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Speaker & Earbud Reviews – Sony 2.1 Speakers

Sony 2.1 Speakers

A surround sound system for your computer can sometimes be considered an inconvenience or a modern luxury. However, there are options that offer clarity, along with a balanced sound that makes them a necessity, such as the Sony 2.1 speakers.

With the use of a surround sound system on your computer, you can watch movies, work, listen to music, all as if you were using your television. And while some are immensely bulky, there are some to found that are economical in size, with strong output, that doesn’t occupy too much desk space. Today we look at one of those options.

The Sony 2.1 Speakers

The Sony 2.1 speaker system is able to compile everything that you’d get in a full-priced, surround sound speaker system, but is delivered in a palatable, economical package. It has a sleek, modern design with a chrome, tubular shape, which brings a unique, peculiar style that is interesting to look at, while not being intrusive or a perpetual eye-sore. Some might say that it’s downright futuristic, looking as if it’s a broken-off piece of a starship.


Once set up, you’ll notice they are stylish with an aluminum finish that is minimalist, while also appearing modern. Their design allows for the speakers to be placed horizontally or, if you like, vertically. This gives the speakers an adaptability that allows you to place them wherever you wish so as to either hide or showcase the speakers.


This is a rare feature when it comes to surround sound systems as they often come with loads of wires and equipment (see equalizers). This speaker system allows you the option to showcase or hide while not being hideous in design or bombarding you with lights and colors.

Product Specs

It houses a built-in subwoofer that elevates your audio’s bass and fills out your sound with 25W. The bass is adjustable and can be used to prop up the sometimes tinny sound from the satellites. It also produces strong base while not being a boxy monstrosity like some square subwoofers on other systems.


The twin satellites that come with the system will provide you with ample sound of 6W each and are magnetically shielded so as to prevent any and all noise interference and disturbance to your monitor. This makes the system a great choice if you’re looking for something with big power and are using a PC that you don’t want to be damaged.


The satellites are rather uniform in their composition, coming in at 63 x 143 x 63mm. The sub, however quirky in its oblong construction, measures a peculiar 374 x 149 x 183mm. Again, this can either be a pro or con depending on how attractive a design you believe it to be.


The Sony 2.1’s also posses a control panel that allows you to adjust volume and bass, along with two input ports which give you the option to plug in anything from an iPod, iPhone, PC, or any notebook/Mac device. And for those wanting to keep the volume to themselves, there’s a headphone jack. As is commonly found with Sony, the satellites house two small drivers that have substantial weight. This does not feel like a cheap product. As sometimes found with competitors, speakers in this price range can feel hollow and inexpensive. This is not the case with this system.


As far as sound evaluation, the Sony 2.1 speakers offer a crisp sound with high tone capability, as well as resonate clarity. If you’re looking for a system to elevate your laptop, this is a strong choice. Propped up by a booming subwoofer, the system as a whole stands out. However, the problems with the system’s capabilities lie in its ability to balance the sound out unaccompanied, in what is known as mid-range. This weakness is clearly seen when the system is used as the primary output for movies or television.


The voices will sound distant and muffled if used for anything dialog heavy. Increasing the volume will not completely fix this issue as it will distort the voices and music. Much toggling is needed to assist this. In this case, sometimes turning up the bass can help the problem, but it quickly becomes a game of toggling to determine the appropriate levels for the appropriate use.


Limited mid-range capability is excruciatingly noticeable when listening to music at lower volumes. The percussion consumes the recording and drowns out instrumentation, becoming somewhat of a distorted mess. That is to be expected in the system of this price point. This problem seeps into other areas of use such as gaming where gunshots and explosions will tend to sound very superficial and paper thin. Scenes on battlefields or sports games can blur together into a continuous fuzz, offering no balance and a wall of indistinguishable sound.


While music may be the speaker’s strong suit, they do not appear to be the most versatile option. Songs with more production and instrumentation may blend together, and you may find yourself missing certain instruments in the recording. Such is the case with systems of this wattage. Luckily, these weaknesses are more than made up for with the system’s overall sound output. The sound can easily fill out a room if they’re being used casually for listening to music from your iPod or computer. Once toggled with, and given time to blend, these issues become less noticeable.


There is a flair to the design, and while that might not be for everybody, they are able to be hidden with relative ease, and there is no question that they supply strong output. As far as this class of speaker goes, the Sony 2.1’s will give you a strong output; you’ll just need to tamper with them a bit.


The Sony 2.1 Speakers

Sony PC 2.1 Speakers (Black)
  • Target total output power: 25W Satellite: 2.5W+2.5W Sub-woofer: 20W
  • Kelton type speaker system for sub-woofer Powerful bass sound yet compact size
  • Suitable for DVD / game entertainment

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Great wattage and substantial construction
  • Can remain unseen, sleek metallic design

Cons

  • The design may not be for everyone
  • Can distort at higher volumes

Logitech Speaker system Z323

Logitech Speaker System Z323 with Subwoofer
  • Immersive Logitech 360-degree sound for crystal-clear, room-filling audio
  • Ported, down-firing subwoofer delivers deep, rich bass. Satellites(height x width x depth): 8.3 x 3.4 x 4.5 inches
  • RCA and 3.5 millimeter inputs for easy connections to gaming console, DVD player or iPod

Logitech offers clear sound with a down-firing subwoofer that delivers a rich bass. There are RCA and 3.5 mm inputs for easy connections. The satellites have dimensions of 8.3" x 3.4" x 4.5" in. The speakers come in a sleek black color and offer a 360-degree sound that is crystal clear. The 30W of power produce a big, bold sound that offers a full range.


The system itself weighs 8 lbs but can feel slightly hollowed out and cheap. It comes with black cables that extend to almost three feet, along with a single volume control on the right speaker that also serves as an on/off control for the speaker system.


Unfortunately, there is only a single adjustable switch in the back of the subwoofer to adjust the bass. And while there is no switch for the treble, if you hook this up to your computer, the treble can be adjusted from there.

