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

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  • #16
    I used to own some huge 4 ways.
    Huge woofer, up to a couple hundred hertz, had bass you could feel, AND was efficient.

    8" mid, from a few hundred up to about 1200Hz
    Horn mid from 1200-3500Hz
    Horn Tweeter from 3500-15000Hz

    It was about effortless efficiency.
    I would never compare it to a great 2-3 way design of today, as the goals were radically different.
    It was almost as if it sat on the fence between Hi-Fi and semi-pro sound speakers, but closer to HI-Fi.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Squidspeak View Post
      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.

      Thanks Squiddy!

      4-ways have quite a few merits. The mid is the 5FE120, not a peerless jobbie.
      .

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      • #18
        I got to design and build an epic 4-way a couple years ago. Big RAAL ribbon to 3000, 4th order, 2" Accuton cell dome to 900, also 4th order, custom 8" Accuton mid to 200, 2nd order, and an Audio Technology 15" woofer in a big transmission line tuned to 22Hz. At mid 90s SPL distortion measures like an amplifier never exceeding .3% from 20Hz on up.

        The result was the most dynamic and clearest imaging speaker I've ever heard. To say I was surprised by that result would be an understatement. It took a couple tries to get the crossover right but in the end it surpassed anything I would have hoped for. I fully expected that trying to get 4 drivers to play as seamlessly as a good three way was just about impossible. And at first it seemed that way. It fought back hard.
        R = h/(2*pi*m*c) and don't you forget it! || Periodic Table as redrawn by Marshall Freerks and Ignatius Schumacher || King Crimson Radio

        Byzantium Project & Build Thread || MiniByzy Build Thread || 3 x Peerless 850439 HDS 3-way || 8" 2-way - RS28A/B&C8BG51


        95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong

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        • #19
          When planning the ultimate build I have always considered a 4 way the minimum and maybe a 5 way. I think if you want to get the best dispersion match up between drivers, with drivers playing in their ideal frequency ranges, a 4 way is a must. The 5 way would be adding a ribbon tweeter to the top end, which might not be needed, but it would sure look good. Or jusy go with a Mundorf AMT.
          craigk

          " Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors " - Pallas

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Pete Schumacher View Post
            I got to design and build an epic 4-way a couple years ago. Big RAAL ribbon to 3000, 4th order, 2" Accuton cell dome to 900, also 4th order, custom 8" Accuton mid to 200, 2nd order, and an Audio Technology 15" woofer in a big transmission line tuned to 22Hz. At mid 90s SPL distortion measures like an amplifier never exceeding .3% from 20Hz on up.

            The result was the most dynamic and clearest imaging speaker I've ever heard. To say I was surprised by that result would be an understatement. It took a couple tries to get the crossover right but in the end it surpassed anything I would have hoped for. I fully expected that trying to get 4 drivers to play as seamlessly as a good three way was just about impossible. And at first it seemed that way. It fought back hard.
            N
            The Perfect Storm. A little out of my price range, Great looking system though. Hope I can listen to it one day. The Nimbus looks so similar though with great drivers also but in a 3-way design. Does the Nimbus sound very different?

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            • #21
              Originally posted by DearSX View Post

              N
              The Perfect Storm. A little out of my price range, Great looking system though. Hope I can listen to it one day. The Nimbus looks so similar though with great drivers also but in a 3-way design. Does the Nimbus sound very different?
              I have never heard any of the Vapor stuff (try as I may) but I will chime in about 3 vs 4 this way:

              With a 3, you sacrifice dispersion for real, deep bass, or you sacrifice real, Deep bass for better imaging. In all cases there are technical improvements over a 2- way WHEN PROPERLY EXECUTED.

              With a 4- way you can really cover it all, and cover it all well including careful execuation of the cabinet/driver/crossover points to truly optimize power response and transient performance.

              The complexity of a 3 to 4 way is the same jump between 2 and 3 way. Once you build and design a few 2-ways and understand what you like and how you will execute, you move to 3-ways. Once you get your sea legs with a 3-way, try a 4.

              It is not impossible, or just for the veteran builder. Just adding a good chunk more variables which ultimately can increase the error density. Like 2 to 3 way, driver selection becomes even more critical in 3 to 4 since it is a lot less "will/won't" work on hard lines and more grey. Takes time.

              Even Newell in "Loudspeakers for Music and Recording" says there is very seldom a need for 5 or higher way, though most reputable mastering/mixing spaces utilize 4-way to assure proper range coverage at realistic levels. One of the few aspects of pro audio thay actually seems to translate well into the living room.
              .

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              • #22
                Originally posted by ---k--- View Post
                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.
                People on the internet also argue that the earth is flat. There is theory and paper benchmarks/measurements.. Then there is real world results and what one can hear though. While I am personally not a Bose fan, A LOT of people do like the sound and voicing of their speakers. If you ever measure one you'll see that on paper and by the rules of the audio gods.... They often look pretty bad. But in real world results, they produce a sound that is pleasing to much of the masses. Same thing applies to tube amplifiers. Technically they are often a mess, but people love them.

