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Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

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  • Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

    I'm sure this has been discussed many times already on TechTalk, and like many things I'm sure it is personal preference that is the ultimate deciding factor, but I am curious. Does one great mid-range speaker in a properly sized/tuned cabinet perform better than one with a separate woofer and tweeter?

    The reason I ask is that I've already built a great pair of speakers, using the Fostex FE83En (from Madisound) and they sound amazing! I'm in the process now of building the Overnight Sensation kit and I am finding the crossover building and how it's laid out to be the most important part of the speaker, rather than the actual speakers themselves. Furthermore, is there some energy lost when you use a crossover? Do you get a less "pure" sound?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

    Originally posted by aleisend View Post
    Does one great mid-range speaker in a properly sized/tuned cabinet perform better than one with a separate woofer and tweeter?
    No.

    As you already know the Fostex won't play very loud or go very low. Adding a woofer will substantially improve on that, without compromising what you already like about it. The case for a "separate tweeter" is perhaps less convincing . . .
    "It suggests that there is something that is happening in the real system that is not quite captured in the models."

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    • #3
      Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

      Originally posted by aleisend View Post
      is there some energy lost when you use a crossover? Do you get a less "pure" sound?
      That's the theory espoused by single driver fans, and to some extent it's true, as any component within the signal chain will have its own effect on the sound. However, there are two other factors that come into play. One is displacement. To realize a given low frequency output you must have a certain driver displacement (T/S spec Vd) to get there. Larger drivers tend to have higher Vd, so they're the usual route to high output at low frequencies. The other factor is dispersion. Dispersion is a matter of cone size versus wavelength; as you go higher in frequency and shorter in wavelength the cone must be smaller or the angle of dispersion grows too narrow. These two factors work in opposition to each other. You need more Vd to go low but you also need a small cone to go high. You can get higher Vd while using a small cone size by simply using more drivers, that's one of the reasons behind line arrays, but even with a line array you really can't get both high output at 40Hz and good dispersion at 15kHz, because good dispersion at 15kHz requires a tweeter cone of an inch or less diameter, and it's not practical to use a hundred or more one inch drivers to get the same Vd as one twelve inch driver. For all practical purposes you need to use at least three different size drivers to get an uncompromised result.
      www.billfitzmaurice.com
      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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      • #4
        Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

        Originally posted by aleisend View Post
        ... is there some energy lost when you use a crossover?
        Yes, there will be always be energy lost. 2nd law of Thermodynamics. A signal cannot go through resistors, coils, capacitors or even longer speaker wires without there being energy lost.

        Do you get a less "pure" sound?
        That all depends on the implementation and what one means by "pure" sound. A crossover design may require more power from the amp, but how "accurate" the speaker measures/sounds depends on a lot of variables.

        By the way, energy is also lost by feeding the Fostex FE83En driver a full range signal. A lot of energy will be wasted when that driver tries to reproduce lows that it cannot.
        1: Sony DVP-S7000 | Denon DVD-2900 | Laptop > Parasound Zdac > Denon AVR-5700 > Focal 826V | Def Tech BP2000 | (2) DIY 15" Subs powered by Crown XLS2500
        2: Computer > Schiit ‹bered Bifrost > Emotiva RCA Control Freak > Crown XLS 1500 > Focal 706V | Def Tech SM450 | Velodyne F-1000B Sub

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        • #5
          Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

          The current thinking on single driver speakers, myself included, is yes, a single driver speaker really can't produce enough dynamic range for normal sized listening rooms and source material stronger than girl-and-a-guitar. However, the inviolate rule is no XO 300-3000Hz. This leads to a two-way with a woofer crossed in below 300Hz and a wide-range mid-tweet to do the rest. Dynamics improve dramatically and the midrange purity of the wide-range driver is maintained. My present experiment is either the 4" Alpair A7.3 or 5" A10P.1 over a Dayton RSS315HF-4 crossed 200-250Hz. This gives me better that 105dB 20-15kHz, which is plenty of headroom for a normal listening level of 70-80dB. BTW, this what I will bring to LSAF this year.

          Bob

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          • #6
            Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

            I see. So in regards to the "purity" of the sound, it becomes a question of if a midrange driver can efficiently produce the highs, lows, and mids, vs 2 or 3 speakers that can produce each very efficiently, but would typically require more power. Is that the same logic then behind speakers that have 4 way or 5 way speakers in them (for example i have a pair of Sony SS-F6000Ps)? The more speakers you put into a cabinet the less work each one will have to do at producing the best sound it is designed for?

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            • #7
              Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

              Originally posted by aleisend View Post
              I'm sure this has been discussed many times already on TechTalk, and like many things I'm sure it is personal preference that is the ultimate deciding factor, but I am curious. Does one great mid-range speaker in a properly sized/tuned cabinet perform better than one with a separate woofer and tweeter?

