Why NOT powered towers?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob_A, Oct 2, 2001.

  1. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    I have always wondered why some people speak so strongly AGAINST powered towers...
    The main argument I hear is: "you place your speakers to optimize them for the high and mid frequencies, but you cannot place your speakers to optimize them for the low frequencies".
    Why do I find this argument problematic? Well...you can say this about ANY speaker which extends "relatively" low, and not just about powered towers. So--using this argument--if you are critical of, say a Def Tech bp2000TL, then why not be critical of a Paradigm Studio 100, NHT 3.3, Dunlavy SCIV, Wilson Watt Puppy, Revel Salon, etc etc etc?
    It is not often when I hear people mention the ADVANTAGES of powered towers. With "well-designed" powered towers, this includes:
    --virtually seamless integration between highs/mids/lows which can be controlled by the manufacturer.
    --very deep bass response relative to most other non-powered loudspeakers (particularly in the price range)
    --"stereo" bass (some people prefer this with music).
    --bass volume can be adjusted separately for each speaker.
    --can be crossed over relatively low (compared to non-powered speakers in the price range) when used with an external sub (the external sub need only handle really low frequencies, say below 40Hz).
    --a near full range speaker which works very well for formats such as Super Audio or DVD-Audio where bass management is apparently bypassed
    --the built in subs generally make these powered towers easier to drive then other non-powered speakers in the price range.
    --a great option for those who would rather not have an external sub in their living room.
    So in conclusion...certainly adding a quality external sub can improve performance (particularly for the very low frequencies)...but a well-designed powered tower certainly has many favorable points and should not be so quickly written off, IMHO.
     
  2. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Bob,
    I remember a thread a few months ago about this subject which was particularly critical of DefTech's. I think the biggest problem folks have with DefTech's is the fact that they market their powered towers as having powered "subwoofers" built in and even go as far as to state that a separate sub isn't needed. Looking at Tom N's spec sheet it's quickly evident that this marketing ploy is far from accurate.
    I think powered towers are fine if your desire is to have good extension down in the 40's, but for true LFE duty, a dedicated sub in mandatory.
    Brian
    ------------------
     
  3. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    powered towers are fine IN ADDITION TO an outboard sub(s), just not INSTED OF
     
  4. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Brian I hear what you are saying...but some people say there is no "point" to buying a powered tower...and this is something which I disagree with.
    Matthew, with music a separate sub is often not necessary...for movies, a quality separate sub should be perfect to use with a powered tower...But the blending between highs/mids/lows with music in particular is what I really love about these powered towers...almost certainly you will get better blending with a powered tower vs. nonpowered speakers + external sub.
    [Edited last by Bob_A on October 02, 2001 at 10:04 PM]
     
  5. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    Bob - that seamless integration also depends on your room.
    I had some Klipsch RP5 speakers - 12" subs built in. They were side firing, and in MY room, the bass sounded terrible. The only place I could put them was right next to a wall, so the subs were firing right into a wall. I had deep bass, but absolutely no midbass.
    I took them back and got some Klipsch RB5 (same mid and tweeter as RP5 but in a bookshelf size) and a KSW 12. Now I placed the sub where it sounds the best and my integration is much better. I am still not happy with the sub (not loud and deep enough), hence, I will be replacing it in the future. But the transition between the speakers is much better now. One reason for this is the towers had a high pass crossover at 90 Hz. I couldn't bypass it, so there was a hole between 80 Hz and 90 Hz, since my receiver at the time (3801 now I have the 3802) only had one crossover at 80 Hz. So in this case I would never be able to obtain a smooth transition.
    As a side note, I had some JBL powered towers (TLX271P) before this with front firing 8" subs. This setup blended very well in this room, since the subs were forward firing.
    So I think it really depends on the room characteristics and interactions with the speakers.
    Bryan
     
  6. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Bryan you are correct...my DT powered towers are side firing as well and definitely it is best to have no obstructions for the side firing subs...though they can be set to fire inward or outward.
     
