Speakers.....are we getting ripped off?

Jeff Romard

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
12,086
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Well, two things - they MAY be the same or MAY be very different. I've seen both and had many people argue I"m wrong on both accounts..

First, walmart (and other big retailers) have the buying power to get things made to their specifications or price point. Ther are over 6300 walmarts in the us, and if htey buy your headlihts (or whatever) and get just a case of 12 for each store (likely they'll order more than that) you just sold 75,000 headlights to them. So yea, you can cut your price to them on that quantity of a sale OR build it to their specs.

My first job was in a tv repair shop and Zentih indie retailer. Big Box didn't exist then, but Sears, Monkey Ward and others did, and they'd order enough from zenith (and other brands) and demand a price point where they could sell them 'cheap' - so speakers or other items in the unit would be cheaper to make that price point.

One might ask how Ollies and Harbor Frieght and other 'outlet' stores can sell stuff sooo cheaply..it's can't ALL be overrun/over stock.

Speaker A sounds like 'this' when new, when in 'this' room, at 'this' volume.
Now lets go work it for a year, run it for 4 hours an max in a varity of rooms and see how it sounds.
And how do you compare that to anything similar?

They are all very similar - buy a name brand and use it. Check reviews to be sure it's not a lemon model with issues.

How it sounds to YOU isn't really that important...you're playing to 100, 200, 500 people - and only a small percentage will hear it they way you do - so the other 80% may not like it...and you'll never know.

Also, you're what, a 50's something guy that's been around loud music for years, perahps high end audio as well. Great.

Your AUDIENCE, which pays you so they're opinion is the only one that counts in the end, today is rarely around high end audio, mostly earbuds from i've seen, and are younger and hence probably hear better, certainly a wider range of sounds, than you.

Hell, with all the ear buds do we even need to use subs? they don't listen to their music that way so it will sound very different to them when we play it...no matter how good our speakers may be.
40 something actually don't age me worse than I am lol

The average listener in the 100-500 person crowd doesn't have the tools to tell them exactly what it sounds like I do but I admit most times I trust my ears. I'll gamble that my hearing is bad but still good enough to distinguish good from bad sound and trust me when I say I can still hear shrill maybe better than ever actually because it drives me nuts
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Sound is subjective.
I REALLY liked the sound system in 2008 outback. I very much like the one in my 2014 subaru. Had a 2013 silverado..never did like that system, too much bass or just not tuned to the vehicle very well. My son has a 2004 taurus with the Mach system from ford - high end, 11 speakers, sub woofer..volume? Yeah, and then some. Sounds pretty good too.
Still like the sound of the 08 subaru system the best...

BUT - what do you listen to? I like classic rock leaning toward heavy metal...not the 'same' sound as today's digital creations that pass for music. Subwoofer didn't exist in the 60s, recording range and how they mixed songs isn't the same as today's music either. Not to mention 50 year old music has been 'remastered' or copied from one medium to another. I was told magnetic tape doesn't last a decade..so what are they remastering? Copies of copies?

And everything will color the sound - the room being a biggie, and we all tune our system to an empty room - maybe check it out thru the night, but then there's all the ambient sounds of 150 plus folks in the room chattering, dishes clattering, etc. At times during school dances the kids are singing much louder than my system...so what is being heard by the crowd?

So what does 'better' mean? And who's saying what's better?

I'm sure the engineers at EV say theirs sound the best. But then so will the folks at bose. And yamaha. and QSC. So even the engineers won't be able to definitely say what is better than what.

And Bose, the L1/F1 literature is very specific in talking up LIVE music..NOT pre-recorded reproduction. Yamaha's top speakers do the same..the mid level talk more about reproduction of recorded music. If you want to go nitpicking.

Remember .. when something sounds "better than" something else, it still doesn't mean they sound GOOD.
 

Jeff Romard

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
12,086
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Sound is subjective.
I REALLY liked the sound system in 2008 outback. I very much like the one in my 2014 subaru. Had a 2013 silverado..never did like that system, too much bass or just not tuned to the vehicle very well. My son has a 2004 taurus with the Mach system from ford - high end, 11 speakers, sub woofer..volume? Yeah, and then some. Sounds pretty good too.
Still like the sound of the 08 subaru system the best...

BUT - what do you listen to? I like classic rock leaning toward heavy metal...not the 'same' sound as today's digital creations that pass for music. Subwoofer didn't exist in the 60s, recording range and how they mixed songs isn't the same as today's music either. Not to mention 50 year old music has been 'remastered' or copied from one medium to another. I was told magnetic tape doesn't last a decade..so what are they remastering? Copies of copies?

