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Aadams

Using small bookshelf speakers to create a uniform spacious soundfield

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This topic was spawned from the AR forum discussion of Dome Mids vs Cones.  Let me say first of all that I prefer AR 12 inch speaker systems over others because they have the sound qualities I like already designed into them which in turn makes them easier to set up for my listening preferences.   

However there are at least four problems with owning 12 inch ARs : 

  1. The parts supply is diminishing 

  1. The price is climbing for complete functioning units as well as good DIY candidates 

  1. Shipping, which is almost always required, risks damage to unblemished cabinet corners or drivers that is almost intolerable, regardless of refund, if one factors in the lost opportunity 

  1. The paranoia from imagining having to rebuild by sound systems if I lost all of my ARs through some disastrous event, assuming I live through it. 

 

 

Because well designed speakers were not exclusive to AR, I have come to believe that the AR sound could be substantially duplicated with readily available high quality bookshelf speakers having certain characteristics and I have placed this thread in the BA section because from experience I know that BA produced many high quality two way speakers.  I  own a pair of A40s and CR65s that I purchased new which, within their limits,  are good little speakers.  There are hundreds of pairs of BA 2 ways for sale on the used market any time you choose to look.  I believe what I want to do could be achieved relatively inexpensively with used BA bookshelf speakers but I don't know which ones would make the best candidates to meet my requirements, which are as follows: 

Objective: 

Create a system that will substantially duplicate the full range stereo sound of a Classic or ADD AR 12 inch speaker.   

Assumptions: 

Equalizer will be used  

Dual Subwoofers  - one for each channel 

Mirrored pairs of two way bookshelf speakers positioned such that they produce a uniform soundfield covering at least a 90 degree angle per stereo channel.   Mirrored triplets would be ok if it really can't be done with pairs. 

Sufficient, quality watts will be available.  

Question: 

Does anyone here have a well informed opinion about which Boston Acoustics two ways would be the best candidates for use in this project which, by the way, is real.   

Note: I know there are other good 2 way brands available but please limit this to Boston Acoustics because they are so numerous.  Also, I have stated the problem as clearly as I know how given that I am not an engineer of any kind. Please feel free to elaborate, qualify or extend but please try to be constructive. 

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 BA 2-ways have a very well-deserved reputation for being excellent speakers, very clean and musical, with an overall suitability for all kinds of music that was surpassed by very few speakers.

 

I worked at BA from 1992-2003, in charge of Home Audio Product Development. I conceived of the products, analyzed the competition, worked day-in and day-out with engineering (including Gerry S) to develop them (down to the smallest mounting screw), voiced them (and then argued w Upper Management as to whether my voicing would stand or not), did all the marketing and advertising, and then when out into the field to train our dealers.

 

My time period was the HD Series and the initial CR (Compact Reference) Series. The famous A40 and A60 were before my time, and the CR6-7-85’s and E Series came after I’d left.

 

The CR65 was in development when I left. It used a Boston-built ¾” soft dome tweeter, which replaced the cheap Tonegen 10mm VC hard-poly dome that was popular at that time. Lots of budget speakers used that dome (many vendors made clones) and they could sound good if they were used correctly within the system.

 

During the 1990’s-early 2000’s, BA had the most amazing, SOTA, automated tweeter machine ever. Really. Their 1” soft domes and 1” aluminum domes were amazing drivers—QC to within 1dB per driver, virtually no production rejects and—because of Andy Kotsatos’ “18dB down at resonance crossover rule”—BA had no warranty replacement issues w tweeters. Virtually none ever blew, because that weren’t driven hard through the crossover.

 

The downside was midrange dispersion, because the tweeters were used so conservatively and crossed over high. The CR65’s ¾” dome crossed over at 4400Hz—not bad for a ¾”dome (the AR Classics and ADDs were 5000Hz and the AR Verticals were 7000Hz), but BA had 5 ¼” or 6 ½” woofers going up pretty high in the CR Series.

 

It didn’t matter to Andy Kotsatos. “Midrange dispersion is so over-hyped. Frequencies below around 4000 are not really badly directional at all when being reproduced by a 5-inch woofer. It’s not like you’re taking a 12-in woofer up that high. It’s on-axis FR that counts. That’s what you hear that tells you if you like it or not.”