Pros

  • Affordable and competitive pricing
  • Strong subwoofer
  • Long cables to connect to satellites

Cons

  • Limited warranty
  • Higher volume distortion
  • Easy to blow out

Edifier R980T Active Bookshelf Speakers

Edifier R980T 4" Active Bookshelf Speakers - 2.0 Computer Speaker -...
  • 24 WATTS RMS POWER OUTPUT - Active bookshelf speaker system with 24W total power output with calibrated, flared bass...
  • CLASSIC WOOD FINISH - 100% wooden enclosures to minimize acoustic resonance, Magnetically shielded speakers
  • CABLES INCLUDED - RCA and 3.5mm cables and speaker wire included. Universal 110V-240V power supply.

The Edifier’s posses 24W total power and are calibrated with a flared bass in front. RCA and 3.5mm cables are included along with speaker wire, offering universal 110V-240V power supply. The system can easily connect to any device that has a 3.5mm headphone output or dual RCA output.


The system has a unique wood finish enclosure that minimizes acoustic resonance. While these may not be best for a table top, they fit snugly on a bookshelf or an area with more space. They are a well-rounded system that is full of presence and depth that are fairly rich in detail for their size. They are considered active speakers, so there is no preamp needed, there is one built inside of them. Multiple input sources can be used, and these speakers can easily stand up to them.


While the system looks like something more substantial than average computer speakers, they will work for anything as small as a laptop. The system comes with a 2-year warranty with guaranteed high quality and reliability with hassle-free parts and labor.

Pros

  • Quality, high-performance sound at high volume 
  • Wooden protection for resonance
  • Well-balanced tone

Cons

  • Strange wiring that complicates assembly
  • Trouble handling low ends of the sound spectrum
  • Will need to toggle with wiring

GOgroove BassPULSE 2.1 Speakers

GOgroove BassPULSE 2.1 Computer Speakers with Blue LED Glow Lights and...
  • POWERFUL 2.1 SOUND QUALITY WITH BOOMING SUBWOOFER : Satellite channel speakers and bass heavy sub woofer stream audio...
  • VOLUME & BASS CONTROLS: Adjust the sound on the Full-range 5 watt satellite speakers & side-firing 10 watt subwoofer...
  • GLOWING BLUE LED ACCENT LIGHTS: Bright lights provide bold flare and pulse to the beat of the music when the bass...

The BassPULSE 2.1 offers a strong subwoofer with 40W of power. The satellite channel speakers and bass heavy sub that can stream audio from any device with a 3.5mm cable.


It can easily fill a room with its output. The satellites speakers are full range, and it has a side firing subwoofer with front-loaded volume control which optimizes the powerful bass that can surprise you. If you’re looking to build a game center, then this is more the system for you. The overall wattage is nice, and you’ll get a good mixture of sound in the mid-range and higher volumes that can eventuate play on a battlefield. With a 10W sub, you’ll feel blasts and bombs with convincing power.


The design is unique as well with bright blue lights that provide bold color and supply stylish flair. The lights pulse and blink along with the music being amplified to add an interesting, unique aesthetic. GOgroove Speakers offer a strong warranty of 3-years, so there is ample protection here.

Pros

  • High wattage that booms sound
  • Modern LED lights that add style 
  • Compact and adaptable to space

Cons

  • Fragile satellites
  • Wiring can be very sensitive   

Conclusion

Overall if you’re looking for a quality speaker system that can fill the room, along with unique design, the Sony 2.1 speakers are an admirable choice.


Bottom line: for the price that these are offered at, and the company which is offering them, it is a price point that is hard to beat. The Sony 2.1 speakers can handle a myriad of demands and meet, maybe even exceed your expectations.


Are Earbuds Safe For You? Breaking Down the Truth About Earbud Safety

flatlay photography of wireless headphones


According to statistics, 77% of people own smartphones.  Our smartphones are more than just devices to make phone calls; we also have access to all sorts of media in the palms of our hands.  

We listen to music, watch videos, and even make music with our smartphones. Essentially, they are our own portable multimedia hubs.

Our sense of hearing is significantly engaged as we consume the media that is available to us.  Many people listen to music via their smartphones, and a recent study reported that 87% of the population uses earbuds or headphones when listening to music.  

If you look around you, you will notice just how true this is; it’s almost a guarantee you’ll see someone wearing them anywhere you go.

 If you’ve ever been to a health club, you’ve probably seen just how many people love to exercise while listening to music; most likely, they had their earbuds in.  Or, if you’ve taken a subway ride, you’ve seen passengers with their eyes glued to their phones, and odds are, they had their earbuds in.

Ever since Apple started including their own brand of earbuds (earpods) with their products, earbuds have become more desirable than headphones, and people tend to gravitate towards them.  

The only issue is that there is a concern as to whether earbuds, which are designed to sit close to your eardrum, are bad for you. The questions is - are earbuds safe?  Let’s find out.

Are Earbuds Safe?

Earbueds


The first set of earbuds recorded in history was introduced to the world in a science magazine in 1926.  They were touted as being lightweight and ultra-portable; however, they did not achieve mainstream appeal at the time.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that earbuds were popularized alongside the advent of Apple’s iPod mp3 player, and amidst their rise to mainstream prominence, people started to ask, “are earbuds safe?”

With all that being said, we have less than 20 years of research related to the safety and possible negative effects of earbuds.  Studies analyzing the long-term effects they have on our eardrums have only started popping up recently; thus, those who have concerns are justified.  

Here are some of the main claims as to why earbuds may be a safety risk:

Noise Cancelling Headphones

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Hearing Loss

As compared to headphones, earbuds fit inside your ear, blocking your ear canal from outside sound.  This means that the sound produced by earbuds reverberates inside your ear canal, resulting in a more concentrated sound.  

Some wonder if such a concentrated sound could be damaging to your eardrums.  Headphones, on the other hand, do not block the ear canal and give your ears a chance to breathe.

In addition, compared to headphones, earbuds emit sounds a lot closer to your eardrums.  It’s not outside the realm of possibility that if a sound is too loud, it can actually tear right through your eardrum and cause extreme, permanent hearing loss.  

Fortunately, smartphones are not capable of emitting audio loud enough to do this, but the fact remains that our ears are sensitive.

