Are there any 2-way speakers that beat a 3-way?

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
I have experience with 2- and 3-way speakers. Mostly large standmount speakers and bookshelf speakers in various sizes.

Now I am extremely biased favoring 3-way systems over 2-way for a living room because I experienced that in general the 3 way systems I've used provide a bit more transparancy.

When in reviews a 3 way system is positioned against 2- way systems, the first usually will be recommended. I am also not really surprised some excellent 2-way systems simply get beaten because of the dimensions of a cabinet and the extra driver of a 3-way speaker they are setup against.

I wonder if it is fair to compare the two form factors and if there are any 2-way speakers which overperform in terms of transparancy.
 
As you said two way designs are often because of the restriction posed by the preferred size of the cabinet. A well designed two way will work best in some situations. The simplicity of design of the crossover can sometimes be a factor as there's way obviously complicates matters and The designer really needs to get this right.
I don't think there is any reason one should be 'better' than the other, a lot depends on the size of speakers your listening room will allow.
Larger two way speakers like the AudioNote AN-K are excellent at what they do, as are the Harbeth M30.2
So, to answer your question, possibly....... :)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981

12th Monkey

Moderator
Aug 31, 2015
1,998
1,320
13,570
I think you are looking for an absolute answer where none exists. Given a budget, the factors would seem to be:

- Budget needs to be spread more thinly over the drivers in a three-way, for obvious reasons.
- In theory each can then be better optimised for their frequency range, but point above refers.
- As Al says, your crossover will be more complicated, and sap budget more.
- Imaging may be affected in a negative fashion, as the squawker will (in almost all cases) sit apart from the tweeter - you are therefore further from an idealised point source with the higher frequencies that provide location.

And that's before you get into whether components and speakers gel.

One not to worry about, I would suggest.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nopiano
I think you are looking for an absolute answer where none exists. Given a budget, the factors would seem to be:

- Budget needs to be spread more thinly over the drivers in a three-way, for obvious reasons.
- In theory each can then be better optimised for their frequency range, but point above refers.
- As Al says, your crossover will be more complicated, and sap budget more.
- Imaging may be affected in a negative fashion, as the squawker will (in almost all cases) sit apart from the tweeter - you are therefore further from an idealised point source with the higher frequencies that provide location.

And that's before you get into whether components and speakers gel.

One not to worry about, I would suggest.
I would agree. If course there are always the 2.5 way speakers to consider... :)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
As you said two way designs are often because of the restriction posed by the preferred size of the cabinet. A well designed two way will work best in some situations. The simplicity of design of the crossover can sometimes be a factor as there's way obviously complicates matters and The designer really needs to get this right.
3-way setups can be quirky with positioning, I would skip them for near field setups like on a desk. On the other hand, when a room needs to be filled I would instantly go for three way as it just details out accoustic recordings and puts more energy and emphasis in the mids / voices in recordings.

I don't think there is any reason one should be 'better' than the other, a lot depends on the size of speakers your listening room will allow.
True, though I would probably go for the biggest cabinet the room can take without becoming ackwardly large. There are some truly fantastic small bookshelf speakers I've used but I like the presence and effortless handling of of a bigger cabinet.

Larger two way speakers like the AudioNote AN-K are excellent at what they do, as are the Harbeth M30.2
So, to answer your question, possibly....... :)
Thanks for the suggestions :)
 
3-way setups can be quirky with positioning, I would skip them for near field setups. On the other hand, when a room needs to be filled I would instantly go for three way as it just details out accoustic recordings and puts more energy and emphasis in the mids / voices in recordings.



True, though I would probably go for the biggest cabinet the room can take without becoming ackwardly large. There are some fantastic small bookshelf speakers I've used but I like the effortless handling of of a bigger cabinet.



Thanks for the suggestions :)
further to my last, if your room can take the size of a large 3 way then buy foorstanders :)
cabinet volume can be the be all and end all.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
I think you are looking for an absolute answer where none exists.
Just curious about systems to follow. The Kef Ls50 and Ls50meta are 2-way systems that perform really well. But don't know how well they stand against 3 way systems in their price category. Well.. maybe a bit based on one review, but that doesn't tell everything. I would have probably went for the Kefs if there werent any 3 way systems.

. Given a budget, the factors would seem to be:

- Budget needs to be spread more thinly over the drivers in a three-way, for obvious reasons.
- In theory each can then be better optimised for their frequency range, but point above refers.
- As Al says, your crossover will be more complicated, and sap budget more.
- Imaging may be affected in a negative fashion, as the squawker will (in almost all cases) sit apart from the tweeter - you are therefore further from an idealised point source with the higher frequencies that provide location.

And that's before you get into whether components and speakers gel.

One not to worry about, I would suggest.
The budget spreading is a point for the manufacturer and less for the consumer. There seems to be at least 1 three way competitor for every price range with Sony at the bottom range with the SSCS5. Which unfortunately is not within EU-domain reach yet.

