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Background : Two-way, 2 1/2-way and three-way speakers

This article is a guide about various kinds of speakers such as Two-way, 2 1/2-way and three-way speakers.

In most loudspeakers, several drivers are used, each of which is specialized in individual frequency ranges due to their design . An upstream crossover ensures that the specialized drivers then also receive electrical signals of the appropriate frequency.

Two-way speakers: Here, two drivers share the task of linearly reproducing the entire frequency range. The separation frequency is often between 2 – 5 kHz. It is not uncritical that this is the range in which the human ear has its highest sensitivity (4kHz). The advantage of a two-way system is that, due to its design, it is closer to the ideal of the point sound source and also often has more ideal step responses in terms of measurement technology . The structure of the crossover network can also be kept “slim”. Due to the lower driver specialization, however, it is more difficult to get a deep lower one compared to three-way speakers, for exampleAchieve cut-off frequency in combination with high level capability . Due to the relatively abrupt transition from a relatively large to a small membrane diameter, there are jumps in the directivity during the transition from the mid-bass driver to the tweeter (the smaller a membrane is, the less it directs the sound, i.e. it radiates more spherically ). Also problems related to the Doppler effect and intermodulation distortionare more evident in two-way systems, since the individual drivers have to transmit a wider spectrum than is the case with the 3-way system. In comparison to 3-way loudspeakers, however, two-way systems often appear to be more coherent and homogeneous in their reproduction.

2 1/2-way speakers: In addition to the tweeter, at least two other drivers are used here to transmit the medium and low frequency response. However, there is no strictly separate specialization between these two drivers, rather both drivers run parallel in the lower layers within a certain frequency range . Only above this specific frequency range does one of the two drivers decouple, while the other “shoulders” the midrange alone . Compared to 3-way systems, one expects a more homogeneous playing style from this design, and therefore lower group delaysbetween bass and midrange. However, increased problems can occur due to interference .

Three-way speakers: As a rule, three drivers specialize in the areas of high, mid and low frequencies. The crossover frequencies are subject to various degrees of freedom, but in practice they often range from 200-800 Hz (bass to midrange) and 2,000-5,000Hz (midrange to treble). The specialization allows driver designs that are better tailored to the respective frequency ranges, which can limit the problems mentioned above for 2-way loudspeakers. The overall larger membrane area also promotes a higher level capability . However , approaching the aforementioned ideal of the point sound source becomes more challenging with a 3-way construction. The coordination of the individual drivers usually requires amore complex crossover , which can cause additional interference.