One thing that is very important to me at Affordable Home Audio is that when I talk about speakers, I try and do so from as informed a position as possible. Within monetary restrictions, I talk about speakers which I can hold in my hands and test myself. An important part of any discussion of speakers is speaker measurements.
There were many techniques developed years ago for making engineering measurements of speakers. Gated sine, white noise response, all sorts of things made it possible to understand both frequency, temporal, linear and non-linear aspects of audio equipment.
These techniques necessitate the use of either very large spaces, like your backyard, or a very expensive anechoic room, in order to perform. Reflections in the room make it impossible to analyze speakers using these traditional techniques. Most businesses focusing in audio (the company I work for included), and university labs have an anechoic room for acoustic testing. Below is a great example of an anechoic chamber, made by Paradigm Audio.
One of the toughest things to do when buying speakers is picking between two good choices. You have to weigh your options between the various strengths of speakers which reviewers always hold in high esteem. It is therefore key to understand the differences between them so that you make an informed decision.
Both the Pioneer BS22 speakers and the Micca MB42X are commonly chosen as the first speakers for a new audio enthusiast. They are both speakers which are well regarded and get lots of praise from enthusiasts.
There are good reasons to choose one versus the other. The Pioneer BS22 is clearly a cut above the Micca in performance, but the Micca MB42X costs 30% less and has a much more compact size.
When looking at speakers, a common thing to wonder is what are you getting for your extra money. While bother the Pioneer BS22 and Dayton B652-Air are considered “good for the money” and “budget” speakers, the Pioneer speaker costs twice as much.
I will use this post to help explain what exactly you’re getting for twice the money.
I don’t know why this review has taken so long. I’ve owned the Pioneer Andrew Jones line of speakers for my surround sound for about 18 months, and I’ve been extremely happy with them. I’m certainly not the only one that feels that way. This line of speakers has been wildly heralded throughout the audio community. This line of speakers is one of the best bargains in audio, giving you great performance at an entirely reasonable price. There’s a reason I used one for the banner of this website.
There are three speakers in this line, each with their own specialties. They each serve a dedicated role in a home theater, and the differences are pretty standard for the industry.
The SP-FS52 Tower Speakers ($130 each) are the best of the bunch. These are tower speakers, which should be the best speakers in any home theater set up. With three large woofers in a four foot tall enclosure, this is no surprise. If you’ve never bought a pair of tower speakers, these are the best first pair of tower speakers you can buy. They will teach you how great large speakers can sound, and how they fill the room with sound. Compared to the bookshelf and center speaker, these will have more bass, have fewer floor reflections, and do a better job at high volumes. However, a pair of tower speakers costs twice as much as the smaller pair of bookshelf speakers.
The BS22 Bookshelf speakers ($127/pair) are a real bargain that make this line of speakers so popular. Bookshelf speakers can fit in almost any listening environment and are very versatile. They are about a foot tall, and are seven inches wide. You can use them in a modest sized home theater like mine without ever running into volume issues.
The C22 Center Speaker ($97) is quite adept as a center speaker, and comes with all of the benefits and issues inherent in a Mid-Tweeter-Mid design. If you’re buying the set for a home theater, make sure to get one as your center channel. 60% of a movie’s soundtrack comes through the center channel, so don’t skip out on one.
Well, its that time of year. You’re thinking about what to get your husband, boyfriend, father or brother for Christmas. You’ve thought about some speakers for the TV or maybe a Bluetooth speaker is something they’d really enjoy. If you’re not well versed in the audio world, you’re going to get caught up by marketing and buy something that under performs while being overpriced.
I’m here to help you avoid falling for marketing pitfalls and get you the perfect gift. You only have to follow three easy rules.
My 3 Rules of Beating Audio Marketers
1. Don’t spend more than $20 on stuff made of plastic
2. If they aren’t known for making audio equipment (Vizio, Samsung, etc), don’t buy from them
3. The smaller the speaker, the worse it sounds
If you follow those three rules, you won’t fall for the marketing tricks. Rule 3 is less important than the other two, though. Big plastic speakers will sound worse than small quality speakers. But large quality speakers beat small quality speakers 9 times out of 10.
So you’ve got a speaker picked out and its time to get an amplifier. You see the speakers have a wattage number and the amplifiers all have one prominently listed too. How do you know how many watts you need? How do you know if an amplifier will work well with your speakers?
Today the biggest buzz in the world of home theater audio is “object oriented” audio like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro3D and probably some more that I’m forgetting. This is new to most consumers but it isn’t groundbreaking technology. The underlying mathematics have been well understood since the 1870s. The first products that used this kind of technology were phased-array radars in World War II. However, only now is is coming to your living room. The big developments that have led to these technologies entering the consumer market are: improved compression algorithms which allow dozens of streams to exist on a single disc at once and cheap but powerful chips which can compute the required amplitudes and phase delays in real time. That being said, I still think it’s pretty cool. The academic term behind this is “wave field synthesis”.
So you’re an average consumer, and you’ve decided you want some surround sound in your life. After all, that’s whats in movie theaters, and you’d like your movie watching experience at home to be more like the movie theaters. Its not something you care all that much about, enough to spend a few hundred dollars on at most. You look online, or go into an electronics store, and you find it. One box that has everything you need. One swipe of the credit card and your desire will be satisfied. Every marketing person at every electronics firm knows there are a significant number of people who will act this way; people who want better audio in their lives but don’t know where to start. They take advantage by selling something that looks right, without there being any good way for an average consumer to tell whether or not it is a good product. Its not like you’re going to listen to it beforehand, much less make any objective comparison among several samples. They sell convenience in satisfying your consumer urges, not actual audio quality.
No matter what you’re doing this summer, chances are some tunes will make it that much better. The thing is, the places where we want to listen to music in the summer aren’t in our living rooms, home theaters, or our listening rooms. Its on the beach, at a BBQ, on a boat, out at a campsite, or on our deck. I kicked off my summer this year at a rented house over Memorial Day weekend with a group of people. I decided to make use of some speakers I had from an early review and spend a little bit of money to make sure we were never at a loss for some quality audio.
As I discussed in an earlier article, while soundbars are popular, they aren’t really a good option for those who want quality sound at a low price. Generally speaking, a soundbar is too small to sound really good. The companies who make soundbars aren’t usually dedicated to audio. Finally, similar systems at lower prices perform better. So today, I’m here to tell you what to buy instead. I’ve put together three different ways to get affordable alternatives at improved quality. Continue reading →