single driver speakers

Someone please help me out here...

I am struggling to understand how a single driver system can sound anywhere near as good as a multiple-driver system with crossovers...

I understand that crossovers and multiple drivers can have issues with interference, phase, etc - but those drawbacks would seem to be vastly outweighed by the increased frequency response and clarity within a frequency spectrum that a multi-driver system produces.

I see these

and just can not wrap my mind around how they could sound better than a multi-driver system costing 1/10 as much. (no knock intended on the seller of these speakers, I was just browsing listings and saw them so it made me wonder)

you're right. it cannot.
You're right, it cannot.
However, done right, it may reproduce the heartland of the recording second to none.

I do not know how they work but I can give you my opinion for what is worth. I have owned two different single driver speakers.

I owned The 2nd Rethm with an upgraded Lowther driver with an upgraded silver voice coil driver and wired with Crimson speaker cable for 15 years. I enjoyed ther clarity but they were a little too “shouty”. It is hard to beat the huge soundstage, midrange and bass clarity. The limited bass depth was sufficient for me. However I found that the treble was a bit too cut off and grainy. They were also hard to integrate into my living room decor.

I now have a pair of Audience 1+1 V2+’s in my main system and the  smaller version called The One in my office system. I maintained the midrange clarity, soundstage and gained treble focus. 

I won’t tell you that multi driver speakers are better or worse but I all I can say is that once I compared single driver speakers to multi driver speakers is that I preferred Single Diver speakers since then. You might want to get a hold of A pair of the Audience 1+1’s, try Galen Carol Audio, he may have a thirty day return policy and are only the size of a medium sized toaster. This makes them easy to move them around and set up.

I have also heard the Tocoro’s, another single driver speaker, I found those quite compelling as well. Dreamonoids, in San Antonio, TX  sells them so you might want to give those a try if you are curious about a larger single driver speaker. You might want to audition those as well. 

One thing I have experienced through the years is that the cleaner the power delivery, power chords, speaker cables and interconnects of good quality elevates their musical clarity.

Have fun,


Really nice cabinets but 35k drivers on those? These are outliers for sure so I wouldn’t make too many generalizations based upon them. 
Altec 755's in a two-cubic foot sealed box will give you satisfying bass and enough treble for pleasurable listening!
A lot of folks like Zu  fans is considered thah single driver with supertweeter  or without is the best
I think some of this is mythology, and much of it is personal taste. In the past integrating multiple drivers was really difficult. Multi-way speakers pre-date the electronic spreadsheet, PC’s and of course crossover simulation tools by decades. A lot of trial and error and wasted time IMHO. This is why some of the Genesis speaker crossovers are so utterly wonky.

Some of this has to do with where we hear individually. My suggestion, rather than going on argument, is build a pair for yourself. Some kits start at $150 per pair:

Some advantages are time co-incident, and point source behavior. That is, going off axis there are no possible lobing or interference patterns (depending on the actual driver design). In this way they act like the old thiel, and modern co-axial TAD or Kef designs. 

And let's face it, they appeal to the purists. Multi-way speakers, on the other hand, are complicated. Lots of capacitors, coils, resistors, etc. are all participating in the final result. It is fair to question whether any of this detracts from 

If you want a multi-way with an absolute minimalist crossover, consider the A26 kit:


