What is a tweeter speaker and how does it work?

When you’re buying a new home theater system, soundbar, or even when looking for a new car It’s very likely you have heard the words: tweeter, woofer, subwoofer, and midrange without really knowing what that means.

Every sound you hear has a given frequency, typically the human hearing range is from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz which you may think is a very wide range as seen in the equalizer settings, indeed it is. That’s the reason there are several types of speakers, a tweeter speaker is designed to reproduce high audio frequencies, typically from around 2,000 to 20,000 Hz (2KHz to 20KHz).

What is a tweeter

How a speaker works?

Traditional speakers produce sound by using an electromagnet to move a flexible cone back and forth. They use drivers to help translate electrical signals into physical vibrations so that you can hear recorded sounds. Tweeters are one of the three main speaker types.

What is a tweeter and why is it important?

Any recording is a very complex combination of different tones, frequencies, and other characteristics. Music is made by different instruments, the voice of singers, and items added when music is recorded. Without tweeters, you will be neglecting a crisp and well-detailed sound to your ears. I’m pretty sure you want a better experience, not a bad one.

How can I tell apart a tweeter?

One notable difference between a tweeter and the other types of speakers is their size. Thus it will be very easy to identify a tweeter.

  • Tweeter: The smallest of all, they are even kinda cute.
  • Midrange: loyal to its name, they are mid-size.
  • Woofer: The biggest of all, sometimes, they can be heavy.
What is a tweeter - identify the tweeter
Can you identify the tweeter?

Why tweeters are so small?

The size of the tweeter dictates the frequency because to make higher frequency waves, 2KHz to 20KHz, the diaphragm has to vibrate faster. It’s too hard for a large driver to vibrate fast enough to create the sounds of a tweeter.

What happens if a tweeter reproduces low frequencies?

Don’t worry because most modern sound systems include filters (also called crossovers) that will block any sound that is out of the high-frequency range. Avoiding distortion and damage to your tweeters.

Materials used in tweeters

There are so many materials being used for the tweeters, from textiles to metal. Even though metal dome tweeters look cooler than textiles ones, that doesn’t mean they are better. A well-engineered tweeter should outperform a poor-engineered one even if it uses fancy materials like titanium and aluminum.

Below are some of the most common materials used for tweeters:

  • Silk, textile, and other fabrics
  • Mylar or other plastics
  • Metal-coated plastics
  • Metals: aluminum, titanium, and alloys
  • Ceramics and ceramic-coated

Silk and textile are some of the most common materials used in soft dome tweeters. Titanium and other types of metals like aluminum are common for mid-to-upper price range tweeters. It’s important to check all the specifications and the frequency response since nice materials could be deceiving.

Tweeters in your car

Since tweeters are very small they can easily fit within your car. They’re always used in addition to other speakers like woofers to get the passengers a fuller audio experience.

In cars, they’re often mounted higher in the vehicle and more closely pointed to the heads of the listeners. This is because tweeters are directional, unlike woofers.

Usually, there are three very common positions where you can find tweeters inside a car:

  • Dashboard: facing the windshield and located to the right and left of the dashboard.
  • Pillar: In the pillar that holds your windshield and roof.
  • Doors: In the upper part of the door, facing the mirrors.
what is a tweeter - tweeter inside cars
Left: dashboard; Center: pillar; Right: door

Other specifications for tweeters

For the tech-savvies here are some specifications related to the tweeters. Power ratings of 15W RMS are realistic, in premium sound systems a tweeter could draw 25W-35W.

Tweeters must match the rated impedance expected from an amplifier. A 6-ohm impedance would be unusual, typically rated impedance is either 4 ohms or 8 ohms.

As for efficiency, sensitivity, or SPL. For average tweeters, you might expect to find this at between 89dB to 91dB at 1W/1m. Keep in mind that there are 2 types of tests for SPL, 1W/1m or 2.83V/1m, which could be quite confusing.

Anything else should I know about tweeters?

Yes a few things more, sometimes tweeters could be called trebles. The name is derived from the high-pitched sounds made by some birds (Tweets).

Finally, It’s important to note that mids and woofers cannot reproduce high frequencies. Nevertheless, they will take care of any frequency below 2KHz. We’ll talk about woofers in a future article, see you soon!

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