Do 1st Order XO's produce a smaller

In my mind I'm trying to come to terms with two possible conflicting desires:

1. The desire for transparency, accuracy, dynamics and a wide halographic soundstage presentation.

2. The desire for a much larger sweet spot to compensate for multiple listening positions. I want the advantage of on-axis detail, but I don't want this space to be limited by inches or a few feet.

The concept of time coherency makes perfect sense to me and seems to be a superior design philosophy in conjunction with the ability to control phase shift (smear). However, based on what I've read it appears most of the 1st order time coherent designs being created today have relatively narrow sweet spots. If you're on-axis these designs can be musical nirvana, but what if you're off-axis or move to another location in the room? Typically you tend to lose the benefit of this design.

Conversely one has the option of going the Ohm "Walsh" or Meridian route and get an incredibly wide/deep soundstage because of the 360 degree sound dispersion. I've heard you can move around within a room and the sound quality does not deteriorate significantly. In other words this type of speaker design fills up an entire room and sounds great where ever you are sitting or standing. However, are we giving up a critical level of accuracy with this design approach? With sound esstentially arriving at our ears at different times are we really getting an accurate representation of each instrument? Is the music being smeared in some way?

I guess like most audiophiles I want my cake and eat it too! I want transparency/accuracy/dynamics as well as a wide and deep soundstage that doesn't depend on a 12" on-axis listening/positioning limitation. Are there any designs that meet these qualifications?
I would suggest one of the many speakers out there that use direct/ reflecting principles, such as the already mentioned Walsh designs, but including Shahinians and others. Look at the single driver website, as well.
Not all phasecorrect speakers...or for that matter...speakers in general...are created equal...true...early designs did suffer...but like early Maggie versions that had little to no bass...these issues have been any rate... I am a GMA Europa owner...and these have the widest sweet spot I have fact...even in an adjoining room which opens into my main listening area...I am amazed at the level of involvement and separation of instruments...
Phasecorrect, I was hoping a GMA owner would chime in and comment on the sweet spot of their speakers. I've got my eye squarely fixed on the C-3's. FYI, Srajan Ebaen of 6Moons is suppose to be doing a review on the C-3's in the near future.

Thanks for your response.
I have the GMA C1.5i & the sweet spot is fairly wide when I am in the "official"/intended sweet-spot. Moving my head 6" left & right has very little effect (an effect for sure but practically not too different from the real sweet-spot). Standing up from my sweet-spot destroys all the fun in a blink of an eye! This is an issue w/ most dynamic driver front-firing speakers. The Ohm Walshes & Shahinians could be diff. in this dept, I have no personal experience.
When friends & family come over to listen I have to sit alongside them in the "un-hot" seat & it's much less fun there than in the hot seat. I get the direct effect of the speaker I'm sitting in front of & the imaging is way off. The soundstage has collapsed by now & all I hear is music. Very little depth. The music still sounds very good but the illusion is long gone. Maybe this is my room's limitations OR maybe this is the nature of a 1st order XO speaker?
Anyway, despite this, I ain't changing my speakers anytime soon!
Howdy bombaywalla... your post does confirm the only hesitancy I have regarding 1st or time coherent speakers.

Like I said I'm struggling with what is more important to me. Because my listening/HT room is open to a kitchen area I'm not sure if it's better for the 360 approach of the Walsh design or Gallo Ref. III's or a first order design like those of the C-3's. If only I had access to in home demos.

Go with a single driver Jordan JX-92s speaker from "First order" no crossover design and only driver so no driver blending or sweet spot problem.

Gotta wonder what's going on with Phasecorrect's statements.
Konus Audio Systems ( single driver speakers are supposed to be even better than the Carolina Audio version. Having said that, I've read enough reviews on single driver designs to suspect they just don't demonstrate the full spectrum of dynamics that a full three-way can provide.
My Europas also have a rather narrow sweet spot. With that said, once outside of the sweet-spot, there still is a sense of seperation and imaging, but it's not nearly as intense, for lack of a better word. Of course, I'm listening to them from about 6 feet away, so that might have something to do with it. I also have a rather oddly shaped room. I would still buy them again in a second, since I tend to only do critical listening from that sweet spot anyway.
Single driver systems are also not immune to is asking alot of a driver to carry the full frequency load...which is why many single driver systems are rolled off on the top and have no bass...and have severe "beaming" problems...however...they are improving...and have some benefits:high efficiency being one....
This begs the question, if you are outside the sweet spot which sounds better, a 4th order x-over or 1st. 4th order makes driver / room interaction negigible so I would think 1st would only be better in the sweet spot.
Cdc - I think you may be on to something. A few years ago when I was auditioning speakers I visited a B&W dealer and was amazed at how narrow the sweet spot was for virtually all their speakers except the most expensive Nautalus series. The dealer switched out CD players and altered the position of the speakers and still if I moved my head 10 inches in either direction I was off-axis. Call me crazy, but I just can't imagine anyone enjoying that type of experience at home.

