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Feb. 2018
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What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

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  • What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

    I would like to know the maximum SPL the SHL5 can handle before the speaker goes into distortion.

    The peak SPL I am getting when listening at insane volume levels at a distance of 3.5 meters away has now increased from 88dB to 96dB. The SPL at 1 meter would be 106.5dB. I am curious to know the maximum SPL of the SHL5 as I don't want to overstress the woofers.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

    This is not a question I can factually answer - something similar was asked recently. It feels rather like asking 'if I hit a cello's strings with a hammer will it play louder'.

    Distortion applies to a speaker on a creeping, progressive basis. It rises mainly relating to how much motion of the cone there is - and that implies that it is mainly related to bass frequencies, where cone motion is greatest. It follows then that a speaker playing music that has little bass content - e.g. woodwind instuments - would allow the speaker to play louder and with less distortion.

    So, aside from respecting my own ears and not listening or needing to listen at super-high levels, I can't begin to meaningfully estimate maximum spl of a speaker unless a) the frequency content of the test signal is specified b) the duration of exposure c) distance from source d) permissable distortion.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

      Thanks for the response. I think I'll limit the peaks to around 103dB(1m) which is equivalent to 92.5dB at my listening distance of 3.5 meters since that is the point my amp outputs at its maximum capacity. Anything louder and I would be listening to music with added distortion. I suppose 103dB is a safe figure for most speakers with a driver size of 5" and above.

      The reason I posed this question is because the peaks I am getting have increased just recently to 96dB after I tried a better phonostage in my analog setup. Apart from the added detail and resolution, the phonostage eliminated rough edges and lowered down noise floor. As a result I am able to crank up the volume on the amp higher than before without the music losing control. In fact, I was quite shocked to notice the reading on my SPL meter shooting above 90dB for the first time. I guess the bigger space in my living room has made listening to music at higher SPLs possible. When the system was in a smaller dedicated room I won't be able to listen past 90dB at all or risk my ear drums blowing up.

      I do take health aspects into account seriously and respect my ears when listening at high volume levels. Listening to music at high SPLs at prolonged listening sessions is definitely not doing one's ears any good as constant exposure to loud noise will have malicious effects to one's well-being in the long run. However, on some music material the volume needs to be cranked up LOUD once in a while to fully enjoy the tunes. If these types of music are played at lower to moderate volume levels the music won't be relished in all its full glory. Exposure to loud music for less than 1 hour a day won't be to bad I guess. Anyway I only have the time to sit down and listen to music during the weekends only, and that is the only time I can blast the music at free will. During weekdays I can only listen after 8.00pm, or later (if I am lucky). Can't possibly play loud music on quiet nights or have the neighbours banging on my front door.

      As for your comment on the possibility of estimating the maximum SPL of speakers based on several factors, these are my inputs/suggestions:-

      a) frequency of test signal - this relates to the musical material. Since most common music will contain frequencies in the speaker's range, for example 40Hz-25kHz in the SHL5, this would not be an issue. The low frequencies in the bass will probably contribute more to the SPL figures since the degree of cone excursion would be higher.

      b) duration of exposure - not too sure about the industry standard when taking this factor into consideration. No comment here.

      c) distance from source - the maximum SPL of speakers would normally be specified in 1 meter. The listener would then extrapolate the figure based on his own listening distance away from the speakers.

      d) permissible distortion - this would be at the discretion of the speaker designer whereby the distortion at the max SPL would still be considered as acceptable ie. music still doesn't lose too much control to the point a guitar sounds like a cello.

      The only speaker manufacturer (that I am aware of) that states the maximum SPL in their webpage is ATC. There may be others. Nevertheless I do notice that many speaker manufacturers do not state the maximum SPLs in the specifications.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

        Originally posted by ryder View Post
        ...a) ... Since most common music will contain frequencies in the speaker's range, for example 40Hz-25kHz in the SHL5, this would not be an issue. The low frequencies in the bass will probably contribute more to the SPL figures since the degree of cone excursion would be higher....The only speaker manufacturer (that I am aware of) that states the maximum SPL in their webpage is ATC. There may be others. Nevertheless I do notice that many speaker manufacturers do not state the maximum SPLs in the specifications.
        Two responses from me:

        a) Do not think that an 8" drive unit (as in SHL5) can safely produce huge loudness at 40Hz or 25kHz with low distortion. That would defy the laws of physiscs and perhaps more importantly, common sense. To produce a really really loud bass you need a big drive unit, and that's why the M40.1 has a 12" woofer and PA and cinema speakers have 18 or 24" woofers. Fortunately for us normal domestic listeners living in the real world our maximum replay loudness spl is limited by law and by respect for our neighbours as you say, so all that matters in the non-studio market is how natural the speaker sounds at a moderate level.

        b) We discussed the whole matter of the designer having in mind a certain target or maximum loudness recently. As I noted, a speaker designed to be played really loud is unlikely to sound natural and warm at moderate listening levels. A speaker (all Harbeths) designed to be listened to at a moderate level will sound natural at and around that level but cannot be expected to play super-loud. Loudness, reliability and sonic balance are mutually interlinked concepts.

        I have never been asked by a pro sound engineer about maximum loudness of our speakers. Maximum dB ouput may be a consideration amongst head-bangers in rock and roll recording (who are reportedly hard of hearing anyway) but is of no relevance for normal domestic user or in broadcast studios, our 'natural' markets by design and application.

        We really must respect our ears and play only at moderate levels. The trick is to design the speakers so that they give a warm, natural sound at those levels, completely free from listening fatigue. Not many so-called hi-fi speakers offer that special combination. As Robert Edwards says in the video at the top of this page, absence of fatugue 'after 14 hour sessions' and the ability (even necessity) to listen at a low level are defining characteristics of the way we design at Harbeth.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

          Thanks for the response. Your points are well noted.

          I don't really listen to too much loud music anyway. Just taking extra precaution, that's all.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: What Is The Maximum SPL of SHL5

            Very wise. Last night in the gym I could hear sound leaking from the in-ear headphones of a member quite clearly at about 5m away. Can you imagine the loudness he was exposing himself to? Ruinous.

            Actually, about your question of speaker distortion, I would anticipate that for all speaker systems with a soft suspension (i.e. they reproduce bass frequencies) there will be an ultimate loudness point where the voice coil is completely out of the magentic gap due to extreme input level. Distortion would be total at this extreme level and rather than hearing music you'd probably hear a loud 'crack' or something akin to that. You would be in no doubt that the speaker was being pushed beyond its design limit.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

            Comment

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