You pay for it and you get it...

When it comes to large speakers, IME what you get far more than any other attribute, is the sense of scale...which is what seems to delineate the best large speakers from the best small speakers. As an example, yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to the new Wilson Sabrina X’s and the new Wilson Alexx V’s. While both speakers are from the same manufacturer, and both employ what looks like some of the same drivers, this is basically where the similarity ends. The big Wilson is about seven times the price of the small model! So, besides a much larger cabinet and a few extra drivers what do you get for your money...the answer is SCALE!! This is something that unless heard, is a little hard to fathom. The small Sabrina X’s do most things well..and I was very impressed by them, far superior across the board to the original model Sabrina. The Alexx V’s in a very large room ( which is also a MAJOR requirement for them to work their magic, and if one does not have this I believe then this is the wrong speaker for you) are able to throw a sense of scale that has to be heard to be believed. This is what you pay for with these large speakers, and in the Alexx V’s case, what you get. The frequency response of the larger model is not that different in the highs..and in some extent I think the midrange resolution was similar, but the bass is where it’s at...and this is where I think the sense of scale and enormity comes from. On paper, the smaller model can drop down to within probably ten Hz’s of the larger model, yet in a room of commensurate size, the little Sabrina X’s will never be able to portray the scale of the Alexx V’s. This aspect seems to apply to all large speakers in large room vs small/middle size speakers in large rooms.
Question is is it even possible to get scale with a smaller speaker in any size room, so far I have not heard this...anyone else?
I agree. 
Defining scale and what causes it? Dispersion?, frequency range? Sound power?  
I would argue that the Sabrina X with high passed subs would get you right there or maybe even more tuned into the room. 
@james633   Actually I don't believe that subs will get you there. I run dual subs and there is no way i can get this sense of scale. Not even close. My room is a fraction of the size of the demo hall ( that's almost as large as this room was) that I heard the Wilsons' in yesterday, but I have heard smaller speakers with subs ( like what I run) in much larger rooms and they cannot create this aspect. No, there is something else going on..
Fair enough. Do you high pass your subs or run them low pass them under your mains? Big difference in how it setups the room. 
I think there is something right around 50-60hz that big speakers just do better but subs high passed work about the same for me. Better real y
Scale and dynamic impact. I have been discussing the importance of the sense of scale (as in large scale) as a parameter of performance for some time now. It is not typically discussed, only terms such as "large soundstage, etc. Not the same, as any one who did comparisons as you have can tell. 

No, smallish speakers with subs do not come close to the big guns. Consider that the crossovers, drivers, configuration, elevation, etc. is all different - all of these fundamentally superior in a more dominant speaker (for illustrative purposes, we would be supposing models from the same manufacturer, but in general still holds true). I have used several sub/monitor systems to assess that very thing, and I have turned away from every one of them back to larger floor standing speakers because the sub-monitor can't get it done the same way. Unless the driver configuration, crossover, height, etc. are identical, you're losing by going with sub/monitor. Those are just the hard facts, not a judgment of one's choice. 

In fact, in my experience the sense of scale can trump even the genre of speakers! I would rather listen to a fine speaker of a different genre than my ideal, than to suffer the shortcomings of a smallish speaker of a more preferred genre. Then again, I have grown to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of many genres of speakers. I have worked with large OB, Panel, Hybrid dynamic, array, etc. speakers and they all carry a grandeur that simply cannot be replicated in smaller speakers. For good reason companies build monstrous sized transducers!  :) 

