The sensitivity rating and impedance of your speakers are important specs.

In other words, they go hand-in-hand. 

SPL is what you should focus on. A safe level of volume....comfortable for several hours of listening without ear fatigue or headaches.
Post removed 
Interesting to be conscious reading that article about the great amount of trade-off related to any engineering master craft....
Did we all watch the same video? Because the one I saw there was nothing about any free lunch, nothing about impedance, and zippo about tradeoffs.

So either we all watched different videos, or people "get" stuff that never was there. I know which one my money's on. But hey, feel free to prove me wrong. It's a video. Simply point out the time stamps where they talk about 
1. free lunch
2. impedance
3. tradeoffs

Miller: the "no free lunch" side of things is introduced in the comments section by Mr. Chris Brunhaver of PS Audio, to counter the views of Sean Casey of Zu on his take on (the advantage of) higher sensitivity speakers. Not meant as a comment on high vs. low sensitivity from my side here, but just to point out the "missing link"..
Did we all watch the same video?

The video is 2 minute long....

The engineering deep problems related to these trade-off are over my head anyway...

My post was clearly refering to the article under the video...

The only thing that i know is engineering by definition is an art of trade-off between different aspects of physical laws....

No free lunch means that NO DESIGN could be without his own perspective and design costs... Which is an evidence....

I was refering to the article under it.... 😊
It’s not the video MC.
It’s the comment calling it out.
Try reading.
Like mahgister or phusis. 
Or remain irrelevant.

The video is the subject. Paying attention to all the whacky irrelevant comments below it is like reading all the whacky irrelevant comments that flow on endlessly from, well stuff like this thread. If you want to direct my attention to some particular comment, by all means be my guest. All you did here is highlight what we already know, that audiophiles can run on and on, endlessly going off on tangents never getting anywhere.

In contrast to the video, which did actually go somewhere. They showed high sensitivity speakers are both lower distortion and play louder with low distortion even when driven by sufficiently powerful amps.

But that is a subject this crowd studiously avoids. Why? Now that is a very interesting subject. Why is it being avoided?
Okay, people whined so I read the post. Now again I ask, are we even talking about the same thing? Because, still:

1. Nothing about a free lunch!
2. Nothing about impedance!
3. Nothing about tradeoffs!

Just more armchair audiophool blather that does exactly what I said, studiously avoids the fact that high efficiency speakers play louder and sound better with less distortion!

The video talks about how they sound. Everyone else is blathering about all their made up reasons why that might be.

Furthermore, this clown isn’t even trying to do that! The whole point of his rant is to discredit the guys in the video!

Well, hearing Sean talk about this doesn’t inspire much confidence about him knowing the “why” or being able to discuss the positives and negatives.

That’s a direct quote. The first sentence. Makes clear his whole point is to discredit- to prove why he doesn’t have much confidence.

Furthermore, he's not discussing the positives and negatives. He's explaining why! Dude is so determined to make his predetermined point he doesn't even have time to listen. It really is all narrative, all the time!

This thread so far is a great example of why I don’t have much confidence about people here knowing what they’re talking about. Sorry. But it really is all narrative, all the time!  Can’t watch a video, can’t even make any sense- where’s the free lunch? Impedance? Tradeoffs?

Tempest in a Teapot me thinks.
Tempest in a Teapot me thinks.

I dont pretend to know anything about speakers design...

I dont doubt and never doubted that high efficiency speakers are probably better in many count...

I dont think that any speakers tough could have been designed WITHOUT trade-off....

I dont want to argue about details of engineering here over my head save for this evidence: there is no perfect speakers... the reason for that is simple, the speakers are always designed with a particular room and specific use in the head of the creator.... Some are better designed, yes, and i will bet on high efficiency speakers in general...But low efficiency one may exist with other choices made that are also meaningful... And between low and high efficiency there is not a line, but a country ..... 😊
Then when someone speak of high efficiency speakers he speak about some in partiicular, different with different choices made than any other one.... ZU is not TEKTON for example....

I try to speak about something i know by experiments and speakers are not my experience...

I will let speakers designers enlightened me about that...

I never imagine that thanking someone for an article about trade off in speakers could create indignation....But millercarbon is passionnate like i am myself, perhaps even a little bit more....Then i understand...

I will only add that the author of this article is not a "clown"....

"Chris Brunhaver grew up in his family’s speaker manufacturing and hi-fi shop and pursued a music performance degree on double bass." An italian family manufacturing speakers is not my definition of what is a "clown" in general if we speak about speakers....

