Does having a mid range really matter?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by EdNichols, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2003
    Messages:
    372
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Many of the speakers that I see nowadays only have a woofer and a tweeter. Some have multiple woofers and a tweeter with one of the woofers crossing over at a higher freqency. My question is have you compared side-by-side a speaker with a true midrange driver to one that doesn't and did you notice any difference? I am just wondering if I should be looking for speakers that have a woofer, midrange, and tweeter for the best sound.
     
  2. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    4,791
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's really irrelevant, compared to sound quality. I fear that you may go looking for 3-way speakers and in the low end mostly only the cheesy sony, infinity, etc stuff do that for coolness factor and sales.

    It's much harder to do 3-way (or more) correctly. Extra cost of drivers, crossovers, design, etc etc. 2-way should cover everything good enough unless you're looking to get into the high-end. What kind of pricerange are you looking in?
     
  3. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2001
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If the midrange driver is good quality and well implemented it is better sounding. But how often does that happen for free? Think about it this way, a good midrange driver costs just as much as a normal woofer or tweeter, plus the amount of crossover components is doubled and the design complexity increases a lot. So it's anyone's guess if that is really a worthwhile addition for a reasonable priced speaker. Still, a lot of speakers including my own, try to use large woofers at higher frequencies than they can handle correctly. It is a significant trade-off either way.
     
  4. Rory Buszka

    Rory Buszka Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2002
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, the Large Advents used a 10" woofer and a tweeter, and many say their real strong suit was the midrange.
     
  5. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 25, 2001
    Messages:
    657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I do prefer the sound of Heritage Klipsch's (the mids horn is a pleasure to listen) than the newer two way designs.
     
  6. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2003
    Messages:
    372
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I realize that many of the older speakers were three-ways. (I still have a pair of 3-way Sansui speakers in the attic). These speakers have a 12 woofer, 3" midrange and 1" tweeter. I also have some newer Energy speakers that have two 6 1/2" woofers and a 3/4" tweeter. It's still (to me) a three-way speaker in that you have the tweeter for the highs, a woofer for the mids. and another woofer for the lows. They still have to be crossed over just like it was a normal three way so I don't see the significance. Anyway, has anyone compared a speaker with this type of thinking vs a true 3 way with three different sized speakers?
     
  7. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2000
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A 3-way speaker will always sound better than a 2-way IF it's designed correctly. That is of course a big "if", and I don't think there is an easy way to classify what is good and what is bad except what sounds good to your ears.

     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Most HT systems really are three way systems, if you consider that the lowest frequencies are being provided by a subwoofer. This makes 2-way designs much easier than the past where the woofer had to cover 20 hz to about 3 Khz. The sub now gets (about) the lowest two octaves, the other speakers woofer/mid-range does not have to reproduce those notes, so the demands on that driver are less.

    Even so, many designers are still using 3-way designs in their center channels. Here the mid-range driver is usually crossed over so to include the range of human voice. This is an attempt to make dialogue (which mostly is assigned to the center channel) more easily understood.
     
  9. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2003
    Messages:
    372
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ajay,
    Now that you mention it I have seen in the spec. for some speakers that they were a 2.5 and I wondered what that meant. Learned something new.....again.
     
  10. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Infinity and other reputable manufacturers don't use a midrange simply because it looks "cool". [​IMG]

    Anyhoo...........

    Midranges are usually utilized because a certain woofer can't reproduce the midrange frequencies well enough. Most 10" and larger cones are just too heavy for non-bass signals. And especially, large woofers tend to cause "beaming" of non-bass sounds, causing even slightly off-axis listening to be a non-gratifying listening experience. This can be slightly compensated for by using stiff dust caps (same idea as a whizzer cone), or the inner cone area is stiffened to make a "virtual" midrange. And by picking a low enough crossover point for the tweeter--as long as it's built for this--beaming can be held to acceptable limits.

