Efficiency and Watts. I believe we have a mission fellow TBers

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jaygetsreal, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. We have tolerated the myth of loudness being measured, described, and claimed in Watts for a long time. I know this has been covered in previous threads but I would like to take the topic to the next level, and I propose that we have a mission fellow TBers.

    I came to this conclusion yesterday when I saw a midget powered speaker being used by an enthusiastic pool exercise class, made by a certain budget gear brand beginning with B, which wore a bright yellow sticker saying "1000 Watts".

    Leaving aside the fact that 'Watts' is in itself ambiguous, why have we tolerated this kind of brazen marketing for so long? At best this kind of claim is disingenuous and at worst it is actually meaningless as the main selling feature of - in this case - a powered speaker.

    We know loudness is scientifically measured by several variants of decibels or dB. In relation to a speaker (please correct me if I am wrong) its perceived loudness is a function of its efficiency (dB at 1 Watt at 1 metre distance) and the amount of energy (Watts) passing through it. Plus some other important factors.

    Here's the challenge. 1. Is there, or can we coin, a better indicator of the loudness of a device which really describes loudness and allows consumers to relate it to its price and to other products? 2. How can we accommodate the non-linear nature of dB / hearing into a more handy and understandable linear index - like miles per gallon for example? And 3. Can we encourage, and start to exercise some influence on the industry to adopt it? There would have to be some sort of incentive.

    I acknowledge that the challenge is way bigger than us (the bass fraternity) but IMHO this is important and we have to start somewhere. Suggestions encouraged.
    instrumentalist and Silthis89 like this.
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Start here: Speaker power handling

    I believe the work has already been done, but different OEMs use different standards. I have old EVM datasheets that reference EIA standards and old JBL datasheets that reference AES standards...other companies use IEC standards. Even worse, sometimes companies use different standards for different product lines.
    bobyoung53, SirMjac28 and soulman969 like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Let's see, who is that patron saint of Lost Causes again? ;) Good luck.
  4. JimChjones


    Aug 6, 2017
    SE England
    On the one hand you are right, it's a ridiculous situation.
    On the other hand XKCD nails it...

    Geri O, dralionux, Krizz and 16 others like this.
  5. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Before crying that the sky is falling and that ALL manufacturers are deceiving the customer, some of us have been doing exactly what you are asking for DECADES. Now of course, others have been doing everything but this... don't lump everybody together as inherently evil in your quest for righteousness.

    Mesa Boogie Subway 2x10 Diagonal Bass Cabinet | MESA/Boogie®

    Click on specifications, everything you need is there, all sensitivity numbers are half-space, all power handling is RMS and all of our amps are rated in power based on RMS metrics.

    We aren't the only ones doing this either.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Very nice. In addition, I'd look at the specs for things like powered speakers from reputable brands. For years I've been on the fence about just getting a nice little powered speaker for my upright gigs, and stop messing around with my DIY speakers. I've been pleasantly surprised when reading data sheets.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  7. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    There's no difference in the specs for powered speakers, other than understanding the units used and especially the limitations that the high frequency section represents.

    For example, if a speaker states 1000 watts total power, biamped, with 500 watts low and 500 watts high it's important to recognize that there's no high frequency driver on this planet that's capable of 500 watts RMS for any practical amount of time (average maximum SPL is based on average power stated in RMS terms) so that really can't factor into the average SPL.

    Also, maximum SPL should be based on AVERAGE sensitivity, not some undefined (or loosely defined) peak sensitivity, and the power represented in RMS metrics. Unfortunately, the marketing guys often beat up the engineering guys in this area.
  8. They didn't call them Trace Watts for nothing. I believe the Elf lives up but not sure about the cabs.
  9. JimChjones


    Aug 6, 2017
    SE England
    Sure, but... Because of the complexity of the problem companies that are doing everything right and ethically and according to industry best practices are still part of the problem, even though they are not the cause of the problem or contributing to making it worse.

    AIUI the OP is suggesting we should campaign for a better means of volume measurement that can be widely understood. My concern is that the problem is so complex you can't get a single number solution. After all if there was an obvious good solution it would be jumped on. But, for example, has the industry ever managed a truly equable way of comparing the power output of an amp that is intended to distort from that of one that is not?

