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Old 30th July 2004, 05:21 PM   #1
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Default Has speaker technology improved in the past few years?

...just some observations, do you all think that speaker technology (in the DIY component world and the premade commercial world) within the past 5 years has considerably advanced?

For example: In the pro-audio market (where weight and power handling are important), speakers from just 5 years ago to today, are now handling 2-3x the power like they were before.

In the car audio market- subwoofer drivers are also consideriably getting beefier. Also another example is personally I've had a set of higher end 218.03 SX MBQuart component set 6.5" for my car and they are 6 years old. I just pulled them out yesterday to install some of Polk Audio's entry level 6.75" dB series just for a change. I threw them on my real time analyzer and they were surprisingly very flat, even flatter then the MBQ's, although a little bit bright, they took very mild EQing. Not only that, when played at high volumes, they seemed much cleaner and had less distortion then the MBQ system. For a budget system at probably 1/3 the MSRP I was impressed. I havent heard the newer systems but I'm sure they've improved. I'm probably going to sell the MBQ system.

At home, just look how many new speaker lines roll out once every 2 or 3 years. The trend from last decade used to be big fat wide and shallow speakers. Nowadays, its slender and deep. Certainly you would think they would need to improve to sell well? So the grand question is- do you all think speaker technology is improving or has it pretty much topped out (and any perceived improvements is just hype and marketing)? After all, we're still using magnets and voice coils.....I know that in the past decade and more that they have improved, with newer formulations and better quality control, but have we maxed out?
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Old 30th July 2004, 11:04 PM   #2
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in my mind this is questions without (propper) answers..
i remember reading a copy of illustrated science from back in 88', and they had posted a letter where some guy asked i computers could get any better then they where.. well, sitting here in 04' glancing over to my old 286 setup (88' model pc) i have to say yes, the got better..

the very same thing is probbly true when it comes to speakers and really everything else too.. just the way of thing i guess..

(reading an 04' edition of the same mag, and there is an pretty interesting article about some new breed of speakers that can consentrate sound to one area specific so that others cant hear unless in the "sound path".. speakers evolve too)
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Old 31st July 2004, 12:43 PM   #3
Hans L is offline Hans L  Netherlands
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I think you're seeing more a fashion trend than actual improvements. Maybe someone can correct me, but I haven't seen anything new in speakerunits over the past 5 years. No new breaktroughs in material, motor, construction or anything like it. If there are changes, they're are probably more refinements than anything else. NXT Sound panels were introduced a few years ago and although they do look pretty, they don't qualify as hifi AFAIC.

Commercial speakers have become slimmer and smaller over the years, hence the increase in power handling and Xmax, but these are simply design decisions.

Production costs in large scale operations have probably gone down a little like with most industries.
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Certainly you would think they would need to improve to sell well?
One would like to think so, but this doesn't have to be the case at all. There is quite a bit of emotion and marketing involved in hifi sales, so it's not that simple. Sometimes worse objective performance leads to better sales.
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Old 31st July 2004, 12:53 PM   #4
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I don't think we have reachet the summit. Take a look here: http://www.e-speakers.com/
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Old 31st July 2004, 12:54 PM   #5
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I think there are a lot of things getting done better... it's true that much of it is steps sideways instead of forward (Bigger wattage numbers--not that the speaker can handle more power, but marketing--and I suspect car speaker manufacturers are using bigger inferior magnets; a big magnet sells better, I guess) but look at what Adire's doing--you can get the same bass out of an 8" woofer now that used to require a 10" woofer. The efficiency is not as good, but the way Neodynium is going, I think it won't be long before efficiency goes back up.

Car speakers are going to get worse and worse forever and ever... it's just a fact of life, like death and taxes.
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Old 31st July 2004, 01:27 PM   #6
Andy G is offline Andy G  Australia
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Default it like life....

the rich are getting richer....
the poor are getting poorer....
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Old 31st July 2004, 01:41 PM   #7
Hans L is offline Hans L  Netherlands
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Quote:
Originally posted by dshortt9
I don't think we have reachet the summit. Take a look here: http://www.e-speakers.com/
Andre sells a small collection of high quality drivers. I don't see any breakthrough there.
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Car speakers are going to get worse and worse forever and ever... it's just a fact of life, like death and taxes.
Lol. Yes, they've figured out yet that increasing the retailprice doesn't lead to higher quality... but it does lead to higher profit
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Old 31st July 2004, 02:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nappylady
I think there are a lot of things getting done better... it's true that much of it is steps sideways instead of forward (Bigger wattage numbers--not that the speaker can handle more power, but marketing--and I suspect car speaker manufacturers are using bigger inferior magnets; a big magnet sells better, I guess) but look at what Adire's doing--you can get the same bass out of an 8" woofer now that used to require a 10" woofer. The efficiency is not as good, but the way Neodynium is going, I think it won't be long before efficiency goes back up.

Car speakers are going to get worse and worse forever and ever... it's just a fact of life, like death and taxes.

You think so? Why?
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Old 31st July 2004, 11:11 PM   #9
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Without the intent to set off a massive flame war I would without a doubt say no to the original question. While the pro industry is continually improving power handling, efficiency and distortion taking advantage of advances in materials, computer simulation tools (FEM for example) and precision machining, most "hifi" or "high end" or whatever manufacturers seem to do pretty much the same thing - that is virtually nothing. At least as far as serious R&D for sonically improved speakers goes IM-not-so-HO.

I guess there are greater returns for marketing hype, following trends and bottling snake oil than solid technical improvements...

/M
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Old 1st August 2004, 12:02 AM   #10
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There are a lot of speakers made today... most of them aimed at fullfilling the primamry goal of making a profit. If we look at the leading edge of drivers, evolutionary change & improvement continues to happen (ie it has taken 30+ years for Ted Jordan to get his cone geometry to the point it is now). Neo is taking motors in another evolutionary step.

At the same time some speaker manufacturers are realizing that when the majority of the industry took an abrupt 90 degree turn with the introduction of the transistor (and the gobs of power it offered) alot of promising tech was lef on the table, are going back and seeing what they can recover.

And there are the companies that didn't stop -- were essentially put on pause -- Lowther who have in recent times made a big comeback with their 75 year old tech, and companies like Exact (drivers stored in Nitrogen atmostphere for at least a couple decades) who are making a resurgence.

Still it is mostly evolunionary, and these bleeding edge drivers tend to be expensive -- one of the reasons why there is a growing market for vintage drivers. An example is the 40 year old FE103A vrs the FE108sigma (and now the FE108ESigma). Market value for the FE103A is about $80/pr (if you can talk someone out of a pr). FE108s cost that each. Stock vrs stock an FE108Sigma, and an FE103A go head to head. Tweak the FE103A (including phase plug) and there is no contest. It will be interesting to see how the 108 fairs once we talk Frank into tweaking them. FE108ESigmas were just installed and are breaking in.

So i'd say that the best of modern drivers are overall better than their forebears, but when you start including the mid & low end, and start considering bang for the buck, there are a lot of 30-40 year old drivers that are better and better value than modern day drivers.

So we have the Frugal-phile(tm) with his vintage alnico mostly fullranges driven by a pheonix* tube amp, a tweaked DVD player or an old Rega as source. Subs if in use could be cheap vintage extended range woofers or a modern subwoofer, driven by a Chinese made plate amp. Supertweeter is a single cap connected to an old pr of horns or even an alnico thimble tweeter.

*(pheonix amp -- an old tube amp raided for its iron and resurrected from the ashes -- ie i scored a Philips R-R with an EL84 SE amp this week for $7 CAD)

dave
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