Interesting reading

wangotango68wangotango68 GuestPosts: 1,056
edited October 2002 in Speakers
Speaker Gimmicks #1 - Top Ten Gimmicks To Look For in Loudspeakers

I decided to visit some of my local dealers this weekend to observe and listen to their latest offerings of electronics and speakers. It seems lately that more and more gimmicks are surfacing in the audio world and the consumers are letting the industry get away with it. Many products coming out on the market are continuously receiving glowing reviews in Audio Magazines, (especially in the ones in which the manufacturers advertise their products in). However, a majority of these products are subpar and not worth the materials they are made from. They are certainly not worth the retail prices that dealers are charging you the consumer. Rather than mentioning particular speaker manufacturers, I have decided to list below some of the gimmicks I have been observing. I will say this much however, be very cautious when buying certain speakers, as many of them tend to be {loaded with hype, poor build quality and value, and offer mediocre performance}.

Top Ten Gimmicks To Look For in Loudspeakers

1) Speakers that have a little bottom compartment that you are supposed to add sand for improved bass.

A) Many international companies build the cheapest and lightest cabinets to save on export shipping charges. They attempt to make up for the lack of bracing by claiming adding sand will dampen resonance. The truth is, mass loading the bottom of the cabinet isn't good enough.

B) Another reason for this compartment is to give the consumer the illusion that they have the ability to custom tailor the sound of their speakers.

2) Speakers that have metal grills over the tweeter that you are supposed to remove for extended highs.

Same reasoning as 1(B).

3) Speakers that employ passive radiator(s) (that look like woofers) which are bigger than the active woofer(s).

A) This is a gimmick used to make the consumer think they are buying more speaker for the money by employing fake woofers.

B) Think about it, what is the benefit of having a smaller woofer driving a larger passive radiator? Answer none, a port would function more efficiently.

4) Some brands of loudspeakers (usually imitator brands) that place the tweeter on top of the cabinet in their own neat little chamber.

There have been many cases where I pulled the tweeters out of these chambers to find a cheap $4 OEM driver with a tiny neodymium magnet that makes no physical connection to the tuning chamber that supposedly helps reduce ringing or break up. Although, it looks trendy, so it must be good right?

5) Speakers that are long and thin containing multiple 4" full range drivers only.

This point should be obvious without explanations. Multiple 4" drivers do not have the frequency range to reproduce the full audible bandwidth, nor do they have the excursion ability to produce adequate bass response.

6) Speakers that you have to place a metal cylinder on top of the cabinet to dampen resonance.

Another gimmick similar to 1(A) and 1 (B). Again if a cabinet is inert from the beginning, you shouldn't need magical methods to improve its performance.

7) Speakers that use cheap OEM tweeters with neodymium magnets and claim they are their own designs.

Some companies go so far as to claiming the spend millions on R&D efforts and that they build their own drivers. In many cases, such as tweeters, they simply use an off the shelf driver and anodize it to give the appearance of gold. Good marketing, now they claim the driver is their own and that it's a "Gold Dome".

8) Speaker companies that tell the consumer their speakers use the simplest crossovers possible to preserve phase coherence and that they build better drivers to match each other for optimal integration.

In an ideal world, it may be possible to design a loudspeaker system with a simple 1st or 2nd order crossover implementation. In reality, there are many variables such as cabinet properties, baffle alignment, driver sensitivity, etc, that have a synergistic affect requiring compensation in the crossover design for optimization.

9) Speakers that use multiple 10" or 12" Chinese stamped woofers in large bulky cabinets with cheap horn-loaded tweeters.

Same reasoning as 3 (A). More is not better in this case unless you are after an ear bleeder speaker that will play loudly with plenty of distortion and lack of fidelity.

10) Floorstanding speakers that are too large for bookshelves, yet so small that you have to bend over to orient the tweeter at ear level.

This point is self-explanatory. If a speaker is too small for a floorstander than it should be a bookshelf. A floorstanding speaker shouldn't require stands to position the tweeter at ear level.

