Featured image of post Selection guide for multi-way speakers and single-way full-range speakers

Selection guide for multi-way speakers and single-way full-range speakers

What is the difference between a multi-channel crossover speaker and a single-channel full-range speaker? How to choose speakers and headphones that suit you from the perspective of the number of speaker units?

If you build cognition of anything based on appearance alone, you will miss the deeper and essential key information hidden behind the appearance, and audio equipment is no exception.

In the shopping mall with a wide range of audio equipment on display, those large floor-standing speakers with gorgeous appearance always make us obsessed with music linger. People will associate the tall appearance of floorstanding speakers with the expensive price, but few people think deeply about the essential difference in design between large floorstanding speakers and small bookshelf speakers.

This idea of judging whether the equipment is good or bad based on the shape of the speaker alone is not what a mature HIFI enthusiast should have. To get rid of this kind of idea of judging good or bad by appearance, we need to go deep into the inside of the speaker to understand its structure and sound principle.

What parts are hidden inside the small size speaker?

Starting from the simplest part of everything will make it easier for us to see the essence of things. In terms of speaker knowledge, we also start from the simplest small desktop speakers. If you are lucky enough to disassemble a small desktop speaker, which is the kind of mini speaker that we usually connect to the computer, you will clearly see that after the speaker box is opened, there is a whole speaker shaped like a speaker inside. The sounding unit may additionally be filled with some cotton-wool-like substances around the sounding unit. This kind of speaker box contains only one sounding unit speaker, we generally call it “single-way speaker”, and because the sounding unit type used in this type of desktop speaker is generally a full-frequency sounding unit, it can also be further used It is called a “single-way full-range speaker”.

Can the full frequency sound unit really produce “full frequency” sound?

Many HIFI enthusiasts will have an illusion when they first meet the term “full-frequency speaker”, and instinctively think that “full-frequency speaker” can emit full-frequency sound. So, can a full-range speaker actually produce a full-frequency sound? This question is actually very easy to answer. You can take out a pair of ordinary desktop speakers and connect them to the audio source to listen to, and you will get the exact answer. Obviously, these ordinary desktop speakers can’t produce some low-frequency sounds that should be in the original sound source, and you don’t need the legendary “golden ears” to hear the lack of low-frequency parts. In fact, these ordinary desktop speakers also have missing high frequencies, but the missing high frequencies are more difficult to hear easily than low frequencies. Taking low frequencies as an example will be easier for most people to understand.

Therefore, the term “full-frequency horn” does not refer to a horn that can emit full-frequency sound. The term “full-frequency speaker” was proposed relative to another concept, that is, “multi-channel crossover speaker”.

What is a multi-way speaker?

Let’s turn our attention to more advanced audio equipment - “two-way two-way bookshelf audio produced by regular manufacturers”. In this kind of bookshelf speaker, two “sounding units” are placed in a single speaker. If you remove the dust filter panel of the speaker, you will easily see that there are two speakers, one large and one small, in front of the speaker.

These two sounding units are significantly different from the entry-level desktop single-way speakers mentioned earlier. Compared with a “full-frequency horn” speaker, each sound unit of this two-way crossover design speaker only needs to emit the sound in the frequency band it is good at. That is, the speaker located on the upper part of the speaker is responsible for the treble part, and the lower speaker is responsible for the low-frequency sound.

One might wonder, what are the advantages of this dual-socket design? It seems a bit uneconomical for consumers to spend more money to buy an extra speaker. In fact, it is not the case. You must know that it is a very thankless thing to use a single “full-frequency speaker” to emit sounds in all frequency bands. It is difficult for audio equipment manufacturers to manufacture a true “full-frequency speaker”. Under the condition that the manufacturing cost of speakers is limited, it is more economical to use two speakers with different characteristics to emit sounds of different frequencies. Manufacturers usually manufacture a speaker that performs very well in high-frequency sound, and then manufacture a speaker that is more powerful in mid-low frequency sound, and put them into the same speaker box to make sound together.