                IMHO a little better phase coherency at the cost of weak bass and mushy top end, isn't a good a good trade-off in my opinion unless you only listen to soft music. I have such a wide catalog music genres that if I used some fostex driver in a TL cabinet, I would be smashing the coil against the back plate in no time.

                You can certainly avoid an XO in the 1.5-2.5k range in a 3 way when using a 3" full range or dome midrange though. Heck you can do it in a 2-way if you use small woofers... You just end up needing a lot of them and a 2.5 way topology to get any serious bass output. With that said many 2-way speakers pull of an XO point in the 2.5K range and do it very well. As much as I love building 3-ways, I do have a pair of Chorus 706S bookshelves that are crossed at 2400hz and they are a fine sounding speaker, especially with a sub.


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                • #23
                  This thread encapsulates why I drink.
                  Don't listen to me - I have not sold any $150,000 speakers.

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                  • #24
                    Cheers ...
                    Paper Towers
                    RS180P/28F surrounds
                    Boombox

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by johnnyrichards View Post
                      This thread encapsulates why I drink.
                      Besides the fact that you have numerous reasons as to why you drink, nobody has addressed the cost associated to expand the crossover parts list and their cost. Add another 50% to go from a three way to a four way crossover. You're better off investing in scotch.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by martyh View Post

                        Besides the fact that you have numerous reasons as to why you drink, nobody has addressed the cost associated to expand the crossover parts list and their cost. Add another 50% to go from a three way to a four way crossover. You're better off investing in scotch.
                        93.7% of all numbers are made up on the spot, huh?
                        .

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by martyh View Post

                          Besides the fact that you have numerous reasons as to why you drink, nobody has addressed the cost associated to expand the crossover parts list and their cost. Add another 50% to go from a three way to a four way crossover. You're better off investing in scotch.
                          I thought I made a good case for ridiculous cost with my post. I mean if you add up the retail cost of only the drivers (even if one of them isn't available to buy except directly from Accuton), you're looking at $3000 for just one speaker. At that point, who cares what the extra crossover components cost?

                          LOL

                          Speakers like that are obviously for those with more money than sense. You really do pay through the nose for that last few percent because that's honestly what it takes.
                          R = h/(2*pi*m*c) and don't you forget it! || Periodic Table as redrawn by Marshall Freerks and Ignatius Schumacher || King Crimson Radio

                          Byzantium Project & Build Thread || MiniByzy Build Thread || 3 x Peerless 850439 HDS 3-way || 8" 2-way - RS28A/B&C8BG51


                          95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by DearSX View Post

                            N
                            The Perfect Storm. A little out of my price range, Great looking system though. Hope I can listen to it one day. The Nimbus looks so similar though with great drivers also but in a 3-way design. Does the Nimbus sound very different?
                            Way out of my price range too, as are most of the designs Vapor makes.

                            We got a real world measurement of Nimbus at T.H.E. Audio Show Newport Beach when it made its debut. Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio brought his test gear that he uses to identify room nodes and such. He turned on the broadband noise source and I was amazed at how even in that small hotel room with minimal room treatment, the response was basically textbook flat with a couple of bumps at 40 and 80Hz, easily handled by a bit of EQ. It's a great speaker that I'd love to have for myself, but still just too darn big. An AE TD12S would suit me just fine. Nimbus images really well too, but . . .

                            The biggest difference between it and the 4-way to me is what that big 8" custom midrange and 2" Cell mid bring to the table. There's just something about a big midrange that can't be quite duplicated with smaller drivers. The entire range top to bottom is just more realistic with the PS 4-way, at any volume level. And that little 2" Cell bridges the gap between that big mid and big ribbon like nothing else could. No doubt that power response is superbly uniform thanks to that quartet of drivers.
                            R = h/(2*pi*m*c) and don't you forget it! || Periodic Table as redrawn by Marshall Freerks and Ignatius Schumacher || King Crimson Radio

                            Byzantium Project & Build Thread || MiniByzy Build Thread || 3 x Peerless 850439 HDS 3-way || 8" 2-way - RS28A/B&C8BG51


                            95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong

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                            • #29
                              If the OP is serious in this pursuit, a comparison of cost between active crossovers and passive components is in order. Big coils cost big money. Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Anji12305 View Post
                                If the OP is serious in this pursuit, a comparison of cost between active crossovers and passive components is in order. Big coils cost big money. Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
                                There is no one way to skin this cat once you get to this level. I think Pete's example of an elite 4-way is certinly an exception, not the rule.

                                The 4 way in my avatar was $450 drivers and x-over. The woofers and one mid-range out of my Metals will set a builder back that much. The metals are still a better speaker overall, but the Fists (4-way) Do some things the metals (and just about every other 3-way I have heard) simply cannot through the 100-1K range and then again up top..... "big coils" and all.


                                Equivlant cost of a 3-way with more spendy drivers? Hard to say if it will be better, or where the two plots would cross. I think there is quite a bit a merit in a 4 way simply from a technical standpoint. They solve more issues than they create. If the cost, or complexity is prohibitive, which neither is an issue with a little time, careful design and selection, do it, if not enjoy a kick-azz 3-way. Either way is a win.
                                .

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