Ménage à Trois

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I got enough blowback from yesterday’s post about choosing floor standers vs. two-way stand-mounted speakers, that I think it’s important to take a slight detour in our small system building project.

A ménage à trois is a three-way between people in a romantic setting, but it fits today’s subject, the three-way.

Some are concerned about the visual clutter from floor standing boxes. Others are worried about big box colorations. But whatever drives us to prefer stands supporting tiny boxes with limited bass, there is hope: The addition of a third box, the subwoofer—forming a full range system known as a sub-sat. Sub-sats were the rage in the 70s and 80s.

If you’re set on stand mounted two-ways, yet unwilling to give up music’s foundation—bass, then sub-sats might be a good solution for you.

But there’s a problem.

The smaller the woofer in the two-way, the harder the subwoofer’s task to match it.

Subs disappear when their frequency doesn’t exceed 60Hz, and lower than that is even better. A small two-way with a 6.5″ woofer is hard pressed to move enough air to effectively deliver 60Hz into the room. To fill the gap, subs in this setup run higher frequencies and rarely match the two-way.

Here’s the rule with subs. They only work if they disappear. Whatever speaker they augment should suddenly seem to have bass.

If you can manage that and don’t mind three boxes, two stands, and the connecting cables that make it work, the sub-sat system might be just the ticket.