2.1 Speaker Questions

I have just a few questions regarding computer speakers that I can't seem to find the answer to anywhere else.

Firstly, I am a bit confused about the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 speakers. It seems to me that the same exact pair of these has been around for over three years. How could these speakers possibly be one of the best 2.1 sets if they are so old? Not to mention, they are still rather pricey.

Secondly, I was wondering if anyone had heard any rumors about when Logitech might make a replacement for thier current Z-2300 speakers? Just curious.

Lastly I have a question about sound cards and quality of music. Currently, with my Logitech Z3 speakers I can usually tell the difference between 128kbps files and 190 - 250kbps files. Both sound great, except some of the 128kbps at higher volumes. I have a feeling all a sound card (like the soundblaster audigy 2zs) would do is make more noticable the flaws, so to speak, in the 128kbps. Would the sound card actually lower the distortion, or amplify it?

Thanks for any help.
43 answers Last reply
More about speaker questions
  1. Wow, you really are a noob! Speakers haven't gotten better sounding for around 20 years! Sure, bigger speakers with heavier-duty parts have been introduced for cars, but that's not for quality, it's for high volume sound competitions.

    Now computer speakers HAVE gotten better over the last 15 years, but that's only because they were crappy in comparison to home stereo speakers. Early computer speakers were basically just portable walkman speakers.

    Top quality computer speakers have been around since the beginning of the century. And remember, ALL speakers are analog, it's just the amplifier that uses a digital signal and converts it to analog. Digital-to-analog converters haven't gotten much better either, quality wise, this century, because they were already so good. Newer developments add more channels.
  2. Yep! BTW, Kilpsch realy pushes everything off the shelf for quality.
  3. for computer speakers maybe....

    As for regualr speakers they are Good but when you take the price into it....they aren't a good buy.

    2 F3's pus a sub 12 is going to be roughly ~$1800 with tax. OUCH!!

    Good speakers are rarely cheap and audiofiles can never figure out whats good and bad. They all argue about it because its all one giant opinion.

    Personally i would go to friends houses that have them and listen to a music CD, mp3, watch parts of a DVD, and then you should know what your in store for. Listen for yourself.
  4. I remember $8k speaker settups that were awe-inspiring 20 years ago and would still compete with a $4k modern package. Things have gotten cheaper to manufacture, but audiophiles had this speaker thing figured out long ago.
  5. flefster:

    Audio components have a longer life than electronics components because there's not as much money put into developing them. While CPUs may be outdated in months, the average production cycle of a speaker set can be 5 years or more.

    As it is Klipsch no longer sells the Promedia 2.1s at the $200 price point and have now replaced them with the Klipsch iFi (can be found for $200 at most locations, such as Costco, ebay Klipschstore, and Klipsch refurb online).

    This is an upgrade over the Promedia line; the midrange drivers have been upgraded from treated paper to aluminum cones; the satellites are bigger and have less of that "midrange hole" that plagues most satellite/subwoofer combos.

    In fact Klipsch didn't even do anything in this update, all they did was take one of their HT satellites (the RSX-3) and swap it into a multimedia setup..

    As for Logitech, I've never been a fan of their products (although I've owned their speakers in the past). Their design philosophy is more for the hi-tech look and decor, and aren't very impressive sonically. In fact given that they've chosen to only produce 1-way (midrange only) satellites shows they are more interested in their profit margins than sound quality. All their speakers in the last 5 years have employed the same technology, crossover less one-way designs with few parts and high distortion, whereas Klipsch and Creative have constantly been pushing the envelope for sound quality with larger midrange drivers, tweeters, and better dampened subwoofers, compared to Logitech's overworked 1-way designs and badly dampened subwoofers, which result in very loose, distorted bass.

    Creative currently leads the 5.1+ setups with their Gigaworks; very nice 3.5" midrange drivers, and titanium tweeters. Altec Lansing has come out with some VERY nice 2.1 setups including the MX5021 and MX6021, as well as a wonderful 2.0 setup--the MX5020. Klipsch has matched Altec Lansing with the Klipsch 2.0/and iFi in the 2.0/2.1 department.

