Big Sound = Big Speakers = Big Problems?

Do these three necessarily go together? I currently have the Dynaudio Confidence 3 speakers, and my only consistent sense of shortcoming is that, on some pieces, the sound is constrained in size. Given that I consistently read in reviews of monitors the description (inevitability) of a sense of scale, I have to assume that to get appropriate "size" of sound, I'd need to use bigger speakers.

Unfortunately, I have also read in more than one place that big speakers create big problems. My room is 14x18x8, so medium sized. Paired with a Velodyne DD-15, I get nice full-range sound, and on pieces that are over-hot in the bass, I can just turn off the Velodyne for a while.

So, is it reasonable to expect that a physically bigger speaker would likely yield a bigger sound.

And, is it likely that a bigger speaker will inevitably lead to bigger problems getting good sound in a room of my size.

In my experience (and only that), big speakers don't necessarily mean big sound. Some years ago I went from large Magnepan MG 3s to small ProAc Response 2s. I thought the ProAcs sounded better and certainly no "smaller." Last September I went from Gallo Nucleus Ultimates (huge 4-ball speakers in a five-foot-high "cage") to diminutive Gallo Reference 3s. I swear the sound is substantially "bigger," but found that many friends believed their eyes instead of their ears. BTW, my room is approx. 18 x 40'. Good luck, Dave
Well, if you look at your rooms dimensions you have a room mode at 282.50hz. Room modes are caused by the dimensions of ones room.

The reason I mention the 282.50 freq. mode is because that one is common to all three dimensions, so is stacked one upon another. There are many other room modes of course but none are stacked (in your room) and are evenly spaced out and fairly close together so as not to cause major problems.

If we look at a 10'x10'x10' rooms modes (cube) we would find many stacked modes which are common to all three dimensions:


and on and on, You can see why this room could cause problems and why people say the worst room would be a "cube room".

To answer your questions: It's not likely that large speakers have an advantage over smaller speakers plus subs.

It's more likely that any one person would only find a difference between the two because of poor speaker/sub integration caused by x-over settings and or placement issues.

The Velodyne DD-15 is a very good sub...are you having integration problems?

" I get nice full-range sound, and on pieces that are over-hot in the bass, I can just turn off the Velodyne for a while."

This statement does suggest a setup problem, you have the subs level set to high, or a placement issue, or both.

I would like to know what wires, amp/pre amp you are using. In addition, how far from the walls is your speaker?
Wow - thanks for the very insightful replies.

My system is a Denon 2900 player as a transport into a Lexicon MC-12 pre/pro, into a Krell FPB-200c for L/R (I listen to all my music in 2-channel), into Dynaudio Confidence 3's, with a Velodyne DD-15 sub. Speaker wire is heavy-guage copper, no brand.

Room is 14x19x8. Speakers are about three feet from side walls, 4 feet from rear walls.

The sub is in the front of the room, behind the speakers. The Velodyne comes with on-board equalization and a microphone to calibrate with - I am able to get a smoother response over 20-200Hz with the equalization, tho not close to perfectly smooth. I moved the sub around the front of the room and got basically the same response curve.

Regarding integration between sub and mains, and the occassional "over-hot" song. On most music (I listen to rock, jazz and blues, primarily), the integration sounds really good - the bottom end is there much more authoritatively than before the DD-15, and it is really well delineated bass - you can differentiate the notes being played, and it really sounds like an instrument rather than just low freq. energy. Much, much better than an older, cheaper Velodyne I used to have in the system. Thrilling, actually. However, occassionally a song gets played where bass is sort of overwhelming - usually on something like a modern R&B album. Even at moderate levels, the house seems to suddenly be shaking, and the bass dominates the music. I have attributed it to recording engineers who want this type of music to sound impressive on less-than-impressive systems. It could be a set-up problem too, I suppose.

Thanks again for the help.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "big sound" so I'm going to assume you mean a dimensionally large soundstage.

I agree with Sogood, larger speakers aren't necessarily going to help you at all, except that some panel speakers and line stages do present a taller image than the point source dynamics (and Quads).

What I have observed is that some dynamics (including my speakers which are based on Dynaudio drivers) like a fair amount of power to open up. Run at quiet to medium volumes the image is rather compressed, but at higher volumes they are very expansive and fortunately undistored because this is my preferred way of listening to them. Some other dynamics that I have listened to seem to open up at much lower volumes (but there are other tradeoff's) as do horns and some electrostats (including my Quads which you can never play loud!)

In my view it is more about the speakers design than size and how well you can accomodate them in your room. The acoustic problems that your room presents in the bass will be pretty much the same for most full range speakers.

In my room which is not much larger than yours, but with taller ceilings, I have noted one exception - full range panel speakers and dynamic's with upper bass/midrange woofers 3&1/2 to 4 (or higher feet off the floor seem to excite room resonance at 160 to 200 hz This hump doesn't exist at all with my Quads or my main dynamics in which the bass is crossed over at 400hz, so I suspect that the heighth of the driver producing sounds in this zone are exciting those frequencies. Interestingly with panels it was 16db, with the dynamics its 5db. With the Quads and Dyna's it was 0 dbs.

So in my view bigger speakers don't necessarily produce bigger sounds, nor do they necessarily produce bigger problems. The issue is speaker design and room/system integration.
There is no subsitute for large radiating surfaces :)
You said you use “no name” copper wires for your speakers. I found that when I went from my ten year + Monster cable speaker wire to the Nordost stuff the different was night and day. By that, I mean the sound was so huge and wide that I had to toe in my speakers at first because I was not use to such an open wide soundstage. Just something else to look into.
I'm probably not sure exactly what I mean by "big" sound either - it's probably a combination of a few things, including soundstage size. But also the "size" of the instruments being played - does a piano sound like a full-sized piano being played, or a miniature-sized piano, for example.

My guess and my assumption is that the #1 thing that affects most of this is the recording itself, but it seems like physics probably plays at least a part in recreating the proper presentation. Room physics certainly do, as well as proper setup. I know that many recordings are severely limited from the start, but it also wouldn't surprise me if, to recreate the sound of an electric guitar, for instance, in a non-miniaturized size, you need a bigger, physical speaker.

I'd be glad if it's not the case, or if I can close the gap in other ways, as I really like the Dyn's for the sound quality vs. physical imposition - they fit very nicely in the room, and as I say, in most ways keep me completely satisfied.
Sure, your correct...many times it is the recording. A recording mixed with even the best intention towards sound quality may not sound very good when played back for several reasons:

A big one as far as bass goes might be and often is..the person doing the mix for any number of reasons does not understand or has no control over the acustics of the room it's self.

He will boost or cut those freq's as he hears them at his location...of course if his location is at a null point, he will boost the bass to compensate.

When played back at home (on your audiophile system and even in your audiophile tuned room), the bass would be to strong.

One reason audiophile records and cd's sound so good is because they were controled at every step by audiophiles...

Those "other" recordings that you mentioned above (the ones with all the life bled from them) so they sound loud on the radio are another story..what a waist in the hunt for $$$.

As far as large full-range speakers sounding fuller...this is often true. The main reason is simply the fact that they often contain more drivers...push more air.

My Apogee Duetta Signatures and VMPS Supertowers are large full-range.

My Apogee Centaur Minors and VMPS 626's are not full-range but I do have a VMPS sub that I have used with both at times.

While the sub does make them does nothing for the upper freq. heft that the much larger speakers can produce.

You can get a heck of a lot of horsepower out of a six cylinder...but it will never sound like big-block V-8.