Tag Archives: speakers

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.

Minimal volume

I am often asked if there’s a minimum volume level for speakers. It’s a valid question prompted by observation. If the level of the system is too low the sound seems weak and lackluster.

Of course, there are a few explanations for this starting with the Fletcher-Munson curve.

The Fletcher-Munson Curve illustrates an interesting phenomenon of human hearing. When listening to music, the perceived loudness our brains hear will change at a different rate, depending on the frequency. At low listening volumes, midrange frequencies sound more prominent, while the low and high-frequency ranges seem to fall into the background.

At high listening volumes, the lows and highs sound more prominent, while the midrange seems comparatively softer. Yet in reality, the overall tonal balance of the sound remains the same, no matter what the listening volume.

The answer to the original question has to be qualified with circumstances. What are you hoping to achieve? If background music is what you’re after, then the answer is “no”, there’s no minimum level for speakers. The Fletcher-Munson problem can be solved with EQ if you have that available.

Perhaps more important is the notion that for serious listening there is a definite minimum listening level. That setting depends on the room and type of music being played. How do you tell if it’s the right level? Image size.

That’s a subject we’ll cover tomorrow.

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.

Downstream equipment

If you live next to a big river it’s tempting to use all the water you could possibly want. After all, it’s a big river and full of water. What difference would it make?

Clearly, you’ve not considered the downstream effects. Communities all along the river depend on that water and those near the end of the line may not have enough.

In the same way as the river, it’s important for stereo lovers to consider the downstream effects of our audio equipment. We can place all the importance, care, expense and love to our source gear, but if we ignore the downstream kit like amps and speakers we wind up running dry.

Like a river, our systems should be viewed from a holistic perspective. Each drop of sound entering the beginning of the chain gets amplified and prepped for delivery at the end of the process.

How we treat the beginning of the process vs. the end can make all the difference in the world.