Is simple always better?
Happy Independence Day. It's good to be independent. Spending time a few days ago with a wonderfully nice visitor from Australia in Music Room One prompted the subject of this post. On first look at the massive IRS V loudspeakers, my visitor Chris was struck by the speaker's complexity (84 drivers IS a lot of complexity) compared to his system's simplicity. Chris, like many of you, chose a 2-way loudspeaker because of the simplicity of the design. A 1-way loudspeaker being the simplest of all designs. While there are 1-way loudspeakers out there, they are few and far between. That is because it's extremely difficult to properly reproduce both high frequencies and low frequencies on a single driver; and for a number of very valid reasons. Loudspeaker designers generally choose to assign the duties of drivers to separate units: higher frequencies handled by a tweeter, lower a woofer. The philosophy is to optimize each driver design for its assigned task. That's why tweeters look so radically different than woofers. This idea can be taken further in what is known as a 3-way or even a 4-way loudspeaker, dividing even further the duties of frequency reproduction to specially purposed drivers. The more the speaker designer divides the duties of drivers the greater of several problems arise: the crossover that is used to separate and route the sound to the proper driver becomes tricky to design properly, the physical placement of each sound source on the speaker is different, and like Humpty Dumpty once you take something apart it's hard to put it back together again. Tomorrow we'll look at each of the three aforementioned problems in greater detail. BTW, despite the massive number of drivers used in the IRSV, the main panels are only a 2-way. Just sayin'.
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