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  1. #1

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    Question Sound quality and driver size... Opinions?

    Recently while auditioning speakers for my setup I came across a common dilemma.... do I really need the bigger speaker? i.e. CSi3 vs. CSi5... FXi3 vs. FXi5... RTi8 vs 10 or 12... etc. You get the picture.

    While listening to all of these most of the time these speakers all have no problem hitting the 80Hz that theyre usually crossed over to the sub at, and have identical upper limits freq. resp.-wise. But there just seems to be SOMETHING that always made them different even though they technically are reproducing the exact same range and are from the same series and voice matched an all that... So I came up with three options

    1) Is there just something about the timbre of the larger driver that makes for a better (or just different) sound quality. Guitar players may understand the analogy that you can play a note on a string, but if you go up or down a string you can play the exact same note technically, but there will be an ever so slight difference if you play the two back to back.

    2) The crossover frequency of the speaker from the driver to the tweeter is different resulting in a different sound.

    3) I am just nuts and there is no difference.

    Is it a little bit of all of the above, or something Im not thinking about? Im interested if this is obvious to other people and your opinions on the cause. Thanx
    -Stopher
    Tempe, AZ

    Setup:
    Polk RTi8 Mains
    Polk CSi5 Center
    Polk FXi3's Surround
    Cerwin Vega HTS10 Subwoofer
    Yamaha HTR-5740 AVR

    Upstairs R50/R15/CS1 5.1 setup w Pioneer AVR

  2. #2

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    There is no substitute for large radiating surfaces.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  3. #3

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    I am guessing that it has something to do with running multiple drivers and the fact that distortion is kept lower since the drivers have to move less to produce the same volume. (since there are more of them)

    Multiple drivers can start to get into issues with cancellations as well (this is why Polk is using the 2.5 and 3.5 way crossovers in thier LSi line when multiple drivers are used).

    I am sure that towers and bookshelves sound different but better is left up to the person listening to them. (I will be able to expound on this more next week. Pick up my LSi15's on Monday... :) )

    Michael
    Mains.............Polk LSi15 (Cherry)
    Center............Polk LSiC (Crossover upgraded)
    Surrounds.......Polk LSi7 (Gloss Black - wood sides removed and crossovers upgraded)
    Subwoofers.....SVS 25-31 CS+ and PC+ (both 20hz tune)
    Pre\Pro...........NAD T163 (Modded with LM4562 opamps)
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  4. #4

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    As much as I liked the Lsi9, they just didn't have the depth, size and scope of the soundstage that my Energy towers achieve. If you want "big" sound, go with a big speaker. If you listen at moderately loud and below levels, bookshelves will probably fill the bill.
    Last edited by steveinaz; 12-22-2005 at 12:13 PM.

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  5. #5

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    Don't forget your harmonics. This is where the real listening qualities of sound come from. Pure tones are usually pretty nasty to listen to. Using your guitar analogy, the difference in tone comes from 2nd and higher order harmonics. The shorter string has a shorter natural frequency than the long string and provides higher frequency overtones. I could go on about box size, etc. but you get the picture. It's all about the harmonics.

  6. #6
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    it's Quality not Quantity.

  7. #7

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    Thanks guys, intersting to hear your comments :)
    -Stopher
    Tempe, AZ

    Setup:
    Polk RTi8 Mains
    Polk CSi5 Center
    Polk FXi3's Surround
    Cerwin Vega HTS10 Subwoofer
    Yamaha HTR-5740 AVR

    Upstairs R50/R15/CS1 5.1 setup w Pioneer AVR

  8. #8

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    Just as large cones have more area to radiate, small cones are faster. It comes down to a combination of execution and personal hearing/taste.

  9. #9

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    With proper amplification, larger speakers with numerous or larger drivers can play louder with less strain and distortion, especially if you have a large room to fill.

    As others mentioned, larger speakers can sound larger (more dynamic).

    Another large speaker dude here. I've played with bookshelf/sub combos, but I could never get the integrated sound and slam that come with good full range speakers. Other folks love their bookshelf/sub combos, so this is subjective.

    Adam
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  10. #10

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    The small cone = better is annoying.

    Why? Because its not 1980 anymore.

    A 8" midbass can produce the same kind of mids a 5.25" midbass can, IMO. A quality driver is a quality driver regardless. Its either quick or its not.

    As for more = better, nah... Id take a 2-way over a 4 way anyday!
    www.Vr3Mods.com ///// www.Version3Audio.com

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  11. #11

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    Im wth Sid. I prefer a good 2 way for pure SQ.

