Does Mid-Woofer Size Relate to a Speaker's Realism


It could be argued that a small mid-woofer is 'quicker' in its response to signal-input and, therefore, more realistic in transient response. Is this true?

It could also be argued that a large mid-woofer is better able to reproduce the lower tones of the midrange in a more realistic manner. Is this true?

Is either choice better at realistic reproduction, overall?

[Since I do have strong views on the subject, as the O.P., I'd prefer to remain outside any ensuing discussion, as much as possible, on this one, if that's O.K.]
waj4all
I agree with both of your conclusions.

With that in mind I do not like to have the Mid-woofer larger than 6.5" or 7". I feel that a Mid-bass driver larger than that will be too slow and may influence the realism I experience. Should more bass be required I would supplement with a purpose built Sub Woofer that integrated well with my main speakers. Most well designed subs start out with an 8" woofer in their inexpensive entry level line-up. YMMV.

Let us know in a day or so what your own experience has proven to you! I am interested for my own sake.
Thanks for the response, Tom6897.

I can understand your affinity for the quickness of the small driver. Another desirable trait they display is a tendency to seem more 'neutral' than large-coned designs, generally speaking, I think.

Regarding your request for my own opinions, I'd really prefer not to influence the responses. But, in deference to your interest, perhaps I'll do so at the very end of this thread, which may not be too long, btw, since there's a similar one, in progress, that I only discovered after starting this one. (I was actually seeking to have this one cancelled before it came out, after I made that discovery, so as not to duplicate the pre-existing thread).

I wonder, by the way, whether you or other Goners perceive a difference between the large and small driver at lower-mids?

Cheers!
I generally prefer larger midrange drivers as they seem to move more air. This IMO provides the fuller(complete?) weight and tone/body the live instruments produce. My speaker uses two 6.5" mid drivers(two 10" for bass). I like the way larger horns(tenor/baritone saxphones,trombone etc) are reproduced. If the magnet/motor is powerful enough I don`t believe there`s much if any loss of speed.Tone is more important to me than absolute speed if some degree of compromise is necessary.
Charles1dad has given the most complete answer. The size of the cone relates to mass, the drivers motor structure effects the final product. It is possible to have a 15 that is very fast indeed... How well most 15 inch play mid range is another story. Also as Charles stated, the larger the cone area, the more air it moves. Depending on room size this can be very satisfying. Alot of mass often does not work well in small rooms. Off hand Legacy comes to mind, the big guys move lots of air.
There are several 4" drivers that play down to 50 hz, so can do a very convincing job of covering the entire vocal region, when you get above most 6.5" and a few 8, they just don't go out well enough into the mid range to blend with most tweeters.... This is in general, not an absolute. I have heard quite good 15" 2 ways.
I hope this helps. Tim
Very interesting comments there, Charles1dad's account in particular. (Very much in line with my own experience - hopefully, Tom is seeing this). The point about motor-power compensating for cone-mass/speed is logical. Thanks also to Tim.

But what about the flat frequency-response of speakers today (from, say, 20khz to 70hz, at least) with even some of the smallest mid-woofers? Since speakers with small drivers measure flat thru this lower-mids region, why should larger (or more) drivers influence such an increase in lower-midrange tonal-realism/weight?

In other words; is the increased surface-area of a larger (or more) driver(s) and the consequent ability to move more air, that important to the achievement of tonal realism/weight at the lower-mids? And why would this be so, considering the equally flat frequency-measurements of the small driver thru this region?
Hi Waj4all,
It is possibe for a small driver to play low bass, but not practical. I have seen 1 4 inch capable of hitting the 20's in my time, it was 81db sensitivity. To get the sensitivity up, you need motor structure, too much motor vs mass and you have to qms/mass, No Q, no low bass. It is a real balancing act. Look hard, you will see high sensitivity 6 to 8 inch drivers, won't go down...maybe to 80 or 100 hz or so, but you won't find drivers this size with real sensitivity (say 95) playing any real bass. You start adding mass to get the final Q up(qts/qtc) and sensitivity drops. That is why most 6 inch drivers that are capable of bass in the mid 30's are normally in that 85 to 86 db sensitivity range.
So to dance around your question... as Charles stated, he uses 2, 6 inch drivers in the mids to get the cone area up, but in my opinion, no it is not absolutely necessary to get large cone area to create realism in the midbass, but you do have to have drivers that properly matchs the midbass response with the bass & midrange and depending on your load and sensitivity have an amp to drive it.
creating a flat response in a driver is not too tough, how much frequency that flat response covers, sensitivity and Low end all combined, can be very tough.
Tim
Hi Tim. That's a reasonably fair enough explanation. Thanks!
Woofer material, damping factor of the magnets and coil driving it all matters. That is why people are experimenting with so many high strength materials like kevlar, mylar etc.