**Bonus #1** Avoid speakers that look like the robot from "Lost in Space". These speakers' cabinets are designed by an artist to look trendy but are gimmicky at a very high price.

**Bonus #2** Be cautious of speakers that utilize surroundless midrange drivers that flex when touched. A good driver floats on air. This allows ultimate efficiency, sensitivity, and freedom from break up distortion.

**Bonus #3** Watch out for speakers with the word “Digital” in them. These usually tend to be associated with “White Van” speakers built in somebody’s garage loaded with cheap drivers, and electronics designed to look impressive with flashy brochures and outrageously high retail prices to confuse the inexperienced buyer. For more info on these brands, visit Scam Shield.

Bottom line

Don't believe magazine reviews. Go and audition the products yourself with music you are accustomed too. Don't let the salesperson brainwash you with technical garble printed on the manufacturer's literature for the product. Trust your ears and your eyes. Don't just go for the big name brands out there. While these brands are well known and easy to find dealers for, there are many superior products offered from smaller reputable speaker companies, at the same price points or less, which go unnoticed because they don't advertise in magazines that write reviews like "just buy them…".

"Good Luck and Happy Listening"

Post edited by wangotango68 on


  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited October 2002
    I know this isn't your thoughts wango, but some should be addressed.

    1. Bottom compartment.

    ....Same as stands, mass-loading typically results in tighter, more controlled bass. I've yet to see a 'cheap' speaker employ the mass loading option.

    2. Removeable metal grilles over the tweeter-only.

    ...Have not seen this myself, but 2 things strike me. First of all, a metal grill is far from transparent, I'd hope you wouldn't use one at all. Second, if not a grill, but a diaphram over the tweeter, sometime this is used to roll-off an overly bright design. Regardless, the only high-end speaker with a metal grill over the tweeter (not removeable) that I have come across is Canton, and the sound backs up their price/design.

    3. Passive Radiators a gimmick

    ...Hardly. Lets talk Thiel, hell, lets talk Polk SDA. A passive radiator design is probably the hardest to engineer. Most prefer a sealed 'acoustic suspension' design for music as to a ported. A passive radiator tends to offer the best of both sealed and ported designs, and if one were to learn about pr's, and moving mass, the radiator is typically larger than the 'active' drivers to work (enhance) as it should.

    4. Tweeter on top

    ...Resonance, and the acoustic wave from the back of other drivers becomes null and void. I'd really like to see what $4 oem driver was pulled from what speaker. All 'top mounts' that I have seen, beit Bowers and Wilkins, Polk, Rocket, even Technics used excellent drivers, nothing oem about the equation. Time alignment also enters this equation.

    5. Multiple small drivers

    ...The greatness of the line array. These are not intended to produce full-bandwidth signals, but rather produce a more than avg efficency, high power handling, and a sound stage like no tomorrow. Arrays are where it's at for some audio nuts. Maybe they could engineer a passive radaitor for the low end....

    6. Metal Cylinder on top

    ...I've seen this once, can't remember where, so no comment. Possible audio Voodoo (or doodoo).

    7. Gold dome

    ...Once again, no quote as far as a certain manufacturer, model. Lots of companies use off the shelf drivers. Some are modded to factory specs, but regardless, you pay for the engineering, for the network design. The Vifa ring radiator (over the shelf) is in the LSi, modded or not, is it OEM crap?

    8. Crossover design

    ...1st order? 2nd order? This guy has a big bag. A big bag of NOTHING. Before this is addressed, I'd like to know if he can define 1st and 2nd order.

    9. Multiple drivers/horns

    ... Well, no brands/models mentioned again. Horns are very popular, and big woofs move air like no tomorrow, typically. I don't see the point, way too generalized.

    Bonuses: Lost in space? Like what, Wilson? B&W? Avant Garde? Moth? Once again, engineering my friend. I have yet to see a 'cheap' speaker with the 'Star Trek' look.

