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Recent Speaker Design Articles

Myths & Facts about Loudspeaker Crossovers: Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Designs

Myths & Facts about Loudspeaker Crossovers: Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Designs

The loudspeaker crossover can be considered the brain of the loudspeaker. It directs the bandwidth of frequencies each driver is optimized to reproduce while it also level matches each driver and can help to stabilize the load impedance the amplifier will see. No matter how much science a loudspeaker company may tout leading them to certain design choices, without careful observation of their "science" one cannot be sure of its accuracy. It's easier and often more profitable to justify using cheaper parts or less elaborate design practices than to take the time to do it right. This article explores some of the myths and facts about crossover design. It also discusses some of the mistakes often made by loudspeaker manufacturers done either as cost savings or design incompetence. It is our hope that the reader will gain a better understanding of the mechanics of loudspeaker crossovers so they can make a more informed purchasing decision.

This article explores the myths and facts about legitimate loudspeaker crossover design in efforts to help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.

— December 29, 2011 17:25 in Loudspeaker Design

Myths & Facts about Loudspeaker Cabinets: Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Designs

Myths & Facts about Loudspeaker Cabinets: Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Designs

The cabinet is a big expense in the total budget of a loudspeaker system. Cost cutting is an easy area for some manufacturers to rationalize by using pseudo science and also knowing most consumers won't take a peek inside the box to see what’s going on. This article explores some of the common myths we've uncovered and discusses how poorly executed decisions can ultimately compromise the quality of the product. The sum of the parts really does matter in loudspeakers, as does the engineering behind making all of the parts work together as one unit. Take the time to research the mechanics of the enclosure if the manufacturer is willing to espouse the information. Pay close attention to our reviews where we often dissect the speakers to give an inside look and analysis. If you are seeking out truly high quality loudspeakers, don't settle for mediocre or even average build quality, especially if the price tag doesn't justify it.

This article explores the myths and facts behind loudspeaker cabinet designs in efforts to help distinguish the legitimately well engineered products from the mediocre ones.

, — October 19, 2011 17:05 in Loudspeaker Design

Bassaholic Subwoofer Room Size Rating Protocol

Bassaholic Subwoofer Room Size Rating Protocol

As part of our new powered subwoofer measurement protocol, we will be offering a room size recommendation for each subwoofer tested based on the data gathered from our exhaustive CEA SPL vs frequency and distortion output testing. It is our hope that the methodology we chose in determining the room size capability for subwoofers can be a useful general rule of thumb for an end user attempting to determine which model is right for their listening space. Of course we always recommend multiple subwoofers for more overall output and smoother bass response from seat to seat. The goal for a great A/V system is lots of clean output and a similarly good listening experience for all listening seats in the room, NOT just the money seat. See what "Bassaholic" rating recommendation your favorite subwoofer will earn or how many identical subs you will need to add in your room to achieve it.

This article outlines our test procedure in determining a subwoofers room size recommendation based on its max CEA SPL output while making room size and subwoofer distance assumptions.

— August 30, 2011 10:45 in Loudspeaker Design

Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Loudspeakers: The Economics of Cost Cutting

Identifying Legitimately High Fidelity Loudspeakers: The Economics of Cost Cutting

This article explores the economics behind the speaker business and some of the cost cutting approaches loudspeaker companies make to maximize profits while still keeping the products affordable to the consumer. It is our goal to help the reader decide if loudspeakers from their favorite manufacturer are built for serious sound or serious profit. Speaker building, especially during the design phase, is, if nothing else, an effort in compromise for all but those most expensive systems. A good designer must weigh every choice in light of its cost, as well as its relative contribution to the overall performance of the system. It does so with a historical perspective considering what has come before, and the changes which have occurred in the marketplace over the last three decades. We will briefly delve into the shortcomings that arise resulting from these cost cutting techniques used, especially when poorly applied.

This article explores the economics behind the speaker business and some of the cost cutting approaches loudspeaker companies make to maximize profits while still keeping the products affordable to

, — August 24, 2011 06:00 in Loudspeaker Design

2010 Subwoofer Shootout Room Size Recommendation Comparison

2010 Subwoofer Shootout Room Size Recommendation Comparison

Based on our new Subwoofer Room Size Protocol for determining subwoofer room size capability, we went back to our 2010 Subwoofer Shootout and tabulated the data below to see how each model ranked. All of the subs in this shootout earned our Large certification except the mighty Rythmik FV-15HP which earned our Bassaholic rating. If an end user is considering any of these subs other than the Rythmik and wishes to reach the 123dB reference level in a very large room, they are advised to purchase two of their chosen subwoofers. Unfortunately this would make the purchase more costly than a single sub solution. However multiple subs are always a good idea if your objective is to ensure smoother and more consistent bass for every seat in your theater, NOT just the money seat.

