The typical loudspeaker used in a home hi-fi system contains three basic elements. There are the drivers, which include woofers (delivering low-frequency sounds) and tweeters (the highs); a crossover network, which sends signals to the correct drivers; and the box, which holds the speakers in a vibration-free enclosure that directs the sounds produced by the drivers into a room.

Most modern speakers are electrodynamic, which means they use a magnet to turn electrical signals into the movement in the drivers that produces the sound waves. While various types of electrodynamic speakers had existed since the middle of the 19th century, the modern speaker is usually co-credited to C.W. Rice and E. W. Kellogg in 1921. RCA sold the first speaker based on their design in 1926.

Today when we think of home-stereo speakers, different names probably come to mind. An Englishman named Gilbert Briggs brought Wharfedale into the world in 1932, while Altec Lansing was founded in 1936 by James B. Lansing, whose JBL speakers remain standards in the worlds of high-fidelity home audio and live music. Paul Klipsch began making his legendary Klipschorns in 1946 in Hope, Arkansas, and Edgar Villchur and Henry Kloss founded Acoustic Research in 1954 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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