A loudspeaker (sometimes known as a speaker driver or simply a speaker) is an electroacoustic transducer, a device that converts an electrical audio signal into a matching sound.
A speaker system, sometimes known as a “speaker” or “loudspeaker,” comprises individual drivers, an enclosure, electrical connections, and a crossover network.
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- History of Loudspeakers
- How Does a Speaker Work?
- Loudspeaker Technologies and Types
- System of Loudspeakers
- Frequency Ranges of Loudspeakers
- Speakers’ Active Components
- Methods of Powering Loudspeakers
- Who is ALMA?
- What Are the Popular Loudspeaker Brands?
- What is the Surround System?
History of Loudspeakers
Johann Philipp Reis installed an electric loudspeaker on his telephone in 1861; it could replicate clear tones and recreate muffled speech in later modifications. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented his first electric loudspeaker (capable of reproducing intelligible voice) as part of his telephone, and Ernst Siemens improved on it in 1877.
During this time, Thomas Edison received a British patent for a system that used compressed air as an amplifying mechanism for his early cylinder phonographs. Still, he eventually settled on the iconic metal horn powered by a membrane linked to the stylus.
Horace Short copyrighted a loudspeaker design for a compressed air-powered loudspeaker in 1898; he then sold the rights to Charles Parsons, who received numerous further British patents before 1910. Record players with compressed-air loudspeakers were manufactured by a few companies, including the Victor Talking Machine Company and Pathé.
Compressed-air designs are severely hampered by poor sound quality and the inability to reproduce sound at low volumes. Modifications of the design have been used for public address purposes. More recently, additional variations have been used to test the resistance of space equipment to the extremely loud sound and vibration levels produced by rocket launches.
In 1943, Altec Lansing produced the 604, which became their most well-known coaxial Duplex driver. It included a high-frequency horn that routed sound through a hole in the pole piece of a 15-inch woofer for near-point-source performance.
Altec’s “Voice of the Theatre” loudspeaker system was introduced in 1945, providing improved coherence and clarity at the high output levels required in movie theaters. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences soon began testing its acoustic properties, and in 1955, it became the film house industry standard.
Edgar Villchur invented the acoustic suspension method of loudspeaker design in 1954. This enabled a stronger bass response than what was previously possible with drivers housed in larger cabinets.
He and his business partner, Henry Kloss, founded Acoustic Research to produce and market speaker systems based on this premise. Following that, continued advancements in enclosure design and materials resulted in significant auditory improvements.
How Does a Speaker Work?
The speaker driver can be thought of as a linear motor coupled to a diaphragm that links the movement of the motor to the motion of air, resulting in sound.
To duplicate the sound equivalent to the original non-amplified electrical signal, an audio signal, often from a microphone, recorder, or radio broadcast, is electronically amplified to a power level capable of operating that motor.
This is essentially the inverse function of the microphone. The dynamic speaker can have individual drivers; the most popular form is a linear motor in the same basic arrangement as the dynamic microphone, which employs a similar motor in reverse as a generator.
When an audio signal’s electrical current passes through its voice coil: a coil of wire capable of moving axially in a cylindrical gap containing a concentrated magnetic field produced by a permanent magnet.
Due to Faraday’s law of induction, the coil is forced to move rapidly back and forth, which it attaches to a diaphragm or speaker cone in contact with air and creates sound waves. Aside from dynamic speakers, various alternative technologies for producing sound from an electrical signal are possible, a few of which are in commercial use.
To produce sound efficiently, especially at the lowest frequencies, the speaker driver must be baffled so that the sound emanating from its rear does not cancel out the (intended) sound from the front; it usually takes the form of a speaker cabinet or a rectangular box which is made up of wood, metal and sometimes even of plastics.
The enclosure’s design has a vital acoustic power function in influencing sound quality.
Most of the high and expensive speaker systems use separate two or more types of speaker drivers specialized in different parts of the range of frequencies of speaker systems.
The smaller drivers capable of reproducing the highest audio frequencies are known as tweeters. In contrast, those capable of reproducing middle frequencies are known as mid-range active loudspeakers, and those capable of reproducing low frequencies are known as woofers.
