Monday, December 1, 2008

High level basics about speakers

The devil is in the details. Allow me to put a new slant on this truth – without details (standards) technology would not be possible. Things people take for granted would not work. Imagine speaker wire – if there were no standards then one person might use copper and another arbitrarily may use plastic – do you think the speakers will work in the second system? As important is the gauge (size) of the wire because if you use the wrong size the wire may overheat and you have a different problem short or possibly even a fire. 

The next few posts will deal the audio technology. Let’s start with speakers. The purpose of speakers is to reproduce sounds from live or prerecorded media. Depending on what you are trying to listen to and the speakers you are using the amplifier must be specified at a level to properly drive the speakers. 

The average human’s normal hearing range is approximately 20Hz - 20,000Hz. There are also many brands and often people look at the brands and are attracted by the name not paying attention to the technical details. There are various types of speakers each with a full range and each with its respective strengths and weakness. Let’s cover speaker technology with a broad brush. 

Enclosure types

  • Metal
  • Wood (custom or hand made and engineered)
  • Ported (tuned to a certain bass (low) frequencies)
  • Passive Radiator (a speaker with no driver that

Design types

  • Equalized – attempt to balance behavior of each speaker’s performance in enclosure
  • None Equalized 

Speaker purposes

  • Full range – limited response attempting to replicate highs, mids and lows (typically uses a composite design with a whizzer cone to augment high sounds) but has higher distortion rate then others
  • Tweeter – reproduces high frequencies – think symbols, snares – typically 2,000Hz – 20,000Hz
  • Mid range – reproduces mid range – think tenor sax and human voice – typically 300Hz – 5000Hz
  • Woofer – reproduces low range (bass) – think kick drum, engine rumble, low human voice  – typically 40Hz – 1000Hz 
  • Sub Woofer –  Low low Bass (sounds more felt then heard) – typically 20Hz – 150Hz 

And there are crossovers, that these are devices that route certain frequencies to certain speakers (Bass frequencies to woofers and high frequencies to tweeters)

Speaker types:

  •   Cone
  •   Dome
  •   Piezo electric
  •   Ribbon
  •   Planar-magnetic
  •   Electrostatic
  •   AMT
  •  Horn
  •  Plasma/Ion tweeter 

So how does a speaker work?

  • The amplifier sends an electrical signal to driver element move and control a diaphragm (speaker) who shape, size and material determines the frequency of the sound made.

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