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If the sub provides low frequencies then why buy speakers with large cabinet(floor stander) and drivers?  Would bookshelf and sub not be adequate in most medium rooms if it is being played at low volumes.  Do they image different or anything else?

Edited by Moh
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Some combinations would work well, others not so much.  Listen before buying.


With good towers or a very good bookshelf the crossover to the sub would often be about 80 Hz.  Some of the punch and power of the bass occurs above that, so would depend on your main speakers to deliver the upper  part of the boom, smack, slam, etc of the bass drum, timpani, bassoon, bass guitar, etc.  These frequencies may center around 100 Hz, and go up to almost 200 Hz.  I  like to see 15" or 12" diameter main speakers handle the job.  But some modern smaller speakers may do a good job.  See the two figures below.


Notice that the impact of the kick (bass) drum extends way, way up (probably the papery "smack" sound).




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The Moh, what you’re describing used to be called a sat/sub system.  It was popular a couple of decades ago.  You’d have five speakers, plus a subwoofer.  There’d be a medium-sized centre speaker, and four identical smaller speakers, for Left, Right, Surround Left, and Surround Right.  Sometimes the Left and Right speakers would be a bit bigger.  As you mention, the total volume of speakers in the room would be much less.  I’m sure you can still get them.  As a matter of fact, Klipsch makes the Master and Commander of the concept, the THX Ultra2 system, and that outfit is hi-fi, but of course the speakers are mid-sized, not the tiny cubes many people think of.


For someone in a very small apartment, it was a way to go, but it wasn’t hi-fi.  It could satisfy casual listeners, but as the commenter above posted, it was pretty limited in terms of the bass slam that can bring a feeling of realism to your listening.  With the less expensive sets, the subwoofer is barely worthy of the name, hardly able to go any deeper into the bass than a good normal speaker.  So that sums it up.  For a person with a limited budget and limited living space, it’s a way to go, but the bigger speakers can do a much better job, for a couple of reasons:  they can move more air, for more power and realism, and the bass response can go much lower, so they can reproduce the bottom bass octaves, which the little systems can’t touch, and can possibly have the power of a live performance, but that requires pretty big speakers.


Why?  Because bass notes are big, with wavelengths in the tens of feet, in contrast to the inches or shorter lengths of high-frequency sounds.  As well, they’re big in terms of how hard real musical notes can hit.  Think of a bass kick drum.  That whole drumhead is vibrating with every beat, every time it’s kicked.  To reproduce that sound accurately, you have to move a similar amount of air, and move it as hard as the drummer kicked it, so that means either lots of amplifier power, very sensitive speakers, or both.  The basic guitar amplifier, the half-stack, is a square cabinet with four 12” drivers, and a full stack adds a second cabinet on top of that.  To make a realistic reproduction of the sounds a setup like that can produce takes serious equipment.  


Even symphony orchestra music can be a challenge to reproduce accurately.  That was Paul Klipsch’s original goal:  to be able to hear with clarity the power of a big symphony orchestra playing at full volume, and all with a 5-watt amplifier!  The Klipschorn was the result.  They’re 52” tall, but they sit right in the corner of the room, so they don’t take up that much floor space.  PWK’s breakthrough idea was to use the walls of the room as extensions of the woofer horns, to allow his speakers to reproduce deep bass notes that would normally require a really, really, big bass horn.


So there’s your answer:  a sat/sub system can work, but it’s very limited in the degree of realism it can give you.  For some folks, that’s all they want, but most Klipsch fans, especially the ones here on the Forum, are after much more than a pale imitation of a musical event.  They want to come as close to the real thing as they can afford.


EDIT:  So I looked again at your post, and saw that you were referring to a bookshelf and sub setup, not the original little sat/sub systems.  Yes, a bookshelf and sub setup can do a fair job, especially in smaller rooms, if they’re good speakers and it includ a good sub (or two).  Bookshelf speakers are now often called stand-mount speakers, since bookshelves are not the best places for speakers, and stands can make for better sound.  At that point, you might as well have floor-standing speakers, since they don’t take up any more floor space.  


Is there anything to recommend a stand-mount and sub system?  Yes, there is.  Some of them can image very well, and imaging is a sometimes overlooked aspect of reality.  If you can close your eyes and picture the position of every instrument, as well as the singer or singers, that’s good.  If you can hear that the singer is centre stage, while the backup singers stand off to one side, and the lead and rhythm guitarists stand at opposite sides of the stage, that really adds to the sense of realism that your system can produce, and that’s what it’s all about.  Either your system can take you to the performance, or it can bring the performance to you.  That’s the goal of hi-fi.  For some fans, true hi-fi is a noble quest, while for others, music is an accompaniment to what they do around their homes, and for that the system requirements are quite a bit lower.


What’s right?  There is no single “right”.  Whatever makes you happy is what’s right for you.

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Bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer are a good solution where space for your speakers is limited.

Nothing wrong with that. Below a certain frequency, bass notes become non-directional (omni-directional?) so having some

distance between the subwoofer and the satellites is not a big deal.


Buying large speakers, without a subwoofer, is to me more for convenience; fewer wires, no power needed for a subwoofer, less space taken up, particularly floor space as tall, tower-like speakers do.


So yes; in a medium sized room a subwoofer and bookshelf speakers can be more than adequate, while preserving floor space.


There's also a cost benefit; you may be able to only afford bookshelf speakers at the outset of a system purchase. But later, when craving more of a "full range" sound, you can merely add a subwoofer rather than sideline your existing speakers for larger, lower playing ones.

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