The Guru speaks: Rick Craig

Speaker Designer Questions

Without giving the standard “weakest link” answer, how important would you rate speakers as component?
Speakers have more effect on the sound of a system than anything else. You can have really good equipment but if the speakers don't have enough resolution nothing else matters.

How have speakers changed in the past ten years?
Software for design and measurement has become more powerful and less expensive so designers have more powerful tools than ever before. Driver materials have improved and now DSP is starting to have an impact. China has become a major force as a raw driver supplier and very good drivers are now available at low prices.

Do we have to spend a lot on woofers and tweeters to get good sound?
No, but if you want the best you still have to pay more.

What are the top three design parameters you use? (or the top three things you worry about most)
Flat power response, minimized driver interaction (higher order acoustic slopes), and extended bass response.

Do you design on measurement or sound?
A combination of both. Good sound follows good measurements. Taking the right measurements and knowing how to interpret them is important.

What to you think is that "special something" is that makes some speakers sound so good?
A neutral sound with a high level of dynamic capability.

How many octaves does a speaker really need to sound right? Is the bottom octave required? What about above 20K?
I right means accurate then 20-20K response is the target. It's not just bass extension but also displacement and being able to move a great deal of air.

What one piece of advice would you give every new speaker builder?
Start with a kit (that's what I did). The next step would be crossover software and measurement capability.

When you get cornered at a party by a new speaker builder, what is the question they ask most often?
The most common questions revolve around how to fix/optimize their current design.

Well we ever find the Holy Grail in sound reproduction?
Not here on Earth.

So which is it, tubes or SS?
Solid state.

What does the future hold for speaker design?
DSP is the future. Whether audiophiles embrace it that's another story. Consider active crossovers and how they have failed to achieve much success in home audio.

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Copyright: Peter J. Smith 2005 Return to