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A tale of two speakers (B2031A and 8030c)

dfuller

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My criticism of the Genelec 8030c is non-specific and could be leveled at almost any speaker employing small drivers. 8" drivers are relatively small drivers to play bass notes, but they seem to be the maximum manufacturers want to provide for prices short of around $4000 a pair. Why? Is it really that much more expensive to produce speakers with larger drivers or satellite/sub combos for a reasonable price.
It's very, very rare to see a 2-way design with larger than an 8" midwoofer. There are just so many compromises once you get bigger than that unless you have an unusually good-at-LF tweeter and a good waveguide to boot. About the only two that immediately come to mind are the Genelec 1032 and the Dynaudio BM15 - one of these is a good speaker, the other is honestly a bit of a mess because it completely lacks a waveguide.

I tend to agree with one of the designers from ATC about this one:

You will notice that our largest bass/mid driver is 6.5”, [...] which we consider to be a practical limit in a 2-way. If the bass/mid driver was much larger the horizontal response around the XO would suffer as a direct result of the bass/mid driver becoming directional. More bass extension and higher SPL can be achieved by increasing the bass driver diameter but at some point you have to move to a 3-way system to continue to achieve a satisfactory off-axis response.

Of course it's worth noting that with a big enough waveguide you can get away with a bigger midwoofer than ~6.5" nominal, but it's not necessarily ideal.
 
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daftcombo

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I still don't understand how speakers going down to 50Hz can be lacking for male vocals.
 

Trell

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Of course it's worth noting that with a big enough waveguide you can get away with a bigger midwoofer than ~6.5" nominal, but it's not necessarily ideal.

What do you think about the Genelec 8350 that has a 8” woofer?
 
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Digby

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I think we are at risk of getting into the weeds somewhat here. I am not saying the 8030c aren't valid speakers. Someone gave the example of a similar Genelec just fitting in their room with a subwoofer, that is a valid example. Somebody else that they are studio monitors that present a certain sound across a range of sizes, also valid.

My point is I preferred the B2031A for speakers (minus sub) for listening to music. I think a majority would pick the Behringer over the Genelec on sound alone, if they are to be used without a subwoofer (and both are sold, and I imagine mostly expected, to be used without one).

The price is about 1/4 to 1/3 the Genelecs. If you looked at the measurements (perhaps, as I did, in some ignorance) or listened to many comments on the forum, the feeling you may get is the 8030cs are the best thing since sliced bread. Perhaps they are, with the provisos that you need a subwoofer, can't play them particularly loud, they're relatively expensive and you can get something audibly very similar (in some aspects more capable) for a fraction of the price.

Likely it is not that the 8030c is bad, it's just that the Behringer represents exceptional value for money (after all Behringer is ripping off a Genelec design).

It will be interesting to see the results of Amir's testing.
 

dfuller

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What do you think about the Genelec 8350 that has a 8” woofer?
Well, clearly it has a big enough waveguide for directivity error to be acceptably low. That said, if it's anything like the 8050 I'd probably hate it.
 

mightycicadalord

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I'm kinda bummed they don't make the passive models anymore. OP I'm curious how the hiss is on the actives? I have active 2030a and the hiss is fine.

I have the 2031p's forever, love them. I might even go back because these 8030c are boring me and I haven't at all been satisified with my mix quality since getting the genelecs.

Forget everyone saying listening distance or use case was wrong, it doesn't matter in every case I've used both in the behringers sound better. Even with a sub I like the behringers more.

For anyone who cares, I did these songs on a pair of 2031p. Sorry about the big links I had on idea it would embed them like this.

https://soundcloud.com/melohq%2Fsensor-melo-remix
https://soundcloud.com/melohq%2Fstrings
https://soundcloud.com/melohq%2Fmelo-chital
 

richard12511

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A tale of two speakers - The Behringer B2031A and Genelec 8030c.
What follows is a subjective review & comparison of these two speakers based on my own audition at home. I have had the Behringer B2031A speakers from long before ASR started, the Genelec 8030cs I bought on the basis on Amir's review.

