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How Audio Speakers Work



Tech Talk: How Do Speakers Work? (Plus, How Car Audio Is Getting Smarter and Better)

Examining the tech that helps turn electrical signals into the electromotive forces that create music to your ears.

By: Frank Markus

At CES 2024 in January, I ran across a mind-blowing audio concept that didn't seem like it should work at all but in fact sounded amazing. My presumption it wouldn't work reflected an incomplete understanding of the fundamentals of how audio loudspeakers function. Let's cover the basics first, though--then read on for the advanced application.

Car Audio 101--How Do Speakers Work?

Believe it or not, audio speakers rely on some of the same magic that powers the AC induction motors found in the front of many dual-motor Teslas and other EVs. Both concepts involve Faraday's law of induction--a law that predicts how a magnetic field interacts with an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force (EMF). In a motor, that force turns the wheels. In a loudspeaker, it generates up-and-down motions that vibrate a sound-generating medium to create sound.

The Noisemaker

The 6x9-inch speakers I remember sawing holes to install in the back of our family's Chevy had paper cones, with small domes at their centers; plastics and polymers have largely replaced paper today. Whatever the material, it must be connected to the rigid mounting frame via some means of suspension. I recall a foamlike material surrounding the outer edge of the paper on my Jensens, with some sort of clothlike material down where the speaker driver's voice coil connects to the cone that was shaped like water rippling from a pebble. (This bit is sometimes called the spider.)

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Source: Tech Talk: How Do Speakers Work? (Plus, How Car Audio Is Getting Smarter and Better) (

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