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Post subject: Altitude compromise -- finding the balance point
Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:55 am
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Aspiring Musician
Aspiring Musician

Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:24 am
Posts: 422
I used my two Expos at a recent local dance. People danced in lines from within arm's length of the speakers directly in front of them to the back of the hall, maybe 50 feet away, where they stood next to 4' diameter fans propped up to window height, noisy enough to require people standing next to each other to have to yell to be heard. Because of the distance and the fans, I had to run the Expos at about half volume to be clearly heard at the back of the hall, which was painful for the people standing next to the speakers. I got complaints.

A friend, who also runs sound and heard the complaints suggested that I raise the Expos off the floor. I was reluctant, but hey, that's what normal speakers do to lessen the pain in front while still reaching people in the back. So, at the next dance I did, I put up shelves to raise the Expos about 18" from the floor.

This definitely hurt the clarity of the speakers while standing within four or five feet of them, but it also significantly decreased the pain of having the speakers too loud. From five feet out to the back of the hall, the sound was great. This second hall was bigger, but without the fans at the back, the same half-volume worked fine. The band has a wide dynamic range from tinkly quiet moments to rock and roll roaring. The Expos performed perfectly.

So. I'm sold on raising the speakers. If there's room on a raised stage with the performers, that's where I'll put them. Otherwise, I'll get something sturdier, and maybe not quite as tall as the shelves I used this time.

The issue is that with two subwoofers, four lower mid speakers, four upper mid speakers, you get the distance magic of an array... but you only have one tweeter. It's a marvelously clear and loud tweeter, but there is no array effect on that tweeter, so the inverse square rule fully applies to its output, and if it's loud enough for the back of the hall, you don't want it at ear level if you are standing next to it.

Putting the top of the tower at seven to seven and a half feet fixes that.

It's not a problem if people are not standing next to the speakers, but if people are there, it's worth the loss of fidelity up close to stop from hurting people dancing next to the speakers.


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