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Dipole Speakers as Surround Speakers


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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Greg Bax

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Posted December 06 2003 - 04:49 AM

Will dipole speakers work with the new SACD and DVD-Audio technologies? Every thing that I have read says that dipole speakers are the best for the surround/rear speakers to give the best diffusion and lack of localization. However my local dealer reccommends using direct-radiating speakers and tells me that which ever technology wins, SACD or DVD-A, will have discrete rear channels which you will not get the benifits of from using a dipole speaker. Any advice?

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Edward J M

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Posted December 06 2003 - 04:56 AM

I have bipole/dipole speakers as side surrounds in my 7.1 rig.

In dipole mode, they can sometimes provide a hollow, echo type sound on SACD/DVD-A.

In bipole mode, the side sound stage firms up considerably and the hollow echo effect goes away completely. I would have no reservations recommending a bipole surround for SACD or DVD-A.

Any dipole (out of phase) speaker "should" have the capability of switching to bipole (in phase) mode.
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#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Chuck Kent

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Posted December 06 2003 - 10:56 PM

Quote:
Any dipole (out of phase) speaker "should" have the capability of switching to bipole (in phase) mode.


This is correct but until the last 2 or 3 years, most dipoles would have to be re-wired to be able to switch to bipole mode. Many dipoles put out now have a simple switch available to change modes.

IMO, if you use dipoles only in a setup, and are playing surround based music, you are mot hearing the music at it's best. For years I ran dipoles of various quality and was always pretty happy (after all, this was Dolby's preferred playback method.) But when music started making a big splash in surround, I began to notice things just didn't sound quite right. So I finally went to direct radiators and I was much much happier with the presentation. And to my surprise, movies didn't seem to suffer from the change at all. (It's worth noting that at the time Dolby was making the dipole recommendation, we didn't have discrete 5.1 sound or Dolby Pro Logic II. Just bandwidth limited, mono based rear information. Hugely different than today.)

I do agree with Edward that bipoles can really turn around the issues pertaining to music and dipoles. In my case, placement issues for bipoles meant sending some of the sound down a hallway at each side of the room. Something I didn't want to do. Thus my own particular move to direct radiators. One issue to make sure of is that if you are considering dipoles, make sure they can (easily) switch to bipole mode.

See if your dealer can lend you a couple pairs of speakers to try. Nothing like living with something for a while to help make a decision...

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted December 07 2003 - 03:42 AM

Dipole speakers became popular in the ProLogic days. The goal was to hide the speaker location and have the studios only put diffuse sounds on the rear. (wind, rain, rumbles)

But with DVD - the whole idea blew apart. Now, people are putting very locatable sounds to the rear, and even the rear-center speaker to help immerse you in the action.

Dipoles are obsolete. Go with direct radiators (monopole or bipole) for the rears.

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Adnan

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Posted December 07 2003 - 05:20 AM

Not completely familiar with bipole/dipole. Magnepans MGMC1 speakers (for use are HT surrounds) are dipole right? Anyone have experience with these used in home theater?

Thanks.

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Tim Streagle

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Posted December 07 2003 - 03:01 PM

Magnepans are wonderful in an HT setup. Your ticket in (new) is the MMG at $550 a pair. MCMG1's are only a couple of hundred bucks more. Cone type drivers and Maggies are two very different approaches to sound. Each has their pros and cons. Let me attempt to describe the difference between the two in terms of what they do for me in HT (I have both).

Cone speakers are great at delivering focussed, direct energy to the listener. This does have merit when watching loud, violent scenes. You can really feel like the death and destruction is upon you. Imaging can also be superb. However, the source is often easily localized and can appear beamed at you. Sometimes my ears tire before my eyes do.

Planar dipoles (like the Magnepans) are excellent at immersing the listener in the movie in an almost unconscious manner. The artificial boxiness of conventional speakers is gone, quite like a veneer has been stripped away. The sound is more dispersed in the room, and the panels themselves sonically disappear. The listener is pulled into the action. I never notice any listening fatigue. They do, however, EAT POWER. Don't try powering them with less than 75-100 CLEAN watts, more if you drive your HT to very loud levels. It can also can be agonizingly difficult keeping cats from tearing them to pieces. Wives usually hate 'em.

