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Speaker System Efficiency: What the industry isn't telling you.


Speaker system efficiency, often overlooked or obscured by industry jargon, is a straightforward concept that anyone can grasp. It's a measure of how effectively a system converts electrical power into usable sound output. Instead of getting bogged down in technicalities, let's break it down.


mathimatical formulae

First off, we use a simple formula: divide the power output (measured in acoustic watts) by the electrical input (in electric watts), and you get a percentage, which represents efficiency. But here's the catch: this basic calculation doesn't tell the whole story. It overlooks the dynamic nature of content like music and movies, which can have varying sound levels.


To understand efficiency better, let's focus on what a speaker does. It takes electrical energy and turns it into sound waves, measured in decibels. Every time you double the electrical power sent to the speaker, theoretically, the sound level should increase by 3 decibels—assuming the speaker can move freely without compressing, we can not overlook the fact that the driver, in fact, moves.


But what happens when the speaker compresses? Compression occurs when the speaker can't keep up with increased power, resulting in a loss of sound quality and efficiency. This loss, measured in decibels, shows that the speaker is struggling to produce linear sound pressure levels.


So, why does 1 decibel of compression matter? Even the most precise equipment has its limits. Anything within 1 decibel is often considered insignificant or an anomaly of the measurement procedure or the mic itself.. But beyond that first dB, compression affects the fidelity and immersive experience of sound reproduction, revealing flaws in the system's performance.

3d soundwave

The more extreme end of compression losses warrant some consideration. When a subwoofer or speaker compresses, for argument's sake, 15 dB, which is fairly normal. That is 15 dB of detail that is now gone. So even if the speaker is producing 100 dB, it should be producing 115 dB and with much better sound definition.


In essence, efficiency is about how well a system can deliver sound without loss of the drivers ability to move freely. By understanding the dynamics of speaker movement and compression, we can better appreciate the true efficiency of a sound system by its ability to recreate sound without losing detail and SPL through its dynamic range.



Speaker System Efficiency: What the industry isn't telling you.



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