Speaker sizes......................and difference in sound????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ColtonA, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey guys, im a little confused coming into this home theater world. I have been into car audio for quite some time and thought I would try something new, im already addicted. Anyways with car audio, speaker size makes a big difference, for example your front stage consists of components, most people tend to stick with 6 1/2" simply because they have better midbass response apposed to 5 1/2". If this is the case wouldnt it mean you should have dedicated drivers for different parts of your system in a home theater setup? If so what is the general rule of thumb? And another thing i dont get is say you have a 5.1 surround setup, whats the difference between have say 1, 2, or even three speakers per channel? And would there be a difference if say per channel theres 2 speakers and there different sizes? Or does any of this trully matter? And whats the advantage of having towers over bookshelf size speakers, whats better? Sorry about the confusion. Thanks.
     
  2. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    C'mon guys, i really need help. Also is there and advantage of going with a 3 way speaker over a 1 way?
     
  3. keir

    keir Stunt Coordinator

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    The way I define channel is an amplified speaker. How could you have more than 1 speaker per channel?

    In a 5.1 system, theres 2 main channels left and right, a center channel, 2 rear surround channels left and right, and a subwoofer. Each of these spots is usually filled by just 1 speaker. The size of the speakers' drivers would generally determine the frequency range the speaker can create. This isnt so important in itself. Tower speakers allow you to have smoothly integrated bass for music listening without bothering with a subwoofer. many people use bookshelf sized speakers and let the subwoofer handle the bass for music as well as movies. some people prefer tower speakers for music (and a few even let towers handle some bass for movies).

    as for your question about going with a 3 way speaker over a 1-way, very very few speakers are 1 way. most consist of a tweeter and a woofer. in the case of towers they can be 3 way or have arrays of drivers of various sizes.

    the amount of drivers in the speaker isnt so important. it has little to do with quality of sound. Just make sure the speaker can play bass down to and below the crossover point where the subwoofer will take over. (usually 80 hz). a 5.5 inch woofer can easily do this. for example my rear speakers are paradigm atoms. they have a 3/4 inch tweeter and a 5.5 inch woofer and have loud usable bass down to about 65 hz.

    i hope that cleared some things up. ask away if you have more questions, ill do my best to help.
     
  4. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks allot, what i meant was the one channel amplfying the tower of say 2-3 speakers. You cleared it up though. So every speaker should have a tweeter and the midrange right?
     
  5. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Also shouldnt your 2 front ch. speaker and 2 rear ch. speaker plus your center channel be all of the same size? Woulnt there be cancallation issues with mixing up sizes and brands???.........and is there a general rule of thumb when it comes to size? I know you said as long as it can play down to 65 hz but I would assume a larger speaker be able to do this better then a smaller one? Thanks....
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Maybe no one knows! [​IMG] (Ok, I figured that by saying that -if someone did, they'll answer now).
    I was thinking about that last week in my attempt to upgrade my speaker system. If the '5' in 5.1 DD specs state that all of the '5' speaker's wires can carry freqs between 80 and 20k hz, then any bookshelf sized speakers can't possibly reproduce the correct sounds. Each 'speaker' box should have all 3 speakers in order to get the best quality possible.
    I don't think that a sub can take care of the high-end of the bass range, either, which would make it even worse.
    The solution would be to buy 5 'matched' speakers. All of these are supposed to be at/near ear level, but the bass on current towers is lower than that. I think that the best solution would be to have 5 speakers sort of cubed shaped, on stands about three feet off of the ground.
    Now, where can I find such an animal?
    Glenn
     
  7. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    bump.
     
  8. keir

    keir Stunt Coordinator

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    matching all the speakers is important. having the same brand for the 5 channels is the best idea. and going even further, they should be from the same series using the same type of drivers. my paradigms all use the same 3/4 inch tweeter and similar woofers and internal design. that doesnt mean the size must be the same. many people use tower speakers as their mains, and have a smaller center channel and much smaller surrounds. they dont all play the same frequencies, but for movies the sub is going to cut them all off at the same point, so they will end up handling the same frequency range in practice (unless you set the mains to large and allow them to handle some bass the subwoofer would normally handle).



    Cancellation isnt really a problem. you dont run into much cancellation unless you're dealing with bass. but you dont usually have a problem unless your main speakers are set as "large" on the receiver and therefore try to play the same bass frequencies as the subwoofer.

