No bookshelf speaker is flat to 50 Hz, no matter what their specs say. On the other hand, they can be helped by room interactions, so it's really hard to say what's an acceptable rolloff point--and that leaves aside the most important question: What's acceptable to YOU?
I recommend that you try to borrow a pair of monitors and try them out in your room, preferably for a week or two, to let your ears get used to the new sound. That's the only way to know whether such a speaker will work for you in your room.
It's really a question only you can answer. I will say your old speakers are not +-3db at 34hz, they are -3db. Having said that, there is no doubt you will sacrifice some bass going to a small speaker. One thing you will discover though, after adjusting, is that the bass you do get is tighter, faster, truer to the music. This is true of any good speaker, so you will get quality over quantity.
How big is your room? If you have the best speakers in the world in a walk-in closet, they won't give you deep bass. The room is not big enough for large wavlengths. A thirty hertz tone is huge....physically. High frequencies are tiny waves, which is why they can't get around cabinets or obstructions. In short, if you are in a small apartment it won't matter as much.
Finally, you can always add a sub for metal or movies. It won't be as accurate, but it will satisfy.
There are people who are bass junkies that buy speakers that only go down to 50Hz because too many speakers do not deliver good realistic bass. You would not be alone if you made this choice. With most speakers there is a lot of give and take. Some choose a speaker with great midrange at the cost of deepest bass. It takes a lot of effort and money to design and build a speaker that has good pure midrange and deep bass. It is the exception that does both well.
Unless you want to spend a serious amount of money to get everything, a less expensive speaker that does a good job with the highs and midrange should be a serious consideration.
The issue is: what do you really hope to accomplish? Do you want full range done well? That will be expensive. Can you settle for less bass, if the rest of the frequencies are done well? If so, this can save a fair amount of money and still give good sound quality.
The two speakers I am considering are:
A used pair of Totem Model 1 Sigs and
a new pair PMC DB1+.
Both are rated to 50 Hz. The both do a very sweet job on the mids and highs.
I personally think it is more important to have the mids and highs done well rather than having the deepest bass. However I have become accustom to the bass from my Studio 40's and do not want to get a speaker that leaves me constantly wanting.
There are a few other speaker that I can afford that go a little lower, such as the Totem Rainmaker and PMC TB2+. But in both cases the other two speaker will do a better job with the mids.
Thus the dilemma.
50Hz low end and great mids
40 hz low end a little worse mids.
Hmmm. What to do,
My room is 10 x 12 currently. However once I have a child (no plans yet but 3-5 years is my guess) I will move into the main room which is 14x21 with 9 ft cellings and is very open to the entrance way and dining room.
I agree with nrchy's statement: "There are people who are bass junkies that buy speakers that only go down to 50Hz because too many speakers do not deliver good realistic bass."
But I would edit his statement to say: "There are people who are bass junkies that buy amplifiers, cables, that will not allow full-range speakers to perform optimally at the lower octaves and therefore, simply cannot deliver realistic bass."
In other words, consider giving the same amount of attention to the amplifier and cables as you might at the speakers, and that may resolve most potential concerns.
If your current speakers are Paradigm Reference Studio 40s, they aren't anywhere near flat to 50 Hz. Tom Nousaine measured them for Sound & Vision several months back, and if my recollection is accurate, found that they started rolling off somewhere around 70 or 80 Hz.
Given that they provide you with, in your words, LOTS of bass, I don't think you have to worry about other bookshelf models falling short.
(Also, you shouldn't take this as a slam at Paradigm. All speaker manufacturers exaggerate bass performance. And the 40 is an excellent bookshelf speaker.)
Just noticed your post about room sizes. Well, that explains why a bookshelf speaker is giving you lots of bass! Once you move into the larger room, you won't get nearly as much, with that or any other bookshelf speaker.
I have a very elaborate subwoofer system that measures flat to 20 Hz...but...my Magneplanar MG1.6 speakers, when run full range, roll off at 40+ Hz, however they do seem to have very satisfactory bass for about 95 percent of the music. I believe the reason why Maggies limited LF extension sounds OK is because the response is very smooth: uniform without peaks. (They are planar speakers, so there is no enclosure resonance to cope with). Smoothness of LF response is a spec that is hard to define, and usually not mentioned. My advice is to listen to some speakers, without looking at their claimed LF response.
It depends on the speaker, the amplifier, the cables, the room and the stands. I auditioned a set of Linn Katan speakers which the manufacturer insists has a frequency range of 75hz to 20khz +-3db. I heard bass that was WAY BELOW 75 hz in a small room. These speakers has enough bass for me, and I like bass - at least down to the lowest note of a bass guitar or string bass. The B&W Nautilus 805 is rated from 56hz and does not seem to produce any usable bass below that value. This speaker does not have enough bass for me without a subwoofer. Very good, rigid and heavy stands can make a difference in the quality of the bass produced by "bookshelf" speakers.