    Logitech on the other hand has been stagnating behind; at one point their Z-560 was one of the best deals available back in 2000; it was only $130 for four-3" midrange sats and a HUGE sub. Since then, all they've managed to do is repackage the same speakers in slightly different looking packages. It's all very disappointing, and sound quality wise Logitech is as bad as you can do now when you look at the major players in the PC industry, compared to a time when they were second to only Klipsch. It's very sad, and shows you a business model for improvement requires REINVESTING profits back into research and development and not into marketing and fattening your own wallets.

    Crashman, I wouldn't say speakers haven't gotten better sounding in 20 years. I would agree BIG NAME RETAILERS like B&W, Klipsch, Audio Products International, Paradigm, are moving away from sound quality and more into the Logitech business design of "cool-looking" speakers with colored speaker cones and posh looking finishes to please wives and the flat-panel HT crowd at the huge expense of sound quality.

    But internet-direct companies are still focused on improving sound quality. Companies like Ascend Acoustics, Axiom, Aperion, that have done massive research in the 80s at Canada's NRC (national research council) are producing some of the finest speakers today from the research they've done. Ascend, for example, sells the CBM-170SE bookshelf speaker at $350/pair. It uses 6 1/2" aerogel woofers (rigid like metal drivers but without the resonances), 27mm tweeters from Seas of Norway (considered the best tweeter manufacturers in the world) and an extensive Zobel crossover network to eliminate all midrange cone resonances. The link below shows the measurements of the older CBM-170 version; it's got to be one of the best measuring speakers you've ever seen; flat frequency response, good dispersion, easy to drive, and very low decay times. That's where real progress is taking place.


    Of course, when the tweeters and midrange cones in a $350 speaker cost $160, you realize not much money is going into decor...and the speakers are going to be ugly : P (I'd rather take that than $0.50 3-inch paper drums from Logitech and a pretty speaker!)
  6. Among audiophiles there are still those who will fight for the virtues of PAPER CONES. I remember around 15 years ago the fight between stiff-foam, soft foam, cloth, and butyl surrounds, basically the stiff surround guys were arguing that the speakers had better control. And it was often the case that bass-reflex enclsoures used stiff surrounds for better control, while sealed boxes used softer surrounds with backpressure preventing overtravel.

    I bought some 4x6 plates that were intended for use in high-end TV's, using 4" mid-woofers and 1" tweeters. The woofer had a very soft cloth surround, which appeared to be latex coated. These were the most outstanding 4" drivers I'd heard, they could hit frequencies below 40Hz with clarity but reached the end of their throw very easily. I smashed some bobbins bottoming them out, clear sound all the way up to the volume level where you heard the "loud click" hehe. Oh, they were cheap, it didn't bother me to ruin a couple.

    The only noticeable advances we've seen in speaker design since the late 70's are waveguide enclosures. Everything else is simply a new implementation of an old idea.

    Advanced technology instead focusses on the output hardware, such as digital sound processors and amplifiers. And on the analog side (ALL speakers are analog), amplifiers haven't improved noticeably either.

    For those who still haven't caught on, all speakers are indeed analog, the amplifier on a "digital speaker system" converts a digital signal to several analog signals. Speaker have to be analog because ears are analog.
  7. So if there hasn't been a significant advancement in speaker technology for almost 30 years, what accounts for the difference in sound quality between speaker brands? If you compare Cerwin Vegas or Infinity speakers to really high end stuff like Duevel Jupiters, it's like night and day. Is it that they just use more expensive materials?
  8. OMG dude Klipsch and Altec Lansing make some of the best stuff money can buy. I dont know if there 50$ 2.1 setups are good or not but the 100+ ones sound amazing i heard with a good sound card like audigy2
  9. Remember that we had top-sounding EM speakers for professional studios back in the 1920's! The market has expanded for high end drivers, hence a $200 8" driver is more common now than it was 10 years ago.

    It's not technology, more like market demand that's driving availability for high-end drivers. As for enclosures, I haven't seen much improvement in technology, just greater availability again.

    I do think that reflector on the Duevals is a nifty idea. Then again, I've seen other nifty ideas, including nautilus-shaped eclosures, for many many years.
  10. Black_Cat,

    Speaker technology not improving and speakers not improving are two different things. Products you see on the market are the cumulation of technology and capital. Technology like LCD panels have been available since the 70s. That doesn't mean they were widely available or could be purchased cheaply.

