Home Entertainment Speakers: How Mini Cube Speakers are Designed = Better Sound

How and why the MC series home entertainment speakers are designed as they are.

Explanation for EbenLee Audio home theater speaker systems

First a quick look at some basics…

What is a crossover?

mini cube speakers ferrari yellow

In most conventional speakers it is a series of capacitors and inductors that eliminate part of the frequency spectrum from a speaker driver.

Passive crossovers are normally used to avoid damaging the drivers.

Example: a tweeter cannot play bass notes, so it is necessary to remove the bass ‘part’ of the signal before it reaches the tweeter.

The same is true for bass drivers trying to play high frequencies that the tweeter is meant for.

Most conventional speakers use a passive crossover network that is housed inside the speaker box.

There’s a better way to build speakers.

We believe that speakers should not use passive crossover networks whenever it is possible to eliminate them. Passive networks that are included in most conventional speakers rob the music or home theater experience of life and transparency. You have to hear it to understand the difference.

This is scientific fact. Passive networks introduce phase shift, time delay, group delay, and other audible distortions. The passive network removes the section of the signal not wanted by converting that part of the music signal into heat. Capacitors and inductors are high loss components. Meaning they also rob the system of efficiency, in addition to the above gross distortions.

Okay, so how do I eliminate the crossover?

There is something available now that almost anyone can use with very little fuss or confusion. It’s called a home theater receiver.

Ever heard of one? Of course you have; it’s the main control center of almost every home theater today. (A surround sound processor can also be used the same way too)

If a speaker system were designed correctly it would be possible to use the receiver or even a home theater PC to perform the duty of the speaker crossover. But it’s not nearly as complex as you might think.

Job one; eliminate the passive crossover

If our goal is to get rid of the passive crossover we need a speaker that was designed to be used this way first.

MC2 mini cube speakers in blue wall mounted

You start with a very well built speaker box. High quality speaker boxes are extremely rare in this industry; and unheard of at this price point. This carries more importance that many speaker designers are likely to understand (because companies don’t allow designers to build this way) But this is where high build quality really pay off.

The speaker drivers must be capable of very wide bandwidth, with low distortion motors.

If multiple drivers are used, they also must work well or ‘play’ well together. In other words their responses must complement each other very well concerning frequency response and distortion measurements. Finding these drivers is extremely difficult as there are only a few speakers capable of such a feat.

Remember, there’s no crossover between the midrange driver and the full range driver. In a multi driver system both drivers are being run full range, so there are certain considerations that are imperative to the design.

Driver spacing, lobing, and the natural roll off of each driver is of huge importance here.

How it’s done; how do you get deep bass response and high output out of small speakers and no passive network?

If all the above criteria can be met, you do the crossover part with the home theater receiver.

Almost every single home theater receiver on the market (if purchase in the last 5 years) will include the features we need to play back these home entertainment speakers to full effect.

In the receivers ‘menu’, set the speaker size to ‘small’. This will route all bass below the selected crossover point to the subwoofer instead of allowing the small monitor speakers to play the deepest bass.

This step allows the small speakers, such as the EbenLee Audio Mini Cube Speakers or the MC2 SE speakers to play the part of the signal that they can easily play.

It keeps the deepest bass out of the small speaker just like the passive crossover network does.

The crossover in your receiver uses what is called a ‘line level’ crossover. What this means is that the crossover is done before the amplifier section where the voltages are very, very low. Also, the electrical components used for these active crossover stages are very high tolerance, where the passive units in a typical speaker are much lower tolerance. Active stages are usually about +/-1db, where passive units are +/- 3-5db. So accuracy is better too.

best home theatre speakers mini cube 2 speakers ferrari yellow wall mounted

The typical distortions associated with passive networks in most home entertainment speakers are significantly higher in level than the distortions introduced by an active crossover stage. So active is the way to go.

Almost any modern receiver allows us to use fully active crossover circuits if the speakers are designed to use them properly.

The EbenLee Audio Mini Cube and MC2 SE speakers were designed to be used this way.

It gets better, a lot better…

Just using the active crossover in the receiver isn’t good enough though. There’s something else that 95% of receiver’s can do now.

And that is room correction; this is much more important than you may think.

Here’s why; even if you are using home entertainment speakers with a passive crossover network – Your speakers will not measure flat and sound as good as they could if you took a few steps to make them sound better.

Because each room is so different; you cannot reach the full potential of the speaker without getting the response as flat as possible in your own room. Speakers that sound colored, sound that way because they do not measure flat where our hearing is most sensitive. But it’s best to make the speaker response within the environment they are placed as even as possible. Meaning your treble doesn’t have spikes or dips that cause it sound ‘weird’. (Or other parts of the audio spectrum)

Room correction with high quality speakers is even more crucial

When dealing with a speaker that is capable of very high resolution everything becomes more audible. And this also plays a role in telling you everything that is wrong with your speaker and how it is responding to the room it is placed in.

The truth is; it’s simply impossible for a manufacturer to build a speaker that will measure flat in everyone’s room. So room correction is vital to high quality audio.

Also, don’t think for a second that this is hard to do. Setting up the room correction and running the measurements is very easy. It usually consists of placing the mic at your main listening spot and pressing a couple of buttons in your receiver menu to start the test. The settings are saved automatically. Just read your owner’s manual to learn how to do it… Simple.

This is why the MC2 SE and the Mini Cube Speakers (MC) were designed the way they were


A Great Resource

Another article that supports our theory, this is an outside source published by Audioholics; an article about speaker panel resonance in home entertainment speakers.

Goals for the Mini Cube home entertainment speakers:

• No passive crossover
• Overbuilt, extremely expensive speaker boxes
• Low distortion and expensive speaker drivers
• Extremely wide bandwidth speaker drivers that mate well with one another
• Low diffraction box design
• Panel resonance virtually eliminated due to the herculean cabinet (we test with 1000lb load)
• No parallel internal walls
• Ideal Q design of .707 Q
• Sealed box for best transient response

How the basic receiver solves the issues these excellent speakers leave off

• Receiver performs the speaker crossover keeping passive networks out of the signal
• Using room correction to flatten the response in room

    o Remember, to get truly flat response you will have to do this with any speaker on the market. The benefit of EbenLee Audio speakers is that they are also designed to be used without any passive networks and also solve the issues mentioned above.

The Mini Cube speakers and Mini Cube2home entertainment speakers meet all of these design goals.

You won’t believe it until you hear the difference all this makes. It’s that simple.
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