Not all 6" drivers produce the same sound. Revel drivers sound totally different from B&W

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-vyvqI7qZm5K/learn/learningcenter/car/speakersmaterials.html
Yeah, I guess that's all true. Good points!
I'm waiting for mapman's response!
"Does Mid-Woofer Size Relate to a Speaker's Realism "

"Mr_m
I'm waiting for mapman's response!"

My answer is: Yes.
Your brain hears timbre as a combination of spectra from what it believes to be a direct sound and its reflections with some accommodation for high-frequency roll off which we get in nature with objects that diffuse and absorb high frequencies more than low ones.

With the side-wall reflections happening at extreme off-axis angles (70 degrees+) natural sound requires a good directivity match between drivers covering adjacent parts of the frequency spectrum.

Driver off-axis output drops as wave lengths become small compared to their dimensions. At 45 degrees off-axis a 12" driver is -6dB @ 1400Hz and -3dB @ 912 Hz, an 8" driver -6dB @ 2000 Hz and -3dB at 1300 Hz, and 4" -6dB @ 4000 Hz and -3dB @ 2700 Hz. The progression isn't linear with driver size because drivers are marketed based on their frame dimensions and the radiating area makes up a bigger percentage of the total on larger drivers.

A dome tweeter radiates very uniformly into the hemisphere defined by the speaker baffle at any practical cross-over frequency for a cone mid-range or mid-bass. To get a good match you need a lower cross-over point or a smaller driver. An 8" midrange crossed at 2KHz has similar directivity variation as a 4" midrange crossed at 4KHz. The lower cross-over point dictates a steeper slope (because excursion is increasing at 12dB/octave lower for a given SPL a first order slope results in tweeter excursion doubling for a given SPL for each octave out of its pass band until roll-off steepens, and a second order slope has constant excursion) which makes the cross-over more expensive and/or a beefier driver (the Seas Millenium has about double the linear excursion of most 1" dome tweeters) which is also more expensive.

You can also limit high-frequency dispersion with a wave guide so you get a good match with a 10 - 15" mid-range. This sounds great, although a 15" wide x 30" high "stand mounted monitor" with a 12" mid-bass may be a bit much for many spouses.

These polar response variations totally dominate speaker sound, and once you get a handle on them there's surprisingly little gained or lost in driver differences (apart from manufacturing tolerances in sensitivity which can be accommodated in cross-over adjustments for individual speakers as done by John Dunlavy) provided the designer doesn't do anything boneheaded (using metal drivers with resonances too close to their pass band and/or insufficient attenuation of them with notch filters).

The other side of this is displacement limited output. Maximum excursion limited SPL from a monopole operating into free space at 1 meter is

102.4 + 20log(displacement) + 40 log(f) with displacement in m^3

or

102.4 + 20log(travel) + 20 log(area) with travel in meters an area in meters^2 if you prefer.

Output at the maximum linear excursion into full space for various representative drivers feet is as follows at 120, 80, 40, and 20Hz. Many drivers have less excursion and lower output. Subtract 3-5dB for living room dimensions and more for a larger space for the SPL at your listening position

You can add 6dB for a floor mounted woofer (as in many 3-ways), 6dB if there are a pair of bass drivers, and 6dB at the cross-over point to a sub-woofer.

