Speakers are a vital part of today’s entertainment as far as music and even movies go. Some speakers are naturally very loud, while others are not. Luckily, there are ways to combat this issue and make your speakers even louder without too much difficulty.
In this article, we’ll learn about what makes a speaker loud, how to tell how loud a speaker is, and the different ways that you can make your speakers even louder. Keep reading to find out more!
What makes a speaker loud?
There are several different factors that go into the volume capabilities of a speaker, it’s not just about speaker size. You can get some very loud volumes out of speakers that you may not expect to have that much power.
So what exactly is it that makes speakers loud?
A speaker has several elements that help facilitate sound to come out of it, aid in preventing distortion, and more. These elements and parts of the speaker aid in making a speaker loud just as much as the speaker size does.
1. Watts and sensitivity
Watts are a unit of power that can be used to measure power of a speaker. The amount of power that flows through your speakers when they’re on and operating will directly affect the loudness.
If you have a full blown sound system set up, power and wattage will also come from the sound system’s stereo receiver, as well as its amplifier.
A stereo receiver is essentially an amplifier that has a set amount of wattage, and also has a radio section built in to allow it to run through radio waves.
The power and wattage from the sound system will combine with the power of the speaker to create an overall volume level, measured in decibels (dB).
Loudness is measured in something called the Sound Pressure Level, or SPL, with units of decibels (dB).
To measure this level, a microphone is placed one meter away, in front of the speakers, and a sine wave is played out of the speakers with one watt of power at 1000 Hz.
A Sound Pressure Level meter is connected to the microphone, which then converts the sound waves into electrical information, evaluates them, and determines the SPL, measured in decibels.
Sensitivity is a measure of how efficient a speaker is at converting the power of the amplified audio circuit into the air. This is measured in “decibels A” or dBA.
dBA is a weighted scale that judges loudness, but unlike dB, it corresponds to the threshold of the human ear, so it’s more realistic when measuring these types of sound pressure levels to refer to them on a weighted scale.
2. Speaker size
Speaker size does have some effect in what makes a speaker loud. Especially with old sound systems, the larger a speaker is in diameter, the louder it can get.
With the increase of the physical diameter of the speakers, the threshold for the amount of sound that can be pushed out of the speakers also increases.
However, if your wattage is limited, your speakers’ volume will also be limited, as these things work together.
3. Speaker cone reflex
Obviously a speaker’s cone also has a conical shape, tapering off at the backside and flaring out towards the front face of the speaker.
Often the speaker cone is made from Kevlar. Using a durable material like Kevlar allows the speaker cone to rebound when the sound bounces off of it.
When sound waves bounce off of surfaces within a small, tight area of space, it creates a lot of resonance and allows for bass frequencies to build up, which also makes a speaker loud.
Many speakers are built into speaker enclosures. These enclosures usually have some type of insulation (usually carpet or some sort of soft fabric-like material) that prevents some level of distortion and chassis rattle, and keeps sound from leaking out of places it shouldn’t.
Insulation decreases resonance and improves the clarity of audio, thanks to the sound absorption power it has.
Car door speakers and speakers that are built into a wall also have this lining of insulation to prevent a ton of rumble and decrease resonance.
This will also have an effect on the loudness of a speaker considering frequencies can build up inside the speaker cabinet.
How to tell how loud a speaker is?
The easy way to tell how loud a speaker is, is by using a loudness meter when audio is being played through the speakers to measure the decibel level.
However, especially in the case of making online purchases, this isn’t always possible and instead we need to be able to tell how loud a speaker is without any type of sound activity.
To find the loudness of a speaker, you’ll need to know the sensitivity and power wattage. Most product descriptions will have the wattage and sensitivity written in them.
The next step is to plug these numbers into an equation that is explained here in great detail.
The takeaway here is that a speaker with a high wattage and sensitivity doesn’t always mean that it will be louder than a speaker with a low wattage and high sensitivity or another combination between the two measurements.
Using the mathematical formula for sensitivity and loudness will help clear up any confusing numbers.
How to make speakers louder?
You now know what makes a speaker loud, but now you might want to know how to make a speaker louder.
The real answer here is that you can’t actually make the actual speaker itself any louder (unless you’re into DIY activities and want to replace the parts of your speakers and completely rewire them), but there are things you can do to increase the volume in various ways to make the sound louder.
A sound system and its circuit follow these steps:
- Audio comes out of the sound source. This can be a car stereo, iPhone, computer, etc.
- The audio is controlled and processed.
- The audio is amplified through an amplifier.
- The audio comes out of the speakers.
1. Increasing volume at the source
The easiest thing you can do in order to increase the volume of a speaker is simply increase the volume of the source audio.
This can be anything from turning up the volume knob on your stereo or increasing levels in your DAW or elsewhere.
2. Changing how the audio is controlled and processed
In the control and processing stage, in order to increase volume, you can change the settings of the Gain, add EQ to increase the volume of certain frequencies in audio, you can employ compression to bring up the volume of quieter parts of audio while controlling the already existing peaks.
All of these things will increase the volume level before it reaches an amp.
However, these processing and control maneuvers are much better for fine tuning audio rather than controlling it overall as a whole, and that should be kept in mind.
This step is more about getting the right sound rather than a louder sound.
3. Ensuring you have an adequately powerful amplifier
The amplification process is where power is added to the audio signal in order to adequately push audio out of the speakers.
You will need to make sure you have an amp with high wattage.
Even if your speakers have a high sensitivity level, if your amp doesn’t have a high enough wattage level, it will limit the overall volume of the speakers.
You’ll have to ensure the wattage level of your amp before purchasing the speakers, and you may even have to get a new amp to adequately provide power to your speakers.
4. Changing the speaker location or position
Another thing you can do is change the location or position of your speakers.
Depending on your room and its acoustics, all you might need to do to make your speakers louder is rotate them or change their position otherwise.
Audio bounces off of surfaces, so if you have hard surfaces, you’ll have a lot of reflections from audio bouncing off of these surfaces.
Most soft surfaces absorb sound, but these soft surfaces often have to be pretty thick in order to absorb a large amount of audio.
For example, in a living room, a couch, some chairs, and maybe some other furniture will adequately absorb sound to where it’s not echoing, without reducing the loudness so much that you need to increase it a huge amount.
Making speakers louder isn’t always about pushing the volume and power as much as you can.
Another aspect that isn’t always looked at: Don’t listen to your music and media at super loud volumes.
By doing this, you’re not destroying your hearing, thus music is always louder compared to how it would be once you start losing your hearing. It’s important to protect your hearing regardless.
Now that you know what makes speakers loud and how to make them louder, you can use this information in your own life to your advantage.
While understanding sensitivity and power can sometimes get tricky, it is often simpler than you may think and can sometimes even be resolved very easily.
For more information on technology relating to the audio world, be sure to check back with us soon!