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I am buying a new pair of speakers. Should I buy speakers with a soft-dome tweeter, or ones where the tweeter is made out of a hard dome such as aluminum?
Some generalizations about tweeters can be made. For example, metal-dome tweeters such as aluminum tend to have higher-frequency break-up modes than, say, silk-dome tweeters that will start deforming at a lower frequency. However, when the aluminum dome breaks up, it does so much more severely and this usually shows up as a spike in a frequency-response chart, often within the audible range. Silk-dome tweeters break up more gently, and some feel that makes them more pleasing to the ear even when it's still in the audio band. Another generalization that's made today is that the best tweeters use beryllium and diamond for their domes. Their break-up modes are super-high.
The truth of the matter is that while there is some truth to that stuff, a lot comes down to the implementation of the technology and, overall, how the speaker has been designed. Editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz recently told us that he compared two speakers, one with a beryllium-dome tweeter and another with a dome made from silk. They're both outstanding speakers, he said, with high-frequency performance that's roughly the same. Moral of the story: put most of the weight on what you hear, not what the dome is made from.
To Colin Smith,
While reading through your decision process on your speaker choice ("On Reference Equipment"), I really appreciated the way you valued the different key features. I probably would have chosen Focus FC 9 based on your sound criteria, but I like that you used the Paradigm Signature S8 v.3 as your top pick and compared everything back to that. I went through a similar process choosing my Epos ES30 speakers, but I bought them first and then I bought the reference electronics years after. The better the electronics and room positioning the better my speakers sound. If I had changed the speakers before the amps, preamp, cable, etc., I would never have realized the Epos speakers’ full potential. Many times I felt my speakers were the limiting feature on my quest for absolute sound quality, but I have learned that my room and the rest of the chain are more critical. I have concluded the biggest speaker development that I could justify a change for is the beryllium tweeter technology that has gathered positive reviews from all publications.
My next reference speakers will have this Be tech for sure.
Thanks for your kind comments John. The "On Reference Equipment" column seems to have resonated with a lot of people. Looking back on it, I suppose I was telling a story that's familiar to anyone who's put effort into building up a great sound system. I can't agree with you more on beryllium tweeters -- they are the bomb, especially Paradigm's. . . . Colin Smith
Congratulations on the new site. It looks great. I read something about covering home-theater equipment. There's a subwoofer review, but when will the other stuff start and where will it be?
You won't see a formal home-theater section created. Instead, reviews of home-theater products will become commonplace in the "Equipment Reviews" section, and there will be articles on various topics that will appear in the "Feature Articles" section.
My receiver has a button called Tone Defeat. What does it do?
If the receiver has a Tone Defeat button, then it also has tone controls, which allow for frequency-response adjustments for the bass and highs. The problem with tone controls is that the circuitry can add distortion to the sound, even if the buttons are left in the neutral position. It’s a small thing, but it’s been apparent to me on the receivers I’ve used. The Tone Defeat button bypasses tone-control circuitry, meaning that you can no longer adjust the bass and highs, but you’ll have purer sound. Therefore, my suggestion is to use the Tone Defeat button if you’re not going to adjust the tone controls, but live with the subtle degradation in sound that the controls bring if you do.
I hope you can help. My Yamaha receiver is about ten years old. It worked fine until yesterday when it immediately shut off for no reason. I turned it back on and it clicks off again. I tried this more than five times. Any advice?
Your Yamaha might be at the end of its life and is certainly well past its warranty period. My suggestion is to not turn it on anymore. There is obviously something wrong with the unit and you should get it checked by a qualified technician if you wish to continue using it. Alternatively, it might be time to start shopping for a new receiver.