Single driver speakers can run the gamut from stellar to down right crappy,just like any other type.You can't just make a general assumption that they are all good/bad or sound better/worse than multi-driver speakers.The good ones I have heard,Tannoy to drop a name,are IMHO every bit as good as any speaker I've heard.If you name a few speakers,you will probably get more responses.Of course this is just my opinion,feel free to disagree.
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By one set of parameters your telephone is a full range driver. If you are looking for 20 to 20K range, you will not find a driver that can do it.
I use a horn with a compression driver that extends from 400 Hz. to 14Khz. Below that I have a 15 inch woofer which meets the horn at 400 and extends just below 50 Hz. Most guys on this forum would consider that unacceptably limited. I find that it covers most of the musical spectrum. At my age, high frequencies go to waste. The woofer delivers a sensuous, relaxed and accurate bass response so I'm happy.
What are you trying to learn? The advantage of a full range is no crossover. The disadvantage is compromised extension. Everything involves trade-offs and attendant choices.
I can't disagree. I've never heard one. I find your response appropriate considering the lack of information I provided. I'll try to see if I can demo some Tannoy's. I've heard that some full range driver configurations do a good job of reproducing vocals, I would imagine if implemented properly. I think my 3 ways do a good job, but have nothing to compare them too. I'm under the impression that no speaker does everything perfectly, so maybe I should look into having a second pair of speakers on hand for certain types of music. I'm probably crazy and just going through some weird 'collect bug'.
I have owned many speakers over many years and have enjoyed several single driver speakers including:
Beauhorns, Lamhorns and KCS seas exotics. None of these are full range in the sense of 20hz-20khz...not even close.
But depending on the room, positioning, music and personal tatse, I have found them all very satisfactory and satisfying...in fact, I would consider the KCS seas exotic to be one of the very best values I have come across.
I currently use Tonian Classic 12.1s which use the PHY driver covering most of the speakers usable range and the treble is brilliantly handled by the Raven 2 ribbon tweeter. This being second pair of Tonian speakers I have owned (original TLM-1s) and a very fine speaker IME.
I certainly like what a well designed single driver speaker can offer but like all speakers you have to pick your priorities and poison.
I ran Fostex Fe166 in a fostex BLH cabinet that I built for under $500 total, ran it with a Thorens TT, Bottlehead preamp and phono and Fi X 2a3 amp. It was one of the most enjoyable systems I owned. Very coherent, music that hangs in the air and very ballanced from 45 to 15k.
This is the system I most regret getting rid of in my search for the best. It was a 3K system that played music like an instrument and volcals like the singer was in my room
Fin1bxn. That's what I'd like to hear is vocals like the singer was in my room. I'm toying with the Tekton Kat's Meow. The price is great and the designer/owner of the company said he'd pay to see the look on my face when I compare them with my B&W CM7's. He has a lot of back ground working with various speaker manufacturers and it sounds like he knows what he's doing. With a 30 day money back guarantee and a 5 years warranty, why not have them around? I'd like to be able to chose speakers based on what music on want to listen to.
One thing that should be made clear is that "Full Range" is a bit of misnomer for the average listener of moderate income and room size. Very, very, few speakers of any driver design actually cover 20Hz-20kHz(-3dB) accurately. Very few do 30Hz(-3dB) accurately. Those that do are usually very big, very heavy, and very expensive.
Fullrange single drivers have their advantages and limitations. I think the first sonic benefit that most fans, like myself, will tout is their musical "coherence". What does that mean? That the entire musical spectrum seems to emanate from one, seamless, sonic tapestry without any inconsistencies. It's very hard to describe in words, but once you hear it, it is very hard to accept anything else.
Why do they seem more "coherent" to some people than other multi-driver designs? I think most of us, like Macrojack, will cite no, or 1st order, crossovers and no need to transition between differing drivers at the crucial midrange frequencies where the ear is most sensitive to anomalies. Seamless transition between drivers of different size and construction materials is not easily done and fairly rare.
The downsides - like all speakers, bass. There are only three ways to deep, accurate, bass; 1) large driver surface area, 2) long driver excursion, 2) big cabinet. Usually, two of the three are necessary unless lots of power is needed.
And single drivers generally need really large cabinets to go deep with any authority. Even then, they won't move the same amount of air as good multi-driver designs. But, well-executed designs will have very fast and clean bass, which can be supplemented by good subwoofers.
Which brings us back to - is that really a single driver system? No, not in the strictest sense. But, single driver advocates are primarily concerned with a driver covering the most critical section of the frequency range in it's entirety - the full midrange (400Hz-6kHz). Most single driver proponents would even like to push that out to 8kHz-10kHz.
