When and why did simple speakers become complicated?

I love a great sounding system! But sometimes I find myself enjoying a not so great system using simple, low performance full range drivers. I think it’s because there’s no reason to judge it or listen critically. If a system sounds musical I can simply enjoy it. But when a system has major flaws it offends. I was shopping in NYC this weekend and heard a lot of horrible sounding speakers in the stores. These were name brands usually mounted on the walls pointing down at the customers. In many cases the bass was boomy or the treble sizzled. They were unlistenable! Personally, when the mids are so recessed you can barely make out the vocals and everything sounds garbled I cringe. This could be why full range drivers sound best, they get the mids ‘right enough’ and we can hear the music without major faults at the extremes.

Does anyone know when manufacturers began insisting a woofer/midrange must cross to a tweeter around 2khz?
 
Poor Jeff,
You have become a snob! I agree totally. My wife has a friend, they have the perfect livingroom for a set of BIBs. I offered to build the pair, and possibly even throw in the drivers from the pile of extras. Her husband informed me that he was very "Brand loyal." This must have meant... the more you spend, the better it must be. $1500 later, a Brand new, Brand Branded, 7.1 Dolby blah Digital blah with blah blah is now making a mokery of music and movies in their home. You cannot understand the movies, mids are terrible. Music, lets just say tears formed in the eyes, sad ones.

On the bright side, at least they do not have the DIY disease!
 
Does anyone know when manufacturers began insisting a woofer/midrange must cross to a tweeter around 2khz?

I think that change come with stereo in the 60's, and the need to obtain relatively deep bass from small boxes. It required high compliance woofers with relatively high cone mass and 'long throw' voice coils. The heavier, felted paper cones in combination with the (heavier and more inductive) long throw voice coils were not capable of the HF extension their more agile predecessors had. A look at the speakers offered in the Allied and Lafayette catalogs from about 1960 to the mid 70's clearly shows this trend. Coincident with this trend is a substantial decline in efficiency, an increase in response linearity and bandwidth, and ever increasing amplifier power (and in retrospect a decline in sound quality). I am not suggesting that response linearity and wide bandwidth are not important. They are just not, by themselves, design criteria sufficient to assure a musical result.

Regards,

Bob
 

doug20

Member
2009-03-22 9:38 pm
Poor Jeff,
You have become a snob! I agree totally. My wife has a friend, they have the perfect livingroom for a set of BIBs. I offered to build the pair, and possibly even throw in the drivers from the pile of extras. Her husband informed me that he was very "Brand loyal." This must have meant... the more you spend, the better it must be. $1500 later, a Brand new, Brand Branded, 7.1 Dolby blah Digital blah with blah blah is now making a mokery of music and movies in their home. You cannot understand the movies, mids are terrible. Music, lets just say tears formed in the eyes, sad ones.

On the bright side, at least they do not have the DIY disease!

Yeah but do they like it? I have two rich friends that have BOSE and love them....who am I to tell them different ;) I do not have a friend or family member with a remotely high end setup and they still enjoy movies and music. There are many that just have Ipods/Ipod docks and enjoy the music...in the end they are the lucky ones and not anyone on an audio forum ;)

THey have been in my room and love my HT setup too. Of course I think full range drivers suck swamp water...maybe fine for near field listening but no way can they do custom home theater remotely well. Too many well known issues with them.

The important mid range POV is a good one though, Mid range drivers that do 400Hz to past 2KHz or horn/waveguide designs that go down to 500Hz seem to be the premium choices for best vocals.
 
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Yeah but do they like it? I have two rich friends that have BOSE and love them....who am I to tell them different ;) I do not have a friend or family member with a remotely high end setup and they still enjoy movies and music. There are many that just have Ipods/Ipod docks and enjoy the music...in the end they are the lucky ones and not anyone on an audio forum ;)

THey have been in my room and love my HT setup too. Of course I think full range drivers suck swamp water...maybe fine for near field listening but no way can they do custom home theater remotely well. Too many well known issues with them.

The important mid range POV is a good one though, Mid range drivers that do 400Hz to past 2KHz or horn/waveguide designs that go down to 500Hz seem to be the premium choices for best vocals.

Agreed, they do like it, and thus the disease comment. Some of us get it and cannot quit. The unfortunate truth for this particular person, they bought exactly what was described above. MDF boxes, single 4" and 1" crossed-over audibly wrong. But they have that brand name on them.

There are many fine brand names out there with solid products, so please do not get me wrong. And, head down looking at floor, I also use an Ipod and dock, it's just so convenient.
 
Many people don't realize that the listening room is just as important or even more so then the equipment. Every room needs bass trap treatment. If you think the cost is too high. You can treat a whole room with bass traps for around 100 dollars. Five cellouse bags stacked in the corners for around five dollars a piece. Cover each bag with burlap to make it look pretty.
 
A few years ago (before he died) my dad got me the top end Logitech surround
that was all THX and every other conceivable letter an acronym thingy certified.

I won't say these tiny FR drivers (TB?) were at fault, but boxes they are in are
just stOOpid small. There is a huge hole between subwoofer and midrange, and
I've never yet heard front channel vocals decoded properly. The drivers might
be salvageable, but they are low enough efficiency I doubt I'll ever mess with.

