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  1. #1

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    Default Why are some speakers so expensive, yet not very efficient?

    Ive tried finding this online and cant seem to find it. Why are my old Cerwin Vega DX3's so efficient at 94db, yet my mid range Infinity Beta 50's are 91db and my girlfriends B&W 804 Nautilus' are only 87 or 89db. Whats the point of having a speaker that takes a beast of an amp to drive vs a speaker thats easy to drive? One would think the Cerwin Vegas would be the least efficent speakers while the B&W's the most efficient. But thats not the case.

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    There are many factors that determine the efficiency such as the crossover order, nominal impedance, type and number of transducers used, size of the cabinet and whether it is ported, sealed, open baffle or uses a passive radiator.

    One would think the Cerwin Vegas would be the least efficent speakers while the B&W's the most efficient.
    Why would you think that?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  3. #3

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    Well, a layman would correlate that the least expensive speaker would be the least efficient if they dont fully understand what speaker sensitivity is. Im just trying to understand a bit better. Like the title, why would a pair of $5000 speakers be not as efficient as a $500 pair?

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    Design, parts used......lots of variables. When building speakers, efficiency ratings usually isn't high on the priority list unless your targeting a certain consumer audience. But even then, a higher efficiency doesn't necessarily mean you won't need an amp. My speakers are 94-95 efficient, but are 4 ohm and have lots of drivers requiring more current to sound their best.

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    Amplifier power today is cheap so the "need" for high-sensitivity speakers, which was crucial prior to the early 1960s has evaporated. Current fashion is to use drivers with high performance in their audio frequency passband and very poor performance beyond it (very pronounced HF breakup modes, e.g.) - this necessitates the use of very complex and inefficient crossover networks. Crossovers and enclosures are easy to design today and the components (passive crossover components and loudspeaker drivers) are (still) relatively inexpensive ... so there's just very little interest in high sensitivity loudspeakers.

    Some of us have, shall we say, rather contrarian tastes in this regard, however.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post
    ...Like the title, why would a pair of $5000 speakers be not as efficient as a $500 pair?
    That's like saying: "Why would a $200,000 Ferrari not be as large as a $20,000 Honda?"
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    There are many factors that influence sound quality, and sensitivity is just one of them (I wouldn't use the word "efficiency" as all speakers are fairly inefficient at converting electrical signal to sound).

    Remember that there are three properties for speakers; sensitivity, size, and frequency response, and physics dictates that you can only pick two of those properties when designing a pair of speakers. The wild card then is sound quality, which is a bit of a personal opinion, but most would agree that sound quality increases as price does.

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    Why do some guys who are 5ft have bigger dingalings than some pro basketball players

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    Cerwin Vega uses large woofers, lightweight cones, foam surrounds, large cabinets, compression drivers, and horns/waveguides for high efficiency. But, Cerwin Vega also caters to a different crowd than B&W, etc...

    Nothing wrong with large woofers..but lightweight cones generally aren't as well damped, and may have higher distortion(most commonly 2nd order, which isn't offensive, but adds coloration). Foam surrounds have come a long way, but still have a stigma about them(rot). Compression drivers and waveguides/horns can sound good, but since there are many out there that sound poor(HORN HONK), they also have a stigma about them amongst most audiophiles.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    ... and unfortunately... C-V speakers, at least in my experience, aren't the kind of speakers that give high sensitivity loudspeakers a good name :-(

    Now... vintage Altec... that's another story.
    all the best,
    mrh

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daffypuck View Post
    Ive tried finding this online and cant seem to find it. Why are my old Cerwin Vega DX3's so efficient at 94db, yet my mid range Infinity Beta 50's are 91db and my girlfriends B&W 804 Nautilus' are only 87 or 89db. Whats the point of having a speaker that takes a beast of an amp to drive vs a speaker thats easy to drive? One would think the Cerwin Vegas would be the least efficent speakers while the B&W's the most efficient. But thats not the case.
    What is your opinion to listening to both the Cerwin Vegas and B&Ws? Which one do you like listening to more, and why?

