Crossovers - do parts matter?

However as I said before I have heard the Harbeths and they do sound good…but could they be oh so much better???

I assume it must be due to the speaker designer also operating a business and being able to make a good profit from what they have available. I’m sure there would have been better drivers but they might not have fit the budget.
That’s the beauty of DIY. You get to own drivers and crossover specs that would usually only be used in quite high end designs for a fraction of the cost. The drivers in my speakers are really well behaved and can be used with a 1st order crossover. This then allows the best crossover parts as there are very few needed.
For me, the better crossover parts don’t necessarily result in more detail or clarity but everything just sounds more natural.

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Is it? Hmm, if it is a 2-way with a 4th order (24 dB/octave) crossover, with a steep crossover slope chosen to minimise overlap of output by the two drivers, then that instantly explains 4 inductors. The “losses” of so many are simply the more effective removal of undesirable output. 24 dB/octave crossovers are quite common and has nothing to do with how good or poor a driver may be.

(As for the fifth one does it would be necessary to study the circuit, and if additional filtration of some sort it could be on either driver for all that can be gleaned without further detail.)

Well when GR measured it…it was quite unruly…and peaky…

The speaker or driver? I believe Harbeth make the bass-mid units themselves, so I’ve never seen any measurements plots of it, though it would be interesting to see how it compares with, say, the KEF B110 which is the original in the LS35A.

I’d not assume that makes it naughty. There are different schools of thought on crossover design. Low order and high order. Low order obviously has fewer components. High order more control.

I think PMC have a document on their site about why they choose high order crossovers as the impact of additional components in the signal path of a speaker is grossly overstated and, at least to them, the added control outweighs the downside. At the other end of the scale is Dynaudio with the opposite argument.

More than one way to skin a cat.

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And of course, the best crossover parts are no crossover parts at all.


Well I have a pair of crossoverless Omegas I’m listening to right now sounding mighty fine. All the benefits of active… with an integrated amp!


kind of - yes in the limit with a single wide band speaker driver having a single power amp and transducer can sound wonderful - but there are few examples and there are other compromises in other areas - but they are I am told sound wonderful - and some headphones can approach the benefits of these.

With multiple speakers drivers then you need a cross over - and then the choice is where to manage it - ahead of the active power amp stages or between the power amp and multiple transducers.

I also generally prefer active speakers with the crossover occurring before the power amp stages - certainly for accuracy, but I also feel passively crossovered speakers can sound more relaxed and sometimes musical. No one size fits all.


I’m thinking more speakers with just a first order filter on the tweeter, rather than just the single full range driver - which are plenty. (Although seems to be a Canadian thing.)
I would imagine a speaker with a complex crossover could be more amplifier agnostic.
Where as a crossover less design might be more dependent on the right speaker cable and amp.
A generalisation sure, but damping factor and other ways a signal is controlled outside the speakers could be more a consideration.

Ok, but of course damping factor of an amplifier is only meaningful with a loudspeaker load, being the ratio of the impedance magnitude between the combined loudspeaker(s) and cross over impedance over the amplifier and speaker cable source impedance magnitude.

Yes thankyou, I was just going to mention that detail.

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Sorry for being a pedant :kissing:

It’s just some seem to mention amplifier damping factor with no regard to speaker cable and connected speakers which makes no real sense. (To me at least :grinning: )

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While that’s correct, I’d go further and suggest that because understanding damping factor in an accurate way including both cable and speaker into the equation is so difficult for any normal consumer (it’s massively difficult for electrical engineers even unless they start testing stuff) that publishing the damping factor is a near meaningless spec. It presents a rabbit hole where time could be better spent just listening to find which combinations sound better with a given amplifier.

Some people get really hung up on damping factor for an amplifier without realising it is telling them very little that’s useful. Probably up there with sensitivity as a poorly understood metric that isn’t telling them (the average audiophile knowitall) what they think it’s telling them.

Hegel make a big case that their amp have very high damping factor which always confuses me.

I totally agree, which is why I suggest to the casual punter it really is not a useful or practical measure in a meaningful way. Perhaps amplifier output impedance could be more useful, at least that is independent… but again it is likely to tell you more about typical character of the amplifier when coupled with specific speakers and cable rather absolute performance

Let’s ask ChatGPT :slightly_smiling_face:

Does the quality of the components in loudspeaker crossovers improve sound quality?

The quality of the components in a loudspeaker crossover can have an impact on the sound quality produced by the speaker. Higher quality components, such as those made from materials with lower levels of resistance and better tolerance for temperature and humidity, can result in a more accurate and consistent crossover response, which can lead to better overall sound quality. Additionally, using higher quality capacitors, inductors and resistors can reduce distortion and noise in the crossover circuit, which can also improve sound quality. However, it’s not always the case that using high-end components will improve sound quality, the design and implementation of the crossover circuit is also important.

Is the crossover design and quality of components more important than the speaker drivers?

The design and quality of the crossover, as well as the quality of the components used in the crossover, are important factors that can impact the overall sound quality of a loudspeaker. However, the speaker drivers themselves are also a crucial component of the speaker system, and their quality and performance can have a significant impact on the sound as well.

In general, the speaker drivers are responsible for creating the sound that we hear, while the crossover is responsible for dividing the audio signal into different frequency bands and sending them to the appropriate drivers. Therefore, having high-quality speaker drivers is essential for good sound reproduction. However, a poorly designed or implemented crossover can negatively impact the performance of even the best drivers.

So, in summary, both the crossover design and quality of components, as well as the speaker drivers are important for the overall sound quality of a loudspeaker, and both should be considered when assessing the performance of a speaker system.

So there we have it … :slightly_smiling_face:

Edit: Ask it which is the best British HiFi manufacturer and it comes up with a list of five … guess which is first? :grinning:

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