PNG images: Speaker

A loudspeaker (or loud-speaker or speaker) is an electroacoustic transducer; which converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. The most widely used type of speaker in the 2010s is the dynamic speaker,invented in 1925 by Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice. The dynamic speaker operates on the same basic principle as a dynamic microphone, but in reverse, to produce sound from an electrical signal. When an alternating current electrical audio signal is applied to its voice coil, a coil of wire suspended in a circular gap between the poles of a permanent magnet, the coil is forced to move rapidly back and forth due to Faraday's law of induction, which causes a diaphragm (usually conically shaped) attached to the coil to move back and forth, pushing on the air to create sound waves. Besides this most common method, there are several alternative technologies that can be used to convert an electrical signal into sound. The sound source (e.g., a sound recording or a microphone) must be amplified or strengthened with an audio power amplifier before the signal is sent to the speaker.

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Speakers are typically housed in a speaker enclosure or speaker cabinet which is often a rectangular or square box made of wood or sometimes plastic. The enclosure's materials and design play an important role in the quality of the sound. Where high fidelity reproduction of sound is required, multiple loudspeaker transducers are often mounted in the same enclosure, each reproducing a part of the audible frequency range (picture at right). In this case the individual speakers are referred to as "drivers" and the entire unit is called a loudspeaker. Drivers made for reproducing high audio frequencies are called tweeters, those for middle frequencies are called mid-range drivers, and those for low frequencies are called woofers. Smaller loudspeakers are found in devices such as radios, televisions, portable audio players, computers, and electronic musical instruments . Larger loudspeaker systems are used for music, sound reinforcement in theatres and concerts, and in public address systems.

The term "loudspeaker" may refer to individual transducers (also known as "drivers") or to complete speaker systems consisting of an enclosure including one or more drivers.

To adequately reproduce a wide range of frequencies with even coverage, most loudspeaker systems employ more than one driver, particularly for higher sound pressure level or maximum accuracy. Individual drivers are used to reproduce different frequency ranges. The drivers are named subwoofers (for very low frequencies); woofers (low frequencies); mid-range speakers (middle frequencies); tweeters (high frequencies); and sometimes supertweeters, optimized for the highest audible frequencies. The terms for different speaker drivers differ, depending on the application. In two-way systems there is no mid-range driver, so the task of reproducing the mid-range sounds falls upon the woofer and tweeter. Home stereos use the designation "tweeter" for the high frequency driver, while professional concert systems may designate them as "HF" or "highs". When multiple drivers are used in a system, a "filter network", called a crossover, separates the incoming signal into different frequency ranges and routes them to the appropriate driver. A loudspeaker system with n separate frequency bands is described as "n-way speakers": a two-way system will have a woofer and a tweeter; a three-way system employs a woofer, a mid-range, and a tweeter. Loudspeaker driver of the type pictured are termed "dynamic" (short for electrodynamic) to distinguish them from earlier drivers (i.e., moving iron speaker), or speakers using piezoelectric or electrostatic systems, or any of several other sorts.

Johann Philipp Reis installed an electric loudspeaker in his telephone in 1861; it was capable of reproducing clear tones, but also could reproduce muffled speech after a few revisions. Alexander Graham Bell patented his first electric loudspeaker (capable of reproducing intelligible speech) as part of his telephone in 1876, which was followed in 1877 by an improved version from Ernst Siemens. During this time, Thomas Edison was issued a British patent for a system using compressed air as an amplifying mechanism for his early cylinder phonographs, but he ultimately settled for the familiar metal horn driven by a membrane attached to the stylus. In 1898, Horace Short patented a design for a loudspeaker driven by compressed air; he then sold the rights to Charles Parsons, who was issued several additional British patents before 1910. A few companies, including the Victor Talking Machine Company and Pathé, produced record players using compressed-air loudspeakers. However, these designs were significantly limited by their poor sound quality and their inability to reproduce sound at low volume. Variants of the system were used for public address applications, and more recently, other variations have been used to test space-equipment resistance to the very loud sound and vibration levels that the launching of rockets produces.

The first experimental moving-coil (also called dynamic) loudspeaker was invented by Oliver Lodge in 1898. The first practical moving-coil loudspeakers were manufactured by Danish engineer Peter L. Jensen and Edwin Pridham in 1915, in Napa, California. Like previous loudspeakers these used horns to amplify the sound produced by a small diaphragm. Jensen was denied patents. Being unsuccessful in selling their product to telephone companies, in 1915 they changed their target market to radios and public address systems, and named their product Magnavox. Jensen was, for years after the invention of the loudspeaker, a part owner of The Magnavox Company.

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