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PDN
10-23-2008, 03:09 PM
It seems today that many loudspeaker manufacturers are going to smaller diameter mid-range and bass drivers in their floorstanders in that 5" to 6" dia area getting away from the older style 8" dia boomers except say for the Revel Concerta F12's for example. Would the forum generally agree that these smaller diameter drivers just can't reproduce that drum slam and punch as larger diameter drivers can even with more than one bass driver and even a powered subwoofer in the listening room? I'm referring strictly to drum slam and not electric bass. What does everyone think? Thanks much.

Mr Peabody
10-23-2008, 07:56 PM
I think it depends on the speaker. Several years ago I would have agreed with you but Dynaudio showed you can get killer bass from a 6" driver. When I had an all Krell system driving my Dyn's drums were outstanding. I have a CD called Pipes & Brass on the Reference label, probably the best recording quality I've ever heard, on a certain track there was a crash with a kettle drum with the orchestra and it was shocking, simply amazing. On the other hand that type of control can sometimes not be so much fun especially for those who like modern Pop or Hip Hop. The Krell just don't allow any rumble or slop but it will play down to the basement and control it all the way.

Aside from what one might think is the most accurate, larger woofers do bring a sound or feel not heard by smaller woofers.

Feanor
10-24-2008, 02:49 AM
It seems today that many loudspeaker manufacturers are going to smaller diameter mid-range and bass drivers in their floorstanders in that 5" to 6" dia area getting away from the older style 8" dia boomers...

"Slam & bunch" need for the speaker to "move air". It's simple math that larger drivers displace a lot more air. If you want to do the same with smaller drivers, you've got to have a longer "throw", i.e. the driver moves in and out farther, or you've got to go to multiple drivers.

However longer throws tend to more distortion; multiple drivers is better in that regard. However it's rare to find a smaller driver with a low resonance frequency and this means that they just can't go as deep as larger drivers. OK, maybe ultimate depth isn't necessary for slam and punch in case of, say, rock music

Worf101
10-24-2008, 04:27 AM
I was another person who believed that anything smaller than an 8" woofer was too big a compromise for deep, tight bass in a speaker. However over the years I've found that some ported models of speakers with 5 or 6" drivers can do the job IF properly placed and with the appropriate room treatments.

Da Worfster

PDN
10-24-2008, 07:51 PM
All good answers. All makes sense. Feanor, your explanation really clears this up for me and confirms what I had suspected. It all comes down to the movement of air and just how much the driver moves in and out. The larger the driver, the more in and out movement results. I've got to get out there and start listening to different brand and size speakers again such as Dynaudio, Revel, etc. and not just B&W but I am loyal to that brand. Yes also the amp makes a big difference as well and Krell components are serious business and yes, room treatments are extremely important too. Thanks everyone. My system in case you're intererested is below.

Rotel RSX-1057 A/V 5.1 receiver
B&W DM603 S3's
B&W HTM61 cc
B&W M-1's
B&W ASW600 sub
Rotel RCD-1072 HDCD CDP
NAD 522 CDP as back up
Marantz DV3002 DVD Player
PS Audio Duet power conditioner/surge protector
Tara Labs Prism Klara bi-Wire speaker cables
Sony Bravia 32" LCD TV
Room size: 13' x 23' x 8' high with two uncloseable openings out to hallways

PDN
10-24-2008, 07:54 PM
Hey Feanor

I see you don't have Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. We saw it performed live this past summer outdoors with fireworks. Fabulous !! Love your list BTW.

Feanor
10-25-2008, 03:54 AM
Hey Feanor

I see you don't have Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. We saw it performed live this past summer outdoors with fireworks. Fabulous !! Love your list BTW.

No, I'll admit the 1812 isn't on my list. I have a copy, (Dorati / Minnneapolis on Mercury Living Presense), and enjoy it once in a while. But frankly it, along with Ravel's Bolero, just don't belong on any short list of great works or works that really illustrate the classical genre -- a list of popular works may be another matter.

RGA
10-25-2008, 05:39 PM
Feaner made the arguments well. As owner of a speaker using an 8 inch woofer (preperly matched to a 1 inch tweeter it offers an excellent "balance" of both deep bass (corner loading adds around 18db that free standing designs don;t get) high efficiency, highish sensitivity, and with very low distortion, and still retaining a single driver point source presentation.

