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Can an RLC network be defined that would behave in the same way as a theoretical loudspeaker? Since their behavior is frequency-dependent, would the values of R, L, and C also be frequency-dependent?

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Yes, but you need to determine what properties of the loudspeaker you want the RLC network to mimic (model). You also need to specify the frequency range you are wanting the RLC network to be valid.

For example, if you want the network to model the electrical behavior of the speaker (e.g. have the RLC network have same voltage/current relationship over frequency) you would measure the speaker's impedance as a function of frequency and then design a circuit that has the same impedance vs. frequency. For lower frequencies (i.e. below the resonant frequency), the speaker will look like a series resistance and inductance. As the frequency increases, there will be resonances and the circuit becomes more complicated.

Here is a picture from Wikipedia showing an equivalent circuit for a mechanical phonograph horn that illustrates what form an RLC network could take when resonance is taken into account. Norton Mechanical Filter

R, L and C are not frequency dependent; however, the impedance for L or C is strongly frequency dependent (\$Z_L=j2\pi f L\$ and \$Y_C=1/Z_C=j2\pi f C\$).

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Um, why? Why would you want to do that?

Yes you can do what you want, sort of. At least you can approximate it. How close the approximation is depends on how complex you want to get. Everything that @madrivereric said is correct (so I won't repeat it here).

But as you try to get more and more accurate with your loudspeaker model things will get MUCH more complicated. For example, if you are trying to model a 3-way speaker with a horn loaded tweeter, a ported woofer, and a passive crossover then you have a huge problem on your hands.

As the level of complexity increases then you go back to my question of why. Educational uses aside, there is very little diagnostic info that such an RLC network can provide that a simple 4 or 8 ohm load resistor can't do. I would be interested in hearing of an application for this that I haven't considered.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But then, when designing it how would you count power consumption? \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Stavitsky May 11 '12 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also - to understand it. If I have no "real" physics or acoustics, the only way I can interpret loudspeaker behavior is by an RLC model. Thus these "educational" fsctors are significant :) \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Stavitsky May 11 '12 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeStavitsky power consumption would be accounted for in the power dissipation of one or more resistors. \$\endgroup\$ – madrivereric May 11 '12 at 17:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeStavitsky in order to obtain the RLC model, you must first understand the physics behind the loudspeaker behavior you wish to model. If you don't first understand what you want to model, you cannot create an appropriate model! \$\endgroup\$ – madrivereric May 11 '12 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeStavitsky Power consumption, as you know, is frequency dependent. Therefore, to calculate it you must know the audio material going to the speaker. If you don't know the audio then you cannot estimate with any accuracy what the power will be. Your estimates could be off by 10x, and having an accurate RLC model won't improve that in a meaningful way. The best way to get power numbers is to actually measure a speaker with a known audio source-- but that number would only be an estimate for what the power is for similar audio sources. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 May 11 '12 at 18:17

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