And everything will color the sound - the room being a biggie, and we all tune our system to an empty room - maybe check it out thru the night, but then there's all the ambient sounds of 150 plus folks in the room chattering, dishes clattering, etc. At times during school dances the kids are singing much louder than my system...so what is being heard by the crowd?

So what does 'better' mean? And who's saying what's better?

I'm sure the engineers at EV say theirs sound the best. But then so will the folks at bose. And yamaha. and QSC. So even the engineers won't be able to definitely say what is better than what.

And Bose, the L1/F1 literature is very specific in talking up LIVE music..NOT pre-recorded reproduction. Yamaha's top speakers do the same..the mid level talk more about reproduction of recorded music. If you want to go nitpicking.
Very subjective to the ear not so much to instruments of measurement
 

sawdust123

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 10, 2006
187
56
Ventura County, CA
One of the most important speaker specification is the one that is least reported. It is distortion. Distortion causes listener fatigue over time. Speaker distortion is a function of level. The power rating of a speaker is only a rating of how much heat a speaker can dissipate without permanent damage. It doesn't indicate how loudly a speaker can play and still sound good.

I suggest people go out to their local music store and listen to a pair of JBL 705Ps. These are bookshelf sized monitors with a 5" woofer. I guarantee your first thought is going to be "where is the subwoofer?" If this don't convince you that better materials aren't important, you are probably near deaf.
 

sawdust123

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 10, 2006
187
56
Ventura County, CA
BTW, most cheap brands are built for price, not sound quality. Components are switched when the prices change and the cabinets aren't retuned. Heck, many of the cheap brands have ZERO ability to QA their speakers being built by 3rd party manufacturers in China.. They don't even own the test equipment needed. They only become aware of problems when the return rates go up.
 

Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
1,920
72
One of the most important speaker specification is the one that is least reported. It is distortion. Distortion causes listener fatigue over time. Speaker distortion is a function of level.
In simple terms, the further the speaker cone has to move, the more non-linear it becomes. This is why horn loaded speakers (while bringing their own set of problems) usually have much lower distortion than direct radiators. Even if a manufacturer tests for it (and publishes it), look at level in db it was done at - usually way too low for a PA speaker!

The "numbers game" is really a double-edged sword anyway. Early solid state amplifiers used "quasi-complementary" output stages due to the lack of reliable PNP power transistors. Very non-linear, and easily fixed by using a huge amount of negative feedback. "Sounded" great on paper, but your ears said otherwise!

So what do you do? As sawdust has alluded to, use your ears! While often difficult to quantify (distortion), you'll know it when you (don't) hear it! A large 120 player Symphony Orchestra is often at 100db where the audience sits, yet people are not jamming tissue paper in their ears. Likewise, truly great speakers have a life-like, effortless sound to them. However, if you find yourself (after prolonged listening) continuously turning the volume down (or being asked to turn the volume down), you're probably listening to crap (nerd technical term).
 
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Jas

DJ Extraordinaire
May 22, 2013
1,782
Yeah those cheap speakers sound pretty good; until you do an A/B test against quality speakers. Even comparing higher priced brands against other higher priced brands can be a bit surprising.
 
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DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,818
36
Yeah those cheap speakers sound pretty good; until you do an A/B test against quality speakers. Even comparing higher priced brands against other higher priced brands can be a bit surprising.
I think the cheaper loud speakers only started to sound Good in the last 6-7 years or so.

Same goes for retail level audio equipment. Cheap speakers and boom boxes sold to the public in big box stores always had a tinty poor quality sound to them. But the technology started getting a lot better in the last 7 years or so there too. The cheap speakers today sound marginally better than the cheap speakers of 2005 did, LOL.

I got my son a $15 Polaroid brand speaker that looks like a Block Rocker at Big Lots a few years ago. For $15, it has a descent sound to it. Sound quality like that would have cost at least $50 back in 2005.

A $200 BoomBox Today sounds WAY better than a $200 Boombox back in 1995 or even 2005 did...and today they come with lights, and a bunch of different input options on them along with blue tooth capability.
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Well, I listen with my ears in a real world environment, not in an acoustic lab with reference mics.

And that is my point - it's all RELATIVE - what sounds good to you, or me may not be the same. How that sounds to a 14 yr old at a dance or a 75 year old at a wedding, in a hard room with 400 folks or a soft room with 80 will also vary considerably.

The ideal placement in a room isn't always possible either, and of the 100-400 in the room only what, 3 might be in the optimal location to hear it properly. Toss in 80db or more of ambient sounds and well, it's not likely to sound anything at all like it did in the sound engineers lab.

