JA Explains Speaker Measurements

On Sunday at 2pm, John Atkinson gave an illustrated talk entitled "How to measure loudspeakers and what the measurements mean." The scheduling was not ideal, just three hours before the show's closing, and the door to the meeting room where the talk was held was locked, and could be opened only from the inside or with a special card, which was not provided. As a result, attendance at the talk was not as great as it might have been, but the people who were there listened with rapt attention. One person told me afterwards that he has a book on loudspeaker measurement that he's had difficulty understanding, but, having heard JA's presentation, it made much more sense to him.

Other than the specifics of how loudspeakers are measured, I thought the most interesting part of JA's presentation was on what the measurements mean. If I may paraphrase, although the measurements themselves are objective, deciding what to measure, how to measure, what to emphasize in presenting the measurements, and how to interpret the measurements, all involve decisions that are essentially subjective. As someone who reviews speakers but does not measure them, I'm interested in the relation between how speakers measure and what they sound like. I have thought about acquiring some speaker measurement hardware and software, but I've resisted that temptation. I think this is one of those areas where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and unless you really know what you're doing—like JA—it's easy to go wrong in your measurements and their interpretation. JA's talk gave insight into the many factors that are involved in this process.

The presentation will be repeated at the 2011 Axpona Show in Atlanta, on Saturday April 16 and Sunday April 17, at 3pm on both days. The Show takes place at the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown.