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Frequently Asked Questions – Specific to The LoudSpeaker Store and General Audio Questions


Note: We will attempt to answer all inquiries. We may answer in general or respond directly. The answers may contain opinion and fact, often both, and may be just as verbose as what you see below.

 Disclaimer: The LoudSpeaker Store does not, under any circumstances, accept any liability whatever for the interpretation, misinterpretation or application by any individual or entity of information contained on this or any other page on this web site. If you find any information contained herein that is patently incorrect, please bring it to our attention so we may repair it.


1.  Q: Why can’t I just take any woofer that fits and pop it in the speaker box to replace the one that’s bad?


A: This is probably the single most-asked question I get, so I’ll take the space to explain. The reasons are many and challenging to explain without going into the technical aspects of speakers, but I’ll try to simplify it. A quick analogy: It’s like replacing the original tires on your Porsche Boxster with generic all-season radials – they will function, but not perform.

 The simplest answer is that there is a very small chance the woofer you pick at random will perform the way the original did. The reasons why have to do with the electrical and mechanical characteristics of the woofer and how they are affected by the speaker box (there are many factors, but we will cover three):

 1)     The natural stiffness of the woofer - How stiff is it compared to a sealed volume of air? Denoted by  “Vas”, which is the sealed volume of air in cubic feet or liters that equals the stiffness of the woofer. 

2)     Its natural resonance denoted in “Hz” or vibrations per second. “Fs” refers to the “Free-air” or un-mounted resonance.

3)     Its reference efficiency (AKA Ref SPL) or how loud it plays with a specific amount of power (How many decibels of output will I get if I play 1 watt into it and measure it from 1 meter away? This is denoted by dB/1W/1M.

 If the original woofer had a Vas of two cubic feet, an Fs of 45Hz and a reference efficiency of 90 dB 1w/1m, you need to find a woofer that is reasonably close (within 10-15%) to these specs or the sound of the speaker system will change dramatically.

 For example:

You find a “Generic Replacement Woofer” that has the following specs: Fs = 30 Hz; Ref Spl =87 Hz and Vas = 5 cubic feet.

The sound will be washed out and thin because the woofer doesn’t match the output of the tweeter (it’s 3 dB softer), and it’s “looking” for a larger box – it won’t play as loud or go as low as the original. Not good!

 The LoudSpeaker Store can re-edge or re-cone most woofers for less than the cost of an inexpensive replacement, preserving the sound you bought the speaker system for in the first place. If we can’t repair it, we will find a closely matched replacement for you – we will find which one of hundreds is THE correct part, and guarantee the results.


2.  Q: I’ve been told that re-edging the woofer isn’t adequate, that I should get it re-coned to make sure it works like it used to.


A: If the voice coil isn’t damaged, there’s no reason at all to pay for a full re-cone. If you got a flat tire, would you automatically replace the rim also? If the rim was bent or made unsafe when the tire was damaged, then yes, replace the rim, too. Similarly, if the voice coil can’t be re-centered or is damaged or destroyed, then we will re-cone the speaker. Why spend more money than you truly need to?


3.  Q: I got a woofer re-coned but when I re-installed it in the speaker box it didn’t sound like the original. It looks the same, but I’m not happy with the sound.

A: Paul W. Klipsch once said (paraphrased), “You can’t claim you have it if you don’t measure it. There’s no way to know what you have if you don’t”.

 The re-cone center you used probably did not have the ability to test the woofer against its original specs, or didn’t want to take the time to test it. It’s not good enough to make a woofer look like new. If it doesn’t meet the original specs, it can’t possibly sound like it used to (see question # 1 for more details). The LoudSpeaker Store has an Electro-Acoustics test lab in which we test each and every re-cone – this is the only way to guarantee consistent, accurate results. Enough said.


4.  Q: I’ve seen some “Do-it-yourself” re-foam kits out there – I could save a considerable amount of money by doing it myself.     


A: Hey, we’re all about saving our customers money. If you want to attempt a DIY re-foam, we’re happy to supply the parts and the glue. If you’d rather not subject your woofers to experimentation, get it done by someone who does it every day and guarantees the work and the results. If you decide to send your woofers to us, please see our “shipping instructions” page for details.


5.  Q: I like my 20 -year-old speakers, but I want to set up a Home Theater system and I’m concerned they can’t handle it.


A: If they are ready for music, they are ready for theater. The main concern with Home Theater has to do with the wide dynamics (sudden changes from soft to loud, like with gunshots or explosions) and extreme bass in some movies – if you’ve been playing CDs on your old speakers and they are in good repair, they can handle Theater. If you’re concerned about your speakers’ ability to handle the extreme bass, get a self-powered subwoofer – you’ll need one anyway if you plan to take full advantage of today’s DVDs with Dolby Digital ® and DTS® surround sound effects.


6.  Q: I’m using my old speakers for Home Theater but I can’t locate a center or rear speakers that match. Is it ok to mix brands?


A: Yes. The old convention that the three front speakers had to be an exact match has faded. You have the tools to pick the best speakers to do the job: use your ears. The center channel should provide clear, articulate speech and fit the space you have for it. The only other considerations are cosmetics and cost.

