Like everything else in life, there is a wide variety of speakers available for both professional and personal use. The trick is to pick the one that perfectly suits your purposes or needs. However, to make a good choice, you need to know the different types of available speakers for purchase.
On the base level, all speakers are the same. That is, they all operate by moving air such that it creates the sounds we are. This is essentially what happens when a speaker converts electrical energy to sound energy.
But, not all speakers are equal in terms of their sound production, quality, efficiency, and other parameters. As such, if you’re buying a speaker, you need to have adequate knowledge about the different types of speakers to ensure you choose the right one.
Thanks to technological advancements, we now have an impressive range of speakers on the market today. In other words, irrespective of your preferences (quality, power, size, or shape), there is a speaker out there for you. However, it does require you to carry out in-depth research to find a speaker that meets all your specific requirements.
Not to worry, we’ve done all the heavy lifting in terms of research. In this blog post, we will share insight into the different types of speakers that exist. Furthermore, we’ll give you some pro tips on the various specs you should look for in the speaker you buy. This will ensure that you buy the type of speaker that suits your needs perfectly.
Before we dive into the different types of speakers, let us examine the classification of these speakers. This way, you will be familiar with some of the technical terms we may use later in this article.
Classification of Speakers
The first thing you should know is that all speakers are either powered or passive. Powered speakers have built-in amplifiers for both low and high frequencies. This often makes them heavier and typically less mobile.
On the other hand, passive speakers do not have built-in amplifiers. Therefore, you will need to connect an amplifier using wires when you want to use it. Interestingly, most commercial speakers are passive, as they are more reliable.
That said, let us explore the various classes of speakers.
This is the most common class of speakers, and they are generally passive. Depending on the manufacturer, they can have one or multiple woofer drivers. Furthermore, dynamic speakers typically produce low-frequency sounds and can have multiple tweeter drivers.
However, professional dynamic speakers may sometimes feature rear drivers to amplify the sound they provide.
Subwoofers generally have large woofer drivers. More often than not, they also feature a bass port to produce sounds at low frequencies. Besides, you can use a subwoofer to enhance the bass from other speakers without compromising their sound quality.
These are somewhat similar to dynamic speakers with one notable difference. Horn speakers have greater sensitivity. They are also great for transmitting sounds in relatively large areas. Also, like their dynamic counterparts, horn speakers feature drivers in a wave-guide structure.
If you’re looking to achieve crisp sounds with all the details, you want a brand with electrostatic speakers. First off, these speakers have a diaphragm shape. Then, they feature only one drive but with a fine membrane covering two conductive panels. This setup is the reason for the higher quality of sound in the electrostatic speaker.
However, electrostatic speakers are best for producing only sounds at high frequencies. If you want low-frequency sounds, they may not give you satisfactory results. Also, you will always need an outside power source to operate these speakers.
Unlike the electrostatic, planar-magnetic speakers do not use diaphragms. Instead, they have a thin metal ribbon design. However, this does not mean they produce low-quality sounds. Planar-magnetic speakers produce some of the best audio quality in the industry.
Also, they are very durable with good care. Finally, planar-magnetic speakers do not require an outside power source to function.
Well, that is all on the classifications of speakers. Now, let us jump right into the section on the different speaker types you have to choose from.
Different Types of Speakers That Exist
Before we tell you about the variety of speaker types that exist, they are some factors that should guide your eventual decision. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What type of use do you intend for the speaker? Music or movies? Concerts or rehearsals?
- Where do you want to set up the speaker? Indoors or outdoors?
- What kind of sound quality do you want?
- Do you prefer low-frequency sounds or high frequencies?
Once you have definite answers to these questions, you can relate better to the different types of speakers. That said, keep reading to discover the various types of speakers from which you have to choose.
1) Studio Monitors
If you are a professional audiophile, this may be the best speaker for you. Are you wondering who an audiophile is? The term describes a person who is passionate about the high-quality reproduction of sounds. If you fit this description, you may want to take a closer look at this type of speaker.
Studio monitors have a unique capability to reproduce both vocals and music very clearly. This makes them ideal for listening to music or instruments, casually or professionally.
Moreover, studio monitors do not add any embellishments to the sounds, either from its built-in tweeter or woofer. This makes them very popular among musicians and music producers as they give an accurate representation of sounds.
