To Jeff Fritz,
I am following your articles about establishing a new system with huge interest. I’m facing, actually, a similar challenge. For the first time reading your articles or statements I am unable to follow your logic, however. The selection of the loudspeakers presented has in common a design of having several drivers distributed over the whole baffle from bottom to top. Thus the listener is confronted with distinct sound sources more or less apart from each other and the surrounding surfaces including the floor! Knowing the incredible precision of our ears in detecting the localization of sound sources and phase shifts, I cannot understand the omission of a D’Appolito design or a point-source (coaxial design) speaker. And if you look to the recording situation microphones are simply the inversion of a point source. Why is group delay not an issue in selecting an authentic loudspeaker?
This is an excellent question. The first thing I’ll point out is that the TAD ME-1 that I reviewed this month and mentioned in the article you cite is indeed based on a coaxial driver: a 1” tweeter mounted within a 3.5” midrange. As for D’Appolito designs, I’ve reviewed many of them -- even owned a few -- through the years and have not in practice found that they offered any acoustical advantage, at least in my room. In fact, the taller versions of those designs have not fared well in my listening space at all. I will, however, concede that I probably should branch out a little more and add at least an electrostat -- all the sound produced by one driver -- such as the MartinLogan CLX.
As for hearing individual drivers from a multiway cone-and-dome loudspeaker, I agree that it can be a problem. It can also be a complete non-issue. The result really comes down to the skill of the designer in specifying a crossover that mates the drive units precisely. There is no question that a poorly designed crossover and mismatched drivers can produce terrible sound. But some of the best-imaging speakers I’ve ever heard have been ones with tweeters and midranges and woofers mounted from top to bottom on a front baffle. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. . . . Jeff Fritz