Factory Direct Saves Over "Known" Brands Since 2003

Factory Direct Saves Over "Known" Brands Since 2003

How to Compare Speakers

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It really doesn’t matter what brand is printed on them. Sure you can say the reputation is important, but do you know what companies have been up to for the last decade? What they’ve been doing is a lot of consolidating brand names. These brand names are now just marketing power.

So, do yourself a favor and educate yourself before making a purchase. For starters, visit this website. This will be your reference in the discussion that follows in this post. Now, what do the numbers mean on this site?

The ratings come from a subjective view on the objective measurements. This means that certain measurements in speakers are important and others are simply informational or insignificant when planning a purchase. Some of the measurements get larger overall importance and others get less of a spread between the numbers.

However, note that these ratings are not listening tests. That said, you can still get a great feel for how these speakers will sound because of the importance given to the aspects that matter most. For instance, the materials that the speakers are made of account for 30% of the overall index. There are also no ‘0’ ratings. All speakers have some purpose and some factor of value. The lowest score possible would be a 51 and the highest would be a 100. The items we’ll review will be listed in order of importance. The most important first.

Let’s get started.

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Woofer Material

The woofer is the larger speaker in the array. It's responsible for the lowest frequencies up to and through some of the vocal ranges. The ability of this driver to move fast and resist flexing directly corresponds to how low and how rich the music will sound. The woofer material will determine how fast the driver will respond and recover during the audio cycle.

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Tweeter Material

The tweeter is the small speaker in the array. It's responsible for some of the vocals up to the highest delicate ranges. Again, the ability of the tweeter to move fast and recover corresponds to how high and crystal clear the music will sound. These drivers can be capable of moving 30,000 times per second!

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Lowest Frequency Response

There's a lot of misinformation about frequency out there. The number you're looking for when looking at frequency is how the frequency is determined. This is expressed in decibels (dB) above or below the mean level of all the frequencies that the speaker is reproducing. The industry standard of speaker companies that are serious about sound is (+ - 3dB). The industry standard of speaker companies interested in "marketing" their speakers is (+ - 9dB). In audio terms, that's a magnitude of three times the amount of power (dB) expressed. In short, some people are lying but are rationalizing it. It's that their speakers can reproduce those frequencies. If a company doesn't say it's (+ - 3dB), then they're not being completely honest with you. However, since we can't make them all comply, we will play by their rules and give you the 'lowest' frequency possible in our ratings (+ - 9dB).

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Highest Frequency Response

Same as above in terms of the accuracy of representation of numbers. The scale will be considered (+ - 9dB).

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Crossover

The crossover is probably the hardest concept to grasp of any component in a speaker assembly. It divides the frequencies up by sending the low frequencies to the woofer and the high frequencies to the tweeter.  In short, it's the traffic cop for frequencies. But it would be unfair to say that's all it does. There are volumes written on crossovers and tweaks that can be done to the music curve. However, most of these tweaks happen in the high-end range of speakers. We're not really rating speakers on objective standards. These audiophile speakers are 'art' to the ears. Only certain ears can hear these details. For our rating system, we're keeping it simple and showing the different major design elements that you'll find in consumer-grade speakers.

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Special Features

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Warranty

This is often overlooked, as you first make a choice and find out the return period is too short later. Many speaker manufacturers offer lifetime warranties. It's fairly easy to make that assurance with a well made speaker though.

Sensitivity

Now we're getting pretty low on the importance scale. Sensitivity is just the efficiency rating. How many watts does it take to make how many decibels? Most consumer grade speakers fall within 5 dB of each other and most of us don't take our speakers to the highest levels of power.

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Wattage

What does Wattage really mean? Overall, wattage is essentially a factor of how much heat a speaker can dissipate over time before it fails. All a speaker-manufacturer has to do is slap a larger magnet and thicker voice coil inside (that's a wire wrapped around a toilet roll on a cheap speaker) and you've got a 200 watt speaker. Now, how does it sound? How low does it play? How do those voices sound? That's the important thing. But it doesn't exactly matter to the guy who looks at watts.

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