BTW, Tannoys aren't single drivers, they are coaxials with a center-mounted tweeter. But, their 12' or 15" driver does cover the entire critical range anyway. And they are pretty awesome when properly implemented in the right cabinet.
Wow. Excellent information everyone. This has given me a lot to think about. I have a feeling I'm on a long journey which probably translates to upgrade fever, in the long term. I think I'll start to play around soon. I should be able to dabble in it without having to shed gear which will allow me to make comparisons. I'm on my first tube amp so there's so much for me to experience. I still haven't tube rolled and hope to try out some different 12ax7's soon. I greatly appreciate the information everyone shares on this site. If I ever win the lottery, I hope you guys will help me tweak the Wilson's after the crane lowers them into the new music room.
Donjr, try and find some people within driving distance who have single drivers. You really should hear several different types before making the plunge.
Check out The Fullrange Driver Forum, that's where all the fanatics hang out. Drop a post looking for people in your area, I'm sure there are a few. That's also the best place to ask any questions, members there have tried every possible of driver, cabinet, amplifier, etc.
For anyone who is desirous of that coherence thing, I can recommend the horns I use. They are, of course, very efficient and they are utterly seamless throughout a very broad operating range. They are quite directional with only a 40 degree dispersion pattern, you need a woofer, and you need to sit back 12 feet or more. Because they are very directional, room treatments are less necessary. My room is 15 by 22 and they work well but I always have a sense that they would be even better in a larger space. Oh, and did I mention, they are extremely dynamic and effortless sounding?
Magfan. I read that article (head ache). That was enlightening to say the least. I was particularly interested in the comments about the Fostex FF225K driver, which is the driver Eric Alexander from Tekton Design chose to use in his Kat's Meow speaker. In the aricle, Nelson Pass said it reminds him of the JBL LE8 and if implimented with a tweeter above 5k you'll really have something. It's funny because that's what Eric Alexander found worked out best with the Kat's Meow and added a Fostex bullet tweeter in a separate enclosure on top.
I agree with Darkmoebius that I should find some to listen to.
Donjr, almost any true fullrange "single driver" system is going to need a supertweeter and subwoofer(s), making it a 3-way system, in reality.
But, some have done a great job to moving the crossover between highs and lows way beyond the entire midrange frequencies.
A great starter system for a real taste of true fullrange glory is the $650 Hammer Dynamics Super-12 kit. It uses a professional 12" widerange driver to cover everything up to ~8-10kHz where it crosses over to a coaxially-mounted supertweeter.
This speaker does bass in a BIG way, along with all the benefits of other single drivers. A 12" driver has it's own benefits compared to smaller ones. There are a ton of upgrades that can be done to the speaker, like a better tweeter and crossover mods.
The kit is easily built by anyone with a table saw or circular saw and a few other simple tools. It can be made in a few hours from three or four 4'x8' pieces of plywood/mdf, if you are the least bit handy.
There are a few magazine reviews of the Super-12 on their website.
Darkmoebius, I would be able to handle the wood working skills no problem. My father gave me a beautiful Jet table saw with a Biesemeyer fence, an amazing plunge router with a more amazing router table that I can't remember the make of. It's all a matter of getting my a$$ out of the listening chair. I didn't want to go this route out of pure laziness, but a 12" driver holds my interest like a beach in Brazil. I'll look into the Hammer kit. If I lose a digit or two along the way, I can always press the shuffle button with my nose.
The FullRangeDriver.com(home of the FullRangeDriver Forum) still maintains it's original SingleDriver Website archives. Inside of that is a priceless resource that has in-depth theory, construction, and upgrade/modification information on a lot of the most popular designs a few years back.
But, most importantly, they maintained the Hammer Dynamics Super-12 Tweaks page. It documents the evolution of the Super-12's from the late creator's, John Wyckoff, original kit to better tweeters, crossovers, wiring, cabinet reinforcement, etc. Some really talented and enthusiastic people experimented every which way to squeeze the best performance possible out John's speakers. And their final tweaks take it to a whole 'nother level.
I think John's wife, Colleen, has incorporated a lot of those final tweaks into the kit now, so there may not be much to do anymore. I think the upgraded Fostex FT17h supertweeter now comes as part of the stock kit along with the better Solen hepta-litz wire wound inductors. Send Colleen an email, she is very nice and helpful. Supplying the kit is way to keep her late husband's dream alive. It's been a few years since I last sent her an email, so I can't say for a fact that she's still doing it, but the website is up, so i guess so.
If she isn't, I have an extra kit that I bought for my brother years ago that he never ended up building due to his first kid being born.
I have the Super-12's and still love them even though I have a much, much, more expensive and complex system now. There are things that a large single driver does well that smaller ones cannot match, bass being the most obvious. But, there is also a difference in the sonic presentation.