We went back to our 2010 Subwoofer shootout data to rank each subwoofers room size capability based on our new protocol. 3 of the 4 subs earned our Large while the other earned Bassaholic.

— July 22, 2011 17:15 in Loudspeaker Design

Interview with Aperion Audio on Loudspeaker Design Philosophy

Interview with Aperion Audio on Loudspeaker Design Philosophy

In preparation for our up and coming article that discusses what's in a truly high end speaker and the common cost cutting approaches some companies often make to deliver a high value product, we sat down with the well established and revered brand Aperion Audio to get their views. They discuss the importance of using high quality drivers in conjunction with a properly executed crossover network for achieving accurate tonal balance and power response. Aperion Audio loudspeaker engineer Ken Humphreys discusses the care that must be taken in ensuring the cabinet is free from unwanted resonances to not hinder the design objectives of making a truly accurate loudspeaker. Take a tour of how Aperion Audio approaches the humbling art and science of loudspeaker design.

This is an interview with Aperion Audio on what they feel are important aspects to high quality loudspeaker design that they follow in efforts of making the very best products for their consumers.

— July 04, 2011 11:55 in Loudspeaker Design

Interview with Atlantic Technology on Loudspeaker Design Philosophy

Interview with Atlantic Technology on Loudspeaker Design Philosophy

In preparation for our up and coming article that discusses what's in a truly high end speaker and the common cost cutting approaches some companies often make to deliver a high value product, we sat down with the well established and revered brand Atlantic Technolgy to get their views. They discuss the importance of using high quality parts with tight tolerances and even more importantly having clear and solid design objectives. Budget vs non-compromised designs are discussed focusing on the importance of proper design execution and solid engineering in crossover design, parts selection and cabinet construction and bracing. Take a tour of how Atlantic Technology approaches the humbling art and science of loudspeaker design.

This is an interview with Atlantic Technology on loudspeaker design discussing the important factors involved in making a truly high performance product.

— June 13, 2011 13:05 in Loudspeaker Design

Audioholics 2010 Subwoofer Shootout Measurements Overview

Audioholics 2010 Subwoofer Shootout Measurements Overview

The goal of our most recent subwoofer shootout is to give us as consumers, a reliable and quantifiable way to purchase home theater subwoofers with some confidence that the products we hear and read about are in fact well designed and capable of sufficient output at low frequencies to reproduce both music and movies with the impact and realism that you expect from a well designed and executed product. The products in this comparison were chosen based on a box size of 6 cubic feet or less, and a maximum retail cost of $2000. This article discusses our testing methodology for measuring all of the subwoofers. It also defines what the new CEA 2010 Subwoofer Measurement standard is all about and why we are using it for testing the subwoofers in this up and coming shootout.

This article discusses our testing methodology for our up and coming 2010 Subwoofer Shootout.Products in this comparison were chosen based on size and price constraints to keep it as fair as possible.

paul — December 23, 2010 02:10 in Loudspeaker Design

Vertical vs Horizontal Center Channel Speaker Designs – An Alternate Perspective

Vertical vs Horizontal Center Channel Speaker Designs – An Alternate Perspective

We've noticed lately that horizontally placed MTM speakers used as center channels have been getting a bad rap mostly because of their limited off-axis performance. But just how far off axis does one have to get until this does become problematic? Some consumers have alternatively chosen two-way bookshelf speakers in-lieu of using an MTM to get around this alleged issue while others chose W(T/M)W dedicated center channel designs or placing an identically matched speaker from their front channels behind a perforated screen. Not everyone has the luxury of the later option so this article discusses the tradeoffs of different center channel designs and their applications.

This article contains an in depth discussion of the trade-offs of different center channel designs (MTM vs WTMW, etc) and their real world applications and limitations.

