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What does LF and HF mean on speakers?
When you are looking to buy speakers, there are a number of things to be aware of. Some of the abbreviations and language can be confusing, and the choice can seem a bit overwhelming.
What are the different types of speakers available?
The two most common types of speakers are floor-standing speakers and bookshelf speakers. Floor-standing speakers are usually tall and rectangular, while bookshelf speakers are smaller and chunkier so they can fit on a bookshelf or table.
The B&W 702 Signature Floor Standing Speaker is a premium speaker that is expertly tuned for unparalleled clarity and detail, complete with the exquisite and unique Datuk Gloss finish.
The Martin Logan 15i Motion Series is a stylish bookshelf speaker featuring a folded Motion® tweeter, a 5.25-inch woofer, and a Vojtko crossover network that delivers superb clarity and refined sound with an impressive dynamic range.
Many home stereo speaker units include multiple speakers within the single structure/frame. Woofers are designed to emit sounds at the low end of the auditory range and are sometimes called bass speakers. Tweeters, conversely, are designed to emit high-pitched sounds. Mid-range speakers, meanwhile, deal with everything in between. Many high-end speakers have multiples of one or more of these within them to provide a richer sound quality.
What are drivers?
When looking at buying speakers, you are likely to hear the term "drivers". In this context, a driver is another name for an individual speaker/transducer that converts an electrical audio signal into sound waves.
Different speaker systems use different types of drivers in various combinations, with the most common being a woofer, a midrange driver, and a tweeter. However, many other combinations are possible.
2-way and 3-way systems
Most hi-fi speakers consist of at least two separate drivers that deal with distinct frequency ranges. These are referred to as 2-way systems and are usually found in bookshelf speakers, which are a great compromise for those who love music but don’t have the space for tower or floor-standing speakers.
Hi-fi bookshelf speakers offer superior audio components and generally use a combination of tweeters and mid-range/mid-bass drivers in a 2-way construction. A mid-bass driver is completely adequate for most music playback.
3-way systems that contain at least three dedicated drivers are also available and are often found in traditional floor-standing stereo models. One driver is for the treble, one is for the bass, and one is for the midrange. This arrangement theoretically covers the entire frequency range from about 20Hz to 20 kHz.
Full-range drivers are also available, but separate drivers generally produce better sound with more clarity and power. The exception would be the premium full-range drivers that are capable of covering the entire range with superb sound quality, but these are usually more expensive than buying separate drivers.
Additional types of speakers
Floor-standing and bookshelf speakers are the most common in the hi-fi world, but there are several other types of speakers available. Sound bars and sound bases use advanced driver technology to produce clear and high-quality sound. Some sound bars contain as many as six different drivers, which are sometimes arranged in a row to save space.
What about surround sound speakers?
Surround sound speakers are usually intended for use in a home theater system and generally come in a set of between five and nine. The set will consist of satellite speakers that can be scattered around a room as well as a woofer/bass speaker.
What are passive, active, and powered speakers?
You may also come across these categories of speakers in your search. Passive means that all the power comes from the amplifier, powered is when the signal is amplified inside the cabinet housing the speaker, and active is where each driver is fed by its own dedicated amplifier. Powered speakers are more expensive but can sometimes be better value for money than opting for a separate speaker and amplifier. However, separates tend to produce better-quality sounds.
So what do LF and HF mean on speakers?
When you look at speakers, you may see some referred to as LF and others as HF. What exactly does this mean?
HF stands for high-frequency. A high-frequency (HF) speaker is also known as a tweeter. LF stands for low-frequency. A low-frequency (LF) speaker is also known as a woofer.
How to choose the right speakers for you
When looking to buy speakers, the main things to consider are your budget, the space available in your listening room, and whether you want to opt for free-standing or bookshelf speakers.