It is important to know the basics of sound and how speakers work. Sound only travels via air, so you need a speaker or microphone to convert vibrations in the air into an electric signal that can be amplified and sent over wires.
The physical properties of your room will affect your sound quality: if it echoes too much, you’ll get reverberation; if it has too many hard surfaces, you’ll hear reflections instead of just direct sounds from the source.[ez-toc]
You may want to experiment with different types of speakers or microphones before settling on which ones are best for your needs.
If you have ever been at a public event and heard a speaker distorting then you know how bad both music and speech can sound at high volumes, so you will want to avoid that if you can.
In this article, we will go over a few reasons why this happens and how you can avoid it. This is especially important if you are a DJ, public speaker, or musician – your audience deserves to hear uncompromising sound quality at all times!
What is speaker impedance?
Both specs and amplifiers include impedance on their spec sheets, but what does that mean? In other words, it is a measure of how much electrical resistance your components have measured in ohms.
Typically, resistance is denoted by the symbol. For those with a background in electronics, you’ll know precisely what resistance is, but for this (simplified) explanation, it isn’t essential.
To determine whether your amplifier and speakers are compatible, we will use impedance. Getting this right will help you to avoid speaker distortion at high volume.
Speakers typically have an ohm rating of four to eight. Amplification works best when rated in a certain range, such as between 6 and 12 ohms.
If you have a speaker amp and you want to make sure they are compatible, check their specs. If you misplaced your originals, check with the manufacturer for this information, or give it a quick Google to get the exact specs. If you have access to the product spec sheet or online, then that is even better as it is quick and easy to access it whenever you need to.
The Reason for Loudspeaker Distortion
The most common reason for loudspeaker distortion is the amplifier. For example, if you are using a subwoofer for your bass and run it at 100% volume on an older amplifier, you will most likely cause some clipping or other distortions that can be heard as crackling or popping sounds through your speakers.
This happens because every speaker has its power rating, which, if incompatible with your setup, can cause mismatch issues that ultimately lead to speaker failure and distortion. Crowds do not appreciate this kind of audio assault, so always be sure that you have a competent sound person near by to help you when things start to go off the rails!
Preventing Loudspeaker Distortion
Ensure that your sound system is set up correctly and maintained regularly by an expert technician to ensure the best possible quality of sound reproduction for your event. Having a sound guy on hand can also ensure that a lot of embarrassment is avoided altogether if you are not technically gifted with sound setups before your gig.
If you are carting around your own speakers and amplifiers then you need to ensure that you purchase high-quality speakers manufactured with tight tolerances. You should aim to reduce volume over time and have some kind of local monitoring that will let you actively monitor the sound system throughout the event. This makes it much easier to make adjustments before they get too loud and cause distortion.
Speaker and Amp Compatibility
If you know that your equipment is compatible, then the next step is to reduce the volume of your audio source like a PA or sound desk, until it matches what your amplifier can handle without distorting or clipping sounds.
If you want to review your event after the fact, then you will need a device that can record the sound of your music (e.g., a smartphone) and an amplifier with input monitoring (most modern amps, sound desks and PAs have this feature).
If you’re having issues, check the speaker’s specs to see if it has a power rating of four or eight ohms.
So there we have it
Ensure your speakers or amplifier has the right power rating for optimal sound quality. A mismatch between your amplifier and speakers in terms of impedance is the most common cause of loudspeaker distortion.
In summary, speakers are typically rated between 4 and 8 ohms, while amplifiers work best at a particular range, such as between 6 and 12 ohms.