2 Way vs 3 Way Speakers: Which Is Better?

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If you ask a random person who isn’t into audio equipment what they think of a particular speaker, the most likely response is, “It’s just a speaker.”

Despite the fact that it is indeed just a speaker, there’s more to it.

Speakers come in a variety of forms and sizes, with 2-way and 3 way speakers being the most common ones in the AV environment.

Both have a range of sound waves, from highs to lows, which can produce an accurate and detailed, great sound quality.

Over the years, there have been a lot of discussions, debates, and criticism regarding which type of speaker sounds best: 2 way speakers or 3 way speakers?

But which one is the best? Well, I’ll walk you through that in my article, in a detailed manner.

So without wasting time, let’s find out.

The definition of a 2 Way Speaker

A two-way speaker refers to the number of cones (speakers) in each box. The lower and mid range frequencies are produced by the woofer, which is the bigger cone. The smaller cone that handles the highest tones is known as the tweeter. 

The crossover, an electronic component inside the speaker, regulates which tones travel to the woofer and which tones go to the tweeter.

This is also a passive speaker, meaning it does not have an internal amplifier and must be driven by an external amplifier or a stereo receiver.

The passive crossover inside the speaker is the key benefit; it allows the speaker to run at optimal efficiency, and the sound quality improves dramatically as the signal is separated into high frequency sounds and low frequency sounds.

A 2-way speaker also consumes less power.

The 2-way technology will be found on bookshelf speakers and some studio monitors, making them extremely versatile and simple to install.

They also have a smaller and more compact form factor, which means they take up less room and are easier to transport.

Furthermore, they are significantly less expensive. Hence why they are the most popular and favorite option.

Drawbacks of a 2-way speaker:

There aren’t many drawbacks to speak about, except for the bass being limited.

However, by using a subwoofer, you can enhance the sound and improve the bass output.

Another issue would be a lack of detail in the vocal range or the mid frequencies.

The definition of a 3 Way Speaker

A three-way speaker, as the name suggests, is made up of three distinct cones or, to put it another way, drivers.

It has a bass driver, mid range driver, and treble driver.

The bass is handled by the woofer. The mid-high frequencies are handled by the mid range driver, while the treble and super-treble are driven by the tweeter.

Because the drivers are tuned to perform in a specific frequency ranges, the speaker produces cleaner and more accurate sound than a single, all-purpose driver would.

It also has crossover circuits to improve the sound quality. One crossover transmits low-frequency impulses to the woofer, another sends high-frequency signals to the tweeter, and a third sends middle-range frequencies to the mid range speaker. Typically, these circuits are hidden behind the speaker cabinet.

The Benefits of a 3-way speaker:

A three-way speaker, by virtue of having an additional driver, produces greater overall sound quality.

That was the dedicated subwoofer, which solely handles low frequencies, something a two-way speaker lacked.

It also boasts greater vocal clarity and excellent cross-over, with little to no distortion.

The convenience of not needing to attach a second subwoofer is fantastic. You will have more money and room.

The Drawbacks of a 3-way speaker:

Because it is more complete, it is more expensive than its counterparts, 2-way speakers.

Furthermore, because it is less popular, the market’s offerings are more limited.

For obvious reasons, the 3-way speakers are also heavier and bigger which affects portability.

These are the drawbacks of the three-way speaker that I can think of.

The Definition of the Speaker Crossover

Most likely you noticed that I used the term crossover and I think unless you are an audiophile you are not aware of its definition.

A crossover frequency is a point at which sound moves from one audio source to another.

In other words, a crossover acts as a filter, preventing undesired frequencies from reaching a speaker or group of speakers.

An effective crossover is necessary because it must deliver an even signal to the speakers while avoiding distortion.

Who Should Buy the 2-Way Speakers

We came to the conclusion that both speaker system have benefits and drawbacks.

The two-way speakers, on the other hand, are aimed at regular people who aren’t obsessed to sound quality, simply want a device to stream music and enjoy it while watching movies, listening to music, or anything.

As I previously stated, the two-way speaker is the most popular choice due to its basic simplicity and portability.

If you’re looking for a simple portable speaker that won’t break the bank, go for the two-way speakers.

Who Should Buy the 3-way Speakers

On the other hand, if you are an audiophile who listens to even non-existent noises, the 3-way speaker is the way to go.

The 3-way speakers undoubtedly provide superior overall sound quality.

You will have to pay a higher price, but if having a good sounding speaker allows you to sleep better at night, it is worth it in my opinion.

Coaxial Speakers & Car Speakers

It is worth mentioning coaxial speakers since car speakers pretty much are way speakers as well.

Coaxial speakers are described as having the high-frequency reproducer in the middle and on the same axis as the low-frequency reproducer.

Something that is mainly found in cars. You might think of this as being weird but there are audiophiles who want to have high quality sound car speakers.

 

Final Words, Conclusion

At the end of the day, it all boils down to preferences and the listener.

I can’t tell exactly which speaker system is better since both of them do the job in a specific field while lacking in the other.

If your bank is hurting, just get a simple 2-way speaker and enjoy streaming music or watching movies through it. If you are a professional or audiophile who seeks superior sound quality, get a high end 3 way speaker system.

The reason why I mentioned a high-end one is that there can be even 2 way speaker system that sounds better than 3-way ones. When it comes to sound quality and the overall construction of the speaker, the brand plays a crucial role.

This is it for today, until next time, enjoy!

Further Reading

We mentioned speaker system, but microphones are also a crucial part of the audio equipment. I’ll leave here a few microphone comparisons such as Blue Yeti vs Rode NT USB, AT2020 USB+ vs XLR, or Elgato Wave 3 Vs. Blue Yeti. 

Josh Harper

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