Unlike most customers may expect, speaker designs are complex. Especially if you praise for high-quality sound, be it in your recording studio, home theater, or car, you must be aware of the differences and details that different sound systems provide.
One of the most recurring doubts when it comes to the subject is about 2-way vs 3-way speakers and which one sounds the best. Simply put, the major difference is in the number of components and the logic behind each setup.
Below, we will explain these details in-depth and discuss further about the subject. The best choice for your particular use-case will, of course, depend on a lot of factors which we will also go through in this article.
After you’re done reading this guide, make sure to also check our related articles (such as the Round vs Oval Speakers one) so you can gather more information to base your choice around.
Table of Content
- What is a 2-Way Speaker?
- Best 2-Way Speakers
- What is a 3-Way Speaker?
- Best 3-Way Speakers
- Pros and Cons – 2 Way Vs 3 Way Speakers
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 2-Way Speaker?
A 2-way speaker, as the name implies, combines two drivers: a woofer, dedicated for the lower part of the frequency spectrum (bass, mid-bass, and mid-range area) and a small driver (tweeter), meant for reproducing high frequencies. Therefore, each driver will take care of different ranges in the spectrum.
What Are the Benefits of a 2-Way Speaker?
Since the different components on this type of product will take care of different frequencies on the spectrum of the sound, the biggest benefit you will have with a two-way speaker is a more defined response in the mid and high frequencies.
Another big benefit is that two-way speakers are usually more compact than their three-way counterparts and have a simple setup: you probably won’t need an external crossover circuit when dealing with those.
Best 2-Way Speakers
For the Studio – KRK RP8 Rokit 8
The KRK RP8 Rokit 8 offers great sound quality for a great price. Excellent for home studios, this pair of monitors have two speakers: an 8″ matching woofer and a 1″ tweeter, as well as an LCD screen in the back for adjusting EQ settings.
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Home-Theater – Herdio In-Wall Speakers Bluetooth
The Herdio In-Wall Speakers Bluetooth can be mounted on the walls or ceiling of your living room or office, as well as connect via wireless to your devices. The nicest feature about this 2-way speaker pair is that it looks aesthetically pleasing and can be installed easily.
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Car Speaker System – Pioneer 4 inch Speakers
Pioneer is a reputable brand in the world of consumer-grade audio products. These 2-way car speakers are affordable ($25, by the time this article was written) and have great sound quality. Definitely a steal.
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What is a 3-Way Speaker?
A 3-way speaker combines three drivers: a woofer for the low frequencies, a midrange driver, and a tweeter for higher audio frequencies.
What Are the Benefits of a 3-Way Speaker?
The biggest benefit offered by three-way speakers is, by far, the bass response. If you’re a fan of bass-heavy music genres such as hip hop and R&B, this setup will give you the best quality possible.
Especially if you’re using a component setup, another benefit with three-way speakers is that you’re able to better tailor your whole setup to your liking: you have more options regarding crossovers and splitters to connect your speakers to; Although it may end up being a more expensive investment.
Best 3-Way Speakers
For the Studio – Neumann KH 310
Neumann is known for some of the best professional-grade audio products in the music production world. The KH 310 has a 3-way speakers configuration with an 8.25″ large woofer, a 3″ mid-range driver, and a 1″ tweeter. It performs incredibly well, especially in the low frequencies, so it is perfect for mixing and mastering purposes.
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Home-Theater – Acoustic Audio CSic83
Although compact, the Acoustic Audio CSic83 speaker sound superb. It features three speakers: 2 tweeters built over an 8″ woofer, and can be mounted on a wall or ceiling. It performs well for both home-theater and ambient sound purposes.
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Car Speaker System – Pioneer TS-A1676R
Compared to the previously mentioned 2-way setup from Pioneer, this three-way speaker offers a better response for low-frequency sounds. The overall sound quality is great, with props to the extended dynamic and frequency range offered by these speakers.
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Pros and Cons – 2 Way Vs 3 Way Speakers
As we saw in the article, the main difference between a two and three-way speaker system is the number of drivers dedicated for each part of the frequency range. Let’s sum up some pros and cons of each type.
- Two-way speakers are usually more compact than their three-way counterparts.
- Simple setup, with less investment needed on other components such as a crossover.
- Simple installation process.
- Require less power.
- Less defined response in the low frequencies.
- May have insufficient detail in the mid-range depending on what music genre you’re listening to.
- Three drivers, one for each part of the frequency range.
- Better response with low frequency sounds due to the dedicated woofer.
- Better clarity in the mid-range and more details on high-frequency sounds. The human ear is especially good at picking up sounds in that area of the spectrum.
- Usually has better quality drivers.
- You can better pick the quality of your external components.
- Takes more space.
- Usually have a more complex setup and installation process.
- Usually requires more components such as a crossover.
- More expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type of Speakers is Better for Home Studios?
If you stick to a reputable brand such as KRK Rokit and Neumann, both types will perform well. Even though a three-way speaker has a better performance with musical instruments such as the bass guitar and clearer high-frequency response, the major factor here will be your room.
Especially if you’re on a budget, we recommend choosing a 2-way speaker system while investing a little more in sound treatment and soundproofing for your home studio.
Can I Connect a Subwoofer to a 2-Way Speaker System? What Are the Benefits?
You can connect a subwoofer to most 2-way speaker systems, but you may need extra external components such as the already mentioned crossover. The biggest benefit is that by having an extra driver you will have a better bass frequency response. This is especially useful for mixing and mastering studios.
What Is the Difference Between Component and Coaxial Speakers?
Coaxial speakers have a built-in simple crossover in them to split the frequencies between the drivers. Component speakers usually require an external crossover and each of the drivers to be mounted separately.
What is a Crossover Setup? Do I Need One?
A crossover will take an input signal and divide it into multiple sound frequencies to send it over to your speaker system. The device must be of high quality to ensure that your speakers perform their best.
Crossovers are usually required for 3-way car speakers systems and custom home-theater builds with a component design. If you’re buying audio monitors or coaxial speakers, for example, you probably won’t need to worry about this since they already come with a built-in passive crossover system.
Ultimately, the choice between 2-way vs 3-way speakers will come down to preference and your particular use case. As we discussed in the article, a three-way speaker system may give you a better bass response if compared to its simpler 2-way counterpart, but only if you pair it with a good-quality crossover.
As a matter of fact, a two-way speaker system with high-quality components, connected to high-quality external devices will perform infinitely better than a mediocre three-way setup. Sometimes less is more.
You also have to take into account other factors such as convenience and budget. Most of the time, a 2 driver system with all of the components built-in in the same box will be much more convenient for most people,We hope our 2 Way vs 3 Way Speakers guide was useful. If you want to build a speaker system with optimal sound quality, remember to research extensively and take your particular needs into account. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!
Ian Sniesko is an experienced music producer and musician who loves to share his knowledge about the best audio equipment for making and enjoying great music. For the past 6 years, Ian has written extensively about the audio equipment industry and has contributed to many of the top music magazines.