While loudspeakers may not be the first thing you think of when considering studio gear, they are an important component. Loudspeakers are used as monitors by the engineer in the studio, as well as musicians on stage. The final product coming out of the recording studio most often will be listened to on a speaker, with the main alternatives being headphones or earbuds. With that in mind, lets take a look at speakers. Some purists say that the term should be loudspeaker, as a speaker refers to a person who speaks in front of an audience, but a quick look at the literature and the internet will show that very few people adhere to that logic.
A loudspeaker is a transducer that converts electrical energy into sound energy. The term loudspeaker is also used to refer to and often used interchangeably with loudspeaker system and loudspeaker driver. A loudspeaker system refers to the whole device consisting of an speaker enclosure, the drivers, crossover, and any ports or baffles. A driver (sometimes called a drive unit) is one of the active element within a speaker enclosure. Speaker systems usually have one to three drivers, and sometimes more. These are the woofer, midrange driver, or tweeter. Practically speaking, the terms speaker, speaker system, and speaker driver can be used interchangeably in most cases.
The most common type of speaker is the moving-coil speaker, sometimes called a dynamic speaker. It is based on the same principal as a dynamic microphone. In fact, a speaker can actually be used as a microphone if you connect it to a recorder. A moving-coil speaker uses a speaker cone (a lightweight diaphragm made of paper, plastic, or other material) that is attached to a frame (called a basket) with a flexible suspension so that the voice coil moves axially through a cylindrical magnetic gap. An electrical signal applied to the voice coil creates a magnetic field that generates a mechanical force causing the coil and the attached cone to move back and forth creating sound in accordance with the signal coming from the amplifier.
One important part of a speaker, not shown in the diagram above, is the enclosure or cabinet. We will take a look at enclosures in Part 2 next month.
• The number 1 artist in record sales in the US in the 1950s was Elvis Presley. In the 1960s he ranked number 2, but dropped to number 13 in the 1970s.
• Thirty seconds after meeting his future wire, Buddy Holly asked her for a date. One week later, he proposed to her. Six months earlier, he had recorded a song called “Take Your Time.”
• Barry Manilow's No. 1 hit “I Write the Songs” was written by Bruce Johnson of the Beach Boys. It has been recorded by more than two hundred artists and has had worldwide sales of more than twenty-five million copies.
• In 1981, Joey Scarbury reached No. 2 on the charts with “Believe It or Not.” He was discovered by the father of singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, who overheard Scarbury's mother praising her son's singing ability, when he was just 14 years old. Having little recording success initially, he finally hit the charts 12 years later. Although he never hit the Top 40 again, he did record the soundtracks for ER, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Fahrenheit 9/11.