Home Speaker Asylum

General speaker questions for audio and home theater.

Dynamic range the most critical parameter?

This disconnect between subjective impressions and objective measurements seems to recur at regular intervals, particularly in relation to high-sensitivity horn speakers and particularly with certain reviewers who seem to value the dynamic "jump factor" inherent in such designs far above accurate frequency response, phase coherence, wide dispersion, lack of resonant colorations, etc.

And there is something to be said for this. I've heard several Klipsch, JBL, Cerwin Vega, etc. high-sensitivity speakers over the years, and while I doubt if I could live with them for the long term (too fatiguing), they are definitely FUN! Few "normal" dynamic speakers, with sensitivity around 84dB, 2.83V at 1 meter, can match them for lightning transient response or sheer "lifelike" liveliness. AND you can drive them to ear-splitting levels with the sort of flea-powered, poorly damped, high 2nd harmonic distortion SET amplifiers these same reviewers seem to favor, which add their own wacky-woo to the already awful frequency response due to their inability to drive a variable impedance. Inaccuracy piled on inaccuracy, coloration on coloration. Sonic heaven for some, especially in a horribly boomy untreated room with antique analog source components (78 RPM, anyone?).

These reviewers are quite upfront about their sonic preferences and prejudices, so it is possible to take much of what they say with an appropriately sized grain of salt.

BUT they are definitely on to something as far as dynamics. If you take live unamplified acoustic music as your reference, most conventional speakers seem to lack the speed and "kick" of the real thing. High sensitivity horns just plain GET it, at both the micro- and macrodynamic levels.


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