- Soundbars are compact and easy to install, making them a popular choice for improving TV sound quality.
- Tower speakers provide more bass and better performance due to their large size, but require more space for installation.
- Portable speakers are versatile and often come with features like waterproofing and Bluetooth connectivity for on-the-go use.
- Smart speakers offer voice command capabilities through digital assistants like Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant.
- When choosing a speaker, consider factors such as price, frequency response, sensitivity, power handling, and impedance.
Speakers are amongst the most common appliances today. Their role may seem simple, to provide sound, but it’s far more complex than that, with different speakers serving different functions. These speakers also differ in performance, making each of the different types of speakers perfect for a particular setting.
We can categorize speakers based on physical properties like size, weight, and placement. We can also classify speakers based on connectivity, frequency range, application, and power source. In this article, we will cover all the main categories of speakers in their respective categories, and by the end, you will learn everything you need to know about speakers. Without further ado, let’s get started.
By Size and Placement
We can categorize speakers into seven types based on size and placement. Below are the categories.
Just like its name, a soundbar is a long bar-shaped speaker. It’s commonly used to improve TV sound quality. A soundbar has two smaller speakers in its enclosure, adding clarity and depth to your TV’s sound.
Apart from TVs, you can use soundbars with game consoles, Blu-ray players, and cable boxes. Regarding sound quality, stereo speakers are better than soundbars. However, you can feel the soundbar’s impact compared to your TV’s regular speakers.
A soundbar is easy to install. Consider installing one on top or below your TV for an easy blend with the surrounding. Their neutral colors blend well with your room’s theme. Even better, soundbars are small for easy placement and are a good option if you have a flat-screen TV and need a small compact sound solution.
Bookshelf speakers are primarily used in home audio systems and are typically placed on shelves and stands owing to their small size. Other variants are medium-sized, and since they come in different models and sizes, they vary in pricing and sound quality. You can always go for premium-quality bookshelf speakers depending on your budget.
Placement is easy since the speakers are small enough to fit near a TV or stereo system. You can always mount these speakers on the wall beside your TV. Although small, bookshelf speakers are powerful, sounding better than soundbars. Consider investing in bookshelf speakers if you want a single, small-sized speaker with good-quality sound.
Tower speakers are big and tall speakers that stand on the floor. You can alternatively mount tower speakers on the wall. Owing to their large size, tower speakers provide more bass than bookshelf speakers. The large size also improves performance since you can use these speakers on bigger drivers.
Space should be your first consideration when installing tower speakers since the speaker consumes much of it. They are also more pricey and work perfectly in home theater systems. You can use tower speakers on surround sound systems or two-channel stereo setups.
Built-in speakers are installed within a TV. Since they are small, they easily blend in with your setup to provide a more refined sound. However, they are smaller and weaker compared to bookshelf speakers. Built-in speakers are an excellent option for watching movies.
In-Ceiling and In-Wall Speakers
In-ceiling and in-wall speakers are the best options if you have less space and appearance matters to you. Since the speakers are embedded in the wall or ceiling, you get widely dispersed sound from a minimalistic source. Regarding sound quality, In-ceiling, and in-wall speakers produce good-quality sound. However, they could be better than tower speakers since their installation limits some of the sound.
These speakers have several downsides. Firstly, they are hard to repair since the connections go through the walls. As a result, always ensure you hire an expert when installing them. In-wall and in-ceiling speakers are perfect for homes, offices, schools, and commercial buildings where announcements are regularly made.
Portable speakers are small and easy to carry. Most come in cylindrical and cuboid shapes and can play music from your tablet or phone. Portable speakers have a rechargeable battery allowing you to bring them anywhere without a power connection.
Some waterproof, Bluetooth-enabled variants are suitable for traveling enthusiasts. Advanced models have a built-in microphone that makes it possible to receive phone calls while your phone is connected to the speaker. Regarding sound quality, portable speakers are good enough, but they need bass owing to their small-sized design.
Outdoor speakers, dubbed weatherproof speakers, enable users to place or install them outside. The speakers are handy for gardens, parks, or pools where users are working or just chilling. The speakers have unique features that enable them to withstand high temperatures, snow, rain, and humidity.
However, outdoor speakers have been highly priced for the last several years. The speakers also have superb sound quality since they are designed for several conditions, including wind. The installation process may be more complex, but outdoor speakers are worth considering if you enjoy listening to music while walking around your lawn.
By Frequency Range
Below are the types of speakers based on their frequency range.
Woofers and Subwoofers
Although closely related, woofers and subwoofers have slight differences. While both work under low frequencies, woofers function best under Hertz levels between 50Hz and 1000Hz. They provide high levels of bass, which produce a more refined sound when combined with other high and medium-frequency speakers.
Subwoofers also work best in low frequencies between 20Hz and 2000Hz. However, subwoofers provide a more intense bass sound compared to woofers. They are usually larger than average speakers and should be on your shopping list if you are an audiophile. Most home theater setups consist of a woofer, subwoofer, midrange, and tweeter, working hand in hand to provide superb sound.
Tweeters are small, dome-shaped speakers that handle high-frequency sounds up to 20 KHz. They produce crystal-clear sharp sounds and are good with high-pitch instruments like violins. Use tweeter speakers with mid-range drivers for the best results, and you will achieve an impressive surround sound effect. You can install speakers from different angles and include tutors to create a multi-dimensional sound that makes music sound live.
Medium frequency ranges between woofers, and tweeters characterize midrange/midbass drivers. They feature large diaphragms that allow for superb vocals. Midrange drivers are also great for drum beats and string instruments. They give music tone and character, making them essential for any setup. Consider including a good-quality midrange driver in your system to ensure no details and vocals are missing from your music.