    I also prefer a good size driver at least a 6.5".
    polkaudio sound quality competitor since 2005
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  12. #12

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    I hear lots of talk about driver speed, but how the hell can you tell? What does it mean for a driver to move "faster" than another one?
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

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  13. #13

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    I find speed to be...

    How fast a driver can do one thing and do something entirely different and do it while not muddying up the thing it is doing currently or before...

    or doing multiple things at one time without sacrificing quality...

    For instance, some say an 18" woofer is to slow to be accurate, that it cant hit a note, return to the position and hit another note without muddying it up.

    Obviously these people have never heard the DD18.

    Speed is just how fast a driver can move to keep reproducing notes faithfully.
    www.Vr3Mods.com ///// www.Version3Audio.com

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  14. #14

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    OK, so it sounds like speed is just another expression of clarity. For instance, if a driver is considered "slow," it will be muddy, i.e. lack detail. Conversely, a "fast" driver has the ability to capture greater levels of detail because it can pick up more of the subtle nuances of the music. Is this correct?

    I'm simply trying to gain an understanding of audio terminology because most of these terms seem to convey the same principle.
    (I'll start another thread on this topic.)
    Last edited by Early B.; 12-23-2005 at 10:48 PM.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  15. #15

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    Yeah, when comparing drivers, look for the Moving mass in the specs. Smaller is better, but it's always a trade off. You can get a Vifa 8" driver with an Fs of 21 hz and a moving mass of 29grams... It'll hit hard, it'll hit low, it'll hit fast. And it'll only handle 125 watts. Compare to the dayton titanic 12". Fs is 22.2 hz, moving mass is 188 grams- it'll handle 500 watts, but it has to get that 160 additional grams started and stopped just as fast- which is just can't do.

    Now, your enclosure will play into this too. A sealed enclosure acts as a spring, pushing the driver back into position, so you get faster, tighter bass, but you're going to get less db's.

    Anyhow, I'm convinced that unless you're going to drop a ton of cash, you need two subs. A light musical sub that you use at moderate volumes and cross over at the rolloff of your mains (say 40 hz) and a heavy duty theater sub that you use loud and roll off at the THX 80hz.
    Last edited by unc2701; 12-23-2005 at 11:05 PM.
    Gallo Ref 3.1 : Bryston 4b SST : Musical fidelity CD Pre : VPI HW-19
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by unc2701
    Anyhow, I'm convinced that unless you're going to drop a ton of cash, you need two subs. A light musical sub that you use at moderate volumes and cross over at the rolloff of your mains (say 40 hz) and a heavy duty theater sub that you use loud and roll off at the THX 80hz.
    Agreed. Use the right sub for the application, if it's possible and practical to do so. The "one size fits all" concept doesn't work here.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  17. #17

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    [QUOTE=unc2701]Yeah, when comparing drivers, look for the Moving mass in the specs. Smaller is better, but it's always a trade off. You can get a Vifa 8" driver with an Fs of 21 hz and a moving mass of 29grams... It'll hit hard, it'll hit low, it'll hit fast. And it'll only handle 125 watts. Compare to the dayton titanic 12". Fs is 22.2 hz, moving mass is 188 grams- it'll handle 500 watts, but it has to get that 160 additional grams started and stopped just as fast- which is just can't do.
    This I think is one of the main reasons why speaker designs have changed to multiple smaller drivers. A larger driver can not attack and decay as quickly as a small cone. Size and mass.

  18. #18

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    Not nessicarially.

    Subwoofers and woofers are a bit different.

    Subwoofers move around 1-4" linear... (good ones)

    Thats is alot of traveling, most "woofers" move no more than 3-5 MM like a regular midbass. Like what was mentioned before, a quality driver is a quality driver...
    www.Vr3Mods.com ///// www.Version3Audio.com

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  19. #19

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    Velodyne actually discusses this issue on their site. They mention how the "speed" of a driver most people talk about is just another word for distortion. Since a larger driver is more likely to bend and curve slightly when moving it is easier to not get a nice tight bass sound out of it. But if you are using quality products (like they claim to), they should be able to have a nice rigid driver that does not flex, and granted you have a nice size piston and enough power, you should be able to get the same tight low distortion sound out of larger size drivers as well.
    -Stopher
    Tempe, AZ

    Setup:
    Polk RTi8 Mains
    Polk CSi5 Center
    Polk FXi3's Surround
    Cerwin Vega HTS10 Subwoofer
    Yamaha HTR-5740 AVR

