What is a Reference Speaker? An Overview

What is a Reference Speaker?

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If you don’t know what reference speakers are, or what they’re used for, you’re not alone. Reference speakers are audio equipment that are mostly used for mixing and for studio use.

It’s good solid info that might come in good use if you decide you want to install a home theatre and need good quality speakers.EasyAzon

So, exactly what is a reference speaker?

About Reference Speakers

Anyone in the audio business would easily use the word reference when he/she means to describe the qualities of a loudspeaker. It can also mean the amount of amplification this speaker can do.

The word “reference” is actually commonly used by audio aficionados to describe the characteristics of a loudspeaker or an AV component, without putting too much thought into the exact meaning of the word.

Still, though, what exactly is a reference speaker? And how does it differ from other speakers in the market?

What Are Reference Speakers?

A reference speaker must be one that naturally and convincingly reproduces the sounds of musical instruments and voices.

If you happen to try and listen to music by certain speakers, like Paradigm speakers, it’s easy to pick out several attributes in the quality of the sounds. The words transparent, neutral and detailed come to mind. These are words that are used by DJs and audioholics to describe the quality of the sound.

Let’s assume that you do have one of those speakers; like the Logitech Multimedia Speakers, Mackie Studio Monitor, or Klipsch Speakers, I can totally imagine you sitting down, and spending hours upon hours just listening to your favorite songs on them. They’ve easily become your favorite speakers, based entirely on the quality of sounds they produce.

It’s the quality that those speakers possess that makes you very easily choose to admit that they’re the best speakers to use.

The natural quality of said speakers makes it then much easier for you to categorize whether your music is of good quality or not. Only reference speakers have that technology that makes this process easy.

History of Reference Speakers

The term “reference” was often associated with the monitor that has been used at recording studios for decades. That one is more often than not, placed right in front of the recording equipment, against the wall.

Back in the olden days, these were almost always big JBL speakers and weren’t very reliable tone-wise. They, however, were pretty durable and were able to take the constant mixing and remixing of music, daily, for 24 hours.

Since entering the era of technological advancement, however, things have changed thus the specifications of what makes a speaker a reference one, has also changed.

Components of Reference Speakers

Since we established that only a few people actually know what reference speakers are, it’s only fair to assume that you probably don’t know what exactly makes a speaker a reference one and what doesn’t.

Some terminology may even sound weird to you, words like a flat response, frequency response, active vs passive monitors, XLR and TRS may not make much sense to you at all.

However, these terminologies are basically the components of a reference speaker. For instance, for a speaker to be considered a reference one, it has to have an accurate flat response.

Flat Response

The main purpose of a reference speaker is to show you exactly what’s happening within the track you’re mixing. Presenting you with a clear picture of how all the sounds inside your mix are working. This is what flat response is all about.

Right now I think you’re asking yourself, “So what’s the difference between a reference speaker and regular computer ones? Why throw away huge wads of cash when a regular speaker can be bought with almost a quarter of that price?

Normal, computer speakers enhance the sounds of your music, but only specific areas in the track are enhanced. This is done just to make the experience for the listener much better.

A mixer, however, doesn’t want that.

Enhancement is good, but enhancing certain areas won’t help him at all since he needs the entire track as it is. Raw. The only way he can make accurate mixes is for the track to remain normal, un-enhanced.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of the speaker is the range of frequencies a speaker or a speaker system can generate.

It’s common knowledge that a human ear has only a limited range that it can hear well. This range is between 20Hz-20khz. Beyond that or below that is considered obsolete and cannot be heard by a normal person. These numbers, however, might even have some fictionality in them, as most people can’t hear all sounds, even if said sounds are well within that range.

However, that doesn’t stop certain speakers, like the Yamaha Hs8 Studio Monitor or the Neumann KH Active Studio Monitor from the ability to produce them.

Even though we might never ever hear that range, it’s still quite a feat that some man-made objects can produce the sounds that humans can’t hear. This is also a way to measure whether a speaker is of good quality or not.

If it can produce these ranges, then it’s of exceptional quality.

What is P.M.P.O. in Reference to a Speaker’s Watts?

A PMPO is an acronym for “Peak Momentary Power Output”. It’s used to measure how much power speakers produce, over a short amount of time.

A PMPO refers to the maximum amount of power a speaker can produce if placed in perfect conditions. It’s also used as a reference to know the amount of wattage a speaker can withstand.

For example, 600 Watts PMPO means a speaker can withstand 600 Watts. People often use PMPO when they want to say that their speakers are of exceptional quality. However, a higher PMPO doesn’t mean that the speaker will sound louder.

If you want, say, a 60 Watt RMS speaker to sound twice as loud, you need 20x wattage to drive it.

What is a Good Reference Speaker for Use with Naim Electronics?

After research, it was found that several speakers can fit the criteria. For instance, several people referenced JBL Control 1, stating that its bandwidth would allow Naim’s electronics to shine the best.

Some people also suggested Guru QM 10‘s. Stating that these were the best speakers for Naim electronics.

Other suggestions include, Spendor A5 and PMC OB1i.

What is a Reference Speaker? – Conclusion

In a nutshell, a reference speaker is a speaker of high quality that can reproduce the sounds of musical instruments and songs accurately and without enhancement.

It’s not a hard subject, but as we said above, only hardcore music enthusiasts might get the term without research, so don’t go hard on yourself if the content seems pretty complicated. Only people who actually use this stuff know it that well!

But if your curiosity is piqued, go ahead and discover more about these amazing audio devices.

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