Searching for “Portable Speakers” on Amazon will return over 100,000 results. With a sea of choices out there, how can you tell the difference between them, other than their looks? How do they sound different (or the same)?

For all the audiophiles out there, you probably already know what to look out for. But if you are new to speakers, here are some factors which help create great portable sound.


How Speakers Work

The first thing you need to understand is how a speaker works. Sound is transmitted to the speaker in the form of an electric current, which passes through a movable electromagnet. The resulting electromagnetic field causes a vibration, which pushes air away from the speaker to create sound. Here is a simplified illustration.

How Speakers Work 1

How Speakers Actually Work

In reality, speaker designs are much more complicated. Speakers often contain multiple drivers and a typical speaker driver can contain more than a dozen components. Each component can be made from many different materials. Here is a more realistic version of modern speaker design.

How Speakers Work 2

Speaker Material

Different speakers use different materials for the cones including paper, aluminum, polypropelene, and even materials like ceramic. Speaker designers have different opinions about the best material for making the cones, but no matter what materials are used, the goal is to recreate sound as accurately as possible (within their given budget). This is achieved through the combination of different component materials used to build the speaker and the design of the electric circuit.


Internal Circuitry

Because music /sound is sent to the speaker in terms of electric currents, how the speaker interprets the incoming signal will affect how it sounds. For example, the design of the crossover circuit is a key component in how a speaker sounds. In a speaker with more than one driver, the crossover circuit determines which frequencies are produced by which driver; high frequencies (treble) are directed to a tweeter, with low frequencies (bass) directed to a woofer.

Speaker Internal

Where and how the driver and circuit boards are physically fixed is also important. Because they are so close to the source of the sound, they can easily become part of it. For example, if you don’t brace the driver securely enough, it can rattle and create distortion.


Outer Design

Finally, not only does the inside of the speaker matter, the outside enclosure also plays an important role in creating beautiful sound. Unlike large speakers, portable speakers usually have limited space to work with. An enclosure that is too narrow can create interference between sound waves coming from different drivers. Too wide, and the sound will reverberate inside the speaker.


There are other important factors which affect speaker sound, but not all of them are associated with an increase in price and cost. Great sound can be achieved at modest prices and at VAVA, we want to provide powerful and portable sound that’s also affordable.