Start making sense: when it comes to speakers, size still matters

The Audiophiliac muses on the the disadvantages of small speakers effect on sound quality.

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On Monday I raved about one of the best small speakers around , the Sunfire CRM-2. I love the little thing because it avoids most of the classic pitfalls of wee designs, but as good as it is, it can't completely mimic large speaker sonics. Priced at $800 each, it's as expensive as many larger designs; buyers are paying a premium for the wee speaker's radical technical engineering that's required to extract maximum performance from its compact dimensions. Big speakers have an ease that little speakers never fully muster. Small drivers, no matter how good or expensive have to work harder to move the same amount of air as larger ones, that extra work almost always results in more distortion, and the little ones can't deliver the sort of hot-blooded, dynamic slam of large speakers.

So in effect what I'm saying here is that large speakers can connect on an emotional level the way large TVs do. The market's appetite for ever-larger speakers is at odds with the craving for ever tinnier speakers. Check out my review of Atlantic Technology's 8200e in the July 2007 issue of Home Theater magazine to see what size really buys you. Because when it comes to speakers, bigger is most definitely better.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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