We love the sound of music because it helps us feel our emotions and express them through singing along or dancing. The quality of audio determines good music, and I think this is why we have speakers in our houses, cars, gym, or garage to enhance the value of music we listen to.
Speaker technology has evolved rapidly since the invention of the moving coil loudspeaker in 1889 to the powerful audio systems we have now mainly characterized by wireless connections and good quality output.
Modern speakers comprise wireless technology and software programming that improve convenience and mobility. So today we will discuss what are the different types of speakers available in the market, and I would educate you on them.
Different Types of Speakers
List of different types of speakers
- Bookshelf Speakers
- Satellite Speakers
- Floorstanding or Tower Speakers
- Center Channel Speakers
- Wireless Speakers
- Bluetooth Speakers
- PA Speakers
- Ceiling Speakers
- In-Wall Speakers
- Woofers and Subwoofers
- Outdoor Speakers
What are Bookshelf Speakers?
BOokshelf speakers, as their name suggests, means that they have been designed for you to put them on your bookshelf – placing them on your table or other elevated surfaces will work too.
Essentially you’re going to want to put them anywhere that isn’t on the floor.
They have been designed to maximize the sound in small to medium-sized spaces, so they are perfect in a living room or bedroom area.
Though, not all bookshelf speakers are built the same; some of them have been designed for people who want that immersive viewing experience when they’re watching their favorite films and others have been created so you can really feel like you’re at a concert.
Where should you put Bookshelf speakers?
Ideally, you’ll integrate your bookshelf speakers into your home theatre setup where there is already a subwoofer connected to help give you that low-bass frequency that you might be missing out on.
As suggested previously, you’ll want to put your speakers on any high surface, and when you’ve found a suitable spot, just like with most speakers you’re going to want to face them directly to where you’re usually seated when watching your favorite films.
If you’re wanting bookshelf speakers because you’re a music fan, then apply the same logic: set them up high and face them in your general direction.
What are Satellite Speakers?
Satellite speakers can be any speaker that you place on the very side or behind the listening area, they give you a 3D viewing pleasure, which is great if you’re a complete film geek and you’re wanting to be fully immersed.
They belong to the small speaker category and can sometimes be overlooked when people are looking to upgrade their home theatre since people think they won’t sound as good as some of the bigger speakers on the market.
Of course, this thinking is false.
Although these types of speakers will need to be used with separate woofer/subfolders, this does not mean they give off a low-quality sound.
Where should you put Satellite speakers?
As mentioned, they are usually put in places like the side of a listener or behind them to help enhance the viewing experience with 3D audio sound, but because of their size, they can be put on the ceiling or in higher places with little free space needed.
Because of their size, they also fit into a lot of interior design setups, so if you place them correctly they don’t stick out like sore thumbs like much bigger speakers available on the market.
Difference between Bookshelf and Satellite Speakers
Now we know what a bookshelf and satellite speakers are, let’s go over some of their key differences to help make your choice of which speaker you should buy for your home that much easier.
The pro’s of Satellite speakers
- They are much easier to integrate into your home theater because of their compact design
- You are not as limited with where you can put them; they can be installed on your walls or on your ceiling
- Satellite speakers are usually cheaper than Bookshelf speakers.
- This type of speaker can fit into many interior design styles because of its compact design, so they can be hidden pretty well.
The pro’s of Bookshelf speakers
- Adding these to your home theatre provides you with a more meaningful upgrade, one that you will definitely notice in comparison to satellite speakers.
- You can use them in more ways than one: surround, front, and back.
- The built-in subwoofers handle the lows, which will allow your already fitted main speaker to handle the mid and high ranges exclusively, which means you can have a fully optimized system.
What are Floorstanding Speakers or Tower Speakers?
Floorstanding or tower speakers are speakers that are meant to stand alone in a room or wherever you place them. They have a tall profile, almost up to ten feet, and can be quite heavy. So, they are not meant to be portable. You better not be considering them for your summer camps.
The quality of sound from floor standing speakers is quite incredible. It can be as loud as you want, and you can basically get the best audio quality. And so, even though they may cost a couple of more bucks than other speakers, they get you the sound you need. I own a pair of these, and I love the experience.