 

Tough to argue in the real world, “theory” be d*mned. The biggest issues with the BAs was NOT their midrange dispersion. Their biggest issue was their slightly too-forward, sort-of-midrangy spectral balance that Andy liked. That voicing came from his Advent days. I liked the AR ADD balance and Andy and I often went at it pretty hot.

 

As time went on, BA’s voicing became a bit less dependent on Andy’s preferences and he deferred more to “younger ears.” The CR65 was less “Andy” than the CR6. The high-end VR-M50/60 monitors and VR-M80/90 floorstanders were mostly the engineer Mike Chamness (a power response guy, a la Roy) and me, with a bit of Andy. I like the CR65 and would recommend it pretty highly.

 

Steve F.

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Question 

There is a large number of CR series for sale right now.  CR55 through CR85 are available.   

CR55 has a 4.5 inch  woofer ¾ inch tweeter and crosses at 4200Hz 

CR65 has a 5.25 inch woofer ¾ inch tweeter and crosses at 4200Hz 

CR75 has 6.5 inch woofer 1.0 inch tweeter and crosses at 2500Hz 

CR85 has 7.0 inch woofer 1.0 inch tweeter and crosses at 2500Hz 

 

Does one model among these stand out as producing broader angle power response if used in mirrored pairs, at least based on what you know or and can see in the data above or both?  Or in practical terms are they all going to be about the same when used as a pair per stereo channel?   And would pairs be sufficient to approximate an AR11 or 3a power response?

Thanks

Adams

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I fell in love w/ the A60 Series II in high school (mid-80's).  Although I've owned T-830, T-930, T-1030 (currently two pairs), I still love my A-60 set.  They are now paired w/ an M&K 12" sub and are glorious.  They provide wonderful imaging and are pleasant to listen to up through moderately loud volume levels.

A pair can be easily found for $25-$50, they have a relatively small footprint, and parts are easy to find.

You can't go wrong!

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 Does one model among these stand out as producing broader angle power response if used in mirrored pairs, at least based on what you know or and can see in the data above or both?  Or in practical terms are they all going to be about the same when used as a pair per stereo channel?   And would pairs be sufficient to approximate an AR11 or 3a power response?

The 55 or 65 w a really good sub crossed over at around 100Hz should be an excellent-sounding system. The difference between an 11 and a BA/sub system will be more because of tonal balance than because of power response. The BAs are simply more 'forward' through the midrange than the ARs, although the BAs are not 'too bright' or 'harsh' by any means. The 3a simply sounds too different to be considered in this conversation. You'd have to turn the treble control down by about 7dB when using the BAs to be a decent match for the 3a.

The older A40-60-70 were great speakers in their day (and because of their sealed design, perhaps better in the bass end than the ported CRs, if you like that sealed sound), but the CRs have a more 'modern' sound, better FR, better drivers, etc.

Steve F.

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The 55 or 65 w a really good sub crossed over at around 100Hz should be an excellent-sounding system. The difference between an 11 and a BA/sub system will be more because of tonal balance than because of power response. The BAs are simply more 'forward' through the midrange than the ARs, although the BAs are not 'too bright' or 'harsh' by any means. The 3a simply sounds too different to be considered in this conversation. You'd have to turn the treble control down by about 7dB when using the BAs to be a decent match for the 3a.

Thanks Steve F.

I agree the CR65 is a better speaker than the A40.  I am aware of BA mid range brightness which is why I will use an equalizer to tailor treble and mid range to taste and from experience, I know that a seamless transition between sub and satellite can be frustrating.   But it seems that you are thinking that the sound field produced by mirrored pairs will be high and wide with no apparent beaminess using either the 55 ort 65. Is that a correct interpretation ? 

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 But it seems that you are thinking that the sound field produced by mirrored pairs will be high and wide with no apparent beaminess using either the 55 ort 65. Is that a correct interpretation ? 

Not sure exactly what you mean by "mirrored pairs," since the speakers do not have asymmetrically-offset drivers. The L and R speakers will be "mirrored" automatically. Yes, I feel that both the 55 and 65 will sound quite nice and spacious, especially in the far field (8-10+ feet back from the speakers). If I had to guess, I'd say a 2-3dB cut between 800-1600 will do wonders.

