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Are frequencies out of the specified frequency response range dangerous for your speakers?

SuperSound

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2018
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Most speaker manufacturers specify a frequency response range for their speaker units. What does this range actually tell and are frequencies that are out of this specified range dangerous for your speakers?

To give an example: the frequency response range of my speakers is specified as 44Hz - 22kHz. I know that if I would send a 1Hz signal to the speaker, the speaker cone would still move at 1Hz (which, ofcourse, would not produce a human hearable sound).

I believe that, if played at normal listening levels (lets say 83dB), the frequencies in a music or movie track, below or above the specified range, could potentially damage the speaker. Is this true? And if this is true, should you set the amplifier or processor to prevent sending those frequencies to the speakers? Does or should the internal crossover in a (decent?) speaker unit protect the speaker from this potential issue?
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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SuperSound said:
Most speaker manufacturers specify a frequency response range for their speaker units. What does this range actually tell and are frequencies that are out of this specified range dangerous for your speakers?

To give an example: the frequency response range of my speakers is specified as 44Hz - 22kHz. I know that if I would send a 1Hz signal to the speaker, the speaker cone would still move at 1Hz (which, ofcourse, would not produce a human hearable sound).

I believe that, if played at normal listening levels (lets say 83dB), the frequencies in a music or movie track, below or above the specified range, could potentially damage the speaker. Is this true? And if this is true, should you set the amplifier or processor to prevent sending those frequencies to the speakers? Does or should the internal crossover in a (decent?) speaker unit protect the speaker from this potential issue?
Two situations that come to mind.

First of all a lot of high frequency energy, at frequencies well above audibility, could easily burn out a tweeter which typically only has a power handling capability of just a few watts. Some amps may produce such energy when massively overdriven or if somehow prompted into high frequency oscillation, neither are uncommon but the system will have probably have been 'thrashed' to cause such occurences.

Secondly, most modern speakers are ported, due to this the loading on the bass driver is at a minimum at a frequency 1 octave below the the 'port frequency', bass or sub bass notes at these frequencies can excite excessive cone movement. If the drivers are not robust enough to handle the movement they can be blown. This is more likely to be an issue with turntable based systems that can produce a lot of noise energy at those frequencies, not so much an issue with digital playback.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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What dave said! And there’s no need in normal domestic circumstances to do anything to limit the frequency range sent to a speaker. Avoid test tones at full level, and wildly mismatched equipment, and then you’ll be fine.

The published range simply indicates what the speaker system can reproduce. Most amplifiers are pretty flat from about 20Hz upwards to beyond 40kHz but few speakers can reproduce such a wide range, and relatively few music sources contain much energy at these extremes.
 

SuperSound

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2018
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davedotgo said:
Two situations that come to mind.

First of all a lot of high frequency energy, at frequencies well above audibility, could easily burn out a tweeter which typically only has a power handling capability of just a few watts. Some amps may produce such energy when massively overdriven or if somehow prompted into high frequency oscillation, neither are uncommon but the system will have probably have been 'thrashed' to cause such occurences.

Secondly, most modern speakers are ported, due to this the loading on the bass driver is at a minimum at a frequency 1 octave below the the 'port frequency', bass or sub bass notes at these frequencies can excite excessive cone movement. If the drivers are not robust enough to handle the movement they can be blown. This is more likely to be an issue with turntable based systems that can produce a lot of noise energy at those frequencies, not so much an issue with digital playback.
Thanks Dave for the great explanation *smile*

nopiano said:
And there’s no need in normal domestic circumstances to do anything to limit the frequency range sent to a speaker. Avoid test tones at full level, and wildly mismatched equipment, and then you’ll be fine.
Okay! Well that's good to know *music2*

nopiano said:
and relatively few music sources contain much energy at these extremes.
But how about movies? Since I have no subwoofer, my front speakers are responsible for the LFE channels aswell as I have my receiver set up that way (which they do great by the way, I have never missed the subwoofer in my small room). People seem to "love" special effects with a lot of (low frequency?) bass. Although I am not sure if these effects would go far below 44Hz, most subwoofers are able to go lower, so I'd assume the movie tracks would go lower as well.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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Yes, movies with explosions and electronic sound tracks have much more LF than normal music, true. At sensible levels you’ll be fine, but for something akin to what the director intended you do need a sub and an AV receiver to do it justice. (And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub) However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously.
 