The Super-12's can rock with the best of them and still do jazz and chamber music extremely well. Vocals are eerily real. The Super's are a true 97dB efficent, so the whole range of flea-powered SET amps are perfect, from 2wpc 45's to "monster" 845's and 211's.
But, they also do extremely well with low-powered and larger push-pull amps. I preferred more power for most complex music, but have used them with 8 wpc 300B SET and 6wpc PX-25 amps with superb results. They also do well with good solid state amps.
The Super-12's are a great way to experiment with all types and designs of amps because of their relatively high efficiency.
I have owned Lamhorns, Beauhorns, C&C Abbys, C&C Bens, Tonian TL-D1s, and 2nd Rethms. The two speakers I occasionally miss quite a bit in that bunch are the Lamhorns and Tonians - both have qualities that are quite remarkable and really set them apart.
But I have moved on to multi-driver speakers, chasing real-world performance instead of theory. While some wideband-drivers (a better general term for the genre than "single-driver" IMO) speakers are indeed very good, IME all have some Achilles heel. (Then again, to get a speaker with truly no real weaknesses is hugely expensive.)
On the theoretical side, the fact is that there is some misinformation that is regularly repeated. To start with, a wideband driver with a whizzer is not "crossover-less" - it has a mechanical crossover. Obviously there is a point where frequencies transition from the main cone to the whizzer.
Secondly, even with a whizzer most wideband drivers are producing some of the range via cone breakup. That doesn't necessarily have to be regarded as "bad"; it is what it is. This has to do with the commonly rising response (which some wideband drivers DO avoid!) and somewhat ragged frequency response. (Smart shoppers realize they are trading flat frequency response for generally better dynamics and drivability.)
I have found that a well-implemented two-or-three way with well-chosen crossover points can be very nearly as "direct" as a wideband driver but without the weaknesses, which range from mild to glaring.
Great point, Paul. Of course, there are wideband drivers w/o whizzer cones, too. Like the Fostex FE-E Sigma range in C&C speakers(I own IM-Bens). But, as you say, there is always some limitation to every driver and design.
I'm in the planning phase of my next big system change, it's looking like large Apogee ribbons or line arrays. But, I still really love widerange speakers for jazz and vocals.
"But, I still really love widerange speakers for jazz and vocals."
That's why I'm interested in them. (jazz & vocals) That's what I love the most, but I have to throw percussion in there as well. I'm not talking about Keith Moon style percussion. I prefer the stuff like bongos and beating on a coconut with a stick.
Well, all I can say is that there is an exceptional single driver made by Feastrex that can be used to cover from about 60 Hz to well above 20K Hz. Actually there are two different drivers, one 5" and one 9." The 5" is the better driver and especially in the field coil version. I heard it in the Maxhorn cabinet and was thoroughly please except below 60 Hz. I have spent a good part of my audio life trying to mate subwoofers with such "not full range" speakers. I don't think it can be done.
These drivers are very expensive. I think $39k per pair. I cannot imagine anyone buying them at that price.
Yep, Donjr, I have Fostex FT17H Horn Super Tweeter and the original Audax tweet that came with the kit.
As you've probably already read, the 98.5dB Fostex more closely matches the Super-12's 97db efficiency and only requires minor padding down to integrate well. On top of that, it actually sounds better.
01-27-10: DonjrDarn, I used to have a .pdf copy of the manual on my computer, but I cannot find it. The printed manual is in the kit box in storage.
Essentially, you need only 2(or 3) pieces of 4'x8' mdf wood, wood clamps/straps, table saw, wood glue, and some screws. A router(and roundover but) is best for the port hole and driver cutout, but they can be done with a jigsaw. The speaker plans are designed so that all panels and bracing come off the 2 sheets leaving no real scrap. So, you cut the 4 side panels and two top off each 4'x8' along with 4 1"-2" strips for vertical corner bracing/screw in.
I'm not real good with a table saw, so I spent a lot more time stressing over getting straight cuts than need be. But, it really didn't take that long once I got going. It probably took me an hour or two to trace out and make the cuts, including the port hole and driver cutout. Assembly after that is pretty quick if you've got clamps and/or wood straps to hold the cabinet together while the glue dries.
Some people added extra thin strips of ebony(?) strips diagonally across the largest panels to break up and tame resonances. I added Deflex sound panels in mine behind the 12" driver to absorb and break up reflections from the back of the driver off the back wall. Also some Wispermat on the walls(not completely covered). Both these products absorbed reflections AND deadened the panel resonances. Also, the plumbers putty on the speaker spider. This brought a much higher level of refinement to the sound.
I think I still have 2 extra Deflex pads to go with the kit.