single versus multiple driver?

I have for years been thinking over the idea of a single driver easy load speaker with low powered set amps. I would love to take the plunge but am a little weary about the performance and risk. I listen to mostly classical,opera,jazz,older pop recordings and the like. I am presently using a pair of sounddynamics three way 300ti speaker and driving them B&K M200 amps. also bass is supported with the use of a Rel StrataIII sub. I am asking the question have any gone to single and been very disapointed and gone back to multiple drivers? I mean it really seems like a no brainer single speaker with no crossover should account to better sound? Thank you all and happy holiday.
Been there and back and then back again only to leave(kinda).

I've had very modest single driver experience so take this with a major grain of salt. Had Ed Schilling;s little horn, and now Omega's Super 3 xrs. In between I've had Magnapan;'s LS3 5a's, Devore's etc....

Single drivers can be extremely musical, even revelatory if your tastes in music cooincide with their strengths. Utimatley I think that you can get "there" a bit easier with multiway's than with singles but others will disagree.

I've heard lowthers, phy's, and many fostexs in various configurations and some were very very serious attempts at full range sound. They all were mighty impressive but....

Right now I'm intrigued with my current setup. 4.5 inch hempcone(Omega xrs) with a foutek ribbon tweeter on top with just a single cap as a crossover, very nice and the process of picking the right cap teaches you a lot about speaker voicing.

Every serious audio nut should try it. If I had the luxury of multiple listening rooms there is no doubt one would be a single driver setup. Not having a crossover in the critical midband is something that is hard to give up once experienced.
i have several setups, fortinate i know. i have a 4.5" fostex with an 8" sub, it has a presence and detail that my more conventional 3 way and 2way setups do not. i have never heard the larger single drivers, nor the big transmission line and horn enclosures. . however, the more complicated the sound the more difficult it is for the smaller single drivers to do. if you like music that is acoustical and vocal, the singles excel.

if you have the luxury, try the little guys with your sub, see how you like them, i think you will be grateful you did
Multi-driver configurations can cover the frequency spectrum better, but have problems with phase coherence, time-delay, spatial irregularities. Various technical solutions mitigate these, but cannot eliminate them.

Single-drivers have their own advantages and problems: excellent coherence and presence, but limitations in frequency response and their own coherence problems when it comes to complex music.

Coaxial drivers offer a "middle way" that overcomes some of the limitations of both approaches. They must still use a crossover, but it can be simple, and it overcomes the the multi-driver's artificiality of having musical information coming from two or more points in space.

For my ears and budget, coaxials offer the best compromise (remember that all speakers are a compromise) between the virtues of the single-driver and the multi-driver approach.

They are by definition more expensive to engineer and manufacture than two comparable separate drivers.

Try the Great Plains Audio 604-8H-II ( or the Iconic 704-8A ( or any of the 12" or 15" Tannoy dual concentrics (I prefer those from the "DMT" series, made from about 1990 to 2002; others swear by the vintage Tannoy models: Monitor Golds, HPDs, etc.)

Another advantage of the coaxials is that is relatively easy to buy raw drivers and crossovers and make, or have made, your own cabinets, which saves serious money compared to buying factory-made cabinets.

Serious Stereo ( makes a very fine speaker based on the GPA 604-8H-II, but a pair is circa $10K, whereas you can buy the raw drivers direct from the manufacturer for under $1500/pr. and make your own cabinets.

Another advantage of these drivers is a feature they share with many single-driver designs--high sensitivity (95-100 dB), which leaves you free to use low-power SET amps or high powered solid state or anything in between.

BTW, I have no affiliation with any of the companies I mentioned; I'm just a long-time and satisfied user of some of their products.

Happy listening!

A driver large enough to produce low frequencies has too much mass to allow for the quick movement needed to produce higher frequencies. That's why a single driver is not used, except in things like portable radios. Devices that use a single driver will be compromised too much in either high or low frequencies relative to a good multi-driver design. Otherwise, everybody would be making them.
cone drivers are usually not as linear as electrostatic drivers, ribbons or planar magnetic drivers.

so the question should include these drivers as well.
i believe cones are flawed, whether one or several.
cabinets and crossovers do not help either.