In THEORY, the better speaker still sounds better...but that also assumes the user has not screwed something up along the way wiht a less than optimum file, something in the audio chain that isn't up to snuff, other adjustments or placement of the speakers.

At most gigs I'll play off my main computer through a sound card. At times i'll use my backup/lighting pc that has goog internal audio but no external sound card and if i gotta fetch a song online it's played via the headphone port on my phone.

And yes, each sounds different to me - on the same speakers.

So, in the REAL WORLD how much difference to the speakers make? And what is that difference?

I like some things about my equipment, and other things not so much. I'm debating what to do about the stuff i dont like - mainly, what to replace to make it sound better...and there's really no way to do that but to get the gear and go run it in a live environment or 2 or 3 or 4.

I can't decide what sounds best based on the charts on the website from the sound lab. I wish it was possible!

Very subjective to the ear not so much to instruments of measurement
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,922
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
The first thing I seem to notice is distortion when listening to a inadequate sound system. It gets worse when they try to cover it with extra bass, so now I get to feel the distortion too😄
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Agree, or the piercing high tones..can't listen to that for long without your ears hurting.

I love my yamaha dxr - can't over drive them into distortion, no nasty shrillness - can run them full blast and 10 minutes after the night your hearing is normal - no headache, no ringing, etc.

My 18" ev subs...i'd like more bass and less 'sub' from them, to get a more balanced sound. Can't really 'play' at home unless I"m outside and then that's not a fair comparison to indoor anyway...and have had the cops come due to the volume... So there may be a way to dial them in better, but time is limited.

next use is a school dance in 3 weeks, but I have basketball pics in the morning so will be scurrying to get up and running on time as it is.


The first thing I seem to notice is distortion when listening to a inadequate sound system. It gets worse when they try to cover it with extra bass, so now I get to feel the distortion too😄
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,818
36
If we are taling prices. ...When it comes to TYPICAL Mobile DJ Applications, spending considerably more money on higher priced Speakers is not necessarily due to sound quality. ...THOSE Customers spend that additional money because of the Warranty being offered, liklihood of less mechanical failure, and BRANDING. Most of the higher cost speaker brands wil use more expensive parts, so the liklihood of failure is lower.

All fair reasons to spend more money. ...Is the investment WORTH IT or NOT is harder to measure.

I love my BOSE S1PRO. If it had come out 2 years earlier, and I made the decision to buy it instead of an American Audio ELS8BT...well I would hve saved 200 bucks, BUT ...200 bucks for having a battery powered speaker when they came out, and were available for use was not a bad price to pay at all to have the use of a battery powered speaker at the time.

Now if you show me a pair of Yamaha DBR 15 for $599 vs. a RCF 745A for $1399 or whatever their price is now...Spending that extra $800 is very hard to do knowing that Yamaha products hold up very well. While the RCF may get louder, and might just sound 1% better than the Yamaha which sounds GREAT by the way...is the extra $800 worth it for typical mobile DJ applications? ...When I factor in all the variables in my head, I would say NO. Even though that RCF 745 is a kick ass speaker. :)
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
My DXR12's from northern sound and light, with rebate from yamaha, were just under $500 each. Add in 60 for a cover and i'm done.
A bose is what, $1000/speaker? (haven't checked on price..remember looking at 2 with subs and it was 3-4k)

Something may get louder than the DXR - BUT - other than school dances I never turn them up all the way...way too loud for a wedding or bar or b'day party. WAY.

Would/could one bose do the job? I've seen it done...lighter/smaller. I dont' like the super wide dispersion. And I've always thought while bose makes good stuff they demand a very pretty penny for it.

I can't charge more because I use a bose over a yamaha...setup time less or not? less crap to carry (stands?), need 1 not 2 for some gigs? Will they hold much better resale (and how long will I use them? 2 years, 10, 20? Will it matter then?), will they get me more gigs cause ofthe look/brand they are? will they be more reliable? Easier to repair if they break?

Many variables. Enought to justify double the price? Not to me.
 

tunes4046

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 24, 2008
5,865
48
Fennimore Wi
My DXR12's from northern sound and light, with rebate from yamaha, were just under $500 each. Add in 60 for a cover and i'm done.
A bose is what, $1000/speaker? (haven't checked on price..remember looking at 2 with subs and it was 3-4k)plus the Yamaha have better warranty

Something may get louder than the DXR - BUT - other than school dances I never turn them up all the way...way too loud for a wedding or bar or b'day party. WAY.

