Small woofers vs big woofers

December 11, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

21 comments on “Small woofers vs big woofers”

  1. Doesn’t a dynamic driver require a most stiff membrane in order to move like a piston? The problem is now to design a stiff membrane which is as light as possible in order to follow sharp transient input signals. And concerning single driver designs: there are great single driver crossoverless loudspeakers out there – however limited in max SPL. And haven’t single driver planar headphones the highest audiophile reputation?

  2. I think you’ve understood the question in not a very correct way. this your answer was more about choosing the LF driver (for 3 or 2 way speaker). Thus I do suppose the question was more likely about what to chose subwoofer (speaker in box) with one big driver or two but smaller, with all other things being equal

  3. All of the above is not to mention the cone break up of larger drivers.
    Yes, I have a sub (Rel), with well-engineered box and a passive unit also.
    Thus the multiple 6.5” drivers in my speakers can handle a nice blend of mid-bass, and lower mids.
    Well integrated subs with speakers is another set of experimentation worth plenty of time.

  4. My DeVore Fidelity – ‘Orangutan O/93’ floorstanders have one 10″ paper pulp cone & a 1″ silk dome…that’s it, just a 2-way with one 10″ driver in each loudspeaker cabinet & you should
    read the reviews…especially Herb Reichert’s.
    I also have a pair of KRIX – ‘Harmonix Mk2’ tower floorstanders with twin 6.5″ polypropylene cone woofers & massive magnets/motors in each tower cabinet, both are a bass reflex design
    & guess which one goes deeper & sounds more ‘natural’…yep, the one with the single paper
    pulp 10″ driver…& I play Rock ‘n Roll loud…between 96 to 105dBs with no cone break-up
    from either one…enough said.

  5. Paul’s argument for smaller woofers makes sense for the FR30 where the crossover is at 400 Hz, well into the lower midrange where woofer breakup might occur. It makes less sense for lower crossovers such as Wilson and Magico use.

    Just for fun I looked up distortion for some large woofers in HiFi News and at 90dB and 100Hz and it was below 1%. It will go up with level and as frequency drops. Perhaps that’s what he refers to.

    As for speed in the real bass frequencies the problem, I believe, is not speed but breaking, the Q of the bass system which is what dominates bass ringing(overhang) and what makes some woofers sound ‘slow’. My woofers are 18″ polypropolene, not the best material for a bass driver(but very good in the mids) but my bass system was designed for a low Q and the bass is ‘fast’, that is tight.

  6. Have any of you checked out the woofer drivers made by companies like Legacy Audio and MTX?
    MTX caters to the car stereo guise, but they make from 10 to 24 inch woofers that have a distortion level of 0.00001%.
    And as for Legacy Audio, they’re very prominent in the high end home audio community.
    And they also make a 15 inch subwoofer driver that has a distortion level of 0.00001%.
    But let me get real serious here for a moment.
    The kind of punishment that these drivers can take, inflict the same kind of punishment on drivers way smaller then the ones I mentioned, you will blow those little suckers up.
    Trust me, that has happened to me, a few too many times.

      1. If you think what I told you all about both Legacy Audio and MTX is bull sht, don’t look at me!
        I didn’t ever work for those companies.
        So, don’t take it up with me, take itt up with them.
        All I did, is looked at the specs.
        I didn’t believe it at first, but I called and asked them about their specs.
        And what I posted last night is what I was told.

        1. I don’t look at you; my screen is not a window into your abode.
          I don’t care what you were told, it’s still BS & you should have the ability/intellect to recognise that fact before you go repeating it here.
          I don’t trust you.

          1. Let me ask you a cupple of questions.
            Have you ever heard the subwoofers that were made by those two companies?
            Have you ever seen any of their products?
            If you haven’t, then quit talking trash to me.
            Because I have heard them.
            And also, I’ve heard them cranked all the way up.
            Cheaper subwoofers, brake up.
            But the ones made by both Legacy Audio and MTX didn’t distort at all.
            And that’s saying an offal lot about the kinds of sounds my ears can pick up.
            Us blind people are way smarter then a lot of you sighted people.
            You all take for granted what you can both hear and feel.
            Because of what you think you can see with you all’s so called 20/20 vision.
            But comes the day that that’s gone, what will you do?
            Think about it before you answer that question.

