I love speakers, absolutely love em. I love touching them, moving them, buying them, building them, and most of all, listening to them.
They hold that special place in the audio chain where electronic energy is turned back to mechanical energy, the hardest task of any link in the chain.
Obviously there are zillions of speakers for sale out there. Big ones, little ones, dynamic drivers, ribbon drivers, electrostatics, 2-way, 3-way, with powered sub, passive sub, and on and on and on.
But the 1 big mystery to me is crossover technology. I can not for the life of me figure out why speakers with shallow slope crossovers like 6db/octave, sound so much more real to me than ones with the current rage of steep slopes like 24db/octave and even steeper. The mathematicians tell me they shouldn’t.
Having the luxury of constantly traveling the whole country visiting the premier audio dealers of America I get to constantly listen to systems, old systems, new systems, and the latest and greatest. Great gig if you can get it.
And it just keeps happening to me, invariably when a demo just knocks my socks off, gives me goose bumps, touches my soul and ignites many memories of musical past experiences, it’s invariably these speakers with “shallow crossovers”.
They seem to deliver these huge images, flowing sound and just a texture and humanness to them that my senses and emotions react too, very much the same feelings I get from a live performance.
Conversely I often get plunked down in front of some new very expensive, latest and greatest speaker with these so called phase correct 24db/octave crossovers, notch filters, etc., and it’s just all so sterile, unemotional, like watching TV in black and white instead of color.
I know the specs are better, I know all the measurable parameters including phase are better, but doggone it, they just don’t sound better. Just more sterile in a very analytical way, almost more machine than human.
I love technology, but I love enriching experiences too. I can only come to the conclusion that maybe we just don’t have the technology to measure and quantify all the differences that actually occur.
They told me in 1983 when the CD came out that it was perfect and measured perfect. Wrong, 30 years later they are still improving it’s sound and discovering things they didn’t know back then. Clearly the industry missed that one. Ignorance isn’t always bliss.
8 years ago when the big “digital amplifier” rush was on and almost all manufacturers jumped on board as the cost/performance ratio appeared on paper so much better than analog. Specifications clearly showed how superior these amps were going to be. Fast-forward to today and almost every high-end amplifier manufacturer has abandoned digital amps. Truth of the matter is they were awesome on paper, but sonically sucked.
So speaker crossovers with minimal parts to chop, delay, color, and constrict the original signal. I am a firm believer every single component we run signal thru, in someway degrades the sound; that I know to be true.
Who says we can take a human voice and chop it apart thru about 40 capacitors, inductors, resistors, and spin the phase like a roller coaster, and just magically put it back to together with no loss of quality.
While my eyes see the specs, I have to let my ears be the judge, and not let my mind be swayed by arguments from an industry that has shown they often just don’t really know but sell us like they do.
I’ll take my speaker crossovers over easy please, not scrambled.