All Types of Speakers You Must Know About

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Last updatedLast updated: August 19, 2021
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When exploring the magic that music brings into the lives of many, you must account for the method of getting that sound production to get over to your ears. One of the most common methods for making that happen is the use of speakers, also known as a loudspeaker.  There are many types of speakers that we will be discussing throughout the article.

Loudspeakers have an interesting history in how they have come to support music in today’s modern time. According to Wikipedia, the first loudspeaker was invented in 1924 by Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice. Little did Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Rice know how their invention would impact the lives of millions of people throughout the world for generations to come.

Speakers have definitely changed over Trusted Source Music to your ears! A brief history of audio speakers | Microsoft Devices Blog Audio speakers have come a long way since Ernst Siemens slapped a patent on the first loudspeaker back in 1877; US researchers have even used nanotechnology to turn cow bone and a stethoscope into a speaker system. Agricultural-medical mash-ups aside, let’s see what else has hit the shelves over the years. blogs.windows.com the past 100 years, so we will be discussing what makes today’s loudspeakers so technologically advanced while also accounting for the fine details to keep in mind when researching such amazing devices.

All Types of Speakers You Must Know About

Speakers have a variety of functions, but that specific function is based on the type of speaker that you are referencing. For example, if you are in need of a sound system for your home theater, that speaker system would look different than the one needed for the audio needs of a football stadium.

Another thing to account for is the performance of the individual speaker selected. When discussing specific types of speakers, we must account for the type of sound we are seeking to create.  As you tailor your environment to produce the sound quality you want to create, whether a propensity for heavy metal rock music or classical music, your choices will support the sound quality you are looking to support.

Prior to identifying the specific ranges that the sound can provide, we must understand the science behind it. The level of sound is represented in hertz (HZ), which demonstrates a unique type of sound:

  • A lower value represents a low bass sound.
  • A higher valuer represents a very high piercing sound.

These characteristics sound somewhat simplistic but can have all the impact in the world for your sound quality needs. Let’s review some of these specific speakers and identify what needs to be a place for you to create the perfect environment for your specific arrangement.

By function

With all of the options that you as a consumer will have in the speaker market, it is vital to understand the different types of speakers out there and things to consider as you make that decision. Technically speaking, the following are the types of speakers that you’ll encounter:

  • The dynamic speaker is one of the most common types. They are usually made up of multiple woofer drivers and give off a low-frequency sound while also having numerous tweeter drivers.
  • The subwoofer’s usually enclosed to ensure low-frequency sounds are represented exactly as they were intended to. The driver associated with this type of technology is one of a larger woofer.
  • A horn speaker is similar to that of a dynamic speaker and provides high levels of sensitivity when transmitting sound throughout larger areas.
  • An electrostatic speaker provides a more exact sound, and there’s a fan favorite for those that are looking for great sound. The speakers are powered from an outside source and must be plugged into an outlet. These types of speakers are usually used for higher frequency sounds and are not as reliable on the lower frequency end.
  • A planar-magnetic speaker is different in the sense that it uses a metal ribbon to obtain its power source instead of relying on an outside power source.  These types of speakers have been known to be very durable and can be relied upon for many years to come.

As we get into finer details about these specific types of speakers, keep in mind that each of the speakers has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. There is no right or wrong answer to how you decide to proceed. There is only your answer and what best suits your needs.

Midrange

The speaker that is recognized to have the widest range of all speakers is the midrange speaker. Specifically, the function of this type of speaker is the method in which it distributes various sounds at once. Unfortunately, this type of speaker struggles at the low and high-frequency end of the sound spectrum. As your progress to identify your best music system solution, account for how you want your mid-range speakers to impact your overall sound experience quality.

Tweeters

When thinking about tweeter speakers, it brings to mind the vision of a chirping bird.  Interestingly enough, these speakers are well known for handling high frequency sounds very well.  These types of speakers are equipped to function at their best when piercing sounds are presented in the music. So now that we know that, how will you choose to incorporate tweeters into your overall music listening experience?

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutWoofers

On the other hand, woofers are the bass thumping speakers you make recall hearing in lowrider mini-trucks back in the 1980s. Did I just date myself with that last statement? Woofers function best when dealing with Hertz levels between 20 and 2000 Hert.

When thinking about woofer speakers, have you asked yourself what type of base you want to be associated with your system? Is your system going to support mostly movie watching? Are you seeking to use a woofer for specific genres of music? Or is there another need associated with the reliance of the bass associated with the woofer speaker? All of these questions and others are important to us prior to making our decisions.