Size Driver Sd (cm^2) x xmax (mm) 120Hz 80Hz 40Hz 20Hz
4 1/2" Seas W12CY001 50 x 3 89dB 82dB 70dB 58dB
5 1/4" Peerless 830873 88 x 3.5 95dB 88dB 76dB 64dB
6 1/4" Seas L16RN-SL 104 x 6 101dB 94dB 82dB 70dB
7" Seas W18EX001 126 x 5 102dB 95dB 83dB 71dB
8.5" Seas W22EX001 220 x 5 106dB 99dB 87dB 75dB
10" Peerless 830452 352 x 12.5 118dB 111dB 99dB 87dB
12" Peerless 830500 483 x 12.5 121dB 114dB 102dB 90dB

Where jazz sounds good at 85dBC average and good recordings have 20dB of dynamic range you're hitting 105-107dB a meter from each speaker. Feeding _Take Five_ through 60Hz second order Butterworth IIR filters I noted right channel low frequency peaks 10dB down from that; although that's still 30X what you can squeeze out of a 6" driver at 40Hz.

2 way cone and dome designs need to compromise between polar response and lower frequency output limits. With 3-4 ways you can get rid of the compromises and have both natural sounding polar response and sufficient excursion for lower frequencies.
05-02-12: Waj4all
>But what about the flat frequency-response of speakers today (from, say, 20khz to 70hz, at least) with even some of the smallest mid-woofers?

They get there at unspecified low output levels.

>Since speakers with small drivers measure flat thru this lower-mids region, why should larger (or more) drivers influence such an increase in lower-midrange tonal-realism/weight?

Because they can reproduce those frequencies at reasonable SPLs while small drivers physically cannot.

While companies sell 4 1/2" speakers with extension below 30Hz, maximum excursion limited output of the lovely Seas Excel 12cm midrange at 3' away is 82dB @ 80Hz, 70dB @ 40Hz, and 58dB @ 20Hz.

20Hz takes 75dB just to be audible and you'll only hear it from such a speaker because the harmonics distortion is high enough to be heard at 40-80Hz and beyond.

This isn't too useful when well recorded jazz at a pleasant 85dBC average is trying for 105-107dB peaks at the speaker with 95-97dB below 60Hz. The scale is logarithmic, so that's over 300X what the 4.5" driver can deliver at 40Hz. Use a pair of such drivers and your requirements are only 150X what you need.
>05-02-12: Timlub
>It is possibe for a small driver to play low bass, but not practical. I have seen 1 4 inch capable of hitting the 20's in my time, it was 81db sensitivity.

Efficiency isn't a limiting factor.

A nice 12cm driver has the displacement to achieve 89dB@ 120Hz, 70dB @ 40Hz, and 58dB @ 20Hz. You might net 6dB more output from a transmission line or get a pass on excursion in the last 1/3 - 1/2 octave from a port but that's not loud enough to be realistic.

Size Driver Sd (cm^2) x xmax (mm) 120Hz 80Hz 40Hz 20Hz
4 1/2" Seas W12CY001 50 x 3 89dB 82dB 70dB 58dB

While potentially fine as average levels, nice acoustic recordings have 20dB (100X) between average and peak.

>no it is not absolutely necessary to get large cone area to create realism in the midbass,

Physics dictate high displacement for realistic sounding listening levels and geometry precludes getting that from small numbers of small drivers, although you can get closer with a folded backhorn than any other technology.

Maximum excursion limited SPL from a monopole operating into free space at 1 meter is

