A new breed of super-tweeter loudspeaker claims to bring enhanced detail and realism to music listening.
What is a super-tweeter? Put simply, it’s an additional tweeter unit, which covers a wide and extended high-frequency response, beyond that of your existing loudspeaker’s integrated tweeters.
Is this just old-fashioned snake-oil, or is the super-tweeter a valid addition to your Hi-Fi system?
The benefits of using a Super-Tweeter
There are a number of theories as to the benefits of using super-tweeters, not to mention a huge body of anecdotal and subjective opinion, which positively reinforces their use.
A typical super-tweeter, such as the Townsend super-tweeter, for example, is able to reproduce high-frequency content from 6kHz, right up to an incredible ultrasonic frequency range, as high as 100kHz.
Now, I can already hear the wails of audio engineers screaming about the obvious ‘elephant in the room’, and that’s the limitations of human hearing, and often that of the recording medium.
Conventional wisdom states that the *absolute* limit of human hearing is set at 20kHz, and is frequently much less (as much as half) depending on age, and whether you’ve lived a life as a librarian or a road-mender!
There are the limitations of the recorded media to consider, too; Compact Disc and any other 44.1kHz sample rate digital audio source has an upper-frequency limit of around 22kHz. Only Hi-Res digital and the best analogue sources can reach higher.
So, the burning question is, “why bother reproducing frequencies we can’t hear”?
Science and Physiology
In the natural world, we are surrounded by sounds and frequencies which extend beyond the realm of what we perceive as ‘sound’. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that we ‘sense’ these high frequencies, just as we ‘feel’ sub-sonic sounds.
The way in which these ultrasonic frequencies interact with what we *do* cognitively hear is believed to make a big difference to the realism and ‘natural’ way in which we hear sound. Listeners report a more relaxed and natural sounding system, and a surprising improvement in bass detail, thanks to a more balanced frequency spectrum.
There’s also a categorically measurable benefit, and that’s the ability of these super-tweeters to deliver incredible transient response and wide and smooth reproduction across the conventional audio HF spectrum.
Interested? Want to try a set of super-tweeters for yourself? Here’s a brief round-up of some of the leading and best selling super-tweeters available today
Townsend Audio Super Tweeter
Priced at an attainable £795 per pair, the Townsend Audio Super Tweeters combine a very pleasing 20th-century aesthetic, with 21st-century performance. An aluminium ribbon tweeter design, lending superb transient response, and an upper-frequency reproduction of 90kHz, the Townsend Super Tweeter is a great choice.
Tannoy Prestige/ST300Mg Super Tweeters
Differing only in aesthetic, the Tannoy Prestige/ST300Mg Super Tweeters fuse an incredible “Buck Rogers meets Jules Verne” aesthetic with an extremely flat frequency response up to 60kHz which rises up to an incredible 100kHz.
Acapella ION TW1S Ionic Tweeter
And now for something, completely different….. The Acapella ION TW1S Ionic Tweeter uses a modulated arc of electricity which excites the surrounding air molecules. As such, it is probably the world’s only loudspeaker with zero mass!
Transient response is incredible, as is the lack of harmonic distortion attributable to conventional transducer designs. If you’re truly looking for the ultimate in high-frequency reproduction, then the Acapella ION TW1S should be at the top of your list.