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Thread: When and why did the typical floorstanding speaker lose the midrange driver?

  1. #1
    Join Date: Apr 2015

    Location: London

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    I'm Ollie.

    Default When and why did the typical floorstanding speaker lose the midrange driver?

    Up to the 1990s, and maybe later too, when you bought a floorstanding speaker cabinet there most likely be a tweeter, a midrange, and a bass driver. Now you will typically get a tweeter and two identical lower frequency drivers. Why did that happen and over what period did the switch occur? I suppose there was technological improvement that meant a 160mm driver could now handle midrange and bass sounds with good balance, and that was not possible earlier.
    Now, when I write 'typical', I mean most floorstanding speakers costing up to 1000 roughly. I know there are many setups that employ 3 different drivers but I don't think these are typical any longer.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Mar 2017

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    I'm Dennis.

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    Any designer makes decisions on many factors; his and others' sensibilities to speakers' failings, cost/benefit analysis of various options, current fashion, change in technology which may eliminate previous shortcomings, are a few.

    This applies to bass types, and what you describe. Mid/woofers may now be designed to go higher with a better performance thus negating the need for another driver and a much more difficult to design and expensive to make Xover.

    It is also necessary to look at what the current 'fad' is, and to perhaps follow it to get a share of the market.

    I don't like three ways because of the several points of source, but others may be more offended by the other, two way design compromises.

    There are very few ABRs now, or transmission lines, when nonce they were much more frequently produced.

    Often a mid/bass driver is now used only for its upper range presumably for the economic reasons of only needing to produce two driver types.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Aug 2009

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    I'm Martin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie Valcairo View Post
    Up to the 1990s, and maybe later too, when you bought a floorstanding speaker cabinet there most likely be a tweeter, a midrange, and a bass driver. Now you will typically get a tweeter and two identical lower frequency drivers. Why did that happen and over what period did the switch occur? I suppose there was technological improvement that meant a 160mm driver could now handle midrange and bass sounds with good balance, and that was not possible earlier.
    Pretty much what you say, drivers improved, I'd say it started really catching on in the late 1980s though. Before that it would be a two way with an ABR to reinforce the bass.

    If you look at model ranges from the big companies they tend to go two-way at the bottom, then a two and half way, but the flagship of the range will still be a three or four way design.
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  4. #4
    Join Date: Jun 2015

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    I'm Lawrence.

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    The fashion for slimmer speakers probably had an effect as well. As makers started adding multiple 5-6" drivers they would naturally go higher than an 8-12" driver. Combined with the "invention" of (or common usage of, as I don't know when the idea was first thought up) the 2.5 way crossover, this made separate mid range drivers redundant. It was probably cheaper to make or buy more of the same size driver too (although the better 2.5 way speakers will have different spec drivers for mid/bass and bass).

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2009

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    Quote Originally Posted by YNWaN View Post
    It’s not really that drive units improved, because they didn’t particularly. What really changed was the that customers became less willing to buy large, wide baffled, speakers. Previously the typical three way speaker would have a 10 or 12” bass driver and this would result in a large and imposing front face. The emerging fashion for slimmer speakers is what really dictated the move to multiple smaller drivers.
    Exactly.

    Fashion drives many speaker brands. The modern speaker needs to be as small and slim as possible, even if the performance suffers.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Apr 2011

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    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    Exactly.

    Fashion drives many speaker brands. The modern speaker needs to be as small and slim as possible, even if the performance suffers.
    Personally I'm glad speaker design moved to offering up slimmer, home friendly cabinets and drivers. Most speaker builders / designers still do the big boxes, ie 10 inch / 12 inch driver designs.

    In my experience slim doesnt always mean performance suffers - by that I'm assuming you're making reference to the way big bass woofers can move air and go really deep and low in a way very small drivers cant.

    In my experience, the genuinely good slimmer speaker designs can give you a tight, deep bass that if there can be solid, firm, tight tuneful and natural, which is exactly what my Spendor D7's do. Add to that accurate as in if it's there you'll most certainly get it and feel it, as opposed to merely big, full, large bass woofer weightiness.

    In the real world of of small / medium lounge, I can certainly say there is no sense of anything missing. Bigger, larger lounge and there are more than enough 'slimmer box' designs that will give more than enough good deep bass - Spendor D9 for instance.

    Pretty much like F1 which went from Big 3.5 V8 engines to 1.6 hybrids which are if anything even faster.

    Great, intelligent, quality design will often achieve the objective in my experience, thank God for progress and alternative options.
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  7. #7
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    A lot of people live in small Lego houses these days, Well have done for years but lots of New Builds. If you ever been in one the rooms are as big as a prison Cell so i think small Floor standers are popular & bigger ones are a not. I do see a lot of people wanting tiny Bookshelf speakers too. Not sure if the industry sees this but i do see a lot of small floor standers available. We are in a 4.6mtr square Living Room, may seem big but when the sofa & furniture are in i only have room for Tiny speakers..
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  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2011

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    Sorry, I'm meaning most or a lot do the slim designs as well as large speaker designs with big woofers, so Spendor, Tannoy, Usher, Wilson Benesh, ATC, Klipsch .......
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  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2020

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    What the Average height of a modern Floorstander 1Mtr Tall?
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  10. #10
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    I personally hate the way that smallish mid range drivers are forced to cover the lower frequencies. Nothing worse than seeing such drivers flapping in the breeze trying to deliver.
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