Planet Audio

Planet Audio 

If music and sound reproduction mean a great deal to you, the topics under Planet Audio should be of interest.  Music and great reproduction have never been more accessible and yet never has so much low fidelity been pumped into human ears than is the case today.  Great audio may not be dirt cheap but it has never been easier.

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Audiophile Glossary

Analog

the actual sound wave. 

Baffle bounce

Reflection off the baffle of the sound wave after the main wave has launched. The larger the baffle, the more bounces. 

Bandwidth

Any spectrum of frequencies used for discussion. Audio bandwidth is 20hz to 20,000Hz. Subwoofer bandwidth might be 15Hz to 45Hz etc. 

Bass reach

Ability to go down to the low frequency extremes. 

Bass tightness

Tuneful, accurate bass not bloated or muddy. 

Bi-amping

Using one channel of an amplifier to drive each Ribbon and midbass so that a stereo pair of speakers requires 4 channels of amplification. Means that instead of driving a speaker full-range with a single channel of amplification, through a single set of speaker cables, you actually connect two sets of cables, with each set driven by a separate amplifier, or separate channels of a multi-channel amplifier. This way, low frequencies and high frequencies each receive dedicated amplifiers. 

Bi-wiring

Running separate cables from the amplifier to the Ribbon and midbasses. 

Cables

Carrying higher voltage and power, running from the amplifiers to the speakers. Also power cables 

Crossover

Digital, passive, electronic - means of channeling high frequencies into the high frequency driver (Ribbon midrange/tweeter or dome tweeter etc.), and low frequencies to the woofer. 

Diffraction

Anomalies created when a wave moves out from the diaphragm and encounters a radical change in the baffle - say a 90 degree corner. The sharper the corner, the greater the diffraction effect. 

Digital

The soundwave is broken down into a digital format which bears no physical resemblance to the original analog waveform. 

Digital chain

Where the complete signal path is digital and there are no analog steps except when the amplifier converts the digital information into the analog waveform which powers the speakers. 

Dispersion

Horizontal, vertical - radiation pattern - how evenly the soundwave moves off to the sides and up and down. 

Dynamics

Ability to play loudly and cleanly. 

EQ

Equalizing electronically to deal with room acoustic problems or produce special effects.  

Excursion

Forward and backward movement of the diaphragm. 

Etched

Emphasis of very high frequencies sounding very live but harsh. 

Hard

Too much mid-treble emphasis leading to rapid listening fatigue. 

Interconnects

carrying low voltage signals from the CD player say to the preamp and from the preamp to amp. 

Linesource

tall loudspeaker with a line of drivers or diaphragms (in the case of Ribbon) all producing the same frequencies. Tall enough to put the listener in the nearfield where there is very little room interaction. The taller the linesource, the further back the nearfield area extends. Very little floor or ceiling reflections. Radiates in a columnar form. 

Midrange

speaker driver reproducing middle (say speech) frequencies. 

Midbass driver

basically a woofer which also operates well into the lower midrange. 

Muddy

refers to bass and midbass where the notes are indistinct and poorly defined. 

Off-axis

the position relative to a line straight ahead of the diaphragm. Off-axis vertical and off-axis horizontal. 

Phase

time arrival of the information. Out of phase means wave is 180 degrees shifted from the in phase (ideal) wave. 

Planar

any flat surface diaphragm driver typically film based, electrostatic, Ribbon types. 

Pointsource

radiates hemispherically - as much towards the ceiling and floor as to the sidewalls and listening position. 

Ribbon

thin conductive diaphragm suspended in strong magnetic gap. Diaphragm vibrates when audio signal is put through it.  

Room acoustics

the sonic signature of a room, the frequencies it emphasizes and damps down. 

Soft

rolled off treble and bass producing very mellow sound but losing a lot of information. 

Soundstaging

effect of hearing the soundsources - instruments, singers etc. - located in specific places horizontally and in front of and behind the plane of the speakers. 3D sound localization as it would appear in a live show. 

Smooth response

even frequency response so that all frequencies are presented evenly, it their proper perspective. 

Suck out

a hole or depression in the frequency response - not as easy to detect as a boosted section of bandwidth. 

Tight group of curves

off axis response very close to that of the on-axis response. Ie broad horizontal dispersion giving even sound in a wide listening area. 

