The ultimate speaker?

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The ultimate speaker?

Post  Clearwave on Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:38 am

As we know there are really no perfect speakers in this world, but there are a few principles a designer can adhere to so that we come closer. I've been wanting to do this write up for some time, so I'll touch on a few of the things that need be considered from a design perspective.

1.) Operate speakers in their lowest harmonic distortion passbands. For example, in my Dynamic Series, I feel that the RS180 is best used in the bass/midbass. I've found that they aren't all that great above say 1k so I try to keep them operating below that. I think the midrange is more musical when using a more suitable midrange driver, which is why I used the Tang Band W4 1337.

2.) Optimize power response and off axis response. I've taken a liking to LR2 slopes or slopes with a relaxed woofer response to align the phase in more of a quasi effective LR2 or LR4 slope. This requires drivers that have a smooth upper midrange response. The sound is seamless and very coherent. Something I think the shallower slope helps to contribute.

3.) Operate drivers in their most pistonic operating range. This means that the midranges should be crossed fairly low to the tweeter. This helps to avoid beaming of the woofer which then creates a dip in the off axis response. Some voice speakers with a BBC dip. However, I've found that those speakers are less true to the source signal even though they may sound better on poorly recorded material. The compromise is a speaker that sounds really great on the good source content, but might sound a bit cold on the junky recordings. I notice this recently on a U2 CD. Man did it sound compressed! Too bad because I like U2. This was I think the Joshua Tree album.

4.) Optimize the designs for flat responses but don't go to extremes with the parts count of the crossover. I try to take into account the diffraction characteristics of the drivers and model them before hand. Take for example my new Aria 10s design. I knew what the baffle shape would do to the response after measuring some drivers in that baffle. I then selected the Scan Speak drivers for the midrange because I knew they would complement that baffle diffraction signature. For example, if the baffle has a peak, and the woofer has a small dip, they cancel each other to create a smooth response without the need for additional circuitry. It's really nice when that happens, and I think simplicity is best when you can get away with it.

5.) Impedance zobels are important to implement when using a shallow crossover or low crossover point. It only takes one fundamental tone at a tweeters Fs to create audible distortion. The zobel also helps to optimize the electrical transfer functions and produces a smoother response, and I've found the phase response is often better aligned with them in place.

6.) Use quality components in the crossover. I know that there is a lot said about the quality of caps, resistors, coils etc out there on the net, but I do think there is a point of diminishing returns. Use quality where it counts.

7.) When choosing a driver look at it from many different performance perspectives. Harmonic distortion, energy storage, frequency response, impedance, etc.

8.) Look at the value proposition of the driver and make sure it isn't outperformed by something less expensive.


I'll add to this post when I have time but it should give people some food for thought and get a better idea on why I design speakers the way I do.

Regards,

Jed
Clearwave Loudspeaker Design

Clearwave

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Location: Rochester, NY

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