Either Peter Aczel or J. Peter Moncreif (I can't recall who) once said: "No mid-range driver, no midrange - it's just that simple.
10 responses Add your response
I like big orchestra music with big choirs singing. So far I've not heard many speakers handle that kind of music. I think the overtones of the choir combined with the orchestra is very limiting to most speakers. Admittedly, I am new to this and I'm hoping the discussion of 2-way versus 3-way will help my search. So far the only speakers that did the job for my ears were the new PSB Platinum's and the B&W 604. Huge price difference, but both 3-way. I've hit almost every stereo shop in MI and I'm still looking.
so what I have so far is that it is not possible to get great midrange with a two way but that a three way is difficult to build a quality crossover for. Guess there is also the added cost of three drivers vs. two. Wonder if there is a simplicity factor of having two quality drivers doing the job vs. three - guess this is up to crossover but also sort of like when my sub gets in the way of my two way and just muddies everything and my system sounds better with the sub turned off. Will keep reading.
Given the fact that crossovers and crossover points are considered to be very tricky to implement and crucial to seamless blending of drivers, it only makes sense that having one vs. two crossover points would be easier for the builder to get a seamless transition between drivers. The statement about 'no midrange driver, no midrange' mentioned above strikes me as very bizarre considering there are many who follow the school of thought that single driver speakers are more coherent than any other design (not that I have any first hand knowledge about this - I haven't heard any single driver speakers).
Having said all that, I have owned many two ways and a few three ways, and it has always seemed to me that music from two ways seems more like a single point source than the three way designs (not that three way designs can't sound good too - many do).
When it boils down to it, in high end audio, more often than not simpler is better. But I've only been fooling around with audio equipment for 20 years... what the hell do I know?
Think about it this way: the ideal speaker would be a one-way with no power draining, distorting crossover. Unfortunately no one has yet perfected a single driver that can coherently portray all the wavelengths we prefer. Regardless, it might be fun to get a couple of twin 12-inch Fender or Marshall guitar cabinets and blast away.
The most balanced, long-term listenable speakers I've ever heard have been two-ways: Dynaco A-25's; original Large Advents; and the ProAcs Sigs I use today. There's something right about a well done two-way that defies description.
Three or more drivers usually offer greater power handling capability. More radiating area can mean bigger, more dynamic sound. I had some KEF Uni-Q three-ways that propagated a bass wave so palpable you could almost see it. They were fun, went way loud without strain but ultimately were too analytical.
If you look at graphs of many multiple (two or more) driver, speaker systems' response curves there's often noticeable dips where one driver hands off to another. Designers exploit these and other peaks, dips and resonances to voice their entire systems. For me, two-ways are models of elegant engineering. Of course no speaker does everything right. Keep searching and you'll find successful, enjoyable designs of every kind.
Midrange is no problem for two ways , it is bass. If you have a small room or listen to music that doesn't need to be played very loudly then two way is ideal. Three way can play louder with more bass but the midrange can suffer by being divided between two drivers. For large rooms or high DB's three way is better , but is inherently harder to design properly and more expensive. Subwoofers can give 2 ways the bass of three ways and are a good compromise. All the above is , of course , speaking in general terms. Each speaker has it's own virtues and faults.