Speaking of which, you may worry about whether the sounds from the two speakers will overlap, which will lead to the sound not being pure enough. In fact, such worries are superfluous. A device called a “frequency divider” will be placed in the cabinet of the two-way speaker. The function of this device is to separate the audio signal input to the speaker at a certain critical point. Audio signals with a frequency above this critical point are distributed to the speaker responsible for the treble, and audio signals with a frequency below this critical point are transmitted to the speaker responsible for the mid-low frequency. In this way, the two speakers in the same speaker cabinet will perform their duties and emit completely different sounds.

Hearing advantages of multi-way frequency division speakers

By expanding the design ideas of the above two-way crossover speaker, we can design a “multi-way” crossover speaker. Smart you may have discovered that when you linger in a shopping mall with various high-end audio equipment, those large floor-standing speakers that come into your eyes are actually multi-channel crossover speakers. The reason why the floor-standing speakers are large in size, beautiful in appearance, and expensive in price has a lot to do with the design idea of using multi-channel crossover design.

Multi-channel crossover speakers use multiple sounding units to emit sounds of different frequencies. When HIFI enthusiasts listen to these speakers at a certain distance from the speakers, they can feel the phase difference of the sounds from different sounding units, that is, the sounds of different frequencies will be in different frequencies. Don’t underestimate these subtle delay differences when different delays reach the human ear. This kind of sound wave phase difference will make the sound quite three-dimensional. This is also what many people say. After hearing the large floor box, they can never go back.

Multi-channel crossover speakers let a hundred flowers bloom in the audio market

With the design idea of multi-channel frequency division, even speakers with the same price will have completely different sense of hearing due to the use of different frequency division design ideas and combination with different sounding units. certain types of music. Therefore, if you only listen to a certain type of music, you can buy a pair of speakers that perform very well in a certain type of music at a relatively affordable price. Of course, the premise is to have sufficient sound knowledge in order to achieve “three thousand weak waters, just take a scoop to drink”.

Multi-channel frequency division design of earphones

Have you ever thought about whether the small earphone or earplug in your ear uses a “full-frequency sound unit” or a “multi-channel frequency division design”?

In the final analysis, earphones are also a kind of speakers, but their shape belongs to micro speakers. Of course, there are also two design ideas of “full-frequency sound unit design” and “multi-channel frequency division design”. However, most earphones on the market prefer to use a single-channel full-frequency design. This is determined by the small size. It is a very design-testing practice to pack multiple sounding units in a small space. Moreover, because the sound cavity of the earphone is too close to the ear, even with a crossover design, it is not easy to hear the “phase difference” in the sense of hearing, and it is difficult to achieve the sound field effect of a large floor-standing speaker.

The more sound units, the better?

It is difficult to have a definite answer to this question. Even if the manufacturing cost of audio equipment is thrown away, it is difficult to have a clear statement. We all know that the final sound effect of the audio system is mainly determined by two factors, one is the audio equipment itself, and the other is the listening environment. The same sound system will have completely different performances in different listening environments. Therefore, there is no clear answer to the question of how many channels of speakers are the best design.

Multi-channel frequency division design of mainstream speakers

Of course, we don’t have to worry about what kind of speaker equipment we need to buy. Playing with audio equipment itself is a kind of leisure and enjoyment. Whether it is the early stage of purchasing equipment or the listening stage after purchasing equipment, we should do it with a relaxed and enjoyable attitude. Fortunately for most HIFI enthusiasts, the current speaker design follows a specific design concept, and there will be no situation where the sound effect is very different from the assumption.

Two-channel bookshelf speakers are generally designed with two-way frequency division, and an independent tweeter is equipped with a special mid-low frequency sound unit. Large-scale floor-standing speakers are mostly designed with three-way frequency, but the three-way design does not mean that there must be only three sounding units. The sounds of high, medium and low frequencies can be combined with multiple sounding units respectively. For example, the tweeter can use two sounding units, or the low frequency unit can use more than one.

Seeing this, do you have a deeper understanding of multi-channel crossover speakers? Has the voice in your mind that captivated you appeared so far?

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