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Old 15th January 2014, 12:20 PM   #1
beanbag is offline beanbag  United States
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Default question on ESL panel size vs "sound quality"

I have read reviews of commercial ESL speakers, and it seems the general consensus is that bigger panels sound better. This is especially true among the folks that review and compare within one company, such as Martin Logan.

When people say they "sound better", they typically use subjective terms like "bigger soundstage", "room-filling sound", "larger sweet spot", "more dynamic", etc.

Does anybody have any objective or technical reasons for the perceived difference in sound between a big panel and a little one?

I briefly looked over some ESL building guides, which talked of things like phase cancellations and dispersion and etc. They seem to suggest either a dinky little panel, leaving something else to handle the bass, or a very tall "line source" type panel. Now if line source is the ideal, then I could kind of guess as to why a taller panel sounds better than a shorter one. Perhaps because it sprays sound over a larger area, and not just directly at ear height, that this other sound bounces around the room and improves the "ambiance"?

In terms of the width, is wider mainly to go lower in frequency? And if there will exist a woofer to take care of low frequencies, is there any benefit to going wider (in terms of improvement in sound quality)?
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Old 15th January 2014, 02:41 PM   #2
tyu is offline tyu  United States
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What I have found with logans.... are any non-flat ESL panel... logans are 30% crived................is yes the larger panels can sound better
because you hear more of a flat panel sound.... an can go a littel lower..............i have 16", 12" an 9" logan panels....all reworkert with new bias feeds......so i get about 3db more output than stock......the 16" wide sound better to me because...thay sound more like a flat panel....................the 9" is the sweest an imeges best.....but crossover at like 4-500hz.....the 16" at about 230hz.....
But the Acoustats M3s i have setup... 3, 9" panels ea... flat sound better.... an the quad 57s.....are flat some say are one of the best ever made....

Go here if you have not............i think Mr Sanders has got it right....well like all things for me anyway.....have fun with ESLs...
Long live Acoustats...........

Last edited by tyu; 15th January 2014 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 15th January 2014, 05:48 PM   #3
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Maybe for the same reason some folks like tubes and vinyl records: less treble.

Ben
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Dennesen ESL tweets, Dayton-Wright ESL (110-3200Hz), mixed-bass Klipschorn (35-110), and giant OB using 1960's Stephens woofer (18-35); Behringer DSP. HiFi aspirations since 1956
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Old 15th January 2014, 06:19 PM   #4
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It's complete nonsense to say this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bentoronto View Post
Maybe for the same reason some folks like tubes and vinyl records: less treble.

Ben

Back to esl:
Large esl have normaly a lower resonance frequency, can be used at a lower frequency.
In my opinion a hybride esl is never a good solution, so i like large full range esl units.
Because of the large capacity, impedance, derectivity i also like a electrical segmentated esl.
I have had a very large esl (60cm x 200cm) and the only reason that i made it smaller is that i didn't want such a large esl in my room any more. It sounded wonderfull with very good bass.

Last edited by esltransformer; 15th January 2014 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 15th January 2014, 08:18 PM   #5
Calvin is offline Calvin  Germany
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Hi,

don't be upset, but I have a totally different opinion ... only a Hybrid will be a complete sound system.
The inherent drawbacks regarding efficiency and high Q limit fullrangers to a high degree. This leads for example to the problem of how to balance the lowmid suckout against the high-Q bass resonance. Imho its especially the quality and balance in the lowmids and upper bass that makes the difference between HiFi and Music.
Too low volume in that range and the system sounds anemic, with a technical note. In other words there's linear distortion.
The right volume and the system comes to life, sounding more authentic and real. If You play the panels of Hybrids alone and wo. xover You will immideately notice that larger and wider panels can put out alot of energy just in that lowmid range. This energy finds it way directly into Your guts and chest and creates a lifelike impression.
I don't think, that it is a matter of distribution spreading or an other measurable parameter, at least I don' know of a plausible explantion.

jauu
Calvin
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Old 15th January 2014, 08:49 PM   #6
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The bigger the radiating area, the more directional, which means less coloration from room reflections on many axis. Since you're talking about dipole radiators, there's that fairly strong reflection off the front wall of the listening room from the backwave. Such speakers need to be out from that front wall (and any walls) at least 3 feet for the psycho-acoustic effect to be desirable. I researched, designed and built some high end open baffle speakers so know all about this. The backwave technically adds a coloration, but also seems to give embedded reverbs a 3 dimensional feel, perhaps by recreating lower midrange timing cues that were lost with inter-aural crosstalk.

