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Thread: I'm thinking size maybe really does matter!?

  1. #1
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    I'm thinking size maybe really does matter!?

    I'm 53-years-old with a wife and three kids. I don't often get to listen music at loud levels around the house (unless one daughter is playing her sax or another is practicing her opera vocals, and then it's not really my choice), so with everyone gone tonight (second evening of daughter #2 in Pirates of Penzance—I saw opening night), I took the opportunity to really crank it up and listen to Steely Dan's Showbiz Kids compilation at a pretty loud level. Now at least one of my 030s have been in my home since I was still in diapers, the other I've had since about 1965. They've been used outside to DJ parties and can bounce music off the Blue Ridge Mountains and back. Tonight I've got the Crown DC300A-II attenuators at about half and the Soundcraftsmen DX4200 level control at about 12-o'clock, too. It's loud. Sounds great.

    So then I take the CD into the other room where I've got the 4412As hooked to a Crown PS200—with a D150A-II ready to A-B those amps. Amp at 3/4, another DX4000 at 12-o'clock. Booming bass, for sure, but surprisingly not the level of clarity of the ancient boxes. Sure, it's half the power of the 300 but would the PS200 really make that much difference at levels you can still listen to without your ears bleeding? The point (really!) here is that I can hear stuff in the 030s that I really have to listen for in the 4412As. Subtle little tinkling of guitar strings in Dirty Work, and clear bass in Chain Lightning. Now don't get me wrong. I like the 4412As, as well as my L112s I've owned for over twenty years, but is it really possible that a nearly fifty-year-old 15" D130 that's sits there so aloof and unchallenged, barely moving at all, and a venerable 075 ring radiator crossed down to a range not really optimum for that UHF driver can make the 4412As sound that second-rate? I can comfortably listen to the 4412As (smaller room) with their heavy bass (still haven't gotten them up high enough for my taste), for hours and really enjoy them. But then I go back in the larger room (still only 12x16') and the 030s sound more fully instrumented with lots more detail. Okay, maybe I should control this test a bit better and have matching CD players. The 030s are playing through a Sony DVD carousel and the 4412As through an older Sony single play CD deck. Am I nutz? (Well, of course: I'm talking to a bunch of old farts about speakers a half-century old---an you own them, too!). Is there really no substute for cubic inches and cone area? Or am I blinded by the silver dust-caps of my youth?

    And, for those of you still reading, is "blowing the dust out" at loud volume as therapeutic for the speakers as it is for me? I've been troubled by a harshness from one 030 system at about where I imagine the cross-over-point of the speakers to be—particularly irritating with female vocals. I've also been fighting a scratchy N2400 pot when investigating an 075 that doesn't always join the party after long periods of no use, though it joined in with the others immediately tonight. After three hours of loud, the harshness is no longer there. Can an 075 get crusty from lack of use in an old un-airconditioned house in the humid mid-Atlantic? I'm going to use that as my excuse for blowing the dust out in the future, regardless.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I love the sound of loud music through a JBL!

  2. #2
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA
    Tonight I've got the Crown DC300A-II attenuators at about half. It's loud. Sounds great.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I love the sound of loud music through a JBL!
    One suggestion...ok its more than a suggestion. Always run an amp with left/right gains on full and control the volume from the preamp or source.

    Ken

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    Smile

    Yeah, there's a lot of variables there, including room size, player, and amp.

    I have a "system" to rotate through my too many JBLs and compare them at least three at a time. This way they have the same CD/DVD player, same preamp, same amp, same room, same distance to listening position, same music, etc. Even with all those similarities, different speaker sensitivities make some speakers sound better than others until the level is adjusted to the same dB. It's a tricky business.

    I got a pair of those DX4200s. Still working after all these years.
    Out.

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    Smile Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Pachkowsky
    One suggestion...ok its more than a suggestion. Always run an amp with left/right gains on full and control the volume from the preamp or source.

