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2-way vs. 3-way


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Hi, new to the forum. I have a pair RF7’s(Gen 1). I’ve been thinking about changing my speakers or adding another pair to the mix. My question is for those who have experience with both 2 and 3-way systems…which do you prefer and why? If you were going to purchase another set of speakers what would you buy?

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I vastly prefer 3 way Klipsch over 2 way.  For 2 way speakers I've had RF-7, RF-25, KG4, KG 3.5 plus bookshelf models.

For 3 way speakers I've had Quartet, forte, forte II, Chorus, Heresy I, II and III.

 

The midrange has more clarity and sounds more open.

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With respect to Klipsch speakers in particular, it's not simply that a speaker is 2-way or 3-way.  In my opinion what sets Heritage and the other 3-way Klipsch (like the 3-way Legend series and the Palladium series) apart from the 2-way Klipsch consumer lines is that more of the frequency range is covered by horn-loaded drivers.  In the Klipsch consumer lines of speakers, most of the 2-way speakers hand off from horns to cones in the range of 1200 Hz to as high as 2500 Hz. In contrast, the consumer line 3-way speakers (that are not fully horn-loaded) transition from horns to cones in a range of like 500 Hz to 850 Hz. This means that the consumer 3-way and fully horn-loaded speakers will have less distortion and better coverage control in the critical lower and middle region of the mid-range frequencies where the bulk of the musical and vocal action is. To my ears the 3-way Klipsch consumer speakers and the fully-horn-loaded ones (whether 3-way or 2-way like the Jubilee) sound more effortless, cleaner, less veiled, and more accurate in the mid-range. I call it the Klipsch "mid-range magic". So, over the years my serious listening systems have been made up of either Heritage series, the Forte family, 3-way Legend series, or Palladium series speakers.

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Everything else being equal, three way speakers often have less modulation (Doppler) distortion than two way.

Doppler distortion; an excerpt from  Stereophile

The results were intriguing. Distortion of the flute was gross at 10mm peak diaphragm displacement and not in the least bit euphonic. On the contrary, Doppler made the sound as harsh as you might expect of a distortion mechanism that introduces intermodulation products.

music signals are less revealing of Doppler distortion than this special brew. But these findings undermine the view, widely accepted in the last two decades, that Doppler distortion in loudspeakers is not something we should trouble about. Having done the listening, I side with Moir and Klipsch more than with Fryer, Allison, and Villchur on this issue—something that may come as no surprise to anyone who has heard the effects of low-level jitter and sees where the Fryer criterion appears in fig.2. .

It has often been claimed that, with a two-way speaker, there are audible benefits to using a crossover frequency below the typical 3kHz, the usual explanation being that this removes the crossover from the ear's area of greatest sensitivity. But I wonder. Perhaps this not-uncommon experience Everyone who uses a two-way speaker (me included) can take heart from the fact that most actually has much more to do with the D word. A three-way solution is potentially even better. Three-way speakers bring new design challenges, of course, in particular the need to achieve another perceptually seamless handover between drivers. But from the Doppler perspective, having a crossover for the bass driver at 400Hz or 500Hz is, unquestionably, better (https://www.stereophile.com/content/red-shift-doppler-distortion-loudspeakers-page-3)

 

 

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8 hours ago, Cicerogue said:

Less is more.  I guess I am sensitive to time alignment or phasing because I find single driver or coaxial driver speakers really get my attention.

A single speaker would be the best if it were possible, but not attainable at the present time without some compromise. It would solve a multiple of problems inherent in 2 and 3 way speakers systems. No time alignment problems or a crossover network with it's negative effect on sound. I own a 3 way system, LaScala, considering it the most economically way for upper end sound quality. There is a trend now for a full range speaker for many audiophiles but most do add a bass speaker crossing over at a very low frequency, around 200hz. I have experimented with a decent full range speaker but loss some detail and quickness that a horn speaker has. I still prefer horns even with a 3 way system. Engineers work really hard to limit the inherent faults in 2 way and 3 way systems. 

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Hello @Ap112233 and welcome to the forum.

 

Was there a particular model you were looking at trying?

 

The bass impact from your RF7s will be tough to match from most speakers with less than a 15” woofer. 

 

But once you hear the midrange (truth) from a Klipsch 3-way you may find it hard to live without.

 

Ideally you would find a pair you are interested in and listen to them with familiar source material and let your own ears decide.

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How hard it is to create a good 2 way horn speaker shows the Underground Jubilee and the new Jubilee. With all the advantages, it has been a years-long struggle to find the best drivers and not least Roy's new additional phase plug to cover the highest freq.  The result is of course excellent, but also big and expensive. The question is how to solve the problem. With the Jubilee, the bass had been developed first by Paul, it should run higher than with the Khorn to allow a two way system. Then came the K402 by Roy that perfectly finds the connection in the transition area. So it remained as a task to be able to send as high as possible. But…it is I estimate the way both guys have done an easier task than to start with the highest freq. and then think „down“ if you want to develop a two way horn system.
In mixed systems with cones and horns I would think that I like the kind where the transition is set as low as possible, for example, the Cornwall. With types where a horn starts higher, it bothers my ears when the bass transmits a lot of fundamental notes that are then taken over by the horn in the connecting register. The character of cone and horn becomes too different. An exception are perhaps large 15" Tannoy where the horn, although only, starts at 1100 Hz but due to its design it works well (the diaphragm has exactly the distance to the woofer coil that the sound is time-aligned with reversed polarity crossover) and it is the grandfather of all coaxial systems ... and the best to date in my view.

