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Driver quality vs. audio processing

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  • Driver quality vs. audio processing

    Something that occurred to me some time ago but I never got around to asking about it. If I were to take two drivers (speakers here, not software) that were SIMILAR in size but not in specifications or price and hooked them both up to audio analyzers to equalize everything, what would the difference be (aside from more work depending on the amount of correction needed)?
    To wit: I take two speakers, one a cheap Pyle and another a... I don't know... Focal Utopia Be. Lets say that the Focal unit has a basically flat frequency curve and the Pyle unit has poor sensitivity on lower frequencies than suddenly jumps up and back down and all over the place like the mountains of Chile. If the sound output was analyzed and the signal in turn adjusted to flatten out the produced sound's frequency curve - then what else could be different about the sound the listener hears? Mind you, I have sold high end audio equipment (think PSB, Bowers-Wilkins, McIntosh and the like) but selling is different from DESIGNING.
    SO - aside from how "tight" the speaker can respond, what other variables might affect the sound quality IF the frequency response curve and volume levels were equalized through analysis and processing?
    FOR THE RECORD, this is mostly a hypothetical. I don't need to be told that a "good" speaker will be "better" I want to hear reasons WHY that should be.
    Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

  • #2
    that is a great example-- pyle vs. focal utopia....

    actually, i think you bumped into the problem-- the responsiveness would be the killer.

    the pyle is going to be sloppy while the focal is going to maintain it's composure longer
    the first question i have is can you reign in a sloppy driver with only a eq?

    different listening volumes would also play a part-- a low volume might not reveal any differences, but once you start cranking it up, and really pushing the limits of the drivers, you would need to re-eq..

    part of it is the way the drivers are made, i imagine that pyle has looser manufacturing tolerances then a high end company like focal

    so those tolerances affect everything-- the magnetic gap might be larger on the pyle, which equals less cone control.. or the cone might be a couple grams heavier then originally spec'ed, or the spider might be something off their shelf that fit the build instead of something that is designed for the rest of the speaker. i believe that many of focals drivers are built by hand, so they are held to a tighter tolerance, and in a speaker like the utopia, they would custom design all the parts to work together-- so the spider, and cone, and coil are all meant for THAT speaker...

    hows that?

    (even if it is beating a dead horse, i like discussing theoretical topics )
    My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
    "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


    next project? subaru brz
    carpc undecided

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    • #3
      I don't know whether it is possible to "reign in" a cheap, loose driver with EQ only. I have never tried this method before at all.
      I had not considered the differing response when the wattage increased, but now it seems obvious.
      The manufacturing tolerances were also an excellent point.
      An excellent response from just the individual I was hoping might chime in.
      Thank you.
      Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd argue no with a simple EQ, but a DSP that then adjusts not only frequency, but lag etc.....

        A DSP was used to make a large 20' x 30' milling machine with 1/8" or 1/4" of wobble (if I recall) able to print PCB artworks....

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        • #5
          Originally posted by OldSpark View Post
          A DSP was used to make a large 20' x 30' milling machine with 1/8" or 1/4" of wobble (if I recall) able to print PCB artworks....
          THAT is truly amazing. Have you got a link on that or was it something that you personally saw?
          (I am not questioning you, but there is someone I would like to show that to.)
          Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

          Comment


          • #6
            No links. Or none that I know of. It's from personal involvement.

            The designer went to work for either NASA or the US Military.

            The company involved was the first to go to mask level on the Motorola DSP5600 (or 56000?) chip, though that may have been for another product.

            The bed was a "Wizard" if I recall....

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            • #7
              this is a good read

              http://www.zaphaudio.com/nonlinear.html

              you need to define criteria more. what is the bandwith you're trying to get? what is volume?

              you can get a $10 speaker that's going to sound just as good as $100 over certain bandwith with certain volume. you need to realize what you need vs what driver can give you.
              equalizing response will not equalize the results from different drivers.

              its not fair to give drivers a comparison over a vague criteria, unless you define what you want out of them.
              that pyle driver might work just fine for some needs, just as can utopia one.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by yermolovd View Post
                you need to define criteria more. what is the bandwith you're trying to get? what is volume?"

                you can get a $10 speaker that's going to sound just as good as $100 over certain bandwith with certain volume. you need to realize what you need vs what driver can give you.
                equalizing response will not equalize the results from different drivers.

                its not fair to give drivers a comparison over a vague criteria, unless you define what you want out of them.
                that pyle driver might work just fine for some needs, just as can utopia one.
                I read the entire link. Quite a lot of it was frankly over my head. I read it all but fully comprehended less than half. That's solely my ignorance, I suppose.

