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What is a 3-Way Speaker? A Detailed Explanation

What is 3-way speaker

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Three-way speakers are quite common on the market these days. They work on three built-in crossovers, consisting of speaker modules that play high, medium, and low frequencies separately. 

There are also 2-way and 4-way speakers, and each type has its pros and cons. For now, let’s talk about 3-way speakers!

What is a 3-Way Speaker?

When deciding on a speaker for your car or home, there are several factors to consider. It’s important to understand how these speakers work so you can make an informed choice based on your needs.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 Up Close Grill Off - Speaker wear out
Q Acoustics Concept 40 | Make Life Click

A 3-way speaker, as the name implies, has three drivers: a woofer, a midrange speaker, and a tweeter. Each driver has various functions, which will be discussed in the following section. 

These speakers can play low, midrange, and high frequencies without issue, giving you the best sound range possible.

A 3-way speaker is the best option if you enjoy deep bass in your car system. But I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t like the deep, wobbly bass, and want to focus more on the high-frequency sound while avoiding the boomy experience.

How Do 3-Way Speakers Work?

When you play a track, sounds of different frequencies are sent to the speaker system. 

When sound is blasted from a 3-way speaker, it is transferred to the woofer for better amplification. Similarly, the tweeters operate the high-frequency sound for the best experience and to make it sound good to your ears. 

What sets 3-way speakers apart is the midrange speaker, which operates the frequencies in between the other two drivers. These frequencies reach different drivers through the crossover circuit in the unit.

Types of 3-Way Speakers

There are two types of 3-way speakers: 3-way coaxial and 3-way component speakers. Just by looking at them, it’s easy to tell them apart but let’s dive deeper into their differences.

In the coaxial version, all three drivers come in one box. It means that the woofer, the midrange speaker, and the tweeter will be inside the same basket. 

Coaxial speaker
An example of a coaxial speaker | Jumpstory

In the component version, all three drivers are mounted separately in the unit.

Another difference between the two is in terms of the crossover circuit. The coaxial unit has an integrated crossover circuit, while the component speaker has an external one. 

Being compact, with all the drivers fitted in the same box, 3-way coaxial speakers are expensive to manufacture but they are easier to install.

On the other hand, 3-way component speakers have a better sound range in terms of quality because all the drivers work independently.

Advantages of a 3-Way Speaker

Every type of speaker system has its advantage, which can impact your decision when buying one. 

Here’s what makes 3-way speakers a great choice:

Less distortion

These speakers have a midrange driver with a small diameter and a woofer with a large diameter. Because of these pieces, the frequencies are very well-distributed. There is less distortion, resulting in a better sound. 

Wide frequency response

I’ve seen that woofers in 3-way speaker systems are often 8” or larger, which is great because they offer a wider frequency response. All these things result in better sound quality and a vibrant sound with great dynamic restoration.

Clarity

These speakers are very adaptive and can give you the best audio output of the music you’re playing. Because of the different drivers for different frequency ranges, every detail of the various instruments, for example, in a concert, reaches your ears.

Is a 3-Way Better Than a 2-Way Speaker?

In general, a 3-way speaker should sound better than a 2-way speaker because it has an extra driver. 

In reality, the speaker that best suits you depends on your budget, needs, and where you want to install it.

A 2-way speaker system is the most common speaker system that we use in our cars. It’s the practical choice because it’s cheap and easy to install. Of course, a 3-way speaker would give more bass and clarity, but it will also require more space. 

I like listening to music at home with a 3-way speaker system because it gives me the most detail and clarity. This is especially true when I play classical or jazz music, which is best enjoyed if you have speakers with good frequency responses from low to high.

Q Acoustics Concept 40 grille on
Q Acoustics Concept 40 Speakers with grille on | Make Life Click

Is a 3-Way Better Than a 4-Way Speaker?

As its name implies, a 4-way speaker has four drivers. It has everything that a 3-way speaker has, plus an extra tweeter. 

The extra tweeter helps in delivering high-end frequency sounds. This gives you a  better frequency range than 3-way speakers. And this makes a 4-way speaker generally better than a 3-way speaker.

Why are 3-Way Component Speakers Better Than 3-Way Coaxial Speakers?

One common question I’ve been getting lately is why 3-way component speakers are better than 3-way coaxial speakers.

There’s no doubt that so many good coaxial speakers are available on the market, but they can never match the level of the component ones. 

The design of component speakers is what ultimately makes them better. Since every driver is separately mounted, component speakers produce better sound quality. The sound is clearer y as the different components get their desired or favorite frequency, which they handle the best.

Conclusion

Now you know what a 3-way speaker is, it’ll be easier for you to make an informed choice when buying a new speaker system.

With the numerous options out there, I’m sure you can find one from a good brand that fits your budget and audio needs.

A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.


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