Smartphones are, however, capable of producing volumes that can cause nerve damage, and nerve damage results in hearing loss.  

Hearing loss in these cases is usually incremental; thus, you may not notice a significant change in your hearing ability after one high-volume listening session.  However, with prolonged exposure to high volumes over time, damage is inevitable.

Ear Infection

Items that are not cleaned properly will accumulate bacteria, and earbuds are no exception.  It just so happens that the majority of people who use earbuds do not clean them after they are used, and some who ponder the question “are earbuds safe?” suspect that the use of unsanitized earbuds may cause ear infections.

An ear infection which is left untreated can cause hearing loss and damage to the bones in the middle ear.  This is yet another factor that has been mentioned in discussions about earbud safety.

The Truth About Earbuds And Eardrum Damage

airpod apple device


So again, are earbuds safe?  Well, don’t throw away your earbuds, because the answer to the aforementioned question is - yes, earbuds are safe.  They are completely safe to use.  

This does not mean, however, that you cannot experience hearing loss when using them; it is entirely possible. But, the real contributor to hearing loss is the decibel level of sounds and not the earbuds themselves.

Just as we use inches and feet to measure length, we use decibels to measure the intensity of sounds.  For example, the sound of someone breathing measures at 10 decibels (dB), and normal conversation volume averages at about 60 dB.  

At 80 dB, damage to your ears is possible after 8 hours of exposure, and at 100 dB, serious damage is possible after 8 hours.

The higher the sound volume, the more likely ear damage will occur and in shorter periods of time.  This doesn’t mean that you cannot listen to loud music from time to time, but you should take into the account the advice of Hippocrates, who said, “Anything in excess is opposed to nature.”

Consider the following analogies.  Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning is perfectly safe; however, if you were to drink 10 cups of coffee in the morning, that much caffeine could put you on the brink of a heart attack.  

Also, there is nothing wrong with using salt to season your food, but exceeding your recommended daily sodium intake day after day may eventually cause you to have high cholesterol.

The next time you ask yourself “are earbuds safe?” simultaneously ask yourself if coffee or salt is safe.  It’s not the product itself but rather how it is used or abused; that is the most vital in relation to health.

As for earbuds potentially perpetuating ear infections, there is absolutely no evidence to support this.  

A recent controlled study that tested to see whether or not earbuds can cause infections concluded that earbuds do not pose any threat to health in that regard.  At the end of the study, the group of participants this study focused on did not have any infections due to earbud use.

The point to take away from all of this is that earbuds are perfectly fine to use as long as whatever you listen to is set at a reasonable volume level.  

Even if you do listen to music that is a bit loud, there is nothing to worry about as long as you limit the amount of time you listen to it.  And, earbuds do not increase the chance of contracting an ear infection.

How To Use Earbuds Safely

Ear buds


As mentioned above, it is definitely possible to experience hearing loss with earbuds if you use them irresponsibly.  Any loud noise can cause damage to the eardrum if it is absurdly loud or listened to for too long.  

With earbuds, you have the luxury of being in control of the volume, and if you follow a few simple guidelines, your hearing will not be negatively affected.

Keep Your Volume Below The Halfway Point

Level of sounds


Most smartphones these days have their volume bars calibrated to operate within a certain decibel range.  An iPhone can reach a maximum of 100-115 decibels, and this level of sound is equal to what you would experience at a rock concert.

Just because you can turn your music up that loud does not mean that you need to. Experts recommend that you keep your volume level below 50%.   

In noisy environments, this may not be practical, but it’s a good rule to follow when you’re able to in order to evade any risk of hearing loss.

Use Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

noise cancelling earbuds


If you have to turn your volume up loud due to outside noise, investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a great idea.  

They will help block out unwanted sound, allowing you to turn your volume down to a lower level.  A good pair of noise-cancelling earbuds will fit snug in your ear, act as earplugs, and produce quality sound.

Take Periodic Listening Breaks

Earbuds


Because eardrum damage is possible when you listen to sounds at 85 dB and above for 8 hours straight, it is recommended that you take periodic breaks when using earbuds.  

Scientists say that 60 dB is a more reasonable level to keep your volume at, but if you choose to listen at 85 dB or more, you should strive to take an extended break every 4 hours.

It’s important to give your eardrums a rest.  As with any part of your body, your ears become fatigued when they are overworked.  By giving them a chance to rest and recover, you can help ensure that nerve damage does not occur.

Final Words

Ear Buds


Asking “are earbuds safe?” is like asking if coffee or salt is safe.  Used responsibly and in moderation, there is nothing to fret about.  

Earbud use does not result in hearing loss unless they are used to listen to audio at unreasonably high volumes for lengthy periods of time.

If you follow a few simple rules of thumb, they are a perfectly safe and a convenient tool that will help you enjoy all types of audio on a range of multimedia devices.  

Even though there are naysayers who will make unwarranted arguments about why they are bad for you, science says and proves otherwise.

How Earbuds Work And More – Understanding the Tech Behind Earbuds

white earphones

Everyone today owns a pair of headphones or earbuds. Some audiophiles even have multiple pairs to enjoy entertainment in different settings. However, did you ever stop and wonder how earbuds work or how they evolved to the devices we use today? But before you seek answers to those, there is another pertinent question that you must ask. Here's more about how earbuds work.

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What Are Earbuds?

Earbuds are similar to earphones but they rest just outside the ear canal. They sit at the center of your outer ear and in some cases are considered better for your ear health as compared to earphones. Earbuds are basically tiny speakers that sit inside your ears and provide the same effect as listening to music on loudspeakers in a noise-free environment might feel.

There is no mystery revolving around earbuds or headphones. They have been systematically developed over the decades. The 70s saw monster sized headphones that literally enveloped the entire ear. In the 80s, developers came out with portable music players. This meant that headphones had to shrink in size to match with music on the go. And that was the starting point of the earbuds which we use today.