By Power Source
Your speaker’s power source significantly impacts its performance. A speaker connected directly to a power source can reach certain low frequencies that an indirectly connected speaker cannot attain. With power source in mind, here are the available speaker categories.
A passive speaker gathers power from an amplifier or receiver instead of traditional means. This arrangement works well, but its downside is that it may produce excessive bass due to the absence of a cut-off, allowing lower frequencies to pass through.
Powered speakers gather power directly from the source before feeding it to the built-in amplifier. These speakers provide more powerful sound and more precise bass than passive speakers. This increased sound volume and quality results from the direct connection. The speaker comes with a cut-off, allowing it to produce deep bass up to a particular point.
Hybrid speakers use both electricity and rechargeable batteries for power. They are versatile since you can use them indoors and outdoors depending on the user’s preference.
Some speakers gather power from batteries as opposed to electricity. Using batteries makes the speaker versatile since you can carry the speaker anywhere without needing an electric connection. However, batteries need constant replacement and recharging, which is costly and time-consuming.
Here are the speaker categories based on application.
Surround speakers work best when placed behind your listening area. Most placements involve installing the speakers on the wall or in the ceiling. Surround speakers achieve a dynamic sound effect owing to the speakers’ arrangement around the room to produce live-like music.
These speakers have a more natural separation between left and right channels, adding to their realistic sound quality. Surround speakers come in several sizes, forms, and setups. Surround sound configurations range from 5.1 to 7.1. The 5.1 has five speakers and a subwoofer, while the 7.1 has seven speakers and a subwoofer.
Studio Monitor Speakers
Studio monitor speakers focus on reproducing music accurately and precisely. They avoid adding color to sound to achieve an accurate real-like sound, essential for recording studio applications. For more accuracy, studio monitor speakers have a flat frequency response. However, having a flat frequency response makes the speakers lack bass, thus giving a strange sound on low-end frequencies. Consider a studio monitor speaker if you are a sound engineer or audiophile interested in original music.
Multi-room speakers are located in separate rooms but can play the same music. Most smart homes come with these speakers, which are costly since the installation process is complex. Invest in high-quality speakers and involve an expert to avoid future problems when going for multi-room speakers.
A home theater is a speaker setup consisting of a tweeter, woofer, subwoofer, and midrange drivers. The speakers concurrently work to produce high-quality sound. Since a home theater has several components, it is costly to set up. However, the warm vocals and deep bass that the system produces are worth its high cost. Consider investing in one if your budget allows it.
Let us check out the types of speakers by connectivity.
The most commonly used type of speakers, wired speakers, use cables between the power sources and the speakers. Cables also connect the audio source to the speaker in this traditional setup. Wired speakers have better quality overall compared to wireless speakers making them preferred by audiophiles. However, the wire connections make the setup look cluttered and untidy, primarily when used in homes.
Wireless speakers receive sound wirelessly from the source using WiFi or Bluetooth. All you need to do is plug in the speaker and pair it with the audio source. You enjoy a better connection for speakers that use WiFi since the network has an impressive range, with WiFi readily available in your home upon installation.
Speakers relying on Bluetooth connections have a 15-foot range. Compared to WiFi speakers, Bluetooth speakers are a bit disadvantaged. However, Bluetooth speakers have excellent sound quality and fewer network interruptions than WiFi. The connection process is also straightforward.
Wireless speakers make it easier to configure a multi-room setup since no wiring will be needed. Wireless speakers have slightly lower quality than wired speakers, but it is only noticeable if you are an audiophile.
Smart speakers work under the same principle as wireless speakers. However, they take things up by featuring an in-built digital assistant like Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. The digital assistant enables users to use voice commands on the speaker.
Smart speakers support WiFi, allowing online streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. They also have Bluetooth connectivity to enable users to connect and play music from their devices locally.
Smart speakers offer decent sound quality, comfort, and ease of use. However, they are expensive, and their sound quality is low compared to stereo speakers. If you are an audiophile, smart speakers won’t suit you best. Consider buying these speakers if you want convenient technology and versatility.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Types of Speakers
Since there are many different types of speakers, each with different applications and performances, choosing the perfect speaker for your needs can be a challenge. Let us look at some factors you need to consider when selecting a good-quality speaker.
Speakers come at different prices depending on quality, performance, and the technology they pack. When choosing a speaker, ensure you have a budget to avoid overspending. Also, consider wiring, amplification, and installation costs before purchasing a speaker. In most instances, expensively priced speakers are of good quality and will offer superb performance.
The frequency range of a speaker represents the selection of sounds it can reproduce. Low-frequency sound has a low tone, whereas high-frequency sound has a higher tone. Consider including low, medium, and high-frequency speakers to get the best sound when buying your speakers. You can also go for a midrange driver if you are concerned with the mid-range frequencies, especially when reproducing string instruments and vocals.
A speaker’s sensitivity directly relates to its efficiency. A high-sensitivity speaker can reproduce high-volume sound at a given voltage, requiring a specific amplifier to drive it. Speaker sensitivity is measured in decibels per 2.83 V (dB/2.38V). Consider investing in speakers with 88 DB/2.83 V sensitivity and higher.
A speaker’s power handling rating shows the amount of power a speaker can handle without taking damage. Power handling is measured in Watts (W), and the rating must correspond with your amplifier’s.
Impedance refers to the resistance an amplifier encounters as it powers the speaker. The impedance of speakers varies depending on their frequency, with most loudspeakers being rated at 8 ohms. Ensure your amplifier can handle a speaker’s impedance before buying it.
In conclusion, exploring the diverse world of speakers reveals a range of options that cater to various audio preferences and environments. From in-wall speakers that seamlessly blend with your home decor to portable speakers that offer convenience on the go, the choices among the different types of speakers are vast.
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