Minimal volume

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Minimal volume

I am often asked if there's a minimum volume level for speakers. It's a valid question prompted by observation. If the level of the system is too low the sound seems weak and lackluster.

Of course, there are a few explanations for this starting with the Fletcher-Munson curve.

The Fletcher-Munson Curve illustrates an interesting phenomenon of human hearing. When listening to music, the perceived loudness our brains hear will change at a different rate, depending on the frequency. At low listening volumes, midrange frequencies sound more prominent, while the low and high-frequency ranges seem to fall into the background.

At high listening volumes, the lows and highs sound more prominent, while the midrange seems comparatively softer. Yet in reality, the overall tonal balance of the sound remains the same, no matter what the listening volume.

The answer to the original question has to be qualified with circumstances. What are you hoping to achieve? If background music is what you're after, then the answer is "no", there's no minimum level for speakers. The Fletcher-Munson problem can be solved with EQ if you have that available.

Perhaps more important is the notion that for serious listening there is a definite minimum listening level. That setting depends on the room and type of music being played. How do you tell if it's the right level? Image size.

That's a subject we'll cover tomorrow.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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