Subwoofers

A thing to keep in mind, sometimes people confuse woofers and subwoofers. They both work in the lower frequency range but differ in that range altogether. Subwoofers support to provide a more intense sound than your standard woofers. Many action movies today rely on the subwoofers to provide that intense deep sound associated with the roar of a crowd, the growl of a gorilla, to give a few examples. Traditionally, subwoofers are larger than your standard speaker and provide a larger-than-life experience as well.

Keep in mind, when thinking about your standard home theater setup, most systems are comprised of a subwoofer, a woofer, a midrange, and a tweeter speaker. All of these speakers allow you to have the most interactive experience with the sound of music and movies in your own home.

All Types of Speakers You Must Know About

By placement

As you consider your home speaker system or another more portable speaker system to support your needs, you will have to decide where specifically you would like for those speakers to be placed. Some of the larger speakers have limited areas where they can be placed, while smaller speakers are more versatile in regard to where they can be placed.

Prior to determining the placement of the speakers and your music system, consider visiting an establishment that specializes in setting up for the best possible sound production.

Floor standing

Many of us can recall our parents using the floor standing speakers in the living room. These types of speakers are still widely used but are seen as an amateurish option for speaker aficionados.

These types of speakers take up plenty of room and tend to be larger by design. With that said, they can be placed in an area that best suits the consumer and can become part of the decor when accounting for the furniture. Floor standing speakers are seen by many as the standard setup as they usually come in pairs.  However, be mindful that the floor standing speakers do not cause your room to become too cluttered in the process.

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutBookshelf

Certain speakers are more conducive for certain setups. Bookshelf speakers definitely fall under that category.  These speakers are smaller than the floor-standing speakers yet take up a lot less space.  Furthermore, these speakers are called bookshelf speakers as they are often arranged on a shelf or a stand. Accounting for its versatility in size, the same cannot be said for its frequency as it cannot meet lower-level bass frequencies consistently.

Wall-mounted

One of the options available in the speaker’s space is that of the wall-mounted speakers. These speakers are well known to produce good sound quality to that of the various floor and bookshelf models. One of the pros to pursuing this set up is that no additional floor or shelf space is needed in the room.

As you consider how you will best use wall-mounted speakers in your home or office, account for the arrangement of the set speakers and determine how the sound quality will be during its use. At times, it will require a trial-and-error approach for you to reach a level of sound quality that you are ultimately happy with.

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutIn-wall

Another type of speaker that is now seen more commonly in homes is that of the in-wall speaker. There are numerous advantages to having this arrangement used for your listening pleasure. Many homes employ the use of a black box, a method for securing the sound in a fashion that allows for soundwaves to travel equitably.

This setup also takes advantage of not using up floor space and shelving in the process. One of the cons to this set up though is that it will require the assistance of a handyman to ensure the speakers are installed properly and that your home does not incur unforeseen damage in the process.

In-ceiling

The in-ceiling speakers are closely related to that of in-wall speakers while also relying upon a back box that provides better sound quality as well. However, keep in mind that professional installation is recommended to have the specific look and operation you are seeking to accomplish.

Another thing to account for in this area is how the installation of the in-ceiling speakers will look in the overall decor of the setting. If done correctly, this will enhance the overall look of the environment.

Outdoor

Up to this point, we have discussed speakers that provide a unique environment within the walls of your home. Outdoor speakers take the magic of sound production to the outside world.  There is nothing like having a cold drink on a sunny day by your pool and jamming out to your favorite genre of music. These speakers function well in the elements as they are durable to the weather while providing you the sound production you seek.

Satellite

One of the smaller types of speakers, the satellite speaker provides good sound quality while also not taking up much space. Most of the time, this speaker is paired with a subwoofer to provide a balanced sound.

Built-in

Various devices in the markets, including televisions, stereo systems, and computers, to name a few, all come with built-in speakers. For the most part, sound quality is adequate but does not match the high-quality experiences that many of these other speakers offer. To mitigate this concern, many consumers decide to attach an external speaker system to enhance the overall sound quality.

If you have ever had the experience of going into somebody’s home where they have had built-in speakers installed, you will definitely notice a more modern, technologically advanced feel to the arrangement.

Portable

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutOne of the great advances in the speaker universe is the introduction of portable speakers.  This option allows you to take your listening experience anywhere you want to take it.

There was a time where great sound quality was restricted to the home environment. Such limitations are no longer in place, and we are extremely fortunate to hear the benefits via high-quality portable sound.  According to most reviews, the sturdiest model must be the Flip 4 by JBL, which, thanks to its reinforced construction, is the most reliable option out there.