102.4 + 20log(displacement) + 40 log(f) with displacement in m^3

or

102.4 + 20log(travel) + 20 log(area) with travel in meters an area in meters^2 if you prefer.
Hi Drew,
I might possibly come up with the spec on the 4" I quoted, maybe even a driver, its been along time back, but I remember well using these in a line source and getting output -3db @ 27hz. I realize that I speak in generalities so that all understand, whether a newbee or seasoned vet and you are laying down the math, but I assure you, the above is true.
>Physics dictate high displacement for realistic sounding listening levels and geometry precludes getting that from small numbers of small drivers, although you can get closer with a folded backhorn than any other technology.
This is a true statement, but needs a context, Are you saying that a smaller driver cannot be used as a midbass?
say 80 to 250 hz? Or what are you saying with this statement?
Yep! This is intriguing - absolutely.
05-03-12: Timlub
Hi Drew,
>>Physics dictate high displacement for realistic sounding listening levels and geometry precludes getting that from small numbers of small drivers, although you can get closer with a folded backhorn than any other technology.
>This is a true statement, but needs a context, Are you saying that a smaller driver cannot be used as a midbass?
say 80 to 250 hz? Or what are you saying with this statement?

I wouldn't use a single driver under 7" as a mid-bass with an 80Hz cross-over in a system for critical listening where I didn't need to compromise for budget reasons or baffle width because such systems sound strained at pleasant listening levels for acoustic music and the physics + arithmetic suggest that's because the driver is exceeding its linear limits. With a low-pass at 200-250Hz you should be able to get away with a side-mounted woofer so baffle width is not a constraint.

I also wouldn't choose a set of speakers for full range use with less bass driver displacement than you get with one 10" per side.

Where you must have a 2-way and must use a conventional dome tweeter the least bad compromise probably varies between 5 and 7". With a higher frequency high-pass smaller mid-bass drivers can work well - increasing from 80 to 160Hz gains you 12dB of headroom.
Drew, thanks for the explanation of your statement. I think there are a few exceptions, but overall, I seem to never really find fault in your logic.
Tim
O.K. So logic, physics, simple-arithmetic, and pure common-sense all seem to point to the large (or multiples of the small) speaker as the prudent choice, with regard to realistic audio reproduction, from the lower-mids down.

This, by extension, suggests that anything other than that will likely be more of a compromise than necessary. Why is it, then, that so many of the ultra-expensive, state of the art designs employ single or doubled small-coned mid-woofers crossed-over, sometimes, as low as 100hz? Are we missing something, here?
100hz?

Is that common in many expensive 2 ways?

Some examples?

Seems like a bad idea to me but i am no expert.
Hi Waj4all,
>Why is it, then, that so many of the ultra-expensive, state of the art designs employ single or doubled small-coned mid-woofers crossed-over, sometimes, as low as 100hz? Are we missing something, here?
Not in a 2 way, I can think of 1 or two drivers that can be crossed at 400 or so as a 2 way, these are quite rare, there are a handful that can be crossed at 1k to 1.5K and several @ 2k or above.
I have built a few 3 ways that employed a 10" up to 100, then a 6 covered 100 to 2500 and a dome above that.
So in a 3 way or higher a 6 inch or larger makes since at that 100hz mark.
Floor Loudspeaker Reviews
Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy 7 loudspeaker Specifications
Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Three-way, floorstanding, dynamic loudspeaker in two sections. Drive-units: 1" titanium-foil inverted-dome tweeter, 7" midrange cone, two 8" woofers. Crossovers: 125Hz, 2kHz (approximately). Frequency response: 21Hz-21kHz, +0/-3dB. Nominal impedance: 4 ohms. Sensitivity: 93dB/W/m.http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?cspkr&1335844471&openfrom&1&4#1.

Rockport Technologies Antares loudspeaker Specifications
Sidebar 1: Specifications Description: Three-way, floorstanding, dynamic loudspeaker. Drive-units: 1" ferrofluid-cooled Dynaudio Esotar silk-dome tweeter, 6" Audiotechnology cone midrange driver, 13" Audiotechnology cone woofer. Crossover frequencies: 130Hz, 2.1kHz. Frequency response: not specified. Nominal impedance: 4 ohms. Sensitivity: 89dB/W/m. Power handling: 50W minimum. http://www.stereophile.com/content/rockport-technologies-antares-loudspeaker-specifications

.

