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Old 8th December 2011, 03:10 PM   #1
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Default full range + woofer OR full range + tweeter ?

I have made single driver full range speakers and love them. But there are compromises and I'd like to explore adding another driver to the system. I plan to bi-amp so that the XO will be in the line stage (active or passive). And I would like to start my explorations with Open Baffle but would be interested in opinions to the contrary.

I see two options,

1) small full range (e.g. 4" size) + woofer (e.g. 15" size) with XO below the 'critical audio range' at around 300Hz

OR

2) large full range (e.g. 8" or larger size) + tweeter with XO above the 'critical audio range' at around 3kHz

What are the pro's and con's of these two options ?
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Old 8th December 2011, 04:05 PM   #2
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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In short I think that if you've been moderately happy with FR projects so far (which 4-5" drivers IIRC), you'd likely be more satisfied with the 1st approach. It'd likely be much easier/affordable to find a 12-15" woofer with decent performance into the 500-800Hz range (I think it's always agood idea to have smooth performance at least one or 2 octaves beyond the nominal XO point, regardless of the location /slope of filters), than the other way around.

The major pro of the first option might well be that many builders may already have existing FR drivers quite suitable for wide-band mid/tweeter operation. For example the Fostex FE126E, FF85(W)K, Alpair6P or CHR70.3, Fountek FR88 would be at the top my short list for experimentation - no doubt other models will be suggested.


I've heard few DIY & "commercial" OB systems over the past 5-6 years - Hawthorne Silver Iris coax, MJK inspired with FF85K and Eminence woofer (forget which), Lowther/Tone Tubby, the big PHY coax, and at least 2 or 3 more. While some have sounded great in large rooms, for me the biggest con of any has always been aesthetics of fitting them into either of the real rooms that a system would occupy in my home. Simply put, some folks do not have the option of dedicating the appropriate space required for optimal performance of a full sized OB, dipole panel whether ESL or magneto-dynamic, or un-compromised multi-way front loaded horns - hence the continued popularity of more conventional "boxes".
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Old 8th December 2011, 04:18 PM   #3
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I think the smaller fullrange + woofer could still be accurately called a "full range" setup, whereas full range + tweeter is pretty much a 2-way. From what I understand, the benefits of full range (coherance, imaging, lack of timing issues, and lack other issues introduced by crossovers) are better preserved in the fullrange + sub scenario rather than fullrange + tweeter scenario. I guess it all depends on the quality of the crossover and the overall design of the system, driver selection, etc. It seems like it would be easier to make a fantastic sounding 4" fullrange system with the bottom end filled in with a (sub)woofer, simply because the bottom end is non-directional for the most part.

Having said that, I am currently toying with the idea of adding tweeters to my fullrangers. Before that I was considering adding a sub. I can't fully commit to either modification because every time I sit down and listen to well-recorded/mastered music, I am just soooo impressed with the sound. I think what often leads me to think about "more bass" or "more air" are substandard recordings. In other words, when I play excellent tracks, my system is lacking nothing. The question for me, then, is do I want to modify my system in some way to make up for poorly recorded or mastered tracks? The second question is; if I do make such additions, how will all the excellent recordings be affected?

The reason I question all of this is because I have only recently transitioned from good quality commercial 2-way bookshelf speakers to a pair of DIY fullrangers and the difference in the listening experience stunned me. With the commercial two-ways, all my music sounded "quite good". With the fullrangers, excellent tracks sound truly excellent (like nothing I have experienced in audio before) but lackluster tracks sound, well, lackluster. This has been a bit of a double-edged sword, which has me leaning toward adding a sub and/or a tweeter at one moment, and then wondering why I would even consider that at another moment.

Are you having a similar experience? I wonder if this is a common pattern for fullrange listeners, and I wonder what others have done to address the issue (other than turning their fullrange setups into multi-ways). Perhaps one solution is to simply avoid poorly recorded/mastered music, which I find myself doing more and more. The trouble with this is that a lot of music is poorly recorded/mastered.