B2031A

Pros:
  • Balanced sound across the spectrum. Too much treble as is, but this can be modified to -2db or -4db with back panel. Mine at -2db.
  • Bass goes relatively low (or at least roll off doesn't seem severe) and does so at quite high volumes
  • Sound of instruments has depth and "correctness" to them (piano, cello, violin, voice, kick drum)
  • Doesn't sound like it is struggling to produce sound until quite high volumes are reached, even then I imagine it is amongst the best in its size/price class. Scales up well
  • Low noise from drivers (Similar hiss levels to Genelec. Minimal, noticeable only in dead quiet room or putting ear very close to tweeter)
Cons:
  • Can occasionally sound dull and perhaps somewhat lifeless in a dynamic sense. This character seems to go away provided you use good quality source material, so is perhaps more telling of the source than the speaker itself.
  • Speakers pop on powering on (power button to rear) with clipping light coming on and bass driver making notable excursion (I leave the speakers on for this reason. I may experiment with turning them on via energy saving plug). Pop doesn't happen when switching on from rear panel rather than top power switch
  • Tend to pick up a little radio noise/squealing at low levels. This can be improved and mostly removed with attention to cable run. Perhaps only an issue with PC usage
  • Seemed to be a cabinet resonance around 50hz when running sweep

8030c

Pros:
  • Generally a balanced sound, as per the Behringer, somewhat more lively/dynamic or "hi-fi" sounding. Certainly doesn't tend towards the dull. This could be good or bad depending on your view/tastes (For me there was too much treble and even the -2db dip switch did not cure this excess excitability).
  • The cabinet seems more inert than on the Behringer. On running a frequency sweep there was a point around 50hz where I was getting some resonance from the Behringer, not so with the Genelec (however, bass frequency response generally seems much diminished compared to Behringer. Steeper rolloff from higher, I believe - so this may give the cabinet a helping hand regarding resonance).
  • Imaging seems to be better than with the Behringer, but I cannot tell whether this is a product of the more lively character. Imaging is better, but the excess treble also tends to pull you out of the illusion somewhat.

Cons:
  • The bass...oh dear, where has it gone. It is perfectly good down to a certain frequency, but then disappears of a cliff. There are basslines that I know contain more notes, but I struggle to hear them with the 8030c. The effect is akin to listening to an old 78rpm shellac record of a violinist as they hit a really high note and the note seems to disappear. I want to emphasize this is not a case of electronic music not being bassy enough or me preferring a smiley face type EQ. The lack of lower frequency response is present on voice, piano, cello, even the violin, as much as it is on a techno track. I feel like the extended bass frequency response of the Behringer is part of the "correct" sound.
  • The speaker is tiny compared to the Behringer and seems to sound like it is struggling at rather lower volumes than the Behringer. The little woofer on the Genelec is already going back and forth a fair bit at moderate levels and with concerto recordings at a correct volume to hear the soloist, when the orchestra comes crashing back in, things sadly tend to sound as if the Genelecs are losing control
  • Referring back to the "correctness" of the Behringer sound. I am starting to think that part of the dynamism many have noticed with large & efficient speakers may be the size of speaker that the image is coming from. Although I have said the Genelec seems to provide something of better imaging, it does so with a caveat, the caveat being that I cannot, even with eyes closed, get away from the fact I am listening to (or rather hearing) a tiny speaker. A very good speaker, but a tiny one. The piano is tiny, the cello is tiny, voice is tiny. I don't just think this is a case of distortion or lack of bass frequencies, but the area in space that the sound itself is emanating from. In nature deep sounds only ever come from large objects and I think the ear/brain cannot for whatever reason be convinced that the sound you are hearing is real, when it comes from too small a source. The same pertains to the Behringer, but much less so. It is still a small speaker, but the quality of the sound emanating from it is more like that of a piano/cello/voice and so on. Whether this would be such a problem if the Genelec had a bass response similar to the Behringer, I don't know, but I suspect that a small speaker will always sound small (and therefore unconvincing to the ear) and a larger one (all else being relatively equal) is more convincing, because the bass radiates from a more natural sized object.

