My minimonitor/subwoofer system

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,881
12
38
North Shore of Boston
Yes, Al. Congratulations. I enjoyed the sound the other night. Indeed, it was more open, effortless and the high frequencies were definitely more extended. Violin and voice sounded particularly excellent. The room had previously sounded a bit dead and dull and hand claps did not have the sharp piercing sound that they do in a better balanced room. Nice improvement overall, and the cost was right.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,178
0
36
Good to hear!

I think you're right about a speaker like that reproducing complicated orchestral pieces, more drivers + larger surface areas help. One thing you can do is high pass the speakers, this will help a lot. How to best do so is not straightforward though, it's possible an RC ouput stage could be modified in the electronics but a speaker level xo using a cap in series and a shunt inductor to form an eliptic high pass could work out really well, these would need to be large value parts though and won't be cheap. However, relieving those woofers of low bass will make for considerable improvements.

Another option might be speaker stands with 12-15" woofers built in... :) Then you can high pass the mains higher up and have a dedicated driver cover up to 200 Hz or so. This would transform your system into something that would do much better on large scale music while keeping the character basically the same.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,890
14
38
Greater Boston
Yes, Al. Congratulations. I enjoyed the sound the other night. Indeed, it was more open, effortless and the high frequencies were definitely more extended. Violin and voice sounded particularly excellent. The room had previously sounded a bit dead and dull and hand claps did not have the sharp piercing sound that they do in a better balanced room.
Thanks for coming over to confirm the improvement, Peter, glad you enjoyed the sound.

Nice improvement overall, and the cost was right.
LOL.
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,550
2
38

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,890
14
38
Greater Boston
Yes, and your cables, especially interconnects, also helped with the tonal balance. My Monster cables were too warm, the ZenWave Audio D4 interconnects seem neutral and very extended, as also judged from hearing them in Madfloyd's system. This system also reveals just how stunningly resolving your D4 cables are.

I think you're right about a speaker like that reproducing complicated orchestral pieces, more drivers + larger surface areas help. One thing you can do is high pass the speakers, this will help a lot. How to best do so is not straightforward though, it's possible an RC ouput stage could be modified in the electronics but a speaker level xo using a cap in series and a shunt inductor to form an eliptic high pass could work out really well, these would need to be large value parts though and won't be cheap. However, relieving those woofers of low bass will make for considerable improvements.
That is a possibility, but I am always worried about loss of dynamics from the crossover. With a high-power amp this will be less of a problem, but do I want to really try it? Not sure. I love that my REL subwoofer runs in parallel with the main speakers, without crossover from them.

Another option might be speaker stands with 12-15" woofers built in... :) Then you can high pass the mains higher up and have a dedicated driver cover up to 200 Hz or so. This would transform your system into something that would do much better on large scale music while keeping the character basically the same.
But also this needs to be done extremely well. For my previous speakers, the Ensemble Reference monitors, there was once an offering just like that, called the Ensemble Profundo. Yet at the dealership where they were in love with the Ensemble monitors they were distinctly underwhelmed by the result. Also here they were complaining about loss of liveliness by the crossover. In addition, speaker stands with a woofer are rather likely to affect the soundstaging, endangering the 'disappearing act' that monitors are so good at -- not that larger speakers cannot completely disappear from the soundstage, it is just more difficult for them to do so.

Every speaker design is a compromise (just like every speaker placement in a room!). I like the monitor/sub compromise best, but again this is a personal preference. I can easily see the merits of other approaches, as I have indicated on the previous thread page. These will be best for other tastes. The beauty of this hobby is that there are so many approaches to great sound, something for each of all our individual tastes. And tastes vary also among those who have the same reference, unamplified live music. After all, we all experience the same thing differently, through the prism of our individual personalities.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,178
0
36
Yes, and your cables, especially interconnects, also helped with the tonal balance. My Monster cables were too warm, the ZenWave Audio D4 interconnects seem neutral and very extended, as also judged from hearing them in Madfloyd's system. This system also reveals just how stunningly resolving your D4 cables are.



That is a possibility, but I am always worried about loss of dynamics from the crossover. With a high-power amp this will be less of a problem, but do I want to really try it? Not sure. I love that my REL subwoofer runs in parallel with the main speakers, without crossover from them.



But also this needs to be done extremely well. For my previous speakers, the Ensemble Reference monitors, there was once an offering just like that, called the Ensemble Profundo. Yet at the dealership where they were in love with the Ensemble monitors they were distinctly underwhelmed by the result. Also here they were complaining about loss of liveliness by the crossover. In addition, speaker stands with a woofer are rather likely to affect the soundstaging, endangering the 'disappearing act' that monitors are so good at -- not that larger speakers cannot completely disappear from the soundstage, it is just more difficult for them to do so.

