Speakers use a vibrating membrane or diaphragm to produce sound in response to an electric, digital, or wireless signal. They include an integral or external amplifier, drivers, and a crossover circuit that divides an audio signal into specific bands.
Types of Speakers
There are three basic types of speaker drivers: woofers, tweeters, and midrange devices.
- Woofers, the largest drivers, are designed to produce low frequency sounds.
- Tweeters are much smaller than woofers and are designed to produce higher frequencies.
- Midrange devices produce sounds in the 300 Hz to 50000 Hz frequency range.
There are also speakers that utilize piezoelectric technology.
Specifications for speakers include sound pressure level, nominal input power, input impedance, frequency response, speaker size, and speaker weight.
- Sound pressure level (SPL) is a rating which corresponds to a maximum or nominal amount at a specific frequency within the dynamic range. SPL is usually measured in decibels (dB) or with the A-weighted value.
- Nominal input power is the typical design power that speakers require.
- Input impedance is matched to the output impedance of the driving amplifier for the most efficient and accurate sound replication. The following chart shows the relationship between impedance magnitude and log frequency.
Image Credit: Home Toys
- Frequency response or dynamic range is the range of frequencies over which speakers operate while meeting performance specifications.
- Size is measured in English design units such as inches (in) or metric design units such as centimeters (cm). For round or square speakers, the speaker size is the diameter or width. For rectangular or oval speakers, the speaker size is the shorter dimension.
- Weight is measured in grams (g) and includes the weight of the speaker's enclosure or any attached features.
Features and Applications
Speakers are often housed in a case, chassis or enclosure made from wood, metal, plastic, or composite materials. Sealed enclosures or acoustic suspension enclosures prevent air from escaping so that the internal air pressure is constantly changing. Other enclosure designs redirect the inward pressure outward, using it to supplement the forward sound wave. In these bass reflex speakers, the backward motion of the diaphragm pushes sound waves out of the port in order to boost the overall sound level.
Some suppliers designate speakers according to application.
- Active noise cancellation devices identify noise frequencies and produce offsetting sound signals that are 180º out of phase.
- Dynamic receivers are compact speaker/receiver combinations that are suitable for earphones, cell phones, hearing aids, and other designs where space is at a premium.
- Professional-grade audio speakers are designed for recording, television and radio studios and for live sounds events like concerts or sporting events.
- Fire proof and waterproof speakers are also available.
Speakers are used in aerospace, automotive, telephone, security, paging and other voice communication applications. Others are used in headsets or helmets, consumer electronics or gaming, or public address systems.
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