The lowest frequencies (20Hz-50Hz) reproduce, sometimes supplemented with a so-called subwoofer, usually housed in its own (big) enclosure.
A crossover network is a modest piece of passive crossover electronics in a two-way or three-way speaker system (one with individual drivers covering two or three separate frequency ranges) that helps guide components of the electronic signal to the speaker drivers, the best capable of reproducing those frequencies.
The power amplifier that feeds the speaker drivers is built into the enclosure itself; these are becoming increasingly popular, particularly as computer speaker systems.
Smaller loudspeakers can be found in various devices, including radios, televisions, portable loudspeakers, and computers. Larger loudspeaker systems are used in home audio (“stereo”) systems, electronic musical instruments, sound reinforcement in theaters and concert halls, and public address systems.
Loudspeaker Technologies and Types
Within active loudspeakers, various technologies and techniques are used. As a result, different loudspeakers can be employed, frequently mentioned in the literature.
Moving Coil Loudspeakers
The most popular form of a loudspeaker is the moving coil type. It is made from a cone connected to a coil held in a magnetic field. Everyone thinks of the moving coil loudspeaker when looking for a loudspeaker.
It consists of a diaphragm connected to a coil via audio. A typical moving-coil loudspeaker’s cross-section Because the coil is suspended inside a magnetic field, fluctuations in current flow caused by the electrical audio signal cause the coil, and hence the cone, to move.
As a result, the loudspeaker converts the electrical audio signal into sound.
The horn loudspeaker is commonly used for tweeters. Although it employs the same electromagnetic effect as a moving coil loudspeaker, it employs a diaphragm maintained within a magnetic field that varies in accordance with the audio. This causes the diaphragm to vibrate, which is subsequently amplified by a horn.
Horn loudspeakers are utilized in many automotive technology sectors, and while they work well in some high-quality applications, they are more commonly found in public address and exterior applications.
The horn loudspeaker comprises a transducer, usually a moving coil transducer, and a horn. This can be regarded as a matching element comparable to a waveguide horn antenna, allowing for far higher efficiency levels.
This was noticeable on vintage gramophones that used a horn to boost the sound to useful levels. The gramophone sound was practically inaudible without the horn.
Electrostatic loudspeakers operate on a completely different concept than moving coil and horn loudspeakers. Instead, an electrostatic loudspeaker generates sound by applying the force on a membrane hung in an electrostatic field.
All these other technologies can be utilized to make loudspeakers.
System of Loudspeakers
Loudspeaker systems differ significantly. Some feature only one drive unit or loudspeaker unit, although these single-speaker systems frequently respond poorly at the low and high-frequency ends of the frequency spectrum.
As a result, many systems have two or three distinct loudspeaker drive units, each aimed at a particular range of frequencies.
A common type of loudspeaker system.
Loudspeaker Drive Units
The loudspeaker units are critical because they convert electrical currents into sound waves. Expensive loudspeakers may contain one or more of the following types of loudspeakers. For freestanding systems, two or more speaker systems with a varying range of frequencies of speakers are employed.
Having the required frequencies transmitted to the appropriate loudspeaker is beneficial if many Loudspeakers are employed. Traditionally, crossover units were made up of inductors and capacitors, and many are still made up of these components today. Modern amplifiers occasionally feature separate outputs for low and high-end speakers; thus, the crossover mechanism is practically included within the amplifier.
There are numerous types of loudspeaker cabinets. An endless baffle system consisting of a closed box is frequently utilized. This must be as solid and airtight as possible to guarantee that the only vibrations are generated by the active loudspeakers themselves. As a result, these boxes are composed of highly stiff wood or other material.
Internal Sound-Absorbing Material
Sound-absorbing material is utilized within infinite baffle systems to prevent resonances from forming inside the loudspeaker cabinet.
Frequency Ranges of Loudspeakers
When researching loudspeaker systems and their technology, you will encounter various loudspeakers of various frequency ranges. Because a single speaker can’t cover the entire audio frequency range, various HI-FI speaker systems often comprise several speakers.
The sub-woofer loudspeaker is designed to reproduce very low frequencies, especially to give the sound a sense of ‘feels.’ Typically, a subwoofer loudspeaker would reproduce frequencies ranging from 20Hz to a little over 100Hz. Sub-woofers are used in systems where the bass response must be extended to very low frequencies.