Tweaks

modifying you sound components for better performance. 

Transparency

ability to hear into the music. Separation of instruments, removal of "veils" from obscuring musical detail. Naturalness. 

Tweeter

speaker driver reproducing high frequencies. 

Voicing a speaker

giving a speaker a specific character. (Newform's policy is to remove character as much as possible) 

Woofer

speaker driver reproducing low frequencies. 

 

Casual Audio Glossary

Acoustic suspension

A sealed or closed box speaker enclosure. Also called a sealed enclosure, or infinite baffle. 

Audio frequency

The acoustic spectrum of human hearing, generally regarded to be between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. 

Baffle

A board or other plane surface used to mount a loudspeaker. 

Bandwidth

The range of frequencies covered by a driver or a network (crossover). 

Band-Pass filter

An electric circuit designed to pass only a certain range of frequencies. See also High-pass and Low-pass filters. 

Basket

The metal frame of a speaker. 

Bass Reflex

See ported enclosure. 

Boomy

The smearing of transients that makes bass reproduction sound muddled. 

Channel

The path an audio signal travels through a circuit during playback. 

Circuit

A complete path that allows electrical current from one terminal of a voltage source to the other terminal. 

Clipping

(1) A distortion caused by cutting off the peaks of audio signals. Clipping usually occurs in the amplifier when its input signal is too high or when the volume control is turned too high and the amplifier tries to put out too much current and it sends out direct current to the speakers. (2) when playing at loud volumes, and the cone of the driver "bottoms out" - it cannot move as far as the signal requires it to, it can produce a noise. If an amplifier or speaker is left operating in this condition, serious damage may occur. 

Crossover Network (Filter)

An electric circuit or network that splits the audio frequencies into different bands for application to individual speakers. See Electronic and Passive Crossover. 

Damping

The reduction of movement of a speaker cone, due either to the electromechanical characteristics of the speaker driver and suspension, the effects of frictional losses inside a speaker enclosure, and/or by electrical means. 

Decibel (dB)

(1) A logarithmic scale used to denote a change in the relative strength of an electric signal or acoustic wave. It is a standard unit for expressing the ratio between power and power level. An increase of +3dB is a doubling of electrical (or signal) power; an increase of +10dB is a doubling of perceived loudness. The decibel is not an absolute measurement, but indicates the relationship or ratio between two signal levels. (2) SPL (sound pressure level) can be measured in dB. 

Diaphragm

The part of a dynamic loudspeaker attached to the voice coil that moves and produces the sound. It usually has the shape of a cone or dome. 

Dispersion

The spreading of sound waves as it leaves a speaker. 

Distortion

Any undesirable change or error in the reproduction of sound that alters the original signal. 

Dome Tweeter

A high frequency speaker with a dome-shaped diaphragm. 

Driver

A loudspeaker unit, consisting of the electromagnetic components of a speaker, typically a magnet and voice coil that actually converts electrical energy into sound. - cone, dome, planar 

Dynamic range

The range of sound intensity a system can reproduce without compressing or distorting the signal. 

Efficiency rating

The loudspeaker parameter that shows the level of sound output when measured at a prescribed distance with a standard level of electrical energy fed into the speaker. 

Electronic Crossover

Uses active circuitry to send signals to appropriate drivers. Usually more efficient than passive crossovers, however requires additional amplifiers to drive each frequency band.-- Digital, passive, electronic 

Enclosure

The box that contains the driver(s). 

Equalizer

Electronic device used to boost or attenuate certain frequencies. "EQ" 

Filter

Any electrical circuit or mechanical device that removes or attenuates energy at certain frequencies. See Crossover Network. 

Flat Response

The faithful reproduction of an audio signal; specifically, the variations in output level of less than 1dB above or below a median level over the audio spectrum. 

Frequency

The number of waves (or cycles) arriving at or passing a point in one second, expressed in hertz (Hz). 

Frequency Response

The frequency range to which a system, or any part of it, can respond. 

Full-range

A speaker designed to reproduce all or most of the sound spectrum. 

Harmonic

The multiple frequencies of a given sound, created by the interaction of signal waveforms. 

Harmonic Distortion

Harmonics artificially added by an electrical circuit or speaker, and are generally undesirable. It is expressed as a percentage of the original signal. See THD. 

