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Thread: Full Range Driver and Single Driver Speakers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Full Range Driver and Single Driver Speakers

    I thought discussions of other speakers were off topic to the forum and not associated equipment, but since a Super Moderator suggested this thread be created here it is. Thank you, Widget! Because this topic is more general than any specific speaker or brand, I have placed it in General Audio Discussion.

    I am talking about Hammer Dynamics Super 12 speakers in particular here, but by way of comparison this could be all over the map. This realm is called Full Range Drivers and is almost identical and coincident with Single Driver speakers. Open Baffle is an installation subset of this field. Let me speak generally about Full Range and with the background in place the Super 12’s might make some sense.

    One of the problems with multi way speaker systems, that would be two way, three way, four way, etc, is the crossover point(s) always dividing the really important frequencies where the fundamental tones of musical instruments and voice reside. Not the deep bass or the highs, but where the heart and soul of the music lives. Thus the famous phrase, “We live in the midrange.” As will be noted by the development of bypassed and charge coupled crossovers, dividing frequencies with networks (crossovers) gives rise to certain problems that affect music reproduction. We are always trying to minimize these side effects, but when great sources, great amplifiers and decent listening rooms and hearing are brought together, we can hear these effects and given a comparison to listening experiences where this is not the case they sound bad. They get between us and our music, and after all this pursuit of ours is all about the music.

    What are these better listening experiences where this is not the case? Live music and full range driver reproduction where any crossover points fall outside the range of frequencies where our sensibilities are offended if the reproduction is compromised in some jarring way. The reason for multi way speakers is to use a mix of transducers that by their specialized nature allow better reproduction of each selected frequency band. Good idea, but not quite so good if we make two or more frequency bands out of the range where our music appreciation “lives”. This problem manifests itself not only with crossover distortions but also with different individual transducers, often even different types of transducers, non identical at least, producing adjoining frequencies. In reality, they are not only adjoining but also overlapping – even with very steep crossover slopes. When you have a bigger cone and a smaller cone, a cone and a compression driver, a conventional driver and a helium tweeter, whatever, these different versions of the same frequencies and of adjoining frequencies create problems. All this should sound inaccurate and strange, and it does. Yet another set of differences between live music and our reproduction of it.

    So why are stores not full of Single Driver systems? Well, they once were. Then music reproduction went from 60-9000 hz to 20-20000 hz to 16-45000 hz. Designing a full range driver with good sound for 60-9000 was hard enough. Any more range and the compromises ruin the sound. Now there are still attempts at Single Driver systems, but Full Range plus some help on the low or high end are what is happening more and more.

    Widget mentioned the Lowther and Fostex based systems. These cone speakers are still being installed in an endless parade of enclosures designed to overcome their sonic problems. Especially in the case of Lowther, a very old design that is very expensive to produce properly, the bass response of these small, stiff cones falls off the table as high as 300hz. Rather than dropping like a stone, it was noticed that the response falls in a curve. Steep, but a curve that does go below 80hz. What is required here is a very complex horn that has a rising rate bass response exactly opposite the falling response of the driver. If you think designing enclosures for multi way systems is challenging, try this hair pulling exercise. They are still trying to get it perfect, but of course nothing is. People familiar with great sound but not with these systems often hear another issue immediately. The direct sound from the cone sounds different from the horn output in many respects. Essentially two different sounding transducers; a single driver two way system.


    So what are we to do? Give up? No, there are other workable solutions. Design a driver full range from 100hz on up and use a sub. Omega makes a range of small speakers like this, and home built Fostex and Lowther systems go this way sometimes. JBL used to make a speaker that was superb at this, but it is I understand long gone. The library has specs for the LE8T. http://www.lansingheritage.org/html/...-comp/le8t.htm


    Another solution is to make a larger driver and use a super tweeter instead of a sub. There is one example I am personally aware of, and this brings us to the Hammer Dynamics Super 12.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  2. #2
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    A Full Range driver that is good at reproducing sounds up to 13k or 18K hz is going to be small. And they are. Lowther, Fostex and the others are usually six or eight inch speakers, even with whizzer cones to help out with the highest frequencies. Some are four inch, to eliminate the need and attendant problems of whizzer cones.

    These small cones have a big problem. Dynamics are quite limited. Full time listeners of Single Driver speakers tend to do the audiophile thing, listen at lower SPL’s and live with the small dynamic range. For folks like us here, including myself, this is not acceptable. Live music has balls and so should recorded music.