I sent the Genelecs back in the end. They were fine, but to me they were not a complete speaker, given the lack of low frequency response and other problems noted. It is possible I would feel the same about the Behringer, if I had to compare them to something like a JBL 4349 or M2, but they are significantly more expensive (than the Genelecs), rather than significantly cheaper (as the Behringer).

I am willing to go out on a limb and say that out of any 10 people who hear both speakers, 7 or 8 would choose the Behringer. Bass response is such an important part of music reproduction, that even if the Behringer speaker turns out to be more distorted in the bass region than the Genelec, perhaps what matters more is that the bass is there in the first place (by which I mean a slow rolloff to lower frequencies, not a sharp fall below a relatively high tuned port).

Measurements are fine and I encourage them, but if the Behringer measures worse (I believe Amir is testing one soon), but sounds better to most people (granted, speculation on my part, but see my reasoning above), then there needs to be a way for a layman to evaluate the measurements to understand what is important to them. A 5" driver is not a bass driver, even an 8.75" driver is not really a bass driver (maybe to 80hz, but not 40hz, let alone 20hz).

The Behringer bass driver has three times the area of the Genelec, the cabinet is twice the size and for a cost similar to the pair of 8030cs, you can have the Behringers and two SVS subwoofers or perhaps even three JBL subwoofers. If the Genelecs need a subwoofer or two (in my opinion they do), then you are looking at a system 2 or 3 times as expensive as with Behringer + subwoofers.

I thought the Genelecs would be streets ahead, but in the end, I think you cannot fool physics with respect to the bass and it is difficult to evaluate a speaker if you feel it is missing frequencies - you can't evaluate mid range or highs in isolation. I feel like I am now firmly in the camp of there is no replacement for displacement and when upgrading would either add subwoofers and/or seek speakers with higher driver surface area.

P.S I did not start this thread purely to upset the applecart, but just to present my experience and examine whether some of my (admittedly subjective) thoughts about larger speakers vs smaller speakers are shared by others on the forum.

P.P.S I thought the thread name would be funny, but it seems a few people have got in there with that one already....
Thanks for doing this comparison. That speaker is essentially a clone of the Genelec 1031, so it doesn't surprise me that it beats the 8030c in a full range comparison. The much larger woofer and cabinet work wonders.

I also don't think your impressions necessarily disagree with the measurements. I guess we'll see when the 2031 does get measured, but some of the Behringer speaker measurements I've seen have been fantastic. The Genelec 1031 is a good speaker, so it won't surprise me at all if the 2031 is too. Bass is 30% of overall listener preference.

Some 8? years ago, I was involved with a blind listening gtg involving 5 or 6 speakers, 1 of which I believe(could be wrong) was either this or one of its predecessors. Some of the speakers there were more than several thousand dollars, and yet quite a few people had the cheap Behringer as the best overall speaker.
 

richard12511

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Genelec speakers have very high preference scores because they are EQ'ed out of the box.
8030 aren't EQed out of the box like that. Of the speakers I own, I think the only ones with that kind of EQ are the 8351s and the JBL 708s. The 8030 measure great just based on having great drivers crossed very well, and having a diffraction free aluminum cabinet.
 
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YSC

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That is correct. I did say that imaging seemed better with the Genelec (this was at nearfield). I still preferred the sound (particularly the bass extension) of the B2031A, even nearfield. Personally, I would sacrifice imaging for bass response, even in the nearfield. The Genelec sounded incomplete when side by side with the Behringer. To me, I think this lack was more significant than anything the Genelecs did better, which I noted in my first post.

