The relative importance of linearity and distortion in high-frequency loudspeakers has been investigated. Hemispherical direct radiators, conical direct radiators, a ribbon horn, dynamic horns, a single-ended and a push-pull electrostatic speaker were evaluated for frequency response, non-linear distortion and directionality. Quadratic and cubic non-linear distortion terms are present in high-frequency loudspeakers. The maximum cubic CCIF non-linear distortion in horns is greater than that found for the direct radiator and push-pull electrostatic types. Smoothness of response, directional characteristics and extent of frequency range are generally more significant than distortion in the classification of the -listenability- of the high-frequency loudspeaker. Subjective listening tests, however, indicate that total CCIF non-linear distortion above approximately 3% is objectionable. In a complete speaker system, the capabilities of a superior high-frequency loudspeaker may be severely limited or altered due to the selection of an improper cross-over netowrk or the use of inferior middle and low range speaker units.
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