Before I made any tweaks to the Pringles can speaker, I figured I’d take some measurements to get a benchmark. I measured the frequency response using a Clio FW analyzer in MLS quasi-anechoic mode, with the can positioned on a stand 2 meters off the ground and the microphone placed 0.5 meters in front of the speaker. (I placed it so close because the device is so small and its output is low.) The measurement you see here is the average of measurements taken at 0, 10, 20, and 30 degrees off-axis.
To the untrained eye, this measurement may look horrible. But my years of experience in measuring speakers gives me extra insight here. The layman sees a bunch of ugly zig-zags, but my eye ignores all that and focuses on the response in the range from 1.8 to 4 kHz, in which the Pringles can speaker measures ±0.5 dB. This is at least as good as some of the industry’s most highly respected speakers, like the Revel Salon2. The Pringles speaker’s achievement is even more remarkable when you consider the Revel costs $22,000 per pair and was created in a multimillion-dollar research and development facility.
Compare the two in terms of performance-to-price ratio. If the Revel’s performance ranks 10 on a scale of 10 and it costs $22K, its P2P ratio is 0.00045. If the Pringles can speaker’s performance ranks a 1 but it costs $0, its P2P ratio is infinite. Smart-alecks may point out that if you calculate the ratio as price-to-performance instead of performance-to-price, the Revel scores 2,200 while the Pringles can scores 0. But until the CEA or the IEC or some other authority rules on which way to calculate this ratio, I can go with whatever the hell I want.
Off-axis response is excellent. There’s barely any difference in the response all the way out to 45° off-axis. Almost wherever you put the mic, you get the same Matterhorn-shaped response curve. Bass output is weak, although to my shock I was able to get a CEA-2010 measurement at 80 Hz, where the Pringles can speaker puts out 61.6 dB, which qualifies as floor-shaking bass provided the floor is in a hamster cage.
So long as you can train your ears to focus on that 1.8 to 4 kHz range and disregard the treble, the bass, and the lower midrange, the Pringles can speaker delivers a state-of-the-art experience. However, persnickety listeners who for whatever reason wish to hear frequencies outside the upper mids might be advised to consider other products, perhaps even some that actually cost money. When you take the full audio range into account, the Pringles can speaker measures +/-15.5 from 225 Hz to 20 kHz. Speakers don’t get much worse than that, but perhaps those who question the utility of measurements can look past the Pringles speaker’s theoretical flaws and find the soul of a great product lurking underneath.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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