My Speakers Are Bigger Than Yours
This is the world we live in:
Let me start by saying I'm an Audiophile. And I have to be, because it's my job. I don't want you to become an audiophile, I merely want to share some things with you that you may never have thought of, from my perspective, specifically about speakers. This is meant to be informative, like one of those food documentaries on Netflix. I'd love your thoughts in the comments!
We want to hear more music than ever, to have access to every song made, but do we actually care about how it sounds when we listen to it?
To me it's odd how, as a whole, Americans have decided to care about screen size of their phones, but not speaker sizes for their music. Large companies like Apple and Beats are encouraging these trends in the way they advertise larger screens and smaller speakers (pic above), informing us of what we should get in a speaker. Without realizing it, we think smaller speakers is what we want, because the big guys are making them that way.
Why do I have a problem with small speakers? They are more convenient, aren't they? The problem lies in this fact:
Music travels through the air, and the more air you want to move, the bigger a device you need to move the air.
Low frequencies, where the bass and kick drum normally lie, are completely gone with a small (3" or less) speaker. Because to make a sound wave that big, you need to move lots of air, and a small speaker cone doesn't physically have the capabilities.
For example, I listened to one of my own mixes on computer speakers before releasing it and realized the song sounded like it was one chord the whole time, because the chords changed in the bass line! See for yourself.
Do you see the trend in the diminishing value of the music experience?
Here are some reasons I see this trend taking place:
1. Convenience. We've put speakers in the technological category of smaller is better. The value has shifted from quality to ease of use.
2. A new music listening paradigm. "The Spotify Effect". See my first blog post for more on that. The average listener cares more about a catchy hook than hearing a great balance of sound. I want infinite music, and I want it now.
3. The big guys. When Bose and JBL are producing more and more of these wireless speakers, they're promoting this way of listening to music for the hook. But they're making bank off of the convenience of these "tweeters".
I'm not saying you should go buy two 12" speakers and put them in every room of your house, but many homes I go into these days don't even have a set of speakers! Just computer speakers or earbuds. Or a MONO bluetooth speaker.
Let me end with an illustration of the problem I see with the listening mediums we use today.
Again, I think it's more the fact that we don't think about music quality as much as convenience or efficiency, which I believe is also the reason we have streaming services... Give me convenience, quick and easy. I liken Spotify to a "buffet of sound".
This is a gross over-generalization, but I think most people would agree that:
As a whole, the audio playback mediums have greatly diminished in quality and size over the past 15 years.
As you can see from this guys haircut, it used to be cool to have big speakers. Let's make good sound cool again. Let's value the music experience again. I don't want my speakers to be a stocking stuffer :)
How do you listen to music, and why? Am I totally missing it? Leave comments below!