We are all familiar with the traditional loudspeaker, which has been around for as long as our grandparents can remember. But, there are actually many more types of speakers that are designed for various purposes. They all look, feel, and sound different.
Read on to find out everything about the different types of speakers, from the types of speaker drivers to the most common speaker designs and configurations.
Types of speakers
Here are the various types of speakers categorized based on the driver type and the speaker configuration or design. You will find that there are various types of speaker drivers that produce various sound frequencies, and that speakers appear as different types with specific purposes.
The most important part of any audio speaker is its driver, since this is pretty much what creates the sound that comes out of the speaker. Drivers are cone or dome shaped devices that feature a diaphragm to produce vibrations that turn into sound.
There are different types, modes, and sizes of speaker drivers, each of which has a different function. These include tweeters, woofers, subwoofers, midrange drivers, and full range drivers, which is basically a complete speaker system.
Originally, audio speakers only made use of a single driver, which can be referred to as a full range driver that is capable of making all sorts of sounds in high and low frequencies. But, for a better sound quality, different drivers are now used to achieve sound separation.
A tweeter speaker, also called a treble speaker, is one of the many types of loudspeakers, and is also the smallest one in that department. If you want a more technical answer to the question of “What is a tweeter speaker?” well, here it is.
Essentially, a tweeter speaker produces high audio frequency sounds averaging around 2,000 Hz to 20,000 Hz. It makes use of a small diaphragm made of materials such as polyester fabric and film, silk, and metallic alloys, and its fast vibration is what makes this high pitch possible.
Tweeters are used in a speaker system as a combination of one or more speakers, such as in two and three way speakers, each with a different type of driver, so that the entire audio system can deliver a full range of sounds that no single speaker can do.
On the other hand, a woofer speaker, also referred to as a bass speaker, is another type of loudspeaker. So, what is a woofer? Well, it’s a significantly larger and heavier audio speaker that produces the lowest sound frequencies of about 40 Hz to 3000 Hz, or even 5000 Hz.
A woofer speaker typically makes use of strong papers and polymers that serve as its electrodynamic driver, as well as a large magnet that facilitates mechanical air movement on the diaphragm in order to produce sound, and a voice coil to make this possible.
The term woofer is really just derived from the sound of a dog’s bark, since it’s a low frequency sound and therefore apt. And as its other name suggests, a woofer speaker is what delivers the bass tones in music and audio recordings. As such, it’s commonly paired with a tweeter.
There are certain types of woofers that cover specific audio frequencies, such as mid woofers, which produce the higher frequency ranges that woofers are capable of producing, and subwoofers, which focus on the lowest octaves.
And then there’s the subwoofer. The difference between woofer and subwoofer speakers is that subwoofers create even lower frequencies of sound, ranging from only 20 Hz to 200 Hz. It’s also a complete loudspeaker that you will find inside special loudspeaker enclosures.
This enclosure is usually made out of wood in order to make the sound as robust as possible, and to help in reproducing that low sound as well. The enclosure may also feature things like bass reflexes, band passes, horns, passive radiators, and infinite baffles.
A subwoofer would typically be physically located somewhat far and opposing the main loudspeaker, and in some occasions, a subwoofer speaker may utilize two speakers in reverse operations relative to each other to further enrich the sound quality.
Oftentimes, woofers and subwoofers are combined in one speaker to make things as efficient and affordable, not to mention make the speaker as compact as possible. But for a better sound quality, separate woofers and subwoofers are ideal.
Moving on to the middle of the sound spectrum, there is also the midrange speaker, which as the name suggests, produces sound frequencies in the levels between those of tweeters and woofers, meaning, a typical range of 250 Hz to 2000 Hz.
A midrange speaker is also often called a squawker, and often appears as a cone shaped instrument, or sometimes a dome shaped one. It’s composed of a voice coil and a diaphragm that can be made of paper, polymer, resin, fiberglass, metals, or carbon fiber.
Midrange speakers are arguably the most important type of speaker driver, as compared to tweeters, woofers, and subwoofers, since these are what produces most of the sounds we hear on a day to day basis, including human voices.
And as such, a midrange speaker should be as sophisticated and great quality as possible, because you’ll definitely be able to easily tell whether the sound quality is good or bad.
Design and appearance
When it comes to choosing the right kind of loudspeakers that will work perfectly for your needs and requirements, it’s important to consider the speaker size, intended purpose, configuration, and mode of installation.
That’s because audio speakers come in many different styles, sizes, and designs. For example, some speakers such as surround sound speakers, satellite speakers, and in-wall speakers are meant for interior rooms, whereas outdoor speakers are made for, well, the outdoors.
Nowadays, some speakers are made as sleek looking and portable as possible, and are equipped with various excellent features such as bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, rechargeable batteries, sound activated dancing lights, and many more.
