Full range is acheivable only in combination of both amplification and speaker.
Theoretically even small radio speaker can go to 40Hz but what you should know is levels i.e. a relative amplitude in dB how loud can you hear it.
By definition, full-range does guarantee you bass. However, not all full-range speakers will do it the same or even well.
IMO, Full range should be around 20Hz to 20+ kHz. And therefore, should guarantee bass. Quality of bass is another story.
There is much musical info at the 22Hz to 40Hz range almost regardless of music preference. And yes the amp plays as big a part as the woofer itself. If either the amp or the woofer come up short, ill-defined bass is the result.
Perhaps Vandersteen suggests full range speakers in order to allow their subwoofer to focus on the lowest bass regions leaving the speakers to concentrate on the bass and mid-bass regions.
Full range should always give full range however good or bad it does that.
However, without getting into specifics, in order to obtain the best of full range, one must seek out the best quality recordings, speakers, cables, front-end source, preamp, amp, room acoustics, and proper handling of air-borne vibrations by the equipment (cones, spikes, rubber footers, etc.) and rack/stands.
Not to mention the synergy of all the above.
And price usually has little to with achieving that level of quality. Although sometimes it helps expedite the process or quest.
Equipment cannot gaurantee sub-50Hz bass. The key determinate of high quality deep bass is the interaction between your room and your speakers. Speaker/listener positioning is critical as well as appropriate equipment isolation from feedback. Somewhat paradoxically, subwoofers work best with those speakers that need them least. I take the position that subwoofers shouldn't be used to provide bass, but are only appropriate for deep bass (sub 40Hz) augmentation. REL subwoofers are a good embodiment of this line of thought.
As far as amps go, some amps have slightly different deep bass qualities, but these differences are not comparable to the influence of room acoustics.
Where to begin? First of all, "full range" means nothing. It's advertising copy. Buyer beware. (All right, when a-philes use the term, they DO mean something close to 20-20kHz. But any manufacturer can call any speaker in its line "full range.")
Marakanetz is right that many speakers can indeed produce some very low bass output. What matters is whether it's flat, vis-a-vis the midrange. And Onhwy61 is right about speaker-room interaction.
Pairing what we might call a "reasonably full range" speaker with a subwoofer can be advantageous, since you have more flexibility on the crossover.
As for amps, they cannot put back what a speaker takes away. (If they do, I'd suggest finding another amp.) Going in the other direction, if a tube amp is rolling off the low end, adding a sub and cranking it up (or tweaking an equalizer, which amounts to the same thing) will give you more bass, but not generally the kind of more you want.
If you like the sound of a tube amp that rolls off the bass, then trying to put back the bass makes no sense. If you want full-range sound, you need both a full-range amp (which includes many tube amps and most SS amps) and a full-range speaker system--which means either a large speaker with a large driver (or combination of drivers) or a sub.
The Vandersteen subwoofers (2Wq and V2W) are meant to be used with full-range speakers due to the contour (slope) of the crossover. The Vandy subs cross over at 80Hz, using a more gradual slope (I can't remember if it's a first order or second order filter, but I think the latter). Hence, there needs to a full octave overlap, covering the 40-80Hz range, for the Vandy subs to blend seamlessly with the main speakers.
Vandersteen's 2Wq is a 6db slope. It operates below resonance and requires a main speaker that will perform down to about 40Hz for seemless crossover. Also, one of the benefits of the Vandersteen subs is the insertion of the 6db crossover filter in the main amp signal path. By reducing the load on the main speakers, you get better dynamics, bettter transient response, transparency and definition from them. It is an interesting system to say the least and one that I use and believe in.
Richard Hardesty stated that you cannot place a full range speaker in any one position that will give best bass performance and best performance through the mids and highs. Something I have learned from experience. He also agrees with the Vandersteen system for best performance.
With all that said, it should be obvious that just because a speaker is full range, it doesn't mean it will give you accurate sound(something that seems to have gone out the door in recent times-but that's for another day)and bass response. A speakers enviroment has more to do with the sound than any other component. Bad room, bad sound.
It does mean the speaker will respond to an input signal at its lower frequency limits. It doesn't promise it might not consist primarily of harmonics and distortion. You don't see many speaker manufacturers talking about distortion in their speaker. Most speakers are well over 10% distortion (actually pretty good systems)at even low drive levels in the bass. Some are a lot higher than that.
As you can see, the answer to your question is a big---depends!