If 360 degree dispersion designs can create a wide and deep soundstage, generate compelling dynamics and the transparency and realism that audiophiles crave then why aren't more people buying into this design theory. Gallo's Ref. III's and Ohm's Walsh series are both getting good press reviews, but I don't see a lot of posters on this board or others flocking to those designs. The Ohm Walsh series is very intriguing, but IMO they aren't the least bit aesthetically pleasing. The Gallo's look very cool, but can they really deliver?

Dynamic vs. Passive, Stats vs. Planars vs. Horns et. al. When are we going to get a speaker that fills a room with the type of sound that blows us away and doesn't cost the same as a Mercedes? Why buy a $8K pair of speakers that require one to sit at the exact spot to recieve the full measure of the design? It's all so confusing.
Dawgbyte, yeah first order systems generally have a small sweet spot where they are in absolute phase. My Europa's are no different. Having said that, at least they HAVE one. Second, fourth order designs don't. I'll take that small sweet spot over NO sweet spot anyday. Besides, even when two rooms removed from the Europa's, they still sound remarkably coherant. I asked Roy from GMA about this and he said since the speakers are time/phase aligned, sound that hits the wall and reflects into the room is more coherent than other order crossovers. There is no perfect speaker, but to these ears, which were recently tested to be better than textbook, 1st order is closer to the musical truth.
A very interesting thread here. Regarding the 360 degree dispersion speaker types....There is a gentlemen in Toronto Canada, that makes a modern version of the original Hegeman 1a. His name is Don Morrison and I believe the man now owns the patent rights to the original Hegeman design. The original model-1 was truly remarkable at recreating a holographic soundscape, in proper scale, akin to a live instrument or live voice in room.I was also a big fan of the original Ohm-F speaker of the 70's, mainly because of it's superb imaging and tremendous bass speed.Unfortunately,one needed some serious horsepower and current to make the damned things really sing...and most amps from that era with big power reserves were downright dreadful sounding devices. I would love to hear a mint pair of original Ohm f's mated to some of the terrific sounding high powered amps of today. The original Hegeman 1a was a single hand-made aluminum driver firing straight up in a box with a lens type piece on the top just above the tweeter. The speaker acted as a true point source signal launch, an incredible image that was truly 3 dimensional from anywhere in the room. His newest speaker...the 1.7 [I think?]is basically the same speaker design in a modern computer designed cabinet that is braced and somewhat larger than the original. Like the original model one.... quarter wave tuning tunnels are employed with the same machine spun aluminum cone. The tweeter is now a modern Seas [magnesium I think?]with a modified lens above it. From what I have heard... it can play to much higher SPL's and has true 30 hz bass extension.The original Hegeman-1 had great and tuneful bass considering it's small and flimsy cabinet. They are all hand made by Don himself. Most true point source type speakers all seem to posses that inate ability to disappear in the room regardless of whether it is a planar,electrostatic panel or a cone. Unfortunately...most planar type point sources[e-stats and ribbons] are rather limited in dispersion both horizontally and vertically, therefore.... become very much a sweet spot challenged speaker. That said... when in that right spot, they can make for a mesmerizing illusion to be sure. I think it is really terrific that many new speaker designers have recognized and embraced the magic of a true point reproducer for music and voice, Kudos to the horn loaded designers working with modern high tech cones and cabinet designs,especially given their high efficiency and amplification reqirements. Have you ever heard a classic Tannoy 15 inch [dual concentric] speaker in a good box, powered with top shelf modern electronics? It becomes very obvious why vintage Tannoys enjoy the largest cult following of any speaker type ever made. Hell...15 inch Tannoy Gold,Red,or Silver drivers alone, command more money than many established high end speakers of today! Do you think these people are just collectors of antiques or nostagia? Think again! When these drivers are properly tuned in good cabinets and with good crossovers... they possess that abilty to diasappear in the room, whereby they image in proper scale and tone from most of the room boundaries whether sitting,standing, or lying down on the couch.Remember the late great Gizmo?He was a man of true vision and very much committed to the truest reproduction of the recorded arts. Hopefully....we will see much more modern "point source" speaker designers in the near future. And always remember...the world would be a very, very sad place without music!
Dawgbyte, have you heard either the mbl or the Duevel speakers? both are omnidirectional designs. I have heard the mbls--remarkable speakers, with a huge sweet spot (not the whole room in my experience, but very very wide and deep), great dynamics and transparency. Super expensive too.

