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What dictates a good speaker by the specs?

1068 Views 20 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  rcmoto
Is it the sensitivity? Or maybe the frequency response? or combination?

I know speakers in general are subject at best, but are there some general guidelines to look for? I remember reading a decent speaker should go as high as 20 khz and as low as possible, but really, what does one look for when just looking at these numbers? What are the tattle tale signs? Red flags, etc?

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There really aren't a lot. When they spec it, just make sure they also tell you the tolerance (+/- x db). Some speaker companies will do specs like 40-20kHz +/-1 on axis, 30-20kHz +/-3db. This gives you a little more sense of where most of the variation is.

In general, look for quality drivers, solid cabinets, etc.
You are going to have to listen to a bunch. With familiar material to you. Then you will know differences.

For me, I carried around 2 DVDs and 2 CDs I knew cold and compared them. If the drum parts for the music DVD for instance werent reproduced accurately on certain speakers it was obvious.

You can rap a speaker and check for hollow cabinets vs those with more solid construction and therefore less resonance. But yu cant see the wire used for internal wiring. And you cant see a second order versus a third order crossover etc. Thats why you gotta listen.
Another useful spec. will be the efficiency (sensitivity) of the Loudspeaker. Usually measured on [email protected] with 2.83volts RMS (1watt) input. For example [email protected] with 2.83v. input on axis. This will give you a useful clue on power requirements. Most of the new designs now are in the 88dB-92dB range. If possible check the impedance also, some magazine reviews post their findings. Too low an impedance (e.g. below 4 ohms) can be a strain on an inexpensive amplifier. I hope this helps. :)
Very helpful, thanks. So, in general, it wouldnt be fair to judge two different speakers just by the sensitivity rating then? Lets say one speaker is 88db and another is 91 db, would this indicate if one speaker is better than the other?
Originally posted by rcmoto
Very helpful, thanks. So, in general, it wouldnt be fair to judge two different speakers just by the sensitivity rating then? Lets say one speaker is 88db and another is 91 db, would this indicate if one speaker is better than the other?
No rcmotto, you are right, don't judge on those numbers. they are just a guide. Pick the one you enjoy the sound of the most. There are so many great designs out there, Dynaudio, B&W, Tannoy, Paradigm, Klipsch etc. Numbers tell only half (or less) of the story.
Alright, thanks.

My current setup leaves me wanting more treble. I dont like the highs. Thats really my only complaint. The last speakers I really enjoyed were Eosone, with tweeters on the front and back side. Of these speakers mentioned, would you feel comfortable suggesting one? I know now, (thanks to this thread) that I will have to go listen for myself, but wheres a good start? Budget (unfortanately is approx 500.00).

I currently own JBL ND 310 II Northridge series. They are ok, but they are lacking.

Thanks again
I think Peter Duminy has given you good advice in that you should listen, and listen to as many as possible, especially one's that are out of your price range and buy what you enjoy.

A speaker that was very highly regarded in audiophile circles was the Spica TC-50 (it is no longer made and too bad because it was in your budget). On paper, the TC-50 was not very impressive at all. In fact many would not even look or listen to it based on frequency response on paper.
OK, thanks. I will be on a mission here real soon. I am blessed (or cursed, depends on how you look at it) when it comes to doing what I set my mind to do. My focus is getting better fronts and I will not rest easy till I get it done.

Thanks again guys, I will be doing some listening.
In addition to the brands already mentioned you should check out Athena Technology. They are a budget brand from the company that makes Energy and Mirage speaker brands.

If you are looking for a floor-standing speaker, their AS-F2 (I think that is the model) has some pretty good reviews and you should be able to get them within your budget.

As the rest of the guys have said, speakers are one thiing where you must really decide for yourself.
OK Thanks. I think I will try to find some good used speakers. If I'm careful, maybe I can come across a good deal where someone is upgrading. This might be a long journey.
Just out of curiosity, what kind of receiver do you currently use? I also have JBL speakers and have noticed great results by switching receiver. I went from Sony to Denon (big improvement) and Denon to Harman Kardon (unbelievable improvement). Ironically each receiver had lower power ratings then the one it replaced.
About a year ago, I purchased an open box HK 525. The sub out quit working, then I swapped it for a new 525. All went well until I tried turning the FM radio, it was stuck. Took it back and decided on Onkyo 701. I gave that to my son and now I have the Panasonic XR 45. I guess you could call that lucky (hmmmm) but at least I had a chance to try these speakers with all of the above receivers. Of these, the Panasonic had the best sound.

However, my old Pro Logic 1 HK AVR 20 II (60 watts) with a powered sub and those Eosones sounded better than all of the above. I wish I had those speakers again. I dont remember what model they were, but the sound was great.

I know the receivers arent the most expensive, but the HK, Onkyo and the Panny could deliver enough for my needs. I just feel my speakers arent reaching enough highs. I have plenty of LFE and mids, and I know its not as simple as a set up issue. Tried it every which way.

Maybe an EQ? I dont know
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I agree with you that eosone was underrated. I had a satelite system and 10 inch sub. Too bad, they were not marketed right.
And I will have to agree with your signature, cuz no matter what, even if the man wins the argument, he will lose the war for sure. It took me years to learn those three little words that would have made my life a lot easier in those early years.................................. "Your right dear".
Even if she is hopelessly wrong! :D
HAHAHAHAAA You got that right Peter. It only took me about 15 years of marriage to figure it out. Man, nothing gets by me HAHAHAHAAA

I'm still on a mission. Maybe I can suck up to the wardon (wife) and see if maybe I can expand my budget for new speakers. Still looking for good used ones maybe.
Unless wildly out of the norm, specs tell very little about the quality of a speaker. You can find two speakers with almost identical specs that sound vastly different. Another problem with specs is who governs these specs? Who provides them? Is everyone using the same "scale"?

The are many manufactuers that pad their specs. This is easy to see in amplifier wattage ratings.

While specs can help you see which qualities a speaker may have, it won't at all tell you how much you will enjoy the speaker.

For example - if a speaker has a sensitivity rating of 100db, it will play very loud with very little power.

- if the frequency response is rated down to 30hz flat, the speaker is capable of deep bass.

While these specs may be important to your decision, it will not have any effect on the sound quality of the speaker....(ie there are speakers rated to 30hz and lower that just don't sound very good)

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Take various CD's and DVD's that you like and listen to them. Spend a couple of minutes with each track and cycle through the sizes in the model line you are listening to. Try to pick the DVD with a varied sound track that will work the speakers and test various volume levels.

Also, consider how the store is setting up the speakers. Is it in an accoustically treated room or is it in an open warehouse setting with concrete or hardwood floors? That makes a huge difference since they will sound different when you get them home.
If you were to want to look at one spec to find which speakers to look at you should be loooking for speakers with a flat frequency response (but still doesn't tell the whole story).

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