Apple brought a marginal breakthrough in this segment. In 2001, Apple came out with sleek and striking iPods. These were the first iPods, and they instantly became a rage. There was a white pair of elegant and striking earphones that came with the package. This was when the race to modern earbuds started.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to listen to music on players and earphones were ubiquitous. Even today Apple is ahead in the game by launching AirPods. This brings us to the next question.

woman listening to music in bus

How Earbuds Work


It is a wonder that earbuds sound so good, as they consist of only a thin cord, minuscule earbuds, and very tiny speakers. These petite compact pieces of technology are a necessity for many people today who are music lovers or seek entertainment ‘on the go.’

Each ear has a very thin conical membrane known as an eardrum. These thin membranes vibrate when there is a change in air pressure. These vibrations and changes in air pressure are referred to as sound.

Emphatically, earbuds are nothing but small speakers that produce sound by vibrating eardrums with sound waves. However, there are various components to an earbud that is important to know before completely understanding how earbuds work.

Exterior Earbud Shell

This holds all the important components that are used inside an earbud in place. The front side of an earbud shell has holes to let sound waves pass.

Magnet

They place a very tiny magnet in the back of exterior earbud shell. This is useful in providing a magnetic effect.

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is made of very thin flexible plastic material. This is located right in front of the earbud shell.

Metal Coil

A metal coil is placed right behind the diaphragm. This is useful in conducting an electrical current.

Cord

The earbud cord is what is used to plug the earbuds into your music device. There are however, wireless options available in the market today. In most cases, your earbud shell might have a foam or soft padding to make the experience more comfortable.

The metal coil gets charged whenever you plug in your earbuds to your music player due to an electrical current flowing through earphone wiring. This charge, in turn, makes the diaphragm vibrate by creating a magnetic effect the moves back and forth.

You would have noticed holes in the front of your earbuds shells. This is to allow sound waves created by quick air movements to escape into your ear canal. And this is how you can hear audio from your music player.

If you are an audiophile who likes listening to the low frequency, then you should go for earbuds that have a slow vibrating diaphragm. Higher the diaphragm vibration, higher the pitch will be detected by your eardrums. Volume played is determined by the combined force of sound waves and diaphragm vibrations.

color blue earbuds

Advantages Of Earbuds


Earbuds are a necessity today with more and more people seeking entertainment while traveling or commuting. There are a lot of ways that earbuds can be beneficial:

1. Portable and Non-Bulky

Earbuds are highly portable devices. You can simply bunch them up and keep them with your pocket change. Many even come with their own carrying cases which do not allow the cords to get tangled. Earbuds also make great companions when you step out of the house without carrying a bag. You can simply let the wired ones fall around your neck like a necklace. Earbuds are tiny and absolutely non-bulky. You do not have to worry about them as they are not big enough to cover your entire ears.

2. Fashionable

Many people worry about every aspect of their clothing before stepping out of their homes. Everything needs to match right from the shoes to bag and even spectacle frames or sunglasses. Earbuds are great for people who do not want to ruin their get up as they are tiny enough to fit innocuously inside the ears. With an absolute wireless pair like the AirPods, you do not even have to worry about a dangling wire.

3. Colors and Variety

There are many types of earbuds available in the market in varying shapes and sizes. There are also different types of earbuds; wired, wireless, ear pods without wire. You can pick your match from the wide variety available on sale. In fact, earbuds have become a fashion statement on their own, a lot like headphones.

4. Noise Cancellation and Sound Isolation

Mostly earbuds today come with noise cancelation and sound isolation technology. Earbuds sit right outside the ear canal which makes this technology function better than a headphone in the same price range.

5. Water Resistant

There are some models of earbuds that are waste-resistant and splash proof. This enables your earbuds to be highly portable. You can even listen to good music in the rain with a high-end model designed to be water-resistant.

6. Inexpensive and Affordable

In comparison with headphones, earbuds tend to have a better technology and features than them in the same price range. However, where sound quality is concerned headphones are always better than earbuds.

7. Great Companions for Workouts and Runs

The best buddy to any run or workout session is music. However, you would have noticed that earphones keeping dropping from the ears and headphones keep slipping. With earbuds, you will never have this problem. Perfectly fitted earbuds will never slip or drop out from the ears.

8. Music Increases Motivation

Earbuds let you hear your favorite tunes privately while performing a number of chores and tasks. Music sets the mood and helps keep you motivated by boosting your energy levels. You also get an optimistic boost that can help you complete the most difficult tasks and achieve the hardest goals.

9. Earbuds Provide Privacy

By wearing earbuds, you provide a clear signal to people that you are engaged. This allows you to enjoy your privacy while you listen to your tunes or complete your tasks. They can also work as props if you want to pretend to be busy.

10. Comfort

Earbuds are the most comfortable as compared with every other type of listening device. A perfectly fitted earbud pair is not heavy on your ears like headphones; nor does it hurt your ear canals like earphones. This is why many companies provide multiple ear tips so that you can find your best fit.

cool black earbuds

How Earbuds Work vs. How Headphones Work

Headphones and earbuds work differently although on the same principle. Headphones tend to rest on the outer ears. Some like Supra-aural models can cover your entire ears.

Headphones are big, bulky and not too portable. If you are using headphones, you will always have to carry a bag to keep the headsets in. They are also not very strong and are prone to damages.

Earbuds are light, non-bulky and very portable. They are the first choice among runners and people indulging in fitness routines. In fact, wireless earbuds can also be used easily by people practicing yoga.

Headphones provide unmatched sound quality. Their sheer size provides for bigger speakers in the shells. Earbuds, on the other hand, lose out on the size part. Tiny speakers provide good sound quality; however, they cannot match with bass provided by headphones.

Conclusion

There are several benefits to how earbuds work. Many people prefer earbuds over headphones and other listening devices. People who want a good listening experience on a budget should opt for earbuds.

Earbuds protect the ear canal as they function at low volumes and do not fit inside the ear canal. This makes them a perfect candidate for people who suffer from common infections or hearing problems.

Earbuds are also a great option for individuals who cannot sport big headphones like professionals or executives. Earbuds provide a more personal and private listening experience than bulky headphones.

Catch The Wave!: What You Really Need To Know About Sound

what is ound

If someone asks you, “what is sound?” could you answer the question?

Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, may know a few fundamental things about sound.

