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  1. #1
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    Question What makes a speaker sound "boxy"??

    I've been listening to speakers for quite a while now and many seem to sound as if they're squeezing the music out making the music sound compressed while others sound more natural. Is this caused by an irregural frequency response or does it have to do with diffraction? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Swerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newbsterv2
    I've been listening to speakers for quite a while now and many seem to sound as if they're squeezing the music out making the music sound compressed while others sound more natural. Is this caused by an irregural frequency response or does it have to do with diffraction? Thanks.
    Good question. I've wondered about this too. In my own experience, I heard serveral apparently different things that minimize the "boxy sound" of a speaker. In no particular order:

    Reduce the size of the front of the box. Many modern speakers make the front baffle as narrow as possible and still allow room to mount the drivers. Often woofers no larger than 6" are used to help keep the front baffle narrow. A smaller front baffle is said to produce fewer unwanted reflections.

    Move the speakers several feet away from the wall behind them.

    Flush-mount the drivers, especially the tweeter.

    Gently round the edges of the front baffle, to minimize diffraction at the edges.

    Vanderstein speakers are an example of a speaker designed without the standard box. They are very good at creating sound images that seem to come from outside of the speaker. I can't say whether that is entirely due to their unusual "baffleless" design, or other features they have as well.

    Imaging can be affected by good crossover design. This article says it better than I can: http://www.speakerbuilder.net/web_files/Articles/xover%20article/xpointmain.htm

    Using a quieter and/or more powerful amplifier has been said to improve imaging of a speaker by reducing the background noise level. I suppose that anything that genuinely reduces noise or increases the signal-to-noise ratio could accomplish the same thing.

    What else?

  3. #3
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    Cool

    I don't know Swerd. I own a pair of Paradigm Monitor 7's that defienetely sound boxy. They have the slim width you speak of and have an anti-diffraction doo-hickey built into the grill for the tweeter. Maybe it's just the frequency response. There's a dip in the midrange that might be the cause. Thanks for the article it's very good.




    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    Good question. I've wondered about this too. In my own experience, I heard serveral apparently different things that minimize the "boxy sound" of a speaker. In no particular order:

    Reduce the size of the front of the box. Many modern speakers make the front baffle as narrow as possible and still allow room to mount the drivers. Often woofers no larger than 6" are used to help keep the front baffle narrow. A smaller front baffle is said to produce fewer unwanted reflections.

    Move the speakers several feet away from the wall behind them.

    Flush-mount the drivers, especially the tweeter.

    Gently round the edges of the front baffle, to minimize diffraction at the edges.

    Vanderstein speakers are an example of a speaker designed without the standard box. They are very good at creating sound images that seem to come from outside of the speaker. I can't say whether that is entirely due to their unusual "baffleless" design, or other features they have as well.

    Imaging can be affected by good crossover design. This article says it better than I can: http://www.speakerbuilder.net/web_files/Articles/xover%20article/xpointmain.htm

    Using a quieter and/or more powerful amplifier has been said to improve imaging of a speaker by reducing the background noise level. I suppose that anything that genuinely reduces noise or increases the signal-to-noise ratio could accomplish the same thing.

    What else?

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Swerd's Avatar
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    I suspect that off-axis midrange response of the drivers plus good crossover design has more to do with good imaging than all the front baffle modifications.

    I recently built a 2-way kit, the AR.com, that have often been discussed at the DIY site here. They consist of a 6" woofer, a 1" dome tweeter, in a small ported box, about 13" tall by 9" wide by 9" deep. The designer, Ed Frias, made efforts in the crossover to achieve good imaging. In that regard they work very well. The kit cost about $330 for a pair. That included two assembled and finished wooden boxes, and two assembled crossovers. If you build your own boxes, they will cost less.

    I don't know if you want to replace your Paradigms, or what you might like, but these small, inexpensive speakers image beautifully without any exotic or expensive design features. If you are interested, I'll be glad to tell you more.

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    DIY Dude poneal's Avatar
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    Now this may start an all out flame war because many people here love Paradigm. Personally, I don't like them. When I recently (over a year ago) auditioned speakers, Paradigm was the one of the first to get auditioned because a lot of people said how great they were. Well, after my listening audtion I never went back. They sounded shrill and boxy and were more expensive than other brands. My make list ended up being Polk, Infinity, or Boston Acoustic. The Bostons had a nice sound that I just loved, unfortunately they were out of my price league. The Polk was ok but I ended up with the Infinity because of a close out deal I could not refuse. I wish you luck, but you may end up selling them on ebay and buying another brand that sounds good to you.

