Help me choose (confirm) a 12" design (long)

Discussion in 'Home Theater Speaker Kit Information' started by ooheadsoo, Jun 3, 2020.


Pick a speaker?

  1. HT-12

    0 vote(s)
  2. HTM-12

    0 vote(s)
  3. Vortex-12

    0 vote(s)
  4. Vortex-15

    0 vote(s)
  5. Other

    0 vote(s)
  1. A bit of background:
    I currently have a pair of waveguided 2-way speakers, dome tweeter and 8" magnesium cone woofers, crossed at ~600hz, box tuned to 32hz or so. In my current room, the bass response suffers, and the system feels strained at higher levels. The speakers aren't very efficient (optimistically 85db at 2.83v) and don't put out much mid-bass in this room. My power amp is class d, rated at 380w RMS per channel at 8 ohms. After putting up with it for a few years, I pulled one of my subwoofers out and hooked it up (old GR Research 12" w/PR design, 250w). By ear, the 2.1 system still has major cancellations at the main listening position at roughly 55hz and 110hz (also probably why my mains by themselves have sounded so thin and anemic in this room). I'm in the process of getting a replacement amp for my other subwoofer (even older Hsu Research 10" design, 250w) so I can get the 2.2 system running and am eager to see if the additional subwoofer will yield a smoother overall response.

    The system (speakers and PC/TV) is in the family room, approximately 19' x 14' with vaulted ceiling along the long axis running from 8.5' to perhaps 15'. The 14' left wall is all glass. This space is open to a living room with approximately the same size and mirrored vaulted ceiling, a hallway, and 2 other rooms. It's hard to describe. I drew a rough diagram, but the forum software thinks it's spam.

    I listen to a very wide variety of music but most critically to jazz and classical. The system is also used for movies, etc. I would listen to more rock but it's never sounded good from any of the systems I've ever owned - always rough, harsh, and thin. For better or worse, my hifi systems have always called attention to how clean they sound, and when things aren't clean, they let me know. From speakers to the critical listening position is about 5 feet, but I can push the speakers towards the walls by a foot to get more space for driver integration if needed, and still have the rear of the speakers be a foot off the back wall. I also do a lot of listening throughout the rest of the home (trust me, the sound carries), and especially in the other large room where there's a table I can get chores done rather than lounge on a couch. I like it when the reverberent field in the other spaces sound like a live performance is in the next room over or down the hall. I don't listen at high levels often, but I think I would more often if the system sounded great at high levels. I don't watch movies at reference levels or higher because I have a toddler and mom will give me the evil eye (baby will be all smiles.)

    I'm thinking about trying out a pair of high efficiency speakers to try and get some more of the life-like dynamics of real instruments into the main room. I'm fairly familiar with live sound - play a couple instruments, have played in wind ensembles, marching bands, orchestras, and church worship groups (electric guitar/drum driven and choral) all my life. At the same time, I want something that is fun and just lets me enjoy the music. I don't need small pinpoint imaging in these speakers - real/live music is always large. Reading some klipsch heritage speaker reviews got my gear lust going again after years of being content. What I would really like to try is a really high efficiency 15" design, say the Vortex 15", but I just don't think the 6 ft^3 cabinets will work in this space. Maybe when the flatpacks are finally available and dimensions finalized, I can re-evaluate the 15" Vortex, but with things as they currently stand, I don't think I can in good conscience put two mini fridges in the family room (if I can't store cold drinks inside.)

    That brings me to the 12" designs - HT12, HTM12, and Vortex 12.

    TLDR: Can anyone lay out the pros and cons of the 12" designs, and any insights into how they might integrate into my system? How do I choose?

    Here's what I can gather so far:

    HT12 Pros: by far the least expensive and most efficient (97db), voiced with a bit more midbass punch than HTM12
    HT12 Cons: cheaper drivers, less refined xover, less bass output

    HTM12 Pros: "higher quality" drivers, smoother response than HT12
    HTM12 Cons: more expensive, "only" 95db with the new drivers, more "dry" than Vortex

    Vortex12 Pros: doesn't need speaker stands, deepest bass extension of the three 12" models, best for near/mid field listening at my MLP
    Vortex12 Cons: no ETA on flat packs, likely to be the most expensive, gives immediate buyer's remorse and makes you want the 15" instead, top octave falls off very quickly off-axis, likely higher distortion at higher levels than the HT/HTM series.

    Final note - my wood working skills are limited to what the fine folks at Home Depot will cut for me. I am willing to buy clamps and glue, but I have nowhere to store a table saw.

    I appreciate any tips. Thanks, guys.
  2. Diagram attempt:
    living room.png
  3. It sounds like you ruled out the Vortex. But if you were considering those, then there's no reason to consider the HT-12 over the HTM-12. The HT-12 has more midbass than the previous HTM-12. The new HTM-12 has very good bass response.

    Your amp has more power than you need for any of those designs, so there's no reason to worry about a 2db difference in sensitivity ratings between those speaker models.
  4. Great! Ruling out the HT-12 is a step in the right direction, and it's good to know that the bass comment was in reference to the previous HTM-12 rather than the current 2020 iteration.

    Here's my current perspective re: Vortex 12 vs 15. As of now, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of endorsement for the Vortex 12. Other than the basic info on the product page, the only perspective offered on the Vortex 12 is Matt's comments that everything about the 15 is better, that the 15 is the way to go, and that the only benefit to the 12 is the smaller cabinet, it being weaker in all other respects. I appreciate the honesty, but it's not the strongest endorsement of the design's inherent value. All customer comments, so far, are for the 15, not the 12. For what I'm assuming will be close to $90 more per speaker over the HTM-12, I'm not sure what benefits I will reap from the Vortex 12 other than 15hz of bass extension which will typically be covered by subwoofers. After all, the product highlights between Vortex and HTM are very similar.

    Perhaps more info on the two speakers' relative advantages and drawbacks of their dispersion characteristics and other factors, and, perhaps most importantly, also their shared strengths, would be really helpful in decision making efforts.
  5. I think you're looking at the Vortex a bit wrong. All things being nearly equal, the bigger one will pretty much always be better/stronger. Thanks to physics. Same general design goals, same designer, same type of parts, good design.....bigger will win.....if space/cost aren't a concern.

    But what happens if you only have a spot that's 13.5" wide? Well the Vortex-15 just lost due to it's bigger size.

    Would you be considering the 12" models if there was a HTM-15 or Vortex-18? There's a reason why guys don't use the Titans or 1899's for all speaker locations even though they're better than the HTM's. It's the compromise between size, cost, and performance. Honestly, all of the speakers are good at their design goals. You set a budget and then pick the biggest speaker that will fit in your space while staying within your budget.
  6. The size question is slightly nuanced. I actually would consider an HTM-15 but perhaps not a Vortex-18. Here's why.

    For speaker size, since I'm set up along the long axis of the room, I am more constrained by cabinet depth than I am by width. Therefore, I would greatly prefer a 15" woofer design that was wider than it was deep. The primary reason I am thinking about passing on the Vortex-15 is the 18.5" depth of the test cabinet, not the height or width. Given Matt did his xover voicing on a narrow baffle, options appear limited. However, I recall reading that the final flat packs would be lower in volume. If you have updates on the final flatpack dimensions for the two Vortex designs, that would be helpful in the decision making process.
  7. Are there any impressions/reviews/descriptions of the audible differences between the HTM-12 and either Vortex?

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