Is a speaker an input or output device?

Speakers are an integral part of our lives. Their main responsibility is to produce sound for different devices such as radios, computers, smartphones, microphones, TVs, etc.

Despite their popularity, one thing remains unclear to many. Is a speaker an input or output device?

When you think about it as a sound enthusiast, finding the answer can be confusing. And that’s okay because today, we want to help you understand the type of device a speaker is, how it works, and some differences between input and output devices.

Stick around to learn more about this.

What kind of device is a speaker?

Speakers are output devices right off the bat. Their role is to receive electrical signals from an input device such as microphones or playback devices such as computers and convert them into analog energy – in this case, sound waves.

However, this is in relation to computers.

A speaker can also be an input device in relation to itself. It receives an electrical signal from a device or a mixer, and it outputs the information as sound. In this case, the received signal is the input. You can also refer to a speaker as an input device if you use it as a microphone to send information to a computer.

Therefore, we can refer to a speaker as an input or output device depending on the context.

What parts make up a speaker and how do they work to give off sound?

The basic parts of a speaker include the diaphragm (speaker cone), moving coil, magnet, and terminals.

When you connect a speaker to a playback device, a mixer, or a smartphone, they send electric signals (digital signals) to the terminals. The coils, attached to a magnet, begin to move when the signal arrives and create an electromagnetic field around them. The vibrations of the moving coil also cause the diaphragm to move.

The diaphragm interacts with air to produce the sound waves, which you now hear as music or someone speaking through a microphone.

Note that a speaker doesn’t have the capability to convert digital signals to analog; therefore, placing Digital-to-Analog converters (DAC) or sound cards between