COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WESTLAKE AUDIO LOUDSPEAKERS
"WHAT AMPLIFIERS DO YOU RECOMMEND WITH MY LOUDSPEAKERS?"
This is the most commonly asked question we receive at Westlake. Because we are the ones who have designed the loudspeakers, we should have a good idea of what amplifiers work best with our loudspeakers. This assumption is only partially true for a number of reasons.
Yes, we do design the loudspeakers and yes, we do use specific brands of amplifiers in the design, production and testing of our loudspeakers. Westlake has very specific parameters of what to look for
in an amplifier. These parameters, mentioned above in the section regarding amplifiers, are wide power bandwidth, low distortion, good signal to noise ratio, high dampening factor, low output impedance for solid state amplifiers, and the most accurate sound possible. But these parameters by themselves are not an endorsement for one particular brand of amplifier.
Amplifiers need to be auditioned by the listener. Because each person has his own idea of what "good sound" is, the right amplifier for one person may not be the right amplifier for another. There are a number of excellent amplifiers, both solid state and tube, that will work well with the Westlake Audio Loudspeakers.
We do not know how every amplifier will react with our products. Because of the large number of companies that sell amplifiers, it would be practically impossible for us to listen to every amplifier available. Part of the reason a dealer is selected to become an authorized Westlake Audio dealer is because he stocks a selection of high quality amplifiers. Some of these amplifiers will be better suited than others for use with the Westlake loudspeaker.
It should be noted that there are a number of amplifiers that are not suitable for use with the Westlake loudspeakers. Your Westlake Audio dealer has the experience to help you select an amplifier that meets your requirements for good quality sound.
"HOW MUCH POWER DO MY SPEAKERS REQUIRE?"
The continuous power rating (RMS) rating for your speaker system is shown on the enclosed specification sheet. It should be noted that the power ratings for the low frequency drivers are higher than those for the high frequency drivers as it takes more power to create long wavelengths versus short ones at a given SPL.
Most speakers, Westlake’s included, can absorb temporary short-term power inputs 2-3 times in excess of the continuous power rating (RMS) of the system. It is not unreasonable, and in fact can be necessary for unrestricted and accurate sound reproduction, for this extra power reserve to be available. However, over the long term, the continuous power rating (RMS) should not be exceeded or failure will ultimately occur.
By looking at the rather high efficiency ratings of your loudspeakers, you may be tempted to use less power than the Westlake loudspeakers actually require. While the Westlake loudspeakers are efficient, their low impedance crossover network dictates an amplifier capable of driving a low impedance load without current limiting.
Because of the low impedance nature of the crossover, the current output at low impedance of the amplifier is very important. Many inexpensive amplifiers have high nominal load wattage ratings but do not deliver high levels of current to the loudspeakers. Be cautious of amplifiers that say "high current" but do not, in reality, offer a high current output. Again, your Westlake Audio dealer is a good source of information as to which amplifiers are high current designs.
In general, it is better to have a modest wattage amplifier that does not limit current availability at a 2-4 ohm loading than one that offers more power but limits that power when driving a complex speaker load (as in the case of the Westlake). An amplifier that meets this criteria will generally have a low output impedance. The lower the output impedance, the better the applied dampening and potential sound.
Be aware that most amplifiers have a varying output impedance with frequency; usually the output impedance increases with increasing frequency in the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range.
You and your authorized Westlake Audio dealer can discuss the particular requirements for sound level and suggest a wattage level for your specific model of loudspeaker.
"HOW MUCH POWER CAN MY SPEAKERS HANDLE WITHOUT DAMAGE?"
Damage to loudspeakers can be caused by being driven with too little power as well as too much. When an amplifier runs out of voltage, the amplifier goes into clipping. Clipping sends a distorted signal to the speaker that, by changing the spectral content of the signal, can easily cause damage to the speaker.
Care must be taken to ensure that the amplifier does not clip when in operation in the system (many amplifiers provide clipping lights for a visual indication that clipping is occurring). To assure reproducing a clean sound and staying out of clipping, an amplifier with a continuous power rating of 2-3 times the RMS or continuous power rating of the loudspeaker should be employed. As amplifiers have varying power capacity that varies with frequency and load impedance, this may be somewhat difficult to determine. Again, your authorized Westlake Audio dealer can help in this matter.
Higher power amplifiers can be used but at the risk that an unexpected loud passage will damage the speaker. Westlake does not provide fuse protection in our loudspeakers to protect against overpowering the loudspeaker as this can sonically degrade the system.
Should damage to the tweeter occur, Westlake Audio offers replacement tweeter diaphragms for most models of speakers. Your Westlake Audio dealer can install new tweeter diaphragms should the need arise. It should be noted that Westlake Audio loudspeakers come with matched right/left drivers and therefore replacement diaphragms should also be matched for the left and right speaker which will necessitate the purchase of a new, matched pair of diaphragms.
"WHAT SUBWOOFERS DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR THE WESTLAKES?"
What makes the sound of a Westlake speaker so good is the integration of all the parts of the speaker together; transducers, crossover, and cabinet. Integrating a subwoofer into ANY stereo system is difficult at best if quality sound is the primary goal.
Westlake makes over thirty different models of loudspeakers; many of which offer realistic reproduction of the lower octaves. Unfortunately, the laws of physics dictate that to reproduce the lower octaves accurately, the transducers must have a large surface area.
For aesthetic as well as financial reasons, many people would like to combine a smaller Westlake loudspeaker with a subwoofer that can be placed out of the way to create a full range stereo system. With great care, this can be accomplished however Westlake would recommend that you purchase an integrated full range Westlake Audio loudspeaker.
A purpose built subwoofer may exist for some models of loudspeakers; consult your authorized
Westlake Audio dealer for current availability.
"WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC ARE THE WESTLAKE SPEAKERS DESIGNED FOR?"
Westlake Audio products are designed to accurately reproduce the source recording. They have not been artificially equalized to reproduce any type of music "better" than any other.
Although the Westlake Audio products are designed to be as accurate as possible, the laws of physics dictate the ultimate performance of our loudspeakers. For example the smaller Westlake
models with 4" or 5" woofers are not going to have as much bass extension as those with 15" or
18" woofers. Music with significant lower octave information such as pipe organ music will be better reproduced with the larger systems.
Other than the constraints imposed by the laws of physics, Westlake loudspeakers will be suitable for all types of music.
"WHY ARE WESTLAKE AUDIO LOUDSPEAKERS SO EXPENSIVE?"
In today's society, compromise is a required reality. Manufacturers often sacrifice quality and sonics for corporate profits and large-scale production. This is true not only in mass-market items but in many "High End" audio products as well.
Westlake rarely compromises on sonics. Our goal has been the accurate reproduction of sound for over twenty years. This dedication to quality is seen in all of our products; from our entry-level two-way loudspeakers to our top of the line SM-1 systems.
All of our loudspeakers, regardless of price, use the highest-grade parts available. Each part in the speaker whether it is a transducer, capacitor, or inductor coil is matched for assembly into a right and left pair of speakers. Every part is tested and matched together by hand. Parts that do not meet our specifications are either returned to their manufacturer or thrown away.
Our products are hand made; from cabinet construction to crossover to final assembly and testing. In addition to over a dozen-measured tests, each pair of speakers is played and listened to. Before any product reaches the end consumer, it must satisfy us first. The results of these efforts are easy to see and hear. Westlake products provide a level of performance that is not found in other loudspeakers at any price. Our pedigree is well earned.
Yes, our products are expensive. They are also an exceptional value.