Amp vs Speaker: When Should You Use Each One?

Are you a bit puzzled about the difference between an amplifier and a speaker? You aren’t alone. In the world of sound systems and audio instruments, two vital instruments stand out. They are amplifiers and speakers. Although both are crucial elements for a sound setup, they have different purposes to serve. 

To truly understand the role each one plays in sound reproduction, it is essential to know the major differences between amp vs speaker. In this post, we will dive deep into their functions, features, and the crucial part they play in the audio world.

What Is An Amplifier?

Amplifiers, often called “amps,” are electronic instruments that boost the power or amplitude of an audio signal, making the sound louder. When it comes to music, amps take in a sound signal and boost up the volume by increasing the amplitude of the sound waves. Then, amplifiers send the signals to devices that produce sounds, such as speakers.

It’s important to know that amps don’t alter anything else in the sound waves, such as pitch or frequency. Their main job is just to make sounds louder. Amplifiers deliver the needed power to accurately reproduce the audio signal and make the volume loud enough for you to hear.

What Are The Parts of An Amplifier?

  1. Input Phase: This phase takes in the soft audio signal and gets it ready for amplification.
  2. Amplification Phase: At the core of the amplifier, this phase greatly boosts the audio signal’s current or voltage.
  3. Output Phase: The final stage sends the amplified audio signal to the speakers.

Know The Characteristics of An Amplifier

  • Current Supply: Amplifiers can supply enough current to the speakers. It allows amps to move the speaker cones and create sound.
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) gauges how much the amplifier changes the original sound signal. When THD values are lower, the sound is purer and cleaner.
  • Audio Signal Amplification: Amplifiers boost the power or voltage of the signal, making it strong enough to power up headphones or speakers well.
  • Power Rating: Amplifiers come with a power rating measured in watts (W), indicating the amount of power they can provide to the speakers. Choosing the correct power match ensures the best performance and protects against potential damage.
  • Signal Processing Features: Certain amplifiers include signal processing features like effects, equalization, and tone control. These features allow users to customize the audio signal to match their personal preferences.

What Are The Types of Amplifiers?

Amplifiers come in many different types and setups, each crafted to amplify a particular kind of audio signal. A variety of amplifier options exist in the market, such as:

Class A Amplifiers

Class A amplifiers are the most simple type. However, they are not very efficient and produce a significant amount of heat.

Class B Amplifiers

These amplifiers are better at efficiency compared to Class A amplifiers. However, they tend to produce distortion when operated at low volumes.

Class AB Amplifiers

These amplifiers blend features from both Class A and Class B types of amplifiers. They offer greater efficiency compared to Class A amplifiers and produce less distortion compared to Class B amplifiers. Class A, Class B, and Class AB, all three types of amplifiers are known as analog amplifiers, and they amplify audio signals as continuous waves.

Digital Amplifiers

Digital amplifiers are also referred to as Class D amplifiers. These amplifiers amplify signals by quickly toggling between on and off modes, which makes them more energy-efficient. They are the most efficient amplifier among all types of amplifiers. However, digital amplifiers produce distortion when the volume is very high.

Tube Amplifiers

Tube amplifiers are famous for their smooth and warm sound. They utilize vacuum tubes to amplify audio signals.

What Is A Speaker?

Speakers are transducers that transform electrical signals into sound waves. A speaker’s main job is to grab the weak audio signals from your audio device, like an amplifier or smartphone, and turn them into sound you can hear. It does this by making the speaker’s cone or diaphragm vibrate. 

When the speaker cone vibrates, it makes waves in the air that our ears pick up as sound. Basically, speakers let us listen to the electric signals generated by the TV show or movie we are seeing or the music we are enjoying.

Understand The Parts of A Speaker

  1. Voice Coil: It’s a coil of wire that hangs in a magnetic field. 
  2. Magnet: The magnet makes a steady magnetic field that works with the voice coil to make things move.
  3. Cone: The cone is the most visible section of a speaker. It vibrates to generate sound waves. The cone‘s design and material greatly affect the sound quality of the speaker.
  4. Crossover: In speakers that have many drivers, a crossover guides particular frequencies to various drivers like woofers and tweeters. This ensures the best sound reproduction.

What Are The Characteristics of A Speaker?

  • Frequency Range: Speakers are made to handle a certain range of frequencies, from deep bass to high treble. As a result, speakers ensure a full-spectrum and balanced sound reproduction.
  • Sensitivity: How well a speaker turns electrical energy into sound is measured by sensitivity. Speakers with higher sensitivity need less power to generate the same volume of sound.
  • Sound Distribution: Speakers are designed to disperse sound evenly in various directions. It will give you an immersive and coherent listening experience.
  • Impedance: The speaker’s resistance to the electrical flow of current is called impedance. It is measured in ohms. It is vital to match the speaker’s impedance with the amp for effective performance.
  • Sound Reproduction: Speakers reproduce signals accurately, turning electrical energy into sound waves you can hear.

