Front ported vs rear ported speakers

Page 5 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.
That’s similar to ATC then. They aren’t low impedance, as they are rated at 8 ohms and have a minimum of 6.4 ohms. (The Hifi Critic review measured this).

I think the ‘difficult to drive’ perception is only because they soak up the power due to their low sensitivity and low distortion (making it easy to turn them up without the usual compression)
Ah! I thought the ATC SCM7 dropped lower than that, however looks like it doesn't.
 
Last edited:

DougK1

Well-known member
Jan 4, 2024
464
637
1,270
Visit site
Haven't read the thread, only skimmed it.

The B&W sounds like a typical dealer recommendation - steer clear - they're just trying to sell you what they want to sell you, with zero consideration for your room.

It looks as though you have a fairly live sounding room, so avoid bright sounding speakers, especially those that just have the tweeter string on the front face of the cabinet, as you'll have treble bounding off your side walls, floor, and ceiling. Look at speakers using waveguides, which will minimises the HF dispersion and reduce reflections, reducing any potential brightness caused by the room.

In your chosen position, not only will you get HF reflection off the side walls, but also more HF reflection potentially off the inside of the chimney breast, which will also end up being deflected to the outside walls, exaggerating it further, and maybe creating a bit of time smear.

Putting loudspeakers in bookshelves is very hard to get right. Most speakers will produce too much bass to work in that sort of position, even if they are front ported, as enclosing a speaker within what is essentially another cabinet can add its own resonances. Two speakers that are more likely than most to work in that position are the Ophidian Minimo 2, which uses a rear vent (not port), and the Amphion Argon 0, which are rear ported, but has a more subdued bass due to their size. The latter are 26cm tall, but could be used on their side due to their low crossover point, so you could get the tweeters further away from the chimney breast to reduce any potential reflections, which will naturally be reduced by the waveguide anyway.

As well as finding a speaker that will work in that position, you'll need to find one that your amplifier can drive easily - if the amp struggles, you'll end up with a mediocre sound. Most speakers likely to fit into that space won't be very big, and therefore won't usually be too efficient. Sealed boxes will usually be even less efficient, and generally don't sound too exciting at lower volumes.

Ideally, you'll need to take into account some sort of isolation to reduce resonances travelling through the shelves and adding to the end result.
I appreciate you are in the trade so you have a wealth of experience very few of us can match. But I find it strange you are dismissing one rear ported speaker yet recommending other rear ported speakers, and even recommending them over a front ported or sealed box design?

The OP's speaker placement option is far from ideal but in the end needs must. He seems happy with his current speaker placement, which is worse, so any improvement on this must surely be a winner.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray and bartlett23

bartlett23

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
91
60
18,620
Visit site
Haven't read the thread, only skimmed it.

The B&W sounds like a typical dealer recommendation - steer clear - they're just trying to sell you what they want to sell you, with zero consideration for your room.

It looks as though you have a fairly live sounding room, so avoid bright sounding speakers, especially those that just have the tweeter string on the front face of the cabinet, as you'll have treble bounding off your side walls, floor, and ceiling. Look at speakers using waveguides, which will minimises the HF dispersion and reduce reflections, reducing any potential brightness caused by the room.

In your chosen position, not only will you get HF reflection off the side walls, but also more HF reflection potentially off the inside of the chimney breast, which will also end up being deflected to the outside walls, exaggerating it further, and maybe creating a bit of time smear.

Putting loudspeakers in bookshelves is very hard to get right. Most speakers will produce too much bass to work in that sort of position, even if they are front ported, as enclosing a speaker within what is essentially another cabinet can add its own resonances. Two speakers that are more likely than most to work in that position are the Ophidian Minimo 2, which uses a rear vent (not port), and the Amphion Argon 0, which are rear ported, but has a more subdued bass due to their size. The latter are 26cm tall, but could be used on their side due to their low crossover point, so you could get the tweeters further away from the chimney breast to reduce any potential reflections, which will naturally be reduced by the waveguide anyway.

As well as finding a speaker that will work in that position, you'll need to find one that your amplifier can drive easily - if the amp struggles, you'll end up with a mediocre sound. Most speakers likely to fit into that space won't be very big, and therefore won't usually be too efficient. Sealed boxes will usually be even less efficient, and generally don't sound too exciting at lower volumes.

Ideally, you'll need to take into account some sort of isolation to reduce resonances travelling through the shelves and adding to the end result.

Haven't read the thread, only skimmed it.

The B&W sounds like a typical dealer recommendation - steer clear - they're just trying to sell you what they want to sell you, with zero consideration for your room.