I am working on a big floor standing speaker review currently, and the experience is fundamentally different than a speaker of smallish stature. FAR more opportunities to impress with a big speaker. 
Yes I should clarify I guess. My thought is the Yvette or older Sophia 3 with a pair of subs high passed (JL CR-1 etc) at 60hz would play in the same league as Wilson's much bigger models. I don’t like monitors with subs at all. Just to different of a dynamic impact for me. The advantage is you can work around room nodes much better unless you can get this big speakers 7’ off the wall. 
But what is scale? Image size? Which is defined by dispersion and room interaction (time alignment, reflections etc)? Or it is the impact of moving more air? So much of the sound comes from the mids and tweeters so how much more air is being moved by a very large speaker vs large speaker with subs. Honest question, I really don’t know.  
My guess is that it comes into room and time delay of the sound combined with dynamic impact. Big drivers just move more air for less displacement. I know my headphones don’t do it and the driver to room size could not get any bigger than headphones so maybe it is more phase, room/ time delay. 
Don't over think it, big speakers have it going on. If you have the room and the money, just go for it. 
Question is is it even possible to get scale with a smaller speaker in any size room, so far I have not heard this...anyone else?

Question if you even have any sense of the room you are in just how good these are? 

I must say though I enjoy Doug MacLeod, and have always wondered what it would sound like were he ten feet tall playing a guitar the size of a string bass.
The room clearly has something to do with the ability of the speaker to portray scale, BUT I think even in the big room, a small speaker, like the Sabrina X that I referenced, cannot portray this.

@millercarbon I hear what you say about the ten foot tall artist holding a guitar the size of a string bass...and this is one of the traps that a lot of large speakers fall into. If you read MF’s review of the Chronosonics, he actually mentions this aspect in his conclusion. I am very aware of this problem, and it will disqualify the speaker for me if this is present. The new Alexx V’s were not falling into that trap. I listened carefully to see if i could hear that problem with small ensembles, solo guitar etc., no problem. This makes this particular speaker even more impressive, IMO.

The portrayal of scale is important in the overall sound quality-- as it allows one to more completely believe in the ’illusion’ of the real. Something that is not that obviously missing from many systems, until one hears when it is. IME.

@douglas_schroeder I think you have described the issue well, it doesn’t bode well for smaller rooms and systems, like most of us utilize.
 @james633  I high pass my dual REL subs. They are limited by the size of my listening room. Nonetheless, I do not believe that even in a much larger room, that they can bring scale like the big speakers. They can bring dynamic impact, but like Douglas Schroeder correctly points out, (large) scale and dynamic impact are not the same thing.
I think you are exactly right. I have owned many speakers, and my current speakers for the last dozen years or so have the greatest scale and ease I have experienced at home, because they have large cabinets, and a big center horn and 2 12 inch drivers in each cabinet.
Small speakers can try to sound big, but they are never as successful as the real thing. 
daveyf OP2,068 posts04-26-2021 12:15amThe room clearly has something to do with the ability of the speaker to portray scale, BUT I think even in the big room, a small speaker, like the Sabrina X that I referenced, cannot portray this.

Volume, frequency response, distortion, and dispersion. Those are your variables. There is no reason a small speaker + subs properly integrated cannot achieve all of those the same as a large speaker, which the large is mainly to support the lowest frequencies. Large speakers with a large driver compliment of the same type may have some characteristics of a line array which impacts dispersion.

The two other variables are the room and you. A large room is going to have reflections that take longer to get to you, usually less issue with first reflections, and longer decay time. The only way to get that in a small room is with acoustic control and signal processing.

The problem comparing the Sabrina and Alexx is they are both meant to be standalone. The Alexx is 92db/w, the Sabrina 87db/w. The Sabrina mid/tweeter is intentionally reduced in efficiency to match the woofer that is also reduced in efficiency in trade-off for a deeper bottom end in the cabinet size of the Sabrina. Even if you add a sub to the Sabrina, you have a good sized, intentional efficiency penalty to overcome with amplification.

I know my headphones don’t do it and the driver to room size could not get any bigger than headphones so maybe it is more phase, room/ time delay.

Headphones are excellent at communicating timing information embedded in the recording, but lack the ability to communicate effects related to frequency response from human body interaction. There are programs for simulating this and other aspects of a speakers in a room. They are used in the recording industry.

How high up are the midrange drivers on the Alexx V in comparison to the Sabrina?

