Are Expensive Speakers Better And Worth It?

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Are Expensive Speakers Better And Worth It?

I'm sure you've had this debate before: Is it better to have expensive speakers or to have many mid-range to low-range speakers?

What do you think? Are you a fan of the many-speaker budget setup? Or are you of the more-expensive-speakers-are-better crew?

The truth is, expensive high-end speakers will give you better quality sound – but that doesn’t mean that cheaper mid-range to low-range speakers don’t deliver the goods.

If you are just using your speakers to listen to music while you work or to accompany your video games, you’re better off with the cheapies than with the most expensive surround sound speakers. There are two reasons for this.

Everyone hears music differently

Just like how we can't all agree on what movie is the best, some people prefer listening to their music on their earbuds or on computers while others prefer the fuller sound of bookshelf speakers.

The quality of the speakers truly depends on how they are used.

What To Look For In Good Speakers

Deep Bass

Or Treble? Inquire About "Woofers" and Crossovers

I've never considered myself a "big" music buff, but I do enjoy a little music. It's hard to avoid music nowadays. It is present in virtually every aspect of our lives – from TV, to stores, and to restaurants.

The thing that excites me about music is how it differs depending on the circumstances.

When I'm in a car, the bass is much more prominent than the vocals, reflecting the fact that it's traveling through the air in a much different way than it would in a home.

This is an important consideration for you when buying a pair of speakers, especially if you're on the fence about whether or not spending more for more expensive speakers would be a good investment.

The answer to that question will depend on the type of speakers you want to buy.

Do you want something that focuses more on deep bass, or something that has crisp treble? My advice is to do some research on both "woofers" and "crossovers", which determine the bass and treble of a speaker. And, if you want something that will produce the same music that you hear in your car when you're at home, you are in for a disappointment.

Clear Treble

High-end speakers are designed for better sound quality. With better materials, higher-end speakers produce clearer treble than their cheaper counterparts. You can hear the difference if you listen closely and also you can see it on the lighted displays of some speaker models.

Cheaper speakers with LED lights tend to turn on the blue light more often. This is because cheaper speakers require heavier bass and excessive vibrations. On some budget speakers, the blue light turns on more often than others. This means the weaker bass is indicative of tinny, low-quality sound.

Expensive, high-end speakers tend to last longer, too. This is one of the reasons why live music sounds better than music on the radio. Live performances are performed on higher-end speakers.

Loudness

Expensive speakers are better than cheap ones. It is indisputable that if you have two speakers with a similar design, and you play the same source (say a lossless recording of a choir singing in a church) through both, it is possible to hear the differences between the two speakers.

But there is also a point beyond which you’ve heard all the differences between speakers, and you can’t tell from the sound what speaker cost what. Now, this doesn’t mean that all expensive speakers sound the same. It doesn’t mean that expensive speakers can’t sound better than inexpensive ones. And, of course, it doesn’t mean that if you have two speakers that look alike, they will sound alike. But it does mean that you can’t have a basis to choose the more expensive speaker over the less expensive speaker just because the more expensive one costs more.

If you can spend more money on a good set of speakers over what you already have, great! It’ll likely sound better. But investing in expensive speakers isn’t necessarily a guarantee of better sound.

Sensitivity

It's not simply a test of how loud a speaker can play the music. It's actually a test of the falloff in output at the loudest level, because for most of its life any speaker is either going to be played softly, or not played at all.

Higher sensitivity often leads to a better low-end response, because the amp doesn't have to work as hard to produce the same output at that frequency. Lower sensitivity speakers are widely viewed as having "thicker" sound, it's just that you need to turn up the volume louder to hear it.

Total Harmonic Distortion

Generally, lower THD is better. Distortion causes the sound to be colored or warmer or thinner, depending on the distortion that is introduced. Seconds and even thirds are less noticeable than the 5th and 7th.

Impedance

Typically speakers are 8 or 4 ohms. The ohm is a measure of impedance. Many people think that impedance and power are connected. They're not, it's like saying two athletes compete in the same division meaning the heavier one would win.

Speakers with lower impedance are easier for an amplifier to drive, ie. most of the music they play, they will sound better than the speaker with a higher impedance.