    It would certainly be a good thing if every company produced the full tech specs in industry standard measurement the way Mesa and many others do, but would it be enough? I'm not sure that the average user is really capable of understanding those figures, hence, for example, the underpowering myth.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Don't judge all cabs by the B brand. The vast majority of companies don't play fast and loose with numbers like that. They just happen to be one of the few that does.
    Rip Van Dan, agedhorse and And I like this.
  11. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    So if I'm playing roots, but root means square, am I playing squares? And then what does squares mean? Heinrich? This seems like some Common Core trickery straight outta the gate before I've even plugged my amp into the wall.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  12. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Reading the comments above, it seems there is also little hope for a good percentage of the customer base...

    Perhaps simplifying specs to Not So Loud, Loud, Louder, and Loudest would work best.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
    Chickenwheels and agedhorse like this.
  13. Thank you for the link
    Wasnex likes this.
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This is a "free market" economy. As such, there is an inherent "buyer beware" clause involved. We seem to have gotten away from that part of the equation.

    A commercial can say "TAKE THIS PILL (along with diet and exercise) AND YOU'LL LOSE TEN POUNDS IN YOUR FIRST WEEK OR YOUR MONEY BACK!"

    So, pretty much anyone who was sitting in the couch eating chips all day who gets up and exercises and goes on a diet will quickly shed several pounds. That's results. Most will keep taking the pill thinking the pill is what lost them the weight.

    They don't know any better.

    The same goes for the B word speaker. Someone running an aquatic center doesn't know anything about sound, most likely. They go on Amazon looking for a speaker. They see that they can get a 1,000 W B word for a couple hundred, or a 1,000 QSC or JBL for closer to a grand.

    Of course, they order a cheaper one. Once they get it hooked up, it is loud ENOUGH and good ENOUGH for their purposes. That's all that matters to them.

    So, the B word ran some sort if test whereby their speaker managed to survive for a tenth of a second without catching on fire while a 1,000 W signal was applied to it. They get to claim it's a 1,000 W speaker and sell a zillion of them on Amazon. Those with lower standards than ours get what they want for a good price.

    What you're proposing would be akin to ratting cars by how fast they can actually take an S curve with a professional driver behind the wheel. Most drivers don't care. Car enthusiasts do. But there aren't enough car enthusiasts to force Toyota to rate the Camry for S curve capabilities. Most folks want to get from point A to point B.

    You are fighting a losing battle. There simply aren't enough of us who are informed enough..... or even CARE enough.... to change market forces.
  15. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I'm a bass player. The only mission I have is to play better today than I did yesterday.
    Tekkers, SirMjac28 and agedhorse like this.
  16. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    B-brand is the only manufacturer I know that uses inflated peak wattage numbers rather than RMS. If you don't want cheap gear from a company that is attempting to bend the truth to create sales you won't buy their stuff. Use wattage and sensitivity numbers as a rough guide to loudness. where you put the volume knob has more to do with loudness... how does the gear sound? Is it a sound that works for you? If it's not loud enough can you expand it or do you need to replace it? Practically that's really all you need to know, everything else is academic and frankly there are too many factors to take into account to make a real scientific comparison practical to apply to a real world situation.
  17. Saint Jude.

    Whoa... Catholic school flashback.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Now that @agedhorse pointed it out to me, powered PA speakers give "peak SPl." Grrr... Also, as he points out, Watts are only so good as a predictor of volume until you have enough of them to obliterate the speaker. ;)
  19. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    That's a Hard Problem. The reason is that there might not be a good way to come up with a scientifically validated metric.

    In the case of simple decibels, you can do blind tests where the overall gain of the system is the only variable, and ask people to judge whether they can hear a change or not, or whether they consider something to be "twice as loud." AFAIK the basis for the idea that 10 dB is twice as loud, comes from fairly rigorous psychoacoustic research.

    How you do blind testing between signals with noticeably different harmonic content becomes tricky. I suppose one way is to compare a simulated band mix, where two different simulated bass amps are mixed in with a band, and then ask people which one they think has the louder or more audible bass. This would also answer a question I've had, which is: How much of an increase in gain is needed to be noticeable when mixed in with other instruments in a band. If nothing else, it would make a fun project for a psychology student with some interest in nuts and bolts.

    There's also a "better watch what you ask for" issue. If we come up with a metric for "loudness per Watt" based on manipulated or distorted signals, you won't be able to buy an uncolored amp any more. If you want to be heard, boost everything from 500 to 4000 Hz. Or look at which instrument of the orchestra there's only one of. ;)
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  20. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    How many cue sticks can you bench press?
    agedhorse and guitarflinger like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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