Full range rear speakers

I am interested in others opinions who have tried HT setups with rear full range speakers verses "book shelf" speakers.

All direct radiating speakers. Was the extra money worth the over all effect, i.e.. more presence in the rear, or just roll the small speakers lows off to the subs and call it even?

A lot of this has to do with the individual movies that you watch. Most movies don't have full range sound from the rears and as such, it can be a waste for much of what you watch. As more movies are mixed in DTS and / or similar formats, you will notice more of a difference. Older Pro Logic and even most AC3 stuff is not even up to the task in terms of making the investment. Stick with something that uses "decent" sized woofers i.e. 6.5" - 8", etc...

Keep in mind that you also have a lot more to think about in terms of speaker placement, as i don't know too many "full range" speakers that can be wall or stand mounted, etc...

As a case in point, i had a pretty hard time getting my rear speakers situated in the room that i'm in. These speakers are actually towers and are slightly smaller versions of the mains that i have up front. They have a .75" tweeter, 1.5" dome upper midrange, 8" mid-woofer and two 10" woofers per cabinet. I'm driving these with 800 wpc, so there is no problem with performance potential in terms of spl or frequency response.

Quite honestly, i would probably NOT go for speakers that were this big had i known then what i know now. I would have went with something that was a little more "practical" and efficient. I only have that much power as that is about what it takes to make them "rock" when needed. Sean
Ok,George has a different opinion. For 10 years I have had full range rear speakers---Mirage 3si--NO SUB. (apt.dweller) One of the more common effects is thunder across the rears.Gotta get it all and know exactly where it's coming from. 10 years ago people had the opinion expressed above.(Didn't buy it then either.) Remember guys this ain't a double bass or organ music.-- So, yes it is a matter of personal tastes. Many today have receivers or muti gadgeted processors.Move up to one of them there Meridian processors--See your dynamics go up 10 fold,as in clean & clear.--"With sub" my be different. With no sub--go full range in the rear,if you're thinking that way. BTW, I've had 6 processors in the last year. They do differ. It ain't just about speakers. As in 2ch; everything in the chain matters.
George, i agree that there are times when "full range" does increase the effects and enjoyment. However, i think that "full range" is a relative thing. If a speaker can do 50 Hz with reasonable authority and roll off below that, i think that it would be more than sufficient for use as a rear channel speaker.

To me, "full range" means something that can do at least down into the low to mid 30 Hz range ( preferably into the 20's ) without straining. As such, i'm not recommending a "tiny" speaker for the rears but something that is reasonably efficient and goes "reasonably low". You don't necessarily need something that is "titanic" in terms of size or low frequency response. That is why i said that i would have went with something a little more reasonable i.e. a box that did not weigh 100+ lbs and need a horsepower worth of power to make it thunder.

For the record, my HT system has six 12's, four 10's and six 8's in it and is powered by 6000+ watts. As such, my point of view may be sligthly different than that of someone else with a different installation. Sean
Hi. I just demoed a 1/2 dozen rear surround full-range wall-mountable speakers, and was shocked that most of them, while sounding quite nice in free-space, sounded thick, muffled, and awry once boundary-compensation filled them in on the wall! The PSB and JM Labs especially had their nice signatures ruined by wall-mounting...yet they're geometry and intent is clearly that of wall-mounting! How ridiculous. Finally I stumbled upon the Boston Acoustics VR-MX rear surrounds, and was delighted...especially after chatiing with their designer, who heartily reinforced that he "of course compensated in the crossover and bass alignment" for boundary-loading. Sheesh!
So be VERY careful to audition your favorites up on the wall!
Thanks for the input. I guess it's like insurance, you don't often need it, but when you do it's great.

Sean, yea our "full range" idea is different. My is basically to about 45hz which seems to be the basic industry slandered. I would guess, guess, that most sub $5000 retail pair speakers really don't do much below 35hz.

My specifics are trying to decided between the new Meadowlark Osprey's (fuller range) and the smaller 2-way Swifts(6" woofer?) and such. Really I a debating cheaper speakers and a cable upgrade, or dump the money into speakers. Cables can wait.

