You might wonder why are there so many types of speakers? Yes, it may be overwhelming when you take a look at the speaker world. The universe of sound is a whole different experience designed to meet each individual’s preferences. That is where 2-way speakers vs 3-way speakers come to light.
On a visual prospect, they are identifiable from one another by merely looking at the output grills. As their name suggests, 2-way speakers comprise two drivers, i.e., two output areas, whereas 3-way speakers contain an additional one, meaning one extra driver. They are bigger and can have advanced controls to tune your audio and give you a decent experience.
By now, the choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? Get the larger one because the bigger, the better? Well, it is not that simple when it comes to differentiating between the 2-way speakers vs 3-way speakers. Visually they are distinguishable, but when it comes to the audio quality, the differences become palpable. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea about which is the best for you.
What Are 2-Way Speakers?
The definition is within the name itself, 2-way speakers contain two drivers or in layman’s terms, speakers. These speakers handle sound at two specific frequency options, high and low. Each driver controls a frequency-specific signal and outputs combined audio that you hear from the loudspeakers.
Traditional cheap speaker alternatives are mostly 2-way speakers, which you can tell judging by the number of grills covering the speakers. But, there is a catch to this so-called 2-way driver system. If you have listened to other loudspeakers, you will know what is missing, bass! Both drivers focus solely on the loudness and high frequency of the audio while also fixing the bass, which is impossible for two drivers alone.
Aside from the lackings, 2-way speakers are a popular choice amongst the budget-friendly sound market. With two drivers, the speakers are compact and portable enough to place them in any location. In most cases, people would purchase one to complete their home computer setup that is not audio quality dependent.
2-way speakers, otherwise known as coaxial speakers, comprised of a woofer and tweeter to maintain audio signals responsively at low and high frequencies. The higher contains sounds from a cymbal or flute, while the contrary contains sounds from guitars or tuba. The only range it does not produce is the mid-level audio frequencies, which comprise human voices and musical instrument sounds.
The functionalities of 2-way speakers are not limited to their working range. Each 2-way sound system consists of a crossover regulating and filtering the signal accordingly, sending them towards their appropriate drivers.
Furthermore, the input comes in three fields, high, mid, and low. While the top notes are directed towards the tweeters, the low and mid-levels are maintained by the woofers. This feature does give you a clear sound but sacrifices on the bass. The woofer alone cannot handle both the frequency ranges and so the quality may be mushy.
2-way speakers are more for commercial use and are often cheaper. Most car audio systems come with these types of speakers attached to the doors. When you are on a joyride with the boys, nothing sounds better than the thumping of the woofers and the loud music.
Another use of these speakers is for desktop PCs. People who do not want to spend a hefty amount on speakers rely on 2-way loudspeakers that are cheap and save you some desk space. Moreover, gamers do not require a speaker in the first place; most use headphones for competitive games, and 2-way speakers are for them to complete their setup.
5 Best 2-Way Speaker
Points to Consider with Its Working Principle:
When you open up your generic 2-way speakers, you will notice that both the tweeter is installed within the woofer cone. Which means they share the same one crossover for audio signal splitting.
On the other hand, car speakers have two separate units for the tweeter and woofer, each with its crossover unit. The woofer is placed preferably on the doors, whereas the tweeters can be installed anywhere inside the car. The separate crossovers call for a transparent, more fulfilling sound.
What are 3-Way Speakers?
As the name suggests yet again, these are speakers with three driver units working at three different frequency ranges, high, mid, and low. The tweeter, which handles the highs, the lows are controlled by the woofers, a similar setting as 2-way speakers. But there is another driver that controls the mid-range frequencies commercially, they are called mid-range drivers, but audiophiles and enthusiasts named it super tweeters.
A 3-way speaker system, also known as a triaxial speaker system, usually has three crossover networks working separately on the drivers in a car speaker system. The complex system of these speakers makes it more preferable by consumers and manufacturers.
In addition to that, with three separate components, the audio quality’s clarity is increased and is lossless. The mid-range audio signals generally contain speech, vocals, and most of the instrumental sounds which are controlled by the super tweeter. It increases the loudness of the music or audio, delivering a fuller sound.
The most noticeable feature of a 3-ways speaker is the visible three covers on top of the speakers. These cover the three drivers inside the speakers and the crossover circuit, which filters the signal input. Since signals contain three types of ranges, these three frequency ranges are correctly filtered and transmitted to their appropriate drivers.
As the speaker components are optimized to work collectively, they require less amplification and deliver loud, clean sound. However, in most passive speakers, which requires an amplifier, the crossover is not inside the speaker unit but preferably within the amplifier rack.
Additionally, the 3-way speakers are bigger and, therefore, do not lack loudness for that property instead contributes to it. The crossovers are complicated in this system, but they come in different variants depending on the speakers you want. If it is a car stereo system, the crossovers are separate and integrated. Passive speakers have them built into the external amplifier for home theatres while the more expensive active systems have them in-built.
