Originally Posted by BN08
How much innovation has there been in speaker design and materials over the last 30-40 years?
There have been some innovations, in the more refined Engineering and in the Material Science. In the old days, speakers used to be designed with very basic information, a pencil, a piece of paper, and perhaps a Slide Rule. Today we have the Thiele/Small Parameters, computer design and modeling.
Thiele/Small were developed in 1972, but took a lot longer to filter down into actual speaker design and even longer for it to filter down to DIY speaker builders. Today it is pretty much the standard for speaker design.
In materials, we have a variety of synthetic materials like Kevlar
for speaker driver materials. Focal is actually using FLAX fiber sandwiched into their drivers. DALI actually incorporated a new magnet structure into their higher end drives that was originally developed for Electric Motors (if I recall correctly)
But Electronic/Computer Design and Modeling
has allowed great improvements and made easier much of speaker design. There are even many software packages to aid the average home builder in the design of their speakers. There are also electronic gadgets to aid in the design and testing of speakers that are well within the price range of the average DIY builder.
Their has even been a change in the philosophy of speaker design. In my day, 10", 12", and 15" woofers were common, today you are far more likely to see multiple 6.5" and 8" bass drivers. The old design produced short wide boxes, newer design with smaller drivers tend to be tall and narrow.
This more reflects the classic speaker design of my youth (you know, back when Dinosaur roamed the earth)
But today you seen near exclusively this -
But let's not forget inflation, in 1978 I bought the turntable that I still use today, it cost about $180, in today's money that is about $690. But today a similar turntable can be bought for about $400. I suspect a similar thing for speakers, inflation has driven the cost up, but technology has drive the price back down. It would still cost more, but not as much as inflation would imply.
And generally technology that was once reserved for the premium models become economical enough to filter down into the lesser models thereby improving the quality of those lesser models.
Just a few random thoughts.