Rear speaker placement, I really don't hope for much. I have been trying to nail down the front 3 and let the rears fall where they may. A sonically poor, i.e. too close to the wall, placement is the best I am hoping for.

This is a good thread and brings up a long debated topic: Full-range in the rear or not? My opinion is that if you can do it (meaning, afford it), then full-range in ALL channels is the best solution and the most enjoyable. One of the problems that can occur, if running the rear as "small" and using a sub to output LF, is the issue of LF directionality. Meaning, if you have let's say restricted LF rear speakers, and you set them up to crossover at 80Hz (kind of the standard), then it is VERY likely that LF notes intended to be perceived as occuring in the rear will in fact seem as though they are coming from the front. Yes, I know LF is supposed to be non-directional (depending on frequency of course), but what most folks seem to forget is that this is in an ideal world. In the real world, you will have certain objects vibrate in your room at given resonance frequencies which even though not coming directly from the sub itself (shouldn't be a problem in a well designed sub), will cause serious directionality issues. This is in addition to notes above ~25Hz that can be localized in and of themselves. So, what the heck am I saying? I don't know, I forgot ;-) Seriously, if you can run full-range all around do it. At the least, run two subs, one in the rear and one in the front.

Marty...The Ospreys would be overkill for rears unless you really have the extra money lying around. The Swifts TRULY do go down to 35Hz, so you wouldn't get the lowest notes in the rear, but it should be sufficient. In addition, the Swifts are front-ported, so you can put them right up against a wall (disclaimer: I am a dealer for Meadowlark).

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio

A dealer saying something would be an overkill, this must be a first. But then again, I would say most of us have warped perception of what an over kill is. At least I do.

The one thing I do not like about the Swifts is the tweeter height. They are truly a great speaker, I have a pair in my room as demos. I was very impressed with the sound.

With the Swifts, and the Kestrels and Shearwaters too basically, the tweeter height is just 4-6 inches too low for me. I could prop them up on blocks or something, I don't know I still might. The are cheaper.

The biggest down side, they(all three) looks like toys to me. I mean, matchsticks.... It is all relative, with a 7ch Sim Titan amp sitting on a lone amp stand in the room, most things look small. I am way too American, bigger is better mentality.


The Swifts certainly have a small stature, but boy is the sound BIG. I do understand what you are saying though.

I am of the same frame of mind, BIGGER is better ;-) Just buy Talon Khorus X for all channels, that should solve your size concerns ;-)

Your other concern about tweeter height is certainly a valid one. What you might consider is the Meadowlark Swallow monitor (and place them on their stands, which would make the tweeter about 4" higher than the Swift tweeter). The Swallow is sonically very similar to the Swift with less bass response (50Hz vs. 35Hz). Then purchase a sub for the rear to bring in the LF.

Also, as you mentioned, there is no reason that you could not place the Swifts on a raised block, platform, etc.

How do you like your Titan? We use one in the showroom for theater and it is a wonderful amp (HT and 2ch).

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
So in the end what would sound better? "Fuller" range Ospreys, or the Swallows with a sub? I have an unused sub, HSU VFT-2, just sitting around. I have always thought running the speaker high level lines into the sub and using its crossover, or low level signal single ended into the sub, but I always thought that was the "cheaper" and lower quality way of doing things.

I am so confused, by this whole bass issue. I'll just take Sean's approach and have two/four/six of everything..:) I do have stereo subs, and I am wondering why. With all "large" speakers on the cross over settings it kinda takes the fun out of the right left deal. But the localization and response issues are still very valid reasons for stereo subs.

Sim stuff, I have all three. It sucks.... Love hate deal. It is very quirky and can be hard to use at times. The 7ch amp is so much bigger than the 5ch and currently I am only using 5 channels. I guess I should buy the rear center, not like much information comes from it thou. I have been planning on getting the Petrel(what ever small center is called).

Thanks for the input. I just would like to do things right.