Hertz (Hz)

A measurement of the frequency of sound vibration. One hertz is equal to one cycle per second. The hertz is named for H.R. Hertz, a German physicist. Also a good place to rent a car when you're on vacation. 

High-pass Filter

An electric circuit that passes high frequencies but blocks low ones. See Band-pass and Low-pass filters. 

Horn

A speaker design using its own funnel shaped conduit to amplify, disperse, or modify the sounds generated by the internal diaphragm of the speaker. 

Hum

Audio noise that has a steady low frequency pitch often caused by interference from the AC power line.

Impedance

The opposition of a circuit or speaker to ac current; the combined effect of a speaker's resistance, inductance, and capacitance that opposes the current fed to it. It is measured in ohms and varies with the frequency of the signal. 

Infinite Baffle

A flat surface that completely isolates the back wave of a driver from the front. 

Kilohertz (kHz)

one thousand hertz. 

Low-Pass Filter

An electric circuit designed to pass only low frequencies. See Band-pass and High-pass filters. 

Lobing

The tendency of a speaker system that consists of more than one driver to produce a lobed frequency response in space with in-phase reinforcement (lobes) from the various drivers occurring at some elevations and out-of-phase opposition (nulls) at points between the lobes. 

Midbass

Mid level bass, usually frequencies just above the sub-bass range, from around 100-400Hz or so. 

Midrange (mids)

The frequency range above bass but below treble that carries most of the identifying tones of music or speech. It is usually from 300-400Hz to 3kHz or so. 

Noise

Any undesirable sound reproduced in an audio system. 

Octave

A range of tones where the highest tone occurs at twice the frequency of the lowest tone. 

Ohm

A unit of electrical resistance or impedance. 

Ohm's Law

A basic law of electric circuits. It states that: the current [I] in amperes in a circuit is equal to the voltage [E] in volts divided by the resistance [R] in ohms; thus, I = E/R. 

Out of Phase

When your speakers are mounted in reverse polarity, i.e., one speaker is wired +/+ and -/- from the amp and the other is wired +/- and -/+. Bass response will be very thin due to cancellation. 

Passive Crossover

Uses inductors (coils) and capacitors to direct proper frequencies to appropriate drivers. 

Phase

Refers to the timing relationship of two or more signals or soundwaves. It's especially important to be sure that your stereo speakers are playing "in phase." This means that the drivers (cones and domes) of your right and left speakers are moving in and out at the same time. If your speakers are out of phase you'll hear significantly less bass, and instead of producing a strong center image, the sound tends to stay localized at the speakers. 

Phase Coherence

The relationship and timing of sounds that come from different drivers. 

Phase Distortion

A type of audible distortion caused by time delay between various parts of the signal; can be caused by equalizers. 

Polarity

The orientation of magnetic or electric fields. The polarity of the incoming audio signal determines the direction of movement of the speaker cone. Must be observed when wiring speakers, so that they are "in phase". See Out of Phase. 

Ported Enclosure

A type of speaker enclosure that uses a duct or port to improve efficiency at low frequencies. Excellent design for lower power systems, as the port often adds up to +3dB to low frequency efficiency.   It also introduces a resonance into the system.

Resonance

the tendency of an object to vibrate most at a particular frequency. 

Resonance Frequency

the frequency at which the speaker tends to vibrate most at a certain frequency. 

Resistance (Re)

in electrical or electronic circuits, a characteristic of a material that opposes the flow of electrons. Speakers have resistance that opposes current. 

Roll-off (cut-off)

the attenuation that occurs at the lower or upper frequency range of a driver, network, or system. The roll-off frequency is usually defined as the frequency where response is reduced by -3dB. 

Sealed enclosure

air tight enclosure that completely isolates the back wave of the driver from the front. 

Signal

the desired portion of electrical information. 

Signal-to-noise (S/N)

the ratio, expressed in dB, between the signal and noise. 

Sinewave

the waveform of a pure alternating current or voltage. It deviates equally above a zero point to a positive value and an equal negative value. Audio signals are sinewaves or combinations of sinewaves. 

Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

the loudness of an acoustic wave stated in dB that is proportional to the logarithm of its intensity. 