    For a Full Range driver with a sub, the sub may have good dynamics but the rest of the system does not. This is where Super 12’s come in. A violin player by the name of John Wyckoff was looking for really great sound reproduction, I think for personal listening. He noticed that very small triode amps gave startlingly real rendition. Argue if you wish, but I personally have found this to be the case as well at this point. At least the one I have does. Mr. Wyckoff also discovered that there were no affordable speaker systems designed for these under six watt – often 0.9 watt – amps. Frankly, my friends who get to attend the shows where very expensive speakers are shown tell me the high dollar offerings stink at this anyway.

    John saw a different approach. Full range problems could be overcome. Making a larger cone was the breakthrough. That would bring back the dynamics and improve the quality of the added transducer. Why not use a fast super tweeter instead of a slow subwoofer?

    One reason a large Full Range driver had not been tried (coax drivers are not Full Range drivers but two very different drivers on axis) was the difficulty of getting a larger whizzer cone to go high enough. Use a super tweeter from 9700hz or so up and a larger primary cone to eliminate the need for a subwoofer, and there go the two big problems.

    This did leave some other problems. At the upper frequency limits of a cone, breakup occurs. A cone with a whizzer to extend the range has breakup too, but John figured out a design where the breakup modes were coincident. The big cone broke up at its upper range and the whizzer broke up at its lower range, where the frequency range was the same band. He would deal with them both together. How did he do this? He used a crossover to divide the system at 9700hz and built a parallel notch filter in the LF section to deal with the breakup modes. There is also a muscular Zobel across the big speaker terminals to further tune the system.

    The other big idea he came up with was to balance the system almost perfectly by tuning the simple box to deal with what problems remained with the frequency response. What he came up with is a very specific solution that is a one off. It will only work with the transducer he designed and one would have to both start from scratch and come up with different solutions to do this with a different Full Range driver. It is not scalable. The ported enclosure is a pipe 13 x13 x 46.5 inches tuned to 500hz. It uses extensive, mutiple material damping to deal with the backwave and tune the frequency response selectively.

    John was operating from a small cabin in the mountains of New Mexico and had to keep things simple for himself and affordable for his clients. He used an Eminence frame & motor and designed his own cone. I assume Eminence manufactures the drivers complete. The motor is modified to John’s specs. The original speaker, quite a different animal, is available for a very few dollars at Parts Express. I think it is the Beta 12LTA, a Full Range PA speaker. The other cost saving measure was to provide the speaker as a transducer/crossover kit with the enclosures to be customer built. A construction book completes the package.

    John spent five years on this design before releasing it for sale. You may have noticed me mixing my tenses. John past tense, speakers present tense. That is because John Wyckoff sadly passed away about 2001, still a young man. His widow is a very nice lady who carries on the operation from the cabin. The kit is $650 shipped when I last checked. It is here: http://www.hammerdynamics.com/ John was known for his great support, and while Colleen is not capable of his expertise she is very friendly and helpful. Support is hugely available at http://fullrangedriver.com/ The Forum is excellent. The site is run by a wonderful man named James Melhuish.

    How did I find out about the Super 12? Ian has a pair. Thank you again, Ian. I'll post later about my experience listening to this system if anyone is interested.

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  3. #3
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    So why are stores not full of Single Driver systems? Well, they once were.

    Hello Clark

    Not to rain on the parade but they still are. I believe more than many think. The most successful "full range" design I know of are the infamous Bose Cube systems. They are low end augmented full rangers. Many would call that blasphemy but it's true. You have Gallo and a few others in there going for a good sounding small package that can live in most wives living rooms.

    I had heard a couple of them one was an 8" full range field coil driver. It was simply outstanding. One of the nicest sounding midranges I have ever heard. I don't like the Lowthers or the Fostex's I have heard.

    Rob

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Rob, you are not raining on my parade by providing good information. I was going to leave this for others to post about as soon as I completed my second, which you beat me to!

    I was waxing nostalgic about previous eras, not today's world. When I was a lad my father had a basement full of many sizes of mono speakers so he could walk around and hear his music. A few were coax but most were Single Driver. The stuff was to be had everywhere, cheap to audiophile. When you went somewhere to buy equipment, be it a store or a catalog, Full Range was one of the primary choices, not a sideline. I am talking about the 1950's here.

    The 8" field coil sounds very interesting. Did it need a sub to round out the low end? I think a 12" would yield much better dynamics. Living with the Super 12 has me thinking that it might be the perfect Full Range size.

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  5. #5
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Hello Clark

    Many people hear Bose and they cringe! My dad had several of those old full rangers around the house. I think one was a Utah and another an old RCA driver. There were all paper cones, no real bass but they were still enjoyable to listen too. He had the full-rangers in the garage and on the porch hooked up to an old all tube console radio chassis. He had his Altecs as well though in the living-room with his Warfdales.

