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  • Open Baffle Bass

    I came across this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LMe-ypUVug

    This guy seems to be a shill for GR Research in this and other videos he has done, but it got me thinking. I have never heard open baffle bass in a 'hifi' setting that I can remember. Just open back guitar cabinets, that have no bass. To get real bass out of these open baffle cabinets, it would seem you need to low pass filter them to flatten the rising response, then put tons of power in. Is there really any magic to the resulting sound? Since it doesn't seem to catch on in the mainstream, or even in the 'mainstream' of high-end audio, I am doubtful that it is 'all that'. Yet I know Mr. (Dr.?) Linkwitz was an advocate. Can anyone please comment if they are experienced with it?

    Thinking further, I know I have heard some large open baffle planars and electrostatics back in the day, but I think even those had conventional box subwoofers in the system.
    "She don't love my speakers anymore..."

  • #2
    NaO

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    • #3
      I like dipole bass to a point. If you want the thump of room pressurization then you will be disappointed. Plan on at a multiple 15-inch woofers for normal listening levels. DSP/ amplified bass boost is more practical than passive imo.
      John H

      Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower

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      • #4
        Bass from open baffle does indeed have the issues you mention. Some people claim that, no matter how well-designed and built the box, that having a box means a "boxy" sound. I don't particularly believe that, but the beauty of DIY is you can suit yourself.
        Francis

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wavefunction View Post
          I have never heard open baffle bass in a 'hifi' setting that I can remember. Just open back guitar cabinets, that have no bass. To get real bass out of these open baffle cabinets, it would seem you need to low pass filter them to flatten the rising response, then put tons of power in. Is there really any magic to the resulting sound? Since it doesn't seem to catch on in the mainstream, or even in the 'mainstream' of high-end audio, I am doubtful that it is 'all that'. Yet I know Mr. (Dr.?) Linkwitz was an advocate. Can anyone please comment if they are experienced with it?

          Thinking further, I know I have heard some large open baffle planars and electrostatics back in the day, but I think even those had conventional box subwoofers in the system.
          It's true that open baffle systems are just not in the audio mainstream. There are some examples of high end commercial open baffle loudspeakers (more than the Nao versions or SL's designs). They are not a good fit to your typical loudspeaker use: home theater. It's more for dedicated stereo reproduction and needs a larger space because the speakers should be positioned away from the rear wall by 3 feet or more. This just doesn't fit with the available listening spaces in 95% of the homes out there.

          Regarding the bass that an open baffle speaker can produce, well there certainly is a grain of truth to the sentiment that OB systems have no bass. But why is that? IMHO it's possibly because many of them are not properly designed and executed. You cannot put a driver (even a large one) in a small baffle and get all that much bass out of it. You have to have either a large baffle, or a folded one like a U- or H-frame, etc. Even then, as was mentioned above, there will not be "room pressurization" like you get with a large sealed sub while at the same time the size of the OB bass system will not be small. On the other hand, since you will not be using the OB loudspeaker to listen to movies with dinosaur foot stomping or cannon blasts, this is not such a big deal. And you can always cross over to sealed subs at 80Hz if you must have that effect. Getting strong bass down to the low 30s is certainly possible with an OB system if you use the right approach, and this is about the same extension of a floorstanding boxed loudspeaker unless it is large or has dedicated subwoofers.

          Putting a small driver in a large baffle is also a very poor way to make an OB system for various reasons. Systems with baffles that are not much larger than the drivers will sound best, and the limit to this idea is no baffle at all. For example, Linkwitz's LX521 uses very minimal baffle, just enough to hold the drivers, except for the bass module where he used an M or W frame. That is an excellent loudspeaker system with very few flaws, which I have listened to a couple of times e.g. at Burning Amp.

          OB systems typically will have more bands to them (3- or 4- way loudspeakers) or will have major compromises so that fewer bands can be used. When only one band is OB this is some kind of hybrid IMHO and not really an OB system. More bands are needed because the dipole cancellation puts some very practical restrictions on the bandwidth for any particular driver, and this is especially the case when the baffle is not large. There are typically more response corrections to make as well, and this is why DSP is a good choice for an OB system crossover. Active systems allow the user to boost power instead of cut it to match the lowest sensitivity across the drivers. This is more of a problem with OB speakers than with boxed ones. The ability to both boost and cut power is very useful in an OB crossover to provide some extra freedom in choosing crossover points or to use drivers of higher and lower sensitivity together when they suit the purpose or need.

          Despite all of the challenges of an OB system, the benefit is that you are completely free from the resonances and other coloration that a box system typically produces. Remember, the cone of a woofer is just a paper thin window to the inside of the cabinet and the back of the cone is generating as much sound inside the cabinet as the front is doing towards the outside. A well done OB system often has a very satisfying sound stage. Not so important if you are listen to your speed metal collection, but on well recorded material the effect is sometimes quite impressive. This is not "synthesized" ambience, rather it's just the dipole radiation tricking your brain into believing the cues in the recording, more so than for other types of speakers. I find this happens more in live rooms. So a "treated" home theater with stuffed chairs is a very bad setting for an OB system and it will sound dull and lifeless. Instead you actually want some hard surfaces (e.g. walls).

