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Can a 3-way design do everything perfectly? Is there any reason for more (ways)?

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  • Can a 3-way design do everything perfectly? Is there any reason for more (ways)?

    Can a 3-way be as true to the source and realistic as anything? Any other design?
    Great tweeters can take care of the highs (1700 Hz+) very well
    Mids can do the 200-1700 Hz things really well
    and the best subs available to us can do the 20-200Hz spectrum incredibly. Why would anyone need a fourth or 5th speaker in the mix?
    is it true that an 8-inch mid is better from 80-200Hz?
    Are smaller mids (3-5") are better than bigger mids (6-7") under 1700Hz at imaging?
    Smaller tweeters better than larger tweeters in the top end (3KHz+) because less beaming?


  • #2
    For more than 2-way, the 3-way is probably the best price/performance ratio. 4, 5, 6, way etc can do it better and handle more power. But once you start breaking up the spectrum into lots of small bands, you also really need to start using steep crossover slopes or the phase might be all over the place due to so many drivers with too much overlap. Also that overlap with lower order crossovers can cause impedance issues. To do something more than a 3-way properly costs some serious money between the additional drivers and crossover components required.

    An 8" midwoofer isn't any better than any decent 18" woofer from 80-200hz. 200hz is still fairly low frequency even for a monster sized driver. The lowest portion of a male voice is around 180hz. If anything the bigger woofer is better imho as it has more displacement and impact.

    Smaller mids simply allow you to go higher in frequency before beaming occurs. Depending on the usage, sometimes some beaming is wanted in order for the speaker to be more directional. HT usage would be a good example.

    As far as tweeters, a 1" tweeter probably won't even begin to beam until the threshold of your hearing, say 14k... So it's a moot point in real world usage. Some of the best speakers in the world use 1" tweeters. If it's good enough for a Grand Utopia EM, it's good enough for anything. Speaking of that speaker, which many believe to be the best speaker on the planet... It is a 4-way that uses an 11" midwoofer from 80-220hz.

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    • #3
      No loudspeaker is perfect. A three- or four-way design may offer things that a two-way cannot. Higher output, more uniform dispersion, and lower distortion can be achieved by limiting the bandwidth each driver covers. Whether the greater complexity, size and cost is an effective compromise depends on the particular situation. My experience has been that in most domestic rooms and for most listeners, a quality two-way loudspeaker properly augmented subwoofer(s) can provide satisfactory performance.

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      • #4
        Another notable 4-way is the Revel Salon2. I'm not sure about the best on the planet, but it's a fine sounding speaker. It uses 4th order LR crossovers, and it's not cheap.
        Francis

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        • #5
          I'd make a solid argument that there is no improvement to be had for anything beyond 4 way. There are not many improvement to be had going from 3 way to 4 way.

          One 4 way in my mind is something like a 1" tweeter to 2500-3500Hz, 4-5" midrange to 500-800Hz. 8-10" midwoofer to 80-100Hz, and a 15-18" woofer down to 16-20Hz.

          The main things one gains from a 3 way to a 4 way are

          - Full range bass to 20Hz at very high SPL
          - Potentially higher speaker efficiency and SPL
          - Potentially better integration and sound quality and reduced intermodulation distortion

          I say potentially, because in many cases it would require a special limited usage driver to achieve that. Too many drivers on the market are "do-it-all" drivers, but to maximize performance from a 4 way speaker you need drivers that do one thing (performance in its band) exceptionally well, and that's it. For example, most midrange drivers can be used as a midwoofer. In order to do that the sensitivity is lowered by several dB in order to produce decent bass. In a 3 or 4 way we want a dedicated midrange driver, which means for one sacrificing bass by using very low moving mass drivers to achieve much higher sensitivity, and much more.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fpitas View Post
            Another notable 4-way is the Revel Salon2. I'm not sure about the best on the planet, but it's a fine sounding speaker. It uses 4th order LR crossovers, and it's not cheap.

            Never heard the Salon 2, but it is a fine looking speaker. I have been lucky enough to hear a Grande Utopia BE which preceded the EM. I have to admit they sounded pretty darned good and it is what turned me into a Focal fan... But I bring them up and use it as my avatar because they are also a bit silly. These things are to an audio nerd what a Ferrari is to a gear head. Something that makes a great poster on the wall and something to dream about. While there is no doubt it is a great speaker.. At $269k a pair, I am sure we are entering diminishing returns and the other far less expensive Focal product lines proves it by being a fraction of the price and 95% of the sound quality. If I was a billionaire, I'd probably buy a pair just to have them... But otherwise.... I'll take the challenge of trying to get as close as I can with my small tiny budget instead .

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bcodemz View Post
              I'd make a solid argument that there is no improvement to be had for anything beyond 4 way. There are not many improvement to be had going from 3 way to 4 way.

