People’s ideas of how large their speakers should be have sure changed over the years. During the 1970’s, our most popular model, the RSL Studio Monitor was a 12″ 3 way system. It was 25″ tall, 14 1/2″ wide, and 12″ deep. Our customers would put these in their living rooms or dens in bookshelves or on speaker stands. Fast forward to today where our CG4 speaker is only 10″ high, 6″ wide, by a little over 6″ deep. While most people are happy with their compact size, there are a few who wish they were even smaller!
So, the question is: has sound quality diminished over the years due to the downsizing of speakers? Actually, the opposite is true. Imagine having a pair of large floorstanding speakers in front of you. Each speaker would have a large woofer. Then, closer to the top of the cabinet, there would a midrange, perhaps 4″ in diameter and a 1″ dome tweeter. Instead of this setup, we now have the 4″ speaker and the tweeter in one compact cabinet and the woofer (now called a subwoofer) in another cabinet that’s easy to place or hide.
There are big advantages to this as long as 2 criteria are met: First, the 4″ woofer has to have enough bass response to meet the subwoofer, so that there is no gap between them. Second, the subwoofer must be fast, without sloppy overhang (the woofer needs to stop when the music stops). If the system meets these 2 criteria, the sound can be as big as a large floorstanding speaker and in some cases may present a more realistic sound image.
There are also other advantages. Large floorstanding speakers must be placed where they’ll image the best. This position may not be a good spot for even bass distribution in your room. By having a separate subwoofer, you can place the small satellites for best image and the subwoofer for even bass distribution. Most floorstanding speakers will not allow you to adjust the woofer level separately. So, they may not deliver the proper level of bass where they are positioned. Having a separate subwoofer allows you get the exact bass balance you need. A good subwoofer, such as our Speedwoofer 10, will actually give you deeper and more powerful bass than many of the 12″ speakers of the past.
The bottom line is that even though speaker sizes have shrunk, the sound quality is better than ever.