However, at the end of the day, the majority of us have only skimmed the surface or recall bits and pieces from elementary school.

I know, you're nodding your head right now.

THE KNOWER OF THE MYSTERY OF SOUND KNOWS THE MYSTERY OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. – HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN

Now, whether you are a musician, an audiophile, or someone who is merely obsessed with sound, you are in the right place.

We are about to break it all down and finally answer the question, “what is sound?” in its entirety in a way that everyone can understand.

After you read this article, shopping for new sound equipment will be a piece of cake.

What Is Sound?

To answer the big question, we are going to have to start small.

So, let's start with the basics:

Sound is a wave — to be precise; it's a pressure wave that, “creates a mechanical disturbance in the medium in which it is directly adjacent to.”

sky-sound-waves-blue-white-background

Generally, the “medium” that ends up disturbed by the wave is the air, but sound can also travel through solids and liquids as well.

Check out this short video for a more detailed explanation:

An essential thing to remember here is that just because you can't see a soundwave, doesn't mean that it isn't physically there.

How Humans Hear

Now that you understand what a soundwave is let's talk about how the human ear manages to pick up those sounds.

Soundwaves consist of regions of compressions and rarefactions that occur as the sound travels away from its source:

  • Compressions: areas of high pressure
  • Rarefactions: regions of low pressure

The change in pressure hits the human ear, and that's what produces a sound.

The human ear

Our ears consist of three different sections:

  • Outer ear
  • Middle ear
  • Inner ear
outer-middle-inner-ear-black-white

Source: NASA

Sound hits your outer ear first.

Then, the outer ear works to funnel that sound through your ear canal.

“GET RID OF THE SHITTY SOUND. LIFE’S TOO SHORT.” – HANS ZIMMER

Once the soundwave hits your tympanic membrane (eardrum) in the middle ear, it causes it to vibrate.

But we're not done yet!

There are three bones in your middle ear:

  • Malleus
  • Incus
  • Stapes

Once the soundwave hits those bones, they transmit vibrations from your eardrum to your inner ear.

Then, the soundwave gets into your inner ear, and the cochlea there convert the vibrations into nerve impulses.

Finally, your auditory nerve receives those messages, already translated into nerve impulses, and carries them into your brain which is where your brain turns them into sound.

Check out the video below:

As you can see, the human ear is capable of an astounding number of processes, and they all happen almost instantly.

The Power Of Sound

Next, it's imperative that when someone tries to answer the question, “what is sound?” that they also understand the power of sound.

You should never underestimate the power of sound.

Here's why:

  • Doctors in England used sound waves to kill cancer cells
  • Playing music around plants will make them grow faster 
  • Sound can help balance out brainwaves and create cohesion between the two sides of your brain
  • Ultrasound can help your wounds heal faster
  • Music can help you improve your memory and learn things faster

Sound and shapes

Amazingly, Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor, pioneered research that showed each sound produces a unique geometric shape.

Called cymatics — it's the study of “sound and vibration made visible.”

Check out the video below:

And if those shapes weren't cool enough, let's talk about Doctor Masaru Emoto:

Author of the book Messages from Water, Dr. Emoto studied the formation of crystals in water as he exposed the water to different sounds.

The results:

When Dr. Emoto played nice things like Mozart, prayers, and positive affirmations, beautiful crystals grew as a result.

“TONES THEMSELVES CORRESPOND WITH AND AFFECT SPECIFIC AREAS OF THE BODY. THE ANCIENTS UNDERSTOOD THAT A SIMPLE SOUND COULD REORGANISE THE BODY’S STRUCTURE. SOUNDS THAT ARE HARMONIOUS, ACTIVATE THE BODY AND CREATE HEALING.” EARTH: PLEIADIAN KEYS TO THE LIVING LIBRARY – BARBARA MARCINIAK

However, when Dr. Emoto played or yelled mean things like, “I hate you,” and, “I will kill you,” the resulting crystals were deformed and ugly.

Check out the video below:

So, as you can see, sound effects every human daily in more ways than most of us can imagine.

The Speed Of Sound

Now that you understand the power of sounds let's talk quickly about the speed of sound.

Check out the video below:

While the speed of sound is a constant, certain variables will affect how fast the soundwaves can move.

Those variables are:

  • The type of gas (air, oxygen, carbon dioxide)
  • The temperature of the gas

On average, though, the speed of sound through air is around 1,130 feet per second or approximately 750 miles per hour.

Measuring Sound Waves

Next, when it comes to measuring a sound wave, how fast it's going is not quite as crucial as other measurements — like volume and pitch.

Let's find out how you measure those.

Amplitude

First, the amplitude is the measurement of how powerful the wave is — which translates into how loudly the human ear hears that sound.

In other words, amplitude equals volume.

amplitude-elephant

You measure the amplitude of a sound wave in decibels or dBA, and it defines the amount of pressure emitted by the wave.

You may also hear it called Sound Pressure Level or SPL.

For example:

  • 0 decibels: the softest level that a person can hear
  • 65 decibels: normal speaking voices
  • 120 decibels: rock concert

For humans, sounds that are 85 decibels or higher have the potential to damage your ears permanently.

As the sound pressure (amplitude, volume) goes higher, the time it takes to damage your ears goes down, so be careful.

girl out in the field in a shiny day

For example, sounds at 85 decibels will take up to eight hours to cause any damage while sounds over 100 decibels can cause damage after only 30 minutes.

Understanding Decibels Isn't As Hard As You Think

Now, for recording artists and musicians, understanding decibels on your equipment is a little more involved than just understanding what they measure.

First, most of us understand units of measurement on a linear scale, and decibels don't work that way.

Check out this video for a detailed explanation:

You can find the chart from the video if you click here.

Frequency aka pitch

If you want to answer the question, “what is sound?” the next thing you need to understand is the frequency of the sound wave — or the pitch.

The frequency of a sound wave is the measurement of how far it is between the peaks of the wave.

dogs can pick up sounds up to 50000 hertz

To measure the frequency, you want to measure the number of sound vibrations in one second.

The unit of measurement used to define the frequency (pitch) is Hertz.