Higher impedance speakers are more efficient, meaning the amp doesn't have to work as hard to drive them, which makes them a good choice for high power speakers.

Decibels

If you're buying a new music system, then the most important part of it's quality is not its price, but its individual part and quality. You can have a pair of cheap speakers matched with a top-of-the-line amplifier and it's often the case that the components end up working much better together than the more expensive counterparts.

In my opinion, there are a few simple things to consider when looking for quality sound:

  • speaker sensitivity : the more efficient the speaker, the louder it will go with the same power, without blowing on top of their voice. The 97dB speakers usually go louder than the 95dB (even with the same amp and same wattage)
  • clarity of sound : compare the different speakers sound; you probably will choose less-efficient speakers, because your music sounds so much better.
  • less than 2% of people can actually distinguish more than 96 dB difference

Bottom line: the sound of the more expensive speaker will often sound better on top volume. But a better quality speaker will sound better also at lower volumes.

Impedance

Ohm is a unit of measurement related to electrical resistance. The higher the resistance, the more work is required to pass a certain amount of electricity. The lower the resistance, the easier it is to pass a certain amount of current. The number of ohms in series is how you determine the impedance of the speakers. The number indicates what speakers are of higher resistance or lower impedance, in that series.

Speakers with high impedance are not damaged by lower quality amps. They are equally distorting though. They usually produce less bass. This is because the amplifier works harder. They are also more likely to cause amp clipping. Clipping occurs when the amp pushes too much power into the speaker. The sound produced is distorted.

Speakers with low impedance need higher quality amps in order to produce quality sound. Therefore their bass response is usually better. High impedance speakers need a monster amp to produce quality sound. This is where the SB Acoustics comes in.

SB Acoustics uses patented Enhanced Transmission Line (ETL) technology to optimize the acoustic sound of your speakers. This technology works in conjunction with the back wave, reducing distortion as a result. The low distortion translates to higher quality sound, and better performance all around.

Stiffer suspension with higher damping factor means longer lifespan and lower distortion. You get less breakup, less ringing, and clarity you wouldn’t expect.

Total Harmonic Distortion

Plenty of factors contribute to the final sound of your audio setup. And of all the components in your audio setup, the ones you interact with the most, and the ones that are most important to producing good sound quality, are your speakers.

The best way to figure out how good a pair of speakers are is to look at their Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).

Be careful! That’s not the same as Total Dissipation. Total Distortion tells you how closely a speaker can reproduce the recorded source as well as its subtle harmonics, while Total Dissipation tells you how efficient a speaker is, and it measures how much power it consumes when it's playing.

You could have a pair of perfectly sized, tuned, and striking looking speakers if they don’t play properly at high volumes. If the THD is too high you’ll hear them clip and distort as you turn the volume up. Low THD means the speaker is capable of producing a balanced, natural, and full sound quality.

Headroom

Bass and Sound Quality.

What does "headroom" mean? Headroom is the amount of amplification needed in order to get the original signal back with no distortion. If think of a graph of sound pressure versus amplitude, headroom would be the amount of space above the line that represents the original sound.

The more headroom you have, the more sound pressure and volume can be produced without producing distortion. The headroom of an amplifier is measured in decibels (dB). A high-quality amp will produce headroom of at least 60dB, and a moderately-priced amp will produce a head room of about 30 to 50dB. If you are shopping for a new amp, you’ll want to make sure it has enough headroom to properly amplify your speakers.

Do Different Audio Tracks Make The Same Demands On Speakers?

A really loud and very high-pitched sound will make any speaker distort. Will playing lower-pitched tunes make them last longer? Does the frequency spectrum of the bass and treble have any influence?

There’s no doubt that different speakers sound different, even those that are built to the same standards. There are a variety of reasons for this, but they also have common traits, in the sense that they all pretty much sound similar when played at reasonable volume, and they are all still rated by the same standards.

Audio Engineers work with a number of factors when recording and mixing tracks. These can change from track to track, but the type and standard of speakers that the artist uses will influence the amount of or lack of bass and treble in a track.

The most famous music preference test is the 60 Hz finder test. In modern shows and especially dance music, the bass is bumped up to keep the party going, making the frequency response appear to be louder and more impressive than other venues.

Does The Size Of Speakers Make A Difference?

