The market is inundated with thousands of different speakers and this makes the task of narrowing down the choices much more challenging. Quality is paramount when differentiating between the different speakers available, after all, no one wants to invest in speakers only to be disappointed in the sound quality.
The quality of a speaker is determined by several factors and conducting thorough research before buying a speaker will ensure that you invest in the best one available.
A speaker will come with specifications that are listed on the packaging, however, this can confuse buyers who do not have previous experience of purchasing such an item.
Total Harmonic Distortion
Total Harmonic Distortion is a measurement used to identify the level of distortion between the original audio and the source that it has been received by. Expressed as a percentage, a lower figure indicates that there is less distortion to the audio, therefore the quality of sound is better.
This figure is typically listed on the specs list and is important because it will show how accurate and clean the sound is going to be. The best speakers will have a THD value between 0.05% and 0.08%.
The Design and Materials
Although it is of course important to pay close attention to the technical specifications of the speaker, you should also consider its design and the materials that it has been made from because this will also affect the quality.
Regardless of its shape or size, a speaker will feature the following three components; an electromagnet coil, a permanent magnet, and a cone. The cone can be made from different materials, this includes aluminum, paper, polypropylene, or even ceramic/ glass fiber.
The type of material will influence the quality of the sound because some are prone to flexing when confronted with certain frequencies which can cause the sound to become distorted.
The speaker enclosure is also influential upon functionality and sound quality. If a speaker was designed without an enclosure the sound output would seem rather thin. Also, those that aren’t too widely sized are preferable because there isn’t a risk of the sound reverberating inside or rattling.
The output power of a speaker is measured in watts and identifies the power that the speaker is capable of receiving from the power source without getting damaged. More power is helpful in instances where the speaker is going to be used in a large room or models with low efficiency.
This measurement is typically measured by RMS and the higher the rating, the louder and more powerful you should expect the speaker to be. When selecting an amp it is important to ensure that it doesn’t overwhelm the capabilities of your speaker as this can result in damage.
The best quality speakers tend to be more sensitive and don’t require a lot of power to deliver good quality sound. Of course, it is important to make sure that music isn’t continuously listened to at a loud volume because this can lead to hearing problems.
Tuning is another important factor to consider when discussing sound quality. In fact, the tuning can be very important when determining whether a speaker produces good or bad quality sound.
Essentially, when a brand manufactures their speakers they will use different types of digital signal processing and audio components and it must meet a certain standard to make sure that the music is played at the right pitch.
Frequency response refers to the range of tones and frequencies that a speaker can produce. It is identified in hertz and measures how well the speaker reproduces these frequencies without dropping below the expected limits.
Ideally, your speaker should have a rating of 20 Hz. The frequency response should be flat because any inconsistencies can cause the audio to sound loud and then quiet in places.
While it is worth assessing the headroom of the speaker, it isn’t believed to have a huge impact on the quality of sound that the unit produces.
The headroom essentially refers to the buffer zone that is intended to deal with unexpected or loud sounds without affecting the quality of the audio. The bigger the headroom, the less distorted the sound.
Speaker Impedance is measured in Ohms and whilst it isn’t thought to affect the quality of the sound, it does affect its loudness. It is important to note that the correct impedance is important because if it is too high or too low it can affect any accompanying equipment.
Ideally, your speaker should have an Ohms rating of 8, however, you will find many that have a rating of 4, in this instance, it is important to connect it to an amplifier to ensure that it reaches its maximum potential.
Clarity refers to how clear the sound is. A quality speaker will produce audio output that is clearly articulated and easily distinguishable without any distortion.
It can be difficult to identify the quality of the speaker without listening to the audio that it produces in person. Ideally, you should try and listen to it in a setting similar to the one that you intend to use it in. As such, you will be able to assess the quality of the audio that it produces.
Although the mechanisms of the speaker have a significant impact on how well it functions and how good the audio sounds, it is also important to remember that the materials and design play a crucial role in determining the quality of a speaker too.
Often, a speaker is chosen according to budget and you will sometimes find that an expensive speaker isn’t necessarily of better quality. There are many more budget-friendly offerings available that produce acceptable sound.
The size of your speaker is also important as a smaller speaker in a large room may not have the desired impact and may leave you disappointed in the quality of sound that is produced.