When looking for a sound system for your house or car, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. One of the factors is the type of speaker system to use, a 2-way or a 3-way speaker system.
A 2-way speaker is a type of loudspeaker that consists of two drivers, a woofer, and a tweeter. The woofer is designed to cover the low frequencies while the tweeter covers the high frequencies. On the other hand, a 3-way speaker consists of an extra driver with the ability to cover frequencies that are mid-range. The 3-way speakers offer the ability to adjust them to a different genre of music and still have a perfect output, especially for mid-range instruments and vocals.
Let’s compare these two speaker types to help you figure out which one fits your audio needs best!
2-Way vs. 3-Way Speakers: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Number of Speaker Drivers
|2 speaker drivers
|3 speaker drivers
|Handles both the mid-range and low frequencies
|Handles only the low frequencies
|The Setting of the Crossover
|It contains both the high-pass and low-pass filters
|Has an additional band-pass filter aside from high-pass and low-pass filters
|Speaker Output System
|Uses a woofer and tweeter
|Uses a woofer, tweeter, and a mid-bass speaker
2-Way vs. 3-Way Speakers: What’s the Difference?
Depending on the model, brand, and features of the speaker, prices vary for both 2-way and 3-way speaker systems. However, 2-way speaker systems are generally cheaper as compared to 3-way speaker systems. A 2-way speaker system is affordable because it only has two drivers and its crossover circuit is simple. This is an ideal choice for those looking forward to having a simple and affordable sound system.
On the other hand, if you have a high budget allocation and value quality sound, a 3-way speaker system is a good choice. 3-way speakers are generally expensive due to their higher number of drivers and more complex installation process. They are also designed to reach a low bass frequency; however, an average listener might not be able to tell the difference between the two.
Number of Drivers
As the name states, a 2-way speaker has two drivers. One driver, the woofer, is used to deliver low frequencies, or the bass. The second driver is the tweeter that produces the high frequencies. Due to their nature, they are viewed as more cheap and easy to handle as they are simple to install.
On the other hand, a 3-way speaker has three drivers that are designed to handle three frequencies, unlike a 2-way speaker that can only handle two. One driver, the tweeter, handles high frequencies, while the second driver, the mid-range, handles the mid-frequencies, and the third woofer handles the low frequencies. This speaker setup gives a much clearer and more detailed sound compared to 2-way speakers.
One of the main differences is the way 2-way speakers and 3-way speakers split the frequencies. In the 2-way speakers, the frequency is split into two by the two drivers available. One driver, which is the woofer handles the low frequencies and is responsible for producing the frequency from bass or drums. The second driver, the tweeter, handles high-pitched frequencies such as vocals.
Besides the two drivers in the 2-way speakers (the woofer and tweeter), with a 3-way speaker, there is an additional driver, the mid-bass driver, which is tasked with handling the mid-frequencies, resulting in a clearer and better sound experience. The mid-bass driver gives a more refined, deeper sound that results in a reproduction of sound closest to the original, intended sound.
A crossover is the brain of the speaker and it divides the audio signals into frequencies and sends them to the respective drivers. This is because all drivers handle different frequencies. The work of the crossover is to ensure that each driver gets the right frequency and there is no mix-up.
In a 2-way speaker, the crossover used is a simple high and low pass filter crossover. It separates the sound waves into high and low frequencies and sends them to the respective drivers. On the other hand, a 3-way speaker uses a similar crossover as the 2-way speaker but it also has an additional band-pass filter crossover. This crossover enables the separation of the audio signals into more than two frequencies, enabling all three drivers in the 3-way speaker to receive their specific frequencies.
2-Way vs. 3-Way Speakers: 8 Must-Know Facts
- A 2-way speaker comes with 2 drivers while the 3-way speakers come with 3 drivers. Drivers are responsible for converting electric waves into sound waves within the speaker.
- 3-way speaker frequencies are split into high frequencies, mid frequencies, and low frequencies, resulting in a better sound experience, unlike 2-way speakers that have only high frequencies and low frequencies.
- 2-way speakers have two outputs, a woofer, and a tweeter, while 3-way speakers consist of three outputs: the woofer, tweeter, and mid-bass speaker.
- For a car, 2-way speakers are better because they’re easy to install and don’t have a lot of requirements. 3-way speakers require OEM mounting for modification before they are installed. They also require skilled personnel.
- Due to the high number of drivers and installation requirements, a 3-way speaker is priced higher as compared to a 2-way speaker. However, both speakers perform well with a slight difference that is not noticeable to an average listener.
- A 3-way speaker offers a well-balanced and clearer sound as opposed to a 2-way speaker. This is a result of the additional driver, the mid-bass speaker, which deals with the mid-frequencies.
- 2-way speakers are small and don’t occupy much space. They can be placed anywhere, even on bookshelves. On the other hand, 3-way speakers are large and heavy, occupying more space.
- 3-way speakers handle high power due to the availability of the third driver that is tasked with handling the mid-frequencies and producing high volumes. 2-way speakers have relatively low power handling capabilities.
Pros and Cons of 2-Way Speaker Systems
|Takes up less space since the speaker boxes are small
|Produces low bass unless they are attached to a subwoofer
|Cross-over configuration is simple
|Vocal range gives insufficient details
|Requires low power
|Can be placed anywhere since they are small
Pros and Cons of 3-Way Speaker Systems
|Gives high-quality sound due to the availability of an extra driver that only handles low frequencies
|More costly as compared to a 2-way speaker system
|Improved clarity in the voice
|The alternatives in the market are few because they are less popular
|When the cross-over is perfect, there is no distortion
|Large and heavy enclosure
|No need to have extra subwoofers
2-Way vs. 3-Way Speakers: Which One is Better?
For a car sound system
When looking at the cost implication and installation process, a 2-way speaker, which is the commonly used sound system in cars, will be an ideal choice.
A 3-way speaker has a complicated installation process as it requires an OEM mounting modification and it’s also expensive to acquire. Also, you will need some extra space which can get in the way of other valuable components in your trunk.
For a home theater
Setting aside the cost implication, a 3-way speaker system sounds much better than a 2-way speaker system making it ideal for home theaters. A 3-way speaker gives more and better bass, with well-distributed sound making it sound much fuller especially when connected to a TV set. They are also advanced especially with midrange sound quality. A 2-way speaker system will perform poorly when there is a low frequency and bass spectrum. In addition, there is a muddled sound coming from the upper frequencies. For audiophiles, 3-way speakers are most certainly preferable.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Syafiq Adnan/Shutterstock.com.