Remember also that these are ported, so they will roll off in the bottom end at 24dB/oct. Whatever the "spec" says for their -3dB LF cutoff, set the sub's crossover control about 10 Hz higher. That's a good starting point, and then you can 'season to taste' from there.

Steve F.

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Thanks

I used the term " mirrored pairs" because I couldn't think of another way to say it without being verbose.  I understand what it usually means and from your response I know you know exactly what I meant.  Looks like I will use CR65s because I already have one pair.  I love this board!

Adams

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Yes, I feel that both the 55 and 65 will sound quite nice and spacious, especially in the far field (8-10+ feet back from the speakers).  If I had to guess, I'd say a 2-3dB cut between 800-1600 will do wonders.

Steve F.

Are you saying the designed-in mid range emphasis of the 55 and 65 is centered on 1200hz?

Adams

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No speaker is perfectly flat. "Voicing" decisions are made with recognition that there is always a bit of non-linearity and which way are we going to err? If resistor A gives -1dB in the mid and resistor B gives +1dB in the mid, which one do you choose? You have to pick one.

Yes, BA aimed at "Flat," but erred to the slight MR emphasis side of things. If the mid was a bit withdrawn to Andy's liking, he'd suggest it be brought up a bit. "-2db" and "+2dB" are still within the same overall +/- 2dB envelope of the, say, 40-15kHz band. So I wouldn't characterize BA's voicing as a "designed-in midrange emphasis" as much as 'intentionally erring to that side of the voice.'

Try my cut.

Steve F.

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"designed-in midrange emphasis" as much as 'intentionally erring to that side of the voice.'

Words are pesky creatures.  One person's emphasis is another's bias or " intentional erring".  

Willco:)

Adams

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JIC anyone was watching this thread or wondered whatever happened, this post is to tidy up with a final report to avoid the thread-to-nowhere fate that frequently occurs. 

What has happened since mid-March:

I acquired eight used CR 65s, average price approx. $25 each, with the intent of eventually connecting all of them in a stereo satellite/sub configuration.   I purchased an additional used 10 band equalizer for $25 to vary the low or high pass cut off as needed.  My ultimate goal was to create an LST type of system using satellites, powered subs and equalizers as the spectral balance controls.

A core objective was to get great sound spending as little as possible. I learned early that the matched powered sub woofers could not be easily found both used and for sale.  Having to purchase new sub woofers would severely question the fundamental constraint for the project but I rationalized that a total of $1k would be ok. 

The project was a failure because:

1.       Powered Subs with the musicality and reach of an AR 12inch are not cheap.  A sub that can effortlessly reach low enough may not be musical in getting there.  Conversely, one that is musical enough may not have the low end reach.  In Summary Powered subs are a crapshoot.

2.       Integration of the powered sub with the satellites is not easy and even with a lot of effort not guaranteed.  I was not able to satisfactorily get this done, even using two equalizers, and sub-woofers with both high and low pass capability. I am sure there are many powered subwoofers that make wonderful ordnance delivery simulators for the home but when I listen to music that I care about I want it to sound right, the way it sounds on 9s and 3as.  I never listen to detonations. Also I never scaled beyond 2 CR65s per side because I was never completely comfortable with the sound in the lower mid bass region.

I am sure I could have eventually spent enough money to be satisfied but then it wouldn’t be a hobby, it would just be shopping until I got exactly the right thing.  I quit the sub woofer search, returned everything for a refund and reflected on what good came from the project.

This is what I discovered:

1.       The BA CR65 and CR75, probably all CRx5 series, are gems

2.       If you place CR65s atop AR58s and bi amp using an equalizer on each amp it works great

3.       This thread is no longer about satellites and powered subs rather about Mods and Tweaks

This project continues and is showing great promise.  If you are interested, my posts on this topic have moved to the Mods and Tweaks section of the forum.

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Relatively old post(s) --- Yet I'm really grateful you kind folks are willing to provide succinct & accurate detail on "economy satellite" + floor speakers. AND in the configuration-type "place CR65s atop AR58s"

I'm pretty NEW to the hobby.

Still, I'm getting set to BUY a(nother)  pair of bookshelf speakers ... NOT (yet?) an "audiophile" or even bonafide hobbyist (ok - recently  bought a solder station) but ... who knows?

Maybe.