    Ken
    Yes, that's exactly what I do.
    Out.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard that before but never from the Crown tech staff in all the questions I've viewed on their site. One has to wonder why they put input attenuators on amps at all? To be quite honest I can't tell the difference and only adjust them so all the damn level lights (between the Crown PS200 and the Soundcraftsmen) stay relatively equal at normal listening levels and to keep the pre-amp volume pot in a useful range. The highly touted (in ads) volume pots on the Soundcraftsmen pre-amps (I've owned three) have all seemingly run one channel output weaker than the other at low levels. I sent one back (PE2217) twenty years ago to be checked and they replaced the pot, at no charge—and with no change. Even the newest ones with the improved stepped controls act the same.

    So what is the reason for input attenator controls? A need to limit input voltage? If I run the Crowns full open, I never get the preamp controls past the first third of their range even at ear-piercing volume. Crown techs do say the input attenuators on most amps are not that accurate left to right and they only guarantee accuracy between channels at zero attenuation. That might be reason alone but my systems seem balanced L-R, and signal-to-noise doesn't seem to be an issue running the pots at less than full-open. I'm far from an engineer but it seems if the preamp output voltage is within the range of the power amp, all you're doing by attenuating the inputs is what you're doing when you lower the pre-amp output level. The Crown manuals state: "Independent level controls...are used to adjust the desired output level".

  6. #6
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    If you run an amplifier with attenuators set to a lower output it limits the output of the amplifier. For example:

    Low frequencies require more power to be reproduced without clipping at higher and higher volumes. If you limit your amplifier from producing its full rated output, you will cause it to clip or distort at lower volumes. Only the preamp or source volume control should be used to limit the amplifiers output.

    Does that make sense to you?

    PS: I prefer an amp with attenuators as they are powered up and down without attenuation. Consequently they are less susceptible to turn on or power down thumps.

    Ken

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    Senior Member soundboy's Avatar
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    HUH? I have run sound and played pro for 30 years in bands. Also have several home systems. I frequently set my input level controls on my power amps at less than full on to balance out monitors, subs, or just lower the overall volume in a given room, and run the board masters up.....there is plenty of headroom in my system to do this. Unless your amps have output power attenuators (?) turning down the input sensitivity in no way effects the power output of the amp. It still puts out full power...it just takes more input voltage to drive it there....also, with a higher preamp level, the pots are more evenly balanced left to right....I have noticed this in some preamps as well...maybe I missed something

  8. #8
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    Perhaps I am mistaken then? I am sure someone will clarify it.

    Ken

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundboy
    Unless your amps have output power attenuators (?) turning down the input sensitivity in no way effects the power output of the amp. It still puts out full power...it just takes more input voltage to drive it there....
    Yep!

    However, the sound quality and the system's signal to noise ratio will both likely suffer... not by much and you'll probably never notice it in a pro application, but if you want the highest sound quality from your amp... remove the input pots completely.


    Widget

  10. #10
    Senior Member spkrman57's Avatar
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    030's and limiting power...

    The 030's are so efficient that I doubt it would be noticed compared to a amp running lesser efficient speakers.

    Ron
    JBL Pro for home use!

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    Smile There are many paths...

    On my Hafler amps, the recommended setting is "0" unless there is a need to balance the system.

    This need might result from using speakers with different impedance loads, such as a 4 Ohm on channel A and an 8 Ohm on channel B. It's fine (on these amps) to put different loads on each channel as long as the correct load is selected for each channel. Then the higher load would be set at "0" and the lower load dialed back until it matched.

    Another situation might be speakers with the same load but different sensitivities.

    Another might be bi-amping where you want the amps close to the speakers so you're using channel A on LF and channel B on HF and the upstream crossovers need a little assistance in gain control.

    Of course there are more elegant (and expensive) solutions to all these situations, but they still come up in the real world and need immediate solving, so the independent level controls are a blessing.

    If you're doing pro sound and using a mixer, this is less of a concern than in a (vintage) home set up where there's usually a unity gain control and balance control on the preamp rather than individual channel controls. However, with more modern processors, I'd start with all amp channels at "0" and do the system balancing in the preamp's calibration modes, leaving any attenuation at the amp as a last resort.
    Out.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Don Mascali's Avatar
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    Setting gain controls.

