2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

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2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by jack@nobodies.xyz »

I’m an intermediate-level mixer looking to upgrade from Yamaha HS50M’s (older version of the current HS5’s). I’m trying to decide between a few options I’ve narrowed down for a 12’x11’ room with Auralex corner fills and wedgie panels on the walls. I like 3-ways in general but would they work well in a room that small or be too over-bearing? I’ve heard working with smaller monitors and a sub can be good for small rooms but I’ve also heard mixing with a sub can be tricky, and also that getting it placed and dialed-in just right is quite tricky. I know KH 80’s have DSP which sounds handy, but something about messing with the frequency response seems dicey. Too many variables. I feel like it would drive me crazy remeasuring and thinking I should re-tweak over and over again for someone who is new to this side of things. Any thoughts on the below options are much appreciated!

- KH 80’s or KH 120’s with a KH 750 or KH 810
- Dynaudio LYD 48
- Klein and Hummel O 300

Thanks!
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by blinddrew »

You don't need to play around with anything on the KH80s if you don't want to. They're excellent speakers straight out of the box (well, I would say that, I bought some ;) ).
But if you want to use them with the 750 sub it would definitely be worth using the DSP and the measurement mic kit to get the best out of them in both a frequency and time aspect.
Assuming you're looking at around £2k in budget I think there's only Adam and Dynaudio producing three ways at that price point? Off the top of my head.
Lots more options as you head up to £3k though.
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

jack@nobodies.xyz wrote:...a 12’x11’ room with Auralex corner fills and wedgie panels on the walls.

As always, the devil of acoustic design is in the detail, and controlling the low end properly is always a challenge. Your room is almost square which will tend to produce fewer but stronger modes that will need careful taming, and a sub will tend to exacerbate any problems remaining.

I like 3-ways in general but would they work well in a room that small or be too over-bearing?

It all depends on the three way! My large 3-way PMC IB1s would be a challenge to accommodate in a room like that, but my Neumann KH310s would work very well.

I’ve heard working with smaller monitors and a sub can be good for small rooms but I’ve also heard mixing with a sub can be tricky, and also that getting it placed and dialed-in just right is quite tricky.

There are pros and cons in all things! One advantage of a sat/sub system is that you have the flexibility to find a location for the sub that optimises the low-end balance without compromising the positions of the satellite speakers and upsetting the stereo imaging. With full-range speakers finding the best place locations for uniform bass can compromise the stereo imaging, and vice versa...

On the other hand, getting the best integration between sats and sub can be a little fiddly sometimes. It's easier i the two elements have been designed to work together as that at least removes the challenge of getting the best crossover settings.

A workable technique for finding the best place for the sub is to place it temporarily where your chair will be and the crawl around the edges of the room while playing material with a wide range of bass notes. Listen for the place that gives the most even sound, without nothing missing or booming. The place the sub in that location and adjust the level and phase to blend in well with the satellites. For the phase, play a sine tone at the crossover frequency (typically around 85Hz) through both the sats and sub, and have someone adjust the phase/polarity control to achieve the loudest level. The adjust the sub volume until you barely notice it. It should appear to just extend the LF from the satellites. If it's obvious it's too loud!

- KH 80’s or KH 120’s with a KH 750 or KH 810
- Dynaudio LYD 48
- Klein and Hummel O 300


K&H don't exist anymore. The company as bought by Sennheiser and their speakers are now marketed under the Neumann badge. The current equivalent to the O300 is the KH310, which is a superb monitor and highly recommended. Being a sealed cabinet design it has well-extended low end that goes far lower than any equivalent sized ported design. And while it can't deliver trouser-flapping power in the bottom octave you do at least get to know what's going on down there.

The KH80/750DSP combo is a very attractive one, and if the idea of a subwoofer appeals then that would be a good way to go.

There are several compact three-way monitors that share the same driver layout format as the O300s / KH310s, and the Lyd 48 is one of them. It is a ported design, like most of the others, but we shouldn't hold that against it! ;-) It has received very good reviews and although I've only heard it at trade shows it is quite impressive.
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by forumuser840717 »

I don't particularly like big speakers in little rooms; it just makes problems worse.

That said, I've used ATC SCM100ASLs in rooms that are far too small and where the only treatment is some soft furnishing and racks full of choir cassocks. Doesn't really work but the clients like to see big speakers. They seem to think they indicate that they're getting lots for their money!

Usually these days, I use either ATC SCM20A Pros (the old die cast metal type) or, after trying lots of others including various Neumann/K+H offerings and some other ATCs, amongst others, (and to my surprise) I have pairs of Genelec 8331A and 8351B (both three-way designs from their "Ones" range). They now get more use than any of the ATCs. Admittedly, that's partly because they're a fraction of the weight of even the SCM20As but I also prefer them sonically.