Floor Loudspeaker Reviews
Hansen Audio Prince V2 loudspeaker Specifications
Sidebar 1: Specifications Description: Three-way, floorstanding, ported loudspeaker. Drive-units: 1" (25mm) soft-dome tweeter mounted on dispersion-optimized 6mm aluminum plate, 7.1" (182mm) laminated-cone midrange unit, 10.6" (269mm) laminated-cone woofer. Crossover: first-order. Crossover frequencies: ca 100Hz, 2.5kHz. Frequency response: 23Hz–23kHz, ±2dB. Nominal impedance: 6 ohms. Sensitivity: 87dB/W/m.

.
"So in a 3 way or higher a 6 inch or larger makes since (sense?) at that 100hz mark."

O.K. I see. So you're saying that ONE 6" mid-woofer can reproduce the lower midrange tones of instruments (say, 500hz to 200hz) in a lifelike and realistic manner - just as realistically as a 15"er, for instance?

This seems remarkable, but I'll not argue.
Hi Waj4all,
>So in a 3 way or higher a 6 inch or larger makes since at that 100hz mark.

Right.

There are also significant differences moving up in frequency. Moving from 80 Hz to

100Hz - you gain +4dB or 2.5X more excursion limited power handling
110Hz - +6dB or 4X more and you can use half the drivers

some place in there you can drop a driver size at common consumer mid-woofer dimensions and have the same output limits you had with the 80Hz cross-over

130Hz - +8dB or 6X more
160Hz - +12dB or 8X more and you can use one quarter the driver count

in that range the displacement requirement drop is like the delta between two typical consumer mid-woofer sizes or an 8.5" mid-woofer and 10" woofer or sub-woofer.
05-04-12: Waj4all
>"So in a 3 way or higher a 6 inch or larger makes since (sense?) at that 100hz mark."

>O.K. I see. So you're saying that ONE 6" mid-woofer can reproduce the lower midrange tones of instruments (say, 500hz to 200hz) in a lifelike and realistic manner - just as realistically as a 15"er, for instance?

It's level dependent. At and well beyond domestic listening levels the 6" will be great. For a rock band with a few hundred people in the audience it won't work.

>This seems remarkable, but I'll not argue.

It takes 1/4 of the displacement for a given SPL at 200Hz as it does at 100Hz and excursion limited power handling is 8X better.

Disregarding thermal compression which won't be an issue at home with musical material a nice 6" driver will get to 110dB 3 feet away at 200Hz or 116dB with a cross-over at that point (both are far beyond what's possible at most seats in a THX cinema that most people consider "loud"). With a fully-active 4 way system having 90dB/1W/1 meter sensitivity on all drivers you'd be looking at over 500W total to get to the low number covering 200-500Hz with musical material and several times that using passive cross-overs where not many audiophiles have a few thousand Watts available.

A trumpet is good for about 124dB at that distance so this is less than live although I don't think that's a problem after telling a wine drinking trumpet playing friend who spent his college days in a school marching band that unmuted trumpets aren't appropriate for indoor Christmas caroling.
To some degree smaller drivers can improve transparency, speed, and imaging...however...there is physics involved...at some point you have to move air to create bass and a sense of scale...which is my main complaint with diminutive speakers...they simply sound scaled down...this isn't inadherently bad...especially in tight quarters
Waj,

Thanks for the examples. As you can see those are all 3 ways where the
low crossover frequency makes more sense, not 2 ways. Big difference!
This is like arguing what size engine a car should have; it is so dependent on taste and function that no one answer can be correct for everyone.
I agree with stanwal. It always helps to understand the princip!es behind
design, but there is no one right way for all for all the reasons cited plus
many others that deal with peoples needs and budgets as much as
technology.