              One 4 way in my mind is something like a 1" tweeter to 2500-3500Hz, 4-5" midrange to 500-800Hz. 8-10" midwoofer to 80-100Hz, and a 15-18" woofer down to 16-20Hz.
              I would agree. I think that once you hit 4-way, you are entering the territory of diminishing returns. At the same time I think a 3-way + a dedicated sub(s) is a better option than most 4-way setups without a sub. To be honest, once I went 2.1... I'd never go back to just 2 channel stereo. I am a bass head though, and while a large set of coffins can produce a lot of bass when the bass knob is cranked up.... I'd rather not have that added EQ on the amp driving my mains, but rather use more dedicated amplification on it's own speaker to get there.

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              • #8
                A super tweeter could be the "5th way".
                Kenny

                http://www.diy-ny.com/
                DIY NY/NJ 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGwA...ature=youtu.be
                Man does not live by measurements alone, a little music helps.

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                • #9
                  For HT usage I have not met a setup that did not sound better with the sub not next to the TV. Even with music I'd rather have two-way or three way and then a separate sub. IMO

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                  • #10
                    so in essence a 2-way with dedicated sub is a 3-way ? my towers , passive 3-ways with dedicated subs crossed at 60hz is a 4-way ...
                    Paper Towers
                    RS180P/28F surrounds
                    Boombox

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by filmslayer View Post
                      so in essence a 2-way with dedicated sub is a 3-way ? my towers , passive 3-ways with dedicated subs crossed at 60hz is a 4-way ...
                      That's how I'd call it. Once you filter and feed a range of frequencies to another driver, you've added a "way".
                      Francis

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                      • #12
                        Nothing is perfect in loudspeaker design. It's all about compromises.

                        Adding more "ways", that is, "drivers" is often a waste of money. That's because a three way system is usually enough to give very good fidelity if the correct drivers are selected, and the design is good. Adding another driver to each speaker just costs a lot more. The crossover will be more complex and expensive as well. Not much would normally be gained.

                        A three-way speaker allows the designer a bit more leeway in crossing over the drivers in ranges wherein each has the least distortion.

                        Driver physical size is a consideration, as making a larger driver produce high frequencies often leads to a beaming effect.


                        Shawn

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                        • #13
                          An interesting mutation of a two way is/are the small towers with 6 mid-woofers and one tweeter.
                          The give the clarity of a MTM, but the dynamics of much larger systems. (Stentorians/Uluwatu)

                          I think I hear a difference - wow, it's amazing!" Ethan Winer: audio myths
                          "As God is my witness I'll never be without a good pair of speakers!" Scarlett O'Hara

                          High value, high quality RS150/TB28-537SH bookshelf - TARGAS NLA!
                          SB13/Vifa BC25SC06 MTM DCR Galeons-SB13-MTM
                          My Voxel min sub Yet-another-Voxel-build

                          Tangband W6-sub

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                          • #14
                            But there are many on the internet who would argue that a single drive system provides coherencey and cannot be matched by a two way or threeway. Others will argue that you don't want a crossover in the 1500 to 2500 hz range which is main vocals. And a 4 way can help avoid that. I think there is solid logic to these arguements, because we have all heard bad multi-way designs. 4 way and higher get very costly and unless you're active very complex to do well.

                            Me personally I think a good three way plus separate sub is the best compromise of cost and complexity.
                            - Ryan

                            CJD Ochocinco ND140/BC25SC06 MTM & TM
                            CJD Khanspires - A Dayton RS28/RS150/RS225 WMTMW
                            CJD Khancenter - A Dayton RS28/RS150/RS180 WTMW Center
                            CJD In-Khan-Neatos - A Dayton RS180/RS150/RS28 In/On Wall MTW

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                            • #15
                              I got to hear a really nice 4-way project last week. I asked Mike Z, 2 yrs. ago to help me with the design concept and to develop the x-over once I had cabinets
                              ​built for my forever 3-way towers. (Forever to build). Last week when I was getting my Irish on in Newport, R.I. St.Pats day parade I paid Mike a visit to drop off some
                              ​drivers for measurement. I got the opportunity to sit down and enjoy Mikes latest personal project, the ones in his avatar. None of the drivers are overly expensive,
                              ​I guess more of execution of design. Bottom end was the NLA Dayton series II 12" woof, the mid was one of the variants of Peerless mid/woofs, tweet was Dayton
                              ​ND28 with a TB 1/2" supertweet on top. OK so I suck at explaining what I heard but it was good. I always liked the series II woofs since I used the 10" for outdoor
                              ​subs 15 yrs. ago. Don't remember the x-over points other than 650hz. on the woof. So this is a good example of what can be achieved with a 4-way design, My wife
                              ​and daughter only heard the last couple tracks that Mike played but the wife commented on how good they sounded, now that is WAF.

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