Sensitivity question


Bronze Member
Username: Spanky

Post Number: 90
Registered: Jul-04
is it better to have a higher sensivty level on subwoofers or lower..whats the difference

I don't like sensitive people!!!

Bronze Member
Username: Swantlaphoenix

Tucson, AZ

Post Number: 25
Registered: Oct-04
Higher is better. The higher the sensitivty the more efficent the speaker is. It is able to handle the same amout of power better then a sub with lower sensitivty. One of the reasons I like The Infinity Kappas so much.

I really wouldn't look at sensitivity when choosing a sub...

Gold Member
Username: Glasswolf

NorthWest, Michigan USA

Post Number: 7433
Registered: Dec-03
Speaker sensitivity is a specification provided by all manufacturers of high-quality speakers. The sensitivity rating has no relation to sound quality, as some of the very best speakers have low ratings. Sensitivity ratings simply tell you how much sound a speaker will produce for a given power input.

Sensitivity ratings are given in decibels per watt at one meter, or db/Wm. So, with an input of one watt (usually white noise), a speaker with a sensitivity of 90 db/Wm will produce 90 decibels of sound at a distance of one meter. A sensitivity of 90 is considered average, with ratings of 87 and below considered low sensitivity and above 93 considered high sensitivity. To increase the volume by 3 db, you must double the power. So, using the example above, to make 93 db you would need two watts, and to make 96 decibels, four watts.

Most of the time your system is cruising along producing only a few watts. You need extra power for loud bass passages, crescendos in classical music, and other highly dynamic passages. Your speakers may need more than 10 times the average power to re-create these dynamic passages accurately, and if you are playing loudly to begin with, you may need an awful lot of power if you have speakers with a low sensitivity rating.

So, when you are buying an amplifier, consider your speakers, your vehicle size and how loudly you want to play. If you have sensitive speakers, you probably will not need as much power -- even 20 clean watts would probably be enough. If your speakers are only moderately sensitive, your vehicle is large or exceptionally noisy at highway speeds and you want to play loudly, you will need more power in order to faithfully reproduce dynamic passages.

"Sensitivity," which is expressed in dB, should not be confused with "efficiency" that is expressed as a percentage of power out relative to power in. Efficiency data for loudspeakers suffers from many problems such as failure to consider variations in frequency response.

Speaker efficiency is the ability of the speaker to do work or use power. The more efficient the speaker; the less power is required for the speaker to produce sound. Voice coil design, type and size of the magnets, speaker cone design and material, speaker size, etc. all play a critical role in determining speaker efficiency. However, speaker size is a good general method for guessing efficiency.

Typical speaker efficiency (for physicists) is about 5%. Meaning that for 100% power input, you get about 5% acoustical work back.

Keep in mind that when considering subwoofers, or any speaker that will get more than ~100 watts RMS of power, these measurements are affected by other factors that make this specification less than useful when choosing between speakers.

Gold Member
Username: Jonathan_f


Post Number: 3051
Registered: May-04
Adding to that, you have to consider what makes a subwoofer sensitive. Low moving mass such as lightweight cones and foam surrounds, suspension design, stronger motor, all contribute to the sensitivity of a driver. This doesn't really mean it's better. For example, rubber surrounds have more mass than foam surrounds, but dampen resonance better. Cones that have more mass will have less resonance and also be stronger. High end speakers are very tightly controlled. Keep in mind that most top of the line SQ speakers don't get as loud as most others, Dynaudios, Focal Utopias are a good example. These speakers aren't as sensitive, but given the right power they sound extremely good.
« Previous Thread Next Thread »

Main Forums

Today's Posts

Forum Help

Follow Us