    I don't agree with some of the statements above.

    A little suggested reading on setting amplifier gain controls.

    http://www.rane.com/note135.html

    IMHO:
    When using digital components it is suggested to use maximum levels in the pre-amp/active crossovers and set the amps accordingly.

    Setting up my system gain structure as decribed in this tech note lowered the noise floor considerably. My tweeters had alot of hiss before and none is perceptable now.

    An amplifier will provide rated output at a given input voltage where ever the antenuators are positioned.
    4406, 4412A, L100, L100t3 (3 pair), L1, L7, 4645C, 4660A, 4695B, SR4735 and various DIY JBL Pro loaded systems.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JBLnsince1959's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA
    I like the 4412As, as well as my L112s I've owned for over twenty years, but is it really possible that a nearly fifty-year-old 15" D130 that's sits there so aloof and unchallenged, barely moving at all, and a venerable 075 ring radiator crossed down to a range not really optimum for that UHF driver can make the 4412As sound that second-rate? Thanks for your thoughts.

    I love the sound of loud music through a JBL!
    YES, it is...You will hear things with a D130 that nothing can come close to... I know I've been listening and comparing "new Speakers" to some C35's for almost 50 years. When my Mom moved back in with my Dad in 59 he had bought a a pair of C35's with the D-130 and 175 compression and horn ( he bought the UFH later)... To this day I'm blown away by how stuff sounds thru it ( I got them when he passed away) and what a thrill it is to listen.. I've done many of side by side A/B comparisons..

    Now let me clarify what I mean, yes, you will hear things on those speakers in a manner than nothing else can come close to. The sound is bigger than life and the D-130 working thru the bass, midbass and lower midrange...shows it's stuff...

    now, here's what I think of the C35's ( and I've heard your setup also) will you hear things as BALANCED as other speakers?.....no. Does the D-130 from 800 to 1200( and above) sound as articulate, sharp and detailed as the new speakers....no. Does the horn and compression drive maybe "HONK"..well yes. Does it have "DEEP bass"...no (music was different in the 50's). Does the UFH tweeter get a little "rough ".... sure. So there's a lot of things it's not or doesn't do as well as new speakers....but you know, no speaker is perfect and each has it's flaws if you listen closely..


    One thing the D-130 does that nothing else can do as well.. it projects a hugh sound stage where everything sounds "right there"...and that pulls you into the music with full emotion.

    The old speakers are super great toe-tappers and are great for experiencing the emotional side of music....me and my friends are still surprised when we fire up those old babies.

    enjoy...

  14. #14
    RIP 2014 Ken Pachkowsky's Avatar
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    There ya go

    I can think of several times I wished I could turn down the gains on my other amps but did not because of that misconception. Always learning something here.

    Ken

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    Senior Member JBLnsince1959's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA

    The point (really!) here is that I can hear stuff in the 030s that I really have to listen for in the 4412As. Subtle little tinkling of guitar strings in Dirty Work, and clear bass in Chain Lightning.
    ain't it great.....That's the thing about those systems, everything is "right There" for you to experience. No hard listening...easy to enjoy....

    around 1994 when my father passed away and I got them, I stored away the "old" stuff and replace with the "new" stuff ( E-130, 2425, 2402 etc) and used both for my center speaker in my HT setup ( that was before I moved in with a lady - ha). Had each one with their own Mararntz 200 watt mono blocks ( MA700's)..amazing, hugh sound......

    When I got my 4430's I did an A/B test and at first blush the 4430's sound dark and closed in by comparison. The 4430 did have much better low bass, but how often does music play there?..I'm not into organ music..Don't get me wrong, the 4430's stomp the C35's in many ways...but does it mean I enjoy the music more?

    One thing I've been wanting to do with them, since they don't do low bass, I've wanted to get a pair of E-145's and cross them over around 100 to 120 or so and play the Living S**T" out of them...some day..

    bottom-line, for all their faults ( and there are many from an audiophile prespective ) there are no speakers I know of that give you a sound that engages a person's emotions so completely..

    I miss having mine setup ( they're in storage)

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