ESL panels, like all panels, have limited physical dynamic range, and therefore are not very good with bass frequencies. Many are supplimented with an electrodynamic woofer at the bottom. Woofer placement can be challenging with room acoustics as they are. There's a lot of talk about how the woofers aren't fast enough to keep up with the speed of the panels. The problem is much more likely about the listening room acoustics in my opinion. When you get down below about 200HZ, a half wavelength of the acoustic signal starts to fit between the parallel walls of the typical listening room. Then the room rings, creating a sense of delay. That adds to the delay of the crossover, which if it's a 4 pole and at 100HZ will give about a 10mS delay by itself. Not ideal, but maybe the best anyone can do.

With highly directional speakers, the sweet spot is usually small, but imaging can be very good in the upper midrange frequencies. With dipoles at least 3 ft away from any walls, the sweet spot can be larger in the lower midrange depending on the room acoustics.
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Old 15th January 2014, 09:07 PM   #7
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Most people forget that every speaker is a dipole......
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Old 15th January 2014, 09:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Richards View Post
The bigger the radiating area, the more directional, which means less coloration from room reflections on many axis. Since you're talking about dipole radiators, there's that fairly strong reflection off the front wall of the listening room from the backwave. Such speakers need to be out from that front wall (and any walls) at least 3 feet for the psycho-acoustic effect to be desirable. I researched, designed and built some high end open baffle speakers so know all about this. The backwave technically adds a coloration, but also seems to give embedded reverbs a 3 dimensional feel, perhaps by recreating lower midrange timing cues that were lost with inter-aural crosstalk.

ESL panels, like all panels, have limited physical dynamic range, and therefore are not very good with bass frequencies. Many are supplimented with an electrodynamic woofer at the bottom. Woofer placement can be challenging with room acoustics as they are. There's a lot of talk about how the woofers aren't fast enough to keep up with the speed of the panels. The problem is much more likely about the listening room acoustics in my opinion. When you get down below about 200HZ, a half wavelength of the acoustic signal starts to fit between the parallel walls of the typical listening room. Then the room rings, creating a sense of delay. That adds to the delay of the crossover, which if it's a 4 pole and at 100HZ will give about a 10mS delay by itself. Not ideal, but maybe the best anyone can do.

With highly directional speakers, the sweet spot is usually small, but imaging can be very good in the upper midrange frequencies. With dipoles at least 3 ft away from any walls, the sweet spot can be larger in the lower midrange depending on the room acoustics.
It depends from the frequency. If you do a electrical segmentation you get a more constant directivity.
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Old 15th January 2014, 09:32 PM   #9
Bazukaz is offline Bazukaz  Lithuania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calvin View Post
Hi,

don't be upset, but I have a totally different opinion ... only a Hybrid will be a complete sound system.
The inherent drawbacks regarding efficiency and high Q limit fullrangers to a high degree. This leads for example to the problem of how to balance the lowmid suckout against the high-Q bass resonance. Imho its especially the quality and balance in the lowmids and upper bass that makes the difference between HiFi and Music.
Too low volume in that range and the system sounds anemic, with a technical note. In other words there's linear distortion.
The right volume and the system comes to life, sounding more authentic and real. If You play the panels of Hybrids alone and wo. xover You will immideately notice that larger and wider panels can put out alot of energy just in that lowmid range. This energy finds it way directly into Your guts and chest and creates a lifelike impression.
I don't think, that it is a matter of distribution spreading or an other measurable parameter, at least I don' know of a plausible explantion.

jauu
Calvin
Hi,

I know your negative bias against full range ESL but IMO there is no all round solution. I have done many experiments with my ESL system and,although it was initially designed as hybrid crossed at around 100Hz, I like the sound of full range mode much better. Nowhere near as boomy as a monopole sub or difficult to position like dipole sub.
IMO a lot depends how a full range ESL is done. Damping mesh can be added to control fundamental and active eq of few db is not difficult to implement either. It can mean difference between bad bass and good bass.
Sensitivity problems can be solved by using large area and not every one wants to damage their ears


Quote:
Originally Posted by esltransformer View Post

I have had a very large esl (60cm x 200cm) and the only reason that i made it smaller is that i didn't want such a large esl in my room any more. It sounded wonderfull with very good bass.
Wow that's big. Have you used single panel or multiple small units? What was exact radiating area? Sensitivity?

Regards,
Lukas.
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Old 15th January 2014, 10:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esltransformer View Post
It depends from the frequency. If you do a electrical segmentation you get a more constant directivity.
Yes, at low frequencies there will be significant diffraction, so they lose their directionality.
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