Rhetorical question, of course.
Back in 2010 I did a review for on the Wharfedale Opus 2-3 Speaker and the Opus 2-M2 Bookshelf Speaker along with the SW380 Subwoofer; it can be found at

Over the years I have several times tried to create monitor/bookshelf/sub systems in a bid to gain similar characteristics of larger speaker systems. This review was an intentional effort to use one brand and a close resemblance of build and drivers, crossover, etc. to see just how close one can come to accomplishing it. I think you will find the review enlightening. 

I caution you; if you think that putting any given bookshelf with any given sub is going to get anywhere close to any given larger floor standing speaker, you are sadly mistaken. People who operate from specifications in such decisions are ignorant of real world HiFi system building. 

ONLY if you have the same brand, the same driver, crossover, etc. THEN you may come very close to accomplishing your goal. I very nearly bought the Opus bookshelf speakers, and several times have pined for them. But, long term, it was probably the best decision to stay with all larger floor standing speakers. I probably would not have used the bookshelf sub combo much. Just the differences in nuances of bass due to the different cabinet volume is for me a strong enough reason to go the direction of a floor standing speaker. 

Note well; if you elect to put together an ad hoc configuration, neither you, nor anyone here can tell you what the result will be, and whether you would enjoy it as much as a floor standing speaker. Only comparison would tell. All the rest of the discussion here is guessing. 

Frankly, now I am moving away from dynamic speakers for the most part. I am increasingly being drawn to Open Baffle, Dipole and hybrid array type speakers. There is one hybrid dynamic that I just bought, and the community will get to see it soon as the article is published. But, for the most part, I'm doing open speakers, a bit of Omni, too. Well, there is some Horn action as well... Too many genres to settle on one!  :) 

contuzzi thinks his question is rhetorical; actually it is not, but it is an important part of differentiating between the sound of a smallish speaker and a larger speaker.   
I caution you; if you think that putting any given bookshelf with any given sub is going to get anywhere close to any given larger floor standing speaker, you are sadly mistaken. People who operate from specifications in such decisions are ignorant of real world HiFi system building.

If you don't know what you are doing. If you know what you are doing and use bass management software to do the integration of the mains and subs, then you can place the mains for ideal imaging, and place the subs in the ideal place for smooth bass response. Done right, you are right, it won't be the same. In most cases, you can make it better, especially in the typical untreated room. However, you must do it right, and in all your posts, I have not detected that you have the knowledge, nor equipment to do that.
I experienced the difference in my former home.  I used to have my system with a pair of excellent two way stand mounts and a good but modest sub woofer with a 10" driver from our 13x24' living room to my 24x26' family room, the setup just would not "fill the room".  I upgraded to a pair of three way floor standing speakers and a pair of subs each with a 13.5" driver and 3000 watt amp, and that setup DID fill the room.  In both cases, the same source, preamp and power amp were in the chain.
Once again, I think we should stress that we are NOT talking about dynamics here. The sense of scale is the only aspect. I have never heard large scale with any smaller stand mount or smaller floor standing speaker with or without subs, regardless of the room size. The closest I came was with a pair of the Wilson DAW's, but even these were nowhere near what the Alexx V brought to the overall SQ. 
@daveyf --

Question is is it even possible to get scale with a smaller speaker in any size room, so far I have not heard this...anyone else?

Me neither, in fact I don't find it worth investigating any further; large scale (not to be mixed up with large soundstage, as rightly pointed out by poster @douglas_schroeder ) requires large speakers, as in LARGE radiation area distributed over proper physical height - period, end of story. Please don't misunderstand my intention with that conclusion: it's not that I find your query irrelevant, on the contrary. The important thing here is that it needs to be told out loud, repeatedly, so thank you, in effect, for contributing to that.  

@inna --

What about big speakers plus two big subs ? Might make sense ?

