Big speakers, are they really the best way to get great sound?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to some very large speakers that are considered to be at, or close to, the pinnacle in speaker design and ability. Needless to say, the speakers retail in the mid to high $300k range. These speakers, and I will not be naming them, were sourced by about $800k of upstream gear. Room size was about thirty by twenty, maybe a little larger.
To say the the overall sound was BIG would be accurate, but also I noticed something else, that I typically hear with big speaker systems. Generally, the speakers were right on edge of overloading the room, depending on music, the dreaded bass boom could be heard. But, the whole presentation was greater in impact than most any smaller speaker system, yet it was almost unlistenable for the long term.

The question I asked myself, is do we really want this type of presentation in our home audio systems? The speakers threw a pretty large soundstage, but also made things sound somewhat larger than life. I also thought that this type of speaker is akin to the large box dynamic speakers of yesteryear. For example, a set of large horns from Altec Lansing or similar was reminiscent of this sound. Makes me believe that if one has a big room, a similar sound can be obtained from most any large speaker system and at a fraction of the price.

I listen in a very small room, and by necessity in the near field, yet I think the overall intimacy of this type of listening experience is better for me, your thoughts?


Back when I started in this wacky world of ours, I had a set of Bozak A’s, then B’s. When I played the 1812 Overture, you could feel it!  Now, with the way speakers have improved and subwoofers have improved, you don’t necessarily need big speakers to get the same effect.


I am pretty sure that a lot us us who at retirement age simply cannot tolerate extremely loud rooms [tinnitus related].  So anything at high decibels blurs SQ.  The louder it gets, the more problems the room will face. And the less I appreciate it.

There is no issues or relationship between room size and speaker size. 

When you fix and adjust those issues:

Generally, the speakers were right on edge of overloading the room, depending on music, the dreaded bass boom could be heard.

Fix and adjust is just like Erik saying:

get measurements and professional room treatments, and consider EQ when and where possible.

But it is correct that small speakers don't go that low and not that loud at those low frequencies and therfore someone can easily get away with not setting up a "good" listening space by skipping those two things!

Bigger speakers usually has bigger drivers that are able to pressurizeing lower frequencies and louder at those frequencies. 

And standard consumers they get to the conclusion oh those big speakers "is overloading the room" or "the room is to small or vise versa". 

Yes, that might seam to be the "logical" conclusion when there is a rather big knowledge gap and the general listeners don't know and don't have the experience of what a treated room and what issues that are able to solve. And the same goes for modern PEQ (DSP). 


To be brutal honest there is the majority that JUST plop a speaker of any size into room of any size. Without doing any room treatment or PEQ whatsoever..

And then it is the "fault" of the speaker or the room! (think again) 🤔


So do you know how, where and what to do as sound treatment. And know how to measure, use a computer and upload PEQ to your DSP (fix also issues with "dedepending on music" with different presets,) . 

Then room or speaker SIZE is no issue or relationship in my opinion. 

It is just simple relationship in physics as bigger speaker need more adjustment when it is working in a range there smaller once don't and that is independent of room size. 

It is as simple as that. 🤫💖

(A tip for getting the "best" sound and better than the sound that OP listened to, cost no object. Is to learn and master those two aspects. Then you can get whatever sound quality that your hart desires.

The other road is if you don't learn and evolve you are stuck in buying of the shelf speakers all your life in hope of that maybe one day. You will get something that is super on some tracks and less good on other tracks just like the OP describe. In the long run it will pay off.) 

I've noticed recently that "Bookshelf" speakers seem to be getting larger and larger...trying to give us a sound that's closer to Towers.....hmmmm....

Until recently I’d never been able to treat a room to optimize the sound. When I was a younger man my solution was to take  my speakers outside away from all reflective surfaces, with a lounge chair centered just right... I lived out in the country so the birds were really the only noise distraction..   My “large speakers” sounded infinitely better outside versus my small 2 ways, even though the smaller ones were a “higher end brand” and big ones were not. No comparison. Inside my house, the small 2 ways sounded better and I could listen for hours  - but they did not sound as pleasing as the big boys sounded outside. Obviously many other factors could be considered in my little indoor/outdoor “experiment” .. but I think the people talking about room treatment etc. are on the right path here. All else being equal bigger is probably better…and YES to using dedicated subs to allow for low frequency tuning.