Soundbar

Of all the speaker systems we have discussed, the soundbar speaker can be one of the sneakier speakers. The soundbar speaker is located near the television set and many times can blend right in with the television and entertainment center. However, do not short sell the performance of the speaker. The quality of sound given by these types of speakers compares well with other higher-quality speaker options.

Smart speakers

As we have referenced various times throughout the article, the evolution of the speaker’s functionality has experienced significant enhancements due to improvement in the overall technology. Nowhere else can this be seen more than the explosion of smart speakers into the marketplace. We have arrived at a time where we can audibly interact with a speaker and have it play music on command, provide us with driving directions to the nearest convenience stores, turn on the lights in the living room, and provide us with recipes for dinner.

This truly is a gamechanger! We can all recall the days of having to purchase a cassette tape/Compact Discs to listen to our favorite song. Now, we just ask Google, Sire, Alexa, or countless other systems to pull the song up on demand, and it is playing on our speaker within seconds. Many of us can recall the cartoon show called the Jetsons, and we anticipated that flying cars would now be part of our society.

We are not at the level yet, but humans interacting with robots via a smart speaker is now officially truly a Jetsons-like experience.

Elevation speakers

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutJust when you thought that the science of speaker design could not be further along, let’s talk about elevation speakers. This particular speaker now takes the 5.1 and 7.1 surround sounds and augments the quality altogether.  Here is where the specific science comes in:

  • Elevation speakers seek to create sound waves that travel at various angles, traversing the room in the process to enhance the depth and clarity level of the sound.

These types of speakers are gaining more popularity, and I strongly encourage you to give them a look if you are interested in experiencing a different speaker system experience. These types of speakers are gaining more popularity, and I strongly encourage you to give them a look if you’re interested in experiencing a different speaker system experience.

By application

As you consider the various options we have discussed, recall that each of you has your set desires, beliefs, and wants when it comes to creating your specific sound environment.  The method we seek to arrange the various speakers is based on a number of different factors. Below we will address a number of ways that consumers go about arranging their home sound experience.

Music speakers

When thinking about music speakers, they can be arranged in so many ways. Many people tend to go with a couple of mid-range speakers while incorporating some of the floor speakers and a couple of bookshelf speakers.

Most people use a set up that will play music. Most people use a set up that will play music brawl time joy for all to enjoy.  There are numerous ways the set up can be enhanced or modified for improved sound quality.

Surround sound speakers

One of the best experiences that you can have as a movie watcher is to have a surround sound experience. Surround sound speakers provide the individual the experience of being in a particular setting. For example, you may be watching “Jurassic Park” in a surround sound environment, and you may be led to believe that those dinosaurs are right around the corner. That is a very real high-quality sound for you.

Home theater

The idea of having a home theater is taking your sound quality experience to a whole new level. That set up itself is very similar to that of how actual theaters operate. I won’t be surprised if that person wins; such a set up can be extremely expensive. With that said, if money is no option, then this particular setup would be pretty phenomenal.

After accounting for the various costs associated with creating a home theater, we can all relate to the excitement and the sound quality that exhibits from being at a movie theater. It is totally understandable to want to replicate this from your own home environment.

As we live through this pandemic of 2020, the idea of having a home theater to pass the time and take in high-quality sound in the process makes the whole pandemic experience more manageable. Actually, it sounds more than manageable. It sounds pretty amazing!

Multi-room

You might be asking yourself, “what is a multi-room speaker? “. Well, you wouldn’t be the only one interested in knowing what that actually meant. In fact, it’s exactly as the name described: it is a set of speakers that are located in multiple rooms.

These rooms can support the playing of music or the use of other applications related to creating a smart home environment. One of the challenges that do occur in this kind of setup is at times, different models of speakers are used that aren’t necessarily compatible with each other. Please keep that in mind prior to taking steps to arrange your home this way.

Computer

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutAnother device that has changed the way we approach the world is the computer. Computer speakers come in various options. Most computers tend to have built-in speakers as a standard make-up. However, for many of us, we need better sound quality, and that is why we use external speakers with our computer. There are numerous options to meet all different needs while also having access to inexpensive external computer speakers. For those of you that engage in gaming, you understand the importance that good sound quality plays in the overall level of gaming experience.

Types of power source

As we account for the power source for our speaker needs, we have to account for the impact that our arrangement will have on our overall power usage and the impact on the speakers himself. When the speaker is connected directly to a power source, it allows it to reach certain low frequencies that normally would not occur.

Powered

One of the characteristics that go along with the powered speaker is that it usually has an amplifier built into the speaker.