It looks as though you have a fairly live sounding room, so avoid bright sounding speakers, especially those that just have the tweeter string on the front face of the cabinet, as you'll have treble bounding off your side walls, floor, and ceiling. Look at speakers using waveguides, which will minimises the HF dispersion and reduce reflections, reducing any potential brightness caused by the room.

In your chosen position, not only will you get HF reflection off the side walls, but also more HF reflection potentially off the inside of the chimney breast, which will also end up being deflected to the outside walls, exaggerating it further, and maybe creating a bit of time smear.

Putting loudspeakers in bookshelves is very hard to get right. Most speakers will produce too much bass to work in that sort of position, even if they are front ported, as enclosing a speaker within what is essentially another cabinet can add its own resonances. Two speakers that are more likely than most to work in that position are the Ophidian Minimo 2, which uses a rear vent (not port), and the Amphion Argon 0, which are rear ported, but has a more subdued bass due to their size. The latter are 26cm tall, but could be used on their side due to their low crossover point, so you could get the tweeters further away from the chimney breast to reduce any potential reflections, which will naturally be reduced by the waveguide anyway.

As well as finding a speaker that will work in that position, you'll need to find one that your amplifier can drive easily - if the amp struggles, you'll end up with a mediocre sound. Most speakers likely to fit into that space won't be very big, and therefore won't usually be too efficient. Sealed boxes will usually be even less efficient, and generally don't sound too exciting at lower volumes.

Ideally, you'll need to take into account some sort of isolation to reduce resonances travelling through the shelves and adding to the end result.
Thanks for the input, much appreciated. My current speakers sound surprisingly good in their new, albeit compromised position. There’s none of the smear you mention, at least to my untrained ears. And according to Hi Fi choice, the Spendors are ‘largely unaffected by boundary walls,’ so should sound much better. I’ll be moving soon (ish) so there should be more space, and the speakers can be properly positioned. Victorian properties tend to have similar layouts and limitations, but at least I can start from scratch. If I win the lottery and buy a mansion I’ll have a rethink. In the meantime the Spendors are the best I’ve heard, they suit where I am now, and will definitely suit wherever I move next.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

bartlett23

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
91
60
18,620
Visit site
£800 over ten years of enjoyment is negligible. I think you said you live in London, if you are having trouble getting a home loan of the B&W's and Spendor's you are more than welcome to borrow my P3's for a week. They will differ slightly from the Spendor as they have a smaller bass driver but voicing should be 'similar'. I'm certain the sealed box design will work best with your compromised placement issues.
That's an incredibly kind offer, thank you. But I've just found a local shop that stocks both Spendor and B&W. What are the chances?! Going to see if they do home demos...
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1 and Gray
I appreciate you are in the trade so you have a wealth of experience very few of us can match. But I find it strange you are dismissing one rear ported speaker yet recommending other rear ported speakers, and even recommending them over a front ported or sealed box design?

The OP's speaker placement option is far from ideal but in the end needs must. He seems happy with his current speaker placement, which is worse, so any improvement on this must surely be a winner.
I can only speak from experience. I don't understand it either, but some (very few) rear ported speakers seem to work ok against a wall. I can only put that down to the port design, where some may not expel air as violently as others (which is why slot ports work better), and the Ophidians for example, but that's more of a vent than a port anyway, hence my recommendation for those.

Maybe it's a little bit room dependent, but in the OP's case, he's placing a speaker into what is essentially a closed in space where sound will collect. Will the rear ported Amphion Argon 0 work in that particular situation? I really can't say, but given my experience of them in various situations, I think they'll work better than almost any other rear ported speaker - the larger Argon 1, which has a noticeable increase in bass output, has also been used successfully against walls. I've previously dealt with B&W speakers since around 1995 up to a couple of years ago. They're not wall friendly, very few mainstream brands are.

I honestly don't know why speaker manufacturers aren't making more room friendly loudspeakers nowadays. People don't want to give up living room real estate for a large pair of speakers, even if they can. I dare say most unsuitable speakers are actually purchased and just shoved near a wall because that's where they've got to go, with little thought of how they'll end up sounding. I'm convinced that part of the "sounds better in the dealer's showroom" is the fact that in a dealer demo room, they'll place them where they need to be placed to sound good, which will likely be in a completely different place to where the listener will have them at home. A room is a room, they've all got issues, unless the dealer showroom has had some physical treatment applied.

