Along your HiFi journey, you might have heard someone talking about 1 way speakers and must be wondering what in the world is that. 2 way speakers on the other hand are common and you usually find them as bookshelf speakers. Today we will be finding out more about them and see which is a better choice.
What is a 1 Way Speaker?
When someone talks about 1 way speaker, there is a chance it is referring to a subwoofer. A 1-way speaker or in this case a subwoofer is capable of delivering the low frequencies only. If you are interested to learn more about a sub, you can read our blog post “Do I Need A Subwoofer?“.
Another type of 1 way speaker will be the ones with only a single driver, for example, the Gallo Acoustics Micro SE. This is a very compact and spherical satellite speaker, with a single 3″ driver which produces everything within its frequency range and it is between 100Hz-22kHz. As you can see from its frequency response, the Micro SE satellite speakers have limited bass performance and will require a subwoofer to supplement their low-frequency reproductions which as mentioned earlier, is another type of 1-way speaker.
Do note that not all speakers with a single driver are considered one-way. For instance, the KEF Q350 obviously looks like it has one speaker driver but that is actually a Uni-Q driver, and it uses a 2-way design.
Which is Better: 1 Way or 2 Way?
We will be excluding the subwoofer as part of the comparison since it is been used for a different purpose. 2 way speakers will be a better choice than 1 way speakers. Firstly, there are more 2-way choices than 1-way speakers and this makes it easier for you to find the 2-way loudspeakers that will match your sound system.
A 1-way speaker sounds rather unique and is only good for intimate music genres at certain volume levels. This does hinder your listening experience especially if you listen to many music genres. This is also why 2-way speakers are better choices.
When we are talking about small-sized speaker drivers, the one-way design might have better performance and could deliver a more articulated detailed music presentation than a speaker using a 2-way design. It also has a bit more balance in tonality and overall sound reproduction. The one-way speaker needs to be really well-designed though.
There are listeners who prefer only one-way speaker designs but if you are just starting out, we suggest you stick with 2-way speakers. They have more choices to choose from and you could easily find the brands/models which will fit your budget. You might even want to go for 3-way speakers instead. For more information, please check out our written article on the Difference between 2 Way and 3 Way Speakers.
Sound quality is subjective and if you have the time to spare, you should arrange a side-by-side hearing comparison between 1 way and 2 way speakers. From there, you can decide if either one of them suits you. You might want to include a subwoofer during the auditioning. This 1-way speaker or subwoofer might improve your listening experience by delivering deep and powerful bass frequencies. It will be even more crucial if you are setting up a home theater system.
For listeners who are looking for speakers to be part of their HT system and already own an active subwoofer. You should certainly use your own sub during the auditioning as it will make a difference in finding out which speaker models/designs are more suitable for you.