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Woofer question: One big versus several small?

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  • Dave Bullet
    replied
    The real issue here is "similar other properties". Smaller drivers by and large cannot get the low Fs a bigger driver has. If you like electronica and need bass in the 20s, Good luck finding 6.5" midwoofer drivers that can dig that deep. More of a driver doesn't provide more bass extension (just louder). And each driver requires a requisite volume.

    Basically your Sd/VAS requirements determining box size become the same.

    The cost therefore of getting the same Sd might be cheaper with a larger driver over several smaller ones, all things being equal. This has already been stated.

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  • fpitas
    replied
    I'll comment, you can get useful vertical directivity by stacking small woofers. You can get a similar effect by using a fairly shallow crossover between a big woofer on the bottom and smaller woofers/midranges above. I use LR2 between my 15" bass drivers and the MTM of 6.5" midrange drivers above them, and get pretty good vertical pattern control down to 250Hz or so.

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  • Unbiasedsound
    replied
    Originally posted by fatmarley View Post
    Ask this question on pinkfishmedia and you will get completely the opposite answer, and I agree with them. Multiple small drivers don't sound as good as a single large driver. Male vocals from a large 8 to 10" driver sound better than smaller ones and the lowest frequencies sound more realistic on larger drivers.
    I agree. IMO a larger driver just sounds more full/robust and seems to produce lower frequencies more effortlessly then smaller ones.

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  • fatmarley
    replied
    Ask this question on pinkfishmedia and you will get completely the opposite answer, and I agree with them. Multiple small drivers don't sound as good as a single large driver. Male vocals from a large 8 to 10" driver sound better than smaller ones and the lowest frequencies sound more realistic on larger drivers.

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  • Unbiasedsound
    replied
    Same here I use to own many speakers with 12-18inch woofers as that was the in thing in the late 80's90's as bigger is better was the motto. lol I especially liked the 10-12inch woofer coupled to a 10-12 passive radiator type of loudspeakers including polk SDA1 or any speaker that used a passive radiator. I also liked the sound of Bipolar speakers like the Mirage M1 flagship and even Def techs until I heard Planars and Electrostats like Maggies and Quads. But after hearing Bertagni speakers I am hooked on DML's unique type of sound signature. So I guess its safe to say Ive always liked the sound of HUGE speakers.

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  • billfitzmaurice
    replied
    Originally posted by kevintomb View Post
    The advent of very affordable subs kinda was a game changer several years back.
    It changed my game back in 1972. That's when I designed and built my first sub/satellite system. As far as I know the first commercial example was done by Ken Kreisel in 1976. http://www.kreiselsound.com/timeline.php

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  • kevintomb
    replied
    Originally posted by Unbiasedsound View Post
    So basically you are saying is that people don't buy large driver 3 ways because its not required? I guess according to you every ones requirements are the same? Some people buy Klipsch large driver 3 way speakers and still use them with a sub. The only logical reason for people buying 2 ways instead of large driver 3 ways is due to space restrictions and aesthetics.

    If space restrictions and aesthetics did not matter at all then a lot of people would have a pair of 12" PA mains and a pair of 18-21 inch PA subs in there home. Or maybe a 7.1 PA surround sound in a 12X10ft. room LMAO
    The advent of very affordable subs kinda was a game changer several years back.
    There still is room for big 3 way speakers for sure, but the ability to hide a sub or two, altered what was possible in most average sized living rooms.

    I used to own some HUGE 4 way speakers with 18" woofers from the 60s and they were great in many ways.
    But now owing 2 nice subs, with some small sized 2 way monitors, im not sure I could ever go back to those huge boxes.

    I like thinking about those big old speakers, but the reality is my new stuff most likely sounds better and FAR easier to integrate.

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  • Unbiasedsound
    replied
    So basically you are saying is that people don't buy large driver 3 ways because its not required? I guess according to you every ones requirements are the same? Some people buy Klipsch large driver 3 way speakers and still use them with a sub. The only logical reason for people buying 2 ways instead of large driver 3 ways is due to space restrictions and aesthetics.

    If space restrictions and aesthetics did not matter at all then a lot of people would have a pair of 12" PA mains and a pair of 18-21 inch PA subs in there home. Or maybe a 7.1 PA surround sound in a 12X10ft. room LMAO

    Leave a comment:


  • billfitzmaurice
    replied
    A large driver 3 way used with a sub is a large driver, and along with it a large box, where it's not required. Of course there are exceptions, like PA mains loaded with twelves, used with PA subs loaded with eighteens or twenty ones.

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  • Unbiasedsound
    replied
    So basically are you saying that the lack of large driver 3 ways is due to room space and aesthetics? Or are you implying that a large driver 3 way cant be used with a sub and or not sound as good as a 2 way with a sub?

