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High-quality speakers have different components to deliver the best sound possible. Arguably, this kind of device’s two most important components is the woofer and the tweeter. But what exactly are tweeters, and how do they work?
While subwoofers are meant to reproduce the low frequencies of music, tweeters will take care of the high-end of the frequency spectrum; this refers to every frequency that falls into the mids and highs area. Therefore, tweeters will help your system deliver a crisp and clear sound.
When we think about tweeters, instruments such as guitars and vocals come to mind. And since these elements are among the most important in most modern music, most high-quality speakers nowadays have at least one tweeter.
In this article, we will explain in detail how tweeters work and their role in a modern audio system and list some of the best available in the market nowadays.
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Table of Contents
- Explained: What Exactly Are Tweeters?
- How Do Tweeters Work
- What do Tweeters Do?
- Advantages of Using a Tweeter
- Where Are Tweeters Used?
- What Are the Different Types of Tweeters?
- What Should I Keep in Mind when Buying a Tweeter or Set of Speakers for my Car?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1) What Is the Difference Between Speakers and Tweeters?
- 2) Do I Need to Buy a Separate Tweeter if I’m using a Coaxial Speaker?
- 3) What is the Advantage of Using a Component Speaker Set Versus a Coaxial One?
- 4) Do Tweeters Play Vocals?
- 5) How Do I Stop My Tweeters from Blowing?
- 6) Do Tweeters Need an Enclosure?
- 7) Where Is the Best Place to Put Tweeters in a Car?
- 8) Do I Need an External Crossover in my Car Audio System?
- 9) Can I Use a Tweeter Only in my Speaker Set?
Explained: What Exactly Are Tweeters?
When you look at a speaker like the one in the image shown above, you will see that it is mainly made of two circular components of different sizes. The larger one, usually found at the bottom, is the subwoofer, while the smaller one, usually found at the top, is the tweeter.
Therefore, a tweeter’s job is often limited to reproducing the frequencies from 4kHz to 20kHz in your sound signal. The brightness and sizzle of instruments such as guitars and vocals typically fall into this category.
Since mid and high frequencies have small soundwaves and travel more efficiently through the air, the tweeters are much smaller than their subwoofer counterparts, reproducing low frequencies that travel much better by physical means.
But why do we need different components to reproduce different frequencies? The frequency spectrum consists of low, mid, and high frequencies. When we have different components to produce different parts of this spectrum, the result is a much clearer and crisp sound.
List of Tweeter Parts
Tweeters contain simple components when we break down their parts. Like any other electromagnetic loudspeaker, they are made mainly from a magnet.
The parts of a tweeter are:
1. Small Magnet and a Voice Coil
This is the heart of an electromagnetic loudspeaker. In the case of the tweeter, the magnet is small and is directly attached to a voice coil. These are the parts that will convert the audio signal received by the device into sound waves.
The dome is very important for the proper function of the tweeter, even though it may not seem at first. The dome material will vibrate with the soundwaves reproduced by the small magnet and the voice coil, so it is usually made of a stiff material, such as a special type of paper in a curved shape.
The grill is the protection we usually see attached to the front of a tweeter. It is there to protect the loudspeaker. Some tweeters have no grills, though.
The assembly is what encapsulates every component of the tweeter. It must be made of a high-quality material because, as we said before, it will vibrate with the sound waves reproduced by the small magnet and the voice coil. It is usually made out of high-quality plastic.
How Do Tweeters Work
To understand exactly how tweeters work, we must understand the path of the audio signal until the electromagnetic loudspeaker reproduces it.
- The audio signal is sent from your stereo to the crossover.
- The crossover splits the audio signal into different parts of the frequency spectrum and sends each part to its corresponding components.
- The high-frequency audio signal is sent to the tweeter.
- The small magnet and the voice coil inside the tweeter vibrate to turn this audio signal into sound waves.
Because the tweeter driver is small, it can vibrate faster. This is important because high-frequency sound waves vibrate faster in the air, and the components inside of a tweeter must vibrate accordingly to reproduce the audio signal with great fidelity.
What is a Crossover?
