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Are Speakers Input or Output Devices? 5 Surprising Facts

Are Speakers Input Or Output Devices

Speakers are known for producing sounds.

That should make them output devices, right?

Well, not quite.

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

But don’t worry. I’m here to clear out any confusion.

Continue reading to find out:

  • Whether speakers are actually input or output devices.
  • 5 amazing facts about speakers and output devices (#5 will shock you).
  • An easy way to determine whether a gadget is an input or an output device.
  • And a lot more…

Are speakers input or output devices?

Speakers are output devices. They’re mainly built to receive audio signals from gadgets like computers, phones, and TVs. Then, they output those signals into the sound waves that we hear. However, a smart speaker with a built-in mic can be considered as both an input and an output device.

Why speakers are considered output devices

Speakers are considered output devices because they can produce sounds. Any gadget that can manufacture something that we can see or hear is an output device. Aside from speakers, other examples of output devices are TVs, monitors, and printers.

I know it can be confusing to determine whether a gadget’s an input or an output device.

So let me try to make it simple.

How to easily determine if something is an input or an output device

As a rule of thumb…

A gadget can be considered an output device if it can produce something that we can see or hear.

For instance, a speaker can play music. Therefore, it’s an output device.

Another example is a computer monitor. It can show images. And it’s capable of displaying web pages and documents. So it’s also considered an output device.

Aside from those 2, here are a few more examples:

  • Printer.
  • Projector.
  • Smart TV.
  • Video Card.
  • Headphones.

On the other hand, input devices are those that you can use to send instructions to another gadget.

As an example, let’s say you want your computer to display a website.

What would you need to tell your computer to do that?

A keyboard, of course. 

It can be a physical or virtual one. Either way, you need to use it to type in the web address. 

This address will then be translated into signals that your computer can understand. 

And from there…

Your computer will be able to retrieve and display the site you’re asking for.

That’s why keyboards are considered input devices.

Allow me to give you another example. Let’s say you want a video game character to run.

How can you instruct it to do so?

Well, you’ll have to press a key on your joystick. That’s why it’s also an input device.

Now, here are some other examples:

  • Mouse.
  • Scanner.
  • Trackball.
  • Microphone.
  • Remote control.

Speakers and output devices – 5 surprising facts

#1: Smart speakers can be categorized as both input and output devices

Speakers have always been considered output devices. But technology never stops evolving and improving. 

And now that some speaker variants have become smart…

They’ve also turned into hybrid input and output devices.

As I’ve mentioned, input devices are those that you use to send instructions. And output devices are those gadgets that can produce anything that we can see or hear.

Well, a smart speaker can do both of those.

Of course, you can use it to play songs from your phone or laptop. This is where it’s considered an output device.

And you may also utilize a smart speaker to control other devices.

As an example, you can connect an Alexa smart speaker to a Roku streaming player. 

With this setup, you’ll be able to use the Alexa device to control playback or search for movies on your Roku.

So in this regard, your Echo speaker is acting as an input device.

And in reality, there are other devices as well that you can use for both input and output. Here are just a few examples:

  • Radios.
  • Modems.
  • Headsets.
  • Touchscreens.
  • Fax machines.

#2: The first speaker was invented for telephones

We use speakers today mainly to output music or dialogue from movies and TV shows.

But they weren’t really invented for those purposes.

Their origins were, in fact, connected to the creation of the telephone.

German scientist Johann Philipp Reis tried to create a phone prototype in 1861. And along with it, he also built a speaker to amplify the sound coming out of that device.

It wasn’t really successful, though. The sounds that came out weren’t clear and highly distorted.

Around 15 years later… 

Alexander Graham Bell improved upon Reis’ ideas. And he was able to create the first working telephone.

Decades later, the speaker originally used for telephones evolved. 

This is largely through the genius of other inventors.

#3: There’s a Bluetooth speaker that’s about the size of a 25-cent coin

Speakers come in all shapes and sizes.

And believe it or not…

There’s actually a Bluetooth speaker that’s about as tiny as a US quarter.

The INSIQ speaker measures only 1.2 in (3 cm) in diameter. And it weighs 2.1 oz (60 g).

But don’t let its miniature size fool you.

This device’s volume can go as high as 90 decibels.

To put that in perspective…

That sound level is around the equivalent of a motorcycle engine noise.