it surprises me that there are so few panel designs commercially available.
given your musical preferences, you may be disappointed.
Consider active speakers. There is no crossover and less IMD from the complex interaction of multiple drivers all connected to one amp. Tannoys have active dual concentric speakers if you are concerned about point source.
Larger fullranges can produce deep bass. So many only have experance with very small drivers that could never aproach fullrange but folks still call them such. Face it 4 1/2in driver can not be fullrange;) That being said a good fullrange loudspeaker in proper cabinet design can produce very deep detailed bass and quality trebile but it will not be cheap. Many manufacters offer the small comprimised so called fullranges in wee AS boxes.Sure they can sound fine in small room or nearfield but they dont show what a true fullrange realy can do. That being said I perfer compresion drivers in multiway systems very costly to do right. Dont over look fullranges with super tweeters or bass drivers or other loudspeaker designs you can have it all if loudspeakers designed right but most are major comprimises designed for profits, WAF,trends or shipping costs as much as performance.
Check out this link of a review of Ed Schillings Horns "". I listen to a wide variety of music from Patricia Barber to the Might Metallica and the Horns sound exceptional with both types of music. Got Metallica up to 105db with only 8 watts of power from my Jolida 300b. They are an exceptional value.
Pr Font
What you've described above seems very interesting
Is this a diy design or did Omega build the xrs with an added tweeter

I would be interested in hearing more
I agree with Jaybo and Johnk. I currently use single driver speakers, have owned several others and heard many. Unless you are going to spend big money on a well designed and built example, you may be disappointed for your preference of music (classica/opera). Yes, an inexpensive SD speaker can play loud (Cycloneharry) or play well in a small room or near-field (Johnk), but it takes a seriously designed/built Single-Driver speaker to pull off Orchestral or Opera at concert volumes. All of the moderately prices SD speakers I've heard fail miserably at large scale classical music.

That said, for my music preference of small group jazz, folk rock, chamber music or even well recorded rock music, a simple AS single driver speaker can be a revelation in a smallish room and especially in the near-field.


I listen at about 12 feet away and the size of my room is 16' x 30', not a small listening room or near field by any means. They are free standing if you put these rear loaded horns directly into corners you can increase the db they produce by 5 or 6db. Hey I also have a pair of Tyler pro dynamics PD30's and let me tell you these little horns dont miss a beat.
I've hesitated responding to this thread because I'm a "Rookie" with regard to single driver speakers, but I thought I'd add my limited experience with my Lowther Transmission Line speakers. I just finished listening to a new Dave Matthews CD "Live at Piedmont Park" and it is as dynamic a CD that I own. I'm blown away with the accuracy of the bass and the detail all the up through the symbols. I'm listening at levels just below 90dB in my living room. At volumes above this level they do get congested. Bass is measuring down to 30Hz. I'm not experienced with grand orchestral recordings, but to single out all SD speakers for chamber music would be a mistake.
I've heard a number of modern single driver speakers as well as modern designs using ancient Altec/Western Electric drivers. They make most conventional speakers sound lifeless and drab in terms of dynamics. But, the lack of bass/midbass and the midrange coloration is quite pronounced. Personally, while I might tolerate the coloration if I listened only to instrumental jazz and female vocals, I find it particularly hard to listen to such systems with orchestral classical music and opera.
Hey Mijknarf ..rookie? Any man that can build his own speakers like no rookie my friend!

SDs are just like any other speaker. They all have their flaws. You just choose what you can live with.

As far as bass shy and mid bass shy goes..not all single drivers are created equal. I listened to a friend's vintage klipsch a few weeks ago. My single drivers easily dug deeper and had better highs than this multi way speaker. In fact I couldn't find anything about the klipsch that actually bettered my SDs. Even the drum attack in RR music was missing by comparison.

If it were better in some ways, I would honestly say ...just not the case with this multi way. I'm sure his klipsch play much louder..that's about it.
Hi Gmood1,

I am curious, what driver do you use and what kind of enclosure is it in? I am amazed at the variety of successful ways single drivers are used -- bass reflex, front-loaded horn, back-loaded horn, transmission line, etc.

I started with Omega's super 3xrs which is a small floorstander. I was a little dissapointed in the overall balance, which certainlty could be how they are placed in my room(close to front wall). They were surprisingly, a little too warm and rich for my tastes.

I did a little research, noticed some speakers that I admired with ribbon tweeters, and ordered a pair of fountek neo2.0s from madisound. From there is was a mater of experimenting with the proper cap value(.47uf for me) to achieve the right balance. This took about a month of experimentation. The fountek added that wonderful air and extension that balanced the xrs's slighty rich sound. It sits on top of the speaker and is not attached other than to be shimmed slighty to get the right level.

