More Audio Myths Busted!

By jsalk


The audio world is rife with theories that are the source of endless discussion and debate. Some are based on sound priciples. Others, not so much. Here are a few oft-repeated statements we can easily subject to a little critical thinking.

You’ve probably heard or seen these before:

  • Home theater speakers are no good for music.
  • Music speakers don’t work well for home theater.

There is a grain of thruth here but, again, it ain’t necessarily so.

When designing a relatively inexpensive home theater speaker, you must concentrate on the midrange. That is where the dialogue is and if you don’t get that right, intelligibility will suffer. This generally means using smaller drivers that are better suited to good midrange performance. Unfortunately, these drivers will not play all that deep.

This is generally not a problem in home theater since subwoofers are normally employed to augment the bottom end. But for music reproduction, the bass extension is not quite what most people would find desireable.

In most relatively inexpensive music speakers, bass extension is an important consideration. This will lead to the use of larger woofers which don’t perform as well in the critical midrange. But people casually listening to music will tend to concentrate more on the bass and the top end and may not notice that the midrange is slightly lacking. So while these speakers will not be good for home theater, they are somewhat accpetable for music reproduction.

As you can see, there are elements of truth that support these myths. However…

If you design a great “full-range” music speaker with spectacular midrange performance (where 80% of the information is in the first place), it will not only provide a great musical experience, but will be excellent for home theater as well since intelligibility will be high.

The only problem is that it is difficult to do this on a limited budget. You either have to use very high quality drivers or you have to develop a multi-way speaker. Both are more expensive.

The bottom line is that inexpensive home theater speakers are not generally good for music and inexpensive music speakers are generally not all that good for home theater use. But it has little to do with the catagory of speakers in general and more to do with the quality of the basic designs.

A great speaker will work equally as well in home theater or for the foundation of a great music system. These myths are busted (or at least explained)!

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