              The reason I ask is that I've already built a great pair of speakers, using the Fostex FE83En (from Madisound) and they sound amazing! I'm in the process now of building the Overnight Sensation kit and I am finding the crossover building and how it's laid out to be the most important part of the speaker, rather than the actual speakers themselves. Furthermore, is there some energy lost when you use a crossover? Do you get a less "pure" sound?

              Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
              crossovers store and release energy based on magnetic momentum and puddles of electrons. The storage versus discharge time determines which frequencies can get through and which ones are blocked. It is fairly easy to splice together two or three frequency bands into one large and relatively flat band. However, the time delay is almost impossible to patch back together. Some parts of a sound are going to arrive sooner than other parts of the same sound.

              there is a thing called impulse response. It is an instantaneous voltage spike. like flipping a wire across a battery so fast that it barely sparks. If the time distortion of your speaker is perfect then an impulse input will create an impulse output. But that rarely happens. Actually, never. Most 3way speakers sound like a rug being hit with a broom. It should sound more like a hammer hitting a piece of wood (or better).

              speakers are an inherent compromise. One driver can only do 3-4 octaves before it's very own size and mass creates problems (either too much or not enough). If you splice together 3 drivers then you can get 9-12 really good octaves. But your time stamp is all messed up. Not to mention the idea of having a single point source. So you try to find the best balance. Given how happy you are with Fostex it is quite possible that your best balance is simply Fostex plus subwoofer.

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              • #8
                Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                Originally posted by aleisend View Post
                ...The more speakers you put into a cabinet the less work each one will have to do at producing the best sound it is designed for?
                You are on the right track.
                It involves directivity and Ka
                See
                http://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/demo...ledpiston.html

                And this old "Heritage" article ( particularly the 2nd page ) :
                http://www.lansingheritage.org/image...tor/page01.jpg
                http://www.lansingheritage.org/image...tor/page02.jpg
                http://www.lansingheritage.org/image...tor/page03.jpg
                http://www.lansingheritage.org/image...tor/page04.jpg
                "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
                “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
                "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

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                • #9
                  Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                  At a certain point it becomes a spectacle. "Look at how many speakers we stuffed in here!" If you think you can get a 5-way speaker with quality drivers, and a well-designed crossover for a price that someone will pay for a speaker made by Sony... mmmm... probably not so much. ;)

                  A good 2-way requires careful design and high-bandwidth drivers that are undoubtedly just outside their comfort zone. A 3-way can resolve this, in exchange for added cost and complexity. A 4-way that doesn't include a subwoofer as one of its "ways" is usually a gimmick. A 5-way is just trying to look cool.

                  Another thing is, that's a lot of crossover points to manage. Phase alignment, especially phase vs. listening angle, is always more complicated with more drivers. So there's a point where the benefits clash with the compromises. As always.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                    Originally posted by moron#99 View Post
                    Given how happy you are with Fostex it is quite possible that your best balance is simply Fostex plus subwoofer.
                    Well at this point i'm not taking apart the speakers to add a woofers to the fostex drivers. I am happy as can be with those...those were the first pair of speakers I built, actually. But it's good to know for the future. I'll certainly know what to look and listen for when i finally fire up the Overnight Sensations.

                    I do have to say that when you start talking about directivity and Ka (kiloamperage - i had to look it up) my eyes do go a little glassy. I just want to build cool speakers

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                    • #11
                      Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                      you do not have to take the box apart, add a separate sub
                      craigk

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

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                      • #12
                        Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                        Originally posted by craigk View Post
                        you do not have to take the box apart, add a separate sub
                        Ahhh the easy way! I'm using the Dayton DTA 100 amp. No sub out for this set up.:(

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                        • #13
                          Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                          all you need is a plate amp and a woofer and you are set
                          craigk

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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                            Originally posted by aleisend View Post
                            I'm sure this has been discussed many times already on TechTalk, and like many things I'm sure it is personal preference that is the ultimate deciding factor, but I am curious. Does one great mid-range speaker in a properly sized/tuned cabinet perform better than one with a separate woofer and tweeter?
                            No. A competent multi driver speaker will play louder, lower, higher, with less distortion and superior directivity. This is straightforward to hear in listening comparisons. Single drivers have their strengths when it comes to size and cost and it can be fun seeing what one can get out of them but they are not "high fidelity".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Single Speaker Cabs vs Multiple Speaker Cabs - Is one better than the other?

                              Originally posted by aleisend View Post
                              Well at this point i'm not taking apart the speakers to add a woofers to the fostex drivers. I am happy as can be with those...those were the first pair of speakers I built, actually. But it's good to know for the future. I'll certainly know what to look and listen for when i finally fire up the Overnight Sensations.

                              I do have to say that when you start talking about directivity and Ka (kiloamperage - i had to look it up) my eyes do go a little glassy. I just want to build cool speakers

                              you can buy a complete subwoofer including amplifier for cheap. Under 120Hz the human ear can't tell where a sound is coming from.

                              http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-...oofer--300-629

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