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What various factors influence speaker volume?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Most speakers seem to give a sensitivity measure in db/w/m. I believe that this means how many decibel it will produce when playing pink noise when fed 1 watt of power and measured at 1 meter.

When they're measuring just the drivers i beleive they do this in an open baffle (is this correct). When theyr'e doing this for actual speakers, do they measure it in the enclosure? I beleive that the measurements are done in one of them echo free chambers..

What various factors influence speaker volume? I ask this because I want to be able to make rough estimates of what volume a speaker will be able to produce in realistic situations.

To my understanding...
- Being in a room adds approx 4db
- Having a pair of speakers adds 3db
- Doubling distance reduces 6db

What other factors count? Does being in a speaker enclosure increase or decrease a driver's sensitivity? How about horn loaded speakers? Etc..
post #2 of 4
Over the years I've come to prize clarity over simple volume in sound. There always seems to be some external restraint on the volume level we can use when listening, be it common sense or the neighbor next door. You can check my present speaker-based system under my profile. This is the first system that I cannot turn all the way up; we get to pain well before we get to clipping.

That said, speaker efficiency testing standards vary sufficiently bewtween manufacturers so that the figure should only be used for a rough guide. It's also a number used to "cheat"; make sure the test impedance loads are the same along with the other factors to be comparing apples with apples. You should also know how your amp is rated and how it performs under different loads. As a rule of thumb, I like to have four to ten times as much amp power as I think I will be using on most peaks. Clipping is always rough on the ears and rough on the equipment.

Listening room geometry and size/volume, speaker placement, and room furnishings all work together to influence how speakers sound including the volume ranges of the different octaves. In closing, I would just recommend you get the beefiest amps and speakers you can find from reputable manufacturers.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply Old Pa

First off I assure you that neighbours are no problem, largely on account of having none!

I'm not trying to get a system that goes really loud.. that's not of any interest to me. I just want to make sure that my system will be loud enough to be listenable.. i dont want to get stuck with something that's below nomal listening volume.

As far as getting the beefiest gear around, well..... somewhere along the line i fell in love with the concept of high efficiency horn speakers and low powered tube amps. I'm currently eyeing a 8w class-a amp.. Although a high powered amp would probably be nice, I dont want to get excessive... i dont want an amp that will have to have the volume turned almost the whole way down to be usable.. i'd I figure that i'd like an amp that has the volume around half at normal volume.

Hopefully clipping shouldn't be too rough in my future setup due to being a class-a tube amp, but of course clipping is never a good thing so i'd surely like to avoid it..

Thanks again for your reply
post #4 of 4
Even though I started out with horns and tubes (after a fashion ) forty years ago, my tastes have gone in different directions. Most horn systems are, of course, highly efficient. And tube clipping is not nearly as annoying/damaging as solid state clipping. And the equipment you are talking about would seem to be quality kit, not light weight pricepoint stuff displayed inbetween TVs and washing machines. Even a low powered class A tube amp is going to have some real physical mass to it. And all the best horns I've heard have been floor-standers. I'd just go with at least ten times the wattage that produces what I would call "loud" with the speakers chosen in the room they are to be listened to in. If it's any sort of a guide, my listening room is about 2400 cubic feet and that's just big enough for the B&W 800s with 625watts/channelRMS. Good volume "opens" up when you turn it up.
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