    In the same measure, a lot of speaker advancements have been made but the processes to putting them together as a product need both resources to jump into the new technology as well as the resources to readjust your current production techniques. Companies like Cerwin Vegan and Klipsch made their hayday a long time ago with horn-loaded speakers that are extremely sensitive but aren't accurate in the low/mid-fi market. For them to change their production techniques means both losing their current customer base, entering an unknown market which may or may not support their entry, plus the cost of all the research staff and stock which will have to be liquidated and replaced. A lot of stuff is simple economics and has nothing to do with technology, as it is not easily accessible in obvious ways to everyone.

    Crashman, in terms of speaker technology, as I've seen your type of argument before, yes basic speaker theory hasn't seen huge strides in the last 30 years; then again, by that argument there has been no technological progress for 100 years in any field since the basic foundations have been laid out a long time ago. The materials used and the theories behind the execution of the basic speaker designs (horn, cone, or ribbon) have constantly improved; basically the execution have improved by alot. Paper cones have one major flaw in its excursion limits. It doesn't have the rigidity of a lot of materials and thus is a lot harder to construct a neutral speaker, although it also doesn't have the nasty breakup modes of more rigid materials, which require high order crossovers, notch filters, or other designs like double-wound voice coils to reduce resonance and distortion.

    As for amplifiers, a number of "digital" designs have come forth in the last few years, such as Equibit (Panasonic/Texas Instruments) and Class-T. Sony, Panasonic, H&K, Samsung and a few other manufacturers are already jumping on this new technology, which reduces the noise floor and grants huge amounts of power at low cost. Panasonic already sells a receiver (SA-XR55) that produces 90x7 (8ohms)/170x7 (4 ohms)/240x7 (2 ohms) at only 0.003% THD. Samsung and H&K are both coming out with 250x7 (8 ohm) designs with these new pulse-width mudulation designs. Denon and Pioneer Elite...watch out!

    A warning for those looking to buy new digital amplifiers - time to upgrade those speakers too! It's probably a good idea to find some NEUTRAL speakers because the new digital amps provide a ton of current and power levels will be even throughout the audible frequency band, which will make them sound similar to high-current seperates. Older (non-high current) receivers tend to have declining power levels as the frenquency rises and insert a "bloom" (odd-order distortion for solid state amps, and even-order for tube amps) that "fills" the sound and makes it sound "warm" when in reality the receiver is straining to provide stable current levels. If you have bright speakers, they might sound excessively bright now because of such neutral power delivery.
  11. WOW! Nice posts guys... Interesting stuff...

    I do stand behind Klipsch having a superior product before going to reciever and custom route for the PC. Logitech is for those who dont know any better 8)
  12. Logitech's market is in the low end ($50 2.1 sets, and $100 4.1/5.1 sets).

    Anything above the $100 price bracket for surround speakers and above $50 for 2.1 and Logitech is no longer competitive.
  13. Indeed... I still think that the full range driver that the use is disgusting. I would rather do withouth honestly.
  14. What exactly are the differences between the different types of speakers? I have heard terms like mutimedia speakers and bookshelf speakers tossed around but are there any mechanical differeneces between the two?
  15. Cases get designed to fit in various places. Bookshelf speakers are small. Computer speakers normally have a smaller footprint than bookshelf speakers, etc.

    It's all about making the enclosure fit into it's environment.

    Most computer speakers include their own amplifier, most bookshelf speakers use the amp from a larger audio system.
  16. If you look at most multimedia speakers, they are complete sets: amplifier, subwoofer, speakers.

    The subwoofer usually ranges from 3" to 8". The speakers usually range from 1-way designs like Logitechs with single drivers as small as 2", to 2-way designs like Altec Lansing, Klipsch, Creative, with 1" tweeters and 3-3.5" midrange drivers. The drivers are usually made of paper and are rather flimsy, the voice coils are small and you lack significant midrange volume and clarity because of the limited size of the speaker cones.

    Bookshelf speakers usually need amplification and are one piece of a stereo or surround setup. Some (studio monitors) are self-powered like computer speakers are. Bookshelf speakers usually have a 3/4-1" tweeter and midrange cones from 4" to 8". Materials for these cones are generally not paper like computer speakers, but either basic polyprolene or something more advanced, like poly sandwiched with glass, kevlar, aluminum, aerogel, berrylium, etc. A lot of these materials will sound more "detailed" than plain paper because of lower distortion (noise is not covering the details) although these harder materials tend to have breakup modes that sound like ringing (like cowbells ring). Advanced crossover networks are usually employed to get rid of this ringing (at some expense of detail).