There is no free lunch anywhere this is evidence, but in amplifiers, dac, speakers all trade-off are not equal for sure....Some are better in a general way.... i will bet on high efficiency in general...

My best to all....
So "when you can SEE the cone move, that is harmonic distortion".

NO IT’S NOT. On what planet? If you can’t see a speaker move at 60 hz with volume up, what am I seeing? It is NOT distortion.. it’s a 60 hz note being playing at a higher volume. Distortion ONLY comes into play when you can’t stop the cone from moving.. THE exact opposite of what was said..

Pro drivers are excited with LOWER voltage, or less power. Normally High E speakers don’t have high excursion. The lack of excursion is usually made up with by increasing the cubic inches of surface area on the drivers cone.

NO matter the design, the bottom line, AIR is required to move to make sound. The more air that moves the louder the sound. No air, no sound!!

The trade off is simple. The larger the cone surface you have, the more "second wave" distortion. That’s right that BIG HIGH E speaker is a collector of what comes BACK to hit the cone surface. The cubic inches you were so proud of now do one thing COLLECT distortion.. The exact reason for med E speaker (89-93) with higher excursions and smaller surface areas. The "second wave" is controlled by phase plugs and a smaller surface area. Room treatment? Better have a plan...

So 101 on speaker building for me is know what your talking about..
My terminology may not be the as eloquent as the word salad connoisseurs, BUT my personal observation and understanding of "bass distortion" seems to conflict with most of "New way" of thinking..

FIRST; PHASE PLUGS are the ONLY way to decrease bass distortion properly on all round cone drivers "second wave". OR Don’t use cone drivers, OR Don’t use large surface area drivers.. The is NO OTHER WAY...

The reason I use smaller ribbons and planars in a bi pole NOT OB di pole, configuration. LESS distortion. If I dipole a speaker it does NOT use the same driver on the rear pole. "101 better speakers"

Now bass SPRING traps, the BEST idea so far... Distortion killers...

SECOND; Servo Bass, (primary distortion) overshoot.. control it or the distortion goes through the roof...

THIRD; Driver design, cast composite baskets and cone materials.
Construction distortion. The edges not being terminated, basket ring. LARGE, light, well cooled voice coils. Cone composite materials (shark skin). 8 ohms or more with larger cooler and lighter designs VC.

So Bla Bla Bla Bla all you want.

AND I hope everyone had a great "Passover" (3-27- 4-4) I know you did or you wouldn’t be reading this.. :-)


Thanks oldhvymec .....Interesting remarks from a great "connoisseur" in organ pipe acoustic control....

There are a number of highly respected companies like Harbeth, Dynaudio, etc. who make relatively low efficiency speakers. It has been suggested on this forum that the only reason for this is to cut cost. I beg to differ. The sound characteristics of a speaker from Harbeth, as an example, is the result of very careful and meticulous selection of material, voicing decisions, and a number of other factors that have won them a loyal following (you can add me to that group). I seriously doubt that the 'only' reason for lower efficiency is cost. You can make the same argument for a number of highly respected speaker manufacturers.

I'm not sure why it's so difficult for some to understand that higher efficiency speakers do present tradeoffs, like just everything else in audio. Believe me, I would love to save some coin by buying high efficiency speakers and mate them with cheaper, flea watt amps. But I have yet to meet a high efficiency speaker that connected with me emotionally.

@fuzztone -- thank you for posting the video link. Whether you agree with it or not, the first comment below the video is by far the best explanation, and much more credible than 'oh, it's only a cost saving measure.' We should be grateful that we have so many choices that help us connect with our music in a way that makes sense to us, regardless of the underlying designs.
[My terminology may not be the as eloquent as the word salad connoisseurs]

I think you're being too humble. I, for one, enjoy reading your posts. You have a way with words and a narrative style that's quite eloquent and a breath of fresh air. 

The sound characteristics of a speaker from Harbeth, as an example, is the result of very careful and meticulous selection of material, voicing decisions, and a number of other factors that have won them a loyal following
It is just marketing terms:) If you look to some pro audio drivers,they are better built,don't have plastic baskets as harbeths and cheap highs
Actually I had harbeth and dynaudio speakers.Harbeth speakers are limited sounding speakers.With some music (few or one instrument or solo vocals)I loved it.Try listen louder them or in free space ,outside house and their sound is very strange.Dynaudio wins here.Full range sound.They can rock here,but they are not dynamic as high efficiency speakers
Big efficient drivers makes midrange sound massive with visceral impact of instruments,some may refer them as shouty.
[ ... Dynaudio wins here. ..']