Eventually shoveled all that surround sound mess into the closet and went
back to stereo. Abusing some ancient counterfeit AR3's. Decent performers,
just counterfeit branded... Very flat and neutral, I can forget I am listening
to speakers. I will not miss the subwoofer channel and all its rumbly mud.
 

doug20

Member
2009-03-22 9:38 pm
Agreed, they do like it, and thus the disease comment. Some of us get it and cannot quit. The unfortunate truth for this particular person, they bought exactly what was described above. MDF boxes, single 4" and 1" crossed-over audibly wrong. But they have that brand name on them.

There are many fine brand names out there with solid products, so please do not get me wrong. And, head down looking at floor, I also use an Ipod and dock, it's just so convenient.


You and me both, my friends always ask....why build more speakers when you have too many already ;) I start talking about clarity, off axis response, they would just roll their eyes and are thinking WHO CARES...my wife couldnt care either. She just wants me to keep a set of speakers instead of making a mess ever two months.


For convience I also use a Ipod/Dock setup (office or garage working). The funniest part about the Ipod is that once I built speakers good enough to hear flaws some of the crap recordings I have sound much worse now then when I didnt have a great setup :(

I sometimes wish I was back in the days of audio ignorance and just watching and or listening.

As for the discussion about mid range, I just believe that is the hardest part ot figure out and get right....so many damn compromising choices making it hard.
 
I, too, find that most PC stuff is indeed rubbish. The TB gear Logitech used (presumably in the Z-5500) can be good, but you have to give them better boxes. The satellites barely contain the magnets, and the 12" ported cube is much too small for a 10" woofer. I have a Z4, which I modified the subwoofer on to make it 4th order BP.

Anyway, I use an iPod dock through to my stereo. Pair of Fostexes with a subwoofer. Lovely.

I think people decided to bring in crossovers when they noticed that, actually, you can get higher treble with smaller drivers, and lower bass with bigger drivers. Instead of compromising, they decided to have both. Lots of bandwidth, you get the impressive bass... This seems to be inherant in today's designs, too. Most people walking into a "HiFi" store will be looking for something to hit them square in the chest from across the room. This would be considered "impressive". At the other end of the frequency range, it's a case of "listen to that treble, doesn't it go really high...". Power is cheap, so most manufacturers will decide to get a 4" driver to give low bass, and let efficiency drop. A 4" driver going to 60Hz (especially with a bump in the response) would be considered good to listen to, and because they're small, SAF would be quite high. Right from day one of hifi, there's more than likely been a (usually) female element, asking why they can't be smaller, and look nicer. So, here we have a potential answer: they've got smaller and less efficient because you'd get thrown out if you brought a pair of 7' horns into the house.

Chris
 
For convience I also use a Ipod/Dock setup (office or garage working). The funniest part about the Ipod is that once I built speakers good enough to hear flaws some of the crap recordings I have sound much worse now then when I didnt have a great setup :(

Thats what beer is for! Ussually makes you forget/relax abit.

The number one thing to remember is, this is a business, and businesses like to make money. So inexpensive drivers, cheap boxes, and tuning to fit the wide array of music that the mass market may listen to. What i love is when you open these up and find bottom dollar electrolytic caps in the crossover!:eek:

Personally, I like bluegrass, and I like metal. That is why I own an EQ.
 
There are numerous perverse incentives for audio equipment manufacturers. Among the strongest is to keep the buyer uneducated.

Most people buy speakers based on their Watt rating. The intuitive sense is that if the speaker is more Watts, it's going to be louder and more powerful, and have more bass. After all, a Watt is a measure of power, right? Also, a speaker with lots of drivers must be more powerful! (We've all heard this so many times.)

A speaker that has a low Watt rating is going to be seen as "weak", and an eccentric purchase. And just one driver? Pff! That's not good enough for me! I'm .. why, I'm a three driver man! No, I'm worthy of FOUR drivers!

And because we are so status-oriented creatures, single-driver low-wattage high-sensitivity speakers don't sell. Three-wheeled cars didn't either.

Because power is so cheap, the perverse incentive is to make inefficient speakers with high power ratings, and to not educate the buyer about speaker sensitivity or other true measures of the speakers sound-generation power.

Dabbling in DIY audio has told me so much about the free market – namely that yes, it works as a market, but there's nothing in the definition of a "market" that says it will advance the state of the world for the better. Only that it is a market :)
 

doug20

Member
2009-03-22 9:38 pm
Thats what beer is for! Ussually makes you forget/relax abit.

The number one thing to remember is, this is a business, and businesses like to make money. So inexpensive drivers, cheap boxes, and tuning to fit the wide array of music that the mass market may listen to. What i love is when you open these up and find bottom dollar electrolytic caps in the crossover!:eek:

Personally, I like bluegrass, and I like metal. That is why I own an EQ.

Lmao tootrue! Of course EQing does not help the badly compressedand distorted bass from downloaded MP3s :(

I have spent some time "upgrading" about 2000 of my songs to FLAC but I have a long list from more then 10 years ago when it wasnt a concern.
 

doug20

Member
2009-03-22 9:38 pm
Brand also has a certain reputation allowing people not to think too much about a single purchase. Not everyone has the time to spend educating themselves an all different products, Audio has never been a education must anyways for the majority.

Some Brands spend more money on marketing to convince people they have a good reputation ;)
 
>>> I just use (and support) the stuff. I could not get my work done on a Windows or Linux PC.

Was at the Apple store over the weekend. There IS an Apple laptop in my future! Swipe four fingers down the trackpad and your screen organizes! Wow! Afterward went into the Sony store and was extremely disappointed with their offerings... and their prices are higher too. I have not owned an Apple product in over 15 years and looking forward to going back.