Speakers for Mac - specs

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Jackintosh, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Jackintosh macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    #1
    With my new Mac Mini (2009) purchase, I decided to get some decent speakers to match. After checking CNET and Consumer Research, decided on Harman Kardon SoundSticks since they're reviewed to have pretty good sound quality.

    After receiving the SoundSticks and hooking them up to the Mini, they sounded pretty good from iTunes Radio. But I thought the high end good be better. As an audiophile type with a good 2-channel system in the living room, I can hear if something's missing. So I downloaded a free audio tone tester, AudioTest 1.12 to check out the SoundSticks claimed specs of 44 - 20,000hz. Well, I can barely hear the 10,000hz test tone, but nothing above that. I hooked up my older round little Apple speakers and also a pair of older Creative speakers, and the same situation.

    Wondering if I'm expecting too much out of $105 computer speakers? Do they really all go to 20khz as claimed? But what gets me is why do they advertise computer speakers as going up to 20khz if they can't? Anybody else care about this stuff, or is low end Dinosaur chomping sounds in movies and computer games the only thing people are looking for in computer speakers??
     
  2. dylanbrown macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2008
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    London
    #2
    I'm not a know-it-all on speakers and the like, but if you are getting the same 10,000Hz range on all of the speakers you tested, could it be the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Mini itself?

    For a test, you might be able to pick up a cheap USB2.0 -> 3.5mm Headphone jack (Something Like This), and test the difference. But as I said, I aint a Speaker Guru!

    Hopefully this helps (Somewhat!).
     
  3. Jackintosh thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    Mar 21, 2009
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    Illinois
    #3
    Thanks, great idea. I also suspected that the Mini (via output jacks) just doesn't produce an audiophile frequency range up to 20khz in the high end. Will look into USB test per your suggestion.

    As a test, plugged the SoundSticks into a portable CD player, and high end sounds much better. So it does look like the Mini's output jacks just don't produce the complete frequency range, at least high end.
     
  4. dylanbrown macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2008
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    London
    #4
    I have heard that the Griffin iMic is a pretty good USB to 3.55mm headphone jack accessory - so you might want to check that out too. Its $50 on the Griffin Website, but places like Amazon and eBay will have it a lot cheaper.

    And enjoy your new mac mini!

    Dylan
     
  5. Jackintosh thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    #5
    Thanks Dylan, will check Griffin iMic out. Otherwise the new Mac Mini is worth every penny in my opinion. I see you went for the new iMac - enjoy that quality machine as well.
     
  6. dylanbrown macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I actually bought one of the new iMacs after eyeing them up in store, but the Mini is a fantastic Mac too (And so beautifully small)! Is it your first Mac?
     
  7. bubbamike macrumors newbie

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    Jan 9, 2009
    #7
    Have you tried the same test on your home stereo. If you are older or you have a penchant for loud music it is possible that you no longer hear high frequencies. This is not a rare phenomenon.

    But for better speakers forget the crap HK, Klipsch, Creative, logitech or Apple and look at MAudio, Swan M200 III, Tascams or just hook it up to an amp and use some decent bookshelf speakers. Most computer speakers are crap.
     
  8. Jackintosh thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    Mar 21, 2009
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    Illinois
    #8
    Dylan, the Mini is my 2nd Mac, replacing a 7 year old G4 700mz iMac. It was getting really slow, and the 15" screen is pretty small these days. Looks like you've owned Macs before too.

    Bubba, thanks for the advice. Computer speakers are mostly pretty crappy, I agree. The problem is that the Mac is not in the same room as the audio gear. I never listened to loud music and like mostly classical, so the high end is important for that type of music. My hearing's pretty good, since I notice the high end frequency response out of the audio system. But I agree, if possible hook up a good amp and speakers over those tinny computer speakers where possible. I'm going to take a look at Swan and MAudio.
     
  9. dylanbrown macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Yep, I owned an "Late 2007 MacBook", it was my first Mac and has been excellent ever since I got it, had a few problems that every plastic MacBook seems to have, but overall a fantastic machine.

    Enjoy your Mac mini!
     
  10. CubeHacker macrumors 65816

    CubeHacker

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    Apr 22, 2003
    #10
    You do realize that as humans we can barely hear up to 10,000hz? I have professional speakers and I can barely hear 10khz. 15khz is all but inaudible. Forget about 20khz!
     
  11. Jackintosh thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    #11
    Maybe that's why I don't hear anything over 10Khz with my new speakers using AudioTest tone test. LOL. Fair enough, I feel better now, the speakers or the Mini are probably not the culprits.

    But then why does this and just about every speaker manufacturer quote frequency responses of their speakers usually to 20Khz?
     
  12. Mihkel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    #12
    I took the time to register just to say that's .. well, completely wrong.

    An average infant has the hearing range 20Hz - 20kHz, of course due to prolonged exposure to noise in urban environments etc., adults have lower results. However a person with decent hearing in their 20-30's can still expect to hear in the range of 25-17kHz. About 13-14kHz is usual for elderly people and people with considerable hearing-loss. Blind tests have proven people with exceptional hearing to go quite a bit beyond the 20-20k limits.

    On topic: I'm not sure about the output on the Mini, but I've tested my MBP and it can easily reach 20kHz.
     
  13. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    NYC
    #13
    Because most people don't know the difference and bigger numbers just look better on paper.
     
  14. Mihkel macrumors newbie

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    Mar 23, 2009
    #14
    It's true that some audiophile gear has a frequency range up to near 50k. Even though these sounds can not be heard directly, they provide upper partials to audible frequencies, creating a sense of extended upper range, what some people simply call 'air'.
     
  15. Jackintosh thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

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    Mar 21, 2009
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    Illinois
    #15
    That sounds correct. Then "air" (or as I've also heard it called - transparency) is probably not something computer speakers can provide, or need to as computer peripherals, I think. Arguing against myself, then I should really sit myself in front of a decent audio system for that kind of listening experience. (Sounds almost right out of Stereophile!).
     
  16. Mihkel macrumors newbie

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    Mar 23, 2009
    #16
    Most computer users listen to heavily compressed MP3/AAC/whatever files with speakers or headphones plugged directly into the computers output, which is using the computers DAC (Digital-Analog Converter). If a company were to introduce a set of speakers at an appealing price that would provide 'objective' and high quality playback,quite a few people would start noticing how crummy the compressed music files sound. The DAC in some computer systems is another chain in the link that can seriously mess with sound, however I've found the ones present in Mac's to be pretty decent.

    For companies aiming at the consumer market, it makes more sense to promote speakers that are cheap and color the sound to hide all unwanted noise and trick you into thinking your music sounds better.

    But now we're going completely off topic... end of rant.
     
  17. bubbamike macrumors newbie

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    Jan 9, 2009
    #17
    The important information when quoted a range like 20H to 20KH is how flat the range is. Usually +-3% db is good. So if I quote a high end of 20KH without that +- number you can bet it is not good. I can quote 20h to 20KH with a -+20 db. You won't be able to hear it at 20KH but I can just measure it there and advertise it as such.

    BTW if you can't hear above 10KH then your hearing is shot. I can still hear 14KH and a little above.

    As to compressed music, yeah, if you listen to 128K MP3 or AAC then the sound is bad but at higher ranges, like 256 you should have difficulty distinguishing it from uncompressed unless you have golden ears. I listen on Vanderstern 2CE's with Bryston amplication and I can not really hear the difference between 256 AAC and CD's.
     

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