     
  9. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks KEIR, im glad you went into detail yet put it in easy terms for me to understand. Thanks again! [​IMG]
     
  10. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    in response to Glenn's question, most bookshelf speakers have two drivers, rarely three, whereas towers tend to have three or more. well-designed and built bookshelf speakers should not have too much difficulty going down to 80Hz and a bit more below; towers will tend to go lower (e.g. my Mission 782s are said to go to 48Hz, whilst the big brother 783s are rated to 38Hz).
    so it's not absolutely necessary for all 5 speakers (making up the "5" in "5.1") to have three drivers, two should suffice, as long as the sub goes up to beyond the crossover as Keir explained.
    as for having a sub that goes up much higher into the high-end of mid-bass, thats is not a good idea either, since the output would become localizable, i.e. you can tell where the sound is coming from. which defeats the entire rationale of the .1 LFE channel which is supposed to handle only low bass that is non-directional.
    try looking at the Basics FAQ for more information. in particular, see
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...980#post515980
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...442#post512442 and
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...485#post649485
    for further discussions of this. no doubt more valuable nuggets of information can be found in the FAQ as well
     
  11. Phil_DC

    Phil_DC Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Phil, but then I can't paint them up to look like Borg ships! Those are cool, though.

    No seriously, if a speaker can't handle what our ears can hear, then it isn't any good (Ok, it might be a Bose). But the deep sounds will not carry through a speaker smaller than about 8 - 10" in diameter or so. It is sort of like comparing it to a portable headphone set.

    I have long since forgotten the exact bass freqs, but they are probably from 0 to say, 2k. The mid-range would extend from there up to about 12 or 14k, where the tweeter would kick in.

    Thus, any sound between where the sub stops and the mid-range speaker starts would be lost unless each speaker case had at least all 3 speakers in it so that it could carry all of the freqs above where the subs cut-off level has been adjusted to.

    I can see, because of their location, that the front center speaker would not need a bass speaker because the two front mains would carry it, but the surrounds are another matter. I think that was my, and Colton's original point.

    As an example, and JP works well here, if a dino came up on your left side you're not going to hear this tinny roar coume out of its mouth. It can still be out of range of the fronts (and the TV) at this point), but it should still be just as deep as if it came from a front tower.

    This would fly in the face of the HT sets with five (or even just two) small speaker sets, but if we do want it to sound great, and correct, shouldn't all (or just 4) have larger speakers, or did everything I learn about sound change?

    Glenn
     
  13. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Good point Glen!
     
  14. John_M_W

    John_M_W Auditioning

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    The ideal set up for home theater is to use 5 timbre matched identical speakers for all five channels. This is easiest to accomplish by purchasing a set of 5 bookshelf or satellite speakers. A satellite speaker is designed to always be used with a subwoofer. They tend to have smaller drivers and their frequency response never drops below about 80Hz. A good bookshelf speaker will be a bit larger and have better low end response but will still need a subwoofer for home theater use. Bookshelves will usually play down to about 60Hz. In many cases, speaker manufacturers will also have a floorstanding tower speaker that is designed using the same drivers for the front channels. This works well and is a good way to go if you like floorstanders. Even if identical drivers are used in the bookshelf and the floorstanding speakers, the floorstanders will play a little lower because there is a larger box that can be tuned to a lower frequency using a port.

    Your bass response will have as much to do with placement of the sub in your room and the room dynamics as it does with the sub itself. Generally, humans can't localize sounds below 100Hz so most people only use one sub but it is a bit more tricky to place a single sub. Generally the closer you place a sub to a corner the more bass you will hear.

    Let me know if you have any further questions, I'd be happy to help.

    John
     
  15. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I see we are on opposing sides on this. Sure, buying 5 small speakers is easy to do, as they are for sale all over the place, but there is no way that a bookshelf speaker box with a 4" speaker inside can accurately reproduce sounds in the lower frequencies. They would have to end up distorted.

    It sounds like you would recommend floorstanding towers mostly because they look nice, not because they can more accurately reproduce the correct sounds needed. This is why a trumpet does not sound like a tuba.

    As for the subs, I did not know that they were meant to take the place of the bass speakers. I thought they were used to make the 'sounds' that we feel more than we hear. Their placement would not matter except that they do need to be placed where they will be felt. I can feel my floor vibrate when mine kicks in, adding a more real effect.