Voxativ used like with  Pure Audio Project use woofers  just formidbass,low bass the purity of the single driver can shine 
But No 1 driver can do it all.  I havd iwned,No names these 15 inch 
Full range drivers ,in s proper large ,cabinet, they too have peaks 
At certain midrange frequencies that can be stringent .
I now have a excellent monitor- monitor sudio New Studio coupled to their engineered stands.
Flanked by good Subwoofers. And sounds Excellent- don't let the price throw you off it is more accurate then any speaker under $10k
A Mega best buy,for under $2k buy at least 1 very good subwoofer
I have their Silver W12selling st 45% off ,older model.,there are several very good Brands of Subwoofers
As pointed out by some of the replies above, single drivers have wonderful midrange, speed, tone, timbre and clarity that is hard for mutiway drivers to match. For example, a piano covers a wide frequency range. The bass will be covered by a woofer, mids by either a smaller cone driver or a dome mid of different material, impedance, sensitivity, dispersion,  compared to the woofer. And the high frequencies of the piano will be covered by a tweeter, again of different size, structure, performance, measurements etc compated to the mid and woofer.
In a single driver, the entire piano’s frequency range is covered by the same driver acting as a point source, which is the ideal. Consistency, coherence, no phase changes, smmoth imoedance curve etc.
Another key point of single drivers is the high sensitivy. They don’t need a lot of power. You can use direct heated single ended power amps. And that's another argument between solid state snd tube amps.
Note that most owners of single drivers started with multiway systems.
Keep an open mind, go listen to a well made single driver, anything from a Zu, Rethm, Voxactiv etc.
Tell us your findings. You might end up joining the club.
If your in the NJ, NY, Eastern PA area or you want to fly to Newark Liberty make an appointment with Brian of Charney Audio. He builds full range single driver rear loaded horns based on the Tractrix theory.
I have had the pleasure of listening to Zu, Rethm, Beauhorn, Lamhorn, Horning, Cardersound, Cain&Cain, Voxativ and Carfrae. None of them can deliver the full spectrum of sound quality like the Charney Audio offerings! About a year ago I had the privilege of listening to the Charney Companion Lowther DX65 ($6500.00) next to the Voxativ Ampeggio Signature ($33,000.00) at a dealer. There was no compaison! Companion Lowther DX65 was superior to Ampeggio Signature in all areas! Imaging, soundstage, tonal balance, depth of field, and deep articulate bass. Yes I said deep articulate bass from a 5.5" driver, no sub needed! This from a speaker that is 1/5th the cost! Charney also offers the Companion with a Voxativ AR 2.6 driver ($8900.00) that slightly betters the DX65, but at a much higher cost.

Find out for yourself with a visit to Charney Audio.

Another vote for Charney if you want single driver. Of course all designs have there pluses and minuses so always something to keep in mind. You might gain in one area and give up in another. Lots of fun to try different designs though.
Single drivers must be the future, we just need the engineering to catch up. Overnight multiways will become obsolete.

In the meantime if you can live with their limitations then good for you. If you can't, then at least try to find a speaker where the entire midrange is covered by a single unit.

Unfortunately, in a lot of speakers the crossover point could not be placed in a worse point.
I cannot answer for the speakers above but I have built field coil speakers that will take your breath away.  The need a fast sub to integrate with them but you cannot find or hear any other speaker that has the speed, clarity and musicality of them.  The drivers used cost $3500 and up per pair that I used in building them.  They are powered by a external power supply no crossovers here.  

Most speakers today are permanent magnet which means they have a fixed magnetic field created by a magnet. With a fixed magnet speaker the voice coil is suspended in a gap between the poles of the magnet. The voltage that is applied to the voice coil causes it to move in and out.

A field coil speaker uses two coils; the voice coil and a field coil. Instead of a magnet, DC is applied to the field coil creating a magnetic field. This takes the place of the permanent magnet in creating the fixed magnetic field. Field coil-based drivers claim to drastically reduce distortion levels, and are able to control the driver much more accurately. Drivers in speakers vibrate up to thousands of times per second. Some claim that permanent magnets actually lose strength slightly with each vibration, causing a loss of low-level information and a blurring of the signal. Field coil drivers, with their own power supplies should not lose strength and so have much less distortion than their permanent magnet counterparts.

Like electrostatic speakers, field coil speakers have to be plugged-in to work. The sound gets more relaxed as you lower the voltage, and the highs and lows will be more extended and detailed as you raise the voltage.  What you hear is just pure music beautifully reproduced.

