Speaker Tech

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Brent Butterworth  |  Aug 30, 2013  |  0 comments

The advent of cheap audio measurement gear has made it easy for do-it-yourselfers to tweak their systems and even test their own speakers and amps. Unfortunately, it has also spawned a new generation of would-be technicians doing really bad speaker measurements.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 10, 2007  |  0 comments
Speakers are available in a bewildering variety of styles, sizes, and technologies. On the technical side, the vast majority are conventional box designs using one or more drivers—most commonly a single cone woofer for the bass and midrange, a single dome tweeter for the treble, and a crossover network to divide and route the appropriate frequencies to each. The speaker cabinet, or box, which can be either a sealed or ported design, is not merely a cosmetic touch; it is a key element in the design. Without a properly designed cabinet, even the best conventional woofer would simply flap in its own breeze and produce little or no bass.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 07, 2020  |  5 comments
Subwoofers are like the magic beans of audio, expanding a playback system's dynamic range in a way that dramatically enhances the listening experience. There's an attitude among some audiophiles that subwoofers represent, if not the spawn of the devil (there are numerous such spawns in audio lore), a bad compromise at minimum. But the truth is that adding a modest but well-designed subwoofer to speakers, even compact bookshelf models, can result in better performance than what you'd get from full-range towers that cost considerably more.
Brent Butterworth  |  Feb 24, 2014  |  3 comments
Five Subwoofer Masters Explain How They Work Their Magic

Subwoofer design has undergone a revolution. No, the physics of woofers, amplifiers, and enclosures haven’t changed. But new technologies have made it possible to push the bass-ic laws of nature to their limits, such that the best of today’s inexpensive subwoofers can outperform many of the top models from 15 or 20 years ago.

Affordable digital audio processing lets designers tune subwoofers in ways the engineers of the 1990s could only have imagined. High-efficiency amplifiers pound out powerful bass from boxes hardly bigger than a basketball. New speaker drivers use high-tech materials to produce sound levels that would have pushed older models way past the breaking point.

Since things are so different now, we thought this would be a great time to revisit some of the fundamentals of subwoofer design and examine how the old rules might have changed in the digital age.

SV Staff  |  Feb 24, 2014  |  0 comments
Brent Butterworth explores the art and science of modern subwoofer design through in-depth interviews with five experts for the feature article “Subwoofers: The Guts and the Glory”. Click on the link for the full text of each interview.
Michael Antonoff  |  May 27, 2018  |  First Published: May 24, 2018  |  1 comments
The smart speaker is about to change the way you live. Are you ready?

It’s not every day that a new consumer electronics category comes along that has an adoption rate projected to be faster than that of any other device, including smartphones, computers, TVs, and radios.

Some 56.3 million smart speakers are projected to ship this year, nearly twice as many as last year and 10 times the number shipped in 2016, according to Canalys. In the first quarter of 2017, only 7 percent of U.S. households had smart speakers. By the end of 2020, 75 percent are expected to have them, according to Gartner and Edison Research.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Aug 06, 2015  |  6 comments
Dolby Atmos, for you members of the unwashed and uninformed masses (yeah, you know who you are), enables film sound designers to treat individual sonic elements as virtual “objects” that can be placed and moved almost anywhere within the three-dimensional space of a movie theater. Two things are important about its adaptation for home theater. First, the soundfield—in its original, discretely encoded version, not an extrapolated one—is no longer limited to a two-dimensional plane circling around your ears.
Brent Butterworth  |  Feb 23, 2014  |  0 comments
Tom Vodhanel is president and founder of Power Sound Audio, an Ohio-based company that specializes in subwoofers and sells direct through its website. Tom is also known as the “V” in SVS, another company that started out as a subwoofer specialist, and which he co-founded. Excerpts from this interview appear in the feature story “Subwoofers: The Guts and the Glory.”

S&V: What’s the most important in a subwoofer: the driver, the enclosure or the amplifier?
TV: You hit the big three. You can optimize any of the two, but if the third one is off you’ve got a problem. They maximize the capabilities of each other. Now with DSP [digital signal processing] available in so many of the amplifiers, you get more wiggle room. You can adapt an amp to a smaller enclosure and have it still work really well, and DSP allows you to do that adaptation better and much quicker than you could with analog. But if you miss any of those three, a really good design can turn into an average design.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 03, 2016  |  0 comments
Prior to a decade ago, having distributed music around your house usually meant calling a custom installer to put in hundreds of feet of cable, multiple pairs of in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, and racks of amplifiers. You’d get keypads on your walls that could control, just barely, your distant sources via IR. There was no metadata feedback to select a particular song; you might have been able to advance to the next track on your CD player or dial up a different preset station on your FM tuner, but not much more. The cost for this was, well, prohibitive. Multiroom audio, for a long time, was strictly a rich man’s game.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 16, 2018  |  8 comments
A recent product announcement from Amazon touted the launch of a “subwoofer” to supplement the response of Amazon’s popular Echo vocal assistant. Presumably it will work with the even smaller Echo Dot as well. But for me it raised a couple of eyebrows.

Given that the low frequency response of an Echo alone probably doesn’t reproduce any useful output much lower than 100 Hz (admittedly an educated guess), the Echo Sub certainly can't hurt. But given its size and its 6-inch driver, there's no way that such a product it can be considered a subwoofer...