In any home audio system, tweeters are very important when it comes to producing high-frequency audio. However, audiophiles generally still can’t agree on whether you should buy horns or dome tweeters when assembling your audio system.
For this reason, we’ve decided to compare horn vs dome tweeters to help you understand which one is the best option for your setup.
But first, let’s understand how tweeters work and why tweeter design matters.
Understanding How Tweeters Work
After all, nobody wants to listen to muddy bass-heavy systems all the time. For most people, vocals and horns stir up emotions, whether you’re listening to music or watching a movie. As such, you can easily relate to a song or movie.
Another benefit of having a good tweeter in your system is that it’s great for sound staging and stereo separation. As a result, you get to enjoy a phenomenal audio experience.
Tweeters enhance your audio experience and improve your overall surround soundstage, helping to balance your sound. As such, the best tweeter is a matter of balance between performance and design.
How Are Tweeters Designed?
In appearance, tweeters look similar to regular speakers but smaller in size. These critical components of your home audio system are made up of multiple magnets, multiple coils, and a diaphragm. However, the design of your tweeter depends on the type of tweeter you buy.
The tweeter works by moving side-by-side to release sound waves when electricity from the wires reaches the voice coils.
However, you may start having sound issues with the tweeter if you crank up the volume too high.
Why Tweeter Design is Important
To bring your movies and music to life, you need a tweeter that can perfectly reproduce the high frequency in horns, vocals, and guitars. That means having the right tweeter is crucial for stereo separation and proper sound staging.
When designing a tweeter, the manufacturers strive to balance multiple factors, including sound dispersion, cost, and sound quality.
The manufacturer wants the tweeter cone to move quickly but remain stiff enough to allow it to hold its shape and avoid distorting at high volumes. The tweeter’s damping is also essential for accurate audio reproduction.
To achieve that, manufacturers employ different materials and shapes. Understanding the characteristics of these materials and shapes will help you make better decisions on the best tweeters for your home audio speakers.
Horn vs Dome Tweeter Comparisons
The type of tweeter you purchase will determine how effective your home theater system will be at distributing high frequencies in your media room.
Here’s everything you want to know about horn and dome tweeters before you decide which one you want to buy.
1. General Sound Quality
Horn tweeters are essentially considered to be in a special class of speakers. These tweeters come in several variations, and you can readily find entry-level models such as piezo tweeters, which are inexpensive.
However, they’re not the best at producing excellent musical tones, though they’re very efficient.
Dome tweeters are very common in the market, as they are readily available for a few dollars.
Despite its affordability, the tweeter is still well developed, and some audio engineers are still working to improve their waveguide designs and materials.
2. Design and Materials
Depending on the price range, horn tweeters can be made from a range of materials. A common type of horn tweeters features a compression driver that uses a small metal diaphragm to create sound waves when vibrated an electromagnet connected to the horn.
When it comes to manufacturing them, dome speakers are pretty easy to create, and they’re mass-produced in China.
Their design features an aluminum wire voice coil joined to its rim, with a dome on its main suspension.
The moving piece is joined to a plastic frame, and a faceplate placed on top. However, some manufacturers add a small horn instead of a faceplate to increase sensitivity and control the tweeter’s directivity.
3. Frequency Range
Depending on the assembly and the size, horn tweeters can work at different sound frequency ranges.
However, the larger the horn, the lower its frequency range gets. That’s because large horns offer coupling to the atmosphere at low frequencies.
Dome tweeters are known for having a good dispersion, average sensitivity and smooth response.
These tweeters typically operate within 2.5 kHz and 20 kHz, with the sound quality ranging anywhere from basic to excellent.
What You Might Like About Horn Tweeters
These tweeters are known for two great aspects:
- Higher efficiency
- Dispersion control
A horn tweeter can effectively help with the wide dispersion of sound by controlling the directivity of your tweeter.
Directivity refers to how the speaker’s frequency response changes when it goes off-axis. The better the directivity, the better the audio pressure levels, whether it’s on or off the axis.
Another benefit of using a horn tweeter is its higher efficiency. While speaker impedance occurs naturally, it can affect the audio output of the tweeter, but that’s not an issue with higher efficiency.
