Dorset Sound & Communications

Sound system design for the 21st Century

SoundTips
Split Speakers

With modern computerized analysis systems we have been able to finally see why split speakers cause "dead spots" in auditoriums. Seats exactly the same distance from each speaker (down the middle of the aisle) will hear full sound. All other seats will experience sound loss. Some will lose bass. Some will lose high frequencies. The most noticeable will lose mid-range frequencies where all of the consonants of speech (B, T, C, etc.) occur. The consonants allow us to distinguish and understand words. People will call these areas "dead spots" and not want to sit there. Many split systems you will see use column speakers of the kind that fell out of favor with professionals about fifteen years ago. Most old style column speakers have large irregular coverage lobes spraying sound all over side walls. They also tend to lack high and low frequencies and be heavily weighted with midrange. They cannot be made to sound natural. Split speakers are usually installed by well meaning volunteers, building contractors and electricians. For ease of installation they tend to be mounted low on the wall creating direct echoes off of the rear walls and side walls. Echoes also degrade the ability to understand words. Mounted low, the people in front will be blown out with sound when the level in the rear of the room is comfortable. Alternately, when the front is comfortable in the back rows sound will be inadequate. Responsible, up-to-date sound system consultants and contractors will recommend that speakers be arranged in a point source or central cluster as a first choice. A central cluster can consist of one good full range cabinet speaker for smaller rooms. In larger rooms, wide rooms or irregular spaces it may be made up of either several full range cabinets or an array of separate bass cabinets, mid range speakers and high frequency short throw and long throw horns. Exploded clusters, delay clusters, line arrays or ceiling speaker arrays are alternate configurations usually preferred to split speakers. In either case the point source concept has many advantages over systems consisting of widely split speakers. 

The evil results of split speaker is only a concern where both speakers will be producing the same monaural source material. Stereo or LCR  configurations for music and theatrical production are another legitimate consideration altogether.

Give DS&C a call for help designing, building your sound system and the training to use your sound system effectively. We can also set up preventive measures and scheduled maintenance visits. Don't be caught unprepared. Enjoy effortless sound. Do it now!

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