Yes. A lot of the time, when you buy bookshelf speakers, you will get smaller speakers. This has been done on purpose to fit them in smaller media units and to balance out a room's design. The speakers may be sized down, but their capability for sound output and power are just as big as floor speakers. They may be small, but they can still deliver that high bass sound that can make your ears bleed. If that’s what you want, here's how you can tell which size speakers will be better for your specific needs.

When you're looking for a new set of speakers, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of materials you can choose from. Rather than focusing on has tas or itms, which means you'll be looking at the material the owner chooses (look for wooden and fiberboard), the size of the components on the inside will more importantly determine the sound quality you'll get from your speakers. These are important for the overall sound experience, the amount of bass, and the general longevity of the speaker.

A lot of the time, when you buy bookshelf speakers, you will get smaller speakers. This has been done on purpose to fit them in smaller media units and to balance out a room's design. Since the quality of the parts in a speaker determines the quality of sound you'll get out of them, you have to make sure the speaker can produce the sound you want.

Surround Sound Vs. Stereo, Which Is Better?

Many times, people get into buying audio equipment with one thing in mind: "To have the best sound at home possible". Most people assume that the higher cost of the speaker means better sound and better built quality. This guide aims to help dispel this notion.

When buying speaker systems, you should always consider what your needs are. Some people buy surround sound systems for playing games while others buy stereo systems for a multi-purpose use. Some people can be more demanding of their audio equipment and some more oblivious. Some people have a dedicated listening room and others have their audio system set up in a living room or a kids bedroom. Some need a perfect high-fidelity musical reproduction while some barely care about it.

When you take all these factors into account you will find that the surround sound systems are too expensive for people who are not so demanding of their sound reproduction and don’t have a dedicated home cinema room.

In the following paragraphs we will briefly compare 5.1 channel surround sound systems and stereo systems and try to find out which is best suited for what scenario.

Stereo

The audio system that we have in our homes has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. While we love listening to music, it is just a means to an end. The sounds are what open up your imagination and help you to enjoy and experience life on a different level.

Selecting the best speaker system is one of the most significant investments you can make if you want to enjoy the best quality of sound. Of course, this is a rather subjective factor. The way that people hear sound is different, and the same argument can be made for the music that we like to listen to.

However, there are standards that define sound quality. These standards define what human ears like to hear, and the science behind the standards is indisputable to most people. Therefore, the term “high-end audio system” is usually used to describe a product that exceeds these standards.

Surround Sound

A lot of speakers today are coming with features such as Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. It's also possible to connect them to your TV and there's even the option to connect two speakers at a time to the unit!

If you're looking for a speaker for your TV, you'll want to make sure that you have enough speakers to match the type of sound system you have. For example, if you have a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system set up in the living room, you'll need 5 or 7 speakers.

Power

Remember that the power capabilities of the speaker will affect the sound. How much power a speaker has will affect both the volume and how effectively it will be able to portray those sub-bass frequencies.

If you're buying a speaker for your TV, it's likely that you'll be looking for something that has a lot of power. This is important because a lot of speakers are limited in the amount of power that they're able to connect to.

If you're planning on hooking the speaker up to a receiver, receiver power ratings are usually measured in watts. For the speaker to be able to produce the volume that you like, it's important to make sure that the receiver has enough power to drive the speaker while also having a quality signal output.

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Speakers

  • You can hook up two subwoofers to your receiver for a better bass response.
  • Bigger speakers can deliver a deeper, richer sound.
  • There are advantages to separate speakers. By using different sources of audio, you can let your speakers take turns reproducing the sound, which results in a more spacious sound.
  • Bookshelf speakers are compact, designed for near-field (less than 6 feet away) listening. Floor-standing speakers are generally larger, with bigger drivers and better bass, capable of delivering a larger, more defined sound.
  • Using a subwoofer (a speaker specifically designed to reproduce low frequencies) can fill out the sound.
  • Just because a speaker is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, in most cases expensive speakers—especially in components that also include a speaker—offer little improvements over the cheaper ones.
  • Larger speakers can respond to signals more quickly, resulting in better clarity of sound.
  • With an amplifier, you can connect more speakers to your receiver.
  • Installing a second amplifier may be simpler than installing additional speaker wires.
  • Surround-sound speakers can deliver a surround-sound effect when hooked up to your DVD or receiver.