As stated above by others, a 4.5 incher is ideally suited to smaller rooms and lower volumes . This happen to be my priorities/situation fortunately and this combo is a superb low volume solution. I listen to a wide range of music from classical, jazz, world and alternative.
My speaker uses a Fostex F200a driver in a mass loaded transmission line.
I don't know what number of drivers is best,but I can say that I had made it my business to hear the HUGE multi driver BIG Nola Exotica Grand system,driven by the ASR Emitter amps,not too long ago.In a dedicated,and very well set up room.SOTA room acoustucs,and all honesty I had a headache after about thirty minutes.Yes,they were dynamic,and had all of the "audio" traits,but there was just something annoting about the sonic presentation.Just my opinion
Shortly before "that" listen I had heard the diminutive two way Kharma 3.2's driven by the FABULOUS Lamm 2.1 amps.I brought a bunch of my reference Lp's and CD's with me."The flutter of Angel wings"!!That is how it seemed to me,as the sound,though on a much smaller scale,just floated around me.I LOVED IT!!!
single or multi driver cone designs have colorations. everytime i hear a cone design, i hear the cabinet and the drivers. i guess one man's trash is another man's treasure.
Mr tennis Stats are some colored loudspeakers heck most are just mylar I hear this on all I have owned or heard, stats have limited dynamic range,reduced SPL, rolled off on both hi and low frequincy, cost much, can be very large, if you want some dynamics or frequincy range most need crazy amounts of power and are very hard to place many are fragile and need replacement panals or rebuilds they also attract dust.Sure they do some things very well but they are far from a perfect transducer or loudspeaker.Glad you found what you enjoy but far from the perfect loudspeaker as are most all.

I heard a Fostex driver (don't recall the model), in a tall, very shallow and slim transmission line enclosure (resembled a "RoomTune" acoustic treatment device). Aside from a lack of very deep bass, this was a terrific sounding speaker. It had less of the kind of coloration I expected to hear from from single driver speakers (less than speakers I heard with Altec 555 and certain Lowther speakers I have heard).

I liked the speaker I heard a lot.

I loved my 10.1 Bose towers
I loved my ML Aerius-1s
I loved my B&W 804s and 803s
I loved my Tyler Taylo's and Linbrooks
I loved my Super Abbys and Bailey sub
I now love my Eric-1s/Almarro combo

They all had weaknesses and strengths ... as always, live with them and then move on ... and soon I return to single-driver speakers, though my Cains weren't quite SDs. So it goes.
hi johnk:

nothing is perfect. some stats have restricted dynamics. the problem is not in the treble.i have heard martin logans, quads, sound labs and other panel speakers that are not rolled off in the top.

my point is that an instrument sounds timbrally less inaccurate on a panel than on any cone speaker.

when i listen to most cone designs the performance does not sound real . when i listen to a well set up panel, there is some semblance of reality.

not all panels require a high current solid state amplifier.
Unless someone comes out with a better speaker than Ed's Hornshoppe Horns (factoring in the price as well) I'll never go back to a multiple driver speaker. They are so true to the sound. Keep in mind, all single driver speakers don't even remotely sound the same so take all personal experience with that grain of salt. I believe Ed has found the perfect driver (Fostex has a big line of drivers) that suits his cabinet design perfectly. The only way I'll upgrade is if I win the lottery and try some larger, single driver design (I'll probably be disappointed when I do).
Ah yes..I think I've seen the speaker you describe..I can't remember what site it was on. The TL loaded SDs are a give and take. I give up SPLs above 100 dB or so. What I gain is not pounding bass but deep well defined bass.

You know the kind of bass that is the foundation without over riding the rest of the music.If it is done correctly it makes many bass reflex or even sealed speakers sound disconnected in the bass region. If one hasn't heard bass that was totally in sync ..they do not know what their missing.

It sounds insane I know. You can get bass in the 20 Hz range with one 8 inch driver in the right enclosure without a hint of boominess.

Mrtennis needs to hear a pair of good OB might just put the stats/ planars away my friend! LOL
i heard the hornshop horns. i don't see the big deal about them. it's just a speaker. they were driven by a deckert set amp.

a panel speaker is much preferred.
A few years back I took a long drive out to E Hampton, NY to listen to a pair of Carolina Audio JTM's. A single driver speaker. I was using a pair of Dynaudio 1.8MKII's.
Well when I walked into the sellers house and I first saw those speakers did I ever thought how I just wasted my time and gas money for such a long ride. Was I disappointed.
A 4" driver in a wide shallow tall box. Yuck!
Well I was there so I took a listen.
Within 5 minutes I said I'll take em.
Sold the 1.8's within days and never looked back.
Now they didn't go deep enough in the bass for me.
After all I built a pair of Fried model "H" subs for the Dynaudio's. I had Ronnie build me a pair of transmission line subs using the no longer available 7" Jordan driver.
I now have the best bass I've ever heard.
No Not boom, boom, thud that's so prevalent today.
The bass is like comparing the midrange of a pair of Quad 57's to the midrange of a pair of Cerwin-Vega's.
It's shocking what so many people are missing.
Bass wise.