  7. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    Bob, I respectfully disagree....
    I find that better blending in a room can be achieved by setting up the sub(s) in there own locations (for best response) while using an outboard processing solution for the really low bass ...a processing solution which allows for notch filtering,etc...I enjoy referance level bass at 14hz for music,not only HT, like organ music and even just to set the fundamental tones/harmonics for other musical selections . I have yet to find ANY main speakers which, by themselves, haven't benifited from the relief they get from not having to play sub 30hz bass. I'm sure your def tecs are just wonderful, but bet that I could make a believer out of you in about 3 minutes using much of your own equipment!
    ------------------
    that receiver sounds great demo'd through my computer speakers!
    I bought the best ones, my buddy would never steer me wrong .He's not trying to make a commission off me and Cambridge Sound's factory direct pricing means that I got a great deal!
    It must be a good deal all the people on the net would surely tell me if they didn't make a good choice and all those guys that are nice enough to provide a link i'm sure none of them are making a dime for it...all that stuff about e-marketing is probably Hooey!
     
  8. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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  9. Kevin_W

    Kevin_W Second Unit

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    It has often been noted that you should keep your subs together, in a corner (or somewhere), so that they are all effected equally by the same room characteristics and to prevent cancelation (corner loaded to achieve max output).
    Wouldn't these same principles speak directly against the powered tower config (at least to the point of having an external sub in addition). I think if this approach is going to be used, the proper implementation would be to make sure that each of your speakers (including the center channel) can offer ample output down to 20hz and *not* use an external sub.
    I think *most* powered towers lack real output down low and thus need the external sub, but then you have the above mentioned complications.
    Just my opinion on the subject.
    Kevin
     
  10. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Kevin...again, if you have a problem with powered towers, than you have a problem with virtually all near full-range speakers.
    What would be the problem with crossing the powered towers over at, say 40Hz, and letting an external sub handle everything below?
    FWIW, the older bp2000's were tested as -3db at 23Hz...
     
  11. John H

    John H Second Unit

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  12. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    I don't have a "problem" with powered towers , I first posted "in addition to" an outboard sub, not "insted of"... I DON'T HAVE A "PROBLEM" with bookshelf spkrs by themselves either, it's just if I want the best /lowest/most accurate/best room blending bass I can get it isn't going to come from powered towers alone ...and just to fan the flames a little more, I would bet for any set of powered towers you could show me some body posting here could set up a passive set of speakers and an outboard sub in the same room for the same price with better results...now, I realize that there are too many variables here to make this anything more than VERY SPECULATIVE but would like to know who agrees and who doesn't...as for the notion that because the manufacturer of the speakers has blended them for you so they must be right for the kind of bass that you and your room are looking for ,well, I reject that notion.
    As for the differance between non powered towers and powered ones that may merely influence where I set my crossover, but as there are some passive towers that claim -3db at 20hz then (again)I may not set-up powered towers any differantly than those (even if I believed ANY mnfgrs claims of response)
     
  13. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    Another way powered towers can be a problem is if they have a fixed high-pass crossover for the mids and tweets. Maybe not all of them do, but most have some fixed, non-adjustable high pass crossover, so you are basically stuck with that crossover point no matter what you do. If you set your built-in sub at a lower crossover point, then you leave a hole. I don't think that adds to flexibility, but rather takes from it.
    That is why I prefer to get good bookshelf speakers with a good sub (or two). I wouldn't "waste" my money on full range speakers (towers) that I am not going to use the full response of anyway by setting them to small.
    I have tried both, and I prefer the bookshelf/sub combo over powered towers anyday.
    I can easily upgrade the sub without messing with my main speakers when I need more bass. It is much harder to do that with powered towers - because blending in an additional sub with these towers becomes even more of a complex job!
    I am not knocking powered towers - they can sound good - but I also agree that a seperate system with bookshelf speakers and a sub can sound better. At least in my case they did.
    Also, full range towers, in my opinion, would be a waste, unless you like the sound of them without a sub. If you have full range speakers and a sub, you are just creating a whole bunch of peaks of bass that may sound better to you, but not necessarily be flat. Just depends on what you are going for, accuracy or what you want it to sound like. Also, your amp is now spending a lot of energy to reproduce the low bass, taking away from the available power to reproduce the mids and highs.
    Powered towers, in my opinion, are better for people who DON'T want a seperate sub. If you are going to have a seperate sub, then why even bother with the subs in the towers? Why not just buy 3 subs, and use the other 2 for the front Left and Right channels? About the blending, just buy the same brand - they are usually made to blend with their own line of speakers.
    Also, a big ole sub in that speaker enclosure can, and probably will effect the midrange speaker and can muddy the sound. I wonder why studios and mixing rooms use small bookshelf type monitors with a seperate sub (if they even have one at all). If they are mixing it that way, it should say something.
    Of course, this is all my opinion.
    Respectfully,
    Bryan
     