I know this might be against the rules, and if it is, please remove this paragraph, but I think it's relevant. Has anyone ever known a dealer try to recreate the listener's space? Go to ANY dealer and you'll have a demo room with the speakers perfectly set up, sofa in the best place, all in a perfect triangle. Not everyone has their speakers in the perfect place, and maybe not even the listening seat/sofa. I had a young couple who had a small apartment nearby wanting a CD/amp/speakers to replace their PC speakers they were using for their Rega turntable. They sent me a photo of the slightly odd shaped room, and their sofa was on a side wall compared to where the system was, so listening was off axis by about 40 degrees. The speakers were on top of a small wooden unit with a TV next to them, and they couldn't be too big as they would then start obscuring the TV screen. Lots of limiting factors. Before they came in, I placed my sofa at the same placement to the system as Was in his photo, and because there was a wall fairly close to the far speaker just the other side of the small TV, I placed some IKEA furniture tops I had from some unassembled furniture in order to recreate a major reflection point in their room (I had no demo room at that point). After listening to a few suitable speakers, they chose the Argon 0, as its waveguide helped fill the room better, particularly at their listening position, and also reduced HF reflections off the wall I'd created, and the bass wasn't booming even though they were placed right up against the wall. They ordered the system, and while they were waiting, I loaned them the system to try out at home, just to ease their minds that the system would sound like that. They love the system. Could've been quite a different story had they just gone to listen to a bunch of stuff that had been set up in the usual way in the average demo room.

I guess the point of that was that the reason things sound better at a dealer isn't necessarily because dealers have better rooms - they're just rooms, they're not purpose built - it's because the systems are set up properly, and the speakers are most likely set up away from the wall where they sound best too. Put the system against another wall and it won't sound as good.
 
Last edited:

My2Cents

Well-known member
Nov 10, 2023
410
302
770
Visit site
I'm looking to move and upgrade my speakers (see photo).
Is this a photo of your current room or the room in the place that you are moving to?
You are certainly taking the term 'bookshelf speakers' literally.
Acoustic Research solved many of the problems that you are facing with this placement back in the 1950's with their 'acoustic suspension sealed unit' concept, but alas, today's trends have gone away from this design philosophy. A refurbished pair of AR7's might do the trick, or perhaps a pair of IK Multimedia iLoud MTM MK II's
 
Is this a photo of your current room or the room in the place that you are moving to?
You are certainly taking the term 'bookshelf speakers' literally.
Acoustic Research solved many of the problems that you are facing with this placement back in the 1950's with their 'acoustic suspension sealed unit' concept, but alas, today's trends have gone away from this design philosophy. A refurbished pair of AR7's might do the trick, or perhaps a pair of IK Multimedia iLoud MTM MK II's
Unfortunately both not readily available if OP is UK based
 

bartlett23

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
91
60
18,620
Visit site
I guess the point of that was that the reason things sound better at a dealer isn't necessarily because dealers have better rooms - they're just rooms, they're not purpose built - it's because the systems are set up properly, and the speakers are most likely set up against the wall where they sound best too. Put the system against another wall and it might not sound as good.
wider shot of lounge for more context. the speakers aren't quite as high as the first image suggests perhaps and there's a natural triangle with the main sofa, hence it sounding ok. in terms of dealers, i've had 2 quite different experiences. while all good guys, the first shop was completely inflexible when it came to positioning the speakers, even though i asked them and explained my situation, instead just plonking them in the middle of the room, miles away from any walls. the second place was able to position the Spendors both away from and close to the rear wall, which made little or no difference thankfully. and the set up was more akin to a normal sitting room, albeit a huge soundproofed one! the more i read about sealed box designs, the more i wonder why more speakers aren't designed this way. cost and complexity being main / obvious reasons i guess.
 

Attachments

  • lounge.jpg
    lounge.jpg
    274.7 KB · Views: 32
wider shot of lounge for more context. the speakers aren't quite as high as the first image suggests perhaps and there's a natural triangle with the main sofa, hence it sounding ok. in terms of dealers, i've had 2 quite different experiences. while all good guys, the first shop was completely inflexible when it came to positioning the speakers, even though i asked them and explained my situation, instead just plonking them in the middle of the room, miles away from any walls. the second place was able to position the Spendors both away from and close to the rear wall, which made little or no difference thankfully. and the set up was more akin to a normal sitting room, albeit a huge soundproofed one! the more i read about sealed box designs, the more i wonder why more speakers aren't designed this way. cost and complexity being main / obvious reasons i guess.
Wow, lovely room.

Ordinarily I would say place them each side of the fireplace (away from direct heat) but the TV in the alcove scuppers that idea.