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    You won't be flamed by me I agree 100%. I own a set of Maggies and am pretty much happy with them besides their limited bass extension and slight opaqueness. It's all a tradeoff I guess




    Quote Originally Posted by poneal
    Now this may start an all out flame war because many people here love Paradigm. Personally, I don't like them. When I recently (over a year ago) auditioned speakers, Paradigm was the one of the first to get auditioned because a lot of people said how great they were. Well, after my listening audtion I never went back. They sounded shrill and boxy and were more expensive than other brands. My make list ended up being Polk, Infinity, or Boston Acoustic. The Bostons had a nice sound that I just loved, unfortunately they were out of my price league. The Polk was ok but I ended up with the Infinity because of a close out deal I could not refuse. I wish you luck, but you may end up selling them on ebay and buying another brand that sounds good to you.

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    Unhappy

    I think what I need costs too much. I'm looking for what the lower end maggies do but more. Less grime, more bass, more even sound. That's basically a 3.6R which costs $4,000. Plus I'll need a real amp not a middle of the road receiver. Thanks for the recommendation though



    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    I suspect that off-axis midrange response of the drivers plus good crossover design has more to do with good imaging than all the front baffle modifications.

    I recently built a 2-way kit, the AR.com, that have often been discussed at the DIY site here. They consist of a 6" woofer, a 1" dome tweeter, in a small ported box, about 13" tall by 9" wide by 9" deep. The designer, Ed Frias, made efforts in the crossover to achieve good imaging. In that regard they work very well. The kit cost about $330 for a pair. That included two assembled and finished wooden boxes, and two assembled crossovers. If you build your own boxes, they will cost less.

    I don't know if you want to replace your Paradigms, or what you might like, but these small, inexpensive speakers image beautifully without any exotic or expensive design features. If you are interested, I'll be glad to tell you more.

  8. #8
    My custom user title This Guy's Avatar
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    Hey newbster how do the maggies handle some contempory music like rock (incubus,red hot chili peppers) and R&B (The Roots). Magnepan is coming out with some new speakers that are $300 and wall mountable and I'm really interested.

    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/m..._mmgw_mmgc.htm

    I've got a sub that starts at 100 hz as well. My room is 10 x 12 and need decent volume levels. 100 dB+. I've got a Marantz receiver that could power it, or I could power it with my audiosource amp three that is currently driving my sub. With my music do you think these new maggies would perform well? Thanks, and sorry for going off topic.

    -Joey

  9. #9
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    Box resonances make them sound boxy. My speakers are the exact opposite of current thinking of slim line boxes. So is the Reference 3a MM De Capo for that matter.

    The Audio Note uses a wide baffle - so wide that the majority of stands won't hold them right. The speakers have no bevelled edges and use an 8 inch woofer. The B&W N801 uses a 15 incher and is hardly a boxy sounding speaker.

    The hype and marketing push might be to use cheaper 6.5 inch woofers which then require a piston effect from the driver to "fill the room." They then have 2,3,4 or 5 of these things stacked on top of each other. With varying results - none of which I would want to own. The odd few are solid in smaller rooms.

    You get a very punchy bass but dynamically something is wrong to me and they don't usually have a very good organic sound or are particularly timbrally accurate. The Monitor 5 V3 for instance has a very interesting sound in the pyrotechnics department and can play loud(which is not the same as dynamic), and punchy bass. When I moved from the stores disc to the Jesse Cook Tempest album the guitar was small with a highly analytic sound (which does not mean accurate) and by track 4 I had to turn it off...it was simply an unlistenable speaker for that music. And it's a an excellent recorded disc. The monitr 5 adds box resonances to have a rather lumpy thump quality and dynamically an inept speaker. The bass is response is big and relatively deep but disconnected from the overall playing.

    When I heard the Monitor 5 I was initially very impressed but as the time went by the midrange seemed stretched out to emphasize the upper and lower frequency and a rather hollow steely sound is left. Still a lot better than the previous V2 but at $600.00Cdn It ranks way down the list.

    I'm not supporting huge drivers either because a lot of older speakers had a big fat billowy bloaty boomy bass...which is annoying as well.

    With the frequency dips of the De Capo if you compare it to the relatively impressive frequency line of the B&W N805 - you'll HEAR why the measurements are missing somehting if not everything important. The De Capo has flaws but they are less noticable with a wider dynamic impact and basically a much larger rich sound to everything especially on Piano.

    A lot of companies have to tout graphs, white papers, and the silly terms like higher accuracy or resolution because they can't tout the SOUND. Quite frankly you have to ignore what the manufacturers spout because naturally they have only to put their stuff in the best possible light. Reviews - everything gets a great review by most publications. Find the ones who don't always.

    You simply have to listen...spend a lot of time evaluating several totally different designs. Take a planar, a ribbon, a stat, a wide baffle a slim line boxed speakers with and without metal drivers old and new designs.