Having two drivers cover the same frequency spectrum is problematic - shows nice on a 1 meter frequency graph but none have sounded very good to me. The long throw woofer approach usually requires a lot of power - usually high negative feedback SS which does not allow owners to select lower powered (and often much better sounding) designs. No offense to Krell but they have a dryness and a 2d presentation that I can't shake after listening to SE tube designs (and far less expensive designs I might add).

But the 6 inch woofer is popular because the cabinet can be smaller and sleeker and more home decor friendly - 4 inchers have become popular for the same reason - smaller footprints - speakers less seen is better for WAF and reduces clutter. But sound does take a back seat and no amount of justification by makers or owners changes that. I never really understood the size and clutter argument since in virtually every case one has to buy one or two hulking subs into the room after owners eventually grow dissatisfied with the production of most of those 6 inch speaker standmounts.

Interestingly in Korea where apartments are very small people were buying wide baffle large horn speakers - Big Tannoy Westminsters Kensigtons, Glenair and not much interested in the likes of Totem. In the West with massive homes we put slim tiny speakers like Totem in a big room that the Totem really can;t fill and so we buy subs and the sound is all over the map (considered good which is odd to me). The issue is in MOST dealers all the speakers are more or less exactly the same - so the younger audiophile has never heard what some of those big fat and ugly speakers could do - they "assume" the benefits of the 6 inch 1inch slim line speaker because all the stores only carry those and all the forums and magazines tell them that those are the best. The maker is happy because those are more profitable and dealers are happy because less floor space is used and is thus more profitable. Meanwhile the Westminster kicks all those little puny slim lines 3-5 6 inch woofers stacked on top of each other with an annoying metal tweeter on top's butt.

canuckle
10-26-2008, 12:05 AM
I grew up with huge Kenwoods. The tweeters were 3" big! They were lovely and will always hold a special place in my heart, but there's no way they can compare to my current speakers which feature two 5" woofers and are mated to a killer 10" sub.

Modern times have brought a lot of science to the art of building speakers and anechoic testing. Simple things like the revelation that the speaker box shouldn't be any wider than the driver itself to avoid distortion which increases with every little bit that the box widens out have helped to create speakers with infinitely better soundstages. As has been mentioned, the ability to move air is where the "punch" comes from. Two 5" woofers will move as much air as a 7.8" single woofer. Add in the sub and the oldie speaker just can't keep pace.

Materials have also changed radically. Old school 10" and 12" drivers were usually paper. Distortion anyone? Frequency response was all over the place for that reason and simply because the tech to measure it like we do today wasn't at hand. Old school foam surrounds also equalled a ton more distortion than modern speakers have to deal with.

Moving big speakers is naturally harder than moving small ones, so bass/mid-bass in particular is slower on a 10" woofer than on a 6" one. I'll take the articulate modern approach yet again.

The arguments go on and on, but ultimately end with the same conclusion: large drivers have more downs than pluses. Speaker manufacturers aren't abandoning the old designs because of some conspiracy. It's because speakers are so well tested nowadays that they can't afford to make speakers than aren't articulate, precise, fast, well-imaged, and flat-responsed.

And the proliferation of subs has largely made the bass-production arguments moot. Huge floorstanders generally just can't compete with a big sub powered by its digital amp.

RGA
10-26-2008, 07:14 PM
"I grew up with huge Kenwoods. The tweeters were 3" big! They were lovely and will always hold a special place in my heart, but there's no way they can compare to my current speakers which feature two 5" woofers and are mated to a killer 10" sub."

Yes but you're comparing new speakers to old bad loudspeakers. No offense to the Kenwoods but I would agree there are plenty of good new relatively inexpensive speakers using 5 inch woofers that I like a lot better than any of the speakers you describe (3 inch paper tweeter ??? says it all).

"Simple things like the revelation that the speaker box shouldn't be any wider than the driver itself to avoid distortion which increases with every little bit that the box widens out have helped to create speakers with infinitely better soundstages. As has been mentioned, the ability to move air is where the "punch" comes from."

Actually that is what they would like you to believe but it really isn't true. It may measure better in an enchoic chamber but hardly in room at the listening position.

"Materials have also changed radically. Old school 10" and 12" drivers were usually paper. Distortion anyone?"