    And two-ways have only one crossover point--this reduces phase & other tricky problems (electrical and acoustic) when trying to blend multiple drivers. Be aware that the crossover is the most important part of a speaker. You can use the best drivers but if they aren't blended correctly or you use a crossover component that causes response anomalies (very easy to do) those awesome drivers can end up sounding like dog poop. And good crossovers are quite expensive-- there is lots of copper wire in them (those coils of wire >>> inductors), pricey capacitors and high-tolerance resistors.

    But when you have to build a no-compromise speaker with 10" & larger woofers, you need to use a midrange (I'll leave horn loaded speakers out of this--they can be a different story). But now you have two crossover points to deal with, with twice the potential for problems and even more $$$ to worry about. It's not a nightmare to design a three-way speaker but it just takes more time, that's all. But now narrow dispersion problems will be almost eliminated, and power handling can be increased since the tweeter doesn't have to handle the upper mids anymore. And since the human ear is most sensitive to midrange sounds (which includes the human voice) having one driver reproduce most of them with no crossovers right in the middle of those frequencies or bass sounds knocking the cone around is a big advantage over a two-way. And overall distortion is reduced too.

    But with the popularity of thin tower speakers which can usually only accommodate a couple 8" woofers without getting too visually "fat", this is kind of a positive for speaker designers. 8 inchers can still do the mids decently and have good (non-sub) bass capabilities too. Throw in a second one for extra oomph, wire up one of those 2.5 crossovers and viola! you're done. That 2.5 thing: you don't want the bottom woofer doing mids too--this would mean two large diameter surfaces, and to a lesser extent the tweeter, would all add up to a really large vertical radiating surface reproducing the small (relatively speaking) midrange wavelengths and you would experience severe vertical beaming of those sounds. I.e. if you don't have that speaker tilted directly at you, the mids will sound muffled. This is similar to speakers built to the THX spec to provide a tightly focused sound to maximize the movie sound effects' effects [​IMG], and to keep dialog placed exactly where the director wanted, a good thing. This is so because ceiling and floor reflections are minimized. But for music reproduction many agree this can instead result in a dry, clinical sound.

    One design I'm seeing more of lately is basically a two-way with a built-in passive subwoofer mounted near the floor. Usually this consists of a tweeter, a large woofer and a speaker that handles everything from around 200Hz all the way up to 5kHz or so. This means all of the important midrange is reproduced by one driver--good [​IMG]-- and the woofer doesn't have to handle any of these touchy frequencies at all. The midrange/midbass driver is usually around 6.5" or will sometimes appear as two 5.25" or smaller drivers in a vertical array (midrange-tweeter-midrange.). This isn't a cheap design though: you basically have to use two woofers (of two different sizes of course) and the crossover is really pricey because it has to use at least two very large inductors and two large capacitors for that low woofer/midbass crossover point. But what results is a full & rich sound like the large boxy speakers from the "olden days" while still maintaining a fashionably thin enclosure by placing that large woofer on the side of the cabinet and the other narrower drivers on the front baffle.

    (any corrections to any of the above is appreciated!)

    With speakers, all kinds of processes are happening and so many different ways to deal with them; that's why they interest me the most as far as audio components are concerned.

    LJ
     
  11. Shane S.

    Shane S. Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2003
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If a midrange matters or not is up to your own recognition differential. On paper and to most people a 3 way speaker will sound better. Of course there is a ton of what ifs you could throw at that statement but genrally speaking the speaker with the dedicated mid range should sound better. Listen to a Nautilus 602 and an 803 and while they both sound great the 803 sounds better.
     
  12. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2000
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Let's not get carried away with the number of drivers. I have ML Aerius i speakers. All ML spkrs are two way (except for the new i series offering a tweeter for home theater applications)and they sound great. Reality is that some great speakers frequently use only two drivers.(Sonus Faber and Rocket to name just two) The one exception to this IMO is the center channel which frequently uses only one tweeter with two bass/midrange drivers, one on each side of the tweeter, often resulting in lobing effects. I use the ML Cinema which is a three way and a wonderful sound with no lobing in my setup. The truth is you get better quality for the same money with fewer drivers. As noted by other posters, the engineering and parts requirements are simpler with two drivers. Given the substantial improvement in subwoofers over the last few years, I tend to favor the a good two way speaker. The typical tradeoff is less bass extension and ultimate loudness due to the use of a smaller woofer/midrange.
     