A woofer is a loudspeaker utilized in various loudspeaker systems to reproduce low frequencies. Its frequency range can often be as low as 30Hz and as high as 500Hz or even 1 kHz.
As the name implies, this type of loudspeaker is designed to reproduce mid-range sounds. A mid-range loudspeaker often covers 200 to 300 Hz and 5 kHz to 7 kHz.
The high-frequency loudspeaker is also known as a tweeter because it reproduces high frequencies, frequently over 2 to 5 kHz.
Mid and High-Frequency Speakers for a Loudspeaker System
Because different loudspeakers have varying ranges of middle frequencies and other loudspeakers are designed in different ways, with speakers covering somewhat different ranges, the frequency ranges for the different loudspeakers are approximate.
A speaker consists of a transducer that converts audio signals (electrical energy) into sound waves (mechanical wave energy) in its most basic form.
To transform audio into sound, most loudspeakers employ an electrodynamics-type driver. This driver operates on electromagnetic principles and is designed to be passive. It does not require electricity to function!
Speakers’ Active Components
We’ve already touched on the active components of the loud Speaker that require power to function.
Let us now list them and go through each one in greater detail:
• Built-in amplifier
• Wireless signal reception
• Active driver
The most common reason a speaker requires electricity is its built-in amplifier power.
Amplifiers increase the gain of an audio signal. This electrical gain is derived from the source that powers the amplifier.
It should be noted that all speakers require amplifiers to convert an audio playback system’s line-level data to speaker-level. Speaker-level signals are the only ones that can successfully drive the speaker transducers/drivers.
Power is required for all amplifiers to function. On the other hand, a loudspeaker with built-in amplifiers needs the power to perform effectively.
Entirely passive speakers will require additional amplifier power to raise the audio signal level. This speaker-level signal is then routed through the passive crossover network of the speaker before driving the individual drivers.
On the other hand, active speakers are typically drivers designed with built-in amplifiers.
The preamplifier, which feeds a line-level signal into an active crossover network, is frequently included. Each frequency band-specific output of the active crossover network is then amplified by its dedicated power amps before driving its dedicated driver.
This procedure necessitates power (for the preamp and power amplifiers).
It’s worth noting that while these active components are frequently built into the Speaker system, they aren’t always necessary. As a result, when it comes to whether active speakers require power, they are in a bit of a quandary.
Then there are powered loudspeakers that are superb speakers, which are not the same as an active crossover speaker system.
It is important to note that all active speakers are considered powered. However, not all powered Speaker systems are active.
The powered speaker system’s signal path and gain stages are identical to the passive crossover speaker’s. On the other hand, the preamp and power amp are housed within the speaker.
As a result, all powered speakers require power to operate effectively and efficiently.
The Receiver of Wireless Signals
Power is required if a speaker is fundamentally wireless. This is because its built-in wireless receiver device demands power. Wireless speakers have become quite widespread as Bluetooth has grown in popularity.
The wireless receiver is intended to receive the wireless carrier signal (which is frequently in the radio frequency range) and decode the audio (modulation signal) from it.
This also necessitates incorporating strength.
The wireless speaker must not only decode the intended audio signal from the wireless device but also amplify the audio signal and, in some cases, divide the frequency bands using a crossover. This, too, necessitates power.
A Type of Active Driver
Power is frequently required for electrostatic loudspeakers to charge their transducer elements.
Unlike the previously described passive crossover electrodynamics driver, the electrostatic driver operates on electrostatic principles (thus the name) and requires a set charge on its diaphragm.
Electrostatic headphones and condenser microphones frequently use electric materials.
On the other hand, Larger electrostatic speakers frequently use a separate DC-biasing power source to fix their diaphragms’ fixed positive charge.
To explain how electrostatic loudspeakers work in a nutshell, the positively charged diaphragm is wedged tightly between two perforated conductive metal stator plates that function as a parallel-plate capacitor.
The diaphragm and stator plates are separated by insulation, and the driver is built, so the diaphragm does not meet the stator plates.
