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Speakers and Headphones

How do speakers work?

Speakers, just like microphones, are transducers. They convert energy
from one form to another. When an analogue signal (AC Voltage) is passed
through the voice coil of a speaker it creates a magnetic field around the
coil. Whenever there is current in a conductor a magnetic field is always
formed around the conductor. The magnetic field that is created around
the coil, interacts with the magnetic field of the permanent magnet,
setting the voice coil into motion. The voice coil is attached to the
diaphragm/speaker cone, which is designed to efficiently move the air
around it and project sound well. The vibrating diaphragm creates
compressions and rarefactions in the air which our ears perceive as sound

Similarities with Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones and loudspeakers are very similar in the way that
they operate. They are both made up of 3 main components, a permanent
magnet, a wire coil, and a diaphragm/cone which is connected to the coil.
They essentially are both just the reverse of the other, with the
loudspeaker taking a signal in the form of AC voltage, and running it
through the coil causing the coil and diaphragm to vibrate. However, with
the dynamic microphone we start with the sound source which creates
compressions and rarefactions in the air which are incident on the
diaphragm causing it to vibrate, and move the coil through the magnetic
field of the permanent magnet. This creates an AC voltage in the coil that
we can use to record and manipulate the sound.

Is it possible to calculate the volume of speaker before

its been built?
F = BIlsin (where B = magnetic flux density, I = current, l = length of
wire/conductor, and is the angle between the direction of current and
the direction of the magnetic field lines). Pressure is defined as the force
per unit area, p = F/A. Therefore, pA = F and if we substitute that into the
original formula and rearrange we get p = BIlsin/A. The greater the sound
pressure the level (given by p), the louder we perceive the sound to be.
Therefore we know that to get the loudest speaker, we want the largest
magnetic flux density possible (B), the largest current possible (I), a long
length of wire (l), and we want the current flow to be perpendicular to
magnetic field lines, to give us the largest value of sin. However, the
larger the area of the cone/diaphragm is, the quieter the speaker. This is a
problem for us as we need a large enough cone that all desired
frequencies are audible. If we know the area of our chosen cone, the
current through the coil, the strength of the magnet (in Wb m-1) and
the length of the wire, then we can work out what the sound sound
pressure level of the speaker would be.