Some materials have gotten better but most designers who have used and are in the know also knwo that good paper drivers cost far more to make with higher in production failures. The change to polyprolene, bextene, kevlar was a way to reduce costs. Most designers greatly prefer paper or hemp drivers. You often see these materials in better and more expensive loudspeakers. Cheap speakers of yesteryear used paper and polyrpolene - a bad cheapo speaker is a bad cheap speaker no matter the materials.

"Moving big speakers is naturally harder than moving small ones, so bass/mid-bass in particular is slower on a 10" woofer than on a 6" one"

Most of the best subs use 10 inch or bigger woofers - why is it good for subs but not for a speaker? Slowness and fastness that you are likely describiung is more of a function of the room. Again old bad speakers using a 10 in a cheap high resonating box will create a lingering distortion. That is what is muddying the sound. So in today's brave new profit hungry world speaker makers use MDF (a terrible and cheap ass material) and they hack off all the low notes. If the speaker produced very little bass there is less box resonances. That's hardly a great comrpomise. I get less colouration but I lose 3-5 octaves? How is that a good thing. Oh yes let's call it accurate - the people will buy anything.

Most of the makers making those small speakers also make bigger brothers and in virtually every single case the big brother sounds one helluva lot better. B&W's with their 15 inch woofers sound better than their 7 inch woofer counterparts. The Tannoy Westminster sounds better than "ANY" speaker under it using small woofers.

And while it is true that for absolute bass slam to crack the walls of your house would likely require a massive Subwoofer or two it is also true that a subwoofer's job is to be sub sonic which means felt and not heard - it should be below 20hz and not enter the audible spectrum - felt not heard is the ideal. Cross over at 80hz? WTF? These kinds of systems have a clear audible weight in whichever part of the room the sub is located in. Two subs is better (this will actually maintain stereo rather than mono) but few people buy two subs. Tannoy is perhaps the longest maker of home and professional grade stereos using cutting edge and long held prionciples of speaker designs. The Revel Ultima is the pinnacle of the Harman NRC approach - listen to their best and the Ultima is pure caca in comparison.

Feanor
10-27-2008, 10:25 AM
...

Moving big speakers is naturally harder than moving small ones, so bass/mid-bass in particular is slower on a 10" woofer than on a 6" one. I'll take the articulate modern approach yet again.

...

This misleading at least. For a given volume of sound, a large bass driver is easier to drive; it is more efficient and creates less distortion. The reason for this is simple: it doesn't need nearly the as much excursion as a small driver to move the same air. If smaller drivers are used, multiple drivers are necessary, and if used, are still unlikely to deliver notes as deep as the bigger driver.

PDN
10-27-2008, 05:40 PM
Good healthy debate. Thanks for all of your expertise. No doubt the materials used today (kevlar, beryllium, polypropylene, etc) are superior to the older paper woofers and drivers and the testing is far more sophisticated.

I was just polling the forum to get a consensus as to how I can increase the drum slam in my system based on my list of components above. Is it more power out of the amp, larger bass drivers or simply more bass drivers in my main speakers, go with larger surround sound speakers, larger powered sub-woofer?? I'll need to get back to a few hi-fi stores and do some side by side listening comparisons.

RGA
10-27-2008, 09:40 PM
Actually in fact there is no doubt that the old paper woofers were and still are superior to new polyprolene, bextene and kevlar drivers - don't believe everything you read from B&W and Harman marketing.

From one of the better Speaker designers on the planet "Lynn Olsen"

Paper Cone Drivers

This dates back to the original Rice & Kellogg patent in the late Twenties.
Paper ranges in quality from the worst TopTone clock/radio speakers to the
superb Scan-Speak 5" cone/dome midrange used in the Theil line of speakers
and the SEAS 6.5" midbass used in the Wilson Audio WATT. This oldest of
materials is actually a composite structure, and changes properties
significantly when it doped with an appropriate plastic (the choice of
doping is invariably a trade secret of the driver vendor). The doping is
quite important, since paper undergoes significant alterations with changes
in humidity and time if it is left undoped; the doping stabilizes the
material and typically improves the self-damping.

Strengths are: Good-to-excellent self-damping, potentially excellent
resolution and detail, very flat response potential, and a gradual onset of
cone breakup. It can be used with low slope linear-phase crossovers without
much trouble. Paper is a material that sounds better than it usually
measures ... this is an asset, not a disadvantage.

