Speaker design

Interesting Chanel about speaker design. Are we really getting what we pay for? I accept that it is all about the sum of the parts and design but it appears that less than adequate components and short cuts are used to optimize profits. Some interesting info for those DIY speaker projects

Isn’t that always the way? Designers specify, bean counters buy cheaper alternatives.

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Chanel N° 5?

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Been subbed for a while, interesting content, they analysed a pair of ATCs in distinctly lukewarm terms!

The ATC review was somewhat lukewarm, the rest were positively frosty!

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Have you see the Harbeth P3ESR review…wow not good…but an interesting take…

Indeed and looking at the crossover… massively complex with all those cheap MKT capacitors and ferrite cored inductors. Each of these absorb energy from the signal, particularly at low levels. These explain why they need surprisingly powerful and yet agile amplification to lift the sound out of a dull presentation.

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I’ll check this out at lunch but it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen similar things in the past where $30k speakers were opened up to find the cheapest of very weak magnets possible used for the voice coils and things like that.

OTOH, the proof is in the pudding. I’d not be overly concerned with the caps and so forth used in the crossover if the speaker demonstrably sounded better to my ears and had a decent warranty to back it up.

You pay for the speaker that give you the sound you like (or measurement you like, etc). What does it matter the cost of the components? (What is the cost of components of a Naim amp?) As long as the product does what it says it does, and the units sold are is not different from the ones reviewed or tested or auditioned by you, then what is the issue?

The cost is a combination of whatever research and development the manufacturer has done (which could have been, and with speakers often may have been, a mammoth undertaking, regardless of how simple the product may appear), plus production costs, plus manufacturer’s profit, plus distribution costs, dealer costs etc etc. and of course an element of charging what they think people willpay - and if it sounds good, that can be a lot. (And if they can hype it, and people are minded to think expensive is best, they can charge a lot even if something isn’t actually all that good!)

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After seeing several of these videos, nothing the guy says is controversial. He seems quite intelligent and the message driven home again and again is, you get what you pay for. Low cost speakers he took apart used low cost engineering and parts. High cost speakers fared better.

To use his phrase “These are built for a price point” .

Whether a person wants to utterly destroy the resale value of a speaker by modding it with the kits mentioned or not is another matter entirely. :slightly_smiling_face:

I suppose with both DIY and commercial speakers, we are getting what we pay for, but only with commercial speakers we are also paying for the operation costs of the business, as well as the actual construction of the speaker. Anyone that has built a speaker will tell you that this is not a simple, or cheap, task. Labour will be a huge part of the cost.

I think what shocked me with the P3ESR here is a company that has is designing drive units…and enclosures…and they have a design that requires them to fight all sorts of nasty acoustic anomalies… surely you want a driver that is as well behaved as possible…and have as little in the signal path as possible…

This speaker…is interesting to me … as it shares LS35A philosophies and also has a brethren the Kan that shows you what happens with this cabinet design if used with a minimal crossover. The LS35A and P3ESR use the crossover to pull the output down to improve bass response which is not great for the signal. It would be interesting to do an active version with a digital crossover eq arrangement…

It would appear there’s a very commercial angle to this channel.

p.s. I’ve removed the link in compliance with forum rules.

I would agree, but what surprised me is the use of ferrite cores rather than iron cores and MKT capacitors instead of MKPs. In the original days of the Harbeth P3 series (in the '90s) these cost savings may have been justified (still not sure about the ferrites though, Spendor were using iron cores), but now these changes can be made at minimal cost. For instance there are WIMA and Visay MKPs that are as small as, and are not significantly more costly than MKTs, but have much better characteristics (and all other things being appropriately adjusted, sound a lot better as well!).

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That was my feeling, too. As well as kits for modding crossovers, I think they sell self-build speakers. Possibly not the most disinterested reviewer of other speaker brands.


I agree, it’s mostly business motivated. Some of it is educational but then he needs to educate in order to convince people to buy a better crossover. The thing is, any speaker in the price bracket that he seems to be focusing on is going to have that lower level of parts quality so he will be able to fault anything he puts his hands on. He does seem to identify some rather lousy measurements from some respectable brands though, which is interesting. I think it shows that when brands make their own drivers they might not necessarily do it that well.

Kudos are a good example of what it costs when you use great drivers with quality crossover. They have been smart and used drivers with minimal issues allowing lower order crossovers and fewer parts.

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Thanks Richard
I did wonder if it would fly close to the rules but thought he had some interesting findings regarding measurements and components.

My impression from what I have seen is that it wouldn’t be excessively costly to improve the cross over components which in theory should improve the speakers performance. The cross over components in the ATC SCM 19 are a case in point - an accurate well measuring speaker that isn’t overly expensive. I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but they are good examples of what can be achieved.
I would be happy to pay a little more for better components for improvement in performance. However I am never likely to take my speakers apart for inspection and so will never know. I will have to trust my ears.

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Back in my more reckless and inquisitive past, and also driven by blowing a tweeter in the Mordaunt Short MS310s I owned at the time, I replaced the spade joints for the HF drivers, with soldered ones. The difference to my teenage ears was substantial, much smoother top end.

I mention it as I’ve seen quite a few high end speakers with spade connections on the crossovers and the drivers. I’m sure it’s done to speed assembly, but even a small mod like that is likely worth it.

IIUC correctly my current Neats have hard wired components, so I won’t pull the boxes apart to check, and they sound great anyway. But if I was having to look inside a set of speakers for any reason, I would certainly think about hard wiring things inside whilst I was there.

Sorry missed the orginal post, which channel, please? You don’t have to post a link.