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Is high sensitivity better?

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#1
In reply to the “how much power do we need” thread.

One of the posts noted correctly that the amount of amplifier power needed is related to the sensitivity of the speakers.

That led me to wonder if high efficiency speakers (And by extension amps) are generally better than low efficiency or vice versa.

The pros of highly efficient speakers 100dB or more is that they can be driven to astoundingly high volumes with as little as 3 watts like my Hornshoppe Horns which were powered by Bottlehead Paramour 2A3 monoblocks.
Cons are that they were always lacking in bass, and were relatively large considering only a single 4 inch Fostex driver in each speaker.

highly efficient speakers that “get it done” on the low end are just massive. Like many Lowther speakers I’ve seen and heard.

On the other hand, inefficient speakers like my Definitive Technologies BP 2002 towers sound great but they need massive amounts of power to sound their best. Power that is expensive to buy or in the case of commercial amps like Crown, loud and hot and inconvenient. Not to mention big.

I’ve also noticed that my very efficient speakers sound like garbage with a powerful solid state amp and most of my modern speakers sound terrible with flea amps.
I know each kid of speaker has its fans but I’m only a fan of great sound and I don’t care how I get there.
In my experience I like the way low powered amps and the speakers that match well with them are best at acoustic music in “small formats” like a single guitar player/singer or a small acoustic band and electronic music or rock and roll and large format acoustic music like an orchestra is best when I use the biggest solid state amps I can with full sized multi element speakers and sub woofers.

What do you guys think?
 

majingotan

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#2
Not really because of power IMO but something to do with impedance frequency curve behavior of efficient vs inefficient speakers
 

levimax

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#3
All thing being equal (which they never are) more efficient speakers are by definition "better". In the real world there are trade offs of course with the biggest one being the physical size of a full range efficient speaker. There are many ways to get to "great sound" the most practical ways most likely avoiding the trade offs of either extremely low or extremely high efficiency.
 

pjug

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#4
All thing being equal (which they never are) more efficient speakers are by definition "better". In the real world there are trade offs of course with the biggest one being the physical size of a full range efficient speaker. There are many ways to get to "great sound" the most practical ways most likely avoiding the trade offs of either extremely low or extremely high efficiency.
I don't know about "better' but I agree with this. I just ordered some low efficiency speakers because I wanted small speakers for a small room, but want them to go reasonably low. Generally you can't have small size high efficiency, low frequency extension. So,as you say, it is a tradeoff.
 
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#5
hornshoppe speakers have massive resonance issues and impedance drops in the midbass, going down to 4 ohms. most fleatwatt tube amps are going to struggle with the massive impedance swings that this speaker has. just an observation on your particular speakers. well designed horn loudspeakers are a godsend.
 

levimax

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#6
I don't know about "better' but I agree with this. I just ordered some low efficiency speakers because I wanted small speakers for a small room, but want them to go reasonably low. Generally you can't have small size high efficiency, low frequency extension. So,as you say, it is a tradeoff.
If you had a choice between two speakers which were identical in every way except efficiency you would always choose higher efficiency over lower efficiency which is what I meant by high efficiency being "better".
 

pjug

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#7
If you had a choice between two speakers which were identical in every way except efficiency you would always choose higher efficiency over lower efficiency which is what I meant by high efficiency being "better".
Yes, just like if a Corvette could have the same price and performance and get 40MPG you would buy the high efficiency model.
 

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