- Mar 20, 2013
I had a look at the sensitivities, but it's hard to get an idea without some sort of baseline.
I tried to use my current set up to measure the volume level I'd like to achieve (using an app), but without using some sort of standardised tone(?) and the LS-3.5 numbers, it's still meaningless.
For you and for anyone else who wishes to get into this:
One way of testing is if you have a multimeter - play -20dBFS pink noise
(e.g. from iFi's burn in tracks)
to set the level at the speaker binding posts to a known level (say 2.83V or more or less depending on how efficient the speakers are and how much you like pink noise) and then measure the level using your app at a fixed distance (say 1m).
Using this signal will be similar to the average level of a crescendo of a classical orchestra, or the outro jam of a live Jazz band on well recorded CD's (most modern Pop will sound 'louder' due to heavy compression). So a good 'serious' recording will have the loudest passages at similar levels as the sound level of this 'pink noise' signal.
This gives you a 'baseline' which, while not absolute (as in dB/W) can be replicated easily anywhere and allows comparison. You can then determine the relative loudness of different speakers on the same signal (take note that room size and acoustic treatment play a role here) and then you can also consider the absolute SPL.
As a reference point, the Retro Stereo 50 + LS3.5 can fill a modern urban living room or the front room in a UK semi-detached or terraced house (around 30 square meters) with solid sound levels, but it won't go to 'head banging' or live rock concert levels (your neighbour will thank you though).
So in the same situation switching to the Neat Iota's would mean very little past 'Girl & Guitar' or chamber music at sedate sound levels would be playable, while with the LS3.5 we can do justice to larger Jazz ensembles, larger scale classical works and modern pop music without feeling the desire to turn it up past the systems limits. SOme of our staff find it very much loud enough, some don't, so even within the company, we all have diverse preferences!
In theory a set of Retro Stereo 50 with LS3.5 and this -20dB average signal will allow around 80dB SPL in a normal sized (say appx. 30 sqm) room - just slightly below the level of a classical orchestra at ffff at a good seat (mid-hall), which is normally sufficient for enjoying the performance.
The HK990 with Neat Iota's by comparison will allow around 85dB normalized to similar conditions, so it will play notably louder if called upon to do so.
The Retro Stereo 50 on the other hand under the same conditions will only produce 74dB which is a bit on the quiet side, but MAY be sufficient if LOUD