A unique amplifier raises the audio signal well above the voltage required to drive a standard loudspeaker while drastically reducing the electrical current.
This boosted signal is then used to drive the stator plates.
The stators will have equal but opposite electrical charges at any given location. As a result, the positively charged diaphragm will be pulled toward one plate and pushed toward the other at any given time.
As a result, the diaphragm moves and produces sound. Because the stator plates are perforated, sound can escape and be heard by the listener.
Methods of Powering Loudspeakers
Loudspeakers can be powered by a power cable linked to the power supply, by batteries (internal or changeable), or by connecting to a digital device (i.e., computer speakers are often powered through a USB connection).
Most stationary active and powered speakers will be powered by your home’s or venue’s power supply.
Surround sound systems in home theaters and living rooms, studio monitors in studios, live sound speaker stacks in live venues, and so on are examples of these speakers.
When possible, connect these superb speakers to the same wall plug as the rest of the audio equipment in the system (either directly or via a power bar/conditioner).
This will link all the audio equipment to a common ground, thus reducing the dreaded 50/60 Hz ground loop hum.
Using Internal Batteries to Power Speakers
Most modern wireless Speaker systems will be powered by internal rechargeable batteries.
Using a Digital Cable to Power Speakers
Some computer speaker systems include internal amplifiers driven by the digital connection with the computer.
For example, using USB, +5 VDC is carried on pin one and can power the attached speaker system.
Who is ALMA?
The Loudspeaker Manufacturing Acoustics International Association (ALMA International) is now called ALTI. International audio and speaker technology. A professional industry association specializing in the speaker and related technology industries.
Is it better to use 4-ohm or 8-ohm speakers?
When all other factors are equal, loudspeakers with lower impedance will require more power to create the same sound pressure level and are typically reserved for high-power or HI-FI amplifiers.
However, many additional characteristics and subjective listening define a speaker’s quality. As a result, it is incorrect to assert that all 4-ohm speakers are superior to their 8-ohm equivalents.
How do Bluetooth speakers function wirelessly?
The Bluetooth Speaker System uses the Bluetooth protocol to receive digital audio signals designed to receive (pulse-shift keying modulation on RF carrier waves between 2.400 to 2.485 GHz). The built-in components of the speaker then convert the digital audio to an analog signal, crossover the signals as needed, amplify the signal(s), and deliver them to the drivers to make a sound.
What is the purpose of mounting speakers’ inboxes?
As the cone of a speaker driver moves, it generates a pressure wave from both the front and the back. As it advances towards you, pushing the air and providing positive pressure, it pulls the air behind it, creating negative pressure.
Suppose the wavelength corresponding to the single frequency of the replicated signal is large in comparison to the size of the driver design. In that case, the pressure generated by the two sides of the driver will practically cancel out. As a result, the low frequencies (bass) are made inaudible at any meaningful distance.
Remove the driver from its enclosure if you wish to do this at home. Compared to how the speaker sounded when it was constructed, you’ll notice a “tinny” sound quality.
To ensure that a speaker performs well at all frequencies, we must avoid the pressure wave generated by the back of the loudspeaker cone from canceling out the wave generated by the front of the cone.
A similar effect might be obtained by mounting the driver on a huge, hard sheet of material (a baffle). Because a big baffle is required to prevent low-frequency cancellation, this is impracticable in most applications. Closed boxes offer a more practical solution.
A combination of the mechanical qualities of the driver design and the size of the box defines the low-frequency behavior of a constructed closed-box loudspeaker system.
Without getting too scientific, the air in the box works as a spring against which the cone pushes and pulls, and that system has a single resonance frequency below which its output reduces significantly.
Loudspeakers must be airtight: leaks in the box allow a cancellation, which we wish to prevent.
What is the purpose of the holes in some speakers?
You may have noticed that many loudspeaker boxes feature circular holes or slots in the front or back. You’re looking at ports or vents, which identify what’s known as a bass reflex enclosure.
A bass reflex enclosure operates like when you blow air over an open beer bottle, producing a note. The note changes because the volume of air inside the bottle fluctuates with the amount of liquid in the bottle.