Two things; I'm assuming 

A) ... place CR65s atop AR58s &

B) If you are interested, my posts on this topic have moved to the Mods and Tweaks section of the forum ... are both pretty important??

It CAN'T HURT to in 50 words-or-less 'splain more-or-less what "Brought me here, to this juncture?" [to hobby,  to classicspeakerpages]

We'd conveniently found (what I thought) was a totally acceptable pair of JBL HLS820 [2nd-hand] floor-standers. About $80 minus a 10% discount at a big Thrift Store.

I'd HOPED we made out like a bandit on these big, and "fairly acceptable" units, except when we got them home they sounded pretty muddy. Oh well, "We'll Survive." Anyhows, maybe a month later I think I paid $35 for a pair bookshelf SONY SS-B1000 bookshelfs, figuring, maybe:

 "place UVWs atop XYZs."

Wow. The 4-way (traditional stereo A+B channel Receiver obviously) now sounded "Pretty darn good." -- A helluva lot better than "$600/list/price JBLs alone!" --

But wait a sec ... switching A-B, the little SONYs sounded FAR cleaner/clearer (B channel) than the JBL (A channel).  SOMETHING HADDA BE WRONG.  Turns out the tweeters on the JBL obviously (very LIKELY the aforementioned 10mm polycarbonate domes ... were BLOWN); and so I bought new-ones: easy like-for-like R&R aftermarkets $5ea [clearance] + shipping.

Anyhow, At long last, we finally had "fully functioning" [4x] "wall-of-sound" i.e., small living room. Rattle-pictures-off-the-walls type 'o thingy. Pretty cool & CHEAP

Now its Wow Wee.

[Having "wished for" teeth-rattling-concert-volumes -- HiFi -- this was all "installation at g/f's home" -- and she'd (excitedly!) now finally gotten (practically) more-than-hoped-for?]

Anyhows, I'd "no earthly idea" that electrolytic capacitors degrade, COMMONLY, anyway; vaguely remembered replacing a "cap we'd popped" main-board cheap TV ... but (until a couple months ago)  reading [mainly] reviews of speakers realized: "Vintage means XO caps are dry" ... bla bla bla.

SO WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEGUN TO REACH  FULL POTENTIAL. G/f "can't really believe that" unless/until I get the new caps in the JBL (and some batting into the little SONYs + a tweeter upgrade?)

The SONYs [actually] have more SOLID cab than JBL. Oh Well.   But the "dual woofer" on the JBL provides plenty bass - apparently.

My "BIG STRUGGLE" is de-soldering (just) the 22 and 44uF caps from the JBL X-over. It's a 3rd Butterworth BTW and the other cap is non-electrolytic and remains fine we assume ... I tried using a solder wick (instead of solder-sucker and BOY WAS THAT A MISTAKE.) Those two caps are "glued in tight-confines" and the tiniest slip-of-the-razor knife could sever the lead to an air-core. Whew.

I buggered the main board on one speaker bad enough with the iron -- hadda find a complete replacement (thank Goodness! Ebay $19) board ... I'm [finally] thinking I might have the "Shop" do these re-caps. It's kinda/sorta too-surgical [for me] beings the OE XO board is COMPACT and melt/remove/flux the OLD solder, er, uh ... got the better of me. I'd no idea de-soldering in tight space(s) could be that challenging. I ALMOST got it - got frustrated I "couldn't melt/remove QUICK" - and after leaving the iron 10 secs [or whatever] just made an unholy mess of the contact -- gosh it's embarrassing ... But a SOLDER SUCKER [versus] SOLDER WICK might very well have accomplished the mission; "learning the hard way!" maybe.

Anyhow -- and maybe this MATTERS??:

You typically read that "Gone, with Internet Age, are the days of sifting through bins to finding closely-matched capacitors ..." & "Just gotta rely upon suppliers' and tolerances."

I do UNDERSTAND that "within spec is within spec" and that variances MIGHT (not?!) affect transfer functions, might be inaudible, and might not. Maybe. That COULD be heavy into the weeds. HOWEVER, cap-matching [from L to R board] seems PREVALENT regardless, and I'd assume for good reason. 