                When you say bandwidth, what are you referring to? I looked it up and got the following:
                "AUDIO BANDWIDTH The range of audio frequencies which directly influence the fidelity of a sound. The higher the audio bandwidth, the better the sound fidelity. The highest practical frequency which the human ear can normally hear is 20 kHz. An audio amplifier which processes all frequencies equally (flat response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz) and a reasonably high signal-to-noise ratio, will faithfully reproduce the full range of perceptible sound."
                ...and I am still not entirely sure I know what is meant. I am feeling downright foolish at this point. Are you referring to a set of frequencies that my music will entail?
                What volume am I trying to achieve? 11, of course. In all seriousness, though I have done loud and that's not what this will be about, but I do want more total volume than a stock head unit, for sure. I'm not a block rocker, but I do love to listen to my music loud and clear when I go on a road trip. Could that be any more vague? Sorry...
                ...and lastly, yes - the Pyle has a place where it is the best suited, but it's sure not my car. I had to come to grips when I sold audio equipment briefly that some people just want the cheap stuff.
                Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

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                • #9
                  yermolovd has taken it to the next step--

                  audio bandwidth is the sound that speakers play-- you can't make a 10" sub play a very high sound, and you can't make a tweeter shake your trunk-- the tweeter is limited to only playing sounds in the bandwidth of about 2,000hz to 20,000, and most subs are limited to playing sounds in the 20hz to 100 hz range. outside of those ranges, the speakers do horrible.

                  same with the above examples-- the pyle could be tuned to sound great from 300hz to 800hz, but could be lacking everywhere else..

                  then the other thing he touched on is loudness, similar to what i touched on-- you could tune a speaker to sound great at one volume, and limited bandwidth, but then it will usually sound poor at different volumes..
                  My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                  "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                  next project? subaru brz
                  carpc undecided

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lincolnman View Post
                    I read the entire link. Quite a lot of it was frankly over my head. I read it all but fully comprehended less than half. That's solely my ignorance, I suppose.
                    soundman98 has already pretty much replied to your questions.

                    You were asking purely theoretical question, what the difference between drivers would be. If you equate frequency response and level match them at 1W of input power, that doesn't not necessarily make drivers sound equal, due to the distortion differences in drivers, which you can't really eq (its the nature of driver's design). although if at 1W power and same freq response drivers exhibit absolutely the same distortion profile, I don't see a reason why you wouldn't think they sound the same. This is assuming the same driver size like originally stated in your post, because different size drivers have a property of beaming, which is another topic related to picking the driver (maybe lets not talk about it yet).

                    So if you want to make an educated decision, you should select a driver that you think fits your system and try to find tests on it, for example zaph's tests give you a good idea and you can actually compare drivers side by side on his site. You will of course need to learn how to read the graphs and understand what it all means.

                    So all of this talk is purely theoretical.

                    If you are looking at a hands on, whole system design point of view, you are approaching it from a slightly wrong way. You do need to apply theory, but your environment puts the constraints on your choices first.

                    Regarding volume, yes, you are vague . You need to identify what is acceptable for you. If you need just slightly louder than stock, then I see no reason to worry about this. But if your goal was like 100db loud fullrange (bad for your ears), then this would put another roadblock.

                    wanted to make a note of caution:
                    when you say speaker response is "tight", its also vague, because that can point to either distortion of the driver you are hearing or enclosure affecting response.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yermolovd View Post
                      soundman98 has already pretty much replied to your questions.
                      I know that, but the topic can still evolve, no?
                      That being said, I think that to go further in this thread would be to hijack my own because there is no natural segue to be had here.

                      I can't say what db I am looking for, I just sold the stuff and never messed around with placing numbers on the volume. Most people just told me they either wanted great quality, stupid loud or both. Hence it was largely up to speculation as to what might make them happy and then just point them in the general direction. To sum up my point here, I don't know how loud I want to be numerically...

                      What did you mean when you said that tight could refer to driver distortion?

                      (I'll drop the thread after this...)
                      Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lincolnman View Post
                        What did you mean when you said that tight could refer to driver distortion?
                        I think when you're discussing tight, you're referring to drivers that produce bass or midbass (ie < ~200Hz?). You wouldn't say: "this tweeter doesn't sound tight", would you?

                        I think "tight" is a very bad terminology.
                        Your sub will not sound "tight" if its not integrating with midbass properly (eg you need to level match them, but overall flat response isn't necessarily "good", ie see fletcher-munsoon curve). If your sub distorts a lot, some people find it offensive and they say its not "tight" anymore.
                        Some people say it sounds "tight" if there's snappy midbass, maybe midrange for some?

                        My "tight" might be different from your "tight".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ah, I see now what you are talking about. Okay, so now that can be thrown into the the rubbish bin for vague terminology. The trouble with all this is that sound tends to be like taste - difficult to describe accurately to another person and still be understood. Even the so called experts use phrases which in now way are comprehensible to other people. In fact, I think that most of the time when someone says that they know what you mean by a certain term they either were not really listening or just don't want to look foolish.
                          Sorry for the confusion.
                          Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ^^

                            yes, everyone has different music styles, so every driver can sound great or horrible to different people. but the reality is that many of us do not have access to hundreds of different drivers, or are able to afford to buy them, try them, and send them back.

                            so any review you can find on the drivers is the best alternative.