The sound would change if you could expand the bottle’s glass neck. It is a resonant system that can be tuned by modifying the port dimensions (the bottle’s neck) or the enclosure volume (the bottle’s volume).
If properly tuned, this creates a resonance just below the point where the loudspeaker response would ordinarily roll off, substantially prolonging the system’s bass performance. The port tuning is computed for the individual in the specified enclosure to work correctly.
If you change the driver design, even if it has the same cone diameter, the box, and port tuning will no longer be acceptable, and the sound will be off.
Passive radiator loudspeakers operate on the same basic idea but with a mass-loaded, unpowered speaker cone providing the bass resonance with the enclosed air volume.
What exactly are tweeters and woofers?
You may have observed that most loudspeakers feature more than one speaker driver—usually a smaller diameter one atop a larger one—especially when they are larger than a compact portable loudspeaker.
Speaker Systems employ numerous varying diameters for a variety of reasons. While it is true that a single driver can cover practically the whole audible spectrum on its own, there are several limits. If the driver is too small, it won’t move much air and will struggle to produce bass at a useful level.
Larger drivers can move more air, but the speaker systems become more directional as the frequencies reproduced increase in frequency. This is referred to as beaming.
The wavelength associated with a frequency decreases as the frequency increases; speaker drivers typically begin beaming at a frequency with a wavelength equal to the diameter of the radiating cone.
This implies that the higher frequencies will only be audible if you are directly on the axis with the speaker. It’s not conducive to a well-balanced sound or a competent speaker.
The simple approach is to utilize several sizes of driver design, each of which is designed to reproduce a specific range of frequencies—different sections of the audible spectrum (bass and treble, or bass, middle frequencies, treble).
This notion works with a crossover, a frequency-splitting network in the speaker box. A crossover assigns the appropriate frequency range to each driver type: tweeters for highs and woofers for lows.
What are the fundamental differences between the preamp and the power amplifier?
The preamp boosts the weak signal to the line level, and the amplifier power boosts the line-level signal to be sent to the speaker.
For example, a microphone outputs a weak signal. This signal must be raised to the same level as the other signal in the preamplifier before processing it by another device, such as a mixer, receiver, or amplifier. At the same level, it is processed by other input signals and sent to many loudspeakers via the power amplifier.
What is the Use of Drivers in Loudspeakers?
A speaker driver is a single speaker transducer that converts an electrical audio signal into a sound wave. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with loudspeaker (loudspeakers), but it usually applies to special transducers that reproduce only part of the audible frequency range.
What Are the Popular Loudspeaker Brands?
- Definitive Technology.
- Bowers & Wilkins.
- Harmon Kardon
- And many more…
What is the Surround System?
Surround sound audio has rich sounds, such as deep thunder-like bass sounds throughout the floorboards when an explosion occurs on the screen, and subtle sound effects run behind you and knock in a thrilling scene. Means In the case of music, it means the complete sonic envelope of the song.
The surround sound system consists of many loudspeakers (usually five, including the center speaker) and a powerful bass subwoofer. This is the origin of the term “5.1”. Five speakers and one subwoofer.
In 2001, the association expanded its membership base to a global organization, reflecting its expanding international membership base. Members are experts in audio and speaker technology and related industries, including speaker engineers, designers, management, students, and educators.
The association became known in 2011 as ALMA International. The Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics International. In 2018, ALMA became ALTI, reflecting the changes and developments of the electroacoustic and acoustic power industry and including the entire signal path.
Most loudspeaker systems consist of drivers mounted in a cabinet or case. The role of the enclosure is to prevent the sound waves emitted from the driver’s rear from destructively interfering with the sound waves emitted from the front.
Sound waves emitted from the back are 180° out of phase with sound waves emitted from the front, so without a housing, cancellation usually occurs, significantly reducing the sound level and quality at low frequencies. Expensive speaker systems have the edge over others due to the size of the drivers, frequencies, and many other parameters.
The simplest driver mount is a flat panel display (such as a baffle) with a driver mounted in a hole. However, this approach cancels the sound frequency with wavelengths longer than the baffle dimensions because the radiation from the rear of the anti-phase cone interferes with the radiation from the front.
I hope you have acquired a good knowledge of loudspeakers and have cleared all your doubts.