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What makes a good HT speaker as apposed to a good Music speaker.

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Jeremy Schulz, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. Jeremy Schulz

    Jeremy Schulz Member

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    I have been looking at kits and designs and some claim that they are good for "music" listening but not for home theater situations. I know that some designs can't be converted into center channels but is that all?
     
  2. ColinM

    ColinM Well-Known Member

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    I think of it this way -

    A tiny speaker like a 2-way with a 3" woofer will drop off after 200hz or so, well before any midbass can take hold. Unless it's used with a really good sub with a wonderful blend, it'll sound hollow, tinny, and won't offer much in sustained hi power sound. BUT, that same little speaker might be just fine for every spot in a small HT, with a suitable subwoofer. It'd be a compromise for buffs, but for Joe 6pack, just fine. It's all about watching a movie so pop the popcorn already.

    In other cases, if it's good for music but not HT, I wonder exactly why that is, because sound reproduction should not have a qualification as to what is actually being reproduced.

    I've had several speakers in the house, and used them all for both music and HT. They all do what they do, and if I felt they weren't all that great with HT, they might have been OK with music, and vice versa. HT and Music are two different things, 2.0 and 5.1 in my room as I do not like multichannel music. For good 2.0, you have to have REALLY good fullrange speakers - not expensive, just really good. For 5.1, you can compromise a bit on bass handling for the 5.

    All of the above is subject to the owners' standards of what good and bad mean, no two are the same.

    Disclaimers -

    Full range = down to 40hz is fine I think. Now that I've had full range capable speakers, I think that's the only way to go. Add sub for subtle infrasonics...hoo baby.
     
  3. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Well-Known Member

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    If I was a designer... Lets say I made a speaker that had the same range, but one for HT, and one for Music. (Both Stereo only):

    I would design home theater speakers to be dynamic, punchy, capable of high spls, and very neutral to the music source. (Not altering the sound by making it smooth or anything like that)

    Thus, the HT speaker is very revealing of the sound track and dialogue. That means it might make it sound harsh if the recording is harsh... It's about playing the "SOUND" how the director wanted you to hear it. So you got THX standards and guidlines for reference level and equalization.

    Music speakers, on the other hand, is a different ball park and has no guidelines. You've got your audiophiles who prefer smooth silky sound, and you've got your Klipsch fans who like bright "live" sounding speakers. This is where preference kicks in, because you have people that listen to different kinds of music. Somebody that listens to classical or vocals, might like a smoother sounding speaker while somebody that likes loud rock music might prefer a more live/forward sounding speaker with more presence.

    You'll also see that there are high end speakers that will take tracks that arn't recorded that well and make them sound good. This is something I don't think HT speakers are really aiming for.

    So my point is... I think it boils down to music speakers having more "personality" to them, while HT speakers trying to sound the same as a THX certified theater. One one side you have Sound reproduction (Theater), and on the other you have sound interpretation (music). Of course they overlap a lot, but I think when taken to the extreme cases, you can see how they might be designed differently.

    I would also think that HT might have a larger sweet spot than music speakers.
     
  4. Jeremy Schulz

    Jeremy Schulz Member

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    Good reading. So really the "cabinetsdesign" make more of a difference than the individual speakers.

    The dayton III design over at speakerbuilder.net look good to me but I have read in a couple of places that they are more a musical speaker rather than a HT speaker.
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt Well-Known Member

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    To answer your question directly, “What makes a good home theater speaker,” what hasn’t been noted yet is that THX speaker standards call for limited vertical dispersion. This limits reflections off the floor and ceiling and makes for a tight, focused soundstage, which is excellent for dialog. However, most audiophiles feel that same quality is not desirable in music, where you want a broad soundstage with a lot of ambience, and room reflections to a point contribute to that.

    The consensus among many, if not most audiophiles is that good music speakers make for good home theater speakers, while the reverse doesn’t hold.