Sorry I didn't realize we were having a competition here :) I love Dynaudio, by the way, amazing speakers! I just happen to prefer Harbeth.

You missed my point by a country mile. There are a number of highly respected designers who are going for a specific sound signature. To dismiss the design (low efficiency) as merely a byproduct of cost savings is shortsighted. Harbeth has thousands of loyals fans ... as does Dynaudio, and Klipsch, and [insert your favorite speaker brand here]. The point being some people prefer low efficiency designs over high efficiency ones, and vice versa. 

[ ... Try listen louder them or in free space ,outside house and their sound is very strange. ...]

I have no intention of installing my speakers in a public park, so that's a moot point as far as I'm concerned :)
“I have yet to meet a high efficiency speaker that connected with me emotionally.”

Come over and listen to my Tannoy Canterbury’s next time you visit Houston.
@lalitk -- of course, it’s been on the cards for quite some time. That’s why I said I have ’yet’ to meet a high efficiency speaker that I liked :)

But keep in mind that your Canterbury’s are in a whole different league when it comes to price and performance. I have listened to various Klipsch Heritage models (except LaScalas), Devore Orangutans, Tannoy Sterlings, and Tekton Double Impacts. They were all very very good speakers, and I have no doubt have their own fan base. Just didn't do enough for me to want to live with them long term.

I’m looking forward to hearing your setup when the time comes.
“well I been across this country
From Denver to the ocean
And I never met girls  ( speakers )who could sing so sweet
Like the angels that live in Houston”

Lowell George
simple question for the speaker engineers:

if the cone or parts of the cone are moving in the opposite direction of the input signal, would you call that distortion?
If the whole cone is not moving in unison there is distortion. Is that what you meant?
@oldhvymec --

So 101 on speaker building for me is know what your talking about..
My terminology may not be the as eloquent as the word salad connoisseurs, BUT my personal observation and understanding of "bass distortion" seems to conflict with most of "New way" of thinking..

FIRST; PHASE PLUGS are the ONLY way to decrease bass distortion properly on all round cone drivers "second wave". OR Don’t use cone drivers, OR Don’t use large surface area drivers.. The is NO OTHER WAY...

I’m far less complicated here using large coned, high efficiency drivers presently from ~615Hz and down - "second wave" be damned; (per channel) two of them ported (~85 to 615Hz) and the last one is loaded in a tapped horn to cover the rest of the range down to some 20-25Hz. At SPL’s that shakes the air and surroundings quite violently the TH woofer moves or rather vibrates about a mm at most (it can move up 18-20 mm peak to peak), while the main speaker dual woofers don’t visibly move at all (less cone movement means less inertia build-up, and more cone area means better air coupling). For all intends and purposes the 15" woofers here all stroll along at levels that are viscerally felt. The compression driver and large horn (more than 5 sq. ft. mouth area) that covers the remainder of the frequency span from ~615Hz on up sports a 111dB sensitivity, and rarely see more than a single watt from the amp feeding them actively. They’re cruising while I’m potentially bruising, if you get the picture. In both cases distortion is vanishingly low, despite claimed 2nd waves and stated high compression ratios - even approaching decibels that are ear shattering in a home environment.

If I were to be discouraged by notions not to use large diffraction horns (much) deeper than 12" in a home environment nor large coned HE woofers due to second wave distortion, I’d be an important experience so much poorer. As an example quite a few people rave about the waveguides used in JBL’s more recent monitors, and yet compared to an older and much(!) larger EV diffraction horn with its landmine big CD they sound small and almost malnourished - the 4367 waveguide indeed mode-y and strident - and less relaxed and full. Commercially large size doesn’t sell, but I’d go so far to say that with horns in particular it’s the one ingredient that makes a substantial difference. There’s no working around that, even if it means refining flare geometries from a smaller size - period. Indeed, the larger the horn the less it sounds like a horn, or like two friends, both audio buffs, who heard my EV system the other day, said: "It sounds like ESL’s on steroids."

Lot’s of reasons not to go big with speakers, pro segment not least, but I’d say most of them are preconceived rather than coming from actual experience. Just my $0.02..
Nice discussion about trade offs. Except for the river in Egypt.
I’m far less complicated here using large coned, high efficiency drivers presently from ~615Hz and down - "second wave" be damned;


It is the main reason for distortion other than VC overheat (change in resistance). Like I said if you can keep ANY secondary wave from coming back on ANY driver you’ve done something few have.