Great discussion though!
I too agree with Stanwal, but I have observed that compression ratios above 10.5 increase the realism. Below 10.5 the lower midrange loses its oomph and the top end is definitely missing air. There's some serious musicality in the heavy metal thunder.
My reference to a small mid-woofer crossed-over at or about 100hz was in relation to the cross-over to a sub. The x-over points above that were not really relevant. Not sure where that 2-way idea came from.
Hi Waj4all,
This is why I thought you were talking about a 2 way or 3 way, no mention of a subwoofer here or prior, only mid woofers:
>Why is it, then, that so many of the ultra-expensive, state of the art designs employ single or doubled small-coned mid-woofers crossed-over, sometimes, as low as 100hz? Are we missing something, here?
Hi Timlub,

Since the region around 200 to 100hz is so commonly used for the x-over of a mid-woofer to a woofer or sub, as the above examples only now illustrate, I'd assumed (wrongfully, obviously) that everyone would instinctively be aware that this is the scenario to which I was referring. My apologies to you and any others who were misled by my by lapse in specificity.

Speaking of which; I wonder if more of a focus could now be channeled to the difference in performance, at LOWER-MIDS, between the large and the small driver, specifically in regards to their lifelike and realistic depiction (or not) of the robust and full-bodied tones of real instruments, in this region.

In this thread, Phasecorrect said this; ."....there is physics involved...at some point you have to move air to create bass and a sense of scale...which is my main complaint with diminutive speakers...they simply sound scaled down.. ."

Leaving aside the bass, I wonder if that 'sense of scale', to which Phasecorrect refers, could be related to the presence or absence of the lower-mids.

In another similar thread, a poster made a point which seemed logical. This was my response, in seeking to elaborate on his point:
[Eldarford has a very good point. I, for one, never thought of this in terms as extreme as 'the headphone-consideration'.

But the point is extremely logical. After all, the headphone (just as the small speaker) measures flat thru-out its frequency-range, as is apparent in close proximity (i.e. clamped to the ears). But then, any distance between the 'phone and listener causes it to sound more like a tweeter. All frequencies are being reproduced, but the small surface-area of the 'phone's drivers is incapable of coupling enough air to transmit the lower frequencies (i.e. below treble) to the listener.

Arguably, a less obvious, but very similar, scenario applies to the small drivers of many speakers which do measure flat thru the lower-mids but, in reality, present much less of the lower-mids than accuracy would require.

This would, of course, explain why the double-stacking of speakers causes an increased ability to portray more realistic lower-mids tones, because of the more efficient air-moving capability of the increased surface-area.

So would it be reasonable to conclude that the laws of physics find the small driver's abilities to be somewhat less than optimum in a critical area of performance?]

We all know and love the small driver. It's abilities in the areas of detail-resolution and soundstaging are beyond doubt (not to mention the WAF). It can never be displaced as the most popular and convenient means of bringing high-quality music-reproduction into our homes. But for an all-out assault on truly lifelike, life-sized, and realistic reproduction, it could be argued that the large surface-area of the large driver (or multiples of the small) offers a distinct advantage. Or so it would seem.

Would this be a reasonable point of view?

Let's leave bass aside (since the sub takes care of that in this scenario) and focus on the LOWER-MIDS performance of the large or small mid-woofer, if that's O.K.

Cheers!
Even without the bass duties, I admit to some bias against 4" cone midranges. I blame it on childhood incidents with JVC's and cheap 3-ways. Completely irrational because a few of my favorite speakers over the years, including Dunlavy and Hales, have had such drivers. Had to close my eyes or stare them down for hours to admit that. Found myself drawn toward dome midranges and planars. Apparently, I'm not alone in this phobia but I don't think it has a name yet.
Hi Waj4all, first about the misunderstanding, no harm, no foul, i've never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I was listening just a couple of nights ago to a 15 inch woofer that had a highly modified 3x7 piezo...a 2 way and it was wonderful and imaged like crazy(no crossover). One issue with your statements that still tends to throw people off. Subs are typically crossed at 100hz or lower, above that point and they can become directional. Next, as a midbass, I have used a 4 inch once, I have used a 5 inch once{once I used 4-5inch), I have used a 6 to 7 inch several times. There is just no doubt that cone area matters, but I've never built with an 8 or above as a midbass driver, they were always used as a woofer for a 2, 3 or 4 way. You must consider matching sensitivies, box size needed, crossover slopes and any compensation needed.
This is where my experience lies.
No problem Timlub. Ngjockey, I hope you'll get over that phobia. Thankfully, 4" midrages haven't started talking to you yet. If that ever happens then you'll know it's time to seek help (LOL).