  14. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    quote: I don't have a "problem" with powered towers[/quote]
    Matthew I did not mean to imply that you specifically had a problem with powered towers...I meant people in general who have "problems" with powered towers should also have "problems" with virtually any "near" full range speaker. Sorry if this was unclear.
    quote: it's just if I want the best /lowest/most accurate/best room blending bass I can get it isn't going to come from powered towers alonep[/quote]
    Well..."best" and "most accurate" is highly subjective...but I certainly am not arguing against the notion that adding an external sub will improve performance.
    quote: ...and just to fan the flames a little more, I would bet for any set of powered towers you could show me some body posting here could set up a passive set of speakers and an outboard sub in the same room for the same price with better results[/quote]
    What do you mean by "better" results? What makes the powered towers different from any other "near" full range speaker?
    quote: as for the notion that because the manufacturer of the speakers has blended them for you so they must be right for the kind of bass that you and your room are looking for ,well, I reject that notion.[/quote]
    I never suggested that "they must be right for the kind of bass that you are your room are looking for". And obviously not all powered towers are created equally (just as not all external subs are created equally). With my DT's, for instance, the 15 in woofer is placed right next to the other drivers...do you disagree with the idea that a "well designed" powered tower > have better driver blending than a nonpowered tower + external sub? If so, why? Keep in mind that we are not talking about sheer output...just blending.
    quote: That is why I prefer to get good bookshelf speakers with a good sub (or two). I wouldn't "waste" my money on full range speakers (towers) that I am not going to use the full response of anyway by setting them to small.[/quote]
    Again, you can say this about any "near" full range loudspeaker. This statement seems to imply that NHT 3.3s, Dynaudio Contours, Revel Salons, Wilson Watt Puppys, etc. etc. etc. would not be worthwhile to you because you would not need their lower end extension.
    quote: I have tried both, and I prefer the bookshelf/sub combo over powered towers anyday.[/quote]
    Sure this is a preference. One member at this forum had a setup with Def Tech bp30's + external subs vs. Def Tech bp2000TL's + external subs, and he preferred the latter setup over the former setup...even though the bp30's and bp2000TL have the same drivers other than the built in sub. Certainly the 2000TL's are quite a bit more expensive than the bp30's...but I don't think it's quite so simple to just discount the powered towers.
    quote: I can easily upgrade the sub without messing with my main speakers when I need more bass. It is much harder to do that with powered towers - because blending in an additional sub with these towers becomes even more of a complex job![/quote]
    Why would blending in an additional sub be so much more difficult? Like John H did, the crossover can be set to, say, 40Hz with the powered towers.
    quote: Powered towers, in my opinion, are better for people who DON'T want a seperate sub. If you are going to have a seperate sub, then why even bother with the subs in the towers?[/quote]
    See the comment above about the bp30 setup vs. bp2000TL.
    quote: Why not just buy 3 subs, and use the other 2 for the front Left and Right channels? About the blending, just buy the same brand - they are usually made to blend with their own line of speakers.[/quote]
    I would seriously doubt that I could blend 2 pf15TL+'s as well as the built in's in the 2000TL's...mainly because the 15in built in woofer is placed right next to the drivers.
    quote: Also, a big ole sub in that speaker enclosure can, and probably will effect the midrange speaker and can muddy the sound.[/quote]
    A lot of bracing is definitely needed...but with the "well designed" pt's...the sound is not muddied (at least in my experience).
    quote: I wonder why studios and mixing rooms use small bookshelf type monitors with a seperate sub (if they even have one at all). If they are mixing it that way, it should say something.[/quote]
    Well they also don't use Dunlavy SCIV's for their mixes! Powered towers and other "near" full range speakers are usually relatively large and more difficult to place then monitor speakers.
    [Edited last by Bob_A on October 03, 2001 at 07:30 PM]
    [Edited last by Bob_A on October 03, 2001 at 07:33 PM]
     