Depends on what the application will be. If you are going to listen to a lot of multichannel music, then you might want the higher quality bass that the Osprey will provide, over the HSU (great sub by the way, bass just won't be as fast and musical as the Osprey). If on the other hand you will be watching more movies than multichannel music, save some money and go with the HSU and the Swallows.

One last thought to really get you confused, have you considered the Meadowlark Owl Bipole/Dipole to use as the surround channels?

FYI...The Meadowlark center channel that sonically matches the Swift/Osprey/Swallow is called the Swan...You aren't the only one that gets confused by all of these bird names by the way ;-)

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
In multi-poop don't the rears basically do the same thing? Recreate the ambiance of the venue? I have not gotten into mulitchannel music, which might cause me to be biased.

Why do people say that multichannel music line? To me a speaker should reproduce what ever is asked of it, in a similar fashion. I know this is a generalization, and therefore why are some speakers more "musical" than others, which some clearly are. I know an explosion is not "musical" but it is still comprised of basic wave formations. I know science can not spit ot a formula for what is "musical" and so hands on experience is all one can do.

Di/Bi poles, I just don't want to mess with these. It is just a decision I have made, wise or unwise, who knows.

"Multi-poop", that is a good one ;-) Haven't heard it stated that way before, ROFLMAO

All I was saying was that the bass of the Osprey will be more musical simply because it was designed to be so (as compared to the HSU).

In a sense you are correct, that the rears are only for re-creation of the venue. However, this is not always the case as some recordings do have instrument/voice sent to the rear channels (whether this is a good or bad thing is a topic for another thread ;-] )

Your questions are good ones, but this is the deal: It takes a MUCH better transducer to faithfully create the harmonics, tonal reverberations, string slide, etc. of a cello (just an example), than it does to reproduce a big boom from a soundtrack (unless that "boom" is from an orchestral source). These are just my opinions, but when a transducer is described as "musical", it simply means that it is more capable of faster transients, dynamics, and transparency. A "musical" speaker is typically much more linear across the entire frequency spectrum than a non-musical speaker.

I don't care for Dipoles/Bipoles either, just wanted to make sure your were aware that they are available (if you wanted to go that route).

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
"faster transients, dynamics, and transparency" I guess the question is this wasted in the HT application?


I don't think it is completely wasted, but if you are looking at 100% HT, I personally wouldn't spend the extra money. I will put it this way: Speakers designed for "music" sound great with HT applications, but speakers designed purely for the purpose of HT, will usually not do that well with music. Make sense?

Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Makes sense Mike, thanks for the input. In this case I would be considering "musical" small or large speaker. Off the top of my head I can't think of any speakers designed purely for HT(and don't want to know:)) Ya know, good stuff all around.

It is said that both NHT and Definitive Technology speakers were designed from the ground up for HT purposes although, of course, neither company would ever admit this and both are marketed as dual-use systems.

There's my rumor for the day...

I would DEFINITELY agree with Def Tech being for theater (although they aren't that great for that purpose either). They are terrible for music (my opinion, so be nice). The older NHT line (the speakers designed by Ken Kantor) are VERY good for both HT and music (VT-2,2.5i, 2.9, and 3.3 specifically). They can tend to be bright and in your face though if you don't run them with the proper electronics.

Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
A vote for NHT . . . . go with the older NHT focused image geometry line, and stick with models that have the original soft dome tweeter, as opposed to the newer metal tweeter. I use 2.3As in the front and 2.1s in the rear (almost identical -- the 2.3As are about 3 1/2" taller and have a little deeper bass) with dual 1.3A centers, and they sound great with both home theater and music. Plus, you can pick them up used here on Audiogon for a song.

You still need to avoid bright electronics, but the soft tweeter models are a lot less harsh than the metal tweeter models. I use Rotel amps, and they seem to work just fine.

And definitely go for the full-range rears . . . when I went to the 2.1 rears in place of the SuperZeroes I was using, there was a significant improvement in the quality of 5.1 channel playback.