full range or mini's and a sub

Guys I'm not the most seasoned audiophile so I'm sorry if this is a stupid question.  However, here it goes...  I have heard many audiophiles talk about the magic of mini-monitors and their ability to disappear and soundstage.  Many say that it is very difficult to get the same advantages with full-range speakers.  Still most reference systems seem to be built around full range speakers.  If there is a true magic to mini-monitors why don't I see more reference systems with mini-monitors and subs for the lows?


I'd forget about what people talk about reference systems and think about your own situation.

How much space do you have?  How much are you able to change the room?  Do you have a good place for the sub?  How do you listen?

The truth is that getting excellent, deep bass (i.e. reference level) is hard work.  The dragons are in the lowest two octaves of the room. A "reference" system may cause you more problems than you imagine, but a satellite/subwoofer system, properly integrated with the room can be pretty magical.

My advice is define what you'd like and your constraints including space, budget and such.

My goal is to enjoy music and one of my compromises is no sub - and my space does allow a full range speaker.  Listen to as many different systems as you can to see what you like, don't like and potential options.


The biggest advantage with mini monitors and subs along with an active crossover, is that you can put together a world class speaker system at a fraction of the cost. The down side is that it takes a little more knowledge and skill to do it correctly.

As Erik states a satellite/subwoofer system can be magical, but done incorrectly, you can have a real mess.

Full size speakers WITH subs is the correct answer. There needs to be a sound power hand-off between the sub and speaker. Most subs are far more dynamic than stand mount speakers, so the speaker will still be the limiting factor. There are exceptions of course, TAD comes to mind. 




You ask a great question. +1 to @erik_squires.

The answer is a huge it depends. It will depend on the room and a lot about your budget and values in sound. Either can disappear. 

There are so many important aspects to the sound of a system, all of which are trade offs. Also, how much experience you have at putting together a system comes in. Integrating a sub with mini monitors can be intimidating… but if well done effective. 

First we need to know more about your room like Erik asks.

FYI, I would choose a small room over a big public space. Control is key to getting good sound. While it can be tricky getting good sound in a small room, you can get better quality equipment with a smaller space smaller speakers / amp. You can use room treatments.



If you plan on speakers where you think you might add a sub, now or future:

make it Plural, plan on two subs, plan space so they can be forward facing adjacent to the main speakers, I say no port for the mains or subs, but if port, forward facing.

Low bass may start Mono, but the overtones become directional. 40/80/160/320/ ....There is a lot to be said for Stereo Bass. I listen to a pair of 15" woofers (1/side), the imaging of bass players is important and enjoyable..

I agree with most of what has been aforementioned. It would be nice to see responses  to the questions asked. I have truly enjoyed stand mount speakers with or without subs (yes, 2 better than 1) in smaller rooms. 

I think it's generally cheaper to put together a quality system with small/under 25" speakers and sub(s), more flexibility with the placement, swapping components in and out, etc. I am a big fan of small speakers with big sound.... 

Full size speakers WITH subs is the correct answer. There needs to be a sound power hand-off between the sub and speaker. Most subs are far more dynamic than stand mount speakers, so the speaker will still be the limiting factor. There are exceptions of course, TAD comes to mind.

@james633 , Much truth here...Comments like these tend to get buried under the constant misinformation barrage on this forum.

Small speakers like that TAD, Borresen, etc that can manage the ’hand-off’ get rather expensive, much cheaper to go big...makes you wonder why a guy is trying to go with dinky li’l speakers in the first place...i.e., Is he really living in a closet sized room, or is it purely psychological or some other heavy WAF restriction....

IMHO the mini monitor + sub only matches full range speakers if an active crossover is included, or, at least, some high-pass on the main amp.

Otherwise, you will still be limited by power handling and distortion from your 5inch main "woofers", and dynamic capabilities / max SPL will be limited.

Such an active crossover could introduce noise and distortion (may I advise Sublime Acoustic’s K231 crossover or the brand new K235 currently at reduced launch price?)

I was recently forced to switch from my huge 4 ways active horn system to a pair of tiny Dali Zensor 1 mini monitors and I have to admit, there are a few things that the cheap and tiny Dalis do better than my monsters (out in the room on stands, they really disappear and throw a deeeeep soundstage) but ultimately I was really missing the scale, the slam, and the flow of my big system.

Thanks for all the great responses guys.  My own system is in a  10 by 15 room with 8 foot ceilings...... so not small but not big.  I run some B&W 804's with a Krell integrated but I'm about to get the new Caladan's so I'll let you guys know how it goes when they come in.  If I wanted to integrate some subs, what tutorial on youtube should I watch.


It sounds like Mini-monitors with subs can be a good option depending on room size and if done correctly can achieve world class results.  However, could be much more difficult?  Am I reading that right.?

I'm a lazy idiot. Twelve years ago I bought two subs that remotely control fourteen low frequency based slopes, levels and parameters within eight discrete frequency bands. As low frequency sweep tones are played through the mains they automatically (or manually) adjust themselves to the mains and the room in about twenty minutes.

They worked equally well in both our casa Grande and the empty nest pequena with a variety of speakers.  

The monitor/sub route is certainly valid, but it can cause the OCD parts of the brain to fire up due to the numerous options presented as far as placement, crossover points, volume, etc. a good 2-way floorstander or larger monitor can provide satisfying bass, coherence and the ability to disappear. You won’t get the bass power of dual subs, but it can make for a more relaxing experience, if that’s what you want. I have a friend who recently gave up the subs and found the same. I know subs can be trouble free once properly integrated, but many audiophiles always have the urge to tweak anything that can be tweaked. Your choice. 

yeah I'm not a huge tweaker.  Really in my dreams I add some subs maybe a swarm and a Bach and call it a day.  

  @asmithkash   Really in my dreams I add some subs maybe a swarm and a Bach and call it a day. 

An Audio Kinesis Swarm is brilliantly functional and an economical design that will serve you regardless of the speakers used or the room their in, very smart. The way a swarm loads a room is simply stunning. All the best.   

I agree with full range plus subs.  Works for my av system, tho I get by with just a good full range system in my music room.