his explanation of his new speaker designs. It has gone way beyond that now. However the crossover design is very difficult with more different drivers. Two way designs sound great. More is not necessarily better.

11-20-2007, 08:09 PM
My Platinum T6's deliver some of the best mid-range that I've ever heard for a speaker in it's price-range and now that I am so used to hearing mid-range, I couldn't live without a speaker that delivers like this. Of course the Platinum's also deliver some great highs and the lows are good, but I use a sub at the 40Hz mark and once you get the crossover just right, it's awesome.

jim goulding
11-20-2007, 10:33 PM
Advantages of two ways include with their drivers closer together, they more closely become a point source; they are generally superior for near field listening; typically integrate better; cost less (but you must include quality stands if they are not floor standing). Those Dyn's that Pea uses, in particular, may not produce deepest bass but bass transients on those puppies will make your walls flex! They use very large voice coils and can reproduce all the power you want to give them. The ones I demoed at home where driven by 150W monoblocks and just shocked me! Go with no smaller than a 6.5" mid/bass driver unless there is more than one mid/bass driver per speaker or you are certain there's a sub in your future.

If I may borrow a little space for a personal reply to Pea and Skies . . I've fitted my mod for both the speakers you mentioned with very good results. Whattsa matter with you guys? You something against a more perfect stage? A more perfect in room realization of the music you listen to? Ya'll ought to jump on what I do like a duck on a bug.

Thanks, dude. And that goes for any listener using conventional box speakers.

11-21-2007, 04:30 AM
Every speaker is a compromise of one sort or another. Heck, there are folks who still champion one-way full range systems.

My favorite is still a well-wrought four-way. With the right complement of drivers and networks, it'll give the best linearity I can measure and hear. There are some dreadful four-ways as well, and price is not always an indicator of the level of sound quality. I have five four-way designs downstairs in the "music room."

Three-ways are less satisfying to me generally, unless we're talking bookshelf models. There are some very nice three-way bookshelf speakers, though we'd have to acknowledge several limitations up front. A good sub will fix some of these deficiencies, but then we're back in four-way territory, aren't we? I have a few pairs of three-ways, mostly running in the garage, though I've got my original pair of JBL L100s in a vintage set up in a spare bedroom. The L100 has a lot of nostalgic attraction for me, but it's not a great three-way.

There are some fantastic two-ways, most of which are horn based (though not all). My big two-way horns in the master bedroom can really crank it, and they are dynamic as hell, but the horn is always in danger of overwhelming the woofer. A better balance is achieved in the MTM two-ways I have, where the horn is flanked by two woofers. I've also got some two-way satellite speakers, which obviously require a subwoofer, and then we're getting back to what is virtually three-way territory again.

As noted earlier, often it's your ears that need to adjust to the sound before you can really hear it. Ten, fifteen, or twenty years of listening to the same speakers can bend your preferences to a certain sound, so other speakers will not sound correct. This can be overcome with a lot of listening and an open mind.

I once thought those old L100s were one of the best. I still love 'em, but now I listen to them for a trip back to the 70s and not a trip to musical bliss.