It is because of this that we could expect these connected speakers to provide a more powerful sound. I am sure you can think of a time where you heard your neighbor down the street having a pretty loud house party. My money is on the fact that they were using a connected speaker to provide those powerful bass sounds.

One of the major pros of having a powered speaker is that it comes with a cut-off, which leads to deep bass production open until a certain point.

Passive

On the other hand, a passive power source means that the speaker is not gathering power from traditional means. This arrangement allows for power to be used from an amplifier or a receiver. The problem with this is that in this case, there is no cut off which will rear its ugly head invoices that go into a lower frequency, which just means there is too much bass.

Battery

Another way that speakers can be powered is through the use of a battery operation. This is different from the electricity used by other speaker systems. A major issue with using this type of approach is that you will constantly need to be replacing batteries or recharging them. Keep this in mind as you make your decision as that will incur an additional cost using this setup. In good news, battery-operated systems are now demonstrating the ability to work with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth systems.

Hybrid

One of the methods for powering your speakers is to use both options available. So, here’s how this works, you can use electricity to power some of your speaker devices while using rechargeable batteries to power other speakers. This type of setup usually aligns well with people that are seeking to use speaker systems that are found both indoors and outdoors. This type of versatility allows the individual user the versatility that many of us seek.

Types of connectivity

Another aspect that we must account for is the idea of how we go about connecting our speakers to the system that will be providing the musical experience. There are various ways to do this, so let’s take a look at some of those options below.

Wired

All Types of Speakers You Must Know AboutThe most traditional way to connect your speakers to your music system is to have them wired directly into the system. If you choose to have your speakers wired, the speakers will rely on electricity to produce the sound. One of the challenges in using a wired setup is that most of the time, there is lots of wiring associated with the overall set up which gives the room a more cluttered look. As newer technology has come to market, many users have decided to explore other options to avoid some of these issues.

Wireless

One of the more popular ways to connect your speakers today is that of the wireless connection. The reality is that at least one wire is still necessary to have this option to be viable. The type of set up allows this type of technology to work is that it relies on radio frequency waves as opposed to electronically relied upon waves. One of the challenges in using the setup is that the infrared waves must have a reliable line of sight for the frequency to be transmitted properly.

However, many consumers prefer this method as it eliminates the clutter that is usually seen with wired connection speakers. With that said, you must account for the fact that the wireless connection does not produce the sound quality of its connected speaker counterpart.

Wi-Fi

One of the newer types of technology introduced to the speaker market is the use of Wi-Fi technology. The premise behind this communication is that devices speak directly to each other via a Wi-Fi network. Nowadays, most devices admit frequency that allows them to connect to a Wi-Fi router. This type of set up eliminates the challenge of having to ensure that your speakers are connected or have a noticeable line of sight interaction.

With Wi-Fi, do you have access throughout your home as a Wi-Fi network usually covers that entire range?  However, some systems vary on whether Wi-Fi can be used to operate them. I strongly encourage you to perform the research in this area to ensure that your devices will work correctly with your Wi-Fi router.

Bluetooth

Another more recently relied upon a way to connect speakers to their system is that of a Bluetooth connection. This connection allows for a device to connect to another device as long as it’s within a 15-foot range. Many of you can relate to connecting your phone to your favorite Bluetooth speaker to listen to your favorite tunes while lounging around the house on a day off.

The nice thing about this type of setup is that sound quality tends to be good, and no loss of overall quality is usually detected. Another positive about this type of connection is that it is seamless, quick, and technologically speaking, very simple to do.

Final thoughts

There is a lot to account for when selecting the proper speaker setup for your home, office, or area of recreation.  However, given the numerous options for consumers nowadays, it is not necessarily a bad problem to have. With modern-day technology at its best, you are a few steps away from creating the ideal sound system set up to meet your specific needs.

As you consider your plan moving forward, keep in mind that you will need to have a general understanding of the environment you are seeking to bring your sound system into. Many of the types of speakers referenced above have advantages to them, but if used in an environment that does not line itself to its strengths can lead to poor sound quality.

No matter what, you are going to enjoy some high-quality audio in your near future. Sing a tune, dance around, and marvel at the advancement that modern technology has brought into all of our lives.

References

1.
Music to your ears! A brief history of audio speakers | Microsoft Devices Blog
Audio speakers have come a long way since Ernst Siemens slapped a patent on the first loudspeaker back in 1877; US researchers have even used nanotechnology to turn cow bone and a stethoscope into a speaker system. Agricultural-medical mash-ups aside, let’s see what else has hit the shelves over the years.
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