Does "full range" really mean anything?

OK, what's up with all the people who list as "full range" speakers that, by the manufacturer's own inflated spec sheets, do not claim to be full range? Speakers that only go down to 45 or 50 hz? And if we're gonna fudge the meaning of "full range" doesn't it make more sense to fudge it on the high end, since most people, especially people over 30, can't hear to 20,000hz anyway? I've recently checked my 47-year-old ears and discovered that I'm no longer hearing anything above about 16,000hz. But I'm hearing low-end just fine. I've also been studying the ads here for full-range speakers, waiting for a reasonably priced pair to come available. But I find that most ads for speakers are not, in fact, for full range speakers. Is this just semantics?
I think what they mean by Full-Range is you can get by without a subwoofer.

Personally, i think for a speaker to really be full range, it should'nt "get by" without a sub, but not need one at all. At least 30Hz or lower.

full range speakers is complete marketing and nothing else period!! Most (98%) of the best speakers in the world (cost no object) are designed to not be full range but to cover a lesser range with better sonics. This of course in the lower octives and not the high frequencies. Even though many cannot hear 20 or even 16 there are harmonics well above 20 even 30 that do effect the lower ranges that we can hear. Deep bass however is a problem in many situations and thus avoided by the better speakers. Room nodes to just name one. Room size to name another. If you do not listen to organ music, then any response above 35htz will be fine for most people- I did say most. Those wanting 20htz bass would do better with one or two subs anyways than to try to get it from two evenly placed l/r speakers that just cancel out deep bass at the listening seat- the bigger the speakers, the more bass that is canceled-proof? Just check out The Absolute Sound back a few issues. The biggest mistake in all of the high end, in my oppinion, is that people buy way too big of speakers for their room size!!
Speakers with response below 30 Hz can convey a lot more venue information, which is important to the music listening experience.

Brian Walsh
Winegasman, it's a lot cheaper to fudge the low end than high end. As one dealer told me, bass is related to cabinet size. Forget spec B.S. You are not going to get Quality, low distortion bass from a small speaker cabinet.
From my subjective experience, you don't get full range from any two-way regardless of what the measurements say. I think you simply need to move a lot of air for bass to have real impact. It may be measurable but that doesn't mean it's "there".
Second, again from my subjective experience, active speakers are way better at producing punchy, powerful bass. Just listen to Mackie's little 824 two-way. Way better than any passive two way I've ever heard.
I heard ATC active 100's with a claimed bass only in the mid 30's. Again, active bass drivers but a three way design in a good-sized cabinet. After hearing these I thought, WOW I have never heard bass like this. True 30 hz bass is, as William Shatner would say: "Big, real big".
There is a lot of music that has no real low frequency signal, and the high end, above 14KHz becomes less and less important as you go through life. There are other characteristics of a loudspeaker that remain important, and a "full range" speaker (meaning no crossover" can excel for these characteristics.

I endorse the idea of a secondary loudspeaker system , to be used instead of the primary one when the music and listening conditions are appropriate. A small full range speaker is a good choice for this.
It's supposed to mean the full spectrum of human hearing capability (20-20,000 Hz).
full range speakers is complete marketing and nothing else period!! Most (98%) of the best speakers in the world (cost no object) are designed to not be full range but to cover a lesser range with better sonics.

And exactly which part of your nether region did you pull that statistic from?
I agree with Timo, but I have also found that my hearing above 16kHz is quite limited, so I never worry about any HF extension above about 18kHz. On the other hand I think that the LF information (down to 20Hz and below) really helps to recreate the atmosphere of a real venue. (I bought an active sub about 2 years ago and it transformed my system).

I also agree with CDC that a two-way design cannot possibly produce real low bass without severely compromising the mid-range, since the same driver can shift air at 20Hz and also be accurately reproducing 3kHz at the same time.
Ok 100% of the best speakers are pupose bass limited with all speakers designed to be 20-20 an exercise in ignorance. I stated 98% just to be kind to the unlucky few who think they have full range speakers- is that more accurate for you Themadmilkman.
Well, if you think that the best speakers have to be bass limited, that's your perogative. I (and many others, I'm sure) would disagree.
For reference: My system has an elaborate subwoofer system so that LF capability is excellent. On the high end, my Maggies are as good or better than my ears. In my youth I used supertweeters.

However, there is a good case to be made for deliberate restriction of bandwidth at both the high and low end. The most simple example is the "rumble" filter for LP playback. Only some music, some of the time, has signal content at subwoofer or supertweeter frequency. Whenever there is no signal, noise will intrude. At the very least this will soak up amplifier power, and may be audibly objectionable.

Ideally the bandwidth of the playback system should match the bandwidth of the audio signal, which means that it should vary. The most sophisticated realization of this concept was the Autocorrelator Dynamic Noise filter invented by Bob Carver, and sold by Phase Linear. It cut the LF gain when there was no LF signal, and cut gain in several high frequency bands when appropriate, using clever analysis of signal harmonics.

Such a device is not necessary if you have a clean signal to start with. One application which I had, where the signal was very noisy, was the rear channel signal of a LP based matrix multichannel setup. For example, all the rumble gets routed to the rears, and because of the way that LPs are mastered, there is little or no true LF in the rear signal. Carver's Autocorrelator performed miracles for this application.
Thanks for all the responses. I do find it ironic that most people who post ads and pay attention to these audiophile chats use the phrase "full range" for speakers that deliver high frequencies I can't hear anyway but do not deliver low frequencies that I CAN hear! They sure aren't speakers that cover MY full range! So, whether they accomplish their range with one driver or more, it would be more useful for me (and most other people, especially over 30) if speaker manufacturers started making speakers that, if they have to compromise, compromise on the high end, delivering response from, say, 20hz - 16khz. Are there any such speakers available? If not, I'm becoming convinced that I might find an improvement if I leave my 2-way speakers (8" woofers) for smaller 2-ways (maybe 5" midwoofer) with dedicated subwoofer. Is that right? If so, are there really reasonably priced MUSICAL subwoofers available? By "reasonable" I mean maybe $300. I'd really prefer just a pair of "MY full range" speakers because I have a small room and adding another cabinet (subwoofer) to it would be problematic. Thanks, Rich
Winegasman, I use stand mounted 2-way's with 5" mid-woofers (Sonus Faber Signum's) and a dedicated REL subwoofer. In my small dedicated room (17'x12'x avg.9'ceiling) I find 2-way monitors and a separate subwoofer to be the best combination for the music I enjoy (small scale classical, acoustic, vocals, jazz). My sub fills in the lower octaves that the 2-ways can't reach and the 2-ways are free to do what they do best in the mid-range and higher frequencies.

I haven't had a problem with sub integration that others fear (I believe it helps to use a forward firing subwoofer with a infinitely variable crossover and a Hi-level speaker connection).

I agree with the above post that you have be careful that you don't put too large a speaker in too small a room. Also, pay attention to speaker placement and room treatments to aid in achieving the flattest response. A "full-range" speaker isn't going to sound like much if the room is reinforcing some frequencies and not others to the detriment of flat response. In my room a separate subwoofer gave me more flexibilty in speaker placement and therefore, more control over flat frequency response. Best of Luck in your search for "full-range" sound.