Pick a few songs with bass parts that you like to listen to and try to audition the speakers you are considering. If you can, arrange for an audition in your home with the speakers you think will work best. If you are buying used on Audiogon, try what you think would be best and affordable form other's comments and your own experience. If they don't work, you can probably sell them for near the price that you bought them for and try a different pair.
I agree with Key metric on the stands. Will make (if they are quality stands) a significant difference in bass quality. Book shelves are no place for speakers. I don't care what they call 'em.
One rule I try to keep for upgrades is to not lose something to gain something else.
The rate of drop is just as important as the cutoff point. Ported speakers usually drop off much faster than sealed speakers. A ported speaker rated -3dB at 50 Hz would be down -12dB at 37 Hz, but a sealed speaker rated for 50 Hz would only be down 9 dB at 37 Hz.
If you put speakers near a wall or (especially) corners, you will get more bass, prob'ly at the expense of other things like imaging and soundstage.
I disagree with Hammy's assertion that big waves can't fit in a small room. I've heard this often. If this were true, car stereos would not be able to play below about 120 Hz. If you've ever sat in an IASCA car, you know car stereos can reach subterranean levels of bass. You can get bad reinforcements and cancellations that will make it difficult to get good even bass. Car folks use various forms of equalization to overcome this (some to very good results), but this is rare in homje stuff. If you're not sure of your room acoustics, it may be better to stay away from very deep bass, but with enough patience, money or luck, it can be done.
for a small room like yours, the model 1's will sound very nice for your musical taste except for 110db headbanging metal. i used to own a pair in my audio room that is only a couple of feet bigger than yours. you can always get a musical sub to compliment the model 1's. Rel and totem make excellent subs that would work. i don't agree with some of the threads above about bookshelf speakers are intended to be used only in smaller rooms. i upgraded from the model 1's to the totem mani 2's. these are a full range bookshelf speaker that sounds great in a small room as well as in a large room (i have a pair in my audio room (12 x 14) and another pair in my family room (16 x 20). the mani 2's are keepers no matter what size of room I will have, i just might have to compliment them with larger amplifiers for a larger room.
Nickway: I ignore numbers Key Metric makes a lot of sense. The system synergy that gives you the most pleasure is the one you should buy. Bookshelves are never going to play the lowest most octaves and your room really isn't large enough to sustain the deepest bass. The question is how deep do you want your bass to be. I have had speakers wich are much bigger that supposedly cut off at 50Hz it never troubled me because I wasn't playing pipe organs or earthquakes. Most of the musical bass I look for is easily found above 50Hz plenty of slam just not a lot shudder and vibration boominess. I now have even larger speakers that claim 30Hz which occasionally sound too loose for me. I didn't appreciate the sonics when the really low tones are played. Truly deep bass is by its very nature less tight sounding and not always a good thing musically especially after years of enjoying slightly higher cut offs. I had to switch amps to avoid that wretched sub woofer vibration which can mask the vast majority of the music. What most average listeners likely call bass is way above 50Hz. All I can say is listen to an isolated 100 Hz subwoofer to get an idea of the tones that you think your going to miss. If you prefer that as a major element in your music then you need to consider it. Therefore don't worry about it unless you really love a lot of sound below 100Hz then you can always get a sub to augment that part of the "music".
I want to correct a misimpression that Rbstehno seems to have taken away from my (and perhaps other) posts: Bookshelf speakers can be quite apppropriate for larger rooms. But no speaker will give you as much bass in a large room as in a small one. So a speaker that gives you adequate bass in a small room might not satisfy in a larger one.
Mechans makes a good point about how low "low bass" is. Most pop music (even heavy metal) has little or nothing in the bottom octave, below 40 Hz. A standard electric bass only goes down to 42 Hz. (Acoustics, depending on size, may reach as low as 32 Hz, I believe.)
A bookshelf speaker that starts rolling off at 80 Hz is still going to output substantial energy an octave lower than that. With room reinforcement, you aren't going to miss much, especially in a small space. Plus, your brain hears the second harmonics, an octave up, and tends to fill in the missing information anyway.
Thanks for all of your guys responses.
I do agree with what Key_metric and Mechans said. I would rather have good synergy and have beuatiful mids and good fast tight bass than the deepest flabby bass.
As far as stands go. I have a pair or Premier stands which are spiked and filled with dry compacted corse sand, when I give them the knuckle test all I get is a dull thud. My speaker cables are Audioquest Hyperlitz Midnights (and older model but they were about $400 USD in their time).
What would you guys say regarding my above post about the two sets of speakers I am considering?
