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A Tutorial on the Audibility of Loudspeaker Distortion at Bass Frequencies

This tutorial paper goes into detail concerning the audibility and perception of loudspeaker distortion at low frequencies. It draws on many past references and publications to summarize many of the factors that contribute to low-frequency loudspeaker distortion. Items covered include: “What is distortion and how do we perceive it?,” causes of distortion, types of distortion and audibility: linear vs. nonlinear, THD vs. IM vs. intermodulation distortion etc., auditory masking and distortion thresholds, measurement methods including continuous sine wave, two-tone IM, tone-burst, and multi-tone log-spaced testing among others. In conclusion, this paper observes that distortion does occur, but by identifying the point at which distortion becomes audible, one can be prudent in choosing which distortions to ignore.

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