Check out this short video on frequency and amplitude:

Let's break it down:

  • The lowest A key on a piano is 27 Hertz
  • The highest key on the piano is 4186 Hertz
  • A human can hear sounds as low as 20 Hertz

Instruments used to measure sound

There are several different instruments you can use to measure sound including:

  • VU meter
  • Spectrum analyzer
  • Microphone
  • SPL (sound pressure level) meter

However, since it is 2019, instead of getting all that expensive equipment, you could just download an application like dB Meter to your smartphone.

People Started To Manipulate Sound Electronically Over 100 Years Ago

Starting from 1880 to the 1920s, Thomas Edison, Magnavox, and Victrola all used horns as the earliest means of manipulating sound.

an old style speaker

Photograph of an old-style speaker: Image CC BY-SA 2.0 from Javier Kohen via Flickr

Unfortunately, the horns alone could not amplify the sound all that much.

So, In 1906, a man by the name of Lee De Forest invented the first audio amplifier using a triode vacuum tube.

For a detailed explanation of how tube amplifiers work check out this video:

Then, in the 1970s, silicon transistors replaced the vacuum technology used in amplifiers.

For a detailed explanation of how a transistor amplifier works, check out this video:


While you can still find tube amplifiers today, most people prefer the transistor types because they are smaller and more efficient.

On top of that, the transistor types of amplifiers are also better at reducing distortion levels, and they are much cheaper to produce than the tubed versions.

What's A Watt?

Now that we are starting to answer the question, “what is sound?” we need to dig in and find out how wattages affect different equipment.

First of all, let's find out the answer to the question, “what is a watt?” 

Check out the video below:

Generally, you can compare watts to miles per hour — watts measure how fast the electrons move “down the highway,” or the circuit.

Speakers And watts

Concerning the wattage readings on speakers:

Unless the speaker is self-powered, the wattage rating listed there is the maximum number of watts that the speaker can handle.

bronze-black-speakers

For example, if you have a 200-watt speaker and you attach a 250-watt amplifier to it, you're going to blow the speaker.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers process sound and you measure the output with watts.

You can find the output of any amplifier listed right in the specs.

vox-amp-specs-brown-yellow-bronze

Again, make sure that your amplifier isn't pushing more power than your speakers can handle, or you risk damaging your equipment.

How Speakers Work

Speakers work by translating an electrical signal into an audible sound.

Now, that electrical signal can be an amp, stereo, microphone, or even these days a Bluetooth connection.

Speakers contain a permanent magnet as well as an electromagnet placed beside it.

The electromagnet is a metal coil that generates a magnetic field when the electric current flows through it.

The coil doesn't act exactly like a regular magnet, however.

guitar-terms-acoustic

Instead, as the pulses of electricity go through this electromagnet, the direction of the magnetic field changes rapidly.

Then, as the electromagnet's field changes, it alternates between attracted to and repelled from the permanent magnet, which causes rapid vibrations.

Those vibrations create a soundwave.

However, to get the sound outside the speaker, you need a few more parts.

The electromagnetic coil is also attached to a cone made from a flexible material like paper or plastic.

That cone amplifies the magnetic vibrations and pumps out the sound waves into the air and then into your ears.

Check out the video below:

Finally, concerning the cone the magnet uses to get the sound out there — many speakers have more than one.

To reproduce the many different frequencies of sound within a piece of music faithfully, high-quality speakers have different sized cones in them.

You see, with a different cone assigned to the high, mid, and low frequencies in a track, you are going to hear much more than you would from a speaker with only one cone.

Bass, Mids, And Highs

When you hear people speak about music equipment, you will often hear the terms bass, mids, and highs (treble) — those words describe the frequency.

Let's break it down:

  • Bass: the frequency for bass is between 20 and 300 hertz
  • Mids: 300 hertz to 4 kilohertz
  • Highs (treble): anything above 4 kilohertz

Please note: 

Frequency ranges are not an exact science, so those numbers are estimates only.

Understanding Frequency

To answer the question “what is sound?” you must first understand how frequency works when it comes to your sound components and equipment.

When you are shopping for sound equipment, you will often see the term “frequency response.”

Let's find out what that means.

Frequency response

You will see frequency response listed in the specifications for a ton of different products like speakers, headphones, amplifiers, receivers, and CD players.

To put it simply, the frequency response, “describes the range of frequencies or musical tones a component can reliably reproduce.

In other words, the frequency response is how well that particular component can reproduce the sounds we are capable of hearing.

Check out the video below for a detailed explanation:

Please note:

While he was talking about headphones in the video, frequency response works in generally the same way across all equipment.

gain and levels

Additionally, while many purists go for a flat frequency response, some people prefer things like a bass boost, and that's okay too.

Drivers and crossovers and what they do

Before you can honestly answer the question, “what is sound?” you have to get a few more things straight concerning speakers.

dynamic-range

First, it's vital that you understand that when you hear the term, “speaker,” that's describing the entire piece of equipment, housing and all.

However, when you hear the terms, “driver, box, and crossover,” those describe the critical stuff that produces the sound.

Let's break it down:

  • Box: the box holds the drivers as well as the crossover network (when available)
  • Crossover network: a device inside the box that divides the audio signal up between the different drivers
  • Driver: these convert the electrical audio signal into sound waves

Sometimes, a speaker will contain many different drivers in one box, and at other times there are only one or two.

port

However, depending on what you need the speaker for, that's very much on purpose.

The Different Types Of Speakers And How You Should Use Them

Next, we are going to find out what the different types of speakers are as well as the best uses for each of them.

Passive, active, and powered speakers

As you learn and read about speakers, you will see them called passive, active or powered.

Check out this video that explains the whole thing:

  • Passive speaker: does not contain an internal amplifier
  • Active speaker: includes amplifier also includes an internal crossover system — in an active speaker the crossover system splits the frequency into different parts
  • Powered speaker: has an amplifier built into the system

Dynamic speakers

First up, we have the most popular type of speaker on the market: the dynamic speaker.

A dynamic speaker is usually a passive speaker.