Every speaker design is a compromise (just like every speaker placement in a room!). I like the monitor/sub compromise best, but again this is a personal preference. I can easily see the merits of other approaches, as I have indicated on the previous thread page. These will be best for other tastes. The beauty of this hobby is that there are so many approaches to great sound, something for each of all our individual tastes. And tastes vary also among those who have the same reference, unamplified live music. After all, we all experience the same thing differently, through the prism of our individual personalities.
I've tried a lot of things with my single drivers over the years, and I agree with you that it's not a given these things will be worth it. It will not make your speakers able to do large scale music like big multi-way speakers, but it can be a large improvement, and overall SPL capabilities will be much higher too. I do think that crossovers can be close to transparent, it just costs a lot for components. High passing your monitors is probably the surest way to get a nice improvement in large scale music, adding woofers is a major redesign in comparison. But the caps you'd really want would cost around $500... not cheap but you might be happy with the results.

My speakers are actually very similar to yours, I just have a woofer and a horn mid/tweet. I use Clarity Cap ESA 250V 50 uF + Jupiter Copper Foil 4.7 uF for the mid xo, I don't think they make much difference vs running the midrange driver w/o xo. You'd need about ~300 uF to get the xo point low enough for a sub.

edit: you could also give it a try with bipolar electrolytic caps for little $ just to get a feel for the effect it will have although it will definitely degrade sound quality. Also, I have my caps outboard so they could be easily bypassed.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,890
14
38
Greater Boston
I've tried a lot of things with my single drivers over the years, and I agree with you that it's not a given these things will be worth it. It will not make your speakers able to do large scale music like big multi-way speakers, but it can be a large improvement, and overall SPL capabilities will be much higher too. I do think that crossovers can be close to transparent, it just costs a lot for components. High passing your monitors is probably the surest way to get a nice improvement in large scale music, adding woofers is a major redesign in comparison. But the caps you'd really want would cost around $500... not cheap but you might be happy with the results.

My speakers are actually very similar to yours, I just have a woofer and a horn mid/tweet. I use Clarity Cap ESA 250V 50 uF + Jupiter Copper Foil 4.7 uF for the mid xo, I don't think they make much difference vs running the midrange driver w/o xo. You'd need about ~300 uF to get the xo point low enough for a sub.

edit: you could also give it a try with bipolar electrolytic caps for little $ just to get a feel for the effect it will have although it will definitely degrade sound quality. Also, I have my caps outboard so they could be easily bypassed.
Thanks, Dave, for the detailed information. Yes, this might help, while it may not be completely without drawbacks. Yet I would like to put things in perspective. Ian and I are comparing the orchestral performance of my system with his system featuring Magico M Project speakers, which is an impossibly high standard. I think my monitor/sub system performs quite well on orchestra, with little to be embarrassed compared to 'normal' multi-way floorstanders, especially with the high-power Octave tube amp that I am currently auditioning in my system (more on that later). The top-of-line Reference 3A Reflector monitors will be even better due to lack of cabinet resonances and ringing (it's not just about driver break-up), resonances that are already quite low with my speakers compared to most floorstanders. My monitors also throw a rather large soundstage; those who have heard my system usually comment on the 'big sound'.

As for peak SPL levels, those may be more of an issue, compared to high-quality floorstanders. Yet I sit rather close to the speakers and rarely listen to orchestral music at more than 95 dBA (+- 100 dB) peak levels since I don't want to slowly kill my ears upon routine daily listening, and these levels are not a problem for the speakers. I follow NIOSH guidelines for sound exposure, and I would urge every fellow audiophile to do so, if they want to keep enjoying their hobby for a long time. If your speakers can easily play at 110-120 dB levels this does not mean you should listen at those levels.
 
Last edited:

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,178
0
36
With good components the issue is mainly price... in some situations sound quality will be better, other times it won't matter much. Where it will improve things the most is complex music, bass-heavy music, and pretty much anytime you're playing at higher SPLs. With most music at normal volume levels you'll probably appreciate a bit more clarity, but it's the aforementioned situations where it would be a larger improvement. IMO, the issue it solves is mostly intermodulation distortion, or the effect that playing low bass, which requires higher excursion, has on the rest of the range. So, with simple music at low volumes it won't make much of a difference. You can also keep something like this external so it can be bypassed if you want to.

Anyways, most who try this keep it... it does reduce overall level of compromise with little trade-off except for your wallet! ;)

I agree about keeping your hearing for the duration! I do think that the type of sound matters too, with low distortion and a continuous waveform you can put up with higher SPLs but with some kinds of noise it seems to be much worse... like a chainsaw or music with a lot of audible distortion, or anything with a very sharp transient.... This kind of noise I think has a lot more potential for damage. My system can hit over 120 dB peaks but it rarely does! Sometimes it's fun to crank it up for short durations though. :)
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,435
1
38
Metro DC
If David Wilson taught us anything it is that optimum placement for the woofer and tweeter are rarely, if ever the same. Putting them both in the same box is a compromise(my statement not Dave Wilson).
 

About us

  • Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing