How Speakers Work

Other Speaker Enclosures

Other enclosure designs redirect the inward pressure outward, using it to supplement the forward sound wave. The most common way to do this is to build a small port into the speaker. In these bass reflex speakers, the backward motion of the diaphragm pushes sound waves out of the port, boosting the overall sound level. The main advantage of bass reflex enclosures is efficiency. The power moving the driver is used to emit two sound waves rather than one. The disadvantage is that there is no air pressure difference to spring the driver back into place, so the sound production is not as precise.

Passive radiator enclosures are very similar to bass reflex units, but in passive radiator enclosures, the backward wave moves an additional, passive driver, instead of escaping out of the port. The passive driver is just like the main, active drivers except it doesn't have an electromagnet voice coil, and it isn't connected to the amplifier. It is moved only by the sound waves coming from the active drivers. This type of enclosure is more efficient than sealed designs and more precise than bass reflex models.


Some enclosure designs have an active driver facing one way and a passive driver facing the other way. This dipole design diffuses the sound in all directions, making it a good choice for the rear channels in a home theater system.

These are just a few of the many enclosure types available. There are a huge range of speaker units on the market, with a variety of unique structures and driver arrangements. Check out this page to learn about some of these designs.