When you first get involved with speaker design, or just the world of speakers in general, you will find lots of terminologies that can be confusing.
Often, many words are used interchangeably, for example, speaker, loudspeaker, or driver. As a beginner or just new to this world of speakers, this can be very confusing.
A speaker and a loudspeaker are the same things. The terms get used interchangeably. If you work within the audio industry, you may find the term loudspeaker used more often, especially when engineers are referring to large PA systems, but both terms are acceptable.
I have worked in a lot of professional engineering industries, from mechanical to electrical to acoustic design. The speaker design industry is definitely the winner when it comes to having multiple names for the same thing.
In this article, I want to cover the main terminology of the speaker industry, including:
- What makes a speaker a loudspeaker?
- What is a loudspeaker used for?
- What is a speaker driver?
- What is a tweeter?
- What is a mid-range speaker driver?
- What is a woofer?
What Makes A Speaker A Loudspeaker?
A speaker and a loudspeaker are the same things.
Often the terms get used interchangeably, but you can use both terms.
Having worked in the speaker industry for over 10 years, I find speaker design engineers within the PA (public address) audio industry tend to use the term “loudspeaker” more often than “speaker”.
Examples of PA systems include speakers for nightclubs, cinemas or public venues.
In addition, within the world of audio academics, the term loudspeaker is used more often.
For example, if you look at most speaker design books, they tend to use the term “loudspeaker” in the title more often than “speaker”
Again, if you search through academic papers on the Audio Engineering Society database, you will find the term loudspeaker appearing regularly.
As an audio engineering professional, I tend to use the term loudspeaker when conversing technically or academically with colleagues, however, on a day-to-day basis when dealing with DIY users and the general public, I use the term “speakers”.
Use whichever term feels right for your listener. For the rest of this article, I will be using the term “speaker”.
What Is A Loudspeaker Used For?
A loudspeaker is a device that converts an electrical signal into sound.
Loudspeakers (aka speakers) are used in a wide range of applications, including public address systems, cinema sound systems, and domestic stereo systems.
Loudspeakers are also used in computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices.
What Is A Speaker Driver?
Another word that is used interchangeably with speaker and loudspeaker is speaker driver.
In the world of audio, the term speaker driver refers to the individual speaker that sits within a speaker system.
There are many types of speaker drivers, including:
- Super tweeter
- Mid-Range (Squawkers)
What Is A Tweeter?
Tweeters are generally the smallest type of speaker and reproduce sounds in the highest frequency band range.
What’s The Difference Between Speakers And Tweeters?
A tweeter is a type of speaker. Typically, tweeters produce sound in the 5kHz to 20kHz range.
If you are looking for a sound system that can reproduce music well, with great clarity, it is very difficult to find just one individual speaker that will do this.
Generally, a good speaker system will have multiple speakers, each dealing with a specific frequency band, which, when combined, covers the entire listening spectrum from 20Hz to 20kHz.
The tweeters deal with reproducing the high frequencies well.
What Is A Mid-Range Speaker Driver?
A mid-range speaker driver is a type of speaker that focuses on reproducing the mid-range frequencies well. Mid-range frequencies are generally classified as between 300Hz to 5kHz, approximately, but this does depend on the speaker.
Just like the tweeter works on the high-end frequencies, a mid-range speaker is best at reproducing frequencies in the mid-band frequency range.
Therefore, if you have a good mid-range speaker and tweeter in the same sound system, you will reproduce good quality sound between 300Hz to 20kHz, give or take, with a good crossover design.
When looking for a mid-range speaker, ensure you check the mid-range frequencies the speaker is specified to work at, as this will vary.
What Is A Woofer?
A woofer deals with the low-end frequencies, i.e. bass.
Typically, standard woofers operate in the 20Hz to 2kHz range, therefore, if a system has a woofer speaker with a mid-range speaker and a tweeter, all with a well-designed crossover you will have a system that can handle all frequencies between 20Hz-20kHz. This is the range of human hearing, so it is a perfect combination.
Within the world of woofer speakers, we have different types, such as a sub-woofer, which only deals with very low audio frequencies, hence the name “sub” which means lower than.
Generally, subwoofers work in the 20Hz to 200Hz frequency range.
It should be noted that trying to generate frequencies less than 40Hz can be very difficult unless you have a very large speaker.
The larger the speaker diameter, the lower the frequencies it can produce.
A loudspeaker (also called a speaker) is a device that converts an electrical signal into sound.
Tweeters are generally the smallest type of speaker driver and reproduce sounds in the highest frequency band range, while woofers deal with the low-end frequencies, i.e. bass.
A good speaker system will have multiple speakers, (called speaker drivers individually) each dealing with a specific frequency band, which, when combined, covers the entire listening spectrum from 20Hz to 20kHz.
The mid-range speaker driver focuses on reproducing the mid-range frequencies well.
When looking for a good quality speaker system, it is important to consider these different drivers to ensure you get the best possible sound reproduction for your needs.