- Jan 23, 2020
I still don't think the material the driver is made of is a major determining factor beyond anything already explained by the frequency response and distortion.I think there is a middle ground. FR and distortion tells us how something sounds, while delving into the specifics of the drivers helps explain why it sounds or performs a certain way.
Beryllium is a great material because it is stronger than steel and yet lighter than aluminum. We know from physics that f=ma, so then if we have a lighter driver, it will accelerate faster if subjected to the same force. And also, we want the driver to be very stiff so we don’t have cone breakup. This is why beryllium is such a great material, but it’s very hard to make large drivers out of beryllium.
I learned a lot from working with Andrew Jones when he helped me with biamping my speakers, and also a lot from Mitch Barnett who designed the convolution filter for my speakers. Main lesson for me was that it’s not as simple as reaching a close adherence to a target curve because our ears don’t work the same as a measurement microphone. There are many physical and psychoacoustic reasons for this. Reflections are very important, so then sound dispersion becomes as important as FR in one location. There is also phase and timing, although we are not very sensitive to this.
Most importantly is how our ears integrate the information. For example…. When I was measuring my room I became very concerned as very small changes in the location of the speakers or microphone were yielding very different impulse and FR responses. So my worry was that the convolution filter would work only at one very small point and the speakers could not be moved. Even having pillows on my sofa affected the measurements. Mitch and Andrew assured me my ears worked differently and I should not worry, but I still had my doubts until I heard the results. In fact our ears are very very sensitive but they also smooth things out filtering out narrow dips in FR, even if they are deep. Our eye also play tricks on us, otherwise movies would not work.
Long answer to a short question, but bottom line is as a former EE, I have a lot of respect for science and measurement, but I also see them as a tool and not an end all. I understood only a fraction of what Andrew and Mitch explained, but the key lesson for me was FR and distortion matter, but they don’t tell the whole story.