A point to note is that there are two types of studio monitors – the powered and the unpowered.
Powered studio monitors
They feature a ‘plug-in and play’ kind of operation. However, since they have an internal electrical system, they tend to buzz while playing sounds. Depending on your personality, this can quickly become very annoying.
Unpowered studio monitors
These are passive speakers that require an external source of power to function. Due to this, they have as much tendency to create a buzz while in operation. To give you a picture of unpowered studio monitors, think about those speakers with a red and black wire plug-in behind them.
Please note that not all studio monitors come in pairs. Others stand as individual units. So, ensure that you perfectly understand the bargain before paying.
Almost every home has one of these, and it’s no surprise. In times past, loudspeakers were the only way to increase the intensity of sound from the tv or Stereo. Therefore, most people from the older generation grew up with large loudspeakers in their living room.
Today, these household speakers remain just as popular. Perhaps it is because they feature an all-in-one assembly of the various classes of speakers. Every loudspeaker has a woofer, mid-range speaker, and a tweeter. As such, they effectively produce a full range of sounds.
Now, thanks to innovative advances in sound technology, loudspeakers don’t have to be so large anymore. Indeed, they can be small enough to fit in your pocket without compromising the sound quality. However, this is not to say large loudspeakers don’t exist. They do. There’s also the middle range for bigger but relatively handy and portable loudspeakers.
You can set up your loudspeakers on the floor of your living space or mount it on the walls or ceilings. You can also use them during garden parties or even on stage as they can cover a lot of ground. However, bear in mind that while some loudspeakers are powered, others are passive.
3) Computer Speakers
Computer speakers have been around for generations, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. The first computers had little tiny on their motherboards.
Next came very small desktop speakers and sound cards, which allowed you to plug in your headphones into the computer system. Truthfully, these speakers weren’t very powerful, but back then, it was a gold mine.
Fast forward to a couple of decades later. We now have the 2.1 speaker style (2 loudspeakers and 1 subwoofer). While these will not bring down the building in terms of loudness, they’re perfect if you want quality sounds in the background while you work.
However, if you want more (especially gaming or music enthusiasts), there are 5.1 and even 7.1 surround sounds you can employ. However, these are plug and play setups. You plug your subwoofer into the computer with a USB and then plug satellite systems into the subwoofer. Such arrangements can give you a fully immersive sound experience.
4) Floor-standing Speakers
Next on our list of the different types of speakers are the floor-standing models. If you are trying to set up a home theatre or a home studio, you should certainly include a floor-standing speaker. Indeed, it should be the building block of that audio system.
Most floor-standing speakers stand at approximately four feet tall. So, you’ll need to carefully consider your placement as it will likely be very visible from every part of the room. Most people find that the corners of the room work best. But, you can experiment and see which position you like best for the speaker.
A floor-standing speaker always features a mid-range, tweeter, and woofer. However, some manufacturers throw in a subwoofer in their models to achieve a fuller range of sound. In other words, there are various configurations you can choose from. However, more often than not, floor-standing speakers need an amplifier as they are passive.
5) Bookshelf Speakers
Understandably, the name of these speakers can be misleading. They don’t necessarily have to go on your bookshelf. Bookshelf speakers describe speakers that should go on elevated surfaces such as your table, wall, and yes, bookshelf. The primary purpose of these speakers is to ensure you get maximum quality when your play sounds.
Most bookshelf speakers are medium-sized and are directional. In other words, if you’re in the direct line of the speaker, you will likely not get the full experience. So, we recommend you place them on the sides of your tv or behind you for a surround sound effect.
Typically, bookshelf speakers are approximately five inches tall. Fun fact? Some people refer to the bookshelf speaker as a two-way speaker. This is because it usually has only two speakers — one tweeter and one mid-range. However, they also need an amplifier to run. In other words, bookshelf speakers are passive models.
6) Center Channel Speakers
The next item on this list of the different types of speakers is the center channel model. Many people find center channel speakers odd, and the reason is understandable. A center speaker typically looks like a floor-standing on its side. Quite truthfully, if you’re setting up a home studio, a center channel is not essential to the quality of sound you get. Studio monitors are very effective in that regard.
But, if you want to go all out for that full, all-immersive studio experience, a dedicated center channel speaker can help you get there. It has one tweeter at the center of two mid-bass speakers (MTM). Although there are other configurations, most people prefer the MTM formation.
