Hi-Fi Full Range speakers playing complex music

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I have read that full range speakers have problem playing complex music forms (like electro-pop) yielding distortions & loss of details.
I have never heard any stand alone Hi-Fidelity full range speakers like Fostex 206.
So, it would be very helpful if someone throws some light on this topic.
Oh well...in my opinion :rolleyes::eek::p
Somebody may say that it's some kind of Doppler distortion...
Caused by the impossibilty to move at the same time at 100 Hz and at 10 KHz
Others would say that the pistonic region would allow only a certain range to be played correctly. As a loudspeaker is still a passband device, it would allow
to focus its activity in its mid-band, being the extremes not necessarily useful
to detect the 'message'. But then it comes the term 'Hi-fi' which means that the original recorded event to be reproduced, it could be played at a level that it would make it seem to be played like it was in front of you. Electronic music
is another department because there is no precise relationship between an oscillator-generated sound and what you can find in the real world.
So generally for a relaxed low level listening or background music or just for the news, it is not strictly necessary to display a system that has high dynamics. those high dynamics require the specialized drivers which are woofers-midrange and tweeters. But I see nowadays that some FR are aknowledged to play at satisfactory levels, only needing a subwoofer to meet
the high excursions to move big masses of air at low frequency.
I'm using some 2" FR such as Monacor SPX 20 and SPX 21 as mid-tweeter
and they perform quite good, being quite easy to 'cross' with a woofer with 1st or 2nd order slope filters.
I have tried only one full-ranger (AER MD2) in a back loaded horn and it is excellent playing some music, like jazz or Indian classical. When I try to crank it up while playing large orchestra music, the best way I can describe it, is it losses it. It is bad enough for me (personally) to look to correct it. The AER is an excellent driver with its issues, like everything else. I believe this has got to do with the whizzer on the driver. The mechanical crossover from the main cone to the whizzer is the cause (resonance) of this and happens around 2KHz. If you look at the response of most whizzer based drivers you will see a hump in this area followed by a dip. There are fullrangers or widebanders without a whizzer cone. Hope it helps.

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Full range drivers are remarkable devices for the wide dynamic range of frequencies that they can produce, sometimes over 7 or 8 octaves. I think the problem arises when playing music with both wide spectral content and wide amplitude content. The worst case is big symphony classical with for example double bass and kettle drums violins and piccolo going all at once and some at lower volumes. Full rangers can probably play some of these but not all at same time. I would guess that if one were to make a three way with three identical full range drivers with cross over it may actually sound decent with orchestral music or electronica. It would need a sub still and will lack high SPL punch because a 4 in driver can't move air like a 6 in or 8 in driver. The main reason I like full range is the spatial imaging it affords and this is not important with symphonic classical, electronica, or hard rock. But for jazz, vocals, classic rock, chamber classical, the full range speaker can be sublime when paired with the proper recording using proper microphone setups. Having said that, one particular full range speaker has consistently surprised me with its ability to play a wide range of music with decent dynamics is the mass loaded transmission line and a 4 in class full range driver.
Probably lack of headroom and/or amp clipping. Fullrangers are often used with low power amps, which won't help. To get an idea of how much headroom is required to accurately reproduce music peaks, try the calculator on the Crown website

Amplifier Power Required Calculator

The usual figure suggested is 26dB headroom to realistically cover short-term peaks.

And the piston calculator gives an idea of how low a drive unit can go for a given size/xMax and acoustic level

Piston Excursion calculator

Other than that, there's no specific reason why a fullrange unit should do any worse than the cone midband driver in larger systems. I've used a 4" unit in a MLTL and it sounded great. It's limit was the weedy Naim amp I used at the time. More recently I've used a 2-way active system with considerably greater headroom and that also sounds very good, especially on orchestral music.
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1) I have heard/read a lot about this topic.

2) I have listened to a lot of different types of music on various full range drivers.

3) 1 and 2 above are not consistent with each other.

4) I continue to increase my experience of 2 and reduce my experience of 1.
multiple drivers = fraction of the problems...


A single full range driver will always fail to satisfy the main criteria for true high fidelity or life like reproduction of music ( dont even think about home cinema...!)

In order to have a good mid and top end you need small and light cones.
In order to get a good low end you need bigger stronger / heavier cones....Or lots of small and light.

Its not rocket science, " If you want true full range sound with dynamics and low distortion you need lots of Sd.
" There is no replacement for displacement " Well actually thats not quite accurate or even appropriate but you get my point.
One key benefit of a large Sd is that each cone is only moving a tiny amount so minimising displacement is a great advantage of having a large surface area, or lots of small surfave area's.

