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HELP: Production Radio for big company, must avoid crap sound quality! HELP!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi, I work at a company that produces a fairly popular jobsite radio/stereo. Currently, we use two 6" drivers with seperate tweeters. We're in the process of redesigning the radio, and they were going to move to a subwoofer and twin 4" drivers with two tweeters. However, now they feel that the sub is unnecessary, since we can "achieve the same sound quality with 2 4" drivers that we can with the two 6"s.

That is marketing's words, not mine. However, knowing what I do know about audio, I cannot possibly believe that. Speaker cone area is directly related to how low and loud something can get, along with excursion, etc. But from my perspective, 2 4" drivers are going to sound like crap. It might play loud, but I really doubt we're going to achieve the same sound quality.

It is my guess the business majors are equating 'frequency response' with sound quality. They see two drivers, both with responses of 20hz to 20khz, and say "Oh gee whiz, these must sound identical and provide the same sound quality".

Ugh.

Can someone help me explain this to them?

So far I've calculated the surface areas of both cones, and two 4" drivers have a surface area of 25 in ^2, and two 6" drivers have a surface area of 56 in^2.

So.... help me out. How can I explain this in very simple terms?
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 
Please, someone help me out here!
post #3 of 21
It's not only the size of the drivers, but the "throw" of the drivers.

20hz to 20khz is meaningless without the db scale of variation.

But I think we may be getting ahead of ourselves here. If you work for a "big" company that produces radio's, than your engineers must already know this.

The scenario that you explained in your post above is a bit odd.
post #4 of 21
6" drivers will move more air, but that does not mean they will sound better. In many instances a smaller driver will sound better due to wider dispersion. Although neither system will reach anywhere near 20hz without a sub.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yes, I know excursion comes into play also. Yes, it is a big company, but we are primarily a powertool company. The engineers, business majors, etc all pretty much know jack when it comes to actual high fidelity sound. Since we produce powertools, with this radio on the side, they're really just shooting in the dark.

But basically, they want to go from 2 rather medium size drivers to two rather small drivers, and they expect the same sound quality. I think this is stupid, and if they wanted good sound quality, they'd augment this with a subwoofer. Please help me explain this.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cash68 View Post

Yes, it is a big company, but we are primarily a powertool company. The engineers, business majors, etc all pretty much know jack when it comes to actual high fidelity sound. Since we produce powertools, with this radio on the side, they're really just shooting in the dark.

Than they should just sub it out. They are not an electronics company. They are a power tool company.

Ok, be that as it may, I have another question. When you say job site, are you talking about a construction job site? I picture this job site not only to be outside but to be as noisy as hell too. Am I correct? If so, than trying to get "high fidelity" sound in that environment is akin to trying to put out a volcano by pissing in it.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
So you're saying I shouldn't care at all. I guess, but I take pride in the projects I am associated with, and I'd rather not have my name on a radio that sounds tinny/cheap. I'd rather have it sound large and powerful.

So instead of arguing with my intent or my company's abilities, could someone please help me explain the impact on sound quality smaller drivers would produce?
post #8 of 21
Of course you should care, and if you did, you would suggest that they sub it out.

If in fact these radios are used on a construction job site (I'll assume that it is in lieu of you not answering my questions), than having a radio sound "large and powerful" in that environment is gonna take drivers a LOT bigger than 6" and it's gonna take a LOT more power than you will be able to get inside of a "radio".
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
They aren't subbing it out. Period. I'm new here, and I do not have the authority to control this. I do, however, have some say in the design, however small it is. I just need to "CONVINCE" others that I am right.

Yes, it is a construction radio. Yes, 6" drivers are still to small to sound large, but IMHO I think they'd sound a hell of a lot better than some 4" drivers. Do you agree?

