WHY are high-efficiency speakers are better at conveying emotion of music vs. audiophile vocabulary?

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,981
6
38
#1
Anyone understand WHY -on average - the high efficiency models grab the emotions, while so many lower-efficiency models sound like a check list of the audiophile vocabulary?

Obviously this is a subjective hobby. If you don't find this is the case, please stay out of the thread.
 
May 30, 2010
14,302
134
63
Portugal
#2
Anyone understand WHY -on average - the high efficiency models grab the emotions, while so many lower-efficiency models sound like a check list of the audiophile vocabulary?

Obviously this is a subjective hobby. If you don't find this is the case, please stay out of the thread.
Caesar,

I thought that such invitations to stay out of the thread if we do not agree with the main statement were a thing of the past in WBF. Particularly when the opening sentence is used to denigrate one class of speakers.

Can I ask at what level you put the threshold of "high-efficiency"? 90 dB/W?
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,981
6
38
#3
Caesar,

I thought that such invitations to stay out of the thread if we do not agree with the main statement were a thing of the past in WBF. Particularly when the opening sentence is used to denigrate one class of speakers.

Can I ask at what level you put the threshold of "high-efficiency"? 90 dB/W?
97+
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,981
6
38
#4
Caesar,

I thought that such invitations to stay out of the thread if we do not agree with the main statement were a thing of the past in WBF. Particularly when the opening sentence is used to denigrate one class of speakers.

Can I ask at what level you put the threshold of "high-efficiency"? 90 dB/W?
I wasn't aware of those rules... audiophiles seem to be so sensitive if you don't share their tastes and preferences...
 
May 30, 2010
14,302
134
63
Portugal
#5
I wasn't aware of those rules... audiophiles seem to be so sensitive if you don't share their tastes and preferences...
It is not about rules, preference or being sensitive, it is common sense. IMHO considering that people who do not agree that 93 dB/W speakers are not able to carry emotion should not post in a thread needs some debate, not about the posters, but about the methodology ....
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,077
92
48
North Shore of Boston
#6
Much of the emotion for me comes with dynamics. Is a system dynamic? I've heard systems in rooms with efficient speakers that are not dynamic, and I've heard inefficient speakers (87dB) with the right amplification and system in the right rooms that are incredibly dynamic. I don't know if one can isolate the efficiency of speakers into a general statement as is done in the OP. Is that disagreeing with the OP or not? Who knows?

Musical emotion also comes from the quality of the performance, microdynamics, tonal accuracy, sense of presence and flow. I've heard all of this from systems with speakers of less than 97+ dB. I have not had very much experience with speakers of higher efficiency to know if they can convey more or less emotion than less efficient speakers. I'm curious to see how this thread will evolve.
 
Jul 18, 2014
653
69
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#7
Much of the emotion for me comes with dynamics. Is a system dynamic? I've heard systems in rooms with efficient speakers that are not dynamic, and I've heard inefficient speakers (87dB) with the right amplification and system in the right rooms that are incredibly dynamic. I don't know if one can isolate the efficiency of speakers into a general statement as is done in the OP. Is that disagreeing with the OP or not? Who knows?

Musical emotion also comes from the quality of the performance, microdynamics, tonal accuracy, sense of presence and flow. I've heard all of this from systems with speakers of less than 97+ dB. I have not had very much experience with speakers of higher efficiency to know if they can convey more or less emotion than less efficient speakers. I'm curious to see how this thread will evolve.
+1
Also I’d perhaps add this may not necessarily be even a direct correlation and could relate to a range of things including the types of amps often used in HE systems and also then amps operating within sweet spots in the lower range of their output as well and especially in the realm of the first watt.

Just this whole notion that anything so singularly or directly determines the musicality of equipment may be a simplistic one especially if we haven’t yet determined the root cause of the experience or even necessarily have an agreed definition of it yet.
 
