Enjoy the Music.com
The Absolute Sound
November 2007

Your Long-Term Traveling Companions

  This issue focuses on loudspeakers the last component in the playback chain and the part of a system that is by far the most difficult to choose. Selecting a loudspeaker is much more of a personal decision than choosing, say, a digital source or amplifier. Although digital sources and amplifiers are important, we don't have quite the same relationship with those components that we have with a pair of speakers. We sit face to face with the speakers in intimate proximity. It is the speaker that opens the window through which we discover musical expression, and the speaker that seems to nourish our musical hunger. Of course, the loudspeaker is incapable of this magic trick without source components, electronics, and cables. But it is the pair of boxes or panels in front of us that converts the intangibility of electrical currents traveling silently through those boxes and wires into the counterpoint of Bach, the heart-wrenching stab of a Joni Mitchell lyric, the spontaneous flow of a Sonny Rollins improvisation, or the melodic and technical brilliance of an extended Zappa guitar solo. The loudspeaker makes tangible the inchoate.

The loudspeaker is an electromechanical contrivance that colludes with our brains (in more-than-willing cooperation) to convert a pair of electrical signals into a three-dimensional soundstage populated by virtual individual objects (instruments) in an acoustic space a space that is different than the acoustic space we actually inhabit. That's quite a trick when you stop to consider that the signals driving the speakers are merely two voltages that vary over time nothing more. These voltages contain no decoding key to tell us that, in a piano and voice recording, the piano's harmonics are attached to the piano's fundamentals, and the voices harmonics to the voice's fundamentals. Yet we don't hear the recording as an incomprehensible miasma of fundamentals and overtones; we experience a fairly close approximation of two distinct instruments piano and voice separated by space.

But the loudspeaker simply makes the air move; the brain gets credit for the rest of this improbable conjuring trick. Movement by the loudspeaker diaphragms creates cycles of compressions and rarefactions (pressure above and below normal atmospheric pressure) that strike our eardrums. This sets off a chain of events which we perceive as music and in which we find meaning, expression, and sometimes elation. For whatever reason, our brains are programmed, at the most fundamental level, to understand and find joy in certain combinations of sounds. It's a great, but wonderful, mystery.

Our special relationship with loudspeakers extends to their physical presence in our homes. Loudspeakers are more like parts of our furnishings and our lives than are the black or silver boxes of source components and amplifiers. Sources and electronics go in a rack, but we share our living spaces with a pair of loudspeakers. Consequently, we must choose them for long-term aesthetic compatibility as well as for sound quality. Fortunately, loudspeaker manufacturers offer a wide range of sizes, styles, and finishes, from no-frills utility boxes to lavishly sculpted shrines. Some loudspeakers even rise above the merely elegant to become works of art in themselves.

Loudspeaker designers are a special breed. They painstakingly meld paper, aluminum, wood, wire, glue, steel, and even more exotic materials in a process akin to alchemy. The wide range of variables in materials and design choices is why we see such diverse products in the marketplace, and why a loudspeaker reflects the designer's intent, skill, aesthetic, and musical tastes to a greater degree than, for example, an amplifier.

Like silent sentinels, a pair of loudspeakers waits patiently to transport you to a moment of music-making that might have taken place before you were born. The best loudspeakers are those that continue to surprise and delight you years down the road. Choose your loudspeakers carefully and they will become your long-term traveling companions in exploring the world of music.

 

 

 

     
 

Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

 

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc

 

Superior Audio Archives
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

 

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

 

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
AXPONA 2019 Show Report
Zagreb AV Show 2019
CanJam Singapore 2019 Show Report
Salon Audio Montreal Audio Fest 2019
Florida Audio Expo 2019 Show Report
Warsaw Audio Show 2018
New York Audio Show 2018 Report
Capital Audiofest 2018 Report
Copenhagen HighEnd 2018 Show Report
Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest RMAF 2018
CanJam 2018 Denver RMAF
KL International AV 2018 Show Report
High End Munich 2018 Show Report
AXPONA 2018 Show Report
CanJam SoCal 2018 Show Report
CanJam NYC 2018 Show Report
Click here for previous shows.

 

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

 

Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

 

Partner Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
NOVO (CANADA HiFi)
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

 

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

 

Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

 

Social Media & Video
      

 

 

 

       

Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us

 

All contents copyright  1995 - 2019  Enjoy the Music.com
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.