Speaker of the Century Award Goes To ....

The 2.5 way speaker.

You guys probably thought I was going to fanboy over a brand, and I'm not. I'm going to fanboy over a speaker design. IMHO the 2.5 way speaker is THE ideal high end speaker for the majority of enthusiasts.

First, what is a 2.5 way? It is a speaker with 3 drivers, but the mid range lacks a high pass filter, so  it shares output with the woofer.  It has a number of advantages over smaller and larger speakers:
  • Similar footprint to stand mounted 2-way speakers
  • Ideal bass output for apartments and modest homes
  • Easier to integrate than big speakers
  • No subwoofer
  • High sensitivity compared to a 2-way using similar drivers
  • Reasonably priced

A number of brands have taken this approach including:
  • Focal
  • Joseph
  • Monitor Audio
  • DIY kits like the Klang Ton Ophelia, and Zaph Audio

So for the average enthusiast who is not a San Francisco billionaire I argue here (for the sake of an argument) that the 2.5 way speaker should be considered one of the great technical innovations in terms of users and results.
while i own and enjoy a very nice set of 2.5 ways, i do hear some midrange congestion compared to previous 2-way and 3-way systems.  not bad, and these speakers are touted for being among the best in this category- but still noticeable.  
i would rather have a true 3-way system, especially if it allows bi-amp capabilities.  
First, what is a 2.5 way? It is a speaker with 3 drivers, but the mid range lacks a high pass filter, so it shares output with the woofer. It has a number of advantages over smaller and larger speakers:
I've always seem this as a poor implementation. I get the idea- the mid bass/midrange driver goes down pretty low, so if you crossed it over, the crossover would impose a coloration due to the size of the capacitor(s) used.

But in practice they are problematic. Of course from my perspective this nearly always means is a bad load in the bass - meaning a lower impedance so more distortion from any amplifier. But further, you can have doppler effect distortions from the mid range unit as it can have a bit of excursion, unless carefully damped by a sealed box, but that does not solve the problem of the voice coil having to absorb a considerable amount of power!

Now for the anecdote: YG Acoustics was advertising at RMAF a few years back that they made the 'best speaker in the world' bar none. I went to audition their speaker at RMAF; I brought with me Peter Gabriel's 'Rabbit Proof Fence/Long Journey Home' soundtrack. In the first 30 seconds or so is a fairly large bass note. I played it at a level that I can play easily at home on my Classic Audio Loudspeakers. When the bass note hit, the mid/bass driver rattled quite loudly! against that wire cover they placed over the driver. I think the salesman thought it was some sort of synthesizer midrange note played loudly but it was really something that should have shook the room. I can name plenty of speakers that don't do this.

So I don't buy that this as a good technique at all. I've always viewed this approach as a bit sloppy and I don't think I'm going to be easily convinced of otherwise.

it could be your speaker cables. Recently I made a huge SC upgrade and was blown away at how they cleared up issues I never would have thought was SC related
High frequency hearing acuity is almost irrelevant since 99% of musical energy is below 6KHz...

@atmasphere’s post reminds us of why electronically separating a woofer from the midrange/tweeter drivers can provide better sound; bi-amping, with an outboard x/o over dividing the signal before the two power amps, one amp for the woofer, the other for the m/t. Done so, nothing the woofer does (amplifier power supply demands, back-emf, etc.) effects the m/t drivers, the same with the woofers’ amp.

A side benefit of this arrangement is that the component values used in outboard x/o’s are generally of much lower value than those in speaker-level x/o’s. Line-level components are much cheaper and smaller than speaker-level ones, and can have less of a sonic signature.

Then there is the matter of the physical vibrations created by woofers. With the woofer removed from the structure housing the midrange and tweeter drivers, the m/t are free of the structurally-transmitted woofer vibrations, a good thing. And, with the woofer in its’ own enclosure, if the x/o frequency is low enough that enclosure can be located so as to optimize the woofers' performance, the m/t drivers to optimize theirs’.