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Thread: Driver quality vs. audio processing

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate Lincolnman's Avatar
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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. #2
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    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 )

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate Lincolnman's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    Raw Wave
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    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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    Constant Bitrate Lincolnman's Avatar
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    Quote 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.

  6. #6
    Raw Wave
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    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....

  7. #7
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    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.

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate Lincolnman's Avatar
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    Quote 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.

  9. #9
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    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..

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    Quote 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.

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