The attached are very efficient, very dynamic, sound astonishing and work with 5 watt SET's or 1,000 watt class D's and everything in between.



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yea, it depends on volume and type of music.

I think it is simple FM distortion, the lows modulating the highs making it sound garbled.

I think the spacial imaging (on full range drivers) is probably due to the narrower dispersion in the high end. You don't have much of the right speaker's highs hitting the left wall then going in the left ear.

My sons thiels don't really have a great center image compared to any full range single driver setup I've tried, but 1 thiel versus 1 full range drivers, the thiel (old model 4) wins on bass, distortion, and dynamics. Midrange is a little better on the full range probably due to no old crossover components in the path. Overall I prefer the thiels (I listen louder and to pink floyd and stuff like that).

but this worked very very well (9 x 4").

I detest full range driver flat arrays. They smear the signal. Here is a pic of the transient response on a 32 x 2" flat array.

here is the link to the kuze array (32 x 2").

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Size matters...A lot!

In order for a speaker to function as a true Line Array, the length of the driver array ( not just the cabinet length) must be at least 75% of the floor to celing height of the listening room.
There are a lot of fake or "mini arrays" (like the one pictured in Normans post) which give true line arrays a bad reputation. These fake arrays are a waste of money and not worth building as the floor and celing bounces mess up the imaging and there are not enough drivers / Sd to generate low distortion high SPL's.

Garbage in = garbage out...Forget using a bucket load of cheap 2 inch or 3 inch midrange drivers and hoping / praying that they will turn into a seamless line of full range high end drivers if you use enough of them...
50 times a crap driver will always sound 50 times worse!

All drivers will require Eq to give the best results, some are so good you may not need it, but they would still benefit from it.
Some drivers are so bad / not suited to a full range line array that no amount of DSP & Eq will help.
Choose a good driver with good specs and build quailty, this is vital as cheap " bucket" drivers have very poor tolerances, often plus / minus 15% or even 20% spec tolerances.
This is a sonic train wreck for any line array design. You really need plus or minus 5% tolerances to build a good line array.

As a rough guide to number of drivers / Sd required I have found that anything below about 550 Sd ( a typical 12 inch driver area) requires a sub crossed in around 80Hz to give medium to high SPL's with low distortion full range music.
550 Sd to 750 Sd is depending on taste.
Above 750Sd you can Rock...No sub required!

I use 16 BMR's ( 4.5 inch ) per speaker, 60 Sd per driver so 960 Sd per side, this is equal to a 15 inch driver and I can assure you they play loud, clear and with very low distortion!

Hope this helps and all the best
26dB of headroom is great!

Re 26 dB headroom...I agree with colin and disagree with adson.

I think if you listen to a quiet piece of piano for a few moments at maybe 60dB to 65dB then suddenly the whole orchestra kicks in at 100dB you will really enjoy the experience... Live music has 40 dB swings sometimes more.

Now most hifi systems would fail to make that 35dB to 40dB jump cleanly, but even a 26dB jump will sound good if done with low distortion.

Re 50 times a crap driver will always sound 50 times worse, I agree with me and disagree with you.
Now if you care to post photos of the 5 or 6 different line arrays you have designed and built to prove your statement then your opinion might actually be of value to the forum. Until then...Well not worth responding to I guess.
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you talking about fullrange driver ovarkill audio? 9 dB is recommended:
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) specifies a PML of 9 dB below 0 dBFS (-9 dBFS), thus giving 9 dB of headroom.
as for line arrays, no I have not designed 5-6 crappy line arrays as you did, but I know that 50 times a crap driver will never sound 50 times worse! just divide 50 times power to each and they behave much more linearly then one crap driver, naturally
Why do we have to stand for these trolls who come to this forum and tell us what horribly misguided fools we are by wasting our time with single driver speakers? This is my hobby and this is what I choose to do with my time. I am not interested in being told why I can't be enjoying my music on my speakers. Just go away!

music soothes the savage beast
Joined 2004
Paid Member
I think if you listen to a quiet piece of piano for a few moments at maybe 60dB to 65dB then suddenly the whole orchestra kicks in at 100dB you will really enjoy the experience... Live music has 40 dB swings sometimes more.

Now most hifi systems would fail to make that 35dB to 40dB jump cleanly, but even a 26dB jump will sound good if done with low distortion

that is dynamic range, not headroom
headroom is defined as how many time you can exceed its maximum ratings
I for one can attest to the awesomeness of well built full-range speakers. I even threw 4 Dayton Audio RS100-4's into my car and they perform superbly all of the way down to 65hz (with proper port tuning).

Sure, the highs are not great since these are mounted in my doors but I do get great off-axis response to 8000hz+.

Go away trolls!
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