TL;DR The broader point I was trying to make in this comparison is that Genelec provide high engineering (aluminium cabinets, quality electronics) within a small cabinet with small drivers, for a not insignificant sum. The Behringer provides raw size instead of engineering - the cabinet is large (relatively speaking) and the bass driver has 3 times the surface area of the 5" Genelec.

What Genelec pursue in a clever way (engineering), Behringer do with simplicity (size/displacement) at a fraction of the cost. So, is there really no replacement for displacement....thoughts?
Well but I would say the 8030C being used alone when space is really limited and you can’t afford a sub to be placed. If you can put a B2031 I would say you should go out for a 8050 for 2.0 use. When bass is contributing good time to enjoyment of course rolling off steep at ~60hz is not going to be as enjoyable as a less flat but full range speaker.
 

dasdoing

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this is how I would put the line on the Genelec. So they have a midboost the Behringer doesn't seam to have

Sevm título.png
 

mightycicadalord

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Looks like I'll be in the position to test these two side by side as well. 2031's on their way. Let's see if they still do what they did when I used to have a pair.

Curiously I found some old pictures of when I was first getting into measurements and that side of things. Really had no idea what I was doing.

Here they are in my fairly well treated space probably 8 years ago.

P8i7hLL.png


Setting them up outside

litp89d.jpg


Outdoor measurement with poor scaling, still it's unsmoothed and even with the poor scaling that seems pretty good.

j6Q4yw4.png
 

YSC

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Looks like I'll be in the position to test these two side by side as well. 2031's on their way. Let's see if they still do what they did when I used to have a pair.

Curiously I found some old pictures of when I was first getting into measurements and that side of things. Really had no idea what I was doing.

Here they are in my fairly well treated space probably 8 years ago.

View attachment 168854

Setting them up outside

View attachment 168855

Outdoor measurement with poor scaling, still it's unsmoothed and even with the poor scaling that seems pretty good.

View attachment 168856
The open air one is nice, but I wonders why your in room have generally a bass shy room mode rather than boost at some frequencies
 

mightycicadalord

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Probably just poor placement, I can get just about any speaker to look like that if these days if I put it in the wrong spot.

here's a recent 8030c and another speaker. I haven't been in the old room in at least 7 years though, lol I guess not much has changed for me since then, still measuring stuff and learning. Also a key point is that I was very much new to everything. I honestly did some really good mixes with that kind of response so who knows.


efxnL0a.png
 
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mightycicadalord

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2031's are here and hooked up. I'm already familiar with this speaker, mixed on it for a long time so I kinda knew what to expect. Definitely just keep them switched on and use the switch on the back to turn them on and off to avoid the pop, the 2030a's also suffer from this.

I have tweeters at -4 (+2db 2500hz to make up for "dullness" op speaks about, honestly prefence) and long story short, I prefer them for the same reasons as the OP. I have both speakers on a tripplite isobar, hiss levels are about the same with the nod to the behringer as it seems lower in pitch, I don't hear either after likke 10". I'm going to do some measurements and some mods for a longer post. The tweeter phase plug is to be removed as the noaudiophile review, grill will be left on, don't feel it's the source of the top end issues, but the phase plug is. Ports will be stuffed from the inside of the cabinet, bass boost applied to compensate.

There really is no replacement for displacement, larger woofers just seem to render things better. The difference in spaciousness in the low mids is quite staggering.
 
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mightycicadalord

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Alright here's my comparison.

It's taken me a day or two of listening and basic mods to get them to where I want them to be. They're really amazing speakers. If you're willing to tinker a little bit you're going to have a hard time finding a better speaker for anywhere near the cost.