7) Ceiling or In-Wall Speakers
Yes, they are exactly what they sound like — speakers in your walls and ceilings. However, this speaker setup does not come very cheap, not to mention its very tasking installation process. But, once you’ve passed all those obstacles, the audio experience is something to behold. You can literally walk through your house and have your music follow you!
If you don’t have a lot of floor space, or you’d rather not have your speakers on the floor, this setup is for you. However, we recommend securing professional services for the installation. You’d have to get wires through the ceiling and down into the wall, not to mention using specialized tools. Quite frankly, these are not tasks most people can perform and produce excellent results.
Ceiling and in-wall speakers come in various sizes and configurations. They range from two-way speakers to 10-way and more. You can also choose based on the sizes you want and the layout of your home. Whichever you choose, at the end of the day, you should have high-quality sounds throughout your home.
8) On-Wall Speakers
If you’re renting your apartment, your landlord will likely not appreciate you drilling holes in the walls and ceilings. Here is a happy compromise for you — on-wall speakers.
With on-wall speakers, you can achieve that surround sound effect by mounting speakers anywhere you want. Indeed, if you place the speakers on the walls at ear level, you can eliminate the need for flooring standing speakers. Moreover, with easy-to-use wall brackets, you can do the installations yourself, if you choose.
However, since on-wall speakers are passive, you’ll need to use amplifiers to power them. This raises the problem of hiding the wires of the speakers. Thankfully, they come in various colors and styles, which means you choose the ones that match your decor best.
9) Satellite Speakers
Generally, satellite speakers do not stand on their own. Instead, they function as an additional part of an existing sound system. Besides, they are usually very small, often smaller than bookshelf speakers. Also, they come with brackets so you can mount them anywhere you want.
You will need to connect satellite speakers to a subwoofer to power it. Now since there is already a subwoofer, satellite speakers typically only have a mid-bass speaker with a tweeter. Most people use this type of speaker to add high ends to their home theater.
10) Bluetooth Speakers
This another one of the different types of speakers that’s growing rapidly in popularity. Bluetooth speakers have the unique advantage of portability, which means you can take them anywhere you want. With its Bluetooth interface, you connect your phone or other devices to play your favorite music.
Bluetooth speakers are a good way to guarantee high-quality sounds everywhere you go. There are even larger variations that you can take camping or even games. However, some Bluetooth speakers require you to plug them in while you use them. On the bright side, there are models with built-in batteries you can charge.
11) Surround Speakers
If you have looked up surround speakers, you’ll likely see numbers like 5.1 and 7.1. But what do these numbers mean?
A standard sound system has a left, center, and right speaker (LCR) that faces the listener. However, surround speakers add two or more speakers behind the LCR to give a 360° listening experience.
Therefore, a 5.1 surround speaker has the regular left, center, and right front channels alongside two rear left and right surround channels. Then, there is a subwoofer. So, essentially 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. On the other hand, a 7.1 surround speaker splits the additional two rear channels into four to give 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer.
12) Outdoor Speakers
These are regular speakers with the unique feature of being weather-resistant. An outdoor speaker has a specific design and builds that make it resistant to heat, humidity, and even UV rays. Moreover, its wires hide safely in a weather-proof enclosure. Therefore they can sit in your yard without fear of rain and sun. Some even look like rocks!
You may choose to buy your outdoor speakers as single units or a full system. Some full setups come with several tweeters, mid-ranges, and a subwoofer to cover your entire yard. They’re perfect for outdoor hangouts and whatnot.
Finally, on our list of the different types of speakers — the soundbars. They typically function as a hybrid speaker as they feature several small speakers. In the traditional sense, a soundbar is technically a center speaker but with a flatter, horizontal body.
A typical soundbar contains a combination of multiple small woofers, mid-range, and tweeters. However, it doesn’t quite hit those lower-frequencies, i.e., the bass. However, to rectify this, you can add a subwoofer and surround speakers to boost your listening experience.
Hopefully, we’ve been able to clear the air on the different types of speakers that exist. Now, you have all the information you need to buy the perfect speaker. However, some of these speakers may require professional installation, which translates to additional costs. But, it will all be worth it in the end. Remember, casual listeners or audiophile, you deserve the best in terms of sound quality.
Do you have further questions about speakers or where to get them? Let us know. We can help!