5 Best 3-Way Speaker
The more commercial use of 3-way speakers is by car manufacturers or owners. Having a 3-way speaker system means more prominent thumps by the woofers. Music that focuses on a higher bass benefits from this system, the crossover filters these beats to the low notes and delivers them to the woofers. Since all the drivers have individual crossovers, the music is louder, and the hits stronger. For example, the JBL 631
Another use of 3-way speakers is for home theatre setups, who are willing to spend extra on a better experience, such as the B&W CM7 floor standing speakers. The bass is perfect for this setup, and with the inclusion of the mid-range driver or the super tweeter component, the dialogues are more precise. Other low-grade speakers do not have this, and so you may notice that the sound effects are louder than the actual voices.
What is a Crossover?
The question is bugging you, all the talk about crossovers, but what is it actually, and why use it? Crossovers are an essential part of a speaker; it delivers the output signal to the drivers. Input audio comes at a specific range of frequency; the crossover circuit splits this signal into three regions, high, mid, and low.
The reason behind this separation is so that the sound does not get distorted. It isolates the frequencies and sends them to their appropriate drivers. So, in the case of 2-way and 3-way speakers, efficient crossovers will output better sound and quality. This component maintains the balance of the audio, and it is best to leave it to the professionals unless you want to configure them yourself.
Pros and Cons of 2-Way Speakers:
The lack of one driver does not mean it is not the way to go; there are significant advantages for owning a pair of 2-way speakers:
- Inexpensive, does not fall heavy on your wallet.
- The crossover splits the signal into two, so it doesn’t stress the system.
- Compact and does not occupy extra space.
- The audio quality is lower and may require more amplification.
- Both the mid and low range sounds go to the woofers which are designed only for the lows.
- Distortion of sound could be possible as the bass or the dialogues won’t be apparent.
Pros and Cons of 3-Way Speakers:
Three means more and more means better, but not everything is good about these speakers.
- Has three drivers for good audio separation with less amplification.
- Efficient and clean audio quality.
- Fewer possibilities of sound distortion.
- Bigger speaker units, so not for computer desks.
- Expensive, as they are suitable for home theatres and car audio.
The Difference Between 2-Way Speakers vs 3-Way Speakers:
Now when you are deciding between the two, you may come across that both are quite similar. The main apparent difference is, of course, the components or drivers inside them. 2-way speakers have only a tweeter and a woofer, whereas 3-way speakers comprise an additional mid-range driver or super tweeter.
From a performance perspective, the 3-way speakers have a rich, clearer sound for their extra driver. This driver handles the mid-range frequencies, i.e., the instrumentals, voices, and vocals of the audio. While in a 2-way speaker, the crossover still filters the signal into three ranges, but the low and mid-levels are controlled by the woofers alone. This means it compensates for both the bass and the dialogues.
Another difference between the two is the price. It seems as though these speakers work on a price to performance basis. The more you spend, the better it sounds. You will see that an expensive high performing 2-way speaker is better than the mediocre 3-way speaker.
2-way speakers use a coaxial system while the other uses a triaxial system. The difference between the two is that most passive speakers with a passive crossover use coaxial speakers. So when the audio splits into three, the crossovers work poorly.
On the other hand
Triaxial systems are for 3-way audio. It does not require passive crossovers to function. With the in-built crossovers, the audio is efficiently filtered into three parts, and components work effectively to produce the sound without distortion.
Size does matter when it comes to speakers, you want them to be compact, and that is where 2-way speakers take the lead. They consume less space due to the absence of the mid-range driver, making them ideal for desktops. 3-way speakers, on the other hand, are for a more extensive area like home theatres or high-quality car speakers.
Read More: Find a suitable place to put your speakers
What would you want:
The type of speakers best suited for you depends on your needs and preferences. For some, 2-way speakers could be the go-to, and for other audiophiles, a 3-way speaker. The easiest way to decide is to list what you want out of your sound system, what kind of music you listen to, your budget, looks, materials, premium quality, etc.
If the bass is of less significance on your daily music playlist, you can ignore the 3-way speakers and go for the cheaper 2-way alternative. If you like some bass to your songs and want your floor to shake to the beats, 3-way speakers feature distinctive woofers to reproduce the rhythm.
In terms of budget, coaxial speakers are obviously the way to go. However, you can consider triaxial speakers, but the cheap alternatives are less reliable since these speakers go for a price to quality ratio. So, it is best to spend a little more on a better system to clarify what you are listening to.
Last but not least, the audio setup. Both types of speakers are suitable for a desktop setup; however, it is ideal to choose a 2-way configuration instead of the other since you will be sitting directly in front of the PC. 3-way loudspeakers are more suited for a home theatre or music system with broader coverage.
Read: 2 Best Speakers for KEF
To conclude this battle, there is no right or wrong answer to which is the best. Both fulfill a set of requirements focused on specific user groups. What you want is what you should get.
2-way speakers have been the traditional standard of speakers for car sound systems and home theatres. But, with technology, 3-way speakers have leaped more transparent audio. This does not make the 2-way speakers insignificant but instead focuses on other user groups.
It is unlikely that you will even notice the difference between the audio quality. But, you can differentiate between a cheap and a good speaker among 2-way speakers vs 3-way speakers. If you are on a budget, 2-way speakers are the way to go; on the contrary, if you value performance, spend a little extra and get yourself a 3-way unit.