The positioning can be a bit tricky as you mentioned. But a decent set of stands can overcome most, if not almost all complications.
further to my last, if your room can take the size of a large 3 way then buy foorstanders :)
cabinet volume can be the be all and end all.
The floorstanders I heard so far were a bit boomy, but it could also have been the type and the room they were in. I read a review describing my standmounts to fall in the floorstander category in how they fill a room. But it still lacks a bit of floor so I usually add a sub to standmounts for a little heavier foundation.
 
Just curious about systems to follow. The Kef Ls50 and Ls50meta are 2-way systems that perform really well. But don't know how well they stand against 3 way systems in their price category. Well.. maybe a bit based on one review, but that doesn't tell everything. I would have probably went for the Kefs if there werent any 3 way systems.



The budget spreading is a point for the manufacturer and less for the consumer. There seems to be at least 1 three way competitor for every price range with Sony at the bottom range with the SSCS5. Which unfortunately is not within EU-domain reach yet.

The positioning can be a bit tricky as you mentioned. But a decent set of stands can overcome most, if not almost all complications.


The floorstanders I heard so far were a bit boomy, but it could also have been the type and the room they were in. I read a review describing my standmounts to fall in the floorstander category in how they fill a room. But it still lacks a bit of floor so I usually add a sub to standmounts for a little heavier foundation.
So what do you currently run?
I have only ever owned one pair of 3 way speakers and that was years ago when I had a room big enough to accommodate them.
My current speakers are three driver 2 way floorstanders and they work better in my smaller room than 3 way standmounts.
Thus it has little to do with the number of drivers and more to do with finding a speaker that works very well in your room driven by your amplifier
 
Last edited:

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
So what do you currently run?
I have only ever owned one pair of 3 way speakers and that was years ago when I had a room big enough to accommodate them.
My current speakers are three driver 2 way floorstanders and they work better in my smaller room than 3 way standmounts.
Thus it has little to do with the number of drivers and more to do with finding a speaker that works very well in your room driven by your amplifier
I own the 3-way Wharfedale Evo 4.2 for my mains and a pair of 2-way Diamond 11.2s and 12.0s for our bedroom with the 11.2 currently in use.

The Evo's are fairly big, but more one size up in height from the Diamond 11.2s they kind of derived from. An oversized bookshelf speaker. Typical standmounts. No giants like the B&W Dm7 I grew up with.

I have thought about floorstanders for the bedroom but I like to place them hidden away in the corners. Bookshelf speakers were best to hide in plain sight, sound is important there but it has more priority in the living. :)
 
Last edited:

12th Monkey

Moderator
Aug 31, 2015
1,998
1,320
13,570
The budget spreading is a point for the manufacturer and less for the consumer.
Not sure that follows - manufacturers of 2 and 3 way have to make a profit, so costs will tend to be passed on.

The positioning can be a bit tricky as you mentioned. But a decent set of stands can overcome most, if not almost all complications.
The move away from a point source is not something that stands can alter - it doesn't move the tweeter and squawker closer together.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
Not sure that follows - manufacturers of 2 and 3 way have to make a profit, so costs will tend to be passed on.
Sony positions a 3 way model in the 100 - 200 euros range, the Evo 4.2 by Wharfedale is around 500 - 600 euros.

The costs of every product are always passed on to the consumer. But given that there are positive question marks about the high quality and the low price instead of the other way around is usually a small "wow factor" and positive outcome for the consumer. It is up to the manufacturer to get it into that spotlight and do their calculations in order to make profits or run break even.


The move away from a point source is not something that stands can alter - it doesn't move the tweeter and squawker closer together.
point

I only don't see them as being that difficult for a living room. Bit quirky, but not difficult.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
Quite so, he is clearly deluding himself if he thinks, for the same price, someone is going to manufacture a three way speaker that is better than a two way...... In my humble opinion....
Without making it a personal thing.

Please explain why Wharfedale simply does it. It came with an affordable and fairly large bottom ported 3 way system with Amt tweeter and midrange dome that in in its nearby price range only finds a bit of a similar quality product in the KEF LS50 Meta, which are almost literally double its price.

Many brands also include a large portion of brand value air as a factor in retail price. That is strippable without losing much, and with possible recovery in extra sales. The KEFs without the air in its price could also be made while shaving off several hundreds of dollars from the retail price. The gap between production and retail is large enough for some permanent discount.
 
Without making it a personal thing.

Please explain why Wharfedale simply does it. It came with an affordable and fairly large bottom ported 3 way system with Amt tweeter and midrange dome that in in its nearby price range only finds a bit of a similar quality product in the KEF LS50 Meta, which are almost literally double its price.

Many brands also include a large portion of brand value air as a factor in retail price. That is strippable without losing much, and with possible recovery in extra sales. The KEFs without the air in its price could also be made while shaving off several hundreds of dollars from the retail price. The gap between production and retail is large enough for some permanent discount.
Wasn't intending makeing it personal and yes the KEFs are overpriced in my opinion.
The only way you can make an equivalent 3 way is to use in house drivers, save a bob or two on the crossover, or use an inferior cabinet.
Is that OK for you?
Plus it involves the ease of construction and the numbers they consider they can sell to the gullible public.
Wharfedale can do it because they aren't stupid and clearly have economics in mind.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: AJM1981

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts