Loudspeaker Cross-Overs and the Recording Arts


I've been thinking about mastering and the history of the recording industry and the effect on cross-over trends such as no cross-over at all, 6 db, 12 db, 50+db?

I'll bet if you track the history of the loudspeaker you'll see the recording mastering industry follow just a little retrograde.

If you've ever wondered why some heavily filtered speakers sound dead and boring with poor dynamics you might blame the big fat juicy cross-over network with its 100's and 100's of feet of signal killing components: polypropylene, tin, copper, c-boards, etc.. sucking up the loudspeakers potential fidelity many of these super complex cross-overs use sub par components too: just to keep the physical size down (as well as the price). So why do many loudspeaker manufactures use them? I believe it's because many of today's recordings are recorded to accommodate heavily truncated sound. Therefor, the recording itself is too bright and too hot so that it may seem like Hi-Fi once emitted from a loudspeaker with too much filter.

Different studios use different monitors hence different recordings.

I know of a Mastering studio in North Carolina which only uses fab Dunlavy loudspeakers for his mastering and well the sound is fantastic with one of today's minimally filtered loudspeakers because for the most part Dunlavy only used a 6db-12db cross-over and only driver with exceptionally clean roll-off character were chosen. The same music played through a fat cross-over is less than sublime with a loss in detail.. but is sublime with a highly sensitive monitor in other words the music was recorded to be optimal on Dunlavy type loudspeakers just like the ones used at the studio to master the recording.

I think we can see true fidelity improve in the industry once we get mastering up to snuff with more pure reproduction from their monitors.

IMO, there is a another factor that also effects the fidelity of the final mix. Recording engineers want the final mix to sound best over the playback system that it is most likely going to be heard. Hence newer pop recordings have lots of extra effects and is overly compressed to sound best as a MP3 file being played through some ear buds.
I know it's purely anecdotal but in my experiences it seems most often the minimal/ simpler speaker crossovers do sound more natural and present a more realistic tonality. I'm sure additional factors play a role in what I hear.
There's much much more to mixing and mastering than the monitors crossover design. I would go so far to say it's a miniscule part of the process. The premise of your post states that minimalist crossovers are better. Most studio monitors used for mixing have line level crossover because they are self-powered. As such they eliminate your concern.

There is much more to it and I know that as I've been involved with mastering however; The point remains everything comes out of the monitor and it calculated based on what the monitor produces.. You say line level you are incorrect for the most part???? There is no most mastering studios monitors are totally all over the beard.

LOL!! correction: studio mastering monitors are all over the BOARD not beard though beard is probably true as well.

Thanks for the laugh i-phone spell check
FWIW, I think the (cross-overless speaker owner?) OP is reaching.
In my experience there are many aspects of loudspeaker design that are of far, far greater audible consequence than the specific crossover topology the designer used to achieve his or her goals.

If you're going to be at RMAF, stop by room 1100 and listen to my system and try to guess the crossover topology and/or approximate parts count. If you are anywhere close, you get a free piece of candy. Actually you get the candy anyway, at least until we run out.

I was referring to monitors used for mixing. And the majority of them are powered using line level signals that eliminate most of your concerns about crossovers.
A paradox for me is the fact that many great sounding recordings used monitors from JBL, Heill, etc., that often had a response curve like a gigantic smile (all lows and highs)...or Altecs that were all mids. I hate the sound of Yamaha NS10s which to me are unlistenable, but became the most common monitor in studios all over the place for years (I bet a lot of studios still use them). Weird. Luckily, mastering techs could save the day.
Its more likely price - there is generally a 1 to 10 markup between what you pay in a store and cost of parts. Save $10.00 and you can sell for $100.00 less.

I mostly use minimal networks with robust transducers but 24db and other slopes all have a use. Depends on designers end goal.