Hope this helps.  Happy Listening.

single driver speakers can do good only on vocals and string quartets.
nothing else will be sounding up to par no matter whatcha do.


I heard the Cube Audio Magus speakers at AXPONA, they were playing a lot of old-school jazz and big-band (Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, etc).  It sounded great - a lot more bass than you'd expect from a single-driver (the cabinets use quarter-wave transmission lines, so I'm sure that helped) and the treble was smooth and pleasant, I didn't feel like I was missing anything in the sound of the trumpets for example.  

I don't know how well they'd hold up to a full orchestral recording of Mahler's 2nd or Shostakovich's 5th, or if they'd be able to throw down some hard rock, I have a feeling that the single driver could easily get overtaxed if asked to reproduce a huge frequency range at high SPLs, but for what they were playing they sounded fantastic.  
@czarivey  -  'single driver speakers can do good only on vocals and string quartets nothing else will be sounding up to par no matter whatcha do.'

You have obviously not listened to the latest in single driver speakers.  I also heard the Cube at AXPONA and agree with tutetibiimperes on how good they sounded.  I have been the very happy owner of a pair of Omega Super Alnico Monitors, which are single driver speakers, and they are very good not only on 'small' music ranging from small acoustic combos, string quarters, Schumann vocal pieces, but also on 'larger' and more expansive music including Mahler (1st for me), Pink Floyd, the Who, and movie soundtracks (e.g., Pirates of Caribbean, Gladiator).  Granted, one will not get the deepest vestiges of bass or sustained very high SPLs from a 6.5 inch driver, but they sure can convey an incredibly satisfying and realistic aural picture across a very wide spectrum of musical styles.  You owe it to yourself to go out and hear what today's designers using single drivers are capable of achieving.
I heard most of Lowther single driver designs and made my conclusions after listening few. I couldn't become SET/single driver dude sorry.
This is the speaker for those who need more dynamics/SPL.

The Super Alnico High Output is not a 2 way design, but a 1.5 way design.

What separates it from a 2 way design?

The drivers are identical exept for the dustcap of the low frequency (LF) driver.
There is no power sucking, midrange muddying crossover.
The LF driver is cut off at 200Hz, so there is no phase and time misalignment as in a two way speaker.
The HF driver still functions as a single driver, single point source running full range.
2 drivers work less hard as 1 driver.
Same combined surface area as a 9.5" single driver.
Higher efficiency (97dB)
More dynamic performance than a single driver.
Will play louder than a single driver.
Will handle more complex music than a single driver and is just as fast.

Super Alnico High Output Specifications

Sensitivity: 97 dB
Impedance: 4-6 ohms
Driver: Twin Proprietary 6.5" Omega Alnico HempCone (1 whizzer, 1 dustcap)
Frequency Response: 35-20kHz
Dimensions: (without spikes) 38"H x 9"W x 14"D
Weight: 50 lbs. each in a shipping box
Power Requirements: as little as 2 watts
Crossover: None

An easy entry to single driver is available at Madisound. The Markaudio Alpair 7 mounted in a recommended "Pensil" enclosure can provide a peek at the potential of single driver systems. The enclosures are easy to build and inexpensive using 3/4" plywood. The Pensil is a mass loaded transmission line, basically just a box with a slot at the bottom. Used in nearfield, some listeners may feel this is satisfying enough to not look elsewhere. At the total cost of under $300 including hardware and finishing, it might be worth a try.

I have a pair of these and find them quite nice.  As I indicated, they work well in the nearfield,  Satisfying bass, very good detail, nice treble extension and smooth response.  Dynamics are sharp.  Soundstage and imaging reflect the quality of the upstream electronics and recording.  

I did not have the same kind of results with some of the other drivers in the Markaudio line or from other manufacturers.
czarivey wrote: " I heard most of Lowther single driver designs and made my conclusions after listening few."

