Will speakers work with any receiver?

In general yes, speakers will work with any modern receiver. From the standpoint that the receiver is driving current to the speaker and moving the driver, all speakers will work as long as they are designed for input via speaker terminals.

Things to consider:

  1. The speaker should be of appropriate ohm's to match the output of the receiver. This is generally 4-8 ohms.
  2. The speaker should not have it's own amplifier built in. This could damage both the speaker and receiver.
  3. The speaker should be of sufficient size depending on the amount of watts you're driving it with. Don't try and drive a 2.5" woofer with a 135 watt receiver, or at least don't try and turn it up to loudly.
Overall you should match the quality of the speaker with the quality level of the amplifier or receiver you're using. This has less to do with whether or not it will work and everything to do with the quality of the output you'll experience. The sound you eventually hear is only as good as the weakest component in your chain. In other words, using a $1,000 receiver with a pair of $50 speakers won't give you as good of results than if you purchased a $500 receiver and a pair of $500 speakers

Are speakers Analog or Digital

Speakers by their physical nature are inherently analog. They are a physical device affecting physical space. 

Then why are some speakers sold as "digital ready"?

Because, marketing. Speakers work when current, a small amount, is sent through the speaker wire to the electric current flows through the coil, it becomes a temporary electromagnet. The permanent magnet on the speaker is attracted and repelled which moves the speaker cone, which moves the air to create sound.  

Are some speakers better at working with digital sources than others? The short answer is no because the source has nothing to do it the speakers function. 

Does a digital source have an affect on the sound?

Yes, what will have an affect on the sound of a digital source is the type of DAC (Digital Audio Converter) that is in your amplifier. 

Did Amazon stop making the Echo Tap?

The short answer appears to be no. If you look at Amazon's posts about ALL the Echo's, something is missing. What happened to the Echo Tap? The Echo Tap is/was the only battery powered Echo in Amazon's lineup. Though originally you needed to tap the top to ask a question Amazon added hands free use earlier this year. So in effect it's a portable Echo. Here's a picture of the current lineup according to Amazon.

Hmmmm. No Tap. It would be a shame if the Tap were eliminated from the lineup given none of the
new products run on battery power. Besides running on a battery it came with a really nifty charging dock which I wish all bluetooth speakers came with. Plugging in a USB plug all the time is a pain in the butt. Dropping it into its cradle is a sinch. Now the tap did not sound as good as the full grown echo but it more than made up for that in portability and its 8 hour battery life.

I hope they are just working on a new one to either replace it, or maybe this was just an oversight. We'll see. Will you miss the Echo Tap if it's gone?

This article was updated to say Amazon did not stop selling the Echo Tap on 10/7/17

One Important, Overlooked Feature of the new Amazon Echo

So far much has been made about the fabric and wood styled covers, the alleged better sound (likely it WILL sound better) and the smaller design. One thing a lot of folks have not really called out is that this time, the new Amazon Echo has a 3.5mm output jack so you can hook up external speakers.

Why external speaker matter on an Echo

As good as the Echo will likely sound better than the first generation, it's unlikely to sound incredible. It still only has a 2.5 "subwoofer" which is still a very, tiny, speaker to expect too much bass from.

Granted that most of the time you'll be happy listening to music, the weather and your daily briefing without deep bass but there will be times when you'll want that better sound. The first generation offered not ability to accommodate this since it did not have the jack. Now you can buy a nicer mono or stereo pair of self powered speakers to hook up for a party, special occasion or when you venture into the yard and need more volume.

In fact all the current Echo's now include this jack. On the Echo Dot it's pretty much a necessity but on the 2nd generation Echo and the new Echo Plus you may decide you don't need them, but it's sweet to have the option.

What do you think? Will you purchase external speakers to go with your new Echo?

Does the new 2nd generation Amazon Echo sound better?


You know the answer already. Maybe. Actually, likely. The original Amazon echo had two speakers, one woofer and one tweeter, both pointing down according to the diagrams on the top right. According to Amazon the 2nd generation Echo (diagram on top left) has a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter powered by Dolby to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. Note the tweeter in the new Echo point up and is apparently smaller than the previous model.

This seems a bit odd given the disruption the two frequencies will have on hitting each other on their way out of the device. But hey, it's difficult to tell from just this diagram. Also the missing Reflex port from the original Echo appears to be gone, likely due to the shorter size. All this said, there are many factors that go into how a speaker will sound. Then there is the "powered by Dolby" aspect which I'm sure has some audible effect but is likely there more for marketing purposes than actual sound quality.

But it's difficult to tell until we have one in hand, which of course we will.

Replacing a blown out speaker

You really like your bookshelf speakers. You've become accustomed to their sound and hey, they are almost part of the family. But sometimes woofers blow out. Now what?

Diagnosing a faulty bookshelf speaker

If your sound is suddenly tinny because one of your woofers has blown out, then it's time to grab a screwdriver and do some investigating. Here are a few things that could be wrong.
  1. The wires to the woofer are somehow disconnected. (unlikely but hey...)
  2. Your buddy turned your system up to 11 and poof!  Yes, we've had this happen. 
  3. Your crossover is faulty. (possible but unlikely)
  4. Rot, yes, speakers get old too.
In any of these cases you'll need to pull out the speaker and check for item 1 first. Don't worry, removing a woofer for inspection is pretty easy. You'll need a Phillips head screwdriver. (usually)

  • First remove the speaker grille from the cabinet. You can usually pry it off with your fingers. Avoid using tools.
  • Carefully, remove the screws from the woofer being careful not to puncture the cone.
  • Carefully lift the woofer from the cabinet. If it is tight, use a small flat head screwdriver or putty knife to remove it.
  • Check the wires to be sure they are fully connected to the speaker.
If all is well note any designations on the rear of the speaker. Take note of the impedance and diameter. Put it back in the cabinet for now. If you think it's the crossover you can test this by removing the woofer from the other speaker and trying it in the malfunctioning cabinet. If it works there then you could be having a problem with the crossover.

Buying a new woofer

This is the cheapest way to get back to listening to your music but it does get a bit tricky. Here's what you need to do.
  • Note the correct impedance.
  • The size of the woofer itself as well as material, aluminum, poly, other fancier materials like Kevlar, etc.
  • The diameter and mounting (screw) configuration.
  • Depth of the cabinet. 
Once you do this you're ready to go shopping for a new woofer.  

Important - If you're replacing a woofer and it's not from the manufacturer of the speakers, you'll want to replace the woofer in both cabinets. Why? No matter how carefully you think you're matching the speakers to the one you already have, the new one WILL sound different than the original. Lots of folks might not notice the difference but chances are you will. 

Is it worth fixing the speakers vs buying a new set of bookshelf speakers? It depends on how old your speakers are, how attached to their sound you've become and of course, if you have the money. But if you have a little bit of DYI in you and some time to spare, you can do it.

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