Loudspeaker Specifications: What Matters? | Stereophile.com

In a recent remedy to a reader’s letter, I somewhat bluntly said that Stereophile‘s reviewers use “hello-fi” adjectives to explain loudspeaker seem mainly because even excellent loudspeakers are as well significantly eliminated from sounding “authentic” to be in comparison directly with dwell songs. On reflection, this may have sounded far too dismissive, so I will elaborate a minor in this small essay.

What would be the technical specs needed for a loudspeaker to seem “genuine?” Very first, it should really have a bandwidth as broad as probable with the exception of a slight HF roll-off when you sit in the back again row of the stalls at an orchestral concert, what you listen to reside is what the devices emitted, so let’s go for HF extension very well higher than 20kHz at the top—40kHz, for example, giving us an octave’s margin higher than the restrict of hearing. At the reduced end, “DC” is not doable, even though let’s say a several Hz would be enough to lower the effects of very low-frequency team hold off. The on-axis response must, of course, be definitely flat.

There is still loads of discussion around regardless of whether a speaker should have a flat on-axis response or a flat electricity response—the reverberant response in the area ought to be flat with frequency, which implies a increasing on-axis response with frequency in a typical space. I would recommend that it is adequate that the on-axis reaction be flat, the vitality falling away effortlessly as the listener moves ever more off-axis, possibly vertically or horizontally, with no sharp discontinuities.

In are living sound just about every frequency part constituting that sound reaches your ears at the same time, ie, a linear stage response. For the stage reaction of the loudspeaker, it is sufficient that it be equivalent to that of an electronic filter in that it need to be minimum-period ie, obtaining the correct marriage to the amplitude reaction so that flattening the latter flattens the previous. For the best possible amplitude stereo imaging, the loudspeaker ought to approximate either a stage- or a line-source throughout the full audio band.

Lastly, measurements of the dynamics of live orchestral sound counsel that a peak spl ability of 115–120dB, unweighted, would suffice. Pertaining to non-linearity, let us specify under 1% THD and IMD across the audio band at 96dB regular degrees.

There just isn’t a speaker but intended that will come everywhere around these specs!

But do not despair. By deciding upon a set of realistic compromises, a gifted designer can close up with a loudspeaker that satisfies musically on an particular person basis. The user just mustn’t fail to remember that each individual space of reproduction has always had to be compromised fairly in buy for the listener to be able to manage to obtain one thing other than a Wilson WAMM or Infinity IRS V.

With a loudspeaker intended to sell for below $1000/pair, the compromises are of necessity better than typical and it can take a designer of genius to supply a design presenting an all-round musical performance in this value vary (footnote 1).

Postscript
This brief article was printed in January 1989. Later on that calendar year I commenced utilizing DR Labs’ MLSSA technique to evaluate loudpeakers, which I reviewed in a February 1990 posting. I have been making use of MLSSA ever due to the fact, the consequence remaining a exclusive archive of additional than 900 loudspeaker reviews in which the measurements are presented in a steady format. An report comparing the calculated frequency responses for the 1st two years in which I used MLSSA can be located here and “Obtaining the Ideal From Your Loudspeakers,” an posting on loudspeaker established-up, in this article.

In 1997 I presented an AES paper on loudspeaker measurements, primarily based on my practical experience. This paper, break up into 3 areas, can be found here in this article, and in this article. A related post can be identified listed here.

Two films in which I discuss audio measurements in standard can be found here and right here.


Footnote 1: Stereophile‘s founder J Gordon Holt wrote two articles or blog posts on Subjective Loudspeaker Testing in the 1960s.

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