With all due respect, that's like stating that you rode in every trim model of the Chevy Cruze and so based on that experience you can comment on all 4-door automobiles.  Single driver, HE speakers may not be your listening choice but please don't try to influence someone else based on your limited experience.
Dear Otter Water , I had the same question 2 years ago . So I asked around like you did .  After some research , I purchased a pair of used Zu Omens . The gentleman I purchased them from went on to buy Voxative and   
DeVore speakers ( both expensive ) . It’s apples to oranges for the comparison to big multi speaker systems . So on a budget ( $8k ), I have a tube pre, SEP 12 wpc amp , DAC , CD transport,  Sub , and quality cabling . It does lack in certain areas . But the clarity , imaging and depth is phenomenal ! But you have to be in the SWEET SPOT . It’s like being in a pair headphones . Vocals and strings are unreal . Simple rock is clean . But something like “ Supertramp , Crime of the Century “ will have my system stumbling all over itself . I find my system best suited for late night listening alone . However Pink Floyd and the Beatles sound exceptionally good, and the bass is really impressive . If I jump from an El 34 to a KT 120 and play Grand Funk or Canned Heat, I can leave the sub off. If you remove the “ My dog is bigger then Your Dog “ comments , the info provided in this thread is correct , based on my limited experience . My next system will be big again. But before that happens , I’m going to get back into vinyl . My Schiit Yiggy and my MF transport can only do so much . The other big caveat is that my system will not make up for lesser quality recordings. Best wishes to you and if you take the leap , many places have a trial period. Respectfully, Mike B. 
Hello babyseaotter99,

i can speak a bit to this topic, with limitations, of course. I built a pair of single driver speakers to use with a tube amp kit (Bob Latino ST-120 kit, 70 wpc).  The drivers are Mark Audio Alpair 12p, cabinets are a slight variation of the Pencil design.  The rest of the chain is Rotel CD player with Arcam irDac, ProJect Carbon Debut w/Ortofon Blue cartridge, Schiit Mani phono pre, Schiit Saga preamp.  My experience has been this: single drivers are very nice for smaller scale music, but they fall short on bigger more complicate stuff, as to be expected.  These particular drivers have a very long break-in (Mark Audio suggests 300 hours, the first 100, I think at very low volume), I’ve had them over a year and it feels like they are still mellowing out.  Bass is very substantial for an 8” driver, and of nice quality too, considering the cabinet is vented (I’m learning that sealed cabinets are my thing!).  Midrange is very pleasingly detailed on good recordings, especially on those less complicated ones (think jazz trios, chamber quartets, etc.).  Where they fall very short is in treble quality, which can often sound etched and unnatural, sometimes even at low volumes.  The pros: you can build your own speakers for pretty cheap, $300 drivers, $80 MDF, $30 other parts, no crossover, so simple and straightforward.  The cons: they simply will not rock like a multi way, of course, so the program material they can handle is limited. Rickie Lee Jones and a piano will sound great, Metallica will not, especially as the volume goes up. For an investment of $400, you can have some fun and some speakers that can go head to head with ones I heard at Axpona this year that go for $4000. It’s much harder to get that kind of value in a multi way speaker.  
@seanheis1 Wow! Life must be tougher for audiophiles in America. So many choices and so much happening in the world of loudspeakers.

Along with Devore and Zu there seems to a trend towards minimalist drivers and crossovers - and high efficiency paper cones too.