Last edited by cogitech; 8th December 2011 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 8th December 2011, 04:39 PM   #4
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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cogi:

I'd first try adding woofers with HP on the wide-band mains to provide more dynamic headroom. Depending on the existing electronics there are a few ways to achieve this - passive line level XO are relatively cheap to put together for fixed values, and can even be incorporated as input filters on amp.
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Old 8th December 2011, 04:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisb View Post
cogi:

I'd first try adding woofers with HP on the wide-band mains to provide more dynamic headroom. Depending on the existing electronics there are a few ways to achieve this - passive line level XO are relatively cheap to put together for fixed values, and can even be incorporated as input filters on amp.
Chris,

Yes, I was looking at some of the pre-built XOs over at Parts-Express a few days ago. It's just that so many fullrange addicts are all about avoiding crossovers at all costs. There must be something to that, no?
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Old 8th December 2011, 05:01 PM   #6
zman01 is offline zman01  Bangladesh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cogitech View Post
With the commercial two-ways, all my music sounded "quite good". With the fullrangers, excellent tracks sound truly excellent (like nothing I have experienced in audio before) but lackluster tracks sound, well, lackluster......

Are you having a similar experience? I wonder if this is a common pattern for fullrange listeners, and I wonder what others have done to address the issue (other than turning their fullrange setups into multi-ways). Perhaps one solution is to simply avoid poorly recorded/mastered music, which I find myself doing more and more. The trouble with this is that a lot of music is poorly recorded/mastered.
Yes, this sounds familiar to me - I was smitten when I heard well recorded music on Fostex FE166EN in BiBs. It was quite unlike any other speaker listening experience before. Been dabbling in FR ever since.

And yes, so much of music is pretty poorly recorded. I am struggling for a solution too, and Full Range ASsisTed with woofers (or sub-woofer) looks like the only way out; that too, probably bi-amped.

-Zia
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Old 8th December 2011, 05:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigun View Post
2) large full range (e.g. 8" or larger size) + tweeter with XO above the 'critical audio range' at around 3kHz

What are the pro's and con's of these two options ?
Make it 7kHz or higher - the critical part, so far as I can tell from Fletcher-Munson etc, ends around 5kHz.

On principle, I'd take the 4" FR + a woofer over a larger FR and a tweeter. The reasoning being that a driver that can shift lots of air (for "proper" bass) won't be able to do the upper midrange as it should be, so the crossover must be in the lower midrange, allowing a smaller driver to do what it does best.

That said, for music reproduction at reasonable levels in even a large room, a pair of the 8" Fostex drivers with supertweeters did rather well, though I'm not sure how they'd cope playing something with lots of really low content.

I'd also say that, while tapped horns (what my current system are built around) are very good at bass, getting them to meet up with a 4" driver puts a lot of stress on the smaller driver, so I'd take a larger, direct-radiating speaker for this application. Oh, and active crossovers.

Chris
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Old 8th December 2011, 05:22 PM   #8
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Old 8th December 2011, 05:28 PM   #9
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cogitech View Post
Chris,

Yes, I was looking at some of the pre-built XOs over at Parts-Express a few days ago. It's just that so many fullrange addicts are all about avoiding crossovers at all costs. There must be something to that, no?

For me it's more a case of "less is more" , but there are limitations as to how "-less" you can go in a multi-way. I generally like to avoid XO in the "critical range", and passive speaker level components for XO/filters as much for their cost as sonic penalties - of course any speaker system with drivers operating over different band-widths are de-facto multi-ways, and the determining factor might well be the requirement for multiple channels of amplification (not necessarily an impediment for a DIY addict)

edit - what brother Cal said
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Old 8th December 2011, 05:31 PM   #10
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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chrisb - yes I've had some good experiences so far with 3" (Fountek) and 4.5" (Fostex, CSS) full range - although I haven't found the right application for my FE127Es - they are sitting unused until I figure out how to deal with their treble peakiness.


Cogitech - I noticed the issue with recording quality when I got my first hi-fi, it's a 2-way floorstander PMC speaker with Byrston amp and YBA CD and Magnum Dynalab tuner. I ended up throwing away half my CD collection and finding only a few FM channels that are up to the challenge. Moving to full range speakers did make the difference more acute. I don't have any vinyl - and perhaps that is something I should change in the future....


Thanks for the replies from everyone - I see a rather clear preference emerging so far and this helps me in thinking about the amplifier design that will be needed (all tube, SE for the full range, PP for the woofer).
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