    Anyone listening to a classical music concert would go nuts with 5 bookshelf speakers and a sub. Having just about every frequency we can hear with an orchrestra, they would insist on tweeters, mid-range and bass speakers (sometimes in various sizes to make sure that every frequency is covered accurately) to correctly hear everything.

    The Dolby Digital standards state that all five channels can have sounds reaching as high as 20k, but as low as 80hz too. A sound that low is going to sound quite funny with a 4" speaker. This is why canaries don't sound like elephants.

    Thanks for bending your ear.
     
  16. ColtonA

    ColtonA Stunt Coordinator

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    Kier and glen, I sent u both a p.m.!
     
  17. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    ..and watch this die a gruesome death!

    Glenn
     
  18. keir

    keir Stunt Coordinator

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  19. John_M_W

    John_M_W Auditioning

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    Hi Glenn,
    I think you misunderstood my recommendation. The important thing in home theater is that the speakers are timbre matched because when a plane flys from left to right or front to back, you want it to sound identical from one speaker to the next. Floorstanding speakers work great for this as well but they are bigger and cost a lot more. So if you don't have the room or the budget for them a sub sat system is the way to go. And even if you do purchase tower speakers, most home theater setups include a subwoofer to carry the LFE (low frequency effects). This is the .1 channel in a home theater configuration. When creating a film, audio editors can use the .1 channel for special LFE's that don't exist in the main channels so it is helpful to have a sub to carry these. It is not necessary however because most receivers have setup controls that will allow you to route the LFE channel to the mains if you have large speakers, but there is nothing like the feeling of a 12" powered sub shaking the room in a movie.[​IMG]
    If you want a live audition of 5 bookshelf speakers and a killer sub with your favorite classical music email me and you can come by and give our system a listen. I think you will be amazed and pleasantly surprised.[​IMG] Do you live in Portland Oregon? If so, we are just south of town in Tigard.
     
  20. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Keep in mind that sats and bookshelves are two different creatures. Sats never go above a 4" mid-driver but bookshelves can easily go 6"-8" for a mid/bass driver. Towers being towers usually do NOT have better imaging than bookshelves (so long as you don't put bookshelves ON bookshelves). Sometimes they do, but usually not. This is because the missing mass of the lower tower portion doesn't create dispersion problems. There are outstanding bookshelf speakers that will play essentially flat (ATC for example) and these are the types of speakers used for soundtrack mastering.
    As to 2-way versus 3-way, most engineers agree that creating a good 3-way is much more difficult than creating a good 2-way. Providing your bass is properly managed, you can choose which you like and get excellent performance.
    Timber matching IS important, particularly for panning sounds. Perhaps more than music, it's easy to notice when a panned sound goes through a mismatched system. This is particularly why going with the same brand and model is important. Manufacturers will tell you which models can be matched with others. Size in this instance is somewhat less important than making sure the crossovers match.
    I will go out on a limb here and adamantly state that center channels should be large. When I auditioned HT speakers I was always impressed by the natural sound of large center channels. The center is the foundation of everything in HT as it handles nearly all dialog and dialog is what the human ear is most acutely sensitive to. Deep-voiced males do not sound natural on small centers. Vin Diesel sounds like Martin Short on my sister's system [​IMG]. The center I have, the Deftech CLR 2500, is outstanding as it has a built-in sub and not only do voices and actions on screen sound natural but pans are handled without the slightest timbre change. Bass isn't all that non-direcitonal. Some people are more sensitive than others, the best way is for you to listen and see how sensitive you are to it.
    The trick for everything is matching your subs with everything else. Dolby Digital specifies that bass management must be included in products that do DD decoding. This means you can change the cross-over points to match your system. Using an HT equalizer can do the same though most acousticians will recommend room treatment before going down that road.
    HT is not audiophile listening though it can be used for both, and it is definitely not car audio (no offense meant). They are apples and elephants. The environmental situation in car audio is, frankly, appalling and my admiration goes to engineers that can make listenable systems in a rolling cage filled with foam, plastic, coffee, windows, road noise, engine noise, and do it all from speakers universally placed in the worst locations.
    HT is about recreating dynamic sound fields of wildly different frequencies; directional at times, ethereal at others; creating a seamless unity with a moving picture; and most importantly, creating a better-than-cinematic movie experience that puts a wide smile on your face.
    There is nothing like the satisfaction of watching the best action scenes on DVD and realizing, 'Wow! My system did that!'.
     

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