    Multimedia speakers usually need to be listened to at very close distances because they lose significant volume as you move away. As a result you don't get a very good stereo soundstage/image and it sounds like music is coming out of a tin can. Moving to bookshelves allow you to move the speakers back to an optimal location where the stereo signal can cross each other and create a sense of space and location of instruments, instead of the "headphone" effect which computer speakers generally suffer from, which is the inability to identify where instruments are coming from.
  17. I don't entirely agree, but what you said sounded nice, so I'm not going to bother going into detail.
  18. Did I say anything incorrect?
  19. Quote:
    Multimedia speakers usually need to be listened to at very close distances because they lose significant volume as you move away. As a result you don't get a very good stereo soundstage/image and it sounds like music is coming out of a tin can.

    I would not think the sound pressure very close to 10-feet away would drop any more significantly than with another speaker of different a brand. Either bass is too loose sounding, or it is lacking at all, giving you your tin sound.
  20. To begin with, the logorithmic scale for sound reduction over distance works regardless of speaker type.
  21. I believe bookshelves are built with larger baffles, giving better dispersion qualities, which should lead to better room reinforcement.

    Maybe, or maybe not. I'm just past computer speakers I guess. Maybe you guys aren't, but everyone's got different tastes.

    What else Crashman?
  22. Lower frequencies disperse better, typical computer speakers lack lower midbass which they try to make up for with the sub, which then typically lacks strong bass below 60Hz. Your experience is likely "colored" by the inability of typical computer speakers to adequately fill certain ranges.

    I've got good computer speakers.
  23. I route my onboard sound to a Sony reciever and two Bose 201 bookshelf speakers. Amazingly good sound.
  24. I had mine tied into the home stereo. I used to build speakers.
  25. That is cool! A seperate 2 channel home sound system is perfect imo for a PC. Makes onboard sound sound good, plenty of power and good speakers perform well for gaming and music listening, and can often be had for same price or less than PC speaker systems.
  26. You have no idea how much I am dieing to jump up to the reciever and quality speakers setup. Right now I am looking at Axiom bookshelf speakers and maybe a cheap Harmon/Kardon, or Yamaha reciever. Maybe materials for a subwoofer from www.partsexpress.com ! 8) It will be a nice step up from what I have now :P
  27. I used to get drivers from them, but it looks like their low-priced selection has dried up.

    Then again, they used to get small lots of high-quality speakers and liquidate them...being on the internet probably changed the quantities they deal with.
  28. As long as you know what you are looking at with Axiom. They are known to be bright speakers. I've actually owned them in the past (Axiom M22tis) and found them detailed at low to mid volumes, but if you turn it up it female vocals gets fatiguing. The problem is midrange cone resonance (from aluminum, a troublesome material). B&W, Thiel also suffer from these cone resonances. If you don't mind a bright sound, Axiom is a very quality brand.

    But there are several manufacturers that make equally detailed speakers with lower decay times (after-image sound). Ascend, Energy are some examples. Paradigm IS neutral although they employ the "midbass-hump" that gives the warm sound a lot of British and Euro speakers are known for.

    Some speaker measurements. Unfortunately no spectral decay plots are available to ascertain which speakers are truly "Bright."

  29. Let me put it to you another way: Their GOOD, CHEAP speaker selection has vanished.

    They used to buy leftover drivers from remnants/end runs. You could take a chance on something cheap that came from a high-end finished speaker design, using your own enclosure. If you didn't like the results, you didn't loose much money, and you could sell the stuff you didn't like to someone else.

    I'd get the sales flyer in the mail and within a few days the few dozen special drivers they'd gotten would be gone.
  30. Hmm... I just may go with Klipsch for the bookskelf speakers then (nice efficiency). As for Partsexpress, I was looking at the Titanic Mark3 kit. If its good I will bite the bullet and grab that 15" 8)
  31. Klipsch has some good speakers, pricey too.
  32. If you don't mind the style: somewhat bass anaemic, and bright tweeters.
  33. ROFL... I am going to find a retailer to demo them before I drop the cash.

