Opinion's: Crossover Parts matter?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Matthew J Poes, Mar 5, 2018.

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Do better crossover parts improve a speakers sound?

  1. Yes, they make a huge difference

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  2. Yes, but the differences are very sudtle

    3 vote(s)
    60.0%
  3. No, they just improve reliability

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  4. No, they make no difference, it is just a way to waste an Audiofool's money

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. I don't really know what a crossover is or what constitutes a better part

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    I'm looking to get some discussion and opinions going on this topic. I'm still debating a bit what I want to do with the topic, but have always found it an interesting topic. I'm looking for opinions that run the gamut. Everything from, "I don't think parts make a wit of difference as long as the design is good", through, "I think the quality and design of parts is critical and can hear differences between one brand of film capacitor and another."

    I was thinking more about this topic because a friend of mine asked me why a subwoofer (or any woofer) with high inductance can have more distortion and provide worse sound than one with lower inductance. He asked a great question, why don't we talk about this with speaker crossovers, isn't inductance the same here? The answer is yes and no, but I don't want to get into that here. I decided to do a little reading in my text's on just how audible and measurable these issues can be. It took me down a long and lonely road of theory and hard science, but little on actual perceptions. It seems that our perceptions have been left to us for now.

    What do you think? Does that iron core inductor in your speaker keep you up at night? What about that electrolytic capacitor in series with your tweeter? Have you played around with different components and noticed a difference? Ever bought an upgraded speaker that had a higher quality crossover and were surprised by the range of differences? What did you hear? Do you think this is all a bunch of non-sense? If so, please share as well.
     
  2. tesseract

    tesseract Senior Admin
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    Better passives can (and should, but not always) have tighter specs, so the outcome should be less production variation.

    One can get by saving a bit with cheaper passives. Iron core is OK at low frequencies, electrolytics are fine when new but not really a great choice over the long haul.
     
  3. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Both of these parts also suffer from hysteresis and non-linearity which can cause audible distortion. That is why I mentioned them. Electrolytic capacitors aren't too bad if they are bypassed by a small value film capacitor. Iron core inductors in the bass section and sized appropriately are ok, air core is still better if ESR can be kept low enough. A number of folks claim to readily hear the non-linearity in iron core inductors as they saturate and distort. I'll admit I've not played around with them enough to be able to claim audibility for myself or even describe the sound. The distortion is easily measured, especially IMD.

    Electrolytic caps have non-linear resistance (and higher ESR overall) than do film caps. Like I said earlier, bypassing them helps avoid this, but....a true film cap is still best overall.

    p.s. I'm glad someone finally found this thread! Hopefully more will post.
     
  4. ddude003

    ddude003 Active Member

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    In my opinion all things in the signal chain from source to delivery matter... Crossovers matter and quality of parts that comprise a crossover matters... Capacitors play a large part here... Just for fun, have you ever seen or heard what Kenrick Sound does with JBL speakers? Check out his external crossovers...
     
  5. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    I have not, just took a look. Those crossovers are pretty over the top.

    I've been building crossovers and playing around with parts for well over a decade now and have tried a ton of parts. I've never found it worth it to buy some of the crazy over the top capacitors that some like, such as the Teflon Film and Foil, or copper foil inductors, but I do use premium parts. On the other hand, the difference between a standard metalized film cap and an electrolytic is quite noticeable. Cheap parts also tend to fail more often, which is never good.

    When I built my speakers I worked with Dr. Geddes to enhance the crossover. Clarity Cap was a newly imported company and had just released the SA series. I was given a ton of SA caps to try. I also obtained a large surplus of MIT Polystyrene caps in a range of values. In my speakers most of the caps are Solen, but in critical series locations, I used the SA cap bypassed by a MIT Polystyrene. I had them laying around and it cost me nothing. I also use a treble tilt adjustment RC filters on the CD and bypass the resistor with an MIT cap. I tried a few other parts in this location and the main cap location even using Teflon metalized at one point. I couldn't hear a difference. However during early testing I had in place a Mylar dipped cap in the bypass locations and I had an electrolytic cap in the main cap location. I'm not totally sure what happened, but a catastrophic failure of one part caused the electrolytic to "give up the smoke", the mylar to burn up, and the amp to develop a hum. Many parts replacements later (including a new coil on the CD) and all was well, but I decided to never test with those kinds of parts again.
     

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