What Is The Best Frequency Response For Speakers?
If you want to know what the best frequency response for speakers is, there is a very short answer: it depends. It is only by unpacking this that we can find out what the best frequency response for your speakers is.
Some of the factors that need to be looked at include the size of the space, what the speakers are being used for and whether you want a single speaker, an array of speakers in a cabinet, or separate speakers with a crossover that deal with bass and treble frequencies separately.
With the range of human hearing between around 20Hz and 15 to 20kHz and the ability to hear higher frequencies being lost as we mature, you are unlikely to find a single speaker that can cover this range adequately. As with most things, if you are using a single speaker, expect there to be some compromises made in the sound quality. Small speakers are unlikely to deliver fantastic bass response, leading to a somewhat tinny sound.
Optimizing your single-speaker setup for bass response can have the opposite effect, producing a muffled and muddy tone with no sparkle to the upper frequencies.
To understand more about frequency response, let's take a look at how speakers work and which ones offer the different types of sounds you may be seeking.
It's all just paper and a magnet
At its most simple, a speaker consists of a paper or cardboard diaphragm, which is driven by an electromagnet. As an electrical signal is received, the electromagnet causes the diaphragm to vibrate, which is picked up and processed by our ears and brains and perceived as sound.
The bigger the diaphragm, often referred to in speakers as a cone, the better its bass response is likely to be. This is because it is able to vibrate more consistently at lower frequencies. This is also why bass instruments are bigger and a fully grown man will have a lower singing voice than a child.
High notes are created by the cone moving a short distance quickly, and lower notes are created by a cone moving back and forth a far longer distance more slowly.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the internal workings of a speaker, we can think about how best they are combined to produce a great sound in your home.
Simple 2-Way Loudspeakers
If we look at a bookshelf speaker, such as the phenomenal Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Model, there are two separate speakers within each cabinet.
The larger woofer is responsible for reproducing bass frequencies, and the smaller tweeter reproduces the higher-end frequencies. Also within the cabinet is a crossover, which delivers the bass frequencies to the woofer and the treble to the tweeter.
Together, these two speakers deliver a combined frequency range of 40Hz to 20kHz, allowing music or videos to be heard in great definition.
4 Way Speaker Arrays
For more detail and clarity to the sound, look at investing in 4-way speaker arrays, such as the outstanding B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Speaker. The four speakers within this floor-standing speaker unit each have their own specialized frequency range.
The Decoupled Double Dome tweeter provides performance at up to 38kHz, creating accurate representation of sounds way beyond the simple 2-way speaker.
It is true within speaker technology that a great 2-way speaker will outperform a mediocre 4-way speaker. The great 2-way speaker will benefit from well-balanced cones and a crossover that copes with the sound range fantastically well. A mediocre 4-way speaker will struggle due to limitations within the crossover or cones.
A fantastic 4-way speaker, however, will always provide more faithful representations of any sound than a similarly good 2-way speaker due to the ability of the four separate speakers to independently reproduce different frequencies.
All about that bass
If you're looking for earth-shattering bass response, your system is likely to need a subwoofer. As the name suggests, a subwoofer can reproduce lower frequencies than an ordinary woofer, giving more monument to almost any piece of music or video.
Subwoofers such as the Golden Ear Forcefield 3 Subwoofer deliver a frequency response that is as low as 12 to 18Hz for sounds that you feel rather than hear.
The best way to use the frequency response of speakers is to have many different speakers, each with different responses, working both within and beyond the limit of the scope of the human ear.