Big vs. small speakers

October 2, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

10 comments on “Big vs. small speakers”

  1. Big speakers with multiple drivers and a complicated multi-ways crossover design require disproportionately higher energy for designing and voicing! 🙂 There are more drivers to be selected for a perfect match between left and right speaker. And getting all drivers sending sound waves which arrive phase-coherently at the listener’s ears is nearly impossible. Compared to this most challenging task designing a single driver widebander loudspeaker or a pair of headphones is much easier. And if you opt for giant horn loudspeakers there are horn loudspeakers out there running with tiny 5 W vacuum tube amps. 🙂

  2. I just bought a pair of Alta Audio Celeste FRM-2 speakers with 87.5 sensitivity, and a 4 ohm load. Frequency response is 29hz-47khz. The woofers are set up as a transmission lines. I will drive them with my BHK300’s, and run dual subwoofers with them. I couldn’t afford the Aspens, but maybe some day…
    I’m probably just bragging, but they are beautiful as well. See this link:

  3. I still have my old KEF book-shelf/floor-standers.
    These are a 4 Ohm *resistive* load.
    The absence of external reactivity has made several amplifiers quite happy.

    PS They sound quite good.

  4. There are a few things that either some people missed, or they just weren’t aware of them.
    When you consider speakers, there are many factors that come in to play here.
    Some speakers are more power hungry then others.
    And it’s those that you’ll need a hole lot of power to drive.
    But the sensitivity of them, won’t be all that.
    Those, a pare of bookshelf speakers, will out shine them everytime.
    Butt also, I agree with Paul on some things that he said in his video, when he answered the man’s question.
    The man that wrote in and asked Paul that question, perhaps he didn’t understand fully what he was both seeing and hearing at those audio shows.
    The hundreds of watt monoblock amps, I wonder, how much power were those amps really put out to the speakers that were being driven by them?
    That’s the question that most people either don’t ask or refuse to ask at any audio show.
    But now, let’s get real deep and dirty.
    If you really stop to think about it, not all speakers are created equally.
    A lot of the speakers that are made today, both rises and falls in the impedance load thatt they will put on any amplifier.
    Let’s just say, you bought a pare of speakers that are rated at 8ohms.
    The way a lot of speakerrs are made today, the load is not going to be a consistent load.
    They may start out as putting an 8ohm load on the amplifier.
    But the more you turn up the volume, the more that changes.
    I have seen speakers that dips from 8ohms, all the way down to 1half ohm.
    If the amp wasn’t designed to handle a load that low, the speakers will destroy the output devices in that amp.
    And yes, a larger cabnet puts way less pressure on the back of the woofer driver, then a smaller cabinet will.
    Even if you’re building the same types of drivers in to the different types of cabinets.
    But sonically, the bigger cabinet, will sound better then the smaller cabinet.
    The larger cabinet, will have a 20to40HZ dip in the bass range then the smaller cabinet will.
    This is just some speaker food for thought.

    1. “But sonically the bigger cabinet will sound better than the smaller cabinet”
      You’re hilarious John!
      Do you smoke a lot of drugs, or do you just make this sh!t up?
      By the way, what loudspeakers have you designed & released into the home-audio market lately?
      I’m also curious to know whether your imaginary DSD recording studio has materialised yet.
      Thanks for the laughs ✌

  5. A bigger box will have more efficiency and also play deeper in bass. And the more drivers you add the more effortless, deeper and with less distortion your speakers will play. They also have the potential to reach higher overall output levels meaning they will play louder with more watts you feed them without overloading them causing distortion and damage to the drivers because the watts are divided into multiple units making them effortless with greater power handling abilities. You can also accomplish this in the bass by using larger drivers but unless it’s a subwoofer I prefer to use multiple smaller woofer drivers like the Aspen FR 30 in a full range speaker.

    1. I disagree Joe.
      My DeVore Fidelity – ‘Orangutan O/93’ floorstanders have a single 10″ mid/bass driver per loudspeaker cabinet & they go very deep (28Hz), same as the PS Audio – ‘aspen FR30’
      floorstander, & has an SPL of 93 dB/W/m, whereas the ‘aspen FR30’ is only rated at 88dB/W/m.
      There is no need for multiple drivers in a floorstander.
      Read the reviews about the DeVore Fidelity – ‘Orangutan O/93’s, or better still go & listen to a pair.

  6. In my world, power did make a difference. I was using a McIntosh MC7300 amp of 2*300 WPC, which is clearly not a toy amp. I upgraded it to a pair of MC601 600 watt mono blocks. Nothing else in the configuration changed. The mono blocks reached down, grabbed their bootstraps and pulled out a whole lot more bass than I had before. I can’t blame any of it on back pressure. Until I get more funds, I’m still using the same Klipsch RF82 speakers, which are ported. I’m making the sweeping assumption its the reserve power necessary to instantaneously reverse the cones of the woofers. Interestingly enough, I find my preferred listening level of 65 dB(A) has the mono blocks coasting along at less then 6 watts (peak and hold), so headroom has never been an issue. Opinions?

    1. I had a similar experience Jack when I went from an Electrocompaniet AW250, 250W per channel, dual mono to AW600 (‘Nemo’), 600W monoblocks from the same company. Having gobs of power in reserve seemed to just bring out the best in the same speakers. 😉

  7. I have a set of speakers that are 39″ tall 16″ wide and 12″ deep and they go down to 15hz @92db sensitivity. They only have 2 6″ midrange drivers a dome tweeter and a passive radiator.

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