I wonder if Onlwy61 is around to elaborate on this interesting statement:
05-04-12: Onhwy61
"I too agree with Stanwal, but I have observed that compression ratios above 10.5 increase the realism. Below 10.5 the lower midrange loses its oomph and the top end is definitely missing air. There's some serious musicality in the heavy metal thunder."

I know this was an analogy involving cars, engines, and their compression-ratios, but in so far as; "the lower midrange loses its oomph", and, "above 10.5 increase the realism", perhaps Onlwy61 could tell us if these phrases relate to driver-size, in speaker parlance (not in relation to the nut behind the wheel - LOL).

Cheers.
05-03-12: Drew_eckhardt
You can also limit high-frequency dispersion with a wave guide so you get a good match with a 10 - 15" mid-range. This sounds great, although a 15" wide x 30" high "stand mounted monitor" with a 12" mid-bass may be a bit much for many spouses.

Among all the compromises mentioned above of a sonic order, particularly with regard to getting to the lower mids right, the above is seemingly constricted to being a compromise of a mere aesthetic order. Making me think: what's the rub if we're to pursue the best(i.e., most realistic) sound reproduction and the sole limitation it takes is having to "resort" to a 10-15" mid/bass driver in combination with a waveguide that would take up slightly more space in total width? Still, all that effort just to maintain the smaller units for the sake of the approval of a spouse(I mean, come on, who are we trying to fool here; this is not the real rub) or whatever keeps many fixated on the use of these smaller drivers is simply beyond me, especially when going "all the way" (assuming 10-15" mid/bass drivers are indeed the way to go) is so close at hand. I do believe we're giving at least some women less credit for being flexible when it comes to speaker looks and size, while it's also a factor dependend on the audiophile's abilities into pursuation or, perhaps more importantly, that he actually succeeds in inviting his girlfriend/wife into his interest/obsession of music and sound. Or, that he can retrieve to his exclusively placed "man cave" where even the most otherworldly looking pair of speakers are just that, and so what? Anyway, even if aesthetics are of importance with regard to general appeal, why not in this interesting discussion concentrate solely on the audible matter and how to achieve/seek that primary aspect most effectively? Surely thinking of and sharing impressions into developements of large-cone drivers do not require of us to (self-)impose aesthetic restrictions that would hinder any further advancements on these issues - that's a secondary issue to consider once the primary ones have been dealt with; indeed, let's try more whole-heartedly and pursue the larger cone-based units and their merits, and put aside looks and conventions for now.

Note: this is not a critique on your part, Drew. I'm simply going at a general tendency of a weird and sidetracked attention on looks and aesthetics...

05-04-12: Waj4all
We all know and love the small driver. It's abilities in the areas of detail-resolution and soundstaging are beyond doubt (not to mention the WAF). It can never be displaced as the most popular and convenient means of bringing high-quality music-reproduction into our homes. But for an all-out assault on truly lifelike, life-sized, and realistic reproduction, it could be argued that the large surface-area of the large driver (or multiples of the small) offers a distinct advantage. Or so it would seem.

Definately, I concur on the advantages of large surface-area drivers into lifelike sound reproduction. I'd even wager to say that it's not only a matter of effective cone area, but very importantly that we keep the effective cone area limited to one unit per channel, or when speaking of drivers above 10" that we potentially extend the use of them to two mid/bass units per channel. I don't know what is the reason for this, but to my ears a single 12"+ unit handles both bass and lower mids(where it's used as such) much more convincingly than, say, two or more 8" units. Maybe it's because of the importance of maintaining a single point source to a large, or two larger cone areas per channel, and that smaller units below some 10" when "spread out" to two or more point sources(/units) per channel has the effect of widening too much the center of dispersion/sound from where it emanates, thus generating a sound also affected by a wider dispertion pattern compared to larger units, resulting in a bigger "percentage" of reflected sound. It's a very essential aspect, as I see it, in maintaining the advantage of a large cone-surface area.