 

As has been said here, with less large and complex horn systems it is easier to have three horns in the full horn system, or at least to have one midrange and one treble horn each when playing together with a bass cone. I have forgotten but I think that at least an exponential horn cannot transmit more than 4 octaves without distortion without torturing it at the limit. Plus as mentioned before one is save regarding the radiation pattern.

 

For cone speakers I would answer the question about the number of ways differently, that's just my personal taste. I like the BBC loudspeaker philosophy for decades. I can not go into the peculiarity of the cabinet design here but just a thought about their two-way principle. Provided one is satisfied with max. 40 Hz in the bass response the BBC (today Stirling Broadcast, Harbeth, Graham Audio, earlier Rogers, Spendor and others) began end of the 60s to develop modern 8" cone, first Bextrene, then polypropylene.

The goal of the development was that at higher frequencies the cone would vibrate only from the center to the middle of its diameter. This avoids too sharp beaming which is normally unavoidable according to the laws of physics at gigher freq. dependend on the diameter of the cone, the larger the lower the beaming freq.

 

The goal was that the 8" cone could be pulled up to 3000 Hz. Why...Because in this way all the fundamental tones of all instruments up to the highest organ pipe come through exactly one speaker cone with the given advantages of that kind of performance. This is a good compromise in relation to the ideal transducer that could transmit everything in the desired paradise. It sounds very natural and authentic to my ears. The (or in my case two, one only from 13 KHz) tweeter emits only the harmonics.
Of course, there are limitations to this principle. The Doppler effect already mentioned here by garyrc would be disturbing but these BBC speakers are not made for large SPL and cone strokes. Ok they will suffer anyway a bit of doppler as a part of their compromise but anyway. I find the world of loudspeakers, their variety and ideas a fantastic playfiled, isn‘t it. Almost a paradise even without non compromised speakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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in more general terms... they are just different.

 

I do think that 'Physically' unaligned three ways have an audible smear to the signal, but it's not enough smearing in the Klipschorn (the biggest three way misalignment in the klipsch heritage line) to dissuade me from owning them or most certainly loving to listen to them, they are wonderful. I think that most folks would not even be able to hear the difference or even care.

 

The two way just seem more cohesive and focused in relation to the three way... but it also suffers slightly from 'roll off' in the HF. That might be a good thing for sibilance is not a character in sound I enjoy. I have been toying with the idea of adding a super tweeter with a wood lens to the Jubilee and make it three way, but I have not firmed up that implementation as yet nor will I implement it until I am certain I can not live with the speaker as solely as a two way.

 

so there is always a trade off...

 

52054427301_1c25f890ad_k.jpg

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9 hours ago, geoff. said:

Ideally you would find a pair you are interested in and listen to them with familiar source material and let your own ears decide.

 

This is frequently heard, pretty good, advice -- but maybe there is a better, similar approach.

 

Let your own ears decide -- certainly! 

 

But maybe we have selected speakers based partly on anomalies we like. 

 

If we use (only) familiar source material, we might notice that our favorite anomaly, present when using our own speakers, is gone when heard through some other speakers, and we may miss it.   "What happened to the punch in that crescendo? Or the zing and the sizzle in that cymbal crash?  Or the wood sound of that cello?  Or the "rosiny" sound of (solo or massed) strings, exciting friction that makes the strings "speak" .  We might even mistake a favorite anomaly for reality or as having some other virtue.  And real acoustical instruments do make all of the sounds mentioned above, although they probably don't sound exactly the same through our speakers, or, indeed, in any two halls.   

 

So, why not take take a collection to our listening sessions that is composed of 50% familiar recordings and 50% recordings we have never heard, write down our reactions (like "devoid of _____" or "exciting Sfz from the _____"), and see if each pair of speakers have anomalies ("qualities") that some other pairs don't have, that are present in the unfamiliar recordings, but lost when heard through our old familiar speakers.

 

This all reminds me of the time, in the 1980s when I was A/B/C-ing Klipschorns v.s. Bozak Concert Grands v.s. B & W 801Fs.  They all had their points, and each produced intriguing sounds that the others didn't, especially noticed with unfamiliar  recordings.  I ended up with Klipschorns, but they weren't the best in every way, just best in a configuration that pleased me.

 

"Some ears will become habituated to false sounds" -- PWK in the early '70s.

 

"Everyone but me and thee, and sometimes I think that even thee ..."

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Have 3-way Heresy's and Cornwall's. Also 2-way CF-3's and KPT-904's.  Find it impossible to make a comparison of 2 vs 3-way as all these speakers sound completely different with different crossover frequencies. But, prefer my 904's with large horns (xover at 800Hz or at 620Hz active). However, this is probably not obtainable with "smaller" residential speakers. 

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La Scalas are great, but they've been improved over the years, so it's good advice to buy the newest ones you can afford, or even look at La Scala IIs.  They're just starting to appear on the used market, and some are at great prices.

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