Feb 8, 2011
19,320
85
48
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#8
View attachment whiteppr.pdf

My own theory: The level of human musical emotion in relation to highly efficient loudspeakers versus non-efficient ones, say 99dB vs 83dB...more or less, in a hi-fi sound system setup, is measured by the control exercised by their amplification matching. Or in one simple word: Synchronicity.

You don't want to put stress on the voice coils.
___

And I agree with Francisco; an open invitation is friendlier than ...
 
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ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,528
51
48
Utah
#9
Anyone understand WHY -on average - the high efficiency models grab the emotions, while so many lower-efficiency models sound like a check list of the audiophile vocabulary?

Obviously this is a subjective hobby. If you don't find this is the case, please stay out of the thread.
Sensitivity figures are only a start, there are other factors that figure into the real efficiency of a speaker system.

I'll give you an analogy, imagine watching a skilled fighter shadow boxing at maximum speed then imagine the same fighter throwing punches underwater in swimming pool, then deep in the ocean. The resistance created by the water is the same as the load presented to amplifiers by a lower efficiency speakers and difficult to drive speakers. It doesn't matter how strong the fighter is that resistance with slow and wear him down and the punches will not land with the same speed, accuracy or efficiency, same situation with speakers and amps. Now think of a half active speaker system claiming high efficiency needing a few thousand watts driving the lower half, that's like having the fighter chest deep in water with cement blocks for shoes! :)

david
 
Likes: Lagonda

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
934
14
18
#10
Hmmm-Funny that I must be an odd one--some of the best "emotional" listening I've experienced was with my old Chartwell LS3/5A--83db

This learning curve:(

BruceD
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
4,035
64
48
Greater Boston
#11
Hmmm-Funny that I must be an odd one--some of the best "emotional" listening I've experienced was with my old Chartwell LS3/5A--83db
....which are really easy to drive by even low-watt tube amps, because of a combination of small drivers and benign impedance.

Sensitivity figures are meaningful only to a point. And setting a sensitivity figure of 97 dB as the low threshold for emotion, and liveliness I presume, is just ridiculous.
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
#12
I would personally never attach what a speaker can or can not do based upon one spec. alone, therefore I can not answer or even begin to address your inquiry.

Tom
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,380
163
63
Beverly Hills, CA
#13
I would personally never attach what a speaker can or can not do based upon one spec. alone, therefore I can not answer or even begin to address your inquiry.

Tom
+1

I think it is easier for high-efficiency speakers to achieve "jump factor" and dynamics, but easier does not necessarily mean better than less-sensitive speakers which are driven properly with high-power amps.

I have found that Magnepan speakers, which are quite inefficient and are an example of a speaker which, I think, requires very high power (500 watts and up) to sound their best, can convey emotion convincingly. (If I had 20.7s or 30.7s I would not consider, in the tube department, anything other than ARC 750 SE, VTL Seigfried II, VAC 450 iQ, etc.)
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,056
34
48
Manila, Philippines
#14
Sensitivity figures are only a start, there are other factors that figure into the real efficiency of a speaker system.

I'll give you an analogy, imagine watching a skilled fighter shadow boxing at maximum speed then imagine the same fighter throwing punches underwater in swimming pool, then deep in the ocean. The resistance created by the water is the same as the load presented to amplifiers by a lower efficiency speakers and difficult to drive speakers. It doesn't matter how strong the fighter is that resistance with slow and wear him down and the punches will not land with the same speed, accuracy or efficiency, same situation with speakers and amps. Now think of a half active speaker system claiming high efficiency needing a few thousand watts driving the lower half, that's like having the fighter chest deep in water with cement blocks for shoes! :)

david
Maybe if you forget to plug in the other half Lol

Seriously though, it is power to weight ratio. Obviously the quality of that power is paramount ESPECIALLY in the critical hearing sensitivity range.

Wrong amp on a high efficiency speaker is where you will certainly get more emotions. None of them what non-masochists want.
 
Jul 25, 2012
2,555
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NY
#15
The old big Apogees were really inefficient and they are wonderful.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,528
51
48
Utah
#16
Maybe if you forget to plug in the other half Lol

Seriously though, it is power to weight ratio. Obviously the quality of that power is paramount ESPECIALLY in the critical hearing sensitivity range.