  12. #12

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    Well, I havent heard both coupled with the same amp/pre, but the CV's rocked back in the day and were all I could afford at the time. The BW's coupled with a Theta pre and Krell amp sound awesome. I dont know how to describe it other than absolute clarity and warmth. You dont grow tired of listening to them. I currently have Infinity Beta series for my HT and have used both an Onkyo 806 and a Denon 1913 to drive them. I noticed no difference between the two. Im not impressed at all with how they sound. HT sounds OK depending on the source and music is pure crap. I switch to the pure/direct mode and it sounds like all the mids are turned way up and everything else is turned down. Its horrible. And for over 20 years Ive never found a A/V receiver that will deliver a center channel signal that sounds good. I try and watch a movie and the dialogue is hard to discern and then all the sudden explosions and music rock the room and sound great, but the center is muddy and crappy. Ive tried lots and lots of centers from $40- $600 and no dice. I should be able to spend $600 on a half ass center and it work properly. The Infinity Betas (albeit not highend, but decent) cost close to $3000 for a 5.1 setup. So, my only conclusion is to perhaps try a power amp and prepro to get more out of them or just ditch them and start over. Im hoping to keep them for my HT setup and then get some really nice speakers for music.

  13. #13

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    Bottomline my friend....you need better speakers for music and not an AVR to drive them.

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    As a low end example of efficiency. Someone lent me a pair of Zenith Allegro 2000s with the foster horn in them and I decided to hook them up to my HK 430 which also has a pair of Dynaco A25s running on speaker A. Switching back and forth, the Allegros are WAY louder at the same volume. Does that mean they are better? No!

    The Zeniths have more prominent but thinner mids, and enough bass (actually not terrible for a cheap ass speaker in a cheap cabinet). But over all smoothness and clean bass response, goes to the A25s. I'd recommend the Zeniths for a garage system, though get the 3000s or greater for MORE BASS!

    Not sure what the efficiency rating on A25s is but the Zeniths, I believe are 91 db and the horns make them sound more forward on less power, they're also an 8 ohm speaker.

    The Dynacos, if I'm not mistaken can dip to a 4 ohm load and up to 8 ohms?

    As mentioned above, especially in mhardy's post. Standards have changed. The speakers I mention above were designed to run with 10-40 watt x 2 amps!

    Today, most members here are running a minimum of 200 watts x 2 @ 8 ohms on the low end and a LOT more on the high end of the SS power spectrum!

    cnh
    Last edited by cnh; 02-06-2013 at 03:51 PM.
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  15. #15

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    In short....efficiency is not a measure of quality.

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    And for over 20 years Ive never found a A/V receiver that will deliver a center channel signal that sounds good.
    Try the Pioneer Elite SC-xx series.

    I should be able to spend $600 on a half ass center and it work properly.
    The Polk CSi A6 is great, I've got no problem with the clarity and overall sound when watching TV or movies.



    Have you calibrated your HT set up? What are you using for speaker cables? Do you have a dedicated 20 amp line?
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    In short....efficiency is not a measure of quality.
    ^This^
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    ...
    Today, most members here are running a minimum of 200 watts x 2 @ 8 ohms on the low end and a LOT more on the high end of the SS power spectrum!

    cnh
    or in my case, 3.5 watts per channel and nary a transistor in sight...

    oh, and as another example of the lack of absolute correlation between sensitivity and quality... besides the C-Vs (most of which are on the barely tolerable side of not-too-great), there were the truly hideous Infinity "SM" speakers of (if memory serves) the early 1990s. Ghastly.
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 02-06-2013 at 08:46 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

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    to reach the..... hoop there it is!
    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Why do some guys who are 5ft have bigger dingalings than some pro basketball players

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Why do some guys who are 5ft have bigger dingalings than some pro basketball players
    And you know this how?

    Never mind, I don't wanna know.
    My humble setup...

    ...is no more.

  21. #21

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    hey now i miss my d9's..

  22. #22

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    There are efficient speakers that are better quality. But not cheap!
    The Audio Note ones come to mind. Better bring the big wallet, though.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Why do some guys who are 5ft have bigger dingalings than some pro basketball players
    Which do you prefer?

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    The diamonds are just hard to drive. Krell EVO amps will get any diamond going. The 804s are great speakers too but thats just the nature of the beast. They are expensive speakers that need expensive amps if you're going to do it correctly........wait your GF has Nautilus speakers? Keep her forever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Why do some guys who are 5ft have bigger dingalings than some pro basketball players
    This might be some valuable insight as to why you break everything. I'm waiting to hear you broke your OWN binding post.

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