This could well be another golden age of loudspeaker design. 
I have Loth-X Troubadours with 10 inch Stamm drivers in a folded horn construction. They are not made anymore. They are 104db so keep mobile phones away...they can be driven of a headphone amp! Using them with either 8 W pc 300b or 25 W pc 211 amps. Better than multiple drivers? Put it this way, I am also mastering and cutting records for a living, and I always bring the test pressings home to listen on the Loth-X set up. We have an awesome multi driver and 95db efficient setup using 211 tubes in the studio for mastering, which has superb resolution to 0.5 db, but it is the "nothing there" clarity of the Loth-X that is unbeatable. 
gotta have yourself a listen. I used to pick them apart, couple songs later, their magic simply takes over. a quality set amp and high efficiency speakers are very rewarding. I ditched the multi drivers (;
key is they need tubes. Solid state amps don't normally control their woofers properly and it can be a real mess. 
This article from Nelson Pass is a must read for those interested in this subject. 
It addresses many of considerations around matching amplifiers with the single driver speakers.

I like full-range drivers, but, I particularly like them as extended range drivers in multi-driver systems.  The Jensen/ERPI M-10 field-coil driver with a tweeter, as an example, makes quite an extraordinary system.  I also heard a two-way system using the Japanese GIP-4165 field-coil driver (Western Electric clone) and that was killer good too. 

As for true full range, single driver systems, the best I've heard is probably the Charney with the Voxativ driver.  It delivered the speed and immediacy of single driver systems without sounding harsh, nasal and peaked in the upper midrange and treble range; the primary shortcoming was a lack of high frequency extension.  Voxative also makes a very good sounding full range system using its own drivers.  A friend utilized a field-coil Feastrix driver in a nice custom system, but, it really needed something to boost the bass response.

While I do like the immediacy and liveliness of the Western Electric/Altec 755 driver, it is WAY too colored and tinny for my taste in a single driver system.  Its much rarer cousin, the 756 is a better driver, and it too, still needs a tweeter.  The addition of a tweeter, even when the full-range driver is being run full-range (not being attenuated by the crossover), somehow smooths out the response and makes it less harsh and ragged sounding. 

They can do a hell of a good job due to:
- much stronger magnets, especially when field coil
- efficiency of driver...moves much faster and is so able to provide all needed frequencies while the other very important advantage is pin point imaging, but still wide sound stage, amazing dynamics and incredible sound coherence
- cabinet construction enhances bass to sometimes incredible levels and also augments sensitivity
- high efficiency leaves room for better and purer low output amps, to which such speakers remain more faithful in their reproduction of music than low efficiency drivers
Yes, one of the best attributes of most single driver and horn systems is the ability to work with low-output amps.  The only "high-powered" amp I liked a lot was a custom-built OTL amp that was massive in size; it turned out that it had an output of 30 watts.  The only solid state amps I thought sounded decent were the First Watt F2 and an SIT amp that a friend built based on a First Watt schematic; both are pretty low on output.
The Pathos TT  is very good also
I built my single driver system and love it!! I've had a few people come listen and they're always blown away of the sound that is coming out. If you are in the central CA area let me know and I'll demo it to you. 

I hope you are willing to share details about your single driver system, such as the kind of driver and the type of cabinet it is in. 

I have heard systems built around a pretty wide assortment of drivers--from modest Tang Band drivers (quite good) to Feastrix field coil drivers (a friend got them at a super bargain price of $18k for a pair) to 1940-50 drivers--and they all share an immediacy and liveliness that is quite addicting.  I have also seen such drivers used in a wide array of cabinets--transmission lines, back-loaded horns, open baffle, sealed box, bass-reflex--so I am curious how you did your system.  
Its a Audio Nirvana/ Schiit combo w/ a subwoofer xover at 45hz. The boxes are a internally braced/insulated bass reflex type with a large port opening and is made from 1" Birch. Someday I'll add to the virtual systems portion but chances are I won't due to threads like this. 


Thanks for the information.  I looked up the Audio Nirvana drivers.  I like what I saw.  I am a fan of drivers with pleated fabric surrounds; they tend to be more lively sounding than drivers with the half-roll soft surrounds that are common these days. 

You can’t understand what “coherent” means until you’ve heard a good single driver speaker. They have their weaknesses (like everything), but they have a naturalness and coherence that nothing else can compete with.