Don’t scrimp on audio cables

You don’t have to be an expert to know that the difference between cheap and high-quality products is stark. You can see it, you can feel it, and most importantly, you can hear it.

You also don’t have to be an audio technician to know that the primary benefit of great speakers is a great sound. So the first question that comes to mind is why would you settle for less and end up with less great sound than you deserve?

You work hard for your money and you’re entitled to get your money’s worth. But not only that, your listening experience can be greatly enhanced with good speakers. So it’s really hard to justify not splurging on audio cables and instead settling for less.

If you spend thousands of dollars to get a great audio system, why would you risk damaging it with cheap cables? I don’t know about you but I believe it’s wiser to spend a bit more on a better-quality audio wire and make sure your system sounds just the way you want it to.

Room acoustics are everything

When it comes to speaker performance.

If you've ever heard a great pair of speakers sound terrible and a cheap pair of speakers sound great, you know what I’m talking about. It’s largely about room acoustics.

The overall sound quality relies on the relationship between the speakers and the room. A proper speaker setup uses proper speaker placement, and the right room acoustic treatment allows a 3-dimensional sound.

Proper speaker placement is vital. Poor speaker placement easily makes any speaker sound worse. Therefore, it is worth it to consider proper placement when purchasing speakers.

Speakers with higher quality woofer cones mean better sound. However, you can’t just go by woofer cone quality. A weak magnet, less powerful impedance, and badly designed crossovers can all affect the sound.

Another thing to watch out for is the weight of the woofer cone.

Light woofers need light drivers and amp components to even out the power and create high quality sound.

The cone material can be aluminum or coated aluminum over a paper cone, coated plastic or plastic. Generally you want more rubber or foam cone material because it produces more bass.

Nothing should sit in front of the speakers

I love music. I love fresh new bands. I love discovering new weird and strange bands. And I love listening to music when I'm cooking, doing chores, or sitting at work on a slow day.

In order to get the best sound out of anything, you need something that is going to do two things: make your sound good, and get your sound to the individual who is listening. Properly placed speakers are the key.

You should make sure you purchase speakers that (when properly placed) aren't blocked by other objects in your room. No matter how great your speakers are, and no matter how great your room acoustics are, they're going to "get in the way" of your sound.

Nothing should sit in front of the speakers. This means if the speakers are mounted to the wall, the A/V receiver shouldn't sit in front of the speakers or close, next to them. Ideally, they should be far enough back to create good sound. Also, a pantry or refrigerator shouldn't sit between the right speaker and listening area.

Be very careful with your speaker placement

Place your speakers in the correct location before mounting them in the wall. Certain speakers will need to be in corners of the room, others will need to be placed on a wall.

The software for your receiver will guide you while you are positioning your speakers.

But also be careful with your seating placement

If the subwoofer on your 5.1 surround system is located in the front corner of the room, you might get those "colder ear" notes. In this example, the coldness from the speaker results in the added coldness from the room. Whether you're placing your speakers or your seating, listen for "colder ear" locations, and experiment with moving the speakers around or chair placement to keep the sound even.

Final Thoughts On Expensive Speakers

So are Expensive Speakers worth it? Lets quickly recap and answer that question based on the points talked about above.

A multiple component theory is the cornerstone of understanding the difference between good sound and great pro sound.

New speakers do sound better than their used counterparts. This is due to the fact that all drivers are at the same power levels in a new installation. In a used installation, the efficiency of the reactances in amplifying your music may differ from one point in the room to the other.

Built To Last? Expensive speakers in the higher price ranges have build quality and construction that won’t allow them to deteriorate over time. As long as the drivers are kept in good operating condition, they will maintain peak performance for a longer period of time. This is an important factor in deciding whether to pay for expensive speakers.

If you are a frequent attendee at concerts or use your system as a professional stage setup, there can be a case made for purchasing premium cost components.

If you are a musician, determine a set budget for your monitors and purchase the best you can afford within that budget. Spend more on monitors than any other component. Upgrade the monitors before you upgrade your amplifier. Quality monitors will reflect the quality of your music. Music should drive your system, not the quality of the components.

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