Measurements and speaker reviews

Just a thought we have all read those reviews where various frequency response charts are depicted. I have always wondered about the amplifier choice for driving the speakers in the test. My experience with speakers tells me the amp/speaker combination is vital for proper performance…and the differences are not subtle…so how valid are these frequency responses…a poor amp choice surely could screw the frequency plot…any views or am I barking mad…

In most reviews, the amps are listed. Nearly every modern amp has a flat frequency response anyway, and most beyond the audible band (with one of the rare exceptions being Naim with drop-offs above 20 Hz and well below 20 kHz), and a frequency sweep is not very demanding, so unless they are completely mismatched they should easily sustain this through a sweep.

That doesn’t tell you if the combination sounds like you want it to, but for the sweep I expect it to be representative

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In addition to what @Suedkiez said, the freq. response is a measure of how neutral it is and across what range. Not how good it is in general.

You can have a flat response but impossible to drive with tons of distortion.

If you have a few minutes head over to youtube and do a search on ‘john devore rant’.


Well…I am inclined to disagree in some respects amplifier and speaker matching is critical … percieved bass response can appear radically different depending on the combination… but I could be wrong I am no expert just someone who has experienced big differences when auditioning speakers…I had one instance where I tried 6 speakers…5 were bland the 6th leapt into life with an amazing performance…

I agree that amplifier and speakers match are very important. You will not run some Audio Note 104 db speakers with a 800W Boulder amp.

You don’t always want domestic speakers to have a flat response anyway. Manufacturers try and go for flat with their studio monitors because they are used in a controlled environment. But for domestic speakers below a certain price, they know the rooms will be untreated and they give their best guess at how to compensate for what they think is the average living room of their target market. That might result in a high frequency bump to even out soft furnishings or a low frequency trough to avoid the worst effects of wooden floors etc.

The measurements for impedance and phase angles are great for understanding electrical compatibility. But the other stuff doesn’t really tell you how good something is. Maybe at best how the manufacturer attempts to compensate for an average room… that you may or may not have.


The frequency response graph like those seen in stereophile is to demonstrate how the speaker drivers perform together in their crossover points and give an idea of the in room response. A poorly designed speaker crossover will measure poor no matter what amp is connected. You will likely get a very similar response from an expensive amp vs a cheaper one connected to the same speakers with maybe some minor differences. The thing is, those graphs and differences don’t tell you much about the sound that you hear. Troels Gravesen writes a lot about speaker measurements and mentions repeatedly that they don’t tell you much about the sound signature of a speaker. Ideally all speakers should measure quite well if well designed but those measurements don’t tell you about the driver construction, cone materials, or the filter order used.
So in response to your original question, i reckon you could measure my speakers fronted with an Atom and compare with an ndx2 + SN3 but my guess is that it would be very difficult to pick which was which just by the FR alone. Unless there is some tweakery going on with the higher priced Naim amps that we don’t know about. Then maybe someone in the know might be able to tell which was which when comparing the two.

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Cheers interesting responses thanks :blush:

I use a pair of Royd RR1, if I remember correctly Royd designed their speakers to work with the NAP250.

Below is part of a review of the RR1.

…Joe has chosen this crossover with the aim of improving the phase response and therefore speed of the speaker. It is pretty obvious that Joe’s design ethic is to get the temporal response right even at the expense of a perfectly flat frequency response…

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