Loud Speakers
Speaker Types


Alexander Graham Bell patented the first loudspeaker as part of his telephone in 1876. This was soon followed by an improved version from Ernst Siemens in Germany and England (1878). Nikola Tesla is believed to have created a similar device in 1881 [1]. The modern design of moving-coil loudspeaker was established by Oliver Lodge in England (1898).

The moving coil principle was patented in 1924 by two Americans, Chester W. Rice and Edward W. Kellogg. There is some controversy in that an application was made earlier by the Briton Paul Voigt but not granted until later. Voigt produced the first effective full range unit in 1928, and he also developed what may have been the first system designed for the home, although using electromagnets rather than permanent magnets.

These first loudspeakers used electromagnets because large, powerful permanent magnets were not freely available at reasonable cost. The coil of the electromagnet is called a field coil and is energized by direct current through a second pair of terminals. This winding usually served a dual role, acting also as a choke coil filtering the power supply of the amplifier which the loudspeaker was connected to.

The quality of loudspeaker systems until the 1950s was, to modern ears, very poor. Developments in cabinet technology (e.g. acoustic suspension) and changes in materials used in the actual loudspeaker, led to audible improvements. For example, paper cones (or doped paper cones, where the paper is treated with a substance to improve its performance) are still in use today, and can provide good performance. Polypropylene and aluminium are also used as diaphragm materials.

The first commercial acoustic suspension loudspeaker was developed by Henry Kloss and Edgar Villchur at Acoustic Research, and further developed by KLH (company).

Additional improvements to loudspeaker technology occurred in the 1970s, with the introduction of higher temperature adhesives, improved permanent magnet materials, and improved thermal management.


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