Audio Speaker Jargon

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Most of us humans just listen to music coming out of a speaker but audiophiles, sound geeks and car guys on the hand, use a lot of terms and jargons to identify the quality of sound from each brand of speaker they encounter. These terminologies are used to describe sound qualities in numerical values. Here are some of the common word and their definitions:


PEAK POWER – One of the most common terms you will encounter when searching or reading about speakers / subwoofers / tweeters. This is also called Max Power or Dynamic Power Rating which is the maximum amount of power that a speaker can handle without damaging or breaking the device. With the correct amplifier power, you can reach this rating through a loud hit of a bass or high note of a song. In a way, this value is an exaggeration of the power that a speaker can give until it starts to break.


RMS POWER – Or Root Mean Square is measured by the continuous power an amplifier is outputting or in this case, a speaker can handle. Most speaker manufacturers compute the RMS differently which is why it is also very difficult to compare RMS’s of various brands. However, there are also companies who are CEA certified. This means that products are tested with the same methods, therefore can be compared equally to one another to know which products are better.


IMPEDANCE – One the most mystical terms in the speaker world. Lack of knowledge of this can commonly lead to a blown speaker. Impedance is measured using the unit Ohm which is basically a physical characteristic of a speaker to restrict the flow of electrical current through it. This is important to know because connecting an amplifier to a speaker with the wrong impedance can lead to damaged amps. On the other hand, connecting it to a speaker with the correct or matching impedance will deliver maximum power and performance.


FREQUENCY RESPONSE – is a numerical value describing the audible frequency range that a speaker can reproduce. It is measured in Hertz and in theory, humans can generally hear 20 Hz which is the very low bass notes, and 20,000 Hz which are the highest treble notes. In addition, the frequency response is often accompanied by an amplitude value measured in dB (decibel). In general, FR is used to determine how high a treble, and how low a bass a speaker can hit.


SENSITIVITY – Also a common term when shopping for speakers, this is a measure of a loud speaker’s sound pressure for every 1 Watt of power at 1-meter distance from it and is measured in Decibels (dB). This value can be useful in determining how loud a speaker can sound and the amount of power to amplify it. For instance, a speaker with a sensitivity of 96dB means the sound pressure level (SPL) of a speaker is 96dB after applying 1 Watt of power at 1-meter distance. Therefore, generally speaking, a speaker with a low sensitivity will require more power to amplify sound and vice-versa.


DESIGN – Speaker design is described as having the number of speakers in an audio system with separate frequencies. A 2-way design means it has two speakers with 2 separate frequencies – the lows and highs. On the other hand, a 3-way design means it has 3 speakers with separate frequencies of low, midrange and high.


DRIVER – This is basically the cone or individual transducer of a speaker that moves back-and-forth produced by electrical signals and eventually sound waves.


TWEETER – Also a very common term and sometimes confusing, is a specialized speaker that produces very high frequencies, usually 2,000 to 20,000 Hz that is normally considered in the upper limit of human hearing. It is usually small and a dome or horn-type shape.


SUBWOOFER – Is a loudspeaker designed and dedicated to producing very low-frequency sounds known as “bass” which ranges from 20 to 200 Hz.


With the basic knowledge of these speaker terms, you are able to more or less identify a better speaker for your needs. If all else fails, you can inquire an expert at at Autohaus Automotive Solutions at (510) 314-8896. Our specialists can guide you on what speaker is best for you!


We have various brands to choose from complete with all the details and specifications for you to compare. Do check out our latest promos on speakers and other audio system equipment.



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