What Features of Floorstanding or Tower Speakers Should I Know?
Tower Speaker Size and Sound Quality
Floorstanding speakers are huge as their manufacturers do not consider the size much as a factor. And I guess the only limit is the size of the room in which we want to place the speaker. All floor standing speakers offer a perfect sound quality. But generally, bigger speakers are louder. Although you should never overlook the smaller floor-standing speakers, they can also be mighty powerful.
When picking the size of the floor-standing speaker to choose, consider its sensitivity. Sensitivity is the number of decibels a speaker can produce per milliwatt of power. If you got 90 dB, you’ve got yourself some pretty serious volume.
Floorstanding Speaker Drivers
I think at one time we’ve heard of two-way and three-way floorstanding speakers, that is, for the speaker enthusiasts. And so, what are they? This question can be answered by explaining what a speaker driver is. A speaker driver is a device that converts the audio signal to sound. They are the round things we actually call speakers.
Audio frequencies are made up of the high frequencies, the lows, and the mids. In a floorstanding speaker, one driver called the woofer handles the lows and the mids and another driver, the tweeter, handles the highs. The frequencies are split at a crossover point.
Two-way floor-standing speakers have a single crossover point that splits the frequencies into two. In contrast, three-ay speakers will split the audio into lows, mids, and highs. The former type of speaker is more affordable, but three-way speakers present a better audio quality.
If you are looking for budget to premium floor standing or tower speakers:
What are Center Channel Speakers?
We’ll first define surround channels to understand the center channel. A surround channel is a method of enhancing sound output by using multiple speakers placed around the listener. The speakers placed at the center are called the center channel speakers.
The center channel speaker is where more than sixty percent of the soundtrack is played. It carries almost all the music vocals and dialogues. And therefore, if you’re asking yourself what you need a center channel speaker for, here are the answers.
What do I need a Center Channel Speaker for?
A center channel speaker balances the sound from the left and right speakers. It thus provides a seamless soundstage between the right and left speakers, allowing sound to flow accurately and smoothly between them. So, if you ask me if a center channel speaker is necessary, I’d say very necessary if you want a perfect listening experience.
The center channel speaker reproduces most of the dialogue. And I should admit a good movie is as good as the clarity of the words in the audio. The center channel speaker aims at producing clear dialogs so you can enjoy your movie time.
Flexible Listening Spots
The center channel speakers widen the listening “sweet spot.” They make it possible to switch listening spots and still feel like you’re listening to the sound at the center. They often make it possible to enjoy the audio sound at any point in the room.
Can I Use Any Speaker as My Center Channel Speaker?
Yes, you can use any speakers as your center channel speakers. However, you may phase challenges with subwoofer center channels as they require all the other speakers to be set at a small frequency.
You should also ensure the tonality of your center speaker matches that of the other speakers in the rooms. It is therefore advisable to obtain all the speakers from the same brand to avoid compatibility issues.
As for the shape, horizontal speakers are ideal as they are convenient for placing on top of the TV stand.
If you are looking for budget to premium center channel speakers:
- Center Channel Speaker Under 100
- Center Channel Speaker Under 300
- Center Channel Speaker Under 500
- Center Channel Speaker Under 1000
- Budget Center Channel Speakers
- High End Center Channel Speakers
What are Wireless Speakers?
We’ve all heard of wireless technology and wireless speakers, but do we know what they are? Are you looking to integrate a wireless speaker in your home or office and need extra information about it? Well, we will define and explore wireless speakers, and hopefully, that will help you make the best choice.
Wireless speakers basically mean speakers that do not require audio cables to transmit the sound output. We call them wireless speakers because we do not have to connect the speakers with the primary receiver using cables. So, we can freely move them around without affecting the sound quality. I personally love wireless systems because I’m not too fond of too many wires; they make the place look a mess. And so, what are the types of wireless speakers?
Types of Wireless Speakers
RF and IR Speakers
They are composed of a Radion frequency (RF) receiver and RF transmitter unit. The receiver obtains audio output from an MP3 player, television, or computer through an RCA connector and transmits it to the speaker. The RCA connector is the cable you use to connect your main speaker with your player. It has three colored plugs on one end, red, yellow, and white. Infrared (IR) speakers operate the same as RF speakers but with a different signal.