I found the speed of most driver and Voice Coils a LOT of extra weight. I like domes but there are some HEAVY ring and dome drivers out there. Still great dispersion with domes with a minimum of combing.. (I gotta finish that one)

I use 3 different designs now. The RMx Elixirs modified is the best so far. Hybrid line array dipole. Separate poles, no common driver front to rear. It’s NOT OB. 93% E. They are getting spring isolation too with 1.5" of Butcher Block base. They are made of HDF. With the new base, added rear enclosure and a 17 lb AC tweeter little over 480lbs each.. They are mass loaded.. LOL Narrow baffle neo 8 planar design..

The bass sections in all my monitors NOW are separate or not used.

I have two project yet to finish. that really address the WHOLE "second wave" issue.

1. Narrow baffle Line array of domes/rings and a single AC G1 tweeter

2. Narrow baffle Line array of neo 10 planars and a single AC G1 tweeter

Both about 72" long, for an 8 foot ceiling, 84" for 9 foot ceilings.

Yikes.. that was a long one.. Jeeeeez OP say something. :-)

Hands are feeling good.. Use them while I can.. AY?

Master M how goes the acoustic journey? Adjustable spring BASS traps  (pipe organ tech) coming up..:-)

I'll post.. pics pretty quick.. I'm being lazy...

Master M how goes the acoustic journey? Adjustable spring BASS traps (pipe organ tech) coming up..:-)
It takes me a lot of listening and some enhancement device trick to succeed, but much time... 2 weeks of listening and fine tuning, but i had 29 pipes and tubes ...This is finished now.... 😊

My last idea comes directly from the last acoustical research ,but i am proud to be the sole creator of my design... Like you are for your speakers...

We listen not to frequency like assume those who use an electronic equalizer and a mic with a tested response frequency for a PRECISE ARTIFICIAL location...

We listen to some multi dimensional complex different wavefronts, a bunch of frequencies,( like the voice timbre of a singer) coming from the tweeter, the bass drivers, and from early and late reflections in a PRECISE NATURAL time frame...

I used this fact creating my H.M.E. (Helmoltz mechanical equalizer): imagine a snake with head and tail...

The HEAD begins a few centimeters from the tweeter of one of my speakers with 2 pipes near the tweeter and 2 bottles near the port hole; then going to my left on the first reflection point with 6 pipes; then to my rear with the MAIN BODY of the snake, 8 pipes ,one 8 feet high; and then goes to the second reflection point to my right, with 6 pipes and finally ends at the TAIL, with 3 pipes near the bass driver of this speaker, with one bottle near the port hole....Asymmetric distribution of pipes and bottles and differences between them are very important at the head and tail....

Result: "listener envelopment" factor LEV and "source width" factor ASW and imaging complete optimization...

This means my 50 dollars speakers sound like almost the best speakers there is to my ears, with ONLY their design normal limitations and no more limitations from the room now... In the opposite, my room enhanced the speakers design to MY EARS (not to a mic from a mic)...

It seems you were the only one to catch something about my idea with your comparison with silent organ pipe acoustical tuning in church.... This was half of my idea.... The other half is related to the way the ears/brain recreate the FIRST frontwave sound coming from the 2 speakers early and late reflections for each ear.... The gist of my idea is to control these different reflections with a qualitative control different for each ear...This is the powerful head and tail of my acoustical snake or H.M.E. we can also reduce his name to a true "Helmholtz grid".... Speakers were not there tough at the time of Helmholtz....

Acoustic is so powerful that it is the main factor in audiophile perceived experience... The failure to understand this push the market obsession with upgrading electronics parts....There is less difference between each electronics parts at ANY cost than between electronic part in a bad or in a good room... PERIOD....

The tragedy is : it is not all people who can experience it in a dedicated room....The rest is audiophile blind history obsession with all that matter the less, cables,analog/digital,tubes/S.S. etc, at the cost of which really matter the most: acoustic....

NO ONE listen to his speakers only...We listen to our room.... The direct waves coming from the speakers are perceived, even in near listening field, MIXED with the reflections.... In my own room in one second the waves cross the room 80 times horizontally and more vertically ( my room is 13 feet square 8 1/2 feet high)....My ear/brain use a 80 milliseconds window, in which already many crossings(direct,early and late reflections) will be analyzed internally from EACH one ear... When people think that near listening field nullify the powerful impediment of their non controlled room this is completely false....Any change in my own acoustical settings were detected by me in nearfield listening or regular one position alike...

My best to you....