  13. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I was waiting for an electrostatic fan to speak up. [​IMG]

    ML's--to me--are a (nearly) full range speaker with a passive subwoofer. Their electrostatic panel reproduces pretty much everything except the low bass frequencies. This means that the one crossover the speaker does have is in a less critical range than a "normal" two-way speaker (which is usually around 2500Hz).

    Electrostatics have great midrange detail and have low distortion because their electrostatic panel (EP) moves very little while reproducing sound. This is so because that EP has such a huge surface area--compared to a cone driver--it doesn't need to move long distances to create sound.

    Electromagnetic planar speakers like Magnepan manufactures have similar properties to the ML's. And they include a separate "tweeter" panel, or ribbon, to avoid beaming problems. I always wanted to try their little MMG model--they're only $550/pair--paired with a small subwoofer for a bedroom or study situation where high volume levels aren't needed. I've always liked dipolar speakers for acoustic music and dreamy sounding art rock.

    LJ
     
  14. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2000
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, I think the crossover on my Aerius i is around 800 hz? If true, that is a lower x/over than the tweeter on most two ways but still pretty high into the midrange of sound.
     
  15. ThomasW

    ThomasW Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,282
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  16. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stephen M: 800Hz? Yikes! Guess I need to update my mental FAQ section. [​IMG] I thought the woofer cones were there to fix what many people think is an electrostat's biggest problem: lack of low bass (some purist electrostat fans actually make fun of ML's for this reason). Also, the last time I really investigated electrostats were the large models, not the more recent & smaller models like your Aerius.

    The Aerius .pdf manual says it uses a 500Hz crossover; the corresponding manual for the larger Prodigy lists a 250Hz x-over point. So I was sort of close. :b

    LJ
     
  17. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2000
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sorry about not knowing the Aerius i x/over point.[​IMG] OTOH, ML has been making hybrid speakers for more than twenty years and pretty much knows as much about matching timber at the x/over point as well as anyone. The larger models like Prodigy and Odyssey have larger woofers, but also larger electrostat panels that can comfortably go lower in frequency. All things equal, a lower x/over below the midrange is best. I owned the original Aerius about ten years ago and to me the difference between that speaker and my new Aerius i (2yrs old), and even more so with the Clarity and Aeon, is the large strides made in the woofer's integration with the panel. With the older speakers, the two drivers sounded dissimilar on a lot of material. On the Aeon, I cannot hear where one driver stops and the next starts. Of course, I am ten years older now. [​IMG]
     
  18. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 18, 2002
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  19. Andy Goldstein

    Andy Goldstein Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 6, 2003
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i havnt had midrange drivers in my stereo systems since i bought my first pair of large advents in 1977. havnt missed them either. i have since bought another pair for the bedroom stereo, and enough parts to build a stacked array for the front left and right in my HT setup (done) and the side and rear pairs for the rest of the 6.1 rig (pending). properly done, a 2-way system sounds wonderful. btw, IIRC, the x-overs are 1Khz for the original large advents, and 1.5Khz for the new large advents.

    ag.
     
  20. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Stephen: I wasn't criticising your ML's, I was just rambling randomly about woofers, mids and accuracy issues. Maybe I have adult ADD??[​IMG]

    The only time I've seen a "pure" electrostat was a pair of enormous Acoustats at an upscale audio salon back around 1988. They looked just like the black monolith in 2001. They must have been at least 6'4" tall, but only about 6" thick & hooked up to a huge Threshold power amp. But I didn't get to check out their bass output because they wouldn't play my Rush CD--whatta buncha squares! [​IMG]

    But I did get to hear the Celestion SL-600 in another room: wow was that nice, the ultimate (for that time) 6.5" two-way loudspeaker. And that aluminum honeycomb enclosure felt like a concrete block.

    LJ
     

Share This Page