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What is a Dipole Speaker?

N.M. Shanley
N.M. Shanley

Home theater systems can use three different types of speakers, including monopole, bipole, and dipole speakers. Monopole speakers are direct radiating speakers, which aim the sound directly at the listener. Bipole and dipole speakers create a more ambient sound and are often used to listen to surround-sound movies.

Dipole speakers are usually placed on the side wall of the home theater. In this case, dipole speakers are generally used in pairs. A single dipole speaker can also be used as the rear speaker in a home theater sound system. Dipole speakers generate sounds from both sides of the speaker cabinet. These speakers create a very diffused sound that can fill the room.

Woman holding an optical disc
Woman holding an optical disc

A dipole speaker includes a loudspeaker mounted on a flat panel. This type of speaker includes two sets of drivers to create an equal amount of sound in either a forward and backward, or side-to-side pattern. The drivers fire sound in opposite directions.

The most common dipole speaker designs are two-way and three-way speakers. Two-way speakers separate sounds between high and low frequencies. Sound is then reproduced by either the woofer or tweeter part of the speaker.

Three-way speakers separate sound into three ranges of frequencies. Each range of frequencies is reproduced by either the tweeter, midrange, or woofer part of the speaker. Three-way speakers generally offer higher quality sound reproduction than two-way speakers.

The sounds generated from dipole speakers are not synchronized, meaning they are out of phase. Out of phase means that while one of the dipole speakers is producing sound, the other speaker does not. In contrast, monopole and bipole speakers are in phase speakers.

The sound that a person hears from dipole speakers is usually reflected off the walls of the room. This adds ambient sounds to a home theater surround-sound system. Bipole speakers also create diffused sound. With diffused sound, the listener may not be able to tell which speaker is producing it.

This differs from monopole speakers, which are used for direct sound placement. Monopoles generate sounds in one direction, typically aimed directly at the listener. The listener can usually easily tell which speaker is producing the sound.

Some home theater speakers can include a bipole and dipole speaker switch. In this case, users can easily change back and forth, from bipole to dipole sound. Home theater users may want to switch back and forth, depending on whether they are using the system to hear music or films.

Speakers featuring a bipole and dipole switch generally offer more than flexibility for the user. These can also save money and time. For instance, instead of buying two sets of speakers and setting them up, the home theater owner can own one set of ambient sound speakers to suit both needs.

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