Would/could one bose do the job? I've seen it done...lighter/smaller. I dont' like the super wide dispersion. And I've always thought while bose makes good stuff they demand a very pretty penny for it.

I can't charge more because I use a bose over a yamaha...setup time less or not? less crap to carry (stands?), need 1 not 2 for some gigs? Will they hold much better resale (and how long will I use them? 2 years, 10, 20? Will it matter then?), will they get me more gigs cause ofthe look/brand they are? will they be more reliable? Easier to repair if they break?

Many variables. Enought to justify double the price? Not to me.
 
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sawdust123

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 10, 2006
187
56
Ventura County, CA
The easiest way to eliminate distortion is to USE MORE SPEAKERS. The majority of DJs think no further than two speakers per room. They just use bigger speakers for bigger rooms. However, that means those speaker need to play loud. Take the same room and add some fill speakers in the periphery and now no speaker is working too hard. The result is much clearer sound everywhere.

Extron, one of the largest manufacturers of commercial A/V equipment (think conference centers, etc) has the largest country bar in Orange County, CA on the first floor of their HQ. Walk anywhere and the sound is crisp, clear and even throughout. Most importantly, it is not over-bearing. Even with live bands, the sound never exceeds 89 dB at the back of the dance floor. How do they do it? With 80 separate zones of coverage. Every speaker is optimized. If they tried to do this with just a pair of left and right stage stacks, the results would be as bad as your typical dive bar.
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,922
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
My DXR12's from northern sound and light, with rebate from yamaha, were just under $500 each. Add in 60 for a cover and i'm done.
A bose is what, $1000/speaker? (haven't checked on price..remember looking at 2 with subs and it was 3-4k)

Something may get louder than the DXR - BUT - other than school dances I never turn them up all the way...way too loud for a wedding or bar or b'day party. WAY.

Would/could one bose do the job? I've seen it done...lighter/smaller. I dont' like the super wide dispersion. And I've always thought while bose makes good stuff they demand a very pretty penny for it.

I can't charge more because I use a bose over a yamaha...setup time less or not? less crap to carry (stands?), need 1 not 2 for some gigs? Will they hold much better resale (and how long will I use them? 2 years, 10, 20? Will it matter then?), will they get me more gigs cause ofthe look/brand they are? will they be more reliable? Easier to repair if they break?

Many variables. Enought to justify double the price? Not to me.
Everyone has different priorities.

While I can't for sure how much extra business, if any, the brand had helped me get, we do routinely mention the brand in our sales pitch as people do recognize the brand as quality. Even after 13 years, people recognize my system as unique and high quality. That's worth extra money to me. The ease of set up and time savings have been worth the extra money. And yes, when I do decide to sell them, knowing they will be in demand always helps.

The Dj is always the most important link in the equation. But spending more on tools to make my life easier and convey quality to my customers is a great investment, in my opinion.

I could probably find cheaper mics too. But my Sennheiser EW's have been so flawless that I now have a handful of sets. Saving a few hundred dollars is not worth it for me to have issues at events or have to sorry about it.

Peace of mind means a lot to me
 

MIXMASTERMACHOM

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 16, 2011
1,115
60
The saying is usually true. You get what you pay for. Anything of high quality is going to cost more and usually worth spending the extra money. They will last longer and sound better. Those who don't know better will go with a cheaper brand thinking they are saving money. What they will find is they should have bought the real deal to begin with and be done with it. Sometimes a person has to make the mistake of buying cheap to learn a lesson.

Same as someone thinking they are saving money by booking a cheaper DJ.
 

ittigger

Hundred Acre Industry Icon
Feb 1, 2011
12,811
Western Maryland
The saying is usually true. You get what you pay for. Anything of high quality is going to cost more and usually worth spending the extra money. They will last longer and sound better. Those who don't know better will go with a cheaper brand thinking they are saving money. What they will find is they should have bought the real deal to begin with and be done with it. Sometimes a person has to make the mistake of buying cheap to learn a lesson.

Same as someone thinking they are saving money by booking a cheaper DJ.
What does this say about the items you've purchased?
 

tunes4046

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 24, 2008
5,865
48
Fennimore Wi
The saying is usually true. You get what you pay for. Anything of high quality is going to cost more and usually worth spending the extra money. They will last longer and sound better. Those who don't know better will go with a cheaper brand thinking they are saving money. What they will find is they should have bought the real deal to begin with and be done with it. Sometimes a person has to make the mistake of buying cheap to learn a lesson.

Same as someone thinking they are saving money by booking a cheaper DJ.
Kind of explains why you get hired
 
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