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Aug 12

What makes Definitive Technology speakers sound so good?

What makes it so superior? It might be the drivers.

What makes it so superior? It might be the drivers.

I’ve got a bit of a confession to make.

I’m in love with Definitive Technology speakers.

While my home theater system isn’t (yet) made up completely of Def Tech speakers, the best speakers that I own — the ones reserved for music — are a pair of Definitive Technology Studio Monitor 450 speakers. I’ve used them for an eclectic mix of music over the last couple of years, from ska to country and jazz to industrial, and while I haven’t necessarily enjoyed every genre that’s come through them, I can say one thing about them:

They rock.

But “rocking” as a thing isn’t enough for me. I want to know what makes the drivers in my (and by extension almost all other Definitive Technology speakers) so great.

Sound versus sound

Let’s get the debate out of the way first: not all sound is the same, so a speaker that’s pleasing to me isn’t necessarily pleasing to you. I’ve listened to speakers that have hyped as amazing that I’ve found. . . less than pleasing, and I’ve listened to headphones that others found unappealing that I love.

It’s very personal.

The best way to describe Definitive Technology’s sound is that they have an emphasis on bass, but without compromising the fidelity of highs and mid-tones. Because of their drivers, the sound also has a fairly good spread on most of their speakers, making them great for filling a room with audio.

This sound profile is great for people who like to feel “surrounded” by their audio, or tend to move around the room when listening to music. It’s not as great if you’re looking to create an optimized “sweet spot” for your audio, however.

Depending on the speaker, Definitive Technology uses a few different driver designs to make their speakers sing.

While the tweeter design does vary from speaker to speaker, Definitive Technology’s major work tends more toward the midrange and bass drivers (and their support systems).

Small only describes their size

For many of their smaller speakers (like the ProCinema series or the current line of ProMonitor speakers), they use a Balanced Double Surround System driver coupled with a mid/bass radiator at the top of the speaker.

The white paper throws quite a bit of engineer-jargon at you about it, the basic gist of why this sounds so good is that each piece was designed to to reduce unwanted vibration and resonance, react quickly to changes in your audio, and disperse sound fairly evenly. For smaller speakers, this is a huge upside, as many smaller speakers have issues with reproducing good bass. This is why bigger speakers doesn’t always have to mean better speakers.

Okay, sometimes it does

Of course, when you do go to a bigger speaker, you also get different drivers.

Definitive Technology’s Bipolar series (yes, the floorstanding speakers that have subwoofers built into them) use die-cast basket drivers that provide a very natural feeling bass and mids, even in situations where other speakers might begin to sound bright. Part of this is that all the drivers on this system have been linked in a D’Appolito Array, which basically makes sure that all drivers fire in concert with one another.

This has the added benefit of providing a smoother sound, and makes it possible for the crossovers to do more than just direct audio — it also allows it to actively blend it more efficiently.

While drivers aren’t the only thing that make Definitive Technology’s speakers sound great (I may take a look at the enclosures, crossovers, and million other things that help out another time), they’re a big part of what defines their sound.

And, like I said, that sound is good.

What do you look for in a speaker? Let me know in the comments!

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