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Old 4th October 2012, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default Speakers? Or subwoofers?

okay so I'm thinking and wondering which would sound better..
a huge 12 inch subwoofer set with all the bells and wistles..
Or a simple one and a half inch mini speaker desktop stereo speaker setup?
let's say I'm looking for quality? which one would be more prefered?
or let's say I'm looking for quality over loudness which one would be better?
sure the subwoofer could handle hundred of watts and the tiny one and a half inch couldn't handle more than 3 watt's but which would sound "better"? quality over loudness?
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Old 9th October 2012, 09:57 PM   #2
tvrgeek is offline tvrgeek  United States
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Your question makes no sense to me at all. Neither can reproduce enough of the audible range to be usable by themselves. You can hit your right thumb with a hammer, or your left. Neither drives the nail in the board.

As you are new to this, speaker design is an engineering discipline that is full of trade-off's. For a successful result, you need sufficient loudness with sufficient quality.
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Old 9th October 2012, 10:15 PM   #3
adason is offline adason  United States
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12" subwoofer is not huge, its just a normal woofer
I use two 15" woofers per side...that's normal
24" is huge subwoofer

half inch mini speaker and quality has nothing in common

it seems to me you need to do more reading first (no offence)
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Old 9th October 2012, 10:42 PM   #4
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As TVR says your question is more like, should I eat an apple or should I eat a spade. We're not even comparing different types of fruit here, just two things from the same stable.

A small pair of desktop speakers with 1-2" drivers will go no lower then around 300Hz if done right and wont go anywhere near close to loud.

A 12" sub woofer in a suitable box will give you quality bass and depending on the driver could go up to around 500Hz without running into too much difficulty, but most drivers wont go up to more then say 150Hz gracefully.

Given the choice of having a 12" sub to listen to, that's good up to 150Hz, or a pair of loudspeakers that go from 300-20kHz, I'd rather have the second.
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Old 9th October 2012, 10:44 PM   #5
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Assuming this is for a desktop computer setup, the desktop speakers should reach below 100 Hz, so you don't get the disconcerting effect of some voices coming from the subwoofer. That probably means at least 3" to 4" midwoofers or fullranges.
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Old 9th October 2012, 11:42 PM   #6
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I wonder if maybe we're interpreting the OP incorrectly - perhaps he means "a huge [set of speakers including a] 12 inch subwoofer"

In which case the question seems to reduce to "Do small speakers sound better than big speakers when the volume is low?"

The answer is "generally no" unless you're using fairly weird big speakers - for instance, PA speakers with a 15" woofer crossed to a compression driver sound awful at low volume, and somewhat better as they get louder.

Well-designed large multi-way speakers should sound good at any reasonable volume, whereas very small speakers will have no bass at any volume, and won't do high volume at all without significant distortion.
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Old 10th October 2012, 09:57 PM   #7
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well I mean something for just every day use is all.... something that's not gonna wake the neighbors but still sound decent right?
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Old 10th October 2012, 10:39 PM   #8
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Hoffman's Iron Law - small, bassy, loud, pick 2.

(Well, technically, "small, bassy or high efficiency', but since small drivers don't handle much power it amounts to the same thing)

There are small speakers that sound very good, for certain values of "small", and accepting that they're never going to have much bass or go very loud.

For instance, the smallest speakers worth bothering with look something like this: Zaph|Audio - that's a well considered design, and if you read through it he makes the tradeoffs quite clear.

On their own, a small design like that will sound a bit thin, but they've got enough bass to make crossing to a sub reasonably easy - the crossover point will be too high for the purists (say 150Hz...maybe you could get it working as low as 120, but I think you'd compromise the power handling too much)

For something more capable without a subwoofer, you need to go bigger and more complex - something like these Mark Audio CHR-70 Application Thread (Dave's CHR-Ken for the Mark Audio CHR-70's). Those are really excellent, but no longer particularly small.

TL;DR:
  • 1.5" is too small for anything. 3-4" is the minimum for hi-fi reproduction.
  • Going bigger is probably unnecessary for a low-volume computer/study/bedroom type system.
  • Going the home-theatre-style route of having small satellites (again, minimum of 3" drivers) paired with helper (sub)woofers can work, with some compromises.
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Old 10th October 2012, 10:56 PM   #9
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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Realflow, around here, most of us think of a "subwoofer" as a separate piece of speaker gear made to cover the really low end stuff your main stereo speakers cannot do. IN a typical stereo speaker system, the larger 12" part is just a woofer, not a subwoofer. The typical speaker will also have maybe a tweeter for highs, and fancier ones will have a separate smaller cone speaker for midrange sounds. I do hear a lot of people using the word subwoofer for woofer though. Could this be part of our confusion? When you said 12" subwoofer, did you really mean basic stereo speakers with a 12" woofer?

Your ears don;t always hear what you think they hear. Often times, when held to your ear, your telepehone doesn't make peoples voices sound funny, yet the frequency range is very limited. Your brain tends to fill in the missing sound. Likewise stereo speakers. A lot of commercial music is mixed with upper bass emphasis to fool your ears into thinking they hear a lot of bottom when in reality they don't - 250Hz maybe.

The point I am trying to make in my clumsy way is that side by side you might hear obvious differences between a nice stereo speaker setup with 12" woofers and a pair of small "computer" speakers, but listening to them by themselves, you may find the small speakers sound good eneough, even though the larger ones are technically "better."

It is all about pleasing YOUR ears. If small speakers sound OK, they ARE OK. ANY professional recording studio will have a nice set of monitor speakers to listen on, but most of them ALSO have a couple 10" speakers, because once you mix down the "good" mix, you also need to hear it as most of the listeners will hear it. A commercial engineer might also even have a pair of cheap car stereo speakers fo that same reason. More than once I have heard a sound engineer remark about some song, "that was mixed on NS10Ms."
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Old 10th October 2012, 11:03 PM   #10
Einric is offline Einric  United States
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I use the Logitech X-530 speakers for my computer and they use 2" drivers augmented with a 5.25" subwoofer.
I really like the setup and the X-230 is available for a reasonable price.
You'd be hard pressed to DIY something anywhere near the X-230 for the price of a used X-230.
However......There is a good deal on the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602 on Amazon.
You could build your own speakers with some Mark Audio CHP-70's and just connect them to the built in amp in the subwoofer.
That will provide all the connectivity to the computer you need and give you really good quality sound that a normal computer speaker setup couldn't even come close to doing.
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