Proprietary, WI-FI and Bluetooth Speakers
Bluetooth speakers utilize Bluetooth 4.0 enabled devices to connect with audio devices. They are primarily portable and use a rechargeable battery to enhance portability.
On the other hand, WI-FI speakers communicate using TCP/IP and use this to connect to home networks. Unlike Bluetooth devices, they need to be plugged into a power source.
Proprietary speakers like Airplay speakers use Apple’s Airplay wireless technology to connect to Apple devices and iTunes. They may also work with Bluetooth for non-Apple devices.
What are Bluetooth Speakers?
We can’t talk about Bluetooth speakers without touching on Bluetooth technology. What is Bluetooth technology? A digital data transfer system utilizes short-wavelength ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio waves to establish short-distance communication between two devices.
Bluetooth speakers connect with Bluetooth-enabled devices and convert the digital audio received from the devices, converting them to sound heard from the speaker.
They provide quality sound output, but the connection is short-range, and the device must be plugged into a power source. You can use your rechargeable battery Bluetooth device outside, but the sound quality isn’t as good.
Bluetooth speakers range from big speakers to small portable ones, headphones, and Bluetooth earbuds. There are also cheap Bluetooth speakers with good bass and Bluetooth speakers with a subwoofer for bass.
What are PA Speakers?
Public Address (PA) speakers, as their name suggests, are speakers used to address many people. And so, the idea is to produce the loudest sound to reach the most people. PA speakers are part of a PA system comprising a power amplifier, mixer, speaker, and pluggable microphone.
We’ve seen PA speakers in our favorite music concerts, church, public rallies, and conferences. They are mainly meant for occasions with crowds of people.
There are two types of PA speakers. Passive speakers require external amplifiers and active speakers, which have built-in amplifiers. The latest version of active PA speakers has a built-in mixer which makes them all the more portable.
Today’s PA speakers are Bluetooth-enabled and have increased audio power. Their main advantage is improved portability and ease of use.
What are Ceiling Speakers?
Ceiling Speakers, as the name suggests, are speakers that are installed into your ceiling. Ceiling Speakers project their sound downwards compared to traditional speakers which project sound horizontally. If you are looking for a clutter-free audio solution for long-term use, a proper ceiling speaker set-up may just be for you.
Ceiling Speakers are sought after for their minimalist design, speakers mounted on ceilings are a lot less messy than a cluster of wires on the floor after all. Most ceiling speakers are small and compact in design. This allows them to be very flexible in terms of room design, where its placement simply blends in with the design and aesthetics of the room.
They are also relatively cheaper compared to other speaker options. Most ceiling speakers hover around $30 – $50 US per speaker. This potentially allows you to customize your audio set-up with as many speakers as your budget allows.
There are a few downsides though. Their small size means their audio output is not as loud as other conventional speakers. Sound quality also suffers due to the limitations of the technology built inside of the speaker. Installation may also end up being an arduous process, depending on the ceiling and the number of ceiling speakers to be installed.
What are In-Wall Speakers?
In-Wall Speakers are speakers that are installed inside a wall. They are generally larger than ceiling speakers with the most common size being 8 inches, with the common ceiling speakers being around 6.5 inches. Like common freestanding speakers, they project their sound horizontally allowing their sound to project across the room.
Being larger than their ceiling counterparts, in-wall speakers provides room for more advanced audio features than your typical ceiling speaker.
They also provide higher audio output compared to ceiling speakers. This in general makes them more high quality than their ceiling counterparts.
Also like their ceiling counterparts, they provide less clutter as they are designed to fit almost any wall. Depending on your creativity, you may be able to design the room so that the in-wall speakers remain unnoticed during use.
In terms of affordability, in-wall speakers are generally affordable, albeit a little more expensive than ceiling speakers. In-wall speakers typically cost around $40 to $150 US depending on the size and brand. Though there is a noticeable increase in quality in comparison to ceiling speakers, the jump in price may not fit in everybody’s budget.
Despite all these advantages, there are a few downsides. In-wall speaker’s larger sizes can make installation a real hassle, especially if you are aiming to install it within a smaller size room. Also, given that you are installing it inside of a wall, relocating one to a different location can be painstakingly difficult, even more so than in-ceiling speakers.