A dynamic speaker also:

  • Includes one or more woofer drivers
  • Produces low-frequency sounds
  • Has one or more tweeter drivers
  • Might occasionally include rear drivers to amplify the sounds it's producing

Subwoofer

Next, another favorite type of speaker for audio enthusiasts, especially the ones that like those low frequencies, is the subwoofer.

What is a Tweeter

A subwoofer generally has one large woofer driver that produces low-frequency sounds as well as a port on the box to enhance them.

If you are shopping for a general speaker that produces a full range of sounds, a subwoofer isn't the one for you.

However, if you need to add a little more bass into your life, you're looking for one of these.

Horn speakers

Next up, let's talk about horn speakers.

You might recognize the most common type of horn speaker from places like sporting events.

They look like this:

horn speaker

Photo of horn speaker. Image CC BY 2.0 from Michael Rhysvia Flickr

Horn type speakers have a lot in common with dynamic speakers when it comes to the drivers they contain as well as the frequency ranges.

Horn speakers also:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Eliminate the resonance caused by the materials used to make the speaker boxes
  • Increases directivity: sound doesn't spread out from horn speakers like it does from other types

Electrostatic speakers

Electrostatic speakers feature one driver and a super-fine membrane over two conductive panels.

This setup results in a crisp, detailed sound for mid and higher frequencies — not so much for the lows.

equalizer

This type of speaker comes with an outside power source, and you keep them plugged into a power outlet.

An ideal setup will contain both electrostatic speakers as well as dynamic speakers or a subwoofer for added bass.

Planar magnetic

Finally, we have a speaker design that produces quality highs and mids like the electrostatic speakers — planar magnetic.

A planar magnetic speaker uses a long metal ribbon suspended in between to magnetized panels.

mixer

This type of speaker is ideal, again, for producing precision high-frequency sounds, but if you need some bass, you will need s subwoofer or a dynamic speaker as well.

The Different Types Of Speakers Continued

On this mission to answer the question, “what is sound?” you have learned the different types of manufacturing techniques for speakers.

Next, let's take a look at the most popular speakers on the market and find out what they' do.

Studio monitor speakers

Now, we talked earlier about how many audiophiles prefer a flat frequency response.

Well, for a musician or music producer working on recording and mastering music, a studio monitor is essential.

Here's why:

Like we already discussed, most speakers have components in them that will enhance some of the frequencies.

However, you also learned that every different type of speaker has different settings.

So, when you are recording a track, you need to make sure those levels are as close to precisely what we hear with our ears as possible.

That way, when those other speakers play that mastered track, the levels are where they need to be.

configuration

So, to do that you need to listen to the soundwave on speakers that will reproduce the sound as flat as possible and that's what studio monitor speakers do.

Check out this video:

Please remember:

Some manufacturers sell studio monitor speakers as a set, and some of them sell one at a time — so keep that in mind when you're shopping.

Computer speakers

When computers first popped on the scene, they came with tiny little internal speakers attached to the motherboard.

Well, the current generation of computer speakers come these days with a 2.1 system.

A 2.1 system means the speakers include two loudspeakers as a subwoofer.

Computer speakers are plug-and-play and often attach to your computer using a USB.

Floor standing speaker

Next up, if you are designing a home theater or other home sound system, you want to think about a floor standing speaker.

Provided, of course, that you have enough space.

You see, these speakers are around four feet tall, so if you live in an apartment, you may need something a little smaller.

You can get floor standing speakers in many different configurations with different drivers and such depending on your needs.

receiver

The majority of these speakers are passive or unpowered, so you're going to need a receiver or an amplifier.

Bookshelf speakers

Now, if you don't have room for those floor speakers, don't worry.

You can always get yourself some slightly smaller bookshelf speakers.

Bookshelf speakers are medium sized speakers that come in many different configurations.

This type of speaker is directional, which means that to get the full effect, they must face you and you will need an amplifier or a receiver to make them work.

Surround speakers

Finally, we end our list of the most popular types of speakers with the creme of the crop — surround speakers.

If you want to have your home theater system sound like you are at the movie theater, a surround system is for you.

Terms You Need to Know

A surround system places several speakers in the room and works to create a 360-degree sound environment.

These types of speakers use multiple channels as well as different drivers to deliver sound to every corner of a room.

Common Problems With Sound

Of course, at some point, you are likely going to run into some issues with your equipment.

Let's discuss a few common sound issues and what they mean:

  • Clipping: an audible distortion you can hear, and it happens when a circuit is overloaded
  • Distortion: a difference between the source material and the sonic output of a sound system
  • Acoustic feedback: the squealing sound you hear — it happens if the mic is too close to the speakers (you can stop it by turning down the mic)

Ways To Manipulate Sound Waves With Your Computer

Finally, we will round out our lessons helping you answer the question, “what is sound?” with a short chat about manipulating sound waves on your computer.

So, you finally got all the speakers and recording equipment you need, so what's next?

Well, if you want to record at home, you are going to want to grab a software program so you can master your work before you send it out.

There are so many of these programs out there, check out this video for more information:

These days, you can even get a ton of audio editing programs for free.

Now You're Ready To Blow Their Minds

And there you have it, folks.

Now, the next time someone asks you the question, “what is sound?” you are 100 percent ready to blow their minds.

Most importantly, the next time you're reading the specs on a piece of sound equipment, you're going to know exactly what those numbers mean.

How Speakers Work – Learn More Facts About Speakers

how speakers work

People like to listen to things. Listening comprises one-fifth of our sense-based perception, so this is only natural. Also, since we are also very curious by nature, we tend to like to listen to new things. To this end, people have developed innumerable ways of creating new sounds, and the dawn of the modern age made sharing these new sounds much easier. That said; it is important to know how such sounds are produced. Now, everyone knows the premise of a drum, and most people understand the basic idea behind a guitar, but how many people know how speakers work? It is among the most universal means of transmitting sound under raw vocal speech, so it should be known how they function.

What Is A Speaker?

how speakers work

In simple terms, a speaker is a device that produces and amplifies sound from electrical signals inputted into it. Practically every source of electrically produced sound comes from one form of a speaker or another. From televisions to telephones, speakers are an ever-present factor in the life of a modern citizen. Due to speakers being so common, it is easy to overlook the details behind them. Many people don’t know the first iteration of our modern speaker was developed as a prototype in 1921 by C.W. Rice and E.W. Kellogg. They filed the patent in 1925, and the basic design still holds up today.

