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Old 08-29-2010, 03:17 AM   #1
Big Daddy Big Daddy is offline
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Jan 2008
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Default Frequency Response of Speakers/Subwoofers

Please post the frequency response of your speakers and subwoofers in this thread. Thank you.


If you made a recording of all the frequency test tones at the same volume and played that recording through a speaker, you would want all the tones to come out at the same volume. That is how we measure frequency response of speakers. We run a wide range of test tones through the speaker in a room with no reflections (anechoic chamber). A calibrated microphone is placed in front of the speaker and feeds the speaker's output into a machine that plots the amplitude (dB) versus frequency (Hz). It is desirable that the speaker can play the various frequencies with no variation in intensity. A perfect speaker is one with a perfectly flat frequency response with zero variation in loudness or intensity of various frequencies. For example, 20Hz to 20,000Hz with zero variation.

Since the middle frequencies are usually the best behaved, a frequency of 1000Hz (1kHz) is usually taken as the reference point, and the maximum deviation from that level is measured. In fact, speakers' sensitivities are measured by feeding 1 watt of a 1,000Hz frequency tone into a speaker and measuring its response at one meter.

But speakers are not perfect. Some tones may play softer or louder than others. These variations in a speaker's output is measured in decibels. Decibel is a measure of sound level. A 1dB difference in output is barely noticeable. A difference of 3dB is a lot more noticeable. We perceive a difference of 10dB as "twice as loud," or "half as loud". A frequency response that has a 3dB associated with it means that the level never varies by more than 3 decibels above or below that at 1kHz.

Frequency Response: 56.5 Hz - 12.5k Hz (+/- 3dB)

Frequency Response: 40.0 Hz - 16.5k Hz (+/- 6dB)

In practice, we do not live in an anechoic chamber. We can equalize the frequency response of a speaker/subwoofer in our HT room to get a flat curve. Lowering a peak is much easier than increasing the level of a dip. That is why we are more concerned with -3dB.

Please remember that the +/-3dB measures the flatness of the frequency response and does not tell us anything about the quality of the sound that we hear. Two speakers with exactly the same +/-3dB response do not sound the same.

Generally speaking, loudspeakers have a much more difficult time to reproduce bass frequencies in an anechoic chamber. The intensity of these frequencies may drop by -6dB or more. Furthermore, our ears are less sensitive to bass frequencies as they are to midrange sounds and we will not be able to hear these dropped bass frequencies. That is the reason manufacturers report the frequencies of their speakers in the +/- 3dB range.

The frequency response of a speaker changes in a home theater room and in particular the bass frequencies are helped quite a bit by "room gain". That is why we need equalization.


The sound quality of a speaker cannot completely be quantified. Frequency response, sensitivity, timbre, type of drivers, type of cabinet, cabinet damping, etc. etc., etc. play a role. Although we can make two speakers sound alike in an anechoic chamber, in a home theater room, it is not unusual for the right front speaker and the left front speaker to sound differently depending on their position in the room.

Look at these three speakers. All three have relatively the same frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz +/-3dB, but they don't sound the same.

Speaker C will have the so-called one-note bass and will make the voices and some musical instruments a bit unnatural. Speaker D has smoother amplitude variations and sounds a bit more natural. Speaker C has the rapid changes in amplitude and experience has shown that these types of speakers are less pleasing and more fatiguing. Based on frequency response, speaker D is preferred to speaker C.

Speaker E also has relatively large amplitude variation, but it demonstrates a much smoother response curve. It will sound more natural and pleasing even though the bandwith of frequency variation is large (+6dB). Speaker E will have rich bass, good treble, and relatively laid-back midrange. Despite its inadequacies, some people may prefer speaker E.


It is important to note that the scale chosen for the Y axis can have a significant effect on the shape of the curve and can easily mislead the casual observer. The following 3 diagrams represent exactly the same frequency response. However, the scale of the Y axis has been changed. The first diagram gives the impression that the frequency curve is very volatile. The second diagram, on the other hand, gives the opposite impression and the third diagram is the intermediate case. In most cases, a 30 to 40 dB difference from top to bottom on the Y axis as in diagram 3 should be used so as not to mislead people.



As far as subwoofers are concerned, they are expected to play the lower octaves relatively well. Furthermore, human ears are imperfect. We are much better at hearing upper bass frequencies than lower bass frequencies. We can only feel lower bass frequencies. That is why car subwoofers sound so loud even though most of them may not go below 25H-35Hz.

If you are concerned about the frequency response of a subwoofer, you can use 50Hz as a good starting point and that frequency can be used as a reference frequency. If you look at the following table, you will notice that 50Hz falls in the middle of the 1/3 octave frequencies that a subwoofer is expected to play. If you want to use test tones to calibrate a subwoofer with an SPL meter, you should play a 50Hz tone until you read 75dB on the SPL meter. Then play four 1/3 octaves above 50Hz and four 1/3 octaves below 50Hz and take SPL meter readings. Average the 8 numbers until you get 75dB.


Last edited by Big Daddy; 06-19-2013 at 08:17 AM.
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