Pioneer SP-BS41-LR loudspeaker Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

I measured the Pioneer SP-BS41-LR's frequency response in the farfield with DRA Labs' MLSSA system and a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone. For the nearfield measurements I used an Earthworks QTC-40 microphone, whose ¼" capsule provides only a minimal obstacle to the flow of air through the port. The Pioneer speaker's B-weighted sensitivity on the tweeter axis was 85.8dB/2.83V/m, which is within experimental error of the specified 85dB. The electrical impedance remained above 6 ohms at all frequencies (fig.1, solid trace). The average was closer to 9 ohms, which both means that the SP-BS41-LR—who thought of that name?—will be an easy load for the partnering amplifier to drive, and suggests that the specified 6 ohms figure is too pessimistic.

Fig.1 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed). (2 ohms/vertical div.)

The impedance traces have glitches evident at 180, 470, and 700Hz, which implies the existence of some kind of enclosure resonances at these frequencies. Investigating the vibrational behavior of the enclosure panels with a simple plastic-tape accelerometer revealed a rather lively cabinet. The side panels (fig.2) have ridges of resonant energy evident at 570Hz, as anticipated, but also at 470Hz; and while a lower-frequency ridge is visible, this is just above 200Hz, rather than at the 180Hz I had expected from the impedance plot. I would expect some lower-midrange congestion to stem from this behavior.

Fig.2 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, cumulative spectral-decay plot calculated from output of accelerometer fastened to center of side panel (MLS driving voltage to speaker, 7.55V; measurement bandwidth, 2kHz).

Turning to the Pioneer's acoustic behavior, the low-frequency saddle in the impedance-magnitude trace suggests that the rear-panel port is tuned to 60Hz. The red trace in fig.3 shows the output of the port, measured in the nearfield. It peaks between 40 and 90Hz, but its smooth upper-frequency rolloff is marred by two high-Q resonances, at 470 and 900Hz. The blue trace in this graph is the nearfield output of the woofer. As expected, it has a sharp notch at the port tuning frequency of 60Hz. The black trace below 300Hz in fig.3 is the sum of the nearfield woofer and port responses. The peak apparent in the upper bass is actually an artifact of the nearfield measurement technique; the SP-BS41-LR's low frequencies will actually be close to flat before rolling off to reach –6dB at the port tuning frequency.

Fig.3 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with nearfield woofer (blue trace) and port (red) responses and their complex sum respectively plotted below 300Hz, 1kHz, 300Hz.

Higher in frequency, the Pioneer's farfield output (fig.3) is respectably even before featuring a small peak between 10 and 15kHz. The plot of the speaker's horizontal dispersion (fig.4) shows that the small suckout below the top-octave peak fills in to the speaker's sides, but also that the tweeter's output above 10kHz falls off rapidly, which will ameliorate the audibility of that peak. Lower in frequency, the Pioneer's dispersion is broad and even, with no sign of the usual off-axis flare at the bottom of the tweeter's passband. In the vertical plane (fig.5), suckouts in the crossover region develop more than 5° above and below the tweeter axis, which suggests that the stands used be tall enough to place the listener's ears close to the tweeter axis.

Fig.4 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, lateral response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 90–5° off axis, reference response, differences in response 5–90° off axis.

Fig.5 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, vertical response family at 50", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 45–5° above axis, reference response, differences in response 5–45° below axis.

In the time domain, the SP-BS41-LR's step response on the tweeter axis (fig.6) suggests that both drive-units are connected in positive acoustic polarity. The decay of the tweeter's step smoothly blends into the start of the woofer's step, which implies optimal crossover design. The cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.7) is impressively clean, with only a very slight amount of delayed energy apparent at 1.7kHz.

Fig.6 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, step response on tweeter axis at 50" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).

Fig.7 Pioneer SP-BS41-LR, cumulative spectral-decay plot on tweeter axis at 50" (0.15ms risetime).

The measured performance of Pioneer's SP-BS41-LR would not be out of place in a $1000/pair speaker, let alone one costing just $150/pair. Color me impressed.—John Atkinson

Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.
PO Box 1540
Long Beach, CA 90801-1540
(800) 421-1404

Ovation123's picture

I have begun speaker shopping for a modest 2 channel setup (will be moving my current AVR to the living room and updating my HT with a new AVR) and, frankly, was considering speakers quite a bit more expensive than these Pioneers until I came across several references and reviews to them by reputable people. While I am not opposed to standmount speakers (I have 5 of them in my HT), I was considering exploring floorstanders. Given the glowing review of the standmounts here, I wonder (knowing full well they have not been reviewed) if it is a reasonable assumption to expect the FL51 versions of this speaker line to basically sound like the BS41s under review but with more low frequency extension. This line does not appear available at any local stores for me to give them even a casual listen, so any insight you might have would be appreciated.

Thank you.


I cannot believe you didn't notice that there are NO high frequencies. None. And I tried two different sets of these speakers, which were identical.

Yeah, the midrange is nice. Yeah the bass is great. But there are no highs ... to the point of unpleasant notice-ability.

RichardG's picture

The lack of highs is noticeable. But these speakers sound amazing in my small room and with the right equipment. They are smooth and absolutely non-fatiguing. At the same time there is enough detail to keep me interested in the music (i.e. they are not boring). The associated equipment is very important. Paired with a Kenwood CD player they sound great. I tried using a Bel-Canto DAC2 as my source and it sounded terrible.

They replaced my tower speakers (Paradigm Reference Studio 100 V2). The Paradigm's were too big for my room and no matter what I did caused listening fatigue.