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speaker sensitivity

post #1 of 199
Thread Starter 
I have been wondering about this for awile. If a speaker has a given sensitivity rating of say 90dB @ 1m/1w, this tells me that it will be fairly loud with only one watt of energy going to it a little over three feet away from it. Why is it then, that most speakers have a minimum rating of 20 watts? And some times will handle several hundred? Well, if what I have seen is correct in other posts, going to 2 watts should produce 93 dB and 4 watts should produce 96 dB and so on at 1 meter. After thinking about this more I realized something. To get to 108 dB, (average high-moderate listening level) is 64 watts. 111 dB would require 128 watts and so on. This is through a single speaker. Adding more probably confuses things more.
I hope this helps anyone who has wondered this.
post #2 of 199
At what frequency is that sensitivity spec? Consider, also, that few of us listen at a distance of 1 meter.
post #3 of 199
Speaker sensitivity is very important for dynamic range. All things being equal between two speakers the one with the higher Speaker sensitivity will without doubt sound 100% better. You can close these thread as I have just said all you need to know about speaker sensitivity .
post #4 of 199
Thread Starter 
But, I find it fun to learn more about the science of speakers. Yes, no one that I know sits 3 feet from a speaker when listening. And yes, I am sure the sensitivity rating is probably a average. The more you know.........
Also, I don't believe that the higher sensitivity is going to have better sound. Some of the most expensive speakers on the market have ratings in the mid 80s dB. And I am sure they sound great. Otherwise no one would spend several HUNDRED thousand dollars on them!
post #5 of 199
I agree audio is a interesting art form. The 1 meter or 3 feet is just a standard or reference point for easy comparison .

Like I said "" All things being equal between two speakers the one with the higher Speaker sensitivity will without doubt sound 100% better. """
post #6 of 199
^^^

post #7 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by googlegod View Post

Like I said "" All things being equal between two speakers the one with the higher Speaker sensitivity will without doubt sound 100% better. """

I'm curious how it sounds 100% better.
And... away we go!
post #8 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by googlegod View Post

Like I said "" All things being equal between two speakers the one with the higher Speaker sensitivity will without doubt sound 100% better. """

Repeating it does not endow it with any more validity.
post #9 of 199
Back in "the old days", we used to call speakers efficient (lower power to drive the speaker to achieve a certain level of perceived volume) or inefficient (more power...). No one likes the term inefficient, so now they call it sensitivity.

It has no bearing whatsoever to the sound quality of the speaker.
post #10 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Back in "the old days", we used to call speakers efficient (lower power to drive the speaker to achieve a certain level of perceived volume) or inefficient (more power...). No one likes the term inefficient, so now they call it sensitivity.

Is being insensitive more socially acceptable?

FWIW: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspe...s._sensitivity

Quote:


It has no bearing whatsoever to the sound quality of the speaker.

It certainly does if it limits dynamic range with a given amp. For example, I had Stax speakers way back and they had a sensitivity of 83dB(1watt/1meter) but, also, a very low power handling limit. They sounded great with some music in my room with a 35watt amp but were simply incapable of avoiding compression or distortion with other sorts of music, regardless of what amp I drove them with.
post #11 of 199
Think of speaker sensitivity as size of a lcd panel , follow me on this, lets just say your ears are your eyes and air waves are light waves. 80db equals 15"lcd and 90db 32" lcd and 100db is 50" lcd. It just makes it bigger, clearer and easier to see, well with a speaker it is what you hear. Of couse what equals what eyes is to ears is just to put it in other terms , but one as really nothing to do with the other.
post #12 of 199
If you have sufficient power for an inefficient speaker to obtain a particualr level of volume, it is moot.

As for bandwidth and distortion, they are other specs one should take into consideration when choosing a speaker.
post #13 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by googlegod View Post

Think of speaker sensitivity as size of a lcd panel , follow me on this, lets just say your ears are your eyes and air waves are light waves. 80db equals 15"lcd and 90db 32" lcd and 100db is 50" lcd. It just makes it bigger, clearer and easier to see, well with a speaker it is what you hear. Of couse what equals what eyes is to ears is just to put it in other terms , but one as really nothing to do with the other.

Eh... okay. Poor analogy IMO.
post #14 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

If you have sufficient power for an inefficient speaker to obtain a particualr level of volume, it is moot.

As for bandwidth and distortion, they are other specs one should take into consideration when choosing a speaker.


We are just on ""speaker sensitivity"" so all other factors should not matter, cause it would just get to crazy and out of hand, so lets just say,All things being equal but speaker sensitivity.
post #15 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Eh... okay. Poor analogy IMO.

Can you do better
post #16 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

If you have sufficient power for an inefficient speaker to obtain a particualr level of volume, it is moot.

As for bandwidth and distortion, they are other specs one should take into consideration when choosing a speaker.

Yes, but not let us forget Paul Klipch's papers to AES suggesting in bass, efficiency and power were inversely proportional. This is why he built very efficient speakers. I would love to see a paper updating that. His work was in the 40's and 50's.

Why do speakers have a 200W or higher rating? My **** is bigger than yours. Marketing man, marketing. Would you dare hook up a speaker "rated" at 20W to a 100W amp? Would you hook up a 10W amp to a speaker rated at 200? I would, but then I understand. Guess what, that tweeter inside that 200W speaker is probably rated at 40W or less.
post #17 of 199
Thread Starter 
No, efficiency has no bearing on sond quality. What it has to do with is just that, efficiency. It just takes twice as much power to drive a speaker with 87 dB as it does a 90 dB speaker to get the same relative sound level.
post #18 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

If you have sufficient power for an inefficient speaker to obtain a particualr level of volume, it is moot.