Know The Types of Speakers

Speakers have different sizes and shapes, each made to generate certain levels of sound pressure and frequency range. In the market, you can find various types of speakers, such as:


Tweeters are small speakers that generate high-pitched sounds, like vocals and cymbals. They generate detailed and sharp audio.


These are big speakers that are made to generate low-frequency sounds, like drums and bass. Woofers move lots of air.

Mid-Range Speakers

These speakers are crafted for producing sounds in the middle of the frequency range, like piano and guitar. They handle the frequencies between tweeters and woofers, making sure the sound is well-balanced.

Full-Range Speakers

These speakers are made to generate a broad range of frequencies, including low, mid, and high-range frequencies.

What Are The Differences Between An Amplifier and A Speaker?

Speakers and amplifiers are like two peas in a pod when it comes to sound systems. Speakers are the instruments that actually create the sound. They vibrate and push air around to create the music or voices you hear. On the other hand, amplifiers are the boosters

They take the small audio signals and make them strong enough to really rock the speaker. Let’s differentiate between amplifiers and speakers in the below guide.

Parts Differences

Speakers are built with magnets, voice coils, cones, and sometimes crossovers. On the other side, amplifiers have input, output, and amplification phases.

Comparing Wattage

Speaker wattage means a speaker’s power handling capability. It refers to how much power a speaker can handle without damage or distortion. Speaker wattage is generally characterized as program power rating or Root Mean Square (RMS) wattage. 

The speaker wattage rating gives an estimation of the highest power that the speaker can manage during peak moments or constantly. On the other hand, amplifier wattage means the power output capacity of an amplifier. 

It refers to how much power an amplifier can send to the attached speakers. Amplifier wattage is generally denoted as RMS wattage per channel, which shows the steady power the amplifier can give to the speakers during regular functioning conditions. 

Differences in Sound Quality

Speakers play an important role in determining the quality of sound. On the other side, amplifiers mostly impact distortion and volume levels.

Measurement Units Differences

A Speaker is measured in ohms and sensitivity. The ohms is its impedance measurement, and the sensitivity is its efficiency measurement. In contrast, an amplifier is rated in watts and Total Harmonic Distortion (THD). The watts is its power measurement, and the THD is its sound quality measurement.

Comparing Functionality

The main difference between amplifiers and speakers lies in their functionality. Speakers generate sound, while amplifiers boost the electrical signal.

Some Context Examples of Choosing between An Amplifier and A speaker

When it comes to selecting between an amplifier and a speaker, the situation plays an important role. The specific context of use can determine which one is the right fit. Let’s look at a few examples of various situations where the decision between an amplifier and a speaker might vary.

Big Gatherings

Big gatherings like conferences or concerts might need an amplifier to make sure the sound reaches everyone in the audience. Just using a speaker might not cover sound to all the corners of the venue. In such situations, an amplifier could be used to increase the sound and make sure everyone can hear.

Small Events

On the other side, for small events like a small party or a family dinner, a speaker might be all you need. You can use a portable, small speaker to give sound for a presentation or to play music. In this case, using an amplifier might be too much and could take up excessive space.

Home Theater Setting

In a home theater setup, you might need both an amplifier and a speaker. The amplifier can be used to make sure the sound is sufficiently loud for the whole room, while the speaker can be used to give top-quality, clear sound for TV shows and movies. The choice between them depends on the layout and size of your room.

Music Production

In music production, both amplifiers and speakers are crucial. An amplifier can be used to increase the audio signal from a musical device, while a speaker can be used to play the recorded sound. The selection between them depends on the particular requirements of the recording procedure.

Final Verdict on Amp vs Speaker

After discussing the differences between the amp vs speaker, it’s clear that both are important elements of any audio system. In the audio world, amplifiers and speakers act as two sides of the same coin. They have different but interdependent roles, each adding to the sound quality of a sound system.

Understanding the differences between these two components is important for making smart decisions when creating or upgrading your audio system. For instance, choosing the correct amplifier can really boost your speakers’ performance, but selecting the wrong one might result in poor-quality or distorted sound. Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand their differences. 

David Huner
David Huner
I have completed my graduation from The University of Phoenix. Being a graduate, I’ve been writing on tech tips and products for several years. I love to write about all the latest trends in technology, as well as give my personal take on new products. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just want to read more articles like this one, check out our website!
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