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New shopper? How to get off on the right foot.

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  • New shopper? How to get off on the right foot.

    Being a new audio shopper can be a bewildering experience. The universe of components seems to go on endlessly, with little assurance of getting sound advice, reasonable value, or good sound.

    It doesn't have to be that way. At Chane, we think an informed shopper is a better, happier shopper, and we've prepared a simple essay on how to view loudspeakers. As it turns out, they fit into fairly specific categories and once having grasped this basic principle, suddenly things become clearer.

    A loudspeaker is a transducer. A transducer converts energy from one type to another - a loudspeaker converts electrical current generated by an amplifier into mechanical motion in the speaker's active elements; its "drivers". The vibrations of its bass, midrange, and treble driver diaphragms in turn audibly moves air, which we call "sound pressure".

    A speaker is just an artificial generator or reproducer - energized by an electronic amplifier -of natural sound, the audible vibrations in air.

    Since the speaker converts energy according to the laws of physics, it's behavior can be quantified - we can develop rules about speakers that make for handy reference points when trying to compare them to one another. A speaker's behavior can be calculated, measured, and categorized. It can also be estimated.

    The most basic rule of speakers is that of acoustical size. Just as an automobile engine has a fixed displacement, a speaker also has a set of characteristics permanently bound to its acoustical size and displacement.

    Want to categorize any speaker according to its most basic characteristic? Simply add up the approximate area of it's bass drivers - the largest speakers within the loudspeaker and the ones that set its acoustical size.

    We've explored this concept and others in a paper titled Loudspeaker Basics. In it we develop a perspective related to acoustical size that should allow even a non-technical shopper to draw more telling, more pertinent conclusions about speakers while comparing and shopping.

    What is acoustical size? It's a term we coined to draw attention to the simple fact that the larger speaker has an advantage in some ratio of efficiency and bass response, and that this is a fundamental aspect of all speakers, regardless of price.

    This does not mean that smaller speakers are inferior. In fact, Chane makes relatively compact speakers using very advanced components and techniques that are commonly compared to not just speakers in their respective classes at many times their cost, but that are compared to larger speakers too. It means simply that a shopper can narrow a range of candidates on his or her list down significantly before then comparing other aspects such as quality and price range.

    Price is not a measure of a speaker's approximate fundamental characteristics.

    There are many such shortcuts in evaluating speakers and we're happy to discuss them with you. Drop us an email, call, or pop a comment in this forum for more.