It depends on a number of factors.Room interaction is very important.You can get great Bass from 2-ways that amazes me. Amps also need to be matched with the speakers to get the peformance out of them.
Others here have brought up some very good points.
I went to the tube show in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and these amp-fanatics did make one interesting point. Speakers are terribly inefficient. they even jokes that you can use a speaker as a microphone and that what you hear is an example of the ineffieiency. Of course, a good microphone and a good speaker are not designed to be interchangable, so the point was mute(not to be funny with my choice of words...).
Still, it can be amazing what a differance the source makes as i have a high-end Cd player and an excellant tube amp and, such being the case, I have done away with the pre as i don't need enhanced tone and bass controls anymore. For me, this was quite a shock.
I have full range speakers. Monitor Audio Studio 60's.
They are rated 26Hz to 20Khz. I auditioned them at a Hifi store with a McIntosh MC2102 Tube amp and the combo sounded great and had pretty good bass.
I took them home and connected them to my Proceed AVP2+6
pre-amp and Anthem MCA-50 5 channel amp. The front end
was a Yamaha s2300 Universal Player.
This set-up sounded pretty darn good and had pretty good bass. The McIntosh sounded a bit better, but only fractionally.
Next, I upgraded to Krell FPB 350 MCX monoblocks for my
front two speakers, the Studio 60's. The bass response
now was so big, I was able to turn my sub-woofer completely
off. The Krells produced deep, tight bass, and suddenly
my speakers could rattle the room like my sub-woofer used
to. Ultimately, in my system, it was too much of a good
thing, so I switched to Levinson 436's. In my system,
the Levinson's bass response was "just right." Still
deep and tight, can still rattle the windows at times
when the music calls for it, but -- for want of a better
description -- the Levinsons disappear and don't call
attention to themselves as much.
Yet, I felt the Levinsons were just a tad more laid back than I wanted. I missed a little bit of what the Krells
were giving me, but I didn't want the full Krell treatment.
I have ordered the Meitner Dac6, but I bought my brother
a Sony SCD XA777ES SACD player, used, here on Audiogon so
I threw it into my rack to make sure it worked properly.
The difference between it and my Yamaha Universal Player
is astounding. Everything, from top to bottom -- for want
of a better expression -- snapped into place. Now, the
speakers and the amps are doing the disappearing act and
the bass response is more accurate and satisfying than ever.
Lesson learned? First, your speakers have to have the
capability. Second, you need proper amplification.
Third, your front end also makes a big difference.
Fourth -- I am still using 12 AWG Copper Speaker wire
and $15 interconnects and I have amazing sound staging,
excellent detail and focus, and extremely satisfying
high and low end extension. My advice: Don't be another guy with speakers rated only down to the 40's, trying to produce bass with expensive cables. Or, another guy
with full range speakers, but without proper amplification, trying to produce bass with expensive cables.
Speakers will never reproduce what does not come to them. Everything up the line from the speakers is more important, but the speakers are still very important.
If you have a full range speaker and are not getting good bass something is wrong with the speaker placement. That is assuming you have good electronics capable of plumbing the sonic depths. Check out http://www.rivesaudio.com
for some good ideas.
The process is not that difficult. Finding the right combination that meets the prejudices of the listener is much more difficult. I think people are generally more interested in sound they like rather than accurate sound, but that's another thread.
Nooooooooooooo! One listen of B&W NT-7 will demonstrate that! Soliloquy 5.0 monitors have mo' base than they! Seriously, I've checked it out! And the B and dubs were loaded up with big, fat MacIntosh amp/preamps, while the 5.0s here hung on a Mistral 50 watter! Sheesh! Audition in your home/system, sir!
Nothing guarantees bass...except a subwoofer...
Phasecorrect, you seem pretty dogmatic about that subwoofer guarantee. Some of these so-called subwoofers aren't even rated to reproduce frequencies below 24 or even 30Hz. Go figure.
Perhaps these should fall into a new class called 'sub-midrange'. At least that classification would be more accurate.
I wouldn't be the least surprised if somebody qualified stated that there are probably more inferior subwoofers on the market percentage-wise than there are inferior speakers.
Matchstikman, there is a full range speaker that has really peaked my interest of late. The VON SCHWEIKERT VR-4 GEN III / VR-4 GEN III Special Edition and it's frequency is 16Hz to 40kHz. Now that's a true full range speaker!!!