                            this is exactly why i will not give driver recommendations here-- first off, i really only focus on drivers that meet my needs, and secondly, the posts here asking for a 'good speaker' generally have no idea what type of sound they want, so i am left shooting into the dark-- in a area that has thousands of different companies with multiple different driver offerings..


                            the descriptions that a review tends to give different drivers are usually the best way to give a broad overview of how the driver reacts, and to give the reader a great idea of how the driver will react to different music-- even if the audio used in the test is something you would never listen to.


                            just as a example: http://www.diymobileaudio.com/forum/...ve-review.html

                            Sound:
                            I found both of these drivers to be easy going and pleasant sounding. I sort of want to say laid back, but it wouldn't be correct. The presence isn't actually laid back, rather just smoothed over, pleasing to listen to for long periods of time. I'm speaking of both woofer and tweeter in conjunction as I find both relatively similar in character and match very well. This combination is a great option for those with sensitive ears. There is really nothing that is output that will sound harsh or annoying. To others, this may be their downfall. People looking for the utmost clarity and articulation will be let down as the real fine detail points really aren't there.
                            so the reviewer likes a laid laid back sound, but also notes that it also means some comprise on the level of detail. so far, the reviewer sounds like he prefers a sound similar to what i like-- no tweeters that are IN YOUR FACE!!!! and mids that don't want to draw attention to themselves, and also drivers that can distort the overall sound slightly-- so you can't hear that it really is a mp3 instead of the original cd..

                            Tonality:
                            Again, both are similar in sound. Everything comes across pretty neutral, but the smooth nature does provide a slightly warmer feel from both drivers. However, it's not really a factor of strong or overpowering bass. The woofer does have a small dip in the 2-3kHz range that does create slightly muffled vocals and produces a warmer tone. Minor EQing flattens this out and makes for a very netural woofer or a little more makes it more lively. The tweeter is quite sedate in the same manner, nothing really standing out or overpowering, just very mild.
                            the easiest way to understand this would be to tweak a eq for you mids down in the 1-3khz range-- it will make the sound warmer-- it will seem that the voices have more depth, or realism-- their not just playing through the speakers, but you can hear them annuciate the words better then a standard set of speakers..


                            while this review lacks what song he used to test the speakers, it gives me a good reference point of what i could expect the drivers to sound like if i were to get them..

                            as i said before, i prefer to read reviews of drivers that list the music they're listening with as well. if they do that, you could go out and buy that specific song, and see what it you hear in the track.


                            you have to expect this to be time consuming-- just this reply has taken over a hour to find the reviews and attempt to explain them..(it took me almost 2 years just to get new speakers for my car..)

                            the best thing to do is to start going to different car audio stores, take a cd, or mp3 player full of your favorite music, and play around with the speakers.

                            i like to use one specific track, and keep playing it on all the different options, keeping the amps, and headunit they have the same, so the only variable is the speakers.

                            also, don't pay attention to price at first-- if they are pushing you to get a $600 set, you should be able to hear a difference between that and a $100 set, if you can't then there is no reason for the extra cost...

                            my current setup cost under $100, but imo, sounds better then some of the $600component sets i demo'ed...

                            at that point, you should start to notice that set 'A' allows the singers voice to come through better then set 'B', or that one set has louder tweeters, or a stronger midbass punch then others, or maybe one set allows you to realize that the drummer missed a beat in the middle of the song..

                            focus in on what qualities you desire in the drivers, and make a mental note about them, so when you read reviews, you can apply those characteristics to the reviews.

                            like the example above-- if you determined you liked a tweeter with more detail, you would know to stay away from those drivers because of their more 'laid back' sound..(ie: laid back= nothing that stands out, but nothing that detracts from the sound, just kind of 'there'..)
                            My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                            "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                            next project? subaru brz
                            carpc undecided

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I feel that this thread has really morphed, but it gave me more perspective. I have never played much with EQs and I suppose that I ignorantly expected a magic bullet. My home system just sounds great without messing with the settings (I lucked out), and in cars I was always previously just focused on getting something in so I just had sound. This and my friends' interest in audio equipment have given me a lot of different perspective, so I am well aware of the fact that a person needn't spend into oblivion. I mentioned Pyle because they are the stereotypical cheapy driver and Focal because of the brands I used to sell or spent much time with they were my favorite sounding. I felt that Focal was the best we offered if price was not a priority, on a mid-range budget Alpine Type S were hard to beat, and on a tight budget Pioneer was my favorite. Mind you, this is all for highs and mids. Back to my original point, I have never really EQ'd in my car and so I gather this is just something that I am going to have to try. My biggest issue there is that in the automotive environment I am concerned that I will have to set my EQ when the car is still for safety, and then once the car is in motion and all the coloration of the vehicle, road, and wind will be introduced but not accounted for.
                              So in effect I am saying that this thread while not being what I expected has taught me a lot (like so many things do in life). I have a lot of time to mess about with trying different drivers, at least. The car I am planning for will be owned by me until the day that one (or both) of us gets totaled, so I have time to mess with options.
                              Electronics work on magic smoke - don't let it out.

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