          I hope that you will be able to hear a good OB system someday. As you can probably tell I am a proponent.
          Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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          • #6
            Originally posted by wavefunction View Post
            I came across this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LMe-ypUVug

            This guy seems to be a shill for GR Research in this and other videos he has done, but it got me thinking. I have never heard open baffle bass in a 'hifi' setting that I can remember. Just open back guitar cabinets, that have no bass. To get real bass out of these open baffle cabinets, it would seem you need to low pass filter them to flatten the rising response, then put tons of power in. Is there really any magic to the resulting sound? Since it doesn't seem to catch on in the mainstream, or even in the 'mainstream' of high-end audio, I am doubtful that it is 'all that'. Yet I know Mr. (Dr.?) Linkwitz was an advocate. Can anyone please comment if they are experienced with it?

            Thinking further, I know I have heard some large open baffle planars and electrostatics back in the day, but I think even those had conventional box subwoofers in the system.
            Over at A.C. there are some people there who have heard Danny's OB bass and swear by it as the best bass they've ever heard. I wouldn't call Ron a shill he probably like some others love that type of bass sound. I have never heard Danny's O.B. design but I build DML panels and they are basically similar to O.B. speakers and I just love that type of O.B bass it produces. Are there cons to it? Sure as IMO the bass sounds more diffused with less dynamic slam and due to pistonic restrictions it wont play that low. I read an article called Layered sound by Dr.Shelly Katz and it got me thinking about combing my DML bass panel with a separate conventional cone/boxed sub to get the best bass out of both worlds.

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            • #7
              There is no mystery to open baffle bass. It takes lots of cone area and lots of power. I have been listening to it for years, as well as closed box and bass reflex. It is just about setting up the system and getting what sounds good to you.
              BSME
              Kannapolis NC

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              • #8
                Love me some OB bass. If you can overcome the tremendous disadvantages, it may be the most satisfying bass implementation. The Hurricanes in my signature were my semi-successful attempt at overcoming some of those disadvantages.

                Dan
                _____________________________
                Tall Boys
                NRNP Computer Sub
                The Boxers
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                Conneccentric
                UX3

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                • #9
                  Check out the specs. on Legacy Whisper speaker. These are a steal at about $15,000 compared to the competition at $60,000. A very successful open baffle design.

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                  • #10
                    This is a DIY forum, where members might be comfortable spending $1500 on the components to build their own speakers that work as well as, if not better than, commercial speakers that cost ten times as much. As for the specs on the Legacy Whisper, I can't find any on their site.
                    www.billfitzmaurice.com
                    www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                      This is a DIY forum, where members might be comfortable spending $1500 on the components to build their own speakers that work as well as, if not better than, commercial speakers that cost ten times as much. As for the specs on the Legacy Whisper, I can't find any on their site.
                      I agree Bill, although I like to keep up on what state of the art speakers are doing. Stereophile measured the Whispers, BTW:
                      https://www.stereophile.com/content/...r-measurements

                      Looks listenable, if laid back. Sort of like some headphone curves (Sennheiser?)

                      The article sort of alludes to it, but I bet the setup and the room really matter to get them sounding right.
                      Francis

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Harvylogan View Post
                        There is no mystery to open baffle bass. It takes lots of cone area and lots of power. I have been listening to it for years, as well as closed box and bass reflex. It is just about setting up the system and getting what sounds good to you.
                        Depends what you mean by lots of power. As compared to small sealed alignment, not much power is needed to drive a woofer to Xmax at low frequencies on open baffle.

                        Separate from that. A sealed alignment rolls off 2nd order at low frequencies, -12_dB/octave with decreasing frequency. For flat response that corresponds to an inverse square relationship between excursion and frequency, 100x the excursion at 1/10 frequency. A dipole rolls off 3rd order at low frequency, -18_dB/octave with decreasing frequency. For flat response that corresponds to an inverse cube relationship between excursion and frequency, 1000x the excursion at 1/10 frequency.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                          This is a DIY forum, where members might be comfortable spending $1500 on the components to build their own speakers that work as well as, if not better than, commercial speakers that cost ten times as much. As for the specs on the Legacy Whisper, I can't find any on their site.
                          I didn't know this was a DYI forum. I thought it was a technical forum. Wavefunction stated he never heard bass in a open baffle design in a hi fi setting. I merely provided an example of a OB design that has bass down to 22hz. All I had to do was Google Legacy Whisper specs and the Stereophile review popped right up. Sorry for posting on the wrong forum.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                            This is a DIY forum, where members might be comfortable spending $1500 on the components to build their own speakers that work as well as, if not better than, commercial speakers that cost ten times as much. As for the specs on the Legacy Whisper, I can't find any on their site.
                            $15K and they don't show measurement details? I smell a rat. Also, after what I've learned there's no reason to spend $15K on a speaker *unless* it comes with a guy who comes to your house and sets them up using measurements, then prints out those measurements so you can post them on Instagram to explain why you spent $15K on speakers.

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                            • #15
                              I did NOT buy these speakers. To repeat myself for the third time now. This is an open baffle design that reproduces low bass ! Not only are you people argumentative but your reading skills leave a lot to be desired.

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