So the INSIQ is more than capable of outputting audio that can fill an entire room.

In addition, this speaker can also last up to 2 hours on a single charge. And its Bluetooth range can extend to a little over 30 feet (914 cm).

Furthermore, this tiny speaker is really cheap. It’s selling for only $17. 

#4: The world’s loudest wireless speaker can reach 126 decibels

In the early 2010s, 3 college students from Denmark attended a music festival.

This inspired them to make their own speaker that can produce incredibly loud sounds.

And what they built was so good… 

Their other friends asked them to create more.

With the success of their creation, they decided to start their own company. They named it Soundboks.

This firm also happens to have created the loudest wireless speaker in existence. It’s called the Soundboks 3.

Now, this speaker’s volume can go as high as 126 decibels.

How loud is that exactly?

Well, on average, a rock concert with 20,000 cheering people measures at around 130 decibels. 

So this device’s max volume is around that level.

But aside from its ear-splitting loudness…

The Soundboks 3 also has other amazing features that include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Dirt and waterproof design.
  • 40-hour battery life for every charge.

Furthermore, it weighs 33 lbs (15 kg). So you may need some help carrying it around. 

But it’s absolutely perfect for outdoor parties. And if you’d like to see how this speaker actually works, watch this video below:

#5: There are speakers that cost over $1 million

This ultra-expensive speakers should pique your interest.

The first one is the Moon Audio Opulence. It’s a speaker that costs $1 million. And there are only 10 of these available.

According to its manufacturer Moon Audio

This speaker bypasses the ear. It delivers audio straight into the listener’s brain. And it’s something that you have to experience to fully understand.

Another notable luxury speaker is the Transmission Audio Ultimate. It’s selling for $2 million.

And its maker described it as the result of combining the best hardware available.

It’s like if you fuse the finest parts of a Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini to create the ultimate sports car.

However, the Ultimate isn’t actually the most expensive speaker ever.

That title belongs to the Hart Audio D&W Aural Pleasure loudspeakers.

The price?

A staggering $4.7 million.

Now, if you’re wondering why it’s so expensive…

It’s really more because of its design.

This speaker is covered in 18-karat gold. And it’s also the main reason why it weighs around 110 lbs (50 kg).

BONUS: The types of speakers by connectivity

There are many types of speakers. And you can categorize them by any of the following:

  • Size.
  • Location.
  • Application.
  • Frequency range.

But for this section, I’ll be breaking down speaker types by connectivity. I believe this is the easiest way to distinguish all the listening devices that you see on the market today.

#1: Wired speaker

Wired speakers are among the most common output devices. And they’ve been around for decades.

These devices usually connect to another gadget via an aux or a USB cable.

As to why some people prefer to use wired speakers…

Since they connect directly through a cable… 

Audio quality is usually better than wireless ones.

It’s also easier to set them up. All you have to do is plug them in.

In addition, wired speakers also have sub-categories. These are among the most common types:

  • Soundbar.
  • Bookshelf.
  • Subwoofer.
  • Floorstanding.

#2: Wireless speaker

Wireless Speaker

A wireless speaker is a type of listening device that connects via Bluetooth or WiFi.

The idea for this gadget was conceived as early as the mid-90s.

However, fully-functioning wireless speakers wouldn’t be available until the mid-2000s.

And it’s now among the most widely-used output devices today.

Of course, the main advantage of these speakers is portability. 

Since they connect wirelessly and use rechargeable batteries…

You can bring them practically everywhere.

Some of the most popular wireless speaker brands include:

  • JBL.
  • Bose.
  • Sony.
  • Anker.
  • Sonos.

You might also like: WiFi vs Bluetooth Speakers: 3 Sound Quality Comparisons

#3: Smart speaker

Smart speakers are technically wireless speakers as well. They’re also Bluetooth speakers that you can use with or without WiFi.

But they’re a category on their own. That’s because there are differences compared to these compared to non-smart variants.

The most notable is that you can use smart speakers to control gadgets like the following:

  • TVs.
  • LED Lights.
  • Thermostats.
  • Gaming consoles.
  • Streaming players.

Another difference is that you can also literally communicate with a smart speaker. You can ask it questions. And through a voice AI, it can give you accurate answers most of the time.

And while Amazon’s Echo with Alexa is the most popular…

You’ll also find many good smart speakers from other brands like Google and Apple.