Wrong amp on a high efficiency speaker is where you will certainly get more emotions. None of them what non-masochists want.
Actually the masochists enjoy pain :)! But that's only true with certain horns not high efficiency cones.

Of course quality of power is important even when it's 1 watt but not what we're discussing here. It's the resistance electronics face driving certain speakers and almost every amp I know distorts more when pushed hard. Of course the degrees of inefficiency and resistance that need to be taken into consideration too but the basic principle remains the same.

david
 
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KeithR

VIP/Donor
May 7, 2010
3,121
77
48
Marina del Rey, CA
#17
Anyone understand WHY -on average - the high efficiency models grab the emotions, while so many lower-efficiency models sound like a check list of the audiophile vocabulary?

Obviously this is a subjective hobby. If you don't find this is the case, please stay out of the thread.
Live music is really dynamic. And its easier for high efficiency speakers to provide that via simple physics (if peaks need to be 105dbs, much easier to do that with 100db speakers than 85)

As one dealer friend put it, inefficient speakers are sometimes like hearing music through a straw. Also, many lower efficiency models have larger, more complicated higher order crossovers. Many horns on the other hand have a simple cap in the path or roll off gently.
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,697
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Eastern WA
#18
I would personally never attach what a speaker can or can not do based upon one spec. alone, therefore I can not answer or even begin to address your inquiry.

Tom
There are so many factors at play, it cannot solely be chalked up to efficiency.

I can say that there is truth to the fact that a lot of things can come easier to high efficiency speakers - but maybe not always what you think. Now why that is, is not always relatable to just how much power it takes to move them. There are too many variables at play. Basically every simple theory can be torn to pieces.

Pointing out that some speakers often have simple crossovers is a good thing to look at. But at the same time some inefficient speakers can have the same crossovers, and they become easier to drive.

Lastly, probably half of all speakers claiming these efficiency numbers are lies. Even ones that claim 87db are often 85db, etc....

This topic would be easier to do if we could compare two speakers that use "off the shelve" drivers, so we can compare the two thoroughly, so that a very good picture will start to form.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,056
34
48
Manila, Philippines
#19
Actually the masochists enjoy pain :)! But that's only true with certain horns not high efficiency cones.

Of course quality of power is important even when it's 1 watt but not what we're discussing here. It's the resistance electronics face driving certain speakers and almost every amp I know distorts more when pushed hard. Of course the degrees of inefficiency and resistance that need to be taken into consideration too but the basic principle remains the same.

david
I actually wanted to replace the last line with "Every masochist's dream". I opted to have breakfast instead. :D

When we say pushed hard there are two ends and everything in the middle. Be it thermal distortions in both amps and coils or driver break up, pushing hard can happen on either end or simultaneously. You don't want to power a passenger plane with rubber bands and you don't want a jet engine on a glider. Power to weight. The systems that work have these matched for the desired utility. That is the point I am trying to get across.

For me it is simple. Figure out what you want to achieve and choose the path that takes you there. I do not agree that only high sensitivity speakers can connect. There are too many examples to the contrary. Tone will always trump dynamics for me because even if you have all the dynamics to rip your clothes off, if on the easy stuff the system fails, the hard stuff just fails all the more. The first watt principle applies acoustically as well.
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,981
6
38
#20
Gentlemen,
I really appreciate the discussion!

I agree that many factors are at play, but as a "layman" and speaking generally, I have enjoyed a lot more high efficiency systems than the big, highly-marketed, inefficient systems. Subjectivity aside for the moment, 2 of the most important realism triggers I find are dynamics/ jump factor and "rich" tonality seem fairly easy to come by in a high-efficiency system. Just put a "tiny" tube amp in the system, and you are in business... Put something like a Lamm in a decent system, and you are in heaven...

Or put some "big amps" on an inefficient system, and you are likely to get some audiophile words...after many hours of work, heaven may or may not come...

Thank you again
 

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