Most subs won't even go that low. Anyway, the VR-4 GIII SE retails for $6k and according to a few, including a StereoTimes reviewer, may just be the best speaker under $20k.
If I were looking for a new speaker, that would probably be the first on my list. Even though it may not be the prettiest.
And of course with that frequency range, you should never need a subwoofer.
Now that's what I'am talking about.You hit the nail right on the head Stehno!I know I have went thru more light in the ass subs with boomy bass(catching hell just to get below 40 hz),than full range floorstanders. I have done a freq sweep test and achieved a low rumble down to 12 hz(in my listening room) with my Sol 6.3s which are rated at 25hz to 20 khz! So subs need not apply!
I really would rather not use a sub at all! I searched for an affordable fullrange speaker that did not look like a battle tank.The closest I could get was a set of NEARs for my taste and room dimensions.After that I would have wanted to try VMPS or GR Reseach.
One thing that really is hard to do is get seamless intergration and good room interaction with subs.About the only need I would want one now is for HT I think as there is not much I listen to that requires the extension you get below 30Hz..Although I know the pshycological feeling will always be there having the extension of what I understand.
My next sub will be DIY with the XO point tailored to be exact instead of the dialed 40hz. cutoffs that usually are given with most sub amps.
Pretty tired and hope that made sense.
Gmood1, as I'm sure you know, finding the 'right' full-range speaker is only half the battle. Contrary to popular folklore, there is still another battle to be won. And that is finding the 'right' amp to drive the 'right' speaker.
It amazes me how some to many think excellent sound will come from the 'right' speaker without giving hardly any consideration to an amplifier's unique characteristics, benefits, and shortcomings.
If one had speakers capable of reproducing frequencies down to 16 or so Hz, I would think one had better give serious consideration to aquiring the right amp, or they may end up blowing a few drivers, crossovers, etc..
There are a few benefits of having a seperate subwoofer. If the sub is active, then hopefully the sub amp is an excellent match for the sub driver. Thus eliminating some of that guess work. And then of course the main amp is free to concentrate on everything but the lowest of frequencies. Thus giving more variety toward the purchase of an amp (depending on configuration).
I agree with Stehno. I would rather have some bookshelf
speakers than other full-range floor standers. I'd rather
have no bass than bass done poorly. The task is to find a pair of speakers that are not only "full-range" but are
also coherent from top to bottom, produce deep, tight, and
above all -- musical -- bass in a way that doesn't muddy
the mid-range, and handles detail and dynamics in a way that sounds accurate [or -- gasp -- pleasing] to your ears. Also, if you plan on extended listening sessions, make sure you can listen to them for extended periods without fatigue. THEN, find the right amplification, pre-amp, and front end. Spend hours at your local Hifi stores
listening to as many speakers as possible. Don't limit
yourself to speakers in your price range -- try to listen
to speakers at higher price points to see how they handle
coherency, bass, dynamics, etc. Then, try to get as much
of what you like at the price point you can afford.
Stehno,I totally agree.We all know there's not alot down there at 16 hz.Unless it's an action movie or something of the sort.But the guys here with real fullrange speakers ,know they are getting a decent response at 40 hz.Where alot of speakers do swan dives to -6db or worst before it even reaches the feeling of the soundwaves.I tested the 6.3s at 40hz,at this freq you can't hear anything accept the windows,pictures.and loose objects vibrating around in the room.To be able to feel John Claytons bass strings and not just hear them adds some excitement to the music.At least for me it does.Ha Ha Ha
looks like I ruffled some feathers!...c'mon this is only hi-end audio!(guilty as charged)...at any rate...for those of us who dont have 6k at our disposal(must be rough!)and thus cant afford to do it in an "all in one" speaker...a decent (active) sub "dialed" into to 40hz full range speakers(or close to as possible) can provide the full spectrum many crave...is this as seamless as a speaker that goes down into or below the 20hz range?...that remains to be seen...at any rate...a sub/monitor system is a cost effective way to achieve it....
Rsbeck, try some Mackie HR 624's. These are active 2 ways, bass as you describe. I don't think a passive 2-way can match the tight, deep, bass of an active design.
Phasecorrect, if you meant me, I did not mean to sound as if my feathers were ruffled. They were not. Shoot, I don't even have feathers.
Like I said, your one statement about subwoofers seemed pretty dogmatic. I meant nothing more and nothing less.
Sorry if my words came across any other way.
A small note:
Full range is not acheivable by any of FM tuner(broadcast limitations 50Hz...15KHz).