            1. John,

              There is no speaker, obviously not a woofer, that has that level of distortion. Woofers produce huge distortion the lower the frequency they are asked to produce. And also, the higher the SPLs, the higher the distortion levels. You would be quite lucky to have a woofer producing less than 1% distortion at 30 Hz and 96 dBs. More than quite, that would be amazing.

              You COULD get midranges and tweeters producing low level distortion but never those quoted by you. I don’t think there is even one electronic product produced by PSA that has that level of distortion. Maybe the Stellar amps…

              If that company is claiming what you state, they are either lying or they cannot substantiate those claims. Which is lying too.

              1. Good morning CTA!
                Both Legacy Audio and MTX broke it all down for me.
                Yay thoe MTX like I said, caters to the car stereo guys, they make woofer drivers from 10 to 24 inch subwoofers.
                But the ones that MTX makes, are the ones that they calls, Jack Hammers.
                Even when they’re cranked all the way up, they sound really clean.
                The distortion is way below 1%.
                And yes, the proof is definitely in the putting!
                My ears told me that.
                The same thing is also true about the Legacy Audio subwoofers.
                Sure Legacy Audio makes some products for automobiles, I don’t know very much about them.
                But some of the most expensive powered subwoofers that are for home use, are in deed THX certified.
                And those are way below 1% distortion.
                My ears also told me that too.
                As the old saying goes, “seeing is believing.”
                But here is the spin I’ll apply to that old saying.
                “Hearing is believing.”

                1. If you really, REALLY believe you can tell a 1% distortion in a woofer. If you really believe that a woofer can generate less than 1% distortion at 30 Hz and 100 dBs, then we don’t have anything to discuss.

                  This is just impossible. There are no independent published tests or measurements of MTX subwoofers. Whatever the company says you must take with again of salt.

                  I also would love to see a 24 inch woofer in a car. Maybe a Prius? A $10k, 24 inch subwoofer. Brilliant decision for a car.

            1. Good morning The Pore Audio Guy!
              I won’t say his name, because I’m really ticked off at him.
              But aside from that, thank you for backing me up on this!
              Because not only did I look at the spec sheets on the subwoofers that are made by both companies, I talked to the CEO’s of both of those companies too.
              And they made some arrangements for me to hear their lineup of speakers and amplifiers.
              Because, no speaker can make sound without an amplifier hooked up to it!
              But to really hear what those subwoofers can do, Bill at MTX hook a 24 inch Jack Hammer subwoofer up to a 10,000 wat amplifier and turned the volume all the way up.
              My question is, distortion where?
              I didn’t hear any!
              The same thing happened when George at Legacy Audio showed me a THX certified powered subwoofer that had a 2300 watt amp built in to it.
              Again, distortion where?
              I didn’t hear any!

              1. The fact that you couldn’t hear it does not mean it wasn’t there. There are a large number of tests online where you can check your ability to hear distortion.

                Take one first, show the results and then you can talk. Or type in this case.

              2. I didn’t want to turn this into an episode of Ask Paul’s People’s Court.

                As far as woofers go, if the speaker is designed properly from the outset then not as much “trickery” (my not so great technical term) will be needed to help with distortion (ie servo’s, etc).

                1. Good morning The Pore Audio Guy!
                  What you just said about speakers, is so very true!
                  And that is definitely true about the Legacy Audio subwoofers!
                  The people at Legacy Audio, broke all of that down for me.
                  But in the case of the MTX Jack Hammer subs, they were driving that 24 inch driver with a 10,000 watt car amp that was also made by them.
                  But as for servo controls, they didn’t say anything about that very large car amp they were using, having that built in to the design of that amp.
                  But I do know, that that amp would destroy just about any other speaker out there on the market.
                  I mean, that amp is just that powerful!

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