    Regards,
    Wayne
     
  6. ColinM

    ColinM Well-Known Member

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    If you have excellent drivers that require very simple passive filtering / EQ designs in the crossover, you have the potential for better complete speakers. For example, there are speakers with crossovers that are comprised of nothing more than a single capacitor, and maybe one inductor. The amp feeds the drivers almost directly. Full range single driver designs with no crossover at all sound great with a watt or two, and they can get quite loud.

    Not to say a speaker with a complex crossover will not be as good or better, but it's such a huge subject. I mean, Pi speakers use predominantly pro drivers and very simple crossovers and from all accounts, sound spectacular. Then there's everything else with a higher parts count.

    As to wether one way is better than another for music or movies, Wayne summed it up above quite well.
     
  7. Travis_G

    Travis_G Active Member

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    IMHO a good speaker is a good speaker. If it's good for HT it's gonna be good for music and visa versa. I think both require accurate reproduction.

    However, a home theater speaker may require a wider dynamic range and sometimes higher output capabilities represent a compromise in midrange detail and a designer may choose to sacrafice output cabability to preserve the midrange clarity.

    Also as Wayne said many people prefer "controlled directivity" speakers for HT. Research has shown that if you control mid and high-frequency reflections that dialog is clearer which is obviously important for movies.

    OTOH there is evidence that controlled directivity speakers tend to sound less natural. This is because the sound that reflects off the walls before reaching your ears lacks high frequencies. Some people, especially those who listen to alot of music perfer less directional speakers for this reason.

    However I have heard wide dispersion and controlled directivity speakers that sounded natural to me. And I have yet to hear a speaker that sounds great for music and bad for movies or visa versa.

    Bottom line, just listen for yourself. Trust your own ears [​IMG]
     
  8. Jeremy Schulz

    Jeremy Schulz Member

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    Kind of off topic but it was brought up, I have seen measurements of dispersion of speakers. Is that something that the average person can measure or does that take some special equipment.

    All of this has been some interesting talking. It makes sense to me thank you.
     
  9. Travis_G

    Travis_G Active Member

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    You need a measurement Mic and a sine wave oscilator you can take the speaker outside about 50 ft from any structure. put it on the ground and the Mic on the ground about 1 meter from the speaker.

    You need to take measurements by measuring the voltage output from the Mic (every 1/6 octave or so). Then you turn the speaker about 30-45 degrees in one direction and measure again. Then turn it back the other way to measure the off-axis response the other way.

    The closer the 3 plots come to each other, the more uniform your speakers dispersion.

    I'm not an expert but this is my understanding of it (someone correct me if I am wrong). I don't know any simpler way to measure it. But fortunately you can get an idea just by looking at the speaker.

    Speakers with the tweeters mounted on top of the enclosure are going to be less directional.

    speakers that are skinnier are going to be less directional on the horizontal axis.

    MTM speakers will be more directional virtically than TMM speakers (except MTM center speakers when they positioned so that the woofers are on the left and right and the tweeter is in the middle, in wich case they will be more directional horizontally)

    Speakers with small diameter mid-range drivers tend to have wider dispersion.

    Speakers with no tweeter, (i.e. full-range drivers, arrays, planar drivers), tend to be extremely directional in the high frequencies.

    Hope this makes sense.

    Travis
     
  10. Jeremy Schulz

    Jeremy Schulz Member

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    So taking a few of the ideas from this thread I ahould be looking at speakers that have "tight" off axis response to the "on-axis" response those would be better for a HT situation than for music. Is that correct or am I way out in left field.
     
  11. Travis_G

    Travis_G Active Member

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    No matter what, you want horizontal dispersion to be fairly uniform. You want to be able to walk from one side of the listening area to the other without hearing a change in high frequencies. If your system falls short in this regard, then you won't have a seamless soundstage and you will be able to point out the exact position of your speakers while blindfolded.

    However, if you follow THX's reccomendations, you will choose speakers that limit high-frequency reflections off the floor and ceiling. This will help the inteligability of dialog, but it may cause the speakers to sound more like loudspeakers and less like live sounds.

    If you choose MTM speakers and place them all (including the center speaker) so that the woofers are on top and on bottom of the tweeter, it will help control the high frequency reflections off the floor and ceiling.