    Surroundless drivers? Is there such a thing? Floating on air? What is 'ultimate efficency and sensitivity' (I'd say a good K-horn with multiple big woofs - see topic #9). Freedom from distortion and break up? What is break-up? So, a good speaker that floats on air won't distort when I crank my 1978 Sherwood 22wpc receiver?

    Final advice is the best this moron can offer by far, go listen.

    Rooster (of the 3-sheet Roosters)
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • MxStYlEpOlKmAnMxStYlEpOlKmAn Posts: 2,116
    edited October 2002
    well, actually if u move out of the home theatre section of speakers and into the shelf system, there is a 'star trek' lookin! jvc makes nothing but star trek lookin! but, jvc's sound good for the money, i wouldnt buy them now...but for someone starting out that likes rap-etc...its, other than that...i dont
    Damn you all, damn you all to hell.......
    I promised myself
    No more speakers. None. Nada. And then you posted this!!!!
    Damn you all! - ATC
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,985
    edited October 2002
    I personally think every speaker manufactor has there own way to try to improve there products.

    Here at Polk they felt bring in the Vifa tweeter for the Lsi series was the right thing to do.I personal would have liked to see Polk Make a tweeter as sweet as the Vifa, but at the same time I enjoy the sound it produces.I think it goes with there speaker seemlessly.The Tri lam has been redone 4 times and slight improvements where gained.

    The sand thing is Venna Acoustics,it really works I 've ran the speaker/s both ways and it makes all the difference in the world.I had a conversation with Vienna about this and they felt by adding the sand would bring up cost of the speaker and shipping costs.double loss.But I do agree with the fact that it should have been engineered into the cabnet.There cabnets are a beautiful and well buit as any high end speaker on the market....super nice.

    The Star Trek Lookin speakers would be B&W.Same as the out board tweeter.They have been doing this for years and it works real good.Other speaker companies copy this because it workks.On the market ,there isn't many speakers that can fill a room like the N803,n802,n801 OR THE NEW n800'S......THEY ARE ABOUT as good as it's more like different then better when you get into high end.

    I'm not knocking your post,I feel the same as you do from a certain point of view.Alot of companies try alot of freaky ****.You addressed alot of them.

    It was a good and interesting read to say the least man.

    My last point about speakers in general get what you pay for like anything else.
    I feel like most of all of you trhat Polk makes some of the best speakers for what they ask for them.That doesn't mean there isn't better out there because there is.

    Dynaudio is a company that in my opnion isn't matched by ANYBODY at ANYPRICE.They know speakers do you????????
    Same as B&W...wonderfull company and at the top of there game.
    The list goes on and on.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • wangotango68wangotango68 Guest Posts: 1,056
    edited October 2002
    i lifted it from this site

  • TroyDTroyD Posts: 12,323
    edited October 2002
    Actually, the sand thing is old school. Wharfdale was doing that years ago.

    I plan for the future. - F1Nut
  • faster100faster100 Posts: 6,247
    edited October 2002
    I was just going to say that i read that same article on another site, But alas he said he lifted it from the very site i was at the otherday, So i don't think this was a personal survey but one someone else wrote......
    MY HT RIG:
    Sherwood p-965
    Sherwood sd871 dvd
    Rotel 1075 amp x5
    LSI15 mains
    LsiC center
    LSIfx surround backs
    Lsi7 side surrounds
    SVS pb12/plus2

    2 Channel Rig:

    nad 1020 Pre-amp
    Rotel 1080 stereo amp
    Polk sda 2B
    kenwood grunt Tuner
    realistic lab 450 TT
    Signal cable IC
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,985
    edited October 2002
    I thought I was a personal survey.But good read no less.

    the other speaker that was in that NO Name was Totem, they are the ones who use a metal tower on top for magnet field.I tried it when I demo'd them.and I couldn't hear a difference no matter where I put that stupid but cool looking thing.Anyone else play around with Totem speakers?They do sound really good.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
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