Look, ignore the all the B.S. I just wrote (I'm sure there'll be a bunch of people who will want to take issue with what I said). Just go listen to them to see if they are for you or not. Try the 60 day trial period from Magnepan if you like. Use with a GOOD sub. They are not the same as a conventional (coned) dipole.
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#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted December 07 2003 - 06:25 PM

Quote:
Magnepans MGMC1 speakers (for use are HT surrounds) are dipole

Well .. yes and no.

Ok, "Dipole" speaker that I wrote about was a rear-speaker that fired indirect. This ment you arranged them to bounce sound off of walls to help hide the location. The 'dipole' nature was said to help enhance the diffusion.

Technically - all speakers are dipoles: when the cone is pushing forward, the back-side is pulling back. But the back side is encased in a box so you dont get the back-fire sound.

Panel and electrostatic speakers .... technically are dipoles for the same reason. When the panels are moving forward, they are pulling back from the rear. (They are vibrating back and forth.)

But - you use the panel speakers like a direct-radiator - arranged to fire directly at the listening position. Yes, the back end is open so it produces as much sound out the back as the front and this makes them a dipole.

Quote:
Anyone have experience with these used in home theater?

Panel speakers have a HUGE radiating surface compared to traditional cone-type speakers. This gives them the ability to produce great detail and nuance in the sound. Many of my die-hard audiophile friends have turned to panel/electrostatics and swear they will never go back.

The down-side of panel speakers is they dont have much low-end. So you really need a external subwoofer. Many panel speakers are in the 4 ohm range which means they need a high-current receiver to drive them. So this means in the mid-to-high end of the models.

So while panel speakers are great for music (and also for HT), it can cost a bit more money to put together a good system.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Tim Streagle

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Posted December 08 2003 - 01:14 AM

Bob, well said. I just wish I could be as articulate. My biggest hurdle was finding a center speaker that would integrate well with planars. I just can't afford the Magneplanar center at $750+.

It seems as if many planar owners (I know they're out there) don't participate on these forums. I wonder why?
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#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Adnan

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Posted December 08 2003 - 03:56 AM

Thanks guys. I actually have a pair of MMGs I use for music already, and am planning to add to them the MC1's and maybe Magnepan's CC3 front panel. I'll use a pretty decent powered Polk sub that I already have.

My current HT set up is 5 Polk Audio sattelite speakers along with a sub and a $200 Yamaha amp. Its ok for our apartment, but usually me and my wife both prefer to watch movies (even action stuff) in 2 channel through the Maggies and a simple 50 watt Jolida tube amp. There is just so much more detail and richness.

We're going to move into a house and I've been given a room to work with, so I'm think I've pretty much decided to put Maggies all around in the TV room. For reciever, I'm considering an NAD T763 or a Rotel RSX-1055. I'll probably have to give up my tube amp for this set up, so I'm REALLY interested in an amp that'll be great for reproducing music as well. Thoughts on my current choices?

This weekend, we heard a Magnepan HT set up. We watched an action scene from Matrix and listened to Diana Krall's Live in Paris (which pretty much runs the spectrum of what we'll use it for). Pretty awesome! It was powered by a Pioneer Elite reciever.

For movies, would I really loose much if I decide to skip the center channel and just have it play out the front two? Is it easy to do this?
Tim, what do you use now as a center channel and how do you like it?

Thanks again for the good info.

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Tim Streagle

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Posted December 08 2003 - 06:05 AM

Adnan,

I think the center channel is critical for anchoring dialog to the screen. It is also critical for understanding movies when the actors mumble constantly. I tried using no center w/ my Mag's and it didn't work out very well. I heard from some other guy's that the Aura LSC-537M was a good (poor) man's center for a Maggie system. I bought one e-bay for $91 and would recommend it for a low-cost solution. I think there's one for sale right now and it's still bidding at below $20!

The linaeum is a great sounding tweeter for the money. I also own a couple of the LSB-537M bookshelf models, and they are quite nice for $67 a pair! My system is a pair of MG-II's with Auras for center and surrounds.

BTW, a complete Aura system could be had by someone for less than $250 right now. I believe these speakers compare favorably to other systems costing at least $900. Too bad they are sort of defunct as a company. The cabinets are 1/2 inch MDF and are not expensively built by any means, but the drivers are Peerless and the x-overs are okay.

Rotel or NAD are great choices for a reciever. I am very partial to Logic 7 processing, so the Harman Kardon is what I use.

Someday I will own MC1's all around with a CC3 also. I've just got to pay off the boat first.
Ranger Tim





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