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Are Towers bad for movies?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin Webb, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. Kevin Webb

    Kevin Webb Agent

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    I had an interesting discussion with a technician/salesperson at one of the few higher end a/v stores in my area. We started talking about speakers and he brought up the fact (to him) that tower speakers make poor fronts for a home theater setup. He said that because they are designed to play frequencies below 80 Hz, they interfere with the signal going to the subwoofer and distort the overall bass effect. He said that people buy towers expecting a bigger sound, but if you set them to the "large" setting on your receiver, then you distort the bass. If you set them to "small", what's the point of getting the towers in the first place. He ended by saying that towers are "old-school".
    He then proceeded to show me the M&K 750 MkII's and the S-150's. I must say that they did sound sweet & clean.
    He may have been knowledgeable, but I didn't like the way he came across.
    Too bad they are the only Rotel and M&K dealer in my area. [​IMG]
    Opinions?
     
  2. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    That is just not true IMHO. I think the idea is, when using a setup for movies, you can set the speaker to small and cross over effectively anywhere between 40-80Hz with the tower speaker. Remember that a crossover point is not a fixed point. Some people claim that your main channel speakers should be able to play effectively at a level one octave below the crossover point. One of the "experts" at AR claims that, if possible, the mains and even the center channel speaker should ideally be able to play effectively down to around 30-40Hz. Also, some people simply prefer near full range capability from their main channel speakers, particularly for music (I suspect that there is a coherence of sound and a fullness of soundstage which they find desireable).
     
  3. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I'd agree that setting towers to large and running a sub for HT isn't the ideal and can generate all sorts of problems.

    But I disagree that running towers small is a waste. I would come back that if your speaker isn't flat to well below 80hz, then not only will the receivers crossover be attenuating the signal, so will the speakers roll off. The result will be that the sub and mains won't sum correctly. Meaning there will be a lower sound level then there is supposed to be in the window below 80hz where the mains and sub interact. Most good towers are flat to below 40hz, which is one octave below the 80hz crossover point. I would say being flat to one octave below the crossover point would be a good thing not a bad thing or a waste of the speaker.
     
  4. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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    The beauty of THX speakers like the M&K you mention is that the natural rolloff of the speakers below 80hz is 12db per octave and the roll off of the cross over in the processor is also 12db per octave which gives you a Linkwitz-Riley 24db per octave in-phase crossover. The subwoofer also is rolled off at 24 db at 80hz, which should give you perfect blending.

    Regarding the need for mains that extend 1 octave below the crossover point, this is important when you use a slow crossover (6db per octave). Every processor that is THX certified (and most that aren't) use the 24db crossover eliminating the need for response an octave below crossover.
     
  5. Leon O

    Leon O Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Kevin,

    I'm definately in the MINORITY around here - don't weigh my input too heavily. But my (15 year old) towers that are tuned to 40hz sound better to me when set on large than at small. My receiver has a fixed crossover of 100 hz. I was using an SVS 20-39cs (soon to be upgraded, heehee). There was a point during descending bass patterns where bass suddenly became much more powerful. That was preferable to me, though, than a slight emptiness I perceived when set at small.

    From my car audio days, I still believe a 6.5" woofer can provide tighter mid bass than a 12" woofer also covering duties down at 20hz. However, I do not have an EQ and only adjust levels by ear. With proper calibration and equalization, I might be able to optimize the mid bass output from the sub. (BTW, I'm going to buy SPL meter & calibration disc this weekend).

    My thoughts are that a tower should be crossed lower than 80hz. My current (always changing) plan is to eventually add an external amp and bass management that will allow crossover in the range of 40-60hz.

    In theory, there are many good reasons to leave your system at small. It seems to be the overwhelming opinion and EXPERIENCE of the folks here. So, you probably shouldn't purchase the towers unless you have demo'd them in your own listening environment.

    Have Fun!
     
  6. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    I think you would be very happy with an M&K HT setup. Don't worry so much about bookshelfs vs. towers. Go with the speaker system that sounds best to you.
     
  7. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    If what Tony says is true, that be some smart designing.

    Bottom line, like Bob said (damn I'm agreeing with Bob :p)), don't worry too much about the tower/bookshelf. As long as the bookshelf or tower has good response down to 60hz, fits your budget and sounds good to you, you will be fine.

    In the case of the M&K, good stuff and if what Tony says is true you can't go wrong there.
     