    And spend more money thatn you intend to. Speakers will last 20+ years so you may as well get one you REALLY LOVE than buy middle of the road and then want to dump them in a year or two to take a big loss and then go to another speaker. Doing this 2-3 times may cost you more than a very good set would have cost at the outset.

    The only speaker I would consider getting from B&W and Paradigm is the CDM 1NT (which is no longer made so not even that one). The reason was that for the money it offered a lot. But when you get up to the 2k range both companies are IMO outclassed by dozens of other companies. Basically they have a certain sound and the higher models merely add bass deth...but if that certain sound isn't to your taste than who cares if it adds bass you can buy a sub or two.

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb

    I'd be happy to answer your questions about the maggies. The MMG's are a steal for their price of $550.00. Your room is about 1/2 the size of mine and since you have a sub that's even better. Also if your sub allows you can run the left and right pre-out from your receiver to your sub crossover the lows and send the signal back to the receiver so the speakers only see about 80Hz and up that's even better. Takes stress off the speakers and sounds more like a full range system. These speakers probably have the lowest sensitivity of most speakers out there just because they don't use a box to reinforce the sound. There is a minimalistic crossover to those speakers as well. It's a simple 1st order crossover meaning there's only two components in those speakers. 1 cap and 1 coil. Keep in mind however that sensitivity isn't the most important factor. I own a couple sets of box speakers as well and they have a higher sensitivty compared to the maggies but don't sound as full and real. Assuming you're not going to try and go deaf with the maggies they'll be plenty for you. I play pink floyd, the stones, large classical works, and everything else on the maggies and they sound great. I did however modify them to sound more like their higher cost brothers. The speakers come with these flipper feet stand things that make the speakers slanted, i.e., not 90 degress perpendicular to the floor. At home depot all you need is a certain set of angle iron and some washers and voila they're standing straight. I also elevated them about 4" off the floor as well. These speakers from the factory are a little bass heavy and funny sounding but with minor tweaking they sound way better. Another thing is the distance they need to be from the rear wall. My sweet spot is 3 feet. 2 will do also. So in conclusion if you have about 3 feet of space behind them, sit about 8-9 feet away, don't want to blow your eardrums with excessive volume, and are willing to spend another $20 or so to make them sound better go for them you'll love them. . Enjoy




    Quote Originally Posted by This Guy
    Hey newbster how do the maggies handle some contempory music like rock (incubus,red hot chili peppers) and R&B (The Roots). Magnepan is coming out with some new speakers that are $300 and wall mountable and I'm really interested.

    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/m..._mmgw_mmgc.htm

    I've got a sub that starts at 100 hz as well. My room is 10 x 12 and need decent volume levels. 100 dB+. I've got a Marantz receiver that could power it, or I could power it with my audiosource amp three that is currently driving my sub. With my music do you think these new maggies would perform well? Thanks, and sorry for going off topic.

    -Joey

  11. #11
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    Thanks man. But I wasn't actually looking at the MMG's, they're called the MMG-W's. They're smaller then the MMG's and they reccomend you mount them to a wall. Also, it doesn't use a crossover because it's a single driver, and hence the smaller frequency range. (100-16). The reviews say they sound just like the MMG, but not quite as nice. Check out my link I posted previously. And if you get into home theatre I bet these would be great for surround duty along with your MMG's in the front.

    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/...n_mmgw_mmgc.htm

    -Joey

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    Wink

    I'm familiar with those speakers. They wont give you the full sound as the MMG because one side of them will be attached to a piece of cabinetry. I think those are awesome for surrounds and a center though. For a left a right though.......the MMG is a better choice.


    Quote Originally Posted by This Guy
    Thanks man. But I wasn't actually looking at the MMG's, they're called the MMG-W's. They're smaller then the MMG's and they reccomend you mount them to a wall. Also, it doesn't use a crossover because it's a single driver, and hence the smaller frequency range. (100-16). The reviews say they sound just like the MMG, but not quite as nice. Check out my link I posted previously. And if you get into home theatre I bet these would be great for surround duty along with your MMG's in the front.

    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/...n_mmgw_mmgc.htm

    -Joey

  13. #13
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    I am just gonna give a very simple response eq out any of the bad frequencies, just buy a good graph and go to town on it

  14. #14
    My custom user title This Guy's Avatar
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    well whenever I get the money, I'll probably go ahead and get the MMG-W's cause $550 is too much money I should be putting towards college. Then someday I can get a bigger Magnepan if I like them and move the MMG-W's to surround duty. Thanks for all your input.

    -Joey

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    I'm sure once you finish with school you'll do better than an MMG!!! Good luck to you hope all goes well with your schooling.

  16. #16
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    Thanks man. If/when I get the speakers I'll keep you posted on them.

    -Joey

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