Hi-Fi and the search for the holy grail audio experience
Part 2 – Speakers
In our intro we talked about you! I hope you have reflected and asked yourself the right questions. Let’s not build a le-mans car for the easy Sunday drive with the family and kids, right? Then we talked about the listening space? If you want the le mans car, but you can currently only drive it in the city, it will be a challenging tasks. If you treat the listening room well, you will find hifi bliss in almost any room. Let’s talk speakers:
What kind of audio system do you desire? What should it sound like? What kind of music do you like? What kind of music is mostly played?
Amplifiers and speakers are like a chassis and engine. In order for the car to perform for your needs, the two main components should somewhat match. Why put a 700HP engine on a Miata if your use case is eco-friendly driving?
Every speaker has an efficiency rating. Look out for the db @ 1Watt number. The higher this number, the less power the speaker demands from the amplifier to play “loud”. Consider it the weight of a car. A lighter car needs less power to be moved than a heavy one. This does not necessarily mean a light car is better nor is an efficient speaker always better than a not so efficient pier. It is a parameter to look out for when building the setup. Horn speakers tend to have a rating of 100+ db @ 1 Watt. This means at a distance of 1 meter, your ears will be exposed to 100 decibels although the amplifier is only providing 1 watt of power. Less efficient speakers go down to the low 80 db’s, which is massively less. To put this into perspective, a techno club plays at around 102 db at the ear, a rock concert goes up to 105-110db.
In my search for the perfect speaker, I have experienced the significance of this parameter. Have I found it? Never. In the same room, with the same components, I have tested quite some speakers ranging from $500 to $25.000 and every speaker has its own strengths and weaknesses. Even two different $25.000 speakers can sound significantly different and good in their own way. In the next couple of weeks, I will share some insights on my experiences and what to look out for on speakers.
One thing is sure, if you are serious about your music, spend time listening to all kinds of speakers and get your own taste.