That’s because horn tweeters combine the air with the speaker’s impedance, making them excellent in combating impedance issues.
By coupling the air and speaker impedance, the speaker increases its strength in decibels and get a more effective cone area, especially at bass frequencies.
Fortunately, horn tweeters have a large enough catch to ensure that coupling with air is effective.
While higher efficiency and dispersion control are significant advantages in a tweeter, some might argue that horn tweeters are outdated models with lots of disadvantages.
What We Liked About Dome Tweeters
Dome tweeter has three main qualities; Low mass, good damping, and high stiffness. The low mass helps the manufacturer to avoid putting everything in the speaker, and it’s also necessary as the tweeter has to have agile movements.
The low mass in dome tweeters helps them to move rapidly when producing high frequencies.
Additionally, the tweeter has high stiffness, making it excellent for low distortion. That happens because audio waves can’t change the shape of the tweeter’s cone when the magnet pushes up against it. However, dome tweeters also have their downsides.
Disadvantages of Horn Tweeters
Fatigue and high coloration are the two main downsides associated with horn tweeters. Coloration occurs when the speaker produces an unidentifiable sound, and that can be quite tiring to listen to.
While the best home theatre speakers on the market may not have this issue, it’s common in horn tweeters. The reason for that is blending sounds because of the speaker’s frequency range.
Horn tweeters can also get tiring to the ears. While they’re great for producing high frequencies, that’s also their biggest downfall.
That’s because listening to high tones like horns and vocals can make your ears bleed. That’s why listeners mention feeling tired after the prolonged use of their horn tweeters.
Disadvantages to Dome Tweeters
Dome tweeters only have one major issue, and that’s its stiffness. The stiffness of the materials helps the tweeter to effectively create high audio frequencies, though it might affect the sound dispersion.
As such, smaller dome tweeter can offer a wide sound dispersion at high frequencies, though they have a less radiating area. That limits the output of low-end frequencies within their range.
Which Is Better – Dome Tweeters vs Horn Tweeters
In this article, we have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both horn ad dome tweeters. We found that horn tweeters had two main issues which are listening fatigue and coloration while dome tweeters had a major issue with stiffness.
So which of the tweeter types are better? Horn vs dome? We believe dome tweeters offer a better overall especially because of their size and durability.
Moreover, they offer a better frequency balance. Moreover, if you are ion a budget, dome tweeters re your best bet! For the higher frequencies, you can always go with a horn tweeter.
Can You Have Too Many Tweeters?
No, you can never have too many tweeters. Having multiple tweeters in your audio system is a great way to achieve high-quality sound.
Tweeters are mainly responsible for all of the detail and clarity you hear when listening to music or watching TV.
While there’s no scientifically proven “sweet spot” number for how many tweeters should go into an automobile stereo system, most people recommend having at least two.
If you want more than just good quality sound, but also better imaging due to separate drivers delivering highs/lows specifically toward different areas within your space then four drivers would be ideal.
What is the Difference Between a Tweeter and a Super Tweeter?
A tweeter and a super tweeter are both high-frequency drivers that work in the same way. They both use a diaphragm to move air. The difference between them is how much of the audio spectrum they cover.
Tweeters do not go very low or handle frequencies with wide dynamics well, while super tweeters deal with complex sounds better because their larger size means greater control over movement.
Why Do Horn Speakers Sound Better?
Horn speakers sound better because they have an efficient design.
This means that the diaphragm doesn’t have to oscillate a lot in order to create a loud sound compared to dome speakers.
Therefore, horn speakers don’t disperse sound all over the room, they aim directly at the listener.
After comparing both the advantages and the downsides of both horn and dome tweeters, it’s evident which has more disadvantages than the other.
And while horn tweeters have their place and time, we believe that dome tweeters will work better for your home audio system.
Dome tweeters are also more flexible regardless of their size, though the sound qualities differ. That’s because horn tweeters are designed for high frequencies, while dome tweeters are designed for a balanced performance throughout its frequency range.
If you are interested in reading about more comparisons we also have a comparison of horn vs ribbon tweeters.