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Speaker Matching

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:56 pm
by punxworm
This question may have a simple answer or a complicated one; it's a new realm for me so I'm not sure.
I've never really fooled around with home audio before, only ever car. I guess the answer might be the same for home as with car audio, but I'll ask anyway.
How would one go about matching a nice set of DIY speakers? Particularly in reference to using some different tweeters, possibly along the lines of ESL.

For example:

I have never heard anything but a normal dome tweeter. I've read the characteristics of other types of tweeters, but I'm not really if there was some outrageous rule of thumb that goes along with these types. Chances are, the answer is no, but if anyone has any insight into driver selection for a nice two-way setup with possibly exploring some unique tweeters, I'm all ears.

Thanks guys!

Posted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 8:22 am
by Shooter61
Don't know much about DIY home audio, but I do know that your frontstage (FR C and FL) are what you want to in a sence blend together. Most of the time that will be done by having the same sounding tweeters throughout your frontstage. The idea is that the three channels blend into the sound of one.

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:15 am
by eezip
Different types of drivers [and not just tweeters] don't have to sound a certain way. If the response of one speaker matches another perfectly, then they will sound the same. And speakers could be vastly different but still have identical output. But some driver designs work better in certain applications and thus are identified with a certain sound. For most applications, a soft dome or hard dome will get you where you want to be. They are the most prolific and thus you have a better than average chance of getting community support and ending up with a speaker you'll be happy with and proud of.

Timbre matching is usually cornered by using the same tweeter for all channels. You'll read this time and time again in magazines and Shooter is confirming it. There's more to it than that, but it appears that matching tweeters are mandatory. Of course, the best matching would come from identical speakers with identical room interaction. Obviously, this isn't going to be possible. But matching speakers are a great starting point. Since you're talking about DIY speakers there shouldn't be any reason why you can't tweak the crossover a little bit to get the sound very balanced across the front trio. Time spent on the crossover and positioning should be able to get speakers with the same driver(s) and appropriate boxes to sound quite similar. My recommendation is to use the same speaker for all three front channels.

Hoe do we tie this together? Well, you can match any speakers together, but it's easiest pick drivers that complement each other. Start with tweeters - choose one that you like and them find mids to match them. Read reviews and go out and listen to find a tweeter or type of tweeter than you think sounds good and you can live with. Then let the games begin! It takes a long time for even experienced acoustic engineers to get a loudspeaker and crossover all dialed in - so be patient. I'm no expert with loudspeakers but I've had some fun experiments in the past and I get to see the development often so I have an idea of what goes on.

I'd imagine you know about the following sites but just in case here are some places which I go to or have gone to for speaker stuff. Some I haven't checked in a while so you're on your own:
and you're already familiar with Parts Express.

Good luck man and hopefully someone with more experience can help you now and later. Atomic Fusion and 95Honda are some of the guys who I would really look to for speaker advice. There are plenty of other guys too, so please don't feel left out because I am ignorant :)

Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:15 pm
by Atomic Fusion
eezip wrote:Different types of drivers [and not just tweeters] don't have to sound a certain way. If the response of one speaker matches another perfectly, then they will sound the same

This is false. There are more aspects to how a speaker sounds than frequency response, and they are documented. Distortion, spectral decay, and so forth. Frequency response is a good indicator, but not the be all end all.

Some simple points -

Cone material -

Paper and poly have more neutral frequency responses and are easier to work with in a crossover. They typically have a wider useable frequency response. Their midrange detail is usually inferior to more exotic materials.

Aluminum, magnesium, carbon and kevlar often sound more detailed in the midrange, but because they are so stiff, the cones have breakup modes and extremely rough frequency response in the upper end. This is usually a moot point on tweeters, but is very important on midranges. These can be tamed, but more complex crossovers are required.

frequency response -

Check out actual frequency response plots][/url] and ask for some driver suggestions. I could give you some but I unfortunately don't have time at the moment. There are people there who can also design a crossover for you, which is substantially more in depth than it may seem at first glance. IMO, avoid planars, ribbons, and other alternative driver types until you are in the know a little more. A simple, 2-way design (either designed from scratch, or a kit design that someone has already come up with) will get you into the swing of things.


Posted: Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:23 pm
by eezip
Adam is absolutely right. What I intended to make clear was that if every single parameter matches between speakers/loudspeakers, even those parameters we can't [yet?] seem to measure, then they will sound the same. It did sound like I was specifically pointing to frequency response - sorry about that.

The zaphaudio link I sent discusses many of the problems inherent in certain types/materials. You can see what he has done to tame drivers and get a feel for how the crossover shapes the acoustics, as on some projects he offers alternate crossovers for given drivers in a given box. I don't know enough to see any problems with what he's done, so unless you hear otherwise I hope it's a good starting point. As is madisound, of course.

Posted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:40 pm
by punxworm
amazing responses, thanks a lot guys

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 2:44 pm
by ballstothewall
Wow, nice info.