A crossover is a component found inside most car stereos. Crossovers are responsible for dividing the audio signal into the different parts of the frequency spectrum and sending them to the corresponding components of the audio system.
For example, the low frequencies get sent to the subwoofer, and the mids and highs are sent to the tweeter.
What is the Difference Between a Subwoofer and a Tweeter?
Subwoofers are meant to reproduce low frequencies. They have a much larger size if compared to tweeters because lower frequencies need more space to vibrate and travel better through physical means than by air. That’s why we feel the car shaking when we play a song with lots of bass.
What do Tweeters Do?
A typical car stereo setup usually has a woofer and a tweeter. While a woofer will reproduce the low frequencies, a tweeter will reproduce all of the frequencies found within the mid and the high parts of the frequency spectrum. This includes instruments and elements such as vocals and guitars.
As we mentioned, tweeters have this purpose because higher frequencies don’t require as much space to travel as lower ones. If you look at a typical speaker set, you will see that the tweeter cone is much smaller than the woofer.
Advantages of Using a Tweeter
If you want a loud and bright sound from your sound system, with clear vocals, you must include a tweeter. These characteristics are sought after by many average listeners and audio enthusiasts, so the presence of this type of loudspeaker in a modern audio system is essential.
1. Tweeters will Provide the Right Stereo Imaging to your Audio System.
While subwoofers usually work in mono, tweeters are panned either left or right, to correctly reproduce the stereo image of a particular song and its elements. That’s why, in a car setting, for example, tweeters are usually placed in the right and left doors.
Where Are Tweeters Used?
Tweeters are, like we said, an essential part of any modern speaker or audio system. They are usually present in:
1. They Are Used In Modern Audio Monitors.
Audio monitors, generally used in studios, usually have a dedicated tweeter. This is because you need a clear response of the mids and highs when working with music production and audio engineering.
2. They Are Used In Car Speakers.
Most coaxial car speakers feature one or more built-in tweeters. In the case of component speakers, you still have a tweeter, but it is usually built within its casing. The tweeters are typically located on the vehicle’s doors in a car to provide a better stereo image.
3. They Are Used In Home Theaters.
Home theaters benefit greatly from tweeters since movies and TV series usually have a lot of dialogue. Since a tweeter reproduces the highest frequencies in the frequency spectrum, it can definitely make the human voice sound clearer and easier to understand.
What Are the Different Types of Tweeters?
Not every tweeter is the same. There are several differences between the different models of tweeters available. Most tweeters will vary in size and the material used. The most popular types of tweeters are dome, cone, and piezo tweeters. We will explain each kind of loudspeaker below.
1. Dome Tweeters
These tweeters, as the name implies, usually feature a silk dome. This material is very stiff and durable and vibrates well with the sound waves produced by the electromagnetic coil. Sound-wise, silk dome tweeters are very colorful and sound very pleasant. This is the most popular type of tweeter. Some tweeters in this category may also have a dome made of materials such as mylar and PEI.
2. Cone Tweeters
This type of tweeter may be made from different materials, such as woven glass fiber, aluminum alloy, and titanium alloy. The color and tone of the sound may vary depending on the material. For example, aluminum cone tweeters tend to be more aggressive while titanium cone tweeters sound more neutral. Overall, cone tweeters tend to sound fuller when compared to dome tweeters. They usually have a smaller size but a higher price.
3. Piezo Tweeters
Piezo tweeters are frequently used in home theater setups due to their particular aesthetic. Not only that, but a significant benefit with piezo tweeters is that they have the widest frequency range among all tweeter types. Thanks to their wide frequency range, piezo tweeters can reproduce not only high frequencies but also mid and low frequencies as well.
What Should I Keep in Mind when Buying a Tweeter or Set of Speakers for my Car?
As we learned, tweeters are very important for your car stereo system to have bright and powerful sound quality. But many factors in between will determine whether or not your sound system will cater to your expectations.
Type of the Tweeters
Most tweeters made for automotive usage are of the dome type because this is the most durable and sturdy type of speaker on the market. Some high-end speakers may feature cone or piezo tweeters as well.
Coaxial vs. Component Speakers
Coaxial speakers are the most popular choice for car audio systems due to their convenience. In a coaxial speaker set, the woofer and the tweeter are built-in within the same casing, meaning a more straightforward installation process, making it more affordable.