I have not yet heard the Duevels, but they are more reasonably priced and have received some very good reviews.
Calantus... I concurr with your assessment of the MBL's. They through a huge stage act to be sure,but another design that requires giant sized amplification to energize. Now those Duevels are really intriuging... exotic wood options...with a real world sensitivty and impedence load. Do you know where one might audition these in North America?
Ecclectique - regarding the Duevel's and Tannoy's. With respect to the Duevel's I've read some reviews on the Bella Luna and they sound very promising, with some inherent limitations. You can probably get some dealer info. from this site:

Another interesting speaker design concept worth noting is the Oskar Heil A.V.T. (Air Velocity Transformer). Oskar Heil Speakers has recently introduced a new model called the Kithara ($4,900). The A.V.T. uses a lightweight diaphragm, folded into a number of accordion-like pleats to which aluminium foil strips are bonded. The Diaphragm is mounted in an intense magnetic field and a music signal is applied to the aluminum strips. This causes the pleats to alternately expand and contract in a bellows-like manner in conformance with the music signal forcing air out of the pleats and sucking in on the other side, the air movement is 5 times bigger than the movement of the membrane, therefore also the velocity must be 5 times bigger. The benefit of this transducer design is better differentiate sounds.

Tannoys! I've worked in the multimedia industry for over 14 years and spent many hours in professional editing suites in NYC, Los Angeles and Atlanta, so you know I've heard a lot of Tannoy professional monitors. The Tannoy monitors I've heard are absolutely fantastic, practically an industry standard in the '90's. However, I didn't think their floorstanding speakers were able capture the same magic, especially when I listened to them next to Vandersteen 5's and Martin Logan's. I thought my Hales T-5's were far superior to any of the Tannoy's I listened to.

You're right this is a very interesting subject. Perhaps the ultimate speaker is a hybrid that includes an active sub and mid-range and a 360 degree tweeter design.
Someone mentioned 6moons reviewing the GMA's soon, but they already have a review of another 1st order design, the Gallo Reference III that is really quite a gushing review, even considering the normal gushy nature of speaker reviews. I guess it is time coherent too based on the driver placement but I could be wrong.
The CDT design sounds like it would somewhat address the narrow sweet spot issue. I plan to go listen to these speakers sometime this week, I'll let you know what I think.
Dawgbyte. I do remember the original ESS Amt-1 from the mid 70's. I actually owned a pair for a brief period [3 or 4 months] and traded them in for the Dalquist DQ-10. I would hazard to guess the modern versions would surely be a substantial improvement in order to compete with many of todays high end speakers. Regarding the Tannoys: My previous reference to them was based strictly on the earlier Alnico based 15 inch speakers[pre tulip waveguide versions] and not the studio monitors per say.I too; have worked with the pro series Tannoy studio monitors, in both the studio and live gigs... both indoor and outdoors: and to be candid here... they just do not compare in any which way whatsoever. Ever heard a Tannoy Westminsters in a large room? No offence here:as the Vandy 5 is indeed a very impressive speaker,but sorry.... the Vandy 5's were not even close in my room. Perhaps my studio is a little on the large size for them at 35ft x 27ft with 16.5ft ceilings.That said, I also much preferred the Proac response 4 to the Vandy 5 in the same room as well. The Vandy certainly had the better bass foundation, however the proac was closer at recreating the illusion of a live event in the studio. It was also preferred in a smaller adjascent room as well. In a typical listening room found in the average home, I believe there are many speaker choices. The room size and the rooms acoustics would surely dictate ones choice. Small speakers for small rooms and so on. Any veteran audiofile should be well aware of ones room volume and choose the appropriate speaker for his or her room. I have heard far to many systems whereby the speakers were far to large for the room and vis-versa. In my earlier thread I mentioned the Morrison speaker,It may be worth checking it out for those intrigued by omni directional point source speakers.His web page is should point out that I have no affiliation in any way with this company, however..... To be blunt and honest my ears, they are impressive music makers indeed!
Dawgbyte, the Adam Audio speakers use the Heil principle, not only for the tweeter but also for the midrange (on some models). Check them out:

True, the MBLs need big amps, and they also have an inherent weakness: Some kind of sharpness in the upper mids, which really stands out at higher volumes. I wonder whether a big tube amp might smooth it out...e.g a VTL Wotan.

Duevels are imported by 'High End Audio' in Connecticut:
I've heard the Duevels and have found them to have a very relaxed, coherent sound. The omnipolar effect if not a traditional-sounding presentation, but it was one that I got used to very quickly. It was both detailed and relaxed/non-fatiguing, if that makes sense. In general, these are the kind of speakers to which you gravitate after you get tired of all the dog-&-pony/hi-fi sounds out there. These are still on my (very) shortlist as I look for a long-term speaker solution.

One note: I listened to largely acoustic or jazz on these speakers, I didn't try to "rock out," so I can comment on how well they would perform on louder music.

Also, I highly recommend talking to Ted Lindblad, owner of High End Audio. He's an *extremely* nice guy and has a terrific listening space in which to hear the Duevels. Disclaimer: I have no relationship to Ted, but I did buy a Stealth interconnect cable from him, if that counts.