Bookshelf speakers, tower speakers, and even AR speakers offer 2, 3 and even 4 way speakers. With so many options to choose from, how do you know what’s best?
Our experts are here to shed some light on 2 way vs 3 way speakers to make sure you get the sound quality you want without money going down the drain.
What is a 2-Way Speaker?
There are two main types of 2 way speakers, and they are the coaxial and component speakers. In this section, we are going to look at the difference between a component 2 way speaker 2 way coaxial speakers.
A 2-way speaker only has a tweeter and a woofer in the same basket. The mid range in the content you play will have to be balanced between the two drivers. The crossover is integrated and simpler, and it is often cheaper than 3 way speakers.
A 2 way component speaker is similar to the coaxial in the sense that there is only a tweeter and a woofer and no mid range driver. However, unlike the coaxial type of 2 way speaker, the woofer and tweeter are separate.
The crossover for the component is external, and can be passive or powered. Due to the separate tweeter and woofer, the overall sound quality of this type of two way speaker is superior to the coaxial.
What is a 3-Way Speaker?
A 3 way speaker also features both coaxial and component types. We now know a little about the difference of a coaxial or component two way speaker system, but let’s see if a 3 way speaker system shares the same traits.
A 3 way coaxial speaker features a tweeter and woofer like the 2 way, but it also has the mid range driver. This means the 3 way speaker has a dedicated driver for both the mids, highs, and lows.
The three drivers are in one basket, and they usually have an integrated crossover. Of course, for the better sound quality, 3-way speakers are often more expensive.
A 3 way component speaker also features the same drivers, except they are not in the same basket. This gives the drivers proper separation and results in more clearly defined sound. Similar to 2 way component speakers, the crossover is integrated and the speakers can be powered or passive.
Our experts prefer the 3 way component speakers if we had to choose because they deliver better sound quality, even if they do cost more.
Differences Between 2 Way and 3 Way Speakers
Now that you know the basic differences between 3 way vs 2 way speakers, our audio team will now go into more detail about when to use which one, and other factors to consider.
When to Use 2 Way and 3 Way Speakers
There are certain considerations to think about before you decide on 2 way or 3 way speakers. This goes for tower speakers, also known as floorstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers or car speakers.
First, think about the crossover. The crossover is what is responsible for splitting the frequencies of the speakers. It contributes to how clear and precise the overall sound quality is.
You should also consider the peak power rating and RMS, overall build quality, the content you will be playing on your speaker systems, and design.
A 2 way speaker system is usually cheaper, and since 2 way speakers are missing the mid range driver, they are smaller. So if you have less space to spare, and are thinking about three way speakers, you might have to reconsider. This is especially true if you are looking at 3 way car speakers.
The size needs to fit but the speaker also needs to do its job. If you want a clearer frequency range with distinct high frequency, mid range, and low frequency output, our experts suggest going with three way speakers.
However, we will preface this by saying three way speakers sound better in most cases, it isn’t always the fact. Sometimes a well-built 2 way speaker is much more superior than a 3 way.
The next question addresses whether you should get coaxial or component 2 way VS 3 way speakers. Our experts suggest component for 2 and 3 way car speakers, bookshelf speakers and floorstanding speakers. This is because each driver is separate, thus creating more separation and clarity.
When to Use an Amplifier
Did you go with powered speakers or passive ones? For example, passive crossover 3 way speaker systems will need an additional amp, but powered or sometimes referred to as active speakers don’t.
An active 2 way and 3 way car speaker, bookshelf speaker or tower speaker have their own amp built-in. This does make them larger and heavier, but it saves you the trouble of having to make sure the power output is compatible.
This also means the active two way and three way speaker can automatically match the voltage from the audio source to the speaker power rating. However, if you go for a passive two way or three way speaker, you will need to add an amp for high quality sound. Doing this will take more time, research, pairing and assembly on your part.
However, passive systems are easier to build on, expand and customize down the line. If you are not an audiophile, this may be less of a concern but if you want to create your own personalized system, then we suggest an active speaker.
Other Factors to Consider
Another factor to consider is the build of the 2 way or 3 way car speakers, bookshelf type or tower speaker. The mid range, woofer and the tweeter need to be robust and well-constructed to have ideal audio. Your car audio, and audio from all sound frequencies need to be elevated.
Aluminum housing, copper spun cerametallic cones and silk dome tweeters give the perfect amount of rigidity and flexibility for two and three way systems.
One other factor to consider is whether or not you want a 4-way speaker. Our team will touch on this subject briefly as 4 way speakers have become more prevalent in the market.
The difference between two way or three way speakers is the high frequency. The low frequency is pretty much the same, but you can add a subwoofer to supplement the woofer if you like deep bass tones.
The high frequency is different because a 4 way speaker has an extra super tweeter, which is much better for the high frequency sound. This type of speaker will have better quality highs with more accuracy.
The next consideration to be aware of is the size of the speakers you choose. Your home theater sound system isn’t only composed of your speakers. There is most likely a TV involved, perhaps a subwoofer and an external amp for passive options. You need to make sure the speakers you choose can fit into your setup. Of course, you can choose to change all your speakers into wireless for a clutter free setup, too.
Our team would hate to think you may be sacrificing audio quality and going with a two way speaker due to spatial constraints, so we advise looking for compact options. Bookshelf speakers are a great solution to save space.
You can still transform your bookshelf speakers into tower speakers down the line if you wish by purchasing a speaker stand. The stand will elevate your speakers above ground and heighten the soundstage.
Which is better 2 way or 3 way speakers?
3 way speakers are better than 2 way speakers in general because of the extra mid range driver. 3 way speakers offer better sound and a more dynamic soundstage. However, a better built 2 way car speaker for example, is better than a 3 way car speaker. This also holds true for bookshelf and tower speakers.
Are 2 way speakers good for bass?
Yes, 2 way speakers are good for bass because they have a dedicated woofer. The low frequencies are taken care of by the woofer and you can decide to add an external subwoofer to boost the low bass tones to improve your sound experience.
Do 3 way speakers need a crossover?
Yes, 3 way speakers need a crossover. This also applies to 2 way vs 3 way car speakers. Any sort of speaker system will require a crossover to separate the frequency ranges of your 2 way vs 3 way car speaker, bookshelf or tower speaker.
In the battle of 2 way vs 3 way speakers, our experts would pick the 3 way option. This is thanks to its extra mid range driver that will take some of the pressure off the tweeter and woofer, resulting to a more precise mid range sound.
Yes, 3 way speakers can be more expensive, but for one that’s well-built and produces better and clearer sound, our experts feel it is worth the price.
However, it’s worth it to mention that this isn’t always the case. The construction and materials used to create the speaker system will also have an effect on the sound. A poorly constructed 3 way speaker won’t beat a 2 way speaker with robust construction.