 Choosing the rear speakers will be more a more challenging task. There are basically 3 different types: Dipolar, Bipolar and monopolar. Most speakers are monopole, meaning they shoot the sound from one side, usually the front. Dipolar and bipolar shoot the sounds from two opposing sides, Dipolar in a “push-pull” pattern, bipolar in a “push-push” pattern. Dipolar speakers are primarily used for THX® home theaters (also see question # 8), Bipolar speakers are popular for larger rooms with limited placement options.

 In reality, a set of small, inexpensive speakers with brackets or wall-mount keyholes will work quite well in most systems, as will a wide variety of in-wall or in-ceiling speakers.


7.   Q: My speakers are 15 + years old. I want to get new speakers that use more updated technology – what is the latest technology being used in speakers today?


A: A very interesting question. You’ll be surprised to find out that, in principal, speaker technology hasn’t changed much since the 1920s! Until the laws of physics are updated, the technology will remain current. Not to be coy, just giving a short answer.

 Advances made since the ‘20s have more to do with advances in application, materials and refinements of the existing technology. The difference between your speaker and more recent models is mostly cosmetic. Most of the apparently “new” technology is old ideas that couldn’t be built practically until recently, owing to advances in manufacturing techniques.

 One of the trends today is toward tall and slender – designs that have more eye appeal and take up less floor space. Another popular option is “the amazing mini-cubes” which is really just the separation of the parts of a larger speaker.  On first listen, they are astonishing because you don’t expect such big sound to come from such tiny boxes. Upon comparison to a more “serious” and often much less expensive models, they lose their musical appeal because of the separation. In real life, you will never hear the high sounds of your friend’s voice speaking directly to you and the low parts coming from behind a curtain on the opposite side of the room.

 Another option is what appears to be a transparent screened panel – these are electrostatic, planar magnetic or “ribbon” speakers. These have a few advantages over “conventional” dynamic (magnet, voice coil, cone/diaphragm – what you’re familiar with as a “woofer” or “tweeter”) speakers, they have as many disadvantages. They are controlled over their entire surface and can have less mass than air – this makes them super responsive and minimizes some types of distortion – that’s good. They tend to be very inefficient (you’ll need waaaay more power than your receiver can produce) very large (they have to compensate for a short stroke with surface area), and are usually unobtainable for less than thousands of dollars, which is part of their appeal.

 Horns are one of the oldest continuously manufactured types of speakers available, going all the way back to some of the original phonographs. Fewer consumer manufacturers are building them any more, but the few that are have it down to science, and have refined the cosmetics to rival any of the “new-tech” brands. They even have horn-loaded computer speakers.

 In my previous career as a sales rep with the world’s most successful purveyor of consumer horn-loaded loudspeakers, I coined a phrase that they now use as a mantra, and is really quite true: “Digital Ready Since 1948”, referring to the year the Klipschorn went on the market, and the longevity of horn technology in general. If you want the huge impact and dynamics of live (acoustic OR amplified) music and commercial Cinema, there’s little else that will do.

 To most people, the sheer variety of size, shape, sound quality and price range of speakers available today is outright confusing.


8.  Q: Can I play DVDs and VHS tapes with “THX” on my regular stereo system speakers?


A: Yes, absolutely. There’s some confusion on this issue. The “THX” label on a DVD or VHS (Laser Discs, too) means that the folks at THX® supervised the process that transfers the film to video. The goal is to eliminate as much as possible any degradation of picture or sound quality. This is achieved through a rigorous check against the original film to ensure colors, gray scale and sharpness are not degraded or exaggerated. The soundtrack is also treated to a similar process. Like with any DVD or VHS tape, you can play it on any DVD player or VHS player in stereo or surround.

 In my opinion, the THX® folks have done a fantastic job of preserving the Director’s original artistic vision with every movie they’ve touched.


9.  Q: Should I outfit my home theater with THX® certified gear?


A: If you are a movie fanatic, yes! This is a great way to experience movies at home. In fact, it’s what the THX program is all about.

The program originated when George Lucas wanted to be certain that his films could be the experience he envisioned, not just in the screening rooms at LucasFilm® but in every theater. He and the gifted engineer Thomlinson Holman (some say he’s the “TH” in “THX”) developed a set of minimum standards for theaters to meet in order to be certified in the program. When home theater began to get popular, the THX standards were adapted to the home environment, and compensated for the scale differences between commercial Cinema and Home Theater.

 Today it has evolved into a multi-branched program with THX Ultra2 ® as the highest Home Cinema Standard.

 While it’s entirely possible to assemble a superb Home Theater system without THX certification, it isn’t as likely to be in the realm of “World-Class” without it. 


10.  Q (c) Can I listen to music on a system designed specifically for theater?


A: You should be able to. In most of the newer systems, particularly those with Dolby Pro Logic II®, DTS Neo ® and THX Ultra2®, music is specifically considered.

 When it comes to speakers, there is a paradox: speakers designed specifically for Cinema most often sound horrible with music. On the flip side, speakers designed to reproduce music accurately almost always sound fantastic when used for Cinema. 




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Last modified: February 18, 2005