Chapter 10. Hardware Testing

A CRUCIAL STEP OF the sound design process is hardware testing. This chapter should give you a good understanding of how the hardware will function, and serve as a guide on how to diagnose and fix a number of common problems related to distortion, playback hardware, and client expectations.

The testing phase consists of quality control, synchronization, and tuning. Testing helps identify not just the performance but the character of the audio hardware you’re designing for.

When you don’t have access to quality speakers, it is important to work within your hardware limitations. Limit instrumental tone color to what sounds good on the target hardware. Work with frequencies that don’t cause the internal components of the speakers to rattle when played. Avoid sudden onset transients like the clang of a bell, the thump of a snare, or the heavy hammer of a piano note.

How Speakers Work

A typical speaker consists of a permanent magnet, an electromagnet, a frame, and a cone (see Figure 10-1). The responsive component of the speaker, which converts signals into sound, is a copper coil wrapped around Kapton, a fire-resistant polymer material that replaced the paper used in pre-1970s speakers, making them less likely to catch fire. This component is the electromagnet of the speaker, also called a voice coil. The voice coil is attached with flexibility of movement to the frame, attached rigidly to the speaker cone, and suspended above the permanent magnet at ...

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