Oh, now we're talking! There are.. sound reasons to approach this route. Unless going with ESL's or planar, big mostly means adding complexity in the form of multi-way designs, with all that entails and the challenges it presents. I find mixing dual, large diameter (15") direct radiating woofers with a big horn for a 2-way main speaker hybrid design to be an interesting and very capable compromise; there's only one cross-over point (currently placed a bit over 600Hz), and the radiation pattern of the vertically placed woofers matches that of the big horn above them very uniformly at the cross-over region. The importance of proper power response is usually greatly underestimated, one might add. To have the dual woofers reproduce up to just above the lower midrange as cleanly as possible, high-passing them below 80-100Hz adds further headroom and relieves them of central to lower bass signals, which naturally calls for augmentation with subs - two big horn ones at that. Being over 6' tall and the way the main speakers are configured actually is sonically akin to panel speakers, yet with dynamics and ease galore - which, as it turns out, is no ill friend of large, proper scaling. 
While I agree that larger speakers do scale better, in Wilson’s case I prefer their smaller speakers (DAW) as the big ones suffer from incoherency. 
Keithr, I think you have made a generic statement about Wilson’s that isn’t really the case anymore . If you get a chance to hear the new Alexx V, I think you will retract your post.I would agree that the big Wilson’s from just a few years back were as you described, but IME, this is no longer the case.The horrible Focal ringing tweeter is now long gone, replaced by an excellent tweeter that is smooth and extended. The new cabinets and ability to exactly adjust the drivers is a big plus. Only issue is the ongoing upwards pricing spiral. Plus, a few are an absolute bear to drive, requiring careful amp matching. 
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@nationalbar  Intersting post. I am not sure you are talking about dynamic expression vs. scale, but if you can get large scale in this way, I would think it also has to do with your very large room. Essentially what you are describing is creating the same aspect of a large floor stander by utilizing the individual parts as a whole. The x-over and other aspects of the integration would seem to me to be a problem, but if you have considered this and adjusted for it....
Bigger is better!  I have been listening to some enormous (to me at least) speakers for the past 2 days and they’re nuts.  50” tall and 18” deep...

There are definitely things that big speakers do that smaller ones cannot, even with a sub.  I never cared for subs with stand mount speakers and am now wondering if I’d prefer subs with larger speakers more.
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Scale and dynamics are all about cubic inches and size you can not get realistic size, scale, or dynamics from small woofers in small cabinets and when you hear a big full range system in the full size cabinet you will not want to hear anything else.
@speakermaster. I think you also have to add room size. No room less than probably 15x20 will give you scale, at least IME.
Do you think that a very large speaker creates a psychological effect of a very big sound?
Especially in an undersized room where the speakers are over-dominant physically and SQ-wise.
Actually DaveyF, both Wilsons are point source speakers. While the Alexx's undoubtedly have better bass their radiation pattern is otherwise identical. If I were to blind you and expose you to both speakers you may be able to pick out the Alexx due to better bass and performance otherwise but I do not think you would be able to distinguish them by "scale" which I take to mean the size of the image. As Compared to large line source speakers all Wilson's are small scale loudspeakers. It is unfortunate that there are not more full range line source speakers out there as I think if more people could audition them they would undoubtedly be more popular even considering their size. 
Everyone has to understand that our central nervous systems are excellent at fooling us. If it looks bigger it is going to sound bigger. I always try to blind myself in doing these sort of comparisons.
@mijostyn, I was going to say it, but I figure I already take enough abuse from people who have blind faith in their lack of bias.  When it hits your ear, you have SPL at a given frequency (and arriving from different angles). No more, no less. You don't know if it came from a small speaker or a large speaker unless you are looking at the speaker. With any of the speakers being discussed, the listening distances in reasonable sized rooms are enough for driver integration. 

There are room effects as @daveyf notes. Large rooms can have reflections far enough apart to be differentiated, but that is not necessarily a good thing. The scale should be in the recording, not artificial from the room.
@mijostyn  Actually the size of the image is NOT what I am referring to as 'scale'. This is where it becomes difficult to describe what 'scale' is. The size of the image has nothing to do with 'scale'...and yet the imaging of the instruments on the stage can be bigger...or smaller ( depending on the instrument being portrayed). Scale is something that I am beginning to understand is misunderstood by a lot of folks who have never heard it...and is totally understood by those that have. Once you hear it, you know immediately what it is. 
My system can portray exacting imaging with excellent depth portrayal and precision of instruments on the stage, BUT it cannot portray scale. 
I am pretty sure that the little Sabrina X's cannot portray scale if they are placed into exactly the same room and with the same gear as the Alexx V's. 
@dietch2 I’m fairly certain that scale has nothing to do with the recording. (Unfortunately!) I know this as we heard exactly the same recording in the different systems that I discussed above, The Alexx V’s portrayed scale, the Sabrina X’s...did not.
The scale should be in the recording, not artificial from the room.