SO WHAT I DID? I ACTUALLY WENT to the Parts Shop (brick & mortar) and over their relatively asinine objections "borrowed" their Meter (the man BS'd, saying it was "Presently being offered to ANOTHER [fictitiousrabidly interested retail customer for $149")  so the parts-person consequently chided me - king-sized B-hole - for selecting myself "matching" uF -- pairs -- that [turned out!] might OTHERWISE NOT REALLY HAVE BEEN TIGHT w/in 10% of spec ... I'm sorry I borrowed the man's Meter to pay him retail for what was advertised. I guess. Day BEFORE blithely sold me radial polar (wrong!) caps and wouldn't consider returning them "used" which they weren't (ten bucks or whatever) tho allegedly "knew" so much more having seen the OE board & caps w/ his own two eyes. Wrong for asking "helpful" help? He was EAGER to help & advise -- until he realized I knew so little of electronics and was TRYING diligently to be of Zero Nuisance -- but STILL -- "get in the gate safe & sound" w/o being (remaining) TOTALLY blind. He said he worked for JBL a decade. Then was heavily disappointed I hadn't contacted his heavily recommended  "Local JBL [& whatnot] Tech."  I guess that offended. He was trying DISCOURAGE any form DIY. Maybe we've all been to this movie? Hadda guy, brother's good friend, auto Tech, and a GOOD one, tell me, "You've NO BUSINESS under the hood of a car." He was right at that MOMENT in time! But a couple months later I (reasonably successfully) R&R control arms, UCA and LCA, ball joints, spindles, knuckle, whatever, tie-rod ends, on Crysler and Olds. No world-shaker obviously -- but with some research AND "sound advice" ... deepest apologies for the segue -- just that knee-jerk discouragement coming from those "too busy" RE "novice DIY" is senseless. Readily admit "Sometimes IS a good idea to discourage certain things!" So I'm not really a contrarian or position to know-one-way-or-other. Just enough to be dangerous myself or others Lol!

Any/everybody knows more electronics than I -- no reason rub a nose in it Lol! We all did damped HO and RLC circuits on "test questions" some point in school but my hands never spent any significant time w/ a scope (or anybody wanted to show me Lol! -- a lot basic/beginner electronics in school is "Me 1st World") and having time/inclination to practically beg inquiries about things vaguely worked on paper is humbling -- being older now wouldn't sneeze at some decent Lab time w/ advanced/intermediate/expert nearby -- almost trade my eye teeth Lol! It's all good. Happy to learn whatever ...

NOT "exaggerating" that whom(ever) might have purchased REMAINING pairs of caps -- for L/R Xo's -- from small handful available -- might have [actually] had to settle for something like a 11% or 12% "discrepancy" [measured] assuming of course precision which is/was quite accurate. I DON'T KNOW the "fallout of [slightly, i.e., 10-15% or even 20%] mis-matched caps" -- either some heavy duty debate about what may-or-may-not be audible -OR- practically no concrete (easily attainable! - thus far) indication about what DELETERIOUS EFFECTS these type discrepancies so-called might cause. Nobody with the measuring equipment (seemingly) has either studied this type (call it?) mismatch or taken time to report  to hobbyists? I dunno. NO BIGGIE. INCONSEQUENTIAL. NO EARTH-SHATTERING REVELATIONS (forthcoming). Might be a moral, of sorts? You folks are all fantastic resources, so grateful (myself) even to have opportunity to refurbish/upgrade speakers. Several caps in the bins WERE w/in spec, most in fact, but a couple of them - 1 or 2 - were most definitely not w/in spec. The 22's came in at 19.1uF and 19.2uF (respectively) was as "close to parameters" as I could interpolate and the 44's are obsolete so I found 47's (all 100V I think) that measured about 45.4uF and 44.5uF if memory serves. One measured around 49.1uF and another 51.2uF but can see that if just randomly chosen might be a tad outside 10% from L to R board. I guess that'd still be acceptable. Not TRYING to kick dust, not TRYING for controversy; but "discussion towards this end" - I've encountered - is anecdotal. Unknowns in life happen. It's OK. But sure seems any (audio) engineer wouldn't object to (at least) aiming to minimize certain "wonks" -- and -- in event s/he couldn't, might, theoretically, given the spare time, simulate the function(s) variance(s), or actually apply some real-world measure up-to-including audible tests. I'm not even sure there exists a meaningful method Lol! I'm of this (sometimes) overwhelming impression that "subjective" testing almost always overrides any/all measurements, and surely that includes design simulation. Seems like obvious "categorical imperatives." It's SO into the minutiae for hobbyist, maybe not the engineer. I haven't been able to search the issue (myself) w/ any diligence but (have to) assume hobbyists GET their "loftiest techniques" from engineering and haven't seen (personally) any reports of "precisely how" variances in simple things like capacitance affect performance. Which leads one (like me ouch!) to GUESS that "Maybe its not measurable?" and subjectively thrown into the dust bin of obscurity. 

