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How-To: Optimize Audio System Dynamics

Finding the dynamic sweet spot in your system.

C7 black carbon fiber bookshelf speaker

To find the sweet spot on your system:

Step 1: Play some content for 10 minutes at moderate SPL levels.

Step 2: Crank up your system until it just starts to sound bad/distressed. Mark that volume level down on a notepad.

Step 3: Now lower the volume until all the clarity comes back to a maximum amount of effortlessness, where it sounds like it is hardly even trying. Mark that volume level down.

The difference between the two points is roughly how much your system (amp included) is compressing according to your ear in content playback. That's what YOU can hear, and that's what matters.

Outcome 1: On step two, if the clarity only comes back to a point that is just "meh", then you probably have a "it's good for what it is" engineered system. In this case, if you want more performance, you would be looking at upgrading the speakers and amplifier.

Outcome 2: On step two, if the clarity comes back but then drops out at low levels and becomes homogenized where you start losing detail and clarity again, you probably have a condition where the speaker suspension is stiff and requires a certain amount of power to overcome itself. This can lead to intermodulation distortions that are extremely hard to track, so watch for inconsistency of playback sound quality at different output levels.

Outcome 3: If the clarity comes back and stays clear all the way down to low output levels, you may benefit from a more capable amp if the speakers are not limiting on power at high output levels.

What is happening.

What we are doing is getting the speaker driver warm and up to temperature. This will shift the TS Parameters into their operational range under program playback conditions. While the speaker is still running, pushing them up to the point where there is audible sounds of distress will heat everything up and then dialing them back down to a point where they are at maximum clarity will allow you to hear exactly where the speaker sounds worse on either side of where it sounds best. The results as listed above will give you a direction as to what to look at as the suspected culprit of your diminished or inconsistent sound quality.

Is this a foolproof method to know for sure what is happening and where? No. This is only a short test that sheds a bit of light on a complex ecosystem of parts in order to narrow down the list of suspects.

how to optimize audio system dynamics

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