I was too brief. I meant you should be recreating the scale inherent in the recording, not creating a false one.

@daveyf you mention: "I am pretty sure that the little Sabrina X's cannot portray scale if they are placed into exactly the same room and with the same gear as the Alexx V's." do you think it's possible to get that scale if the sabrina x's are optimally set up in a mid/small room as they are intended to be used?

i'm pretty sure i'm picking up what you're putting down. big speakers have a physicality that little speakers don't. i used to be a big fan of bookshelves and minimonitors. my magico s5mk2 was my first floor stander and i don't think i can ever go back. theres a sense of scale that the monitors never got to and my room isn't huge either (hence why i opted for a sealed cabinet speaker). i've heard the xvx and alexx v though the v was only a few days old and not broken in. the xvx was broken in and i'm not a wilson fan boy but wow that was an impressive speaker.

you mentioned the alexx v should be in a large room. any idea of what those dimensions might be? i'm strongly considering one but i have a rectangular room which isnt super large but not small either. it comfortably runs my magicos along the long wall...the alex v's might be a bit much and may have to go a bit closer to the wall behind them but wilson's driver adjustment apparently allows for being as close as 8ft between listener and speaker. my biggest room issues are a small node at 45hz triggered by just a handful of tracks in my playlists and the wall behind the listener is only about a foot behind their head (nyc apartment living room, so i had to make do with this compromise)

over the years (and i'm not very old lol) i've become less and less bothered by the idea of large speakers in smaller rooms - within reason. nobody reasonable would put the alexx v in a broom closet but i think too many audiophiles are a bit afraid to push the envelope and go for the bigger speaker in their room. i find that it's usually a better choice and worst worst case you're going to need some software to even out any crazy low end issues. what you get in return is that sense of scale and physicality that little speakers tend to miss.
@skanda   What size is your room? The room I heard the Alexx V's in was about 30' X 45'..with a 10' ceiling. Yes, I think volume also matters.
If your room is say 20' x15' as a minimum, I would think that would work...much less and you are then shoe horning this speaker, and I really do not think shoe horning a large speaker into too small a room is the way to go. Like they say..."horses for courses" is the rule then.
I have a very small room, 10X11 with a 13' vault. This works with my small speakers due to its volume. ( although i cannot portray scale, but I do get great imaging and intimacy).
awesome, thanks for clarifying. you're getting the imaging etc but not the scale even though you're using the appropriate size speaker for your room - this explains perfectly what you're talking about earlier and i 100% agree: big speakers do scale, and you can only really understand scale after hearing it. this is a great thread to set up.

my room is 24x14x8.5, it's actually a solid room and using it as a living room i don't need too much treatment since the furniture prevents alot of issues. no side wall reflections either as both speakers have open room on both sides. one speaker has a corner from a closet near it...i'm wondering if thats whats causing that minor node. the alexx v is an imposing speaker but tthis new gen of wilson are the best looking wilsons the company has made imo.

btw, i've been following your posts from back in the headfi days. i have learned alot from reading your writings. as i mentioned earlier, i'm a younger member of this hobby (just turned 30 so i'm practically one foot in the grave!). i remember back in broke college kid days i was dreaming of an hd800 with zana deux amp :). while i don't own wilsons, the wilson sabrina was the most expensive speaker i had heard at the time and got me to sell all my headphone kit to put together a speaker rig. i didn't have money for the sabrina's at the time and found myself loving some dynaudio monitors. the rest is just the story of a madman diving into an obsession!