Speaker Workshop (SW), is a freeware program that allows to measure, project and test a loudspeaker using the computer sound card; however the program needs some knowledge, thus some time has to be spent in reading how to use of it. The first version of SW comes out in 1997 and is born from the mind of Mark Zachmann, that has been one of the founders of the ZSoft Corporation, manufacturer of the program PC Paintbrush from which comes Windows Paint; Mark also worked as a reviewer of PC Magazine, for the Kodak and has invented the graphical format PCX. In 1993 he founded the Audua that produces professional software for audio and video systems: SW is a part of this project. The last version of SW, the 1.06, is dated 2002, and it's doubtful if a newer version will ever come out in the future, even if the program code is open source.
Let's see which are the system requirements for this software: SW supports Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, XP, and 2000; I tried to install SW on Windows Seven with success, but some users reported me failure in doing it. In case you get the error "Failed to update the system registry. Please try using REGEDIT", when you launch SW, there is a simple workout suggested me by the happy Speaker Workshop user Chris Dunn: here is what to do.
- Go into 'regedit' by typing 'regedit' into 'Search programs and files' and click on 'regedit.exe'. This will show you the list of registry keys.
- Under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT scroll all the way down to 'SpeakerWorkshop.Document'. Right click on it in the file tree and then click on 'Permissions'.
- In the Permissions window that opens, check that the Administrator and Users have 'Allow' boxes checked for 'Full Control' as well as 'Read'.
- Close Regedit window and restart the computer.
- That's it!
Back to Speaker Workshop, at least a Pentium II computer is needed; the sound card must be full-duplex, better if one of the last generation. It is important to emphasize the importance of the sound card quality that I suggest to be noiseless and with sample rate of at least 48k Hz; these are my preferred ones:
Sound Blaster Live
Sound Blaster Audigy II
Terratec DMX6 Fire 24/96
Using a well known brand of card also helps in case of problems: it's easier to find other SW users that have the same audio card, so that they can help us to solve our problem. Check in SW Audio DB, where I created a database of sound cards that works with SW and their main settings, thanks to the information given me by the Speaker Workshop community. Keep in mind that SW/sound card combo might suffer of the "changing latency problem", which can bring to wrong acoustic measurements: check out the Phase folder on how to verify and solve it.
SW, that is available in five languages, has a good help feature; unfortunately Speaker Workshop forum have been dismissed.
Here's what Speaker Workshop is able to perform:
Measurement: impedance and acoustic response of the driver/speaker, harmonic distortion, transfer function, calculation of Thiele/Small parameters.
Project: closed or vented boxes, crossovers till the fourth order, impedance compensation net.
Besides SW has an audio generator with ten different kind of waves; it allows to measure passive components like resistors, caps and inductors but it can't substitute a LCR meter since the range of measurement is narrow. It's also possible to measure the filters response, as I describe in the NTF folder.
It's available in the Download folder the Speaker Workshop Manual, by Jay Butterman, that covers many aspects on building and testing a speaker. Unfortunately SW homepage is dead, so to download the program just click in my HP Download folder.
Well, let's start with Speaker Workshop setup !