I usually felt that Genelecs made well engineered speakers which could sound great in some circumstances but generally found them globally a bit bright/hard sounding. However, the Ones are a different departure from the Genelec s I was used to and are quite remarkable. In good rooms they're a superb reference speaker with scarily good imaging and midrange clarity but without the hardness that I used to associate with the brand. They have a surprisingly extended LF that I find sounds less like the usual small monitor ported all or nothing LF 'blob' and more like the well controlled extension of a good sealed box design. Put them in the kind of varyingly awful rooms I get to work in on location recordings and they're a revelation! Not least because their very compact size and point-source nature makes it possible to work surprisingly close to them which can help to get around a lot of room problems. And even close up, they don't get tiring even after hours of working with them.

The rather odd looks also make them eye catching in the control room and seem to satisfy client expectations that they're somehow 'special' :tongue:

I haven't heard it yet but they also do a sub for the Ones, if you really want to excite some room modes and knock the dust off the woodworm in the floor.

Ok, in a decent sized and decent sounding room, I do still prefer my SCM100As but they're much bigger, much heavier and much more expensive so that's probably not surprising. I've also got 30-odd eyars familiarity with them. What Genelec have managed to get out of the Ones really is outstanding. They don't seem to be on most people's radar but they're definitely worth checking out and I think deserve wider exposure. But then I would think that as I bought some so I'm obviously biased. :beamup:
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by jack@nobodies.xyz »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: K&H don't exist anymore. The company as bought by Sennheiser and their speakers are now marketed under the Neumann badge.

Thanks all for the very quick and detailed responses, They're extremely helpful.

Regarding the K&H O300's, I only mentioned them because I read that the 310's are modeled on them (I think in your review actually). I've heard and love the 310's. But when all is said and done, with tax, the KH310's are near $5000 new :shocked: . Unfortunately I have a project that needs to get done so I don't have the time to save that bit extra I would need. Maybe one day....

The used price on various sites for the O300's is about the same as the KH80 + KH750 combo brand new. In fact there's a pair in excellent condition for sale right now for $2500. I figured this might be a way to approximate the KH 310's within my budget??? But then again, I've read on other posts they are a risk, since, if a driver blows new ones aren't available.

Decisions, decisions... When I first dipped my toe into the production side (as opposed to just being a musician) my producer said "Welcome to the slippery slope". I now see how right he was. :lol:
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

forumuser840717 wrote:However, the Ones are a different departure from the Genelec s I was used to and are quite remarkable. In good rooms they're a superb reference speaker with scarily good imaging and midrange clarity but without the hardness that I used to associate with the brand. They have a surprisingly extended LF that I find sounds less like the usual small monitor ported all or nothing LF 'blob' and more like the well controlled extension of a good sealed box design. Put them in the kind of varyingly awful rooms I get to work in on location recordings and they're a revelation! Not least because their very compact size and point-source nature makes it possible to work surprisingly close to them which can help to get around a lot of room problems. And even close up, they don't get tiring even after hours of working with them.

Totally agree. You may be biased but I think all three 'The One' models are excellent too. :D

I haven't heard it yet but they also do a sub for the Ones, if you really want to excite some room modes and knock the dust off the woodworm in the floor.

It's very clever, but hugely expensive and the size of a coffin, and you need two as they double up as stands for The Ones! :lol:
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

jack@nobodies.xyz wrote:Regarding the K&H O300's, I only mentioned them because I read that the 310's are modeled on them

More a development of, rather than 'modelled on'...

But when all is said and done, with tax, the KH310's are near $5000 new :shocked:

True... but you genuinely won't find anything better for less than $8000.... :D

The used price on various sites for the O300's is about the same as the KH80 + KH750 combo brand new.

Then go for the 80/750 combo. The O300s were good in their day, but with limitations, especially in the volume department. It wasn't too hard to clip them, and they are getting on a bit now with no viable service support.

When I first dipped my toe into the production side (as opposed to just being a musician) my producer said "Welcome to the slippery slope". I now see how right he was. :lol:


Yep... you're doomed, just like the rest of us! :lol:
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by RichardT »

To echo Hugh’s comments, or perhaps make them more explicit - you probably need more room treatment to make the best of any new speakers’ low end. If you have the ability to get some more, it’s one of the best-value things you can do to improve your monitoring.
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Re: 2-ways and a sub vs 3-ways for a small room

Post by Martin Walker »

RichardT wrote:To echo Hugh’s comments, or perhaps make them more explicit - you probably need more room treatment to make the best of any new speakers’ low end. If you have the ability to get some more, it’s one of the best-value things you can do to improve your monitoring.

I echo that sentiment - if you buy the perfect loudspeakers and place them in a room that honks, your perfect loudspeakers will also honk ;)

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