TV surround sound
Moving on to designs of speaker systems, one of the most common types that we often encounter in homes and public spaces such as cinemas is a TV surround sound speaker, which is essentially just a group of speakers that produce the same sound at the same time.
These speakers are located at different points of a room, so that the sound “surrounds” you and you’re hearing the sound from the entire space. It makes for a higher depth and fidelity of sound, and makes the reproduced sound seem as realistic as possible.
Surround sound tower speakers are typically composed of three speakers- the left and right speakers, and the central speaker, which is the most important one, since it needs to produce most, if not all, of the sound you need to hear.
Nowadays, surround sound is often taken into account when it comes to audio production of music and videos, so what you’re hearing from the left may be slightly different from the one on the right, which leads to an even more realistic sound reproduction.
When someone says audio speakers, more often than not, what comes into mind is a typical loudspeaker, since it’s a household staple ever since radio was invented upto now. Just think of those big and boxy things that everyone has at home.
Loudspeakers are generally made up of at least two drivers, such as a tweeter, woofer, midrange driver, and a subwoofer in order to produce a full sound range. It’s essentially a transducer that utilizes electrical energy and transforms it to mechanical energy to make sound.
There are many different types and designs of loudspeakers. They can be powered and active, or make use of a passive PA system and an amplifier. There are also huge loudspeakers that are designed to rest on the floor, as well as mini speakers that fit in your pocket.
Ceiling or in-wall speakers
If you want high quality sounds coming from audio speakers, sans the speakers themselves, or at least, the often not so aesthetic appearance of speakers that even have the audacity to take up valuable space in your room, in-wall speakers are a great option.
These are installed inside the wall so they are hidden from plain view, but the sound quality, range, and volume is not sacrificed. Ceiling and in-wall speakers are also typically remote control operated, although more modern ones can be voice activated or controlled with an app in your smartphone.
Unfortunately, there are still some downsides that come with this type of speaker. For one thing, it requires professional installation to handle opening up a part of the wall to fit the frame that will house the speakers, getting the wires through the walls, and so on. It’s also inefficient and costly in terms of repairs and maintenance.
There are also audio speakers engineered specially for outdoor use, meaning they are water and weather resistant, and significantly more durable than your typical commercial grade speakers that are meant for indoor use.
Outdoor speakers typically make use of polypropylene materials for the cone, enclosed cable guards for the wires, robust speaker boxes or casings with resistance against shock, corrosion, abrasion, and weather, and sometimes even metal grills for added protection.
These speakers are designed to withstand variations in humidity and temperature, so they are suitable to place even on your garden or by the poolside. These can even look discreet, such as outdoor speakers that look like rocks, so you don’t have to worry about ruining the landscape, or risking theft with obviously expensive speakers displayed for everyone to see.
In relation to surround sound, satellite speakers are important in delivering that surround quality, since these speakers are placed at auxiliary locations from the main speaker. These are small, typically midrange to high frequency speakers connected to a subwoofer.
Given their small size, satellite speakers are usually mounted on walls and ceilings so that you’re saving up on floor space, and more importantly, the sound is coming from an optimum standing and sitting level.
Even without the consideration of surround sound, satellite speakers can also be used in other areas of a room or house so that you can hear the sound as you move from one part of the area to another. These speakers also come in various configurations depending on your needs.
What we often see these days are modern wireless speakers that can be connected to a smart device via WiFi, or more commonly, bluetooth. Technically speaking, any kind of speaker can be considered a bluetooth speaker as long as you can play music and other audio by connecting to the speaker via bluetooth and not just with using the aux cord. Maybe connect one of the best USB piano keyboards to get the full effect of your music.
These speakers also come in many different sizes. There are lots of mini portable speakers that you can bring with you anywhere and weigh just a pound or less, and there are also bigger versions which are more suitable for tailgating, camping, and sports activities.
In terms of power source, bluetooth speakers can also come as wired or wireless. Generally, larger speakers need to be constantly plugged in to function, but smaller ones can be charged and used on the go.
All the biggest loudspeakers that are made to be standing on the floor are aptly called floorstanding speakers. These are heavyweight and heavy duty speakers that provide a lot of power and an excellent sound quality that’s perfect for bigger spaces.
These are typically four feet tall speakers that make use of a tweeter, woofer, and midrange drive, and sometimes even a subwoofer, to create a full range of sound. They also come in many different configurations, designs, and performance capacities.
Also referred to as tower speakers and free standing speakers, these loudspeakers are intimidating and produce substantial sound. But, choosing the right one is important, since due to the fact that they rest on the ground, floorstanding speakers are prone to muddled and muffled sound caused by too much vibration.
There are countless types of speakers out there, from the classic loudspeakers to the modern electronic speakers that are prevalent in most households. Sound engineers and product designers constantly strive to make these audio speakers look, feel, and most importantly, sound better.