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'best' speaker design for low volume replay?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Rockmeister, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    Musing on the principles of speaker design (size, driver size. sensitivity, driver technology etc etc) and wondering if there any 'rules' to follow when searching out speakers that sound 'alive' and fully wound when running at low to medium volumes. In my room, the harbeth 5's DEF open up and get clearer, livlier and more snappy as the volume rises. Played quiet they miss a lot of dynamics and life, but all the small speakers I ever owned sounded much betterr at lower volumes. IS it just cabinet volume, or some mystic formulae, or.....magic?! :)
  2. G T Audio

    G T Audio Trade: Distributor and Manufacturer

    Joe P likes this.
  3. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    It’s the way your ear responds to sound pressure, you need a loudness switch!
    cooky1257, darrenyeats and ThELiZ like this.
  4. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    wonder if they are on ebay? :)
  5. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

    Following on from the other thread where listening levels were discussed- I'm very happy with the dynamics of my Tablette 10s at what turns out is considered low volumes, I certainly don't gain much with turning the wick up other than loudness.
  6. robbyd

    robbyd pfm Member

    Was just going to say exactly this!
  7. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    Horns and Electrostatics tend to sound better than conventional dynamic 'box' speakers at low volumes. However, it boils down to individual speakers, as there as many exceptions as there are rules.
  8. fred sonnen

    fred sonnen pfm Member

    Active LS with active bass distortion in a closed cabinet
  9. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Certainly no ATC I can think of. I went into Retro Reproduction in Edinburgh and heard music rendered beautifully at a whisper level and it turned out to be sealed box Tannoys.
    eastone likes this.
  10. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    I miss having one, to be honest. Just the thing for late night listening.
  11. lordmortlock

    lordmortlock pfm Member

    Ocellia Callilopes are supposed to be wonderful at low volume.
  12. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    A bit of a generalisation perhaps, but in my experience high efficiency speakers tend to work better at low volume settings than low efficiency speakers. It's not just a question of volume/loudness imho.
    wacko and James like this.
  13. YNWOAN

    YNWOAN 100% Analogue

    As GT Audio say, horns, or other high sensitivity speakers would seem to suit such a brief. Indeed, some would argue that such designs actually sound more distorted/coloured as the volume goes up. On the other hand, others would point out that this is true of most speakers irespective of their design principles. Indeed, my own speakers sound quite visceral at volume but, ultimately, sound more accurate and true at low volume levels. In fact, much to the amazement of some of my friends, I do actually listen at low volumes sometimes - precisely because it does sound so very good!
  14. timola

    timola pfm Member

    My old Harmon Kardon had that, I recall it only worked up to half volume if you selected it. Also had a Hi Cut and Subsonic button. I loved that amp, HK510 I think.
    MikeMA likes this.
  15. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    I had a Yamaha integrated amp with a variable loudness control. For low volume listening it was great allowing you to fine tune the sound.
    ToTo Man likes this.
  16. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    +1, horns; or electrostats.
    Both are highly efficient in terms of moving air; and capable of staggeringly-low low-distortion, esp at low volume - a 'hear-through' experience rather than 'listen-to', if that makes any sense.
    James and peterm like this.
  17. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic Member

    I have neat motive sx3 and they are excellent at low volumes, it was part of the reason I bought them previously having b&w's which were great loud but poor at low volumes. The Neats aren't particularly sensitive but do have small woofers so maybe that has an impact
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Another vote for either giant horns (I’m obviously including Tannoys here) or ESLs. I find you just don’t need to crank a good big speaker to get a room-filling sound and scale, whereas many little ones just sound their size at low levels. Good mini-monitors in the extreme near-field is another great option for solo listening.
    martin clark likes this.
  19. fatmarley

    fatmarley Registered User

    There is a formula but i'm not telling you because it's a secret (my secret). High efficiency is, as Martin Clark suggests related but not the only reason why some speakers sound better at low volume.

    Best i've had by far were Tannoy 10" System 10 DMT Mk1 - You could listen to them at wisper levels and still get goosebumps.
    John, Hempknight and martin clark like this.
  20. Old Valve Guy

    Old Valve Guy Active Member

    What's your budget ?

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