Size - They're shockingly large compared to the 8030c. I'm glad I built some really robust stands for them. They're very heavy so you're going to want to make sure you can support them. I had to pack the 8030c to ship to a buyer so I couldn't take a shot of them together. I tried my best to splice these together.

lol big speak.png

Mods - It's pretty much essential to take off the phase plug on the tweeter. I did a before and after, as well as one without the grill. You can keep the grill on for protection, it doesn't appear to be detrimental to the signal, but the phase plug is pretty bad. This mod is not particularly difficult but might be unnerving removing the tweeters diaphragm, but it's a pretty robust part and there's plenty of ferrofluid there to ease it back in. It seems to affect things all the way down to the xover point. Here's a ****** before and after, not sure why my close mic tweeter measurements always look nothing like anyone elses. Orange is with phase plug. I have the tweeter switch sitting at -2db and everything feels right at that level.

with and without phase plug orange is with.png


Ports - I plugged them with some foam I had around, I feel it improved the tweeter response but I'm too lazy to measure again. I compensated for the loss of extension with EQ, as noted in the noaudiophile review these things don't care about bass boosts. I'm undecided on whether this is an improvement for the woofers performance. I believe this speaker has a ~54hz resonance and thought it might be the ports. On the 2030a they are thing ports that bend down 90 degrees and almost reach the bottom of the cabinet. The 2031 are just straight thin ports, very thin and ringy plastic, probably the weakest part of the build consider how good everything else is. The cabinet is otherwise very well braced.

Comparisons to 8030c.

Perception of scale - I think one of my biggest problems I've had for awhile has been remedied. I've largely been moving between various 5" monitors trying to find a good one and I think I just needed to go up in cone size. It makes such a huge difference. The kick in SOHN - Signal is finally being rendered properly to my ears, it's big and has scale. The volume level between elements is much better on the larger speaker here, it feels like they are getting the entirety of the transients while the genelecs were sort of chopping them off as it struggled. The kick in that song sounded very small on 8030c.

Imaging - Behringers win for me since the 8030c had some sort of excitement to the top that makes everything a wash when stuff gets busy. It's weird but this excitement would make me wince and shake my head to sort of brush it off. I can place items in the stereo field much better on 2031. I think the very top does narrow but I don't find that to be a negative. Frankly I haven't found directivity to really be something I hear in a speaker if that makes sense. My rooms are treated and I always adjust things with toe in, don't feel the need to put more thought into than that.

Bass - I didn't know what I was missing, genelecs have effectively no bass to my ears now.

Mid range- 2031 wins with mods and my little 0.25db boost at 1.8khz. It's doing things with the mid range that the genelecs can't, there is a sense of envelopement and effortlessness, especially with the lower mids. The upper range I love as it doesn't seem to run out of dynamic range, snares and clap transients aren't lost in busy (and good) mixes. I'm hearing a lot of engaging spatial detail in the low mids not existent on the 8030c.

Highs - The 2031 sound more realistic to me and I'd argue more accurate. I'm stumbling on a few tunes in my library that unfortunately have some nastiness that the artist/engineers must have missed, and I wager it's because their monitoring didn't reproduce the issue right. One particular song, Catching Flies - Satisfied, there are some nasty peak bits at 0:33, really high amplitude peaks at ~15khz and some more near 20. These issues didn't present themselves to me on the 8030c like they kinda smoothed them out but they are there on the 2031, if I were doing the mix these would have been dealt with. This artist uses adam a7x's.


There is also another tune that I felt highlighted the natural sound of the top end for me. At 4:18 the splashes he plays are just straight up in this room. I thought one of my cats had knocked something over it was rendered so realistically.


So yeah, if you have the space and you're willing to do the tweeter mod there is no contest between these two speakers. Without the mod, hmmm that's a tough one. I really found the phase plug harshness to be obnoxious. Kind of weird behringer doesn't just stop putting it on there, it wouldn't cost them anything and it would improve the speaker. I'm personally very excited to have these speakers again. From a mixing perspective, I was shocked at just how wrong I was getting mixes on the 8030c. The mid bass region was just totally wrong as was the bass. Fixing the issues were easy on the behringers and translation improved immediately (yadda yadda everyone says this about every new monitor they get). I'm happy to have another layer of music revealed to me and that is dynamics. There is a sense of scale in the dynamic range with the 2031 that genelecs simply cannot come close to matching. I should prefer the 8030c, it measures better, the build quality is insane, and the mental aspect of something costing more being better is strong. In the end as the OP said, you can't beat physics. If I had the funds I would likely be sitting here with a nice pair of 1032c's just for the peace of mind of having a genelec product. In the meantime I think I'm happy now.
 