    I ended up with a pair of those as my "first stereo" speakers. I had a portable Sony "Superscope" RTR as my music source. I upgraded from the internal 5X7 internals to those as externals. I would record on my dad's RTR and use the tapes in my room. I have many a fond memory of those old drivers. You are right in the early 60's you could get them everywhere from Radio shack or Lafayette. The catalogs were full of them.

    Those 8's were fine bass wise. They beamed a bit but in the sweet spot they really were a pleasant surprise. I have to figure out what they were and post a link.

    Rob

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Rob,

    I sincerely doubt if the Bose end of the market would have an inkling of what hi end full range drivers are about. They are not your horrotones and ipod speakers. These are usually low sensitvity drivers not like the Coral Beta 8 and Fostex and others that are in the high 90's and this translates into large enclosures and horn loading.

    One of the reasons they are not seen in mass markets is cost and limited production.

    One of the few commercially successful full range systems is the Druid but then they use a horn super tweater and build i sub woofers.

  7. #7
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    I sincerely doubt if the Bose end of the market would have an inkling of what hi end full range drivers are about. They are not your horrotones and ipod speakers. These are usually low sensitvity drivers not like the Coral Beta 8 and Fostex and others that are in the high 90's and this translates into large enclosures and horn loading.
    Agreed and I would not expect them too. There are exceptional designs in all driver types. You are looking at the cream of the crop in full rangers. Actually the high sensitivity types are at a disadvantage with such limited X-Max. I never got these designs that need augmentation on both sides of the bandwidth.

    Rob

  8. #8
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    Living with the Super 12 has me thinking that it might be the perfect Full Range size.
    I was away for the weekend and missed this until now... I haven't personally played with full range drivers since my earliest speaker efforts back in high school. Back then I listened to music at insane SPLs and the 8" and 12" drivers distorted far too much... you could hear tons of harmonic and even FM distortion as the low notes broke up the HFs trying to come off those large cones.

    At moderate to low SPLs a really good full range can sound very refined. At one point (early '80s?) I played around with Jordan Modules. These were nearly full range drivers that were 2" in diameter and were remarkably linear from ~150Hz up. They were quite good but you needed a line array to get any sort of SPL out of them and then they lost some of the magic.


    Widget

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    I should have added here that in my background discourse I may have misspoken or downright erred on some points. I'm human. And old! Perhaps if I was way off the mark on something Ian, Widget or any of the much more knowledgeable than I who visit here could set things right. I'm not embarrassed by being wrong and love to learn, so please feel free to correct or add to my take on all this.

    My bottom line on Full Range is that Hammer Dynamics Super 12's and Omegas don't cost very much and can be extremely rewarding to listen to. With a nice Canton sub an old Omega obtained for peanuts yielded the best imaging and the most in-the-room presentation of sound quality I have ever heard. It is limited in the types of music it can handle. At reasonable SPL's Super 12's seem to handle anything. If really loud is your thing then Full Range is not. I encourage everyone else to give it a try.

    If you build a pair of Super 12's you will be in a pretty exclusive club. I know the number of kits sold more or less and you will probably have the only ones in your little part of the World. It is time to stop keeping these a secret. I would recommend building the boxes with joinery like Macaroonie demonstrated (http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/s...ad.php?t=17238) and with a double thick front baffle as per Ian's suggestion, not as per instructions. I can advise on the required port changes and dimensions.

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  10. #10
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    On the bass limitations many diy and commerical design efforts now use an additional helper woofer (see Hawthorn Audio Silver Iris OB but this is really a dual concentric driver), the (Pass Feastrex whizzer OB with OEM helper woofer) or mutiple drivers in an array (Visaton B200 whizzer ) with a special crossover to control the drivers running from a line source in the bass to a point source at high frequencies.

    The idea of using a full range driver in an OB is an interesting spin on the design. As you can imagine it does not sound like a box/ bass reflex system. But you need a suitable room.

    Anyone who thought full range driver system are not serious hi end loudspeaker needs to think again.

    There are very expensive commerical system like the Druid that use 4 large powered woofers on the rear of the box and operates from 20 hertz . Its a case of retuning the box of the full range driver to control the Xmax and find a suitable helper woofer(2) and fire up your crossover software.

    Not a particularly difficult project.

    There are also some really expensive full range dual concentric drivers around now that start where the Tannoy and Altec left off

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Here is what I am talking about. A quote from a recent post on this very forum.