"If the cymbal, on a stereo recording, is mixed equally L/R, mono-fashion, and a slight discrepancy between 2nd order capacitance in the XO causes the L speaker to render the crash a little louder than R speaker, not necessarily 10% louder beings there's no linearity,"  then does "Anybody even have a concern for such?" [given if I've even interpreted the filtering effects of caps correctly (or vaguely) in-the-least Lol!] So-called cap-matching inevitably must (or might) speak to something roughly along those lines, yet I can't discern if anybody's pursued it much besides "trust the ones you get, and Mylar ones are better anyhow," except that "get" means "get what you're stuck with" and refurb OE caps on older networks [electrolytic caps] seems suggestive (often enough) - mainly for board-mounting purposes - "Like for Like."

It's a practical thing; BIG (expensive replacement) caps don't easily go into SMALL [OE] boards. This sure seems a (fairly) common issue for re-cap that's (surprisingly) seldom considered, or addressed, however one wishes to phrase it. People like design & build "new" speakers apparently, rather than tidy-up older ones. To me, a cabinet construction is a major undertaking. That's a big build. Granted, learning, and gaining, some finesse w/ razor knife and solder iron involves ... well ... much smaller (scale) operation and smaller $$ provided -- big if -- 2nd-hand units with solid cabs w/ reasonable drivers abound. I'll never be "more than" hobbyist -- if even that. But de-soldering seems tricky to me. "We shall overcome!" Having a magnifier (in place) and a hands-free anchor system likewise seems important. There's a huge "basic tools for electronics repair" thread on another forum seems VERY helpful.

Spse when it comes to refurbish, No return-on-investment for the Engineer/designer/producer/distributor and/or even pro-electronics-guy, necessarily, sadly, but so MUCH "info" has got splattered all over the clicks&likes-world-we-live-in sometimes sifting the RIGHT "info" (predominantly what NOT to do i.e., "How [NOT!] To") sometimes (for novice such as myself) harder one might think Lol! To discriminate all that, I mean. But this (what you kind souls) have put above, in this thread, all seems "most excellent" and I'm grateful. 

PS:

Is there a (likely?) "audible diff" between BA CR65/75 and (the rarer) CR67? 

Almost (and maybe more pointed) or better Q: are any those better than Klipsch KB-15 Icon [5-1/4-Inch 2-Way]? It seems like the latter might be designed to (simply) produce a little louder than the Klipsch R-15M it's obvious "brother." So BOTH those one could (ideally) compare side-by-side BA CR65/75/85. I've yet to see anybody report ... SURPRISING, yet I guess is regarded as "cheap" so just buy 'em and be happy. I'm gonna buy the BA CR65 [used] today I think for about $60 inc. shipping.  

AN ASIDE: I'm not into Bluetooth or any the more modern stuff -- CD audio playback is meat & potatoes for me. I do not really understand why speakers now seem to have "built-in amps" and confuses the heck out of me why. We use always a couple older amps mostly type A (I think -- from 15-20 years ago in the 80-100W RMS range) even I think an A-1 or whatnot runs a little hotter tempF -- or surround sound Stereo in the 90W RMS (A  channel) --  just pretty big random stereo "old fashioned" Receivers from around 1998-2002 era (3 0r 4 total Lol!) and I've sure never tell any diff in ANY halfway-decent receiver 80+W A channel -- all-sound-same. Cant tell. Never tried to discriminate. Speakers are always end-game and for whatever crazy reason never twiddled around with sub-woofers if 8-10" floor stander works --- IOW we're HEARING Bonzo Bonham thumpin' or Entwistle or Wyman strummin' bla bla.

Steve F & A Adams -- both -- can't thank you both enough! Glad Tidings!

Sincerely,

Mo

PS helluva long post -- but instincts tell me why toss the baby w/ the bathwater?

 

 

 

 

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