    As for the Titanic mk3 series, I have heard some very good reviews on them.
  34. Well to tell you the truth, Klipsch speakers may be efficient (95db range) but there are plenty of high efficiency speakers that are cheaper and and in the high efficiency range (91-93db). Examples: Axiom, Ascend, Energy that are neutral and very good for music.

    HT is certainly less demanding for accuracy and Klipsch would make sense in the efficiency standpoint.
  35. Quote:
    If you don't mind the style: somewhat bass anaemic, and bright tweeters.

    I dont think this would compare to the refrence speakers, but my Promeida Ultra sats, the tweeter is a bit lacking. I find myself EQ'ing it up a little. As for anaemic, maybe its just flat responce? I dont know, if I would want bringht mids and lackluster tweeter though... I need to do some demoing lol...
  36. When you go for efficiency, you give up accuracy (in the highs), and low end extension. This is where Klipsch gets its "nasal" reputation from, anaemic and bright would be the opposite of flat response. Flat response would be NHT Xd.
  37. Ok.. So could somthing that is "bright", or somthig that is "anemic" be adjusted with a little EQ?

    To be honest, I have never listend to any drivers that where composed of metals. I have listend to paper, carbonfiber, and other soft stuff. So I dont know If I will like the sound of metal. Apposed to tweeters, I have only listend to metal ones and I dont mind the sound. Maybe somthing that is softdome, or silk would be up my alley. I realy need to get out there and listen lol.
  38. NHT Xd = intersting. I googled it 8)
  39. My last custom speaker set used soft dome tweeters and sounded so smooth...
  40. I have knoticed that a lot of realy "high-end" (expencive) speakers use softdome fluid cooled stuff... Hmmmm....
  41. Metal tends to have more detail than poly based material at the cost of cone ringing. Aluminum for example, is one of the most detailed materials (behind berrylium of course) but resonates at 3-8KHz. This makes the speaker sound "bright" because there is an after image that builds up as the music continues playing (long decay time) in the upper midrange. To get rid of this ringing, you have to crossover the midrange at very low frequencies (like 1.8KHz) and also use notch filters to get rid of the resonance. The problem with using filters is, you lose detail in the upper segments (you are muffling the 3-8KHz range after all). So to get rid of this resonance, you lose the detail as well since you are recessing the upper midrange. Some manufacturers prefer softer poly materials which won't have this resonance (and as such they can save money by not building elaborate crossover networks) or a 3-way design to hide the resonance, but there is less detail (in other words, higher distortion at the same volume level compared to the metal driver). The same concept goes with dome tweeters, you don't have the resonance of metal tweeters (which resonate at around 22-23KHz) at the expense of some detail (higher distortion at the same volume levels).

    A little EQ is fine for HT use, since you have no choice given the room interactions, but if you are using it for near-field use its a better idea to get more neutral speakers (or whatever type you prefer) rather than something that NEEDS EQing because at near-field all the nuances are far more apparent and it would be a shame to have to EQ speakers you paid for after expecting a lot out of them (EQing produces quite a bit of distortion as it forces drivers to play beyond their normal characteristics).
  42. Quote:
    I have knoticed that a lot of realy "high-end" (expencive) speakers use softdome fluid cooled stuff... Hmmmm....

    A lot of high end speakers use a variety of materials. Berrylium is a metal, is the most expensive, and has the most preferred characteristics (detail of metal tweeters, driver ringing completely out of the audible spectrum), but drivers made out of berrylium cost more than most loudspeakers.

    Softdomes (I'm actually switching from a metal tweeter to a softdome) do give up a little HF detail compared to metal, but doesn't have the ringing associated with it (ringing 23KHz, although "inaudible", will still feel like a prickling of your ears that provides discomfort to some). It provides a "smooth" sound that some prefer, while others (usually older folks who've lost some hearing) need metal drivers as this resonance actually provides an "apparent SPL boost" for the hearing impaired.
  43. Interesting... I had downloaded a sound generator (forgot the name) to produce a 18khz tone (at max volume of my Ultras). My friends teeth, sitting next to me, almost shattered while I could not hear it at all. Anything over that is out of my hearing range. Maybe I am spared some of the headaches from tones that high lol... Thats probably why I enjoy the metal tweeters I have heard.

    I listend to a friends aluminum mids today in his car and they sounded a bit funkey. I think I need somthing nuetral just like you said :D
Ask a new question

Read More

Sound Cards Speakers Components