What's changed?

I’m increasingly seeing systems on that other thread of small, all-in-one or integrated amps being matched with enormous floor-standing speakers.

I would have thought this would be an incredibly inefficient and poor-sounding match.

Has speaker technology changed since I last looked? :thinking:

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Doubtful. More likely (IMO…) that its the people who have changed… :thinking:

Perhaps its a ‘lifestyle’ choice…? The large impressive looking speakers are ‘required’ - and a small neat compact integrated amp is also ‘required’.

Form Over Function…?

Eye Fi.


It depends on what small or integrated amp your talking about and what speakers. I think you’d need to be more specific.

Certainly you can pair some high end speakers with some of the current high end super integrateds. That’s not really a mullet.

But if you mean you see direct evidence of people hooking up $75k speakers to a Nova, then yeah, people have different priorities. Just try and bear in mind, they aren’t spending your money.


Re efficiency, although I hadn’t looked specifically into size vs efficiency, and thought there was no correlation, someone recently pointed out that as a generalisation larger speakers are more efficient than small, and in fact that appears to hold true. So actually in terms of efficient systems it makes sense to pair larger speakers with smaller amps.

But if course efficiency is only one factor, and if you wanted to maximise that you’d head for horn speakers. Of much greater significance generally is grip/control of the amp over the speaker, and that relates very much to speaker design and amp capability, where a poor amp with a demanding speaker can sound awful. But how challenging a speaker is to drive has nothing whatsoever to do with its size. You can have very large speakers that are easy to drive, and small speakers that are challenging to drive.

Nothing has changed, except perhaps the source first doctrine is at last being exposed as the hype it was, speakers being the system component most responsible for sound character, and hence critical to enjoyment.


Good point, Mike. I first noticed it when the Ovator S400s were launched. Naim’s recommended system for them at the time, from memory, was a CD5XS and Nait XS. Forum cynics said that was because Naim didn’t offer any other speakers so, of course, Naim thought S400s and XS gear was a great match.

Will be interesting to see how your thread pans out…


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That may have been me. I’ve said it often enough.

There is a very simple reason though. Larger speakers, or more specifically, speakers with large drivers, are often more efficient because they are very light shallow throw drivers. So a little current can easily move a large area. Conversely, a smaller driver (assuming both are low frequency drivers in this scenario) is often a long throw unit, and must be stronger and somewhat heavier to deal with more excursion at the same frequencies. That takes more current to move the same amount of air and control the driver too since it travels more in the time it accelerates and reverses faster.

That’s why you often see flea watt tube amps driving big Klipsche, JBL, Yamaha monitors etc. it’s a lot easier to drive them than say PMC Twenty.21 or Neat Iota for the reasons stated.

Of course, large cones and small cones have different distortion profiles. There is always a tradeoff. This is actually why I’m always surprised at all the pairings of the Nait50 with tiny bookshelf speakers. Unless I had a tiny space, a tiny speaker is the last thing I’d pair with it. In line with that, I pair my 10w tube amp with a comparatively large floorstander.


Glad to hear that speakers these days can magic up information lost at the other end.


Of course they can’t do that, no more than can l a great front end sending down lots of information down a wire get it to your ears if lost by poor speakers or amp etc. All systems are chains limited in information transmission by their weakest link, wherever in the chain it sits. But enjoyment to many people is more to do with overall sound than the amount of detail, detail bringing refinement of pleasure when all else sounds good (unless the purpose of listening is analytical).

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How true. I have found myself on more than one occasion getting more pleasure from my Nova than my main system (despite it being derided as a lifestyle product!).

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  1. Generally, larger 'speakers are easier to drive,
  2. Larger 'speakers produce more bass, which demands a high quality amp to control.
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I don’t think that’s right. Large diameter cones have to be thicker to maintain rigidity, and the whole moving assembly is heavier than a longer throw smaller cone, which is why the smaller cone can score better in terms of speed of response, having lower inertia. Against that the positive trade off for the larger cone’s smaller movement is better linearity and lower distortion. Meanwhile larger cone speakers gave larger diameter voice coils, and can more readily get more coil in the magnet gap, which can increase efficiency and that may be where the higher efficiency comes from.

@MikeD, I love my Atom HE and active PMC Twenty5 23i’s and I’m sure you like your set up so all’s good. Whatever floats your boat.:grinning:


I think I need to be clear I’m talking about the wight per cm2 of the actual moving cone, not the drive unit as a whole. And the weightier ones that do add rigidity do tend to be both less sensitive but also to try and mitigate the distortions that come with a large cone.

When I was digging into this topic in more detail whilst hunting for speakers for a 10w amp, one of the designers actually explained this but specifically referred to several examples that use very large but light doped paper (think big JBLs studio monitors from the 70s). The drive unit itself is quite heavy, and the massive cone itself not light as a whole. But the per cm2 weight is very low coupled with the fact the excursions are very shallow. Very much suited to limited power.

My Omegas are definitely in a similar group. 8" hemp driver in a floor standing cabinet (though they do a stand mount version too which is about the same volume but nearly three times deeper cabinet). Of course, additional factors come in play like the lack of a crossover - that’s a bit off topic but I disclose it case someone comes back with that argument. But their flagship speaker is similarly easy to drive with not one but two 8" drivers. So you could definitely pair those with a suitably capable low power amplifier. As long as the quality is there, it isn’t what some would call a “mullet”. Visually, it’s another matter. My speakers look like way too much of a speaker for a shoebox tube amp - but they aren’t. Conversely, I expect the amp would struggle to get Neat Iotas moving.

You can’t always tell if something is a real mullet or not from pictures unless you are familiar with the speakers and their relative cost and performance. And as I said before, even if it is a mullet, that’s the owners’ prerogative. If they’re happy, be happy for them. I personally don’t go for mullet systems but speaker size to amp size is not a good indication.

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