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Digby

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Alright here's my comparison.

Mods - It's pretty much essential to take off the phase plug on the tweeter. I did a before and after, as well as one without the grill. You can keep the grill on for protection, it doesn't appear to be detrimental to the signal, but the phase plug is pretty bad. This mod is not particularly difficult but might be unnerving removing the tweeters diaphragm, but it's a pretty robust part and there's plenty of ferrofluid there to ease it back in. It seems to affect things all the way down to the xover point. Here's a ****** before and after, not sure why my close mic tweeter measurements always look nothing like anyone elses. Orange is with phase plug. I have the tweeter switch sitting at -2db and everything feels right at that level.
When you say phase plug, are you talking about the bit of plastic(?) attached to the centre of the grille. Isn't that a diffuser, rather than a phase plug?

With regards to the grille there are two types, the 1mm hole grille (think this is a later revision, probably the one you have) and the finer 0.5mm grille (likely an earlier version). I have both grille types and can't hear any difference.

I will have to try this mod at some point. It would also be nice if someone with electronics experience can identify why the speakers pop on power, so someone handy with a soldering iron can fix the problem.

Perception of scale - I think one of my biggest problems I've had for awhile has been remedied. I've largely been moving between various 5" monitors trying to find a good one and I think I just needed to go up in cone size. It makes such a huge difference. The kick in SOHN - Signal is finally being rendered properly to my ears, it's big and has scale. The volume level between elements is much better on the larger speaker here, it feels like they are getting the entirety of the transients while the genelecs were sort of chopping them off as it struggled. The kick in that song sounded very small on 8030c.
This is the thing and I don't know how you would measure a sense of scale from speakers. I couldn't get away from a small sense of scale with the 8030c and seeing as they are among the best speakers of that size, I can only assume that a small speaker will sound small, whichever way you approach it.

How can you show with measurements that a larger speaker sounds larger, how important is this to being convinced/moved by music? If you look at measurements all you see is bass response and distortion, but I imagine if you was able to get a speaker flat to 40hz in an enclosure the size of the 8030c, you'd still find the image size smaller (therefore less convincing) than a larger speaker. I imagine imaging occurs above the lowest notes (if you can't locate a well integrated subwoofer at 80hz, likely it is not adding/detracting anything from the image), presumably this is not a function of bass response alone, but perhaps something to do with cabinet size and/or driver area.

I think this is a very important attribute of the sound image/depth and convincing quality of the music - after the bass response, it was my biggest gripe with the 8030c and yet it, seemingly, can't be ascertained from measurements (perhaps the dimensions measurements, lol, but those are a different kind of measurement).
 
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Digby

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I don't think it is a psychological effect to notice a sound is coming from a smaller object or a larger one (well, all sound is processed in the brain, so there is that, but it is not purely imagined). Surely a JBL M2 and a Behringer B2031A sound different regarding size of the image. I believe human hearing is pretty accurate at gauging the size of an object that sound is emanating from (for reasons of survival).

It should be easy enough to prove, but how to measure the effect and how it affects music reproduction/appreciation, that it is the question.
 

dasdoing

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I don't think it is a psychological effect to notice a sound is coming from a smaller object or a larger one (well, all sound is processed in the brain, so there is that, but it is not purely imagined). Surely a JBL M2 and a Behringer B2031A sound different regarding size of the image. I believe human hearing is pretty accurate at gauging the size of an object that sound is emanating from (for reasons of survival).

It should be easy enough to prove, but how to measure the effect and how it affects music reproduction/appreciation, that it is the question.

but is there a diference in a soundwave emerging from a small woofer vs a bigger one? don't they all emerge from the center?
 
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