When it comes to sound, most people think of just one speaker. After all, what more could you need? The answer is that there are a few different types of speakers and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. This article will go over the difference between 2-way vs. 3-way speakers with some pros and cons for each setup.
The human ear is more sensitive to mid frequencies. That’s why a speaker system should have at least two types of speakers: one mid-range and the other high-frequency, or tweeter. A three-way speaker has a third type called a subwoofer that’s designed primarily for bass output, or low frequencies.
In general, most people will use either a two-way setup as they’re most popular, and unless you’re an audiophile, you won’t notice a difference unless you put them side by side.
What is a 2-way speaker?
Pros of a 2-way speaker system:
It is not as expensive and therefore more affordable for most people.
- Smaller speaker boxes for a two-way setup take up less space or footprint.
- Simple cross over setup
- Lower power requirements
- Bookshelf speakers tend to be 2-way and they can be installed almost everywhere
Cons of a two-way speaker system:
Limited bass output unless you connect a subwoofer with these speakers to enhance the sound.
- Insufficient detail in the voice range (mid frequencies).
What is a three-way speaker?
A three-way speaker has an additional type of driver which covers low frequency, or bass range called a subwoofer. The advantage to this setup is that you can adjust these speakers for different types of music and it will sound good with all styles–no matter what kind of song there may be playing.
Pros of 3-way speakers:
- 3-way speakers provide more options and better sound quality overall because it has an additional driver which is a dedicated subwoofer that handles low frequencies only. Some of the best speaker brands have 3-way speaker models avaialble.
- Better voice clarity
- If the cross over is good, you won’t get distortion
- No need to connect additional subwoofers
Cons of 3-way speaker systems
- More expensive than a 2-way speaker
- There are fewer options in the market because they’re not as popular
- Bigger and heavier enclosure
What is a speaker crossover?
A speaker crossover is an electric device that takes a single input signal and splits it up to drive multiple loudspeakers within different frequency ranges. For 2-way speakers, the signal is divided between the woofer and tweeter. For a three-way speaker, it is divided between the low-frequency driver (subwoofer) and the midrange/high frequencies drivers (tweeter).
A good quality crossover is important because it has to provide an even signal for the speakers and not cause any distortion. A cheap 3-way speaker system with a low-quality cross-over might perform worse than a 2-way speaker with a good crossover.
2-way vs. 3-way – Which setup is better for a car sound system?
A two-way speaker system is most common in a car sound system because it’s easier to install and not as expensive. A three-way speaker can be installed but needs more space for the speakers which may get in the way of other components inside your trunk or engine bay.
2-way or 3-way – Which setup is better for a home theater?
A three-way speaker system has more bass output and can sound much fuller when watching movies or television shows. Some people prefer to use an equalizer, bass boost, or subwoofer on their receiver that will enhance the signal coming from your TV which would be perfect as well.
For many though, they’re satisfied with just using their integrated TV speakers or the popular soundbars, but a good 2-way or 3-way speaker system really blows them out of the water. There’s no comparison.
Which setup is better for an audiophile?
An audiophile is someone who’s into high-fidelity sound, primarily for music. A three-way speaker system would be best in a home setting to provide the most detail and clarity when listening–especially if you’re playing classical or jazz albums which require good frequency response on all ranges of speakers from low to high frequencies.
2-way vs. 3-way speakers – Conclusions
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what kind of setup you have whether it be a two-way or three-way unless you are an audiophile because either way will produce decent results with different pros and cons. However, many people like using two ways mainly due to its affordability as well as smaller footprint when placing them in small areas such as cars where space could be limited; however some prefer the three-way setup because it provides more options and better sound quality.