Speakers come in all shapes and sizes and having a sense of how they work can help understand them better. This can help our purchase decisions with regard to sound systems.
One of the more frequent questions I ran into recently is: “Do bigger speakers sound louder?”
This post will therefore discuss this because most newbie people looking to get in audio production face this question. Furthermore, this post is certainly helpful to those looking to purchase speakers.
With that out of the way, Do bigger speakers actually sound louder?
Most big speakers are certainly louder because they have a higher acoustic output but this doesn’t mean their tone and quality is always superior to that of smaller speakers. The only thing that most big speakers can guarantee you is raw volume and clearer low end frequencies.
It’s wise to look for high quality big speakers if you’re looking for both volume and quality.
The misconception most people have is that bigger speakers also guarantee better quality but that is not always the case.
Sometimes all a bigger speaker can afford you is more volume and general loudness.
The truth is we are all on the quest for high quality sound and it is important to understand speaker manufacturer specifications.
Important things to know about speakers
Power and Loudness
Loudness is measured in decibels or dB for short. Since this post is discussing Loudness, decibels are certainly important to this discussion.
One important fact about decibels that you have to know is that a small increase in decibels produce a significant impact on volume. This is because for every 10 Decibel increase, the noise is twice as loud.
Another key thing that one has to understand about speakers is the power. Power is measured in units called Watts denoted W.
Simply put, a watt measures electrical power. Therefore, as an amplifier processes sound, we measure this output in Watts.
All speakers have a limit or maximum number of Watts that they can cope with and this is generally specified by the manufacturer of the speakers.
So you’ll be able to get a sense of a speakers Loudness when you see the maximum number of Watts labeled on them.
It is for this fact that one has to ensure that the amp they intend to use with the speakers doesn’t put our more power than the speakers. Because the speakers will simply not be able to handle this power and will more than likely end up damaged.
Manufacturers usually put out two important power figures for both amplifiers and loud speakers.
With amplifiers you’ll get two figures, namely the RMS and the Peak.
The RMS is simply the power an amplifier can put out over a long period.
The Peak on the other hand is the amount of power an amplifier can put out out in short minimal bursts.
With speakers you get two important figures that you have to pay attention to and these are the Norminal power and the Peak power.
The nominal power is simply the amount of power a speaker can cope with without it being damaged.
On the other hand, the Peak power is generally short burst power that a speaker can handle without it being damaged.
Important things to look for in speakers
When shopping for speakers you will certainly be bombarded with a lot information as well as a variety of speakers.
As a general rule of thumb, there are specifically three important numbers that you have to make sure you find on any speaker that is of interest to you.
These numbers are the Total Harmonic Distortion, Speaker Impedance and the overall Headroom or simply Headroom.
Total Harmonic Distortion
The total Harmonic Distortion or TDH for short, is a measure of how speakers are able to faithfully translate what is a on a disc or hard drive into sound.
Generally, you’ll want to go for speakers with a low TDH because that means they have less Distortion.
The rule is; the lower the number, the better.
Values of TDH usually range 0.05% to around 0.08%, essentially a TDH lower than 0.10% is a good system.
For the music producer, a clean output from speakers is what we are looking for because when it comes to any sort of audio production, noise is almost always the enemy.
So the next time you’re shopping for studio monitors or “big speakers”, look for the ones with a low TDH number.
Now that we have a general understanding of TDH, let’s get into the next important point, which is the Speaker Impedance.
The speaker Impedance is simply how much current a speaker draws. The standard for most speakers is 8ohms. 4 ohms is very good but it is mostly expensive.
It is also worthy to know that buying 4 ohms speakers with regard to Impedance will require you to get a very good amplifier in order for you to get the most out of them.
The next important thing to discuss is the Headroom.
This number is more important to those people that have home cinemas because the Headroom measures what a system can deliver in short bursts. Therefore a large Headroom can enhance the experience of explosions in movies if you have a home cinema.
Big speakers certainly have their appeal and primarily offer two benefits.
1. Bigger speakers can offer you more volume which can be great in situations where volume is the main thing you’re looking for.
2. Bigger speakers will offer you more bass which means you can get a clear picture of the low frequencies. This can be very helpful in audio production because your decisions can be made taking into account the expression of the low end by your speakers.