  15. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    Bryan, thanks for some of the good remarks but, respectfully ,I don't like my crossover set as high as I would have to go to match them up with most bookshelves.I would say that I would still prefer that combo to powered towers only though,but it would greatly depend on which bookshelf speakers you were talking about...For most systems that I have encountered, the rooms tend to agree with crossover set @ 55-65hz, while most subs are suited best to doing a (low) narrow range...most bookshelves don't have a lot of punch down around 60 + or - ,but do resonably well around 80 which seems to be fine for the "small" setting of many receivers....I don't know if i'm comfortable making sweeping generalizations but I like what a lower crossover point does for most systems integration with a sub...I have seen some "non-powered" towers with their own bass drivers crossed over from their mids at 70 hz ,while I have seen some powered towers using a crossover point as high as 250hz,..go figure!
     
  16. Stephen Dodds

    Stephen Dodds Second Unit

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    Just a couple of comments to keep the pot stirring.
    I'm sure the Def Tech 2000s have been measured to be -3dB down at 23Hz. The question is what volume.
    Someone also mentioned about other full range speakers such as WATT/Puppies. I own these W/Ps and one of the unique things about them is that they are far more dynamic than the vast majority of other speakers, so you can play them low and loud.
    However, they do need a separate sub for full range sound, hence the reason Wilson make subs.
    Like most 'full range' speakers, the WATT/Puppies start losing power response below 40Hz.
    The only speakers I've heard that wouldn't benefit from a sub are those that have their own dedicated subs, such as the big Genesis.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Stephen,
    I'm not trying to say that a quality external sub will not help the 2000TL's...and yes it would be interesting to see "output" at 23Hz...but I also did not intend to compare them to external subwoofers. But above, say 23-25Hz, I would guess that they have "very good" output...particularly for a loudspeaker.
     
  18. Tom Vodhanel

    Tom Vodhanel Cinematographer

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    The JH text indicates the distortion of the 2000s was
    6%/30hz and 18%/20hz(mostly third order per text).
    the Klipsch KLF20 has 7%/30hz...
    the first woof review I came too...the old VEL va1210 also had 6%/30hz.
    TV
     
  19. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Tom...the bass quality seems to change depending on how I wire these 2000TL towers (and after I used separate outlets for each powered section, the bass became slightly "better")...would wiring affect these numbers at all? Otherwise, they seem about right...with the 2000's needing some "help" particularly below 25-30Hz.
     
  20. phil-w

    phil-w Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a pair of NHT VT-3's on the way and should have them sometime in the next week. These have two side firing 10" woofers in each speaker powered by a 500watt amp.
    I am upgrading from my VT-2's which have a single non-powered woofer. I love my VT-2's and just wanted more. I also have a Velodyne HGS-18 sub and was thinking of getting a second one but decided to do this instead.
    I will let you all know how this works. Of course I have lots of room on either side of the speakers for the side firing woofers.
    I am aprehensive about getting the woofers in the tower speakers to work in concert with the Velodyne. I am sure I will be spending a lot of time tweaking to get it just right.
     

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