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.
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’.

I understood the concept of isolating the woofers from the mids/tweeter decades ago. Also, rarely will the sub couple the room properly in the same plain as the mid/tweeter

Acoustic Fields (YT channel) provides a number of useful videos for subwoofer placement that many will find shocking

A couple decades ago I bought Sunfire Signature subs and over a decade ago 2 SVS powered subs. Alas, they bring their own issues to the party, mostly due to poorly executed internal electronics for volume control and XO.slopes. So if you're going to do this IMO go big or go home