With component speakers, the different parts of the speaker system (woofer, tweeter) are separated. This type of speaker allows for more customization options since you can, for example, choose each part according to your liking. This type of speaker setup is more expensive and requires an external amplifier and crossover.
It is important to make sure that your desired tweeter/speakers match the impedance of your stereo or amplifier. A basic rule of thumb is to always choose a speaker with an impedance value higher than the amp’s. For example, if your amp has a minimum output impedance of 2 Ohm, then that, as the name implies, is the minimum impedance your speaker should have.
Peak Power and RMS Power
Peak power refers, in simple terms, to the maximum power that a speaker can produce, while RMS power refers to an average. When buying a tweeter or speaker, you must match these specifications to the stereo system or external amplifier you’re using so that you max out your system’s performance.
Frequency Range and Response
While these two terms often get confused due to their similarity, they refer to different things. Frequency range refers to the range of frequencies your tweeter/speaker can produce, while frequency response, usually shown in a graph form, refers to which frequencies are more present in a particular device.
These specifications are necessary because they will determine how well the tweeter/speaker will reproduce each frequency in the frequency spectrum. We advise you to choose tweeters with the widest frequency range possible and a great presence in the mids and highs. After all, these are the most essential frequencies a tweeter must reproduce.
Last but not least, consider your budget. There are plenty of options in the market nowadays, and the most expensive tweeter/speaker isn’t necessarily the best one for your particular use case. For example, Pioneer has a few budget models that are very affordable and perform just as well as high-end products.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What Is the Difference Between Speakers and Tweeters?
A tweeter is a type of speaker. The term speaker is more general as it refers to anything from subwoofers to coaxial units. Tweeters are nothing more than speakers specifically made to reproduce mid and high frequencies, therefore, giving your audio system a clearer and better performance.
2) Do I Need to Buy a Separate Tweeter if I’m using a Coaxial Speaker?
No, you don’t need to. Most coaxial speakers feature one or more tweeters and a woofer, so the device can reproduce the whole frequency spectrum.
3) What is the Advantage of Using a Component Speaker Set Versus a Coaxial One?
Component speaker sets allow you for more customization options, but they are usually much more expensive than their coaxial counterparts. Coaxial speakers are actually recommended for most setups.
4) Do Tweeters Play Vocals?
Yes. Tweeters usually work best for frequencies above 2kHz, and the human voice has a lot of content in that area.
5) How Do I Stop My Tweeters from Blowing?
You must ensure that your tweeters are receiving the right power. You should match the impedance of your speakers with the minimum output impedance of your amplifier, as we said before. This will keep your tweeters from blowing.
6) Do Tweeters Need an Enclosure?
Tweeters usually come inside their own enclosure, so you most likely won’t need one.
7) Where Is the Best Place to Put Tweeters in a Car?
The best place to put tweeters in a car is usually on the doors, at least one on each side. This is because tweeters are essential for the stereo image of your sound system.
8) Do I Need an External Crossover in my Car Audio System?
It depends if your speaker system already features a built-in one or not. If you’re using a coaxial set of speakers, then they most likely come with a built-in crossover. In the case of component speakers, however, you might need to buy an external crossover along with an external amplifier.
9) Can I Use a Tweeter Only in my Speaker Set?
If you use a tweeter only in your speaker set, the result will be a thin sound that lacks content in the low and low-mid frequencies. That’s why you need to pair the unit with a woofer to have an accurate response across the whole frequency spectrum.
As we learned, tweeters are essential to any high-quality audio system. Be it in a coaxial speaker, where it’s usually built-in over a woofer; Or in a component setting, where the device has its enclosure and is generally paired with an external woofer and amplifier.
Just like we discussed, a tweeter’s job is to reproduce the mid and high frequencies of the audio signal, providing brightness and presence to instruments such as guitars and vocals.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your car stereo system or home speaker set and are still unsure where to start, we recommend you take a look at our related articles about the subject.
Thank you for reading our article on what tweeters are. If you have any suggestions for our website or any questions that weren’t answered by the guide, please feel free to reach out to us!
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.