HOW MANY WATTS ARE THOSE SPEAKERS? ARE THEY 2-WAY OR 3-WAY? AND OTHER QUESTIONABLE SPEAKER QUESTIONS.

DH Audio and Home Theater, for most speakers it sells, does not have a display model for demonstration.  Kef Blades, Kef LS50, and PSB Alpha B1s are longtime exceptions.  Demonstrations of other models might be arranged upon request.  Typically, we base our speaker recommendations on the sound of the speaker, a site survey, and a consultation with the customer.  No one has ever said they’re unhappy with a speaker choice!

Just some of the available brands we’re authorized to sell include:

Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Artison, Atlantic Technology, Bluesound, Bose, Boston Acoustics, Definitive Technology, Epos, GamuT, Jamo, KEF, Klipsch, Leon, Madison Fielding, Martin Logan, Monitor Audio, Niles, Pioneer, Pioneer Elite, PSB, Samsung, Sonos, Stereostone, Triad, Von Schweikert (custom), Yamaha

 

If you’re looking for a primer on home speakers, read on.

The belief that today’s small loudspeakers sound as lifelike as large ones is largely false.  If you’re under this impression, it’s likely because marketing departments have told you what you want to hear.  (Go marketing departments!)  Or, maybe you believe this because you heard small speakers and they sounded wonderful.  I have, too.  Just know that, all other things being equal, larger speakers get closer to reproducing the full range of lifelike sound.  They can play lower in frequency and they can better reproduce changes in volume.  Go look at the product lines from any speaker company.  The vast majority of the time, as you move towards the flagship (i.e. more realistic sounding) model, the speakers get larger.  Given equally competent designs, the general rule is that the larger the cabinet volume the greater the potential for lifelike sound.

As for price, speaker types that give the most sound for the dollar–all other things being equal and for most listeners–are, from best to worst:

Floorstanding/Tower speakers (best value):  These start at about $700/pair and, to most listeners, will rate as more lifelike and enjoyable to listen to than smaller speakers of the same price.  Audiophiles will sometimes take exception to this for a number of reasons that boil down to preferring sins of omission over sins of commission.

Bookshelf speakers:  These measure roughly 8″ x 8″ x 10″ and up and are meant to be placed on stands or on a shelf.)

In-wall or in-ceiling speakers:  These might be ranked below on-wall or surface speakers, in value, if you add in the cost of installation.  Typically, flush mounting takes longer than surface mounting.

On-Wall or surface-mounted speakers:  This category includes soundbars and speakers that have been designed long and shallow to look good next to flat panel TVs.  Most of this category needs a separate woofer. Woofers usually sit on the floor and start at about 10″ cubed in size, though entry level and high-performance woofers will be at least 2x this size.  The 10″ or 12″ cubed sizes are in most buyer’s low-middle range.

Micro Speakers:  This last category consists of speakers that are meant to be used, always, with a separate woofer.  If a speaker’s optional stand is a pole, if the speaker is under 8″ tall, or if the speaker is easily grabbed and carried around with one hand, chances are you’re looking at a micro speaker.  A standout micro speaker is the KEF Egg.

You may be aware that speaker designers will use one, two, or three or more different types of speaker-drivers to cover different frequencies.  These are called “one-way,” “two-way,” “three-way,” and on like that, speakers.  This fact about a speaker cannot be used to predict how lifelike–or good–it will sound.  There are state-of-the-art speakers that utilize one, that use utilize 2, and that utilize 3 or more drivers.  It is generally true, however, that a speaker utilizing just one driver will not sound as good as the other types unless that “one-way” speaker costs many thousands of dollars.

As for the issue of watts, know that the amplifiers output electrical power which is measured in watts while speakers output sound which is measured in decibels.   The only useful characteristic of a speaker having to do with watts is that speaker’s minimum recommended amplifier wattage.  You must be sophisticated in your consumption of amplifier manufacturer’s wattage claims, however, as these claims are not well regulated.  One amplifier brand’s claim of 100 watts would be more honestly called 50 watts by a another brand.  In my example, the former brands tend to be mass market (e.g. Sony, Pioneer, Onkyo) and the latter tend to be higher-end (NAD, GamuT, AudioControl).  They all have their place and we’re authorized to sell them.

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