As for bandwidth and distortion, they are other specs one should take into consideration when choosing a speaker.

You need to know your listening distance, SPL requirements, speaker specs (max power, sensitivity) before you can determine what sufficient power is needed.

Even then MANY popular choices of speakers are a bad fit for many rooms especially when the content has 20-30dB peaks!!

Its well known I push the idea of sensitivity daily on the speaker forum. It annoys most since they own speakers that have crap sensitivity. Its still amazes me that 99% of purchases are still subjective and almost no one does the math....actually not amazing but kind of sad considering the amount of money people are putting into their setups sometimes.

To determine if sensitivity matters. You need to know the following variables.

1. content peaks = +20 to +30dB
2. Speaker sensitivity
3. Listening Distance
4. Amp Power
5. SPL (Listening level) requirements

From those you can use one of the many SPL sites to determine what your peak SPL will be and if it meets your SPL requirements

example....
http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html
post #19 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post

No, efficiency has no bearing on sond quality. What it has to do with is just that, efficiency. It just takes twice as much power to drive a speaker with 87 dB as it does a 90 dB speaker to get the same relative sound level.

It can have a bearing on sound quality if your peak SPL levels go above the rated watts on your amp or pushes your speakers past their limits.

For me I have never had better performance then from speakers that have 95dB with either of my setups in my house.

There is a difference in SQ when speakers/amps do not clip. I won't get into power response which is another part of this discussion. I know its very important too.
post #20 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlsaudio View Post

No, efficiency has no bearing on sond quality. What it has to do with is just that, efficiency. It just takes twice as much power to drive a speaker with 87 dB as it does a 90 dB speaker to get the same relative sound level.

Well yes and no, its a human thing ( how good is your hearing ) , again a analogy, its called scaling . If 1 watt is 1:1 @80db 1:2 @90db and 1:3 @100db it much easer to hear the changes , the finer smaller changes are clear and well defined and as long as there all in scale its not a distortion. Thus a better sounding speaker.
post #21 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

If you have sufficient power for an inefficient speaker to obtain a particualr level of volume, it is moot..

You play HD audio with a amp @100 watts, with one speaker the dynamic range is 0 to 100db and with a other equally sounding speaker but the dynamic range range is 0 to 120 db at the same amp settings and output. The only differance is the speaker sensitivity, the sound of the more sensitive speaker is much less compressed sounding in a A/B test but both are great sounding, just that one is better than the other if compared.

Happy Thanksgiving
post #22 of 199
Note that there's a measurement called efficiency and a measurment called sensitivity. They are different, but directly related. You can google the formula, it's straightforward.

Sensitivity is a more useful measurement because it tells you directly how much SPL you can get from input.

Minimum rating means nothing. What's it a minium for? Average listening levels? Define average.
post #23 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Note that there's a measurement called efficiency and a measurment called sensitivity. They are different, but directly related. You can google the formula, it's straightforward.

Sensitivity is a more useful measurement because it tells you directly how much SPL you can get from input.

Minimum rating means nothing. What's it a minium for? Average listening levels? Define average.

Does they ever post "efficiency" in the specs as anything other then "sensitivity"?
post #24 of 199
Okay, theoretically...

Let's take speaker A and B. Both the same size, enclosure, frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz, same THD, etc... and a 3-way design.

If speaker A has a rating of 90dB will it sound 100% better than speaker B rated at 88 dB?

Or, if speaker A and B are identical (specs) in every aspect except size (drivers and/or enclosure), the bigger one will sound better?
post #25 of 199
No matter how you see it , All things being equal, higher sensitivity is a good thing.
post #26 of 199
No matter how you personally interpret it, sensitivity alone does not mean it's a "good/better" speaker. There are other specs/factors to take into consideration.

As a hypothetical...
Bose has speakers that provide 100 dB SPL 1w/1m @ 1000 Hz.
Martin Logan's... 88 dB SPL 1w/1m @ 1000 Hz.
Which is "better".
post #27 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

No matter how you personally interpret it, sensitivity alone does not mean it's a "good/better" speaker. There are other specs/factors to take into consideration.

As a hypothetical...
Bose has speakers that provide 100 dB SPL 1w/1m @ 1000 Hz.
Martin Logan's... 88 dB SPL 1w/1m @ 1000 Hz.
Which is "better".


I would need alot more spec info, but you know that !
What color are the speaker cones, stuff like that
No really, this is just one spec in a very long list of what is important. I would say you should listen to them before you buy Is always the bottom line.
post #28 of 199
Thread Starter 
Ratman, in your "A and B" sinario (sp?) A will not sound 100% better. It will just be louder. ALL else being equal. In your average reciever, 75-100 wpc, a sensitivity of greater than 90 dB will sound "better". 95 dB would be awesome!
post #29 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

Does they ever post "efficiency" in the specs as anything other then "sensitivity"?

I think I have seen it before, but I can't be sure.

This page gives some information on the conversion -

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-efficiency.htm
post #30 of 199
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

...Bose has speakers that provide 100 dB SPL 1w/1m @ 1000 Hz....

Where did you find any specs for Bose speakers? I always thought they were a "guarded" secret! I think everyone is taking your statement a bit too literally.
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