    PS : I have to confess that full range drivers are not my cup of tea ! I listen a lot of jazz, not mandolin (with my apologize for full range lovers)
    The Super 12's are markedly different from this commonly heard perception. I listen almost exclusively to Jazz. Mostly very heavy Jazz, the kind that drives most listeners out of the room right now. The smaller coned Full Range drivers - that is, everything else - do lack the dynamics to play anything but acoustic combo or solo music and voice properly. Remember, the magic of Full Range drivers comes from a single, crossover-less transducer covering the critical range from say 45-9500hz. Adding helpers above or below does not change that. But the small cones usually used to render the critical range lack the necessary dynamics to portray other musical styles at what I consider satisfying levels with believable dynamics.

    There is a reason why they are called Hammer Dynamics Super 12's. I read with amusement a post by a long time Lowther/Fostex listener complaining that his friend's Super 12's had way too much bass. There is simply no comparison.

    What I listen to is very demanding of speaker and amplifier performance. The amp has to be very accurate, lively and natural. The speaker must have believable dynamics and very high efficiency. (I have never been even close to satisfied by the sound of any low efficiency speaker design or the amps needed to power them.) When I want Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Jimmy Lyons or later (more violent) John Coltrane, Michael Brecker or Bill Evans in the room, the Super 12's deliver better than my 4345's. The 4345's whomp nearly any home made multi way design in dynamics and clarity. The Super 12's deliver enough of that and some of the best imaging available anywhere, a very satisfying - and very full-bodied - experience. It seems to be in an entirely different class from other Full Range and Single Driver systems and should not be confused with them.

    Anyone can build a louder system, but it would be very, very difficult and expensive to equal what I am hearing from the standpoint of quality. In my 24 by 15 by 8 foot room, it is plenty loud enough, and that is with a three or four watt amp at nine o'clock. I listen to music. I'm not trying to impress a drunken frat party with an SPL contest. I turn it up until I think it sounds best, and that is louder than my family and many visitors are comfortable with.

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  12. #12
    Dang. Amateur speakerdave's Avatar
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    This is where I came in, actually, tracking down information about full range drivers, and looking for some details about the LE8T brought up the Lansing heritage website. I read about this speaker then; it looks interesting, and it wouldn't cost huge sums to check it out. I'm glad Mrs. Wykoff is still in business. I think there is a place for this kind of speaker.

    But I gotta say, when you say that it will reproduce a large jazz ensemble better than a 4345, I think we must be talking about different things. Basically, I think we're talking, on the one hand, about what can be done with a small tube amp, and on the other what can be done with music reproduction on another scale entirely.

    I've got some Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, JCOA, Ornette Coleman, Marion Brown, Charles Mingus. I can hear differences between the 4333 and the 4345, a 15 and an 18, an 18 and a pair of very excellent 14's per side, an absolutely stunning SOTA two way and the 4345, and I have to tell you, I think your focus shifts here and there. That's OK, but let's be clear about it. There are different styles of reproduction with different goals. There are days when I sit down and listen to some choral music with a tube preamp and amp and a pair of 10" coaxials, and I like it because I'm never distracted by the negative effects of four separate drivers. But at the same time, it does not take long to miss the body of the sound that is present when heard over the larger speakers, even of that kind of music. And when you add in a grand piano, a bass, and a drum kit, it's not even a discussion, really. And best of all, is that in the middle of that big speaker is that great 10" midbass giving you plenty of detail.

    I too have an appreciation for an 8 x 10 print made from an exquisite Leica black and white negative, but I'll never (except just this once) speak if it and a wall-sized mural, that's all about engulfing presence, printed from an 8 x 10 negative in the same sentence; they are two entirely separate species of endeavor. I just don't see the point.

    David

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    That is a great comparison. When I did a lot of shooting my favorite work was contact printing my 8 x 10 negatives with a vacuum frame and developing the print with a Dektol/ Selectol Soft two tray system to render the tones better. Then selenium toning. I also used my Hasselblad a lot with PlusX to produce 8 x 8 prints, but I preferred the contact prints. That's where I'm coming from. Music is an intimate activity for me and I like its impact close up and personal.

    I had no interest in large prints from the 8 x 10 negs. This was for my own amusement, not for billboards, so I could have the best of both worlds. Like with the stereo rig I use now.

    I didn't say the Super 12's had as much dynamics as the 4345's, I said they had enough by plenty. And certainly way more than Lowther type designs, which was my point but I do tend to wander about when posting...

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  14. #14
    Dang. Amateur speakerdave's Avatar
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    Yeah, there are days when I recognize that one really does not NEED a pair of 4345's in the living room. And I try not to forget that.

    David

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    You've got me there. I don't think either of us will ever be sorry to have the 4345 alternative ready at hand. Boy, are we happily spoiled.

    Still, I was struck by Ian's recent posting about how twelve inch drivers are plenty for our listening rooms and cost less in money and real estate. In today's six inch woofer world that is such a revelation. I know I had seriously lost my perspective in the other direction.

    Clark
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


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