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  • billfitzmaurice
    replied
    Originally posted by charlielaub View Post
    Smaller woofers that can "play low" will less efficient and they will typically (generally speaking I mean) have higher distortion for the same SPL level even when using multiples of them with the same cone area. .
    That's not actually the case. Since sensitivity goes up by 6dB/volt with each doubling of driver count the opposite can be true. But the no free lunch rule applies, the driver cost will usually be higher with multiple drivers, and that's why they don't own the marketplace. As for the lack of large driver 3 ways, that's the result of using 2 way mains with 1 way subs. It's still a 3 way system, contained in more than one box. Since that offers the option to place the low frequency sources and higher frequency sources where each works best, which is almost never within the same footprint, it's by and large a better way to go.

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  • charlielaub
    replied
    So far the discussion about more smaller or fewer larger woofers has focused around total displacement, or how to arrange more smaller woofers. This is completely ignoring the fact that larger woofers are just better at producing bass. Smaller woofers that can "play low" will less efficient and they will typically (generally speaking I mean) have higher distortion for the same SPL level even when using multiples of them with the same cone area. On balance, to make that larger woofer "play nice" you will need a larger cabinet, sometimes much larger. It really depends on how low in frequency you were planning on reaching with the loudspeaker and at what SPL. Low and loud more or less requires large drivers. If you are targeting a more "monitor" like F10 of 60Hz, then a single 6.5" will probably do just fine. OTOH, 30Hz and below at room filling levels is another matter.

    I am a bit saddened by what seems to be the latest trend in consumer loudspeaker form factor: a tower loudspeaker using multiple 6.5" class woofers. Compare a current example of this (how about the B&W 804 D3) to the good old days of a 3-way monkey coffin or a speaker like the B&W 801, which used one larger (12" ?) woofer in a big cube below the mid and tweeter, which were in separate enclosures. This is just not a great approach, and I think it's more a matter of market forces (e.g. shipping costs) that are driving the multiple-small-woofer-tower trend since they can be slimmer and lighter and each package will fit under the UPS/FedEx weight limit of 70 lbs and can be placed unobtrusively on either side of a large screen TV. Gotta have a market and an affordable price point to be successful in business.

    If you do a Google search about this topic (I just did) you will find a thread in this forum from 2011 with lots of different opinions. I assume the same will hold in 2019.

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  • billfitzmaurice
    replied
    Originally posted by tomzarbo View Post
    I'm (semi) working on a design that uses (8) 4" drivers with approx. the same cone area as a 10-12" woofer and although it does dig low, a nice 10 or 12" woofer would undoubtedly have more powerful 30-45 Hz output.
    I should have mentioned before that using a lot of smaller drivers rather than one larger one also gives one the ability to run the drivers to a much higher crossover. My HT LR mains use eight four inch midbasses, crossed over to twelve tweeters at 4kHz, which wouldn't work well with even 8 inch woofers. The advantage to crossing that high is being able to use 1/2 inch domes, which have twice the dispersion angle up high of one inch domes. The mains only go to 80Hz, but below that is what subs are for.

    Do you really want to wire up 9 drivers?
    Nine drivers wired as three driver sets in series, the three sets parallel, gives the same impedance as one. It's the preferred arrangement if you need to keep the load impedance the same as one driver, as eight drivers wired series/parallel with give a load half that of one driver.

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  • devnull
    replied
    That's what Bose did with the 901s, 10 or 12 small drivers They had to EQ them to get the response at the top and bottom. One thing to keep in mind is a good 4" driver might have an Fs of 75-80 whereas even an inexpensive 12" driver will have an Fs in the 30s. I think where multiple drivers really start to come into play is when you're comparing multiple 12s or 15s vs single 18s or 21s. I've actually been pondering a coffee table size subwoofer using 4 of the HSU buyout 12" subwoofers. That's a lot of Sd for 250 bucks

    A question: Do you really want to wire up 9 drivers? That's a bunch of connections and polarity problems waiting to happen....

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  • tomzarbo
    replied
    With several smaller woofers, you end up usually spending more on crossover parts as you have to cross the drivers farther from the tweeter at lower and lower frequencies as you move farther away from the tweeter.

    I'm (semi) working on a design that uses (8) 4" drivers with approx. the same cone area as a 10-12" woofer and although it does dig low, a nice 10 or 12" woofer would undoubtedly have more powerful 30-45 Hz output.

    On Kevin's point above... I have a set of Polk RTi's that have an MTM section on top, and three 7" woofers on the bottom. They can play ear-bleedingly loud, but the lowest octave is still missing in my opinion.

    TomZ

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