This version (05 Apr 2023 18:44) was approved by Doug Mercer.The Previously approved version (05 Apr 2023 18:44) is available.Diff

Activity: Measuring a Loudspeaker Impedance Profile, - ADALM1000


The objective of this lab activity is to measure the impedance profile and the resonate frequency of a permanent magnet loudspeaker.


As in all the ALM labs we use the following terminology when referring to the connections to the M1000 connector and configuring the hardware. The green shaded rectangles indicate connections to the M1000 analog I/O connector. The analog I/O channel pins are referred to as CA and CB. When configured to force voltage / measure current –V is added as in CA-V or when configured to force current /measure voltage –I is added as in CA-I. When a channel is configured in the high impedance mode to only measure voltage –H is added as CA-H.

Scope traces are similarly referred to by channel and voltage / current. Such as CA-V, CB-V for the voltage waveforms and CA-I , CB-I for the current waveforms.


The chief electrical characteristic of a dynamic loudspeaker is its electrical impedance as a function of frequency. It can be visualized by plotting it as a graph, called the impedance curve.

The most common type of loudspeaker is an electro-mechanical transducer using a voice coil connected to a diaphragm or cone. The voice coil in moving coil loudspeakers is suspended in a magnetic field provided by a permanent magnet. As electric current flows through the voice coil, from an audio amplifier, the electro-magnetic field created by the current in the coil reacts against the permanent magnet's fixed field and moves the voice coil (also the cone). Alternating current will move the cone back and forth. The movement of the cone vibrates the air producing the sound.

The moving system of the loudspeaker, including the cone, cone suspension, spider and the voice coil, has a certain mass and compliance. This is most commonly modeled as a simple mass suspended by a spring that has a certain resonant frequency at which the system will vibrate most freely.

This frequency is known as the “free-space resonance” of the speaker and is designated by FS. At this frequency, since the voice coil is vibrating with the maximum peak-to-peak amplitude and velocity, the back-emf generated by coil motion in a magnetic field is also at its maximum. This causes the effective electrical impedance of the speaker to be at its maximum at FS, known as ZMAX. For frequencies just below resonance, the impedance rises rapidly as the frequency approaches FS and is inductive in nature. At resonance, the impedance is purely resistive and beyond it, as the impedance drops, it looks capacitive. The impedance reaches a minimum value, ZMIN, at some frequency where the behavior is mostly (but not perfectly) resistive over some range of frequencies. A speaker's rated or nominal impedance, ZNOM, is derived from this ZMIN value.

Knowing the resonate frequency and the minimum and maximum impedances are important when designing cross over filter networks for multiple driver speakers and the physical enclosure the speakers are mounted in.

Dynamic loudspeakers are abysmally inefficient electro-mechanical conversion devices, as Wikipedia substantiates: “Loudspeaker efficiency is defined as the sound power output divided by the electrical power input. Most loudspeakers are inefficient transducers; only about 1% of the electrical energy sent by an amplifier to a typical home loudspeaker is converted to acoustic energy.” Yes, 1% is an abysmal efficiency as we try to “be more green”, but so far it is the best we have that sounds good (and each dynamic transducer only sounds good over a limited frequency range).

Loudspeaker Impedance Model

To help understand the measurements you are about to make, a simplified electrical model of a loudspeaker is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. Loudspeaker Impedance Model

The circuit in figure 1 has a dc resistance placed in series with a lossy parallel resonant circuit made up of L, R, and C, which models the dynamic impedance of the speaker over the frequency range of interest.

• Rdc is the dc resistance of the loudspeaker as measured with a DC ohmmeter. The dc resistance is often referred to as the DCR in a speaker/subwoofer data sheet. The dc resistance measurement is usually less than the driver's nominal impedance ZNOM. Rdc is typically less than the specified loudspeaker impedance and the novice loudspeaker enthusiast may be fearful that the driver amplifier will be overloaded. However, because the inductance (L) of a speaker increases with an increase in frequency, it is unlikely that the driver amplifier actually sees the dc resistance as its load.

• L is the voice coil inductance usually measured in milliHenries (mH). Typically, the industry standard is to measure the voice coil inductance at 1000 Hz. As frequencies increase above 0 Hz, there is a rise in impedance above the Rdc value. This is because the voice coil acts as an inductor. Consequently, the overall impedance of a loudspeaker is not a constant impedance, but can be represented as a dynamic profile that changes with input frequency as we will see when we make measurements. Maximum impedance, ZMAX, of the loudspeaker occurs at the resonant frequency, FS, of the loudspeaker.

• FS is the resonant frequency of a loudspeaker. The impedance of a loudspeaker is a maximum at FS. The resonant frequency is the point at which the total mass of the moving parts of the loudspeaker become balanced with the force of the speaker suspension when in motion. The resonant frequency information is important to prevent an enclosure from ringing. In general, the mass of the moving parts and the stiffness of the speaker suspension are the key elements that affect the resonant frequency. A vented enclosure (bass reflex) is tuned to FS so that the two work in unison. As a rule, a speaker with a lower FS is better for low-frequency reproduction than a speaker with a higher FS.

• R represents the mechanical resistance of a driver's suspension losses. Part of the “mechanical resistance” in the system is the resistance of the cone to moving through the air, which happens to be the mechanical process that produces the pressure variations that we perceive as ‘sound’.


