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Loudspeaker Measurements Standard: Our Procedure for Objectively Analyzing Speaker Performance

by March 10, 2014
Contributors: Mark Sanfilipo ,
bookshelf speakers

bookshelf speakers

The presentation of loudspeaker measurements varies wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer.  This means that, without independent analysis, consumers are left comparing specifications that were obtained using completely different methods that yield different looking results.  In an effort to alleviate this confusion, it is our goal to provide readers with consistent measurement information for each loudspeaker reviewed allowing direct comparison from review to review.  As a part of this commitment, this article provides the nuts and bolts of the techniques used to measure loudspeakers. 

Before digging in, it is important to understand that the basic set of measurements described in this article is the minimum set of measurements obtained from each speaker reviewed going forward.  Since there are a ton of applications and form factors for speakers, it is sometimes necessary to provide additional measurements in the intended acoustic environment to provide a true picture of performance.  In all cases, loudspeakers will be measured using the process outlined here.  When supplemental measurements are taken, the review will clearly explain any deficiencies in the standard measurements due to the intended use.  As an example, if a loudspeaker is designed to sit on a desk, then its frequency response may incorporate the effects of the desk reflections and also the nearby wall behind it. If it is measured in free space without the reflections of the desk and rear wall, then it’s likely to exhibit a bass-shy response.  In this case, the standard measurement technique of measuring without the effect of the reflections may not provide an accurate picture of how the loudspeaker will perform for its intended use.  For this situation, additional measurements will supplement the standard measurements described here.

Audioholics Loudspeaker Measurement & Reviewing Process

The Audioholics Loudspeaker Measurement Standard will focus on the following measurement metrics:

  • On-Axis Frequency Response
  • Sensitivity
  • Listening Window Response
  • Polar Response
  • Impedance & Electrical Phase
  • Distortion Analysis

Our loudspeaker measurement standard provides the necessary foundation to getting as complete a picture as possible about how a loudspeaker objectively performs, not just at low listening levels but at high sustained output levels as well.

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!


About the author:

Joel Foust's experience in quality control, product certifications and do-it-yourself loudspeaker design bode well for the consistent application and development of in-depth loudspeaker testing. Joel is committed to providing accurate results that are comparable for each loudspeaker tested.

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Recent Forum Posts:

Paul womble dung posts on September 13, 2016 16:45
i guess that some people don't understand why many of the technical technicalities can be very important to some other people.

not everyone only uses or needs good speakers at home to listen to music, or use a home theater/entertainment suite.

some people work with music, either in sound engineering, production, or are themselves musicians.
in which case they need speakers which are suited to them, and need to know WHY those particular speakers are suited to them, so they can recreate this wherever they are (obviously within the context of the average spaces they intend to do it in, even if they intend to use hired gear, it is wise to have even a basic understanding of all of this).

some musicians for example play acoustic instruments, and when they need amplified for some spaces, then generally certain set ups work much better for them.
other musicians may work purely electronically/digitally (like a techno music musician) so certain other set ups may suite them.

and you will find this will be similar for their home,perhaps, in that their domestic set up may reflect their work. although some of us like to leave work at work!

other folk need audio gear for research purposes and may be buying it on behalf of their university department so certain criteria may need to be fulfilled in various qualities.

i was quite impressed by how much detail the written stuff linked to from this page was, despite much of the language as yet being a bit over my head. but liked how it gave me a load of terms to look up and become familiar with.
although the algebra took a few reads through to grasp, it actually was not too difficult and was on a level with secondary education (middle school in U.S.?) and online calculators can help, or any basic calculator that has “scientific” settings on it.
my main interest at the moment is in deciding shapes and proportions with which to build cabinets for a slightly large sound system for mainly outdoor use, so i will need a little maths to work out the best proportions to get the best out of the materials used.

then that whole minefield of resistance, amps, etc etc etc, to get it all clean and efficient (with all of those taken into account and sorted, then even a 1500watt setup can rip the back-side off a much larger setup up, and save money, and weight.)

i think i will enjoy being a member of this forum!
DannyA posts on March 20, 2014 18:02
exlabdriver, post: 1024402

If your system sounds good to you then don't worry about it. Why care about what other's subjective opinions are? Yours is the only one that counts.

It's best just to enjoy…


Agreed. Sometime that curiosity bug gets the better of me though.
exlabdriver posts on March 20, 2014 17:34

If your system sounds good to you then don't worry about it. Why care about what other's subjective opinions are? Yours is the only one that counts.

It's best just to enjoy…

DannyA posts on March 20, 2014 15:26
At one point I was determined to know how my speakers stack up against other speakers in the same price/quality range. I eventually let the idea go. I like how my system sounds after all of the work I put in to placement and tuning. With that said, I've seen enough posts and comments about my speakers and their advertised specs to know that I would most likely be disappointed with the results. I could be wrong and I guess now I'm curious again but I don't want to ask “the question” if I can't live with the answer. What I don't know won't make my system sound any better or worse. But if I do know and the results stink, I'll be grinding my brain thinking about how to build a new system (that I can't afford right now).
Somehow I know my curiosity is going to get the best of me.
ira posts on March 20, 2014 12:10
Please keep in mind that if the multimeter you use is not a “true RMS” meter, it will have material errors in its RMS measurements. I could not tell the exact model number of the DMM you are using, so please make sure you look up its exact specs, and I recommend junking it if it's not a true RMS DMM - no need to include avoidable errors in your reviews.
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