Should You Get 2-Way or 3-Way Speakers, Or Even 4-Ways!?

Jan 3, 2002

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The Bottom Line Read the review to find out more about 2-Way and 3-Way speakers!

In the world of speakers for home theater, there are two main contenders. They are 2-Way and 3-Way speakers. There are some 3-Way speakers that are cheap, but pump out bad sound. Then there are 2-Way speakers that can pump out some truly full and rich sound! Then there are also 4-Way speakers. In this review, you will learn about these speakers, and you will find out which ones are right for you!

-Characteristics Of 2-Way Speakers-
*2-Way speakers usually include a tweeter and the woofer. This can handle instrumentals and vocals fairly well. The cheap 2-Way speakers often have flat lifeless sound, but some other 2-Ways speakers that can cost thousands of dollars can produce phenominal ranges. The only thing that these speakers usually have trouble producing is bass. But, speakers shouldn't be expected to produce the powerful bass unless they are 4-Way speakers.

*If you have a subwoofer to handle the lower frequencies, 2-Way bookshelf or tower speakers as your mains should suit you well. They will be able to produce the upper ranges that you will need. Also, you should use 2-Way speakers as your main speakers, because they have a very light load to do compared to the other kinds of speakers such as center channels or main speakers. 2-Way speakers on average are usually cheaper than 3-Way speakers. So, if you have space for a subwoofer and maybe want to save some money on main speakers, try out some 2-Way speakers. However, if you are lacking space but may still be able to place a subwoofer, try 3-Way speakers. They usually provide ample bass for average users. If you have no space for a subwoofer but need monster bass, then try 4-Way speakers.

-Characteristics Of 3-Way Speakers-
*The main features of a 3-Way speakers is that they have a tweeter to handle the high frequencies, a dedicated midrange driver to handle most of the vocals and instrumentals, and also it will have at least one woofer to handle the lower ranges. These are the types of speakers that I use as my main speakers. Even with a subwoofer in my hook-up and while switching between my 2-Way speakers in the back and my 3-Ways in the front, I believe that the 3-Way speakers produce a fuller sound. However, this fuller sound comes at a much larger price.

*If you have the money, I think that these are the greatest speakers that you can buy. For instance, the main reason why these sound so good is because they have midrange drivers. Midrange drivers provide the cleanest possible sound that you can get. My grandparents own Sony SS-MF515 speakers in their hook-up. When I purchased them, I liked the sound for the price. These specific speakers have a 1" tweeter, a 4" midrange, and dual 6.5" woofers. The drivers looked to be of superb quality, and they were. However, the cross-over going to the midrange was very cheap, so I replaced them. And now the speakers sound not much worse than my Paradigm Monitor 11s if you were to run them off the same receiver or amp! That's how much difference a midrange driver can make, it will make your speakers sound much better. The woofers in these speakers provide a bulk of the sound, but they also produce bass. However, nothing truly compares to a subwoofer. But still, many 3-Way speakers will provide ample bass for most people, so they won't need subwoofers. If you want the best sound that you can get from any type of speaker, then you want 3-Way speakers in your home theater.

-Characteristics Of 4-Way Speakers-
*4-Way speakers include a tweeter, midrange, woofer, but the main difference is that 4-Way speakers include built-in powered subwoofer(s). If you have absolutely no space for a subwoofer, you should consider these kinds of speakers. But personally, I would never buy 4-Way speakers. I have heard some that go near $1,000, and it seems that the bass interfered with the other ranges. It caused a much worse sound. When I put the subs down to very low volumes, the sound greatly improved. They say that subwoofer placement is very important, not only depending on the bass response, but also on the interference with the other speakers. Sure these speakers can pound, but these subwoofers pound away the other ranges that come from the speakers.

*Also, some brands may not make the best subwoofers, but better speakers... Hmmm... Hypothetical ehhh? Well, I really think that if you want the best sound possible with nice bass, I would go for 3-Way speakers with a seperate subwoofer tucked in the corner rather than the over-stuffed 4-Way speakers.

-In Conclusion-
*This really depends on how much money you have to spend. For most people that I have seen. They usually buy high quality 2-Way speakers along with a subwoofer. But for people that have more money spend, it is definitely worth it to go the extra mile and buy 3-Way speakers along with a subwoofer. This will give you the greatest and fullest sound possible. Try to avoid 4-Way speakers, they cost a whole lot of money, but if you really need the bass and don't have the room for a subwoofer, then go ahead. But test them out before you buy them! Well, all of these choices would work, so calculate your budget, and good luck!

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