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#58612 - 5th Jul 2004 1:56am How speakers work
aceritz Offline
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Registered: 11th Nov 2003
Posts: 2056
Loc: birkenhead
Speakers are air pistons that move back (on the negative cycle of the signal) and forth (on the positive cycle), creating different degrees of air pressure at different frequencies.

The amplifier (either separate or built-in your radio), produces electrical impulses that alternate from positive and negative voltages (AC). This current reaches the voice coil inside the speaker, creating an electro-magnet that will either be repelled, or attracted by the fixed magnet at the bottom of the speaker.

The voice coil is attached to the cone, moving it back and forth, creating sound. The surround (rubbery circle that joins top of the cone and metal basket) and the spider (usually yellow corrugated circle joining bottom of cone to magnet) make the cone return to its original position.

Speaker Sensitivity, measured in dB, is how loud a speaker plays (usually 1 Watt, 1 meter). A higher Sensitivity rating means that the speaker will play louder using the same power as a speaker with a lower rating.

The back and front parts of the speaker should be isolated from each other. When the front of the cone is pushing air, the bottom is pulling air, creating a canceling effect. Ideally every speaker should be in an enclosure. If you are mounting a speaker in a big hole, make sure you build a panel to isolate the front and back of the speaker (baffle).

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#58613 - 5th Jul 2004 2:02am Re: How speakers work
aceritz Offline
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Registered: 11th Nov 2003
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First I will try to explain a little about magnetism and sound.

As you may already know magnets have north and south poles like the earth does. Think of the north pole as having a positive charge and the south negative. You may also know the unlike magnetic fields attract and like fields repel. We use this phenomena to our advantage to produce sound.

Sound waves are just that, waves of air moving at different frequencies. You can look at it much like a wave of water, how it has a up and a down cycle, so does sound. When a speaker moves out it produces the up cycle of the wave. When it moves in it produces the down cycle. But how?

When a positive voltage is applied to the + side of the voice coil the speaker will move outward. To see this get a 1.5 volt AAA, AA, C, OR D battery and connect the positive battery terminal to + speaker etc. You will see the speaker move outward. Switch them to see it move inward.

When a voltage is applied to the coil it produces a magnetic field of its own. If that field is opposite of the magnet it will pull the cone down, if it is the same it will repel the cone away or out. The higher the voltage, the more the cone will move. If you turn it up to far the cone can get thown to hard up and lock up never to move again or the coil can over heat.

Sound is measured in decibels and cycles per second. Humans can hear from 20 cycles per second to 20,000 cycles per second. We say this 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz.

One hertz is the speaker moving out and in once.
So a 20hz bass drop will move the speaker in and out 20 times per second. It takes a big speaker to produce 20 hz and a small one for 20khz. This is why woofers are big and tweeters are small.

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