The Timeline of Loud Speakers From Moving Coil to Modern Day

The humble loudspeaker has a rich story to tell with regards to its history, littered with some of the greatest minds of the 20th century such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Ernst Siemens. However our story begins with the pioneers of the telephone system where the first real world need for a loudspeaker came to light, after all the telephone wouldn’t have become the success it is if we couldn’t hear the person on the end of the line! In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patented the first ever electronic loudspeaker design, as part of his new telephone system which, as we all know now, was a roaring success. It wasn’t always plain sailing however, there was some competition to the electronic loudspeaker from a compressed air based solution although this suffered from a poorer quality of sound in comparison.

These initial speakers were fine for use in telephones where no great volume of sound is required, however there was a growing demand for more powerful speakers and in 1898 that demand was met with the first moving coil based speakers. It was with these movable coil speakers that two enterprising gentleman setup the first public loudspeaker system, the humble speaker had made the transition to loud speaker and was capable of being heard for large distances from the actual speaker The original patent for movable coil speakers was filed by another name you may recognise, Edward Kellogg and with the initial moving coil speakers using electromagnets, it wasn’t till the price of permanent magnets began to drop that the true power and dynamism of speakers was to be revealed.

In the 1930s the first combined speakers began to appear, featuring the standard mid range speaker that we were all used to, but also an additional woofer speaker to produce low frequency sounds and a tweeter speaker that would reproduce the highest frequencies of sound. This multi part approach allowed a single speaker to output a much broader range of frequencies and hence, quality of sound. It was during this period that the first improvements in sound quality were made by isolating the speaker out of the way of external vibrations and echoes, usually upon some sort of makeshift speaker stand.

As demand grew for high quality speakers, they were originally introduced on mass by chains of cinema’s who wanted to provide the best possible audio experience for movie goers. Often these large scale audio systems would feature a whole range of woofers, mid range and tweeter speakers, carefully positioned on quality speaker stands that vastly improve the quality of these early speakers. The early pioneer of these larger speaker system was Altec, whose “Voice of the Theatre” system became industry standard in cinemas and movie houses.

These days modern speakers still resemble their early predecessors on the outside, however this is not so true on the inside thanks to the help provided by computer aided design and modern materials and manufacturing methods which have improved the overall quality of sound produced by ten fold and the quality is certainly noticeable.

If you’re like a lot of people you don’t want to run speaker wire to the back of your room for your TV. Running speaker wire requires time, money and hard work. You have to purchase the wire, cut a hole in your wall behind your TV, run the wire up the wall into the attic, figure out where you are in the attic and try to line yourself up with the spot in the wall where you want your new speakers to go. Then, you have to run a fish tape or stick down the wall and try to line up with the hole for the rear speakers, install a face plate and speaker inputs. This can take hours, a lot of sweat and it’s hard dirty work.

This is not the 1970s and today we have thin smart phones that can play high res multiplayer games and give you the full internet experience from your phone. Why would we possibly have to run some cable for speakers? Guess what, we don’t anymore because over the last few years there have been breakthroughs in wireless technologies that enable you to place speakers all over your house or property without running speaker wire and in some cases not running power cords either.

There are a couple different ways you can setup your wireless speaker system. One of them does not include actual wireless speakers and allows you to use your existing speakers or just about any regular wired speakers on the market. They are wireless transmitter and receivers that allow you to plug in any speakers and these little modular wireless speaker conversion systems convert the sound to wireless. You simply plug one into your speaker and the other one into your receiver and you instantly have wireless speakers!

The other option you have is to purchase some dedicated wireless speakers. Typically these speakers have a transmitter base and some small speakers that run off of battery or at least a power outlet. Also, while these do produce clear quality sound, they or not geared toward competing with high end hard wire speakers in terms of music and sound quality. These speakers are more for playing some nice music around your house and are great for parties on the patio.

So if you need high end audio for your fancy home theatre system you’ll want to look at wireless transmitters and if you want some simple speakers you can take all around your house for party music then you’ll find that the typical wireless speaker systems will work perfect for you.

Leave a Comment