SuperSound

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2018
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nopiano said:
(And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub) However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously.
So a subwoofer is not something I'd have to buy if only to "protect" your speakers from producing too low frequencies, if I'm already happy with the level of "impact" (bass) I'm getting in movies (which I am *smile* !)?
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
559
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19,270
SuperSound said:
nopiano said:
(And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub) However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously.
So a subwoofer is not something I'd have to buy if only to "protect" your speakers from producing too low frequencies, if I'm already happy with the level of "impact" (bass) I'm getting in movies (which I am *smile* !)?
No need for the speakers’ sake, no!
 

newlash09

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
219
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10,820
SuperSound said:
nopiano said:
(And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub)  However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously. 
So a subwoofer is not something I'd have to buy if only to "protect" your speakers from producing too low frequencies, if I'm already happy with the level of "impact" (bass) I'm getting in movies (which I am *smile* !)?
But sub bass as they call it, is felt and not heard.

The visceral impact of a sub, plumbing bass depths in some movie tracks, elevates the whole experience.

So if you are into the sci-fi genre of Hollywood, then it can add a lot to your setup. But could be a waste otherwise :)
 

Samd

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2013
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18,670
newlash09 said:
SuperSound said:
nopiano said:
(And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub) However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously.
So a subwoofer is not something I'd have to buy if only to "protect" your speakers from producing too low frequencies, if I'm already happy with the level of "impact" (bass) I'm getting in movies (which I am *smile* !)?
But sub bass as they call it, is felt and not heard.

The visceral impact of a sub, plumbing bass depths in some movie tracks, elevates the whole experience.

So if you are into the sci-fi genre of Hollywood, then it can add a lot to your setup. But could be a waste otherwise :)
Absolutely! I got wrapped up in recommendations some time ago and went for a decent sub thinking, wrongly, that it would increase my viewing of slap, bang, wallop films which I did enjoy for a time. I have watched less than half a dozen of any sort of film over the last 6 months or so and my sub is really redundant.
 

newlash09

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
219
45
10,820
Samd said:
newlash09 said:
SuperSound said:
nopiano said:
(And as you infer, the receiver can limit LF to small speakers and divert sound to the sub)  However, at loud but not deafening levels, ordinary speakers will give a version in miniature, if you like, which the brain can easily interpret at exciting when viewing the images simultaneously. 
So a subwoofer is not something I'd have to buy if only to "protect" your speakers from producing too low frequencies, if I'm already happy with the level of "impact" (bass) I'm getting in movies (which I am *smile* !)?
But sub bass as they call it, is felt and not heard.

The visceral impact of a sub, plumbing bass depths in some movie tracks, elevates the whole experience.

So if you are into the sci-fi genre of Hollywood, then it can add a lot to your setup. But could be a waste otherwise :)
Absolutely!  I got wrapped up in recommendations some time ago and went for a decent sub thinking, wrongly, that it would increase my viewing of slap, bang, wallop films which I did enjoy for a time.  I have watched less than half a dozen of any sort of film over the last 6 months or so and my sub is really redundant.
I guess iam on the opposite side of the spectrum, and can never have enough bass for movies :D

Lack of floor space is the only thing stopping me from adding a second sub :)
 

paulkebab

New member
Dec 26, 2014
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how about a twin sub in D'Apollito mode? Space saving and more bass. Sub bass is officially in the range 20-60Hz although I would put sub bass somewhere in the 15-30Hz range. A friend of mine was subjected to some serious bass in a car of all places, and was physically sick. The audio setup was worth more than the car (no surprise there). To the OP I would worry more over my ears rather than my speaks.
 

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