If so, why?
post #10 of 21
Im assumming that the overall footprint of the radio will change as well with the smaller size of the speakers, a set of 4" drivers could also make the radio 4" narrower and lessen the weight. For people out there on construction jobs that might be more important than the minimal sound improvement that the 6" drivers might create in an open area such as a work site. With a less "bulky" unit, the radio will seem a more attractive option to the consumer that is going to have to lug it around. Just a thought...
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cash68 View Post

Yes, 6" drivers are still to small to sound large, but IMHO I think they'd sound a hell of a lot better than some 4" drivers. Do you agree?

Not on a construction site.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Lwien, please avoid this topic from now on. You've had your say, many times.

Advanced: Very true, however, most of the time it is sitting in a remodeled house, or a house under construction, or a building. It is not really supposed to be as portable as possible, but sound quality is important. It will be in a big area, without carpeting or dampening, so things start to sound even smaller and tinnier than they really are. Also, keep in mind it will be sitting on a shelf next to other units, and customers will probably turn them all on and listen to them before buying them.

This is what I am concerned about.
post #13 of 21
For a job site radio volume is going to be more important than absolute fidelity.

If the company is Milwaukee don't change the current radio. It sounds good. If the company isn't Milwaukee, go buy one of their radios and do what they do.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
I don't want to say which company this is, but you are VERY ACCURATE in your guess.

So yeah. This is why I'm concerned. Our current radio sounds pretty good, in comparison to the rest, and now 'someone, somewhere' assured us that 4" drivers will sound just as good as what we have now.

I DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. I'd like to get evidence to help me convince others that 4" drivers are not the way to go.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cash68 View Post

Lwien, please avoid this topic from now on. You've had your say, many times.

Okie dokie. I may be saying some things that you don't agree with. Doesn't mean that I'm not trying to help.

Sounds like you already have your mind made up about what you want to do and that you are just trying to find a way to justify it to your design team. Sorry that I can't help you out with that because I don't agree with what it is that you want to justify.

Last from me on this. Obviously, I am not telling you what you want to hear. Ach......one more thing.

Is the radio in question.........http://www.milwaukeetool.com/webapp/..._192482_192327, they are using 5 1/4" drivers, not 6". If the radio sounds great as is, why do they want to change it? Cost savings? If it is a major concern on how it sounds in the showroom, why not build a prototype with 4" drivers and then compare?

Ok, NOW I'm done.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
No, obviously it isn't. I'm not asking IF there will be a difference, I'm asking for help explaining the difference in sound quality to marketing people. I was not asking your opinion of whether sound quality was important in a construction environment, nor was I asking if you think we should contract out the radio design, nor was I asking for colorful analogies to volcanoes.
post #17 of 21
Ok Cash, one more comment from an ex-marketing exec with over 30 years marketing experience in consumer electronics, and THEN I'm done.

You CAN'T "explain" the difference in sound quality to them. They will have to "hear" it. Either build a prototype with 4" drivers and take both that one and the current one into the next marketing meeting to compare, or take them down to a local car stereo store and have them listen to the difference between a 4" driver and a 6" driver from the same manufacturer.

And I thought my volcano analogy may add a bit of levity. Guess I was wrong.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
THANK YOU. You finally provided an answer to my original question. Considering I have access to some nice 4" drivers, and a speaker built with an 8" driver, I may just mock something up.

Thanks again, but if anybody has any other suggestions other than a live demo, please let me know.
post #19 of 21
two 4" drivers will not necessarily sound poorer but won't have the same amount of output before distorting more, assuming they tune the cabinet the same. I assume they are going to use the same brand of drivers whether 6 or 4 inch?

If you can build a working prototype, then yes, you can't beat that
post #20 of 21
This is an interesting saga. Did we ever get the epilogue?

I'm actually thinking of buying the, um, red radio mentioned above. They appear to have gone with the 4" drivers. Anyone have thoughts on the sound quality?

Cash, did you keep your job?
post #21 of 21
I ended up buying the Milwaukee jobsite radio. Not as good a sound as the Altec Lansing IMT800 Portable radio, but it holds its own with bass. I own Milwaukee rechargeable drills, so I can use the same battery.
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