ADALM1000 hardware module
Solder-less Breadboard
2 – 100 Ω Resistors (or any similar value)
1 – Loudspeaker from ADALP2000 Kit (it is even better if the speaker is one with a cone diameter larger than 4 inches such that is has a relatively low resonant frequency)

Figure 2, Small Loudspeaker from ADALP2000 Parts Kit


First build the circuit shown in the figure 3, preferably using your solder-less breadboard. The loudspeaker can be in an enclosure or not. This configuration allows us to measure the voltage across the speaker VL using channel B voltage trace and the load current IL as the channel A current trace.

Figure 3, Speaker measurement setup for VL and IL

Start the ALICE Desktop software.

In the main Scope screen, the ALICE software calculates and can display the RMS values of the voltage and current waveform traces. Under the CA Meas drop down menu, in the voltage section select RMS, and in the current section select RMS. Under the CB Meas drop down menu, in the voltage section select RMS.

We can calculate the speaker impedance Z at a single frequency by dividing the RMS voltage across the speaker (channel B RMS voltage) by the RMS current through the speaker, (channel A RMS current). To display this calculation, we can use the channel B User measurement display. The two variables used are SV2 for the channel B RMS Voltage and SI1 for the channel A RMS current. Click on User under the CB Meas drop down menu. Enter Z for the label. Enter (SV2/SI1)*1000 as the formula. We need to multiply by 1000 to get ohms because the current is in mA.

Try setting channel A to a few different frequencies and see how the voltage across the speaker and the calculated Z changes.

Figure 4, Breadboard Connections

Procedure to use the ALICE Bode Plotter:

Select the Bode Plotting tool. Under the Curves menu select CA-dBV, CB-dBV and Phase B-A.

Under the Options drop down menu click on Cut-DC to select it if it not already. Change the FFT Zero stuffing factor to 3.

Set Channel A Min value to 1.0 Volts and the Max to 4.0 V. Set AWG A Mode to SVMI and Shape to Sine. Set AWG channel B Mode to Hi-Z. Be sure the Sync AWG check box is selected.

Use the Start Frequency entry to set the frequency sweep to start at 50 Hz and use the Stop Frequency entry to set the sweep to stop at 1000 Hz. Select CHA as the source channel to sweep. Also use the Sweep Steps entry to enter the number of frequency steps, use 150 as the number. Select single sweep.

Now Export the data, as magnitude not in dB to make the math easier, to a comma separated values file ( File menu – Save Data ) and load it into a spreadsheet program such as Excel. You will use the 50 Hz to 1000 Hz Channel B data from this file as the VL values.

Note the frequency points where the phase is at its positive maximum, zero and negative minimum. The data on the screen is plotted in dB so the vertical scale is not in volts. Your speaker will probably look different than this example.

Figure 5 Example frequency sweep

By saving the data as magnitude the signal generator amplitude (in volts rms) is saved to the file. You can calculate the magnitude of the speaker impedance Z is by dividing the voltage across the speaker VL by the current IL. IL is of course the voltage across the resistor divided by the resistance.

Z = V_L/I_L

V_L = CBmag

I_L = (CAmag - CBmag)/50

Subtracting the channel B voltage magnitude values from the channel A voltage magnitude values and dividing by the 50 Ω resistor allows you to calculate the current magnitude IL. The impedance Z will be the channel B voltage magnitude divided by the current magnitude IL.

You can now plot the calculated impedance Z vs Frequency. An example plot is shown in figure 6. Your speaker will probably look different than this.

Figure 6, Example Plot of Calculated Impedance

The speaker impedance is small, approximately equal to the DC resistance in the linear region but is much higher at the resonance frequency FS.


Based on your measured data extract the L C and R for the speaker electrical model shown in figure 1 for the speaker you used. You can measure Rdc with the DC ohmmeter tool. Ignore LINPUT as it will be small compared to L. Enter these values into a circuit simulation schematic of the model and generate a frequency response sweep from 50 Hz to 1000 Hz and compare your model to the data you measured in the lab.

Procedure to use the ALICE Impedance Analyzer to measure speaker impedance:

As shown in figure 7, Channel B again measures VL the voltage across the speaker. The impedance analyzer software uses the difference between the channel A voltage and channel B voltage as well as the relative phase between the channels to calculate the impedance based the value of the combined R1, R2.

Figure 7, Speaker impedance measurement setup

Open the ALICE Impedance Analyzer software tool.

Set Ext Res = 50, set the channel A Freq to a value well below the resonate frequency of your speaker. In this first example measurement 100 Hz was used. Set the Ohms/div to 10. As can be seen from the data, the phase angle should be positive. The series resistance of the speaker is around 7 Ω and the reactance is inductive.

Figure 8, Impedance Measurement at frequency below resonance

Now set the frequency to the resonate value you obtained from the frequency sweep. You may want to fine adjust the value to find the exact point where the reactance is zero as shown in figure 9.

Figure 9. Impedance Measurement at resonate frequency

This result should agree with the results from the frequency sweeps. The phase angle should be small and the series resistance is now larger at about 15 Ω.

Now set the frequency to a point above the resonate frequency where the phase is near its negative peak as shown in figure 10, 500 Hz was used here.

Figure 10, Impedance Measurement at frequency above resonance

As can be now seen from the data, the phase angle should be negative. The series resistance of the speaker is still around 7 Ω but the reactance is capacitive.

Explain your results based on the parallel LC loudspeaker impedance model in figure 1.


For Further Reading:

Measuring a Loudspeaker Impedance Profile Using the AD5933
Electrical characteristics of dynamic loudspeakers
ALICE 1.3 DeskTop Software

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university/courses/alm1k/circuits1/alm-cir-11.txt · Last modified: 05 Apr 2023 18:44 by Doug Mercer