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ohfourohnine's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Speakers as Illusionists

I ran across it again today while reading a reviewer's evaluation of some speakers in that other audio magazine, and, as usual it produced the raised eyebrow and the little smile. The statement, a rough equivalent of which comes up from time to time in speaker reviews everywhere, was, "The bass extends to just a bit below 40Hz, but....they create the illusion of going even lower than that." The speakers create that illusion, do they? How very clever of them. How do you suppose they do it?

Clearly, there is some measurement reference involved in the review in question. How else do you support the flat statement about actual bass extension? Beyond that, though, the reviewer attributes to those particular speakers the capacity to create the specific illusion of greater bass extension - presumably only when is appropriate. Tough task, I think, for a little box of transducers and crossovers even if you accept that the whole job of a speaker is to create the illusion that musicians are playing in the room.

I suggest such illusions are created in the mind of the listener. I'm doing it right now with a pair of Shure E3c's driven by a Headroom Total Bithead playing lossless files from an iPod. The full range of the music is there for me, but, much as I think that set-up is OK for iPod listening, I don't credit those little in-ear phones for creating all of the bass that I'm "hearing". Then again, I'm not a professional reviewer.

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 11 years 3 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Speakers as Illusionists

Hiya, Cheapskate!

Good observation.

I've always taken that "illusion" kind of review statement to mean one of two things:

1) The speaker has a bass hump above its low frequency roll-off point that creates the "illusion" of more bass being present.


2) The speaker is adept in the frequency range of the first harmonic or two of those lower bass fundamentals and reproduces those sounds well, creating the illusion that the fundamental frequency had been reproduced.

Also, I think that when a small speaker performs "better than it ought to" in the bass frequencies, listeners "give it more credit than they ought to" with regard to bass response.

Feel like I haven't seen you for awhile, best wishes.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 2 days 1 hour ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Re: Speakers as Illusionists

I'm with you Buddha. Whenever I see that kind of illusion comment I know it means "this little box needs a good subwoofer".

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