    Also, another consideration is that special effects in movies are often extremely demanding on subwoofers. Sometimes a ported or PR enclosure is a better choice for HT, whereas a sealed enclosure is best for music. This is because the ported box uses it's resonance to help produce the lowest frequencies. The sealed box relies on stored resonant energy to a lesser degree so kick drums will have more kick.

    I am making a ported subwoofer right now for the AE AV15 driver. I will plug the ports for listening to music and unplug them when I want to watch something like Apollo XIII.

    Travis
     
  12. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Well-Known Member

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  13. Jack Keck

    Jack Keck Well-Known Member

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    When I started in this hobby back in teh '70s, there was the east coast (laid back, better for jazz & classical) vs. west coast (more forward, better for rock)sound. I came up with the idea that if a speaker wasn't good for everything, then it was good for nothing.

    That said, I find Dan Wesnor's post veery amusing.
     
  14. Vaughan Odendaal

    Vaughan Odendaal Well-Known Member

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    Funny, my manager tells me that hifi speakers were not designed for home theater use, and that they would cook pretty easily because they wouldn't be able to cope with big transient hits. He told me that hifi speakers would cook quicker tha home theater speakers.

    Now I think that that is a lot of nonsense, personally. What do you think? He said something else about how both speakers work differently, which leads to the former's disadvantage for HT. I forgot exactly what he mentioned, though.

    --Sincerely,
     
  15. Scott Simonian

    Scott Simonian Well-Known Member

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    Where do you work at where your manager keeps telling you dumb shit like this? Music should have the same "transient hits" as movies would. The only thing that would "cook" your Hifi speakers would be the tremendous amounts of deep bass in most modern movies. And this could be fixed easily by using the bass managment feature on a HT receiver. I think all HT receivers have this now. It should be standard.
     
  16. MarkRoberts

    MarkRoberts Well-Known Member

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    I think the whole "these are good for music but they aren't suitable for HT" is crap plain and simple. Who wants one and not the other or 2 different systems all together.(well if you can afford two systems why not) The main goal should be reproducing the music/movie accurately period.



    This is nonsense because some symphonies have extreme transients as well as bass down to the teens! Besides that the majority of a movie soundtrack is music.
    I personally think that THX is BS. But hey they did make HT a more household thing. There are some very interesting things on this very subject addressed at this site
    Worth the reading IMHO.
     
  17. ColinM

    ColinM Well-Known Member

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    Linky no worky.
     
  18. Vaughan Odendaal

    Vaughan Odendaal Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I know that he is talking nonsense, but I thought I might just let you guys know what I'm dealing with.

    He told me that the drivers used in hifi speakers wouldn't be able to react quick enough to reproduce massive dynamic bursts of output in film soundtracks compared to the drivers used in dedicated home theater speakers. Whatever.

    Personally, I've always thought that a good music speaker would be great for home theater use as well. I'm not sure about the whole "the drivers not being able to react quick enough to reproduce dynamic peaks in films".

    The thing is, my manager has been in the industry for around 40 years. How would I catch him out or refute the above in a simple way? Or in a technical way? Guys, your help would be appreciated. Heh.[​IMG]

    --Sincerely,
     
  19. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt Well-Known Member

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    Don’t bother, Vaughan, it’s not worth it. Not to mention, if he’s the one signing your checks or has the power to hire or fire you, that’s not the person you want to be engaging in debates. Many people tend to hold their audio biases as fervently as their religion or politics; he sounds like one of them.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  20. Vaughan Odendaal

    Vaughan Odendaal Well-Known Member

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    He isn't the one signing the checks. He is the manager, not the boss.[​IMG]

    But tell me Wayne, is there any truth in what he says about the drivers used in hifi speakers not being quick enough to react to the dynamic peaks found on dvd's?

    If I could refute the above, it would be good.[​IMG] He isn't one of those people who would disagree in light of the facts, (or at least I don't think he is. Heh. So, yeah.

    --Sincerely,
     

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