What are Woofers?
Woofers are used in speaker systems to produce the lower frequencies of music or sound. Woofers produce sound in the range of 20Hz to 2000Hz. This range covers a large swath of sound and includes the most common frequencies we hear. The woofer gives us all the frequencies from guitar solos down to bass licks. The human voice also exists at the bottom of this range between 100Hz and 250Hz. You could say good-quality woofers are pretty essential to the sounds that we hear.
The quality of the woofer’s sound relies on their design. Woofers are designed with enclosures that regulate the clarity of the sound by preventing undesired signals to the speakers and maintaining proper air pressure through the use of cleverly positioned holes in the enclosure. Regulated air pressure is what allows the large speakers to vibrate just right.
While woofers produce all of the most common frequencies, it’s important to recognize that when frequencies reach the top of the woofer’s ability at around 2000Hz, it’s best that the tweeters are leveraged instead to shine at the highs. The same can be said for subwoofers at the lows.
What are Subwoofers?
Subwoofers are used in speaker systems to produce the lowest frequencies audible to human hearing. Subwoofers specialize in producing sound in the range of 20Hz to 200Hz. While there is some overlap in this range and the range of woofers, where woofers might struggle at the lower end of their range, subwoofers boom.
Subwoofers are designed to even larger than woofers, often 10 to 12 inches in diameter (compared to 4 inches to 8 inches for woofers).
The frequency range has become increasingly popular in music for the “sub-bass” sound but has also filled the needs for the lower bass drum and timpani drum sounds.
Another place the subwoofer really shines is in producing low-frequency effects in film. The sound of thunder, earthquakes, or explosions all make use of the subwoofer for an immersive experience.
What are Soundbars?
Soundbars are speaker enclosures that house several speakers of varying sizes.
Soundbars are used extended across the bottom of your TV or monitor and do a great job at producing a surround sound quality for your movies or games.
Soundbars contain woofers and are cleverly designed to produce rich tones with directionality in mind for the surround sound effect.
While a subwoofer isn’t typically included inside the soundbar, it is pretty common for an external subwoofer to be connected to fill in those frequencies.
Soundbars offer a clean and sleek alternative to surround sound speakers.
What are Outdoor Speakers?
Outdoor Speakers are simply speakers that are designed to be used in outdoor areas. These speakers are usually designed to be more durable against elements that one may encounter in the outdoors, rain, strong winds, etc. They also tend to have the loudest audio output and the highest audio quality among other speaker systems.
Outdoor Speakers almost always focus their design entirely on one aspect, durability. They tend to be large and bulky, with plenty of waterproofing or anti-moisture layering inside of them to withstand all forms of harsh elements.
The other thing that contributes to their size is the quality of the speakers themselves. Outdoor Speakers practically demand higher sound volumes due to the environment they are expected to in. With no walls to bounce sound on, outdoor speakers make up for their bulkiness with the sheer volume of sound they can produce.
Outdoor speakers also tend to excel in overall sound quality. This is most apparent when it comes to bass. While most indoor speakers use a separate sub-woofer to produce bass, outdoor speakers usually have bass built into the speaker by default.
There are a number of obvious disadvantages to outdoor speakers. The most obvious one is its bulkiness. Compared to the other speaker setups discussed earlier, outdoor speakers tend to be large. Often the size of a medium-sized cabinet, relocating outdoor speakers can prove to be quite a challenge. Some outdoor speakers come in compact sizes as well.
Outdoor Speakers are also custom-built for outdoor areas. This means that if you decide to use one indoors the audio acoustics will not be optimized for indoor use. The sheer volume of the speakers will also likely deafen you indoors. Outdoor Speakers are also quite expensive, starting from $150 US to upwards of $1000 US.
Speaker technology had come a long way since its invention in the 19th century. Today speakers are primarily oriented towards digital audio transfer and portability.
Whether you’re listening to music, watching movies, or playing video games, the quality of sound is essential to the experience. Fortunately more and more work is going into the design of speaker systems to best suit the needs of all of us that depend on quality sound for our entertainment.