Think it's a case of experimenting with placement. It's all about finding the sweet spot.
 
wider shot of lounge for more context. the speakers aren't quite as high as the first image suggests perhaps and there's a natural triangle with the main sofa, hence it sounding ok. in terms of dealers, i've had 2 quite different experiences. while all good guys, the first shop was completely inflexible when it came to positioning the speakers, even though i asked them and explained my situation, instead just plonking them in the middle of the room, miles away from any walls. the second place was able to position the Spendors both away from and close to the rear wall, which made little or no difference thankfully. and the set up was more akin to a normal sitting room, albeit a huge soundproofed one! the more i read about sealed box designs, the more i wonder why more speakers aren't designed this way. cost and complexity being main / obvious reasons i guess.
It's not do much down to complexity, in fact some are pretty simple, it's down to the fact that to obtain adequate bass response they have to introduce a larger woofer which means the whole speaker tends, in most cases, to be quite large which is unfashionable these days. At least that's what I think.
My EB2 speakers are infinite baffle and are not exactly small. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: bartlett23
the more i read about sealed box designs, the more i wonder why more speakers aren't designed this way. cost and complexity being main / obvious reasons i guess.
Mainly because of inefficiency. Back in the 70s, a lot of speakers were sealed box, and back then, most had them against the wall. But manufacturers caught on to using reflex ports that increased efficiency and gave a perceived increase in low bass output at a frequency range of their choosing (depending on the frequency they tuned the port to). The downside to this was the ports needed more space to work as they should, as shoving them up against a wall adds too much bass. But as I mentioned, some port systems seem to be able to deal with this better than others, presumably dependent on the velocity of the airflow. Slot ports are definitely better than round ports in this respect.

You can sort of understand why port based speakers came about, as many Class AB amplifiers of the time weren't much more than 100wpc, and usually 60wpc or less. But nowadays, with the emergence of Class D and amplifiers and 100-200wpc being more common, you'd think the extra average power output of these modern amps would be perfect for sealed box speakers to make a comeback.
 
Mainly because of inefficiency. Back in the 70s, a lot of speakers were sealed box, and back then, most had them against the wall. But manufacturers caught on to using reflex ports that increased efficiency and gave a perceived increase in low bass output at a frequency range of their choosing (depending on the frequency they tuned the port to). The downside to this was the ports needed more space to work as they should, as shoving them up against a wall adds too much bass. But as I mentioned, some port systems seem to be able to deal with this better than others, presumably dependent on the velocity of the airflow. Slot ports are definitely better than round ports in this respect.

You can sort of understand why port based speakers came about, as many Class AB amplifiers of the time weren't much more than 100wpc, and usually 60wpc or less. But nowadays, with the emergence of Class D and amplifiers and 100-200wpc being more common, you'd think the extra average power output of these modern amps would be perfect for sealed box speakers to make a comeback.
Agreed.

Budget or more affordable integrateds, such as my Pioneer, weren't anymore than 40 watts RMS on average, therefore speakers had to be quite efficient. That's why I always chose ported. Also, IME the affordable amps didn't have the purity of current as their modern day counterparts.

I'm sure there were exceptions....
 

bartlett23

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
91
60
18,620
Visit site
Any updates? :)
How’s it going Doug, guys?! Been ages! 🙂 Haven’t managed to listen to the Spendor 4/5s next to the B&Ws but the guy did have some A1s. To me they’re another level. He also described the B&Ws as a bit ‘boom tish’ and I don’t think I could ever buy them just based on that 😂 4/5s coming in for one last demo before buying. Might also try and listen to some Neat Petites, which someone also recommended on here. Probably a bit fussier with position. Cheers!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Messiah and DougK1

bartlett23

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
91
60
18,620
Visit site
The Spendor's won the day then. Good things come to those who wait :) It might be 4 chuffing weeks but there'll be no chuffing ports to contend with :) Let us know your thoughts once you've had a good listen.
Cheers Doug, and thanks everyone for your thoughts, it’s been fascinating. Not sure I would have got here without you guys. Anyone want to buy a pair of really nice front ported acoustic energy 301 bookshelf speakers? Oh wait…
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DougK1

Gray

Well-known member
The long (ish) wait is over... Still running them in but first impressions are great.
Great 👍
When are they going to your new house (with stands and a carpet)?*

*If you've just joined the thread, I'm not being cheeky, OP @bartlett23 has previously told us he's moving - and I'm sure (I would hope) he would wish to optimise their performance.
 
Last edited:

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts