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gladstonematt's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 28 2008 - 5:32am
speaker size vs room size

I'm looking at getting a bigger pair of speakers to clean up the bass performance, however I'm concerned about having too big speakers for a given room size. Leaving aside aesthetic considerations, is there any truth that speakers can be "too big" for a room? I'm not why it should be - if a larger speaker has a response curve which is similar to a small one, or extends a bit lower, surely there's no difference in the actual quantity/ dB of sound produced, so room size shouldn't be a factor? Or in other words, a big speaker isn't actually pumping any more air around - just doing it better? (Obviously for a given volume setting).
Thoughts/ advice? thanks

Elk's picture
Last seen: 3 years 3 months ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: speaker size vs room size

Interesting question.

IMO, the only way a speaker is too big for a room occurs when the listener cannot sit back far enough for the drivers to integrate. It is not uncommon to need to be back eight to ten feet with big multi-driver speakers.

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 12 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: speaker size vs room size

Interesting question.

IMO, the only way a speaker is too big for a room occurs when the listener cannot sit back far enough for the drivers to integrate. It is not uncommon to need to be back eight to ten feet with big multi-driver speakers.

Hi, and welcome!

I tend toward Elk's line with a few of my own superstitions thrown in.

1) Overly large speakers for a room may limit/hinder proper placement relative to room boundaries, making proper speaker/room integration problematic.

2) Larger speakers tend to have a harder time getting out of their own way with regard to effect on imaging, so I'd give smaller speakers the nod.

In a smaller room, a smaller speaker may not be required to perform at a level outside its dynamic league and may make be able to make for equal performance in terms of absolute volume 'required' by a listener's taste while also also outdoing the larger speaker for imaging quality.

3) Totally my own BS: I think there is a 'room loading' relationship that exists between a speaker and a room, and a larger speaker may more readily 'overload' a room than a smaller speaker.

Totally lousy description by me.

My example for this would be a speaker like an electrostatic, which would have no driver integration issues at all if run full range.

A large electrostatic in a small room seems to generate sound pressure that can, in addition to being heard, certainly be felt on the ear, as well; and in a different fashion than live music seems to load the ear.

Maybe it's a matter of the speaker operating at such a small fraction of its total dynamic capabilities that the transitions from volume to volume may actually seem harder for the larger speaker to do with finesse than a smaller speaker.

I almost feel guilty saying that, as it may be tripe.

Anyway, the old adage "the right tool for the right job" does strike me as coming into play for the speaker/room relationship.

tom collins
tom collins's picture
Last seen: 11 years 3 months ago
Joined: Apr 3 2007 - 11:54am
Re: speaker size vs room size

let me run something by you. lately, i have been feeling a little underwhelmed with the bass response of my system both in terms of volume relative to the other tones and in terms of clarity. i have done a good bit of work on room treatments which has helped a good deal. i have heard my speakers in the store do a great job with bass, so i knew they were capable. my thought was to upgrade my electronics, i just figured they were as the reviewers describe as "polite". well, my dealer was running a sale. just on a whim, i asked about cd players. i wound up taking a naim cd5i-2 home for a tryout. this is their bottom level player. i was prepared for improvement, but i had no idea how much, balanced volume relative to the entire spectrum and pinpoint accuracy now exist. i can now safely say that any bass problem was definitely not with my speakers or electronics or even the room (although it really needed bass treatment and probably needs more). the dealer has always preached to me - start with the source. at least in my case, he was correct.
one observation about this piece of gear - it is absolutely unforgiving of any marginal recordings, especially if they were recorded "hot" as seems to be in vogue with popular music these days. older rock recordings, jazz, acoustic, independent and small label recording - all good.
my suggestion is that you consider more than just the speakers in the equasion. get with your dealer and make a plan for improvement and follow that plan.
best of luck

cyclebrain's picture
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Jun 16 2006 - 11:40pm
Re: speaker size vs room size

A good speaker is a good speaker. Speaker size should pretty much not be of concern unless the speaker size places the high and mid drivers at a bad location.
Also a horn loaded bass driver that goes down to 32Hz might be a bit much for most rooms.

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