Tag Archives: loudspeaker

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Ripping sound from the box

When Darren Myers and I were working on the AN3 speaker prototype loudspeaker one of the many challenges came from the midrange. As those who have watched the video series on building the AN3 prototypes know, we went through several midrange drivers to get what we wanted.

What we didn’t talk about was the struggle to rip the sound out of the speaker box and get it away from the cabinet.

I am somewhat of an evangelist when it comes to the need to detach sound from the speaker cabinets. On all but a few of the worst recordings, music should never sound as if it is emanating from the speaker cabinet itself. Instead, it should be divorced from the box and float behind, above, and to the sides of the stereo setup. This extraction from the box creates what we have come to call the soundstage.

As speaker designers, one of the bigger challenges is working the crossover to make this happen. The prototype AN3 used a BG Neo 10 ribbon for the midrange. This is a great driver but it is exceptionally sensitive to how it is crossed over, implemented, and working with the cabinet and other drivers. Though its response looked marvelous on the test equipment, try as we might we could not get the sound to leave the confines of the speaker’s baffle.

Over the course of days, we managed to figure it out and were able to not only extricate it from its cabinet prison but maneuver it right where we wanted in the ethereal soundstage. It had been freed from its cabinet.

The reason I bring this up is that it should be no surprise that some speakers don’t have the ability to produce sound detached from the box. Not that we are such great designers but it is likely not part of the other designer’s ethos.

If you’re not looking for something it’s hard to see.

I imagine designers have all measure of goals for their speakers.

It’s up to the potential buyer to decide if their goals line up with those of the designer.

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Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Peak power

Our system’s power amplifier is almost always bigger than needed. Or is it?

We know that headroom, the reserve amplifier power we hope not to use, is important. But how much is enough? Do we have to acquire a scope and meter and dust off our engineering degrees to measure the peak power our system demands? I think there might be an easier way.

With the understanding it’s not hard amplifier clipping we’re talking about I think we can safely make a few observations about the amount of headroom we have by simply listening.

The need for headroom has to do with perceived compression of music’s dynamics. The more headroom the lower the compression we experience.

For listening evaluations of peak power, I prefer orchestral music for several reasons: its acoustic instruments and fixed proportions. We know what those instruments should sound like and we can imagine the proportions of an orchestra easier than we can a rock band or jazz ensemble.

What we’re hoping for is a lack of compression when the entire orchestra’s playing loudly. It’s rare, but with enough headroom and the right speakers, an orchestra’s loudest crescendos should scale in image size and tonal qualities to it’s quietest levels. Anyone that’s ever heard our Infinity IRSV system knows exactly what I am referring to. Scale without compression.

Most speakers don’t scale all that well so separating out the headroom issue of the amplifier chain vs. the speakers can be problematic, but easier than trying different loudspeaker combinations. A friend’s higher power amplifier is a relatively easy swap to see where your system stands on dynamic compression.

Amplifier power is almost never enough when we consider headroom in the hopes of reducing compression.