50Hz low end and great mids
40 hz low end a little worse mids?
I should also add that this system also is used as a HT about 10% of the time. I sacrifice all in favor of the music. IE. Only my audio gear is plugged into my line conditioner. TV/VCR/DVD are feed from a computer APC backup to avoid adding noise into the unit. I really am all about the music.
Also I should add the generally I listen between 80-90dB and 90-100dB for classical.
I just try to keep it subjectively right. ie. If someone is singing I would like it be be the same level as they were actually in front of me and the same goes for instruments.
Only during classical music peaks would I ever dare to break 100dB, and I would do this once in a blue moon.
I should also add that this has all been mesured in C wieghting with favors the high frenquencies more.
I would buy the one with better midrange every time, especially for classical.
I should add the by far the music I listen to most is Rock. Whether it be hard or soft or acoustic.
I must chime in as someone who has always owned monitors...even in "larger" rooms(such as my current 20 x 16 room)...at any rate...the majority of listeners often have a speaker that is WAY bigger than needed in real room applications....part of this is due to dealers who often push larger speakers,etc...bottom line...even in my room...with my speakers well away from walls...I have a surprising amount of bass(especially on a well recorded cd with bass prominent material)...at my speakers are rated at 50hz...another consideration besides specs is the internal volume of your speaker...larger monitors often "behave" like they have much more bass than one would think...and if pushed...more than smaller floorstanders in some regards...
i'll chime in as a heavy metal listener. You can add a good quality sub to most any speaker lacking in the ability to move a lot of air (such as a planar) and for metal and HT, you'd hardly notice the difference compared to an expensive-to-execute floorstander. On acoustic music (classical, jazz, folk/ethnic) yeah, you'd notice the slight disparity between mid-bass and deep-bass. but with most metal and HT, it's close enough (at least for me). That allows you to budget for a better speaker in the midrange.
but like all things, you just have to weight your sonic tradeoffs.
also don't over look reports where people have upgrades to better sources, preamps, and amps only to find that they no longer NEED a sub, as they have rediscovered more than enough quality bass from the current speakers to satisfy their needs. Before you decide that you need full range to 20Hz, listen to some really well done speakers that extend useful output to 40 or even 50Hz. You may be surprised. Then again, you may miss that output. Depends on your priorities.
For rock and for a lot of listeners it depends on how much kick drum (or should I say cow bell?) you get. you just need to aim for a satisfing amount. Not enough, and you'll be left wanting. If even enough, you won't be wanting more and will enjoy the midrange purity that you did not have to sacrifice (hopefully) to get there.
Biro speakers, the best for the $
honest1 - you can't change the laws of physics. It is true. And car stereos can't reproduce subteranean bass unless the windows are open. You can't fit a 32 foot sine wave in a fifteen foot room.
Bomarc, i don't have a misimpression about your thread or any others. you made a comment that states no bookshelf speaker is flat to 50hz. i disagree with you unless you can tell me that you have listened to all the bookshelf speakers out there. as for bookshelf speakers, i have seen subwoofers smaller than the size of my mani 2's that are claimed to go down into the high 20's hz range so i don't think size has much to do with it. i do agree with you that a larger speaker will have an easier time to play loud and deep in a larger room. imo, in a typical room sized 20 x 12 or smaller, a good bookshelf speaker could sound wonderful with a full range sound. the caveats are: larger bookshelf speakers (bigger than the nht superzeros or super ones), powerfull amplifier(s), and speaker positioning. i use totem mani 2's in my audio room that is 14 x 12 and i have another pair in my home theater room that is 18 x 40 (back open to eating space and kitchen) and the mani's sound full range in both rooms. i do need bigger amps in the home theater room to get the same level of sound, but the bass and fullness is still there.
the best thing to do is try out the speakers you like in the room you will be using them in to see how they sound to you. if a bookshelf works, great. if not, there are some great floor standing speakers out there.
Tiny speaker can indeed reproduce very low frequencies: even 20 Hz. But the sound volume will be so low that you can't hear it unless you put your ear right up to the speaker. Hey...that's earphones.
Bookshelf speakers are for small rooms, and low volume, and in this situation can be quite satisfactory.
Rbstehno: I agree that the best (and probably only) way to know whether any speaker will give you satisfying bass is to try it out at home. And my post offered some explanation for why a smaller speaker might nevertheless give you decent bass in at least a mid-size room.
But I disagree on two points. First, size does matter. A lot. That's basic physics. Second, many manufacturers CLAIM their bookshelf models are flat to below 50 Hz. But I have never, ever seen an independent test that confirmed those meaurements. Not once. Again, physics intervenes. You cannot get a lot of bass energy out of a small box. Even if the marketing department says you can.