Weaknesses are: Not as rigid as the Kevlars, carbon fibers, and metals, so
it lacks the last measure of electrostatic-like inner detail. Doesn't go as
loud as the materials above, but the onset of breakup is much more gradual.
Paper-cone drivers usually require modest shelving equalization in the
crossover for best results.

[Note: Audio Note uses 8 inch paper drivers and are pair matched better than any other loudspeaker maker in the industry - although Audio Note now uses Hemp cones which Lynn has not tried.]

Paper is not as consistent as synthetics, so pair-matching isn't quite as
exact, which may affect imaging, depending on the precision and quality of
manufacture. Properties may change with time, even with doping.

* Polypropylene Drivers

This material has become nearly universal, since it requires a minimum of
hand treatment to assemble a loudspeaker - the only difficult problem was
finding adhesives that would stick to polypropylene, and that problem was
solved in the beginning of the Eighties.

This material is used in speakers ranging from mundane rack-stereo trash to
the first-rank ProAc Response Threes and Hales System Two Signatures. The
cone profile and additional materials added to the polypropylene mix
strongly determine the ultimate quality of this type of driver.

Strengths are: Very flat response if correctly designed, very low
coloration, good impulse response, crossover can be as simple as one
capacitor for the tweeter, good efficiency, and gradual onset of cone
breakup. The best examples can be as transparent as the best paper-cone
drivers, which is an excellent standard.

Weaknesses are: Not quite up to the standard of transparency set by the
rigid-cone class of drivers and the planar electrostatics. Many poly
midbass units do not mate well with the popular metal-dome tweeters, with
differences in resolution that can be audible to the skilled listener. Not
the best choice for woofers 10 inches or larger unless the polypropylene is
quite thick and reinforced with another, more rigid, material. Large
woofers are better served with stiff paper or carbon fiber.

Best Examples are: The Scan-Speak 18W/8543 7" midbass, as used in the ProAc
Response Threes, is probably the finest polypropylene driver in the world.

KEVLAR

* Overall Strengths & Weaknesses of Rigid-Class Drivers

Strengths are: Best available transparency, imaging, and depth presentation
of any type, equalling or exceeding electrostats if carefully designed.
High efficiency, high peak levels, and very low IM distortion in the best
examples. This class of drivers is considered at the state of the art by
many designers, and this field is expected to advance quite rapidly as
material technology advances.

Weaknesses are: Older designs have severe peaking at the top of the working
band, and nearly all have a uncontrolled chaotic breakup region above the
high-frequency peak. This would cause fatiguing sound over the long run and
a compression of depth perspective and "air".

Any loudspeaker that does not use a correctly designed notch filter with a
Kevlar or carbon-fiber driver can be considered faulty; since the HF peak
does not lend itself to correction with a conventional low-pass filter, and
will be quite obvious to any listener familiar with the sound of an
unequalized Kevlar or carbon-fiber driver. Unpeaked rigid drivers are not
currently available ... stay tuned, this will probably change in less than
a year.

Although these types play quite loudly, the onset of breakup can be quite
sudden and unpleasant, akin to clipping in a amplifier. Some Kevlar and
carbon-fiber drivers require an extremely long break-in period (>100 hours)
to soften the fibers in the cone and the spider; this is a fault, since it
indicates the materials may not be mechanically stable with extended use.

Best Examples are: The Scan-Speak 13M/8636 5" midrange, 18W/8544 7"
midbass, and 21W/8554 8" bass drivers. These are the only Kevlar drivers
that have reasonably well-behaved rolloff regions above the high-frequency
peak.

The Scan-Speak drivers also have vented pole-pieces that are copper-coated,
reducing inductive types of IM distortion by tenfold or more. These drivers
are probably at the pinnacle of rigid-driver technology (in Spring of 1993
at least).

The Audax HM130Z0 5.25" midrange, HM170Z0 6.5" midbass, and HM210Z0 8" bass
drivers in the HD-A series also look very interesting.

The German Etons also bear close watching, since the manufacturer is
continuing to work on techniques to maintain the cone rigidity while
improving the self-damping characteristics."

[note that only the 7 and 8 inch versions are liked]

In the end though Paper is the easiest on the ears over long listening session IMO. That is a HUGE generalization of course because there are TONS of truly terrible spoeakers using paper - the speaker is more than the driver of course - but the best speakers that I have heard use Paper/Hemp/Electrostatic materials.