The prototype came at a time of rising demand for electrical communication. It was the Roaring Twenties, the age of the radio and the rise of the television. With all this innovation, standard horns used on record players simply would not suffice. Today, electric speakers are everywhere. Every phone, every television, every building with an intercom relies on this precious technology. It is the method we transmit and amplify information in the form of audio. Really makes one think about how speakers work.

How Sounds Work

how speakers work

Before the details of how speakers work as a sound producer, it is important to discuss how sounds themselves work. Sound exists as a wave, a reoccurring event that acts as a disturbance which is emitted from one object, passes through a medium of transmission and is picked up by our ears and perceived as sound. Air is the most identified medium, though the sound may pass through solids and liquids, though not as smoothly. When the medium is air, the disturbance is a rising and falling of air pressure caused by the vibrations of the object emitting the sound. 

Sound waves, being waves, have a certain set of properties. The details surrounding these properties are what let us distinguish one sound from another. The properties of a sound wave are as follows:

  • Frequency
  • Wavelength
  • Amplitude
  • Envelope
  • Harmonic Content

Frequency deals with how often the wave takes place. This is most often determined by measuring how far apart one peak in the wave is from another. One peak to another is one wave. Counting these in a given space determines how frequently the wave occurs, hence “frequency.” Frequency is measured in a unit called a Hertz, which represents how many waves occur in a second. 

In regards to what we hear, differences in frequency are differences in tone. As frequency goes up, so does the pitch of the sound we hear. Human ears can’t hear all frequencies, however. The human range of hearing is approximately 20 to 20,000 Hertz. For reference, dog whistles sound off at a range of 23,000 to 54,000 Hertz. 

Wavelength is the inverse of frequency and is used to describe each individual wave. A shorter frequency means each individual wave must be longer in order to occupy the same space at the same time. It is also important to note that sound waves travel at a constant speed, known as the speed of sound or the sonic barrier. 

Amplitude is the measure of the size of the disturbance the wave consists of. In the case of sound, this is described as volume. If the wavelength is the length of the wave, the amplitude is the wave’s height. In essence, it is the intensity of the disturbance. 

Envelope describes the changes of amplitude a frequency across the duration of the singular sound. This is part of what helps distinguish a note played on a guitar compared to the same note on a piano. It describes the chronological parts of the sound in terms of attack, decay, sustain and release. 

Lastly, harmonic content details the simultaneous components of the sound. For example, when an A note is played on a piano, there are more notes present in the sound then the frequency associated with A. The frequency of the A note is simply the loudest frequency played, and is referred to as the fundamental. Without the other frequencies, or overtones, there would be nothing but what is called a sine wave, the simplest form of sound. 

It may be interesting to note that sound is not necessarily real, in the sense that it is not a property of anything that exists. Sound is just something we perceive as a result of real things, such as sound waves, interacting with each other. Color is similar in that even though, for example, specific wavelengths of light exist, and we perceive those wavelengths as specific colors, the colors themselves are only a construct of our minds to perceive the world. 

How Speakers Work

how speakers worl

Now that the details concerning sound itself are covered, the technology in which those sounds are produced may be properly discussed. The simplest way to convey how speakers work is to say produce precise, electrically controlled vibrations rapidly. Naturally, there is a bit more to it than that. 

The structure of a speaker is fairly basic. The diaphragm is a cone-shaped piece typically made from plastic, cloth or a light metal, and is the piece that vibrates to produce sound. It is held within the framework of the speaker by the surround, a piece of elastic material that keeps the cone secure while still allowing it to vibrate. On the inside, the diaphragm is connected to the voice coil, a wound piece of metal, typically iron, that causes the diaphragm to move. The wires that feed electricity into the speaker as a whole connect directly to this coil. Behind it is a permanent magnet of strength proportionate to the speaker’s size and category. 

When electrical signals are fed into the speaker, they pass through the coil, turning it into an electromagnet of an intensity corresponding with the electrical signal. The electromagnet then will be pulled toward and repulsed away from the permanent magnet in rapid succession, which in turn will vibrate the diaphragm in a specific way. Every time the cone is pushed out and pulled back in as it vibrates, it creates a wave of air pressure, which results in a sound. 

The speed at which the vibration travels through the diaphragm of the speaker determines the produced frequency. With this in mind, speakers are generally set into three basic categories: midrange, woofers, and tweeters. Midrange is the common ground and produces a range of frequencies near the center of the spectrum. Woofers are bigger, and thus a vibration takes longer to travel through its diaphragm. This makes them the best at producing low-frequency sounds. Conversely, tweeters are best at high-frequency sounds, since their small size makes the vibrations much quicker. 

The volume of the produced sound has to do with how much power is behind each vibration of the diaphragm. This primarily has to do with the amount of power being fed into the electromagnet. Simple enough, more power means stronger vibration means louder sound. Naturally, there are other factors as well. The strength and condition of the permanent magnet behind the voice coil plays just as big a role in how much it and the electromagnet repel and attract each other. 

Another key component of a speaker’s performance is its enclosure, or simply the housing in which the main components are kept. This plays a role when it is considered that since the diaphragm moves back and forth to vibrate and create a sound that sound is projected both outward and inward. The type of enclosure deals with the sound projected inward. 

Sealed enclosures, where no air can escape the interior of the speaker, can only project the outward sound. However, the shifting in air pressure in the sealed space is constantly applying pressure to the diaphragm, helping it snap back to its resting position before the next sound is played, resulting in a more precise speaker. On the other hand, bass reflex enclosures have an opening in the front, directing the sound projected inward back out, projecting more sound overall at the cost of the precision benefit of the sealed enclosure.  

Why Know How Speakers Work

Speakers are everywhere, in phones, televisions, radios, even car speakers and digital alarm clocks. They are as essential to the modern world as screens and much more common. They help us make the most of our sense of hearing every day and, in doing so, help us just a bit make the most of our lives.