    Upstairs R50/R15/CS1 5.1 setup w Pioneer AVR

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by unc2701
    Yeah, when comparing drivers, look for the Moving mass in the specs. Smaller is better, but it's always a trade off. You can get a Vifa 8" driver with an Fs of 21 hz and a moving mass of 29grams... It'll hit hard, it'll hit low, it'll hit fast. And it'll only handle 125 watts. Compare to the dayton titanic 12". Fs is 22.2 hz, moving mass is 188 grams- it'll handle 500 watts, but it has to get that 160 additional grams started and stopped just as fast- which is just can't do.
    Correct it takes 610 watts... I really do not have a clue what your are trying to say here unless it is that it takes more power to start and stop a greater mass.... and that is axiomatic.
    Quote Originally Posted by unc2701
    Anyhow, I'm convinced that unless you're going to drop a ton of cash, you need two subs. A light musical sub that you use at moderate volumes and cross over at the rolloff of your mains (say 40 hz) and a heavy duty theater sub that you use loud and roll off at the THX 80hz.
    First, who crosses over at their main's roll off point? That's inviting a hole in your system FR. Second why would you cross a "heavy duty" sub higher than a "musical" sub? It makes no sense to me to ask the sloppy, old HT sub to handle higher frequencies.

    The whole musical sub thing has been hashed out here before, and it really doesn't float. A bad music sub is going to be a bad HT sub and vice versa.
    Last edited by Tour2ma; 12-26-2005 at 05:21 PM.
    More later,
    Tour...
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  21. #21
    Stronzo
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    I am of the school that if you do not have much to spend on a pair of speakers – especially for stereo – you are best getting a competent monitor augmented with a sub-woofer. It is very rare to find a 3-4 way floor-standing speaker under two-thousand dollars that does not suffer from gross cab resonances, exciting random frequencies which result in an over-all cluttered and jumbled sound.

    The difference you hear between the RTi’s are attributed to many factors. Each Rti will have a slightly different cross-over point. The driver compliment will not be the same and each require a different enclosure with different ‘volume’ inside. Of course- none will sound the exact same. You are not nuts – there is a difference, a fairly large one at that!

    In case of the Rti line, the towers are more efficient (sans the RTi12) than their monitors counterparts. You do not need much power to get them to sing. Towers will, traditionally, move a lot more air than a monitor counterpart, which gives you a bigger sense of a presentation. The RTi-10 will have a much *larger* sound than say, the RTi-6. It is easier to drive, it can dig down low and dish out massive amounts of volume. The RTi-6 will not be the same powerhouse, but it will be much more coherent and more ideal for stereo use.

    I won’t get into this 2 way versus 5 way nonsense. That’s all it is; nonsense. An intelligent design is an intelligent design, period. Whether it’s a box speaker, a planar, ribbon, or electrostat.

    As always, its up to you to decide what sound you like.

    To attain a more realistic sense of space, power and finese - there truly is very little replacement for displacement. However, this is a whole other ballgame and financial league...

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tour2ma
    Correct it takes 610 watts... I really do not have a clue what your are trying to say here unless it is that it takes more power to start and stop a greater mass.... and that is axiomatic.
    Car metphors are bad, but lets say you're trying to dodge a truck between a line of cones. An empty truck will always do this better than a full truck (ignoring distribution considerations... ehhh, car metaphors are bad).

    Quote Originally Posted by Tour2ma
    First, who crosses over at their main's roll off point? That's inviting a hole in your system FR.
    Depending on the roll off slope of the two (assuming correct phase), this would typically result in boost at the crossover point, but that's not my point. I'm of the pursuasion that for music that you should let your mains handle everything that they can (no high pass filter on them), then pull in the sub ONLY for notes out of the range of the mains... This is going to be a lower crossover point than the THX standard. Also, with a proper crossover, it's easier to get a flat response across this narrower range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tour2ma
    Second why would you cross a "heavy duty" sub higher than a "musical" sub? It makes no sense to me to ask the sloppy, old HT sub to handle higher frequencies.
    DVD's are mastered with a 80hz crossover in mind. However, I could go either way on this one. The main thing is that you're going to want more db's in the HT setting and this requires more higher engineered enclosures to get from a small driver. So without laying out the cash for a Rel, ML, etc. you'll need a bigger, heavier driver to get what you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tour2ma
    The whole musical sub thing has been hashed out here before, and it really doesn't float. A bad music sub is going to be a bad HT sub and vice versa.
    Depends on what you want to spend. HT and music have two different ideal specs and with limited funding, I think I can get more from two subs than any single one at the combined cost.
    Gallo Ref 3.1 : Bryston 4b SST : Musical fidelity CD Pre : VPI HW-19
    Gallo Ref AV, Frankengallo Ref 3, LC60i : Bryston 9b SST : Meridian 565
    Jordan JX92s : MF X-T100 : Xray v8
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