— December 23, 2009 11:50 in Loudspeaker Design

The Loudspeaker Crossover Part II: The Brains of your System

The Loudspeaker Crossover Part II: The Brains of your System

Ever wonder why some higher end manufacturers utilize top notch parts in their crossovers? This article explores the differences between capacitor and inductor types utilized in the crossovers of your loudspeakers and how the use of a non-linear materials can affect the sound of the music we hear. If we are looking to improve our systems, and purchasing upgrade crossovers, we need not only be informed about the specifications of the parts used in them, we also need to consider the PCB layout as well. While perhaps the simplest electrical circuits in use in audio today, crossovers can play a major role in the sound we hear coming from our speakers, and our speakers are the most important link in the audio chain in the vast majority of systems in use today.

This article explores the differences between capacitor and inductor types utilized in the crossover designs and how they may affect measurable and sonic performance of your loudspeakers.

— September 30, 2009 05:00 in Loudspeaker Design

The Crossover - Brain of your Loudspeaker System

 The Crossover - Brain of your Loudspeaker System

Have you ever wondered how the tweeter and woofer have their responses combined in a speaker system, or what the crossover network is and how it works? This article sheds some light on the least seen and perhaps most undervalued part of the speaker system, the crossover network. While passive crossover components and materials and construction have changed over time, the underlying theory and practice has not. In the real world, capacitors, inductors and resistors exhibit behavior which is neither ideal or perfect. In this article, we considered the importance of real loudspeaker impedance, and how it acts as a monkey wrench to complicate and frustrate the function of constant resistance type crossover networks.

This article sheds some light on the least seen and perhaps most undervalued part of the speaker system, the crossover network. The crossover separates the sound going to each speaker driver and more.

— June 09, 2009 21:30 in Loudspeaker Design

Trading SPL for Extension in Subwoofers - A Current Trend?

Trading SPL for Extension in Subwoofers - A Current Trend?

More often than not consumers are swayed by a single parameter in a products specifications to judge its true performance. Lately it’s quite a popular trend on the forums of people critiquing a subwoofers performance by a simple metric; its -3dB point or how low the subwoofer can go in frequency before its sound output rolls off. This article will explore the trade offs associated with tuning a vented subwoofer system for the lowest achievable frequency output and demonstrate a balance between real usable extension and efficiency for achieving the best performance given a particular driver size and box enclosure. When doing comparisons of subwoofers by looking at specifications, remember that published specifications are almost always static measurements, and usually only reflect what a speaker does at low drive levels, where speakers tend to be linear and well behaved. This is why judging a subwoofers performance by a spec sheet or singular measurement metric is misleading and often dangerous when trying to determine the better product.

More often than not consumers are swayed by a single parameter in a products specifications to judge its true performance. Lately it’s quite a popular trend on the forums of people critiquing a

— April 20, 2009 23:14 in Loudspeaker Design

Loudspeakers & Power Ratings: What's the Deal Part II?

Loudspeakers & Power Ratings: What's the Deal Part II?

In part I of this series of articles, we discussed simple concepts regarding power handling in loudspeakers and common misconceptions surrounding them. In this article, we discuss the mechanics of loudspeaker clipping and work several examples of product failure at various power levels depending on what test signal is being used. We learn that without a knowledge of the test signal used, the power rating number for a loudspeaker system is meaningless. Read on to find out why and be sure to watch our recent YouTube video discussion on the topic.

We discuss the mechanics of loudspeaker clipping and work several examples of product failure to better understand power ratings.

Paul Appolino — August 31, 2008 12:10 in Loudspeaker Design

Loudspeakers & Power Ratings: What's the Deal Part I?

Loudspeakers & Power Ratings: What's the Deal Part I?

There are two basic ways in which you can destroy a loudspeaker with power; thermally or mechanically. Everyone is familiar with the concept of being able to burn a loudspeaker. It gets too hot, and the voice coil wire burns, or worse, something else (like the cone) catches on fire and burns. We all go shopping with “How many watts can it handle?” This is like living in a vast desert with only a few filling stations and wanting to know your cruising range in miles. We ask how big is the tank, and not how many miles we get to the gallon. (What is the efficiency?) In part I of this series, we examine a few very simple concepts regarding power handling and common misconceptions surrounding them.

This article explains loudspeaker power handling and how manufacturers often rate how much power a speaker is rated to handle.

— August 13, 2008 09:15 in Loudspeaker Design