Tag Archives: Hi Fi

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Single driver speakers are better than multi-driver designs

Fact or fiction? There are so many ifs to consider it’s hard to give a good answer but let’s first examine what this all means.

For many years of early hifi development, single driver loudspeakers ruled. My first hi-fi system was a single driver setup that I describe here from my upcoming memoir 99% True:

“It was a beauty of a system, and the envy of my friends—especially David, who coveted that stereo. I’d built it myself from scratch, from pieces discarded from my father’s do-it-yourself hi-fi. It was my magnum opus: a single cabinet that stood about four feet tall, and 20 inches wide and deep. On top was mounted a turntable I’d lovingly resurrected from Dad’s junk pile, and below that was an old Fisher 500 receiver. Its scratched, gold-painted face plate was peeling, and the tuner didn’t work (though the dial lit up), but miraculously, the phono amplifier sounded fine after I replaced the tubes. Farther down the plywood tower was the best part, hidden by a grille cloth cut from an old set of yellow curtains Mom had retired: an 8-inch woofer with a whizzer cone. A woofer is the drive-unit that makes bass and, in this case, midrange sounds as well; the whizzer cone—a small, funnel-shaped paper add-on to the center of the woofer—helped reproduce the higher frequencies, such as those produced by snare drums and cymbals. I’d found the speaker in dad’s shop. Although its paper cone had a large rip in it and the whizzer needed repair, some rubber cement and patience put that beauty back together again.”

The benefits of a single driver system are its lack of a frequency dividing crossover network and different types of drivers for each frequency range. The downsides include doppler and intermodulation distortion, beaming.

On the flipside, the benefits of a multi-driver loudspeaker system are the elimination of the former system’s distortion issues at the expense of driver differences, phase issues, frequency overlap, and time alignment.

At the end of the proverbial day, I would have to say fiction since the problems associated with woofers trying to play the role of tweeters overwhelm the most fixable difficulties of crossover designs.


I am getting closer to actually publishing my memoir—two years in the making—which has now turned out to be nearly 500 pages! It’s called 99% True and is chock full of adventures, debauchery, struggles, heartwarming stories, triumphs and failures, great belly laughs, and a peek inside the high-end audio industry you’ve never known before.

When it launches I plan a few surprises for early adopters, so go here to add your name to the list of interested readers.  There’s an entire gallery of never before seen photos of people you know but haven’t seen like this.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl

Measuring perfection

In an address to an assemblage of physicists at the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1900, Lord Kelvin stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.”

The smug hubris of the 1900s led many scientists—including the American physicist Albert Michelson who first measured the speed of light—to declare that everything is already known to us. This seems to be a consistent theme for those convinced we’ve arrived at perfection’s front door.

In yesterday’s post, we wondered where to go now that everything in high-end audio is so near perfection. It’s a great question and the same one asked by hi-fi buffs of the 1950s, and the 60s, and the 70s. And, you get the drift. At each pinnacle of technological perfection, we believe we arrived at journey’s end when in fact we’ve only plateaued on yet another ledge in the steady march towards audio nirvana.

The question then isn’t what are we going to come up with next because everything’s so good, it’s actually more like who will take the next big leap in furthering the art of home music reproduction? 

We’ve just finished setting up Arnie Nudell’s personal reference speakers in our room at RMAF. These represent the culmination of one man’s lifetime of work in perfecting the art of reproduced music. They are a wonder to hear, and yet, they are not even close to perfect.

Perfection comes in steps and gulps. With each new arrival the horizon changes.