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Speaker design...how good is your hearing?


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Speaker design.

Just how important is your hearing range?

 

A number of years ago I built a set of Stradivari Clones per Troels Gravesen design which was based on the original from Sonus Faber  - Strads.

They served me well as a concept design/build project. Recently I retired them, they had begun to sound somewhat flat and lifeless. Partially due to quality ( or lack thereof ) of the tweeters and I suspect some of the crossover components may also be an issue. No matter the cause they are being retired, they are too large and as I retire later this year I want to scale back a bit on the large audio gear as we are looking to scale back a bit on the home front as well. The kids are gone and we really dont need all the space. My wifes' health isn't good so a smaller home is definitely on the cards.

 

Thats where Troels comes in again. I recently watched his video on the construction  of the Magico Minis Mkii and thought, Hell Yes! thats me sorted, so I'm in the process of designing a similar set of speakers. Now I'm nine years older than when I did the Strad clones and it got me to thinking, how good is my hearing? As a enthusiast speaker builder, does what I design actually sound as good as the design and crossover would suggest, and importantly how do I test this?

 

I have a set of headphones ( Beyer Dynamics) that are full range so that sorted out that part. I turns out there are several good quality frequency tests you can run online. I ran three different tests and got the same result, +/- 5% frequency results. When averaged I can reliably  hear up to 13335khz . At 65 I'm happy enough with that result as I have some hearing loss from industrial damage( 47 years in the construction industry ).

 

How does this relate to speaker design? It means that I should be able to hear all the frequency range of musical instruments and the majority of their upper harmonics as well as vocals. Exceptions to this would be the very highest frequencies of the piccolo, violin,& cymbals, although this is unlikely to be heard anyway as these high frequencies are easily overpowered by other instruments in a piece of music or song.

 

Are there people who can hear at these high frequencies, yes a few, but it's rarer than you think according to one hearing specialist I have consulted. Generally by the age of thirty if you hear frequencies at the 16000khz range you are doing well and by 50 if you can hear 14000khz your hearing is pretty good, but dont expect to hear much more than that and at the end of the day does it really matter? 99%  of all the music I have listened to and am ever likely to listen will fall into  the lower ranges anyway.

A case in point. I recently upgraded my two way towers with a new tweeter and a redesigned crossover. The difference was night and day different. From lacklustre to detailed and engaging and the highs .. are excellent. Center imaging suddenly came alive and the overall soundstage was totally different to what I had expected, with instruments  and vocals easily identified positionally within the recording. I can't believe just how degraded the tweeters had become, and no sign of lacking in the upper registers or horrible sibilance either.

 

For me this tells me that as I design a new set of speakers my hearing is still up to the task, and as long as I use quality components and good design I shouldn't have a problem creating an excellent two-way speaker based on an 8 inch driver. My current two way floorstanders that I just upgraded now have a 26hz to 20000khz range at 91dB, the aim is to have a medium large two-way stand mounted speaker ( Magico Mini clone ) than has a 30hz to 20000khz response in the 89 to 92 dB range. Initial modelling has it close and I think I should be able to get that. I will post progress of this as finalise the design and I will do a build log for those interested to follow.

 

 

 

Edited by kiwilistener
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14 hours ago, GregWormald said:

Your total sound input and processing system is remarkably good at compensating for age as far as music goes. The only real criterion is does it sound good to you!

Lol if I made them they will always sound good - Of course I might be a tad biased :)

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