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Comparison of Direct-Radiator Loudspeaker System Nominal Power Efficiency vs. True Efficiency with High-Bl Drivers

Recently Vanderkooy et al. [1, 2] considered the effect on amplifier loading of dramatically increasing the Bl force factor of a loudspeaker driver mounted in a sealed-box enclosure. They concluded that high Bl was a decided advantage in raising the overall efficiency of the amplifier-speaker combination particularly when a class-D switching-mode amplifier was used. When the Bl factor of a driver is raised dramatically, the input impedance magnitude also rises dramatically while the impedance phase essentially approaches a purely reactive condition of ±90° over a wide bandwidth centered at resonance. This is an optimum load for a class-D amplifier, they note, which not only can supply power, but can also efficiently absorb, store, and return power to the speaker. Unfortunately, the system designed with a high-Bl driver requires significant low-frequency equalization and increased voltage swing from the amplifier as compared to systems using typical much-lower values of Bl. This paper considers the effect on the driver's efficiency of raising the driver's Bl factor through a series of Spice simulations. The nominal power transfer efficiency defined in traditional loudspeaker design methods is contrasted with true efficiency, i.e. true acoustic power output divided by true electrical power input. Increasing Bl dramatically increases the driver's true efficiency at all frequencies but radically decreases nominal power efficiency in the bass range. Traditional design methods based on nominal power transfer efficiency disguise the very-beneficial effects of dramatically raising the driver's Bl product.

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