Standing wave

a buildup of sound level at a particular frequency that occurs when any dimension of the room is equal to any multiple of the wavelength. You would hear it as a peak in the frequency response of the room. 

Subwoofer

a loudspeaker designed to reproduce only bass frequencies. 

Timbre

the quality of a sound related to its harmonic structure. Timbre is what gives a voice or instrument its sonic signature & why a trumpet and a saxophone sound different when they play the same note. 

Three-way

a type of speaker system composed of three ranges of speakers, specifically a woofer, midrange, and tweeter. 

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

the percentage, in relation to a pure input signal, of harmonically derived frequencies introduced in the sound reproducing circuitry and hi-fi equipment (including speakers). 

Transient Response

the ability of a speaker to respond to any sudden change in the signal without blurring (smearing) the sound. A speaker that can react quickly to rapid changes in sound has "good transient response". 

Treble (highs)

the upper end of the audio spectrum reproduced by tweeters, usually 3-4kHz and up. 

Tweeter

a speaker designed to reproduce the high or treble range of the sound spectrum. 

Two-way

a type of speaker system composed of two ranges of speakers, usually a woofer and tweeter. 

Voice coil

the wire wound around the speaker former. The former is mechanically connected to the speaker cone and causes the cone to vibrate in response to the audio current in the voice coil. 

Volt (E)

a unit of measurement used to measure how much "pressure" is used to force electricity through a circuit. 

Watt

a unit of electrical power. A watt of electrical power is the use of one joule of energy per second. Watts of electrical power equals volts times amperes. 

Wavelength

the length of a sound wave in air. It can be found for any frequency by dividing the speed of sound in air (1120 feet per second) by the frequency of the sound, or: WL = 1120 / Freq. 

Woofer

a bass loudspeaker designed to reproduce low-frequency sound only. A woofer and subwoofer are usually the similar type of loudspeaker, but their application (crossover frequency) differentiates them. 

 

Keeping it Simple

The high end audio community uses a great many special terms and concepts which are new to most people. But here is the fundamental point. Although we go to great lengths to make sure customers get the most from their loudspeakers and their complete systems, getting great sound is not difficult. 

Hook our Ribbon loudspeakers up to virtually any stereo amplifier or receiver made in the past 10 years and give them a little space in any average living room and you will end up with a very impressive sound system. 

Getting the best possible sound from your room and your components takes some thought but stepping up from a big box store system to high end audio is extremely simple. It is virtually plug and play with your old loudspeakers being unplugged and our Ribbons replacing them. 

Beyond that, there are high end preamps, crossovers, amplifiers and CD and DVD players. But there is no rush because the digital world is churning out generation after generation of better and cheaper products at a furious rate. Get the speakers right and the rest can follow on your timetable. 

Educate your ear and then improve your system as you get more comfortable with the room/speaker balance and with what new electronics can offer.

 

NHB 58

The NHB 58 incorporates a huge amount of new technology in one design. This new technology is focussed on eliminating errors such as diffraction, cabinet wall talk and internal standing waves. It is one of the most advanced loudspeakers available at any price and is suitable for a wide range of applications.

NHB Essential

(Dual 30" Ribbons, dual 5" mid-bass drivers and Subwoofer per side)

Scaling the Peaks of the High-End
External Crossovers. 
Highly Customized. 

R830 Loudspeaker

The R830 loudspeaker is the simple solution since it provides substantial bass and fine detail with excellent sound staging. The Peerless 8" mid-bass driver produces solid, dynamic bass into the low 30 Hz region, eliminating the need for a subwoofer in almost all stereo and many home theater applications. 

Module 30 Loudspeaker

The Module 30 loudspeaker can bring true high end experiences into any system when used with a good subwoofer. Excellent soundstaging. Great detail. 

At $1640 per pair delivered while stocks last, the Mod 30 delivers high end fidelity at a bargain basement price.

R530

Essentially a floor standing version of the R58 with slightly better bass extension and our R30 Ribbon, the R530 is at home in many applications and will add speed and transparency to any corner of an audio system. The R530 is capable of very high dynamics when used with a subwoofer as well as correct scale due to the height of the R30. In a small room, the R530 will provide the basis for an excellent music system. It is also suitable for lower seating positions as it is 4" lower than the R630 or R645.

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