  8. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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  9. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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    Here is a quote from the Stereophile interview with Ken Kreisel, the K in M&K:
    "It's very important to understand what THX has done with filters. They assume that a home theater will have a subwoofer, and they embraced 80Hz as the crossover point. Having made subwoofers for over 20 years, I'd say that's a reasonable frequency. THX also decided to use a 24dB/octave fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley crossover, because it's about the only crossover design that has the high- and low-pass filters in phase at the crossover point. There are certain benefits to that. A fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley filter is essentially two 12dB/octave Butterworth filters in series with one another, which produces the specified 24dB/octave roll-off.
    Simply put, THX front speakers are designed in such a way that half of the 24dB/octave forth-order filtering is accomplished acoustically in the speaker itself, while the other half is accomplished electrically in the THX processor—there's essentially no difference between an acoustic filter and an electronic filter. So a THX processor feeds the satellites with a 12dB/octave electronic filter, and the subwoofer with a 24dB/octave fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley filter. The sum of the whole system adds up to a fourth-order Linkwitz-Riley crossover that puts the speakers in-phase at the 80Hz crossover frequency. It's just so elegant."
    The complete interview can be found here: http://www.stereophile.com/fullarchives.cgi?136
     
  10. Tony Genovese

    Tony Genovese Supporting Actor

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  11. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Tony,
    Cool! So it also appears that they would chose drivers which have a natural -3dB point of 80Hz in a sealed enclosure. "Simple, yet elegant!" seems a more appropriate term![​IMG]
     
  12. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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  13. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
     
  14. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Towers work better, IMO, IF you do 1 of 2 things.....You need a processor with true flexible bass management (like the Sony TA-E9000es preamp has-thats the main reasons I purchased this preamp) OR you use the subs high pass filter to take advantage of said tower speakers lower range.

    Now if you don't have the processor OR you are unwilling to high pass with the sub, then you would be better off with monitor/bookshelf types. I know I move more air with my tower setup than any sub/sat combo. I know 400 wpc going to my VT1.2 towers (crossed over at 40hz) plus the Atlantic tech 262pbm sub, is a better setup than the sat vs1.2a's (set at 80hz) were with the same sub. It is not even close.
     
  15. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Second Unit

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    My main theater has towers and book shelves.. I can play either I chosse to. I like it better with the towers myself over the bookshelves.. (course..thats probably why I have them eh?). I have done a lot of a/b and experimenting between both..{{I normaly run both same time}} and i like the powered towers myself. not to say...the bookshelves are bad..I just like the latter better.
    My system in the bedroom is bookshelf with sub ...no room for towers..or their would be.. I think its a matter of taste, space and desire... wich ever is the strongest at the time..usualy wins...
    so go with what ya like, hear or want.. If the sales guy is buying them for you..then let him decide..if not..you choose [​IMG]Thomas_A
     
  16. Mike Strassburg

    Mike Strassburg Second Unit

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    Here's my 2 cents....

    I use JBL towers for mains and rears. Originally ran them as LARGE as I switch between HT and audio. Decided to experiment the other day and set ALL speakers to small crossed-over at 80hz. HT still sounded great. Then I cranked up some music; old shool hip-hop, rap, techno, etc... and turned off my sub. Guess what?? Bass still sounded great out of the towers.

    My conclusion: the 80hz cross-over point doesn't rob a tower from pumping out plenty of low frequencies.

    BTW...I use JBL G500's that have dual 8's, but will soon have Klipsch Legends!!
     
  17. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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  18. ScottH

    ScottH Producer

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    Not being a "technical" audio guy, IMHO, I've just always thought bookshelf with a quality sub sounded better than towers for HT.
     
  19. Kerry Hackney

    Kerry Hackney Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't think of a good reason why a monitor type speaker can't be "almost" as good as a tower in a "small" configuration. By definition you aren't asking it to play deep. As long as it can get to the crossover corner it should do fine. However, there are some considerations that need to be made to imaging and dynamics. Many towers are MTM designs that by their nature can be very good at off axis smoothness or coverage. That isn't to say that there aren't MTM or even non-MTM monitors that are good it's just that there are more towers of that type.

    What is more important I think is when it comes to overall dynamic capabilites. It seems normal that the larger piston area will win all else being of equal quality. Action movies are a lot about that. Even explosions, which have their mass in the sub territory start with a leading attack that is usually in the midrange. I have read articles in past Speaker Builder issues that support that. Try this, disconnect your mains and play a scene with just the sub, then reconnect the mains and do it again. I think you will see that there is a contribution to even LFE effects from your mains.
     
  20. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    "I've just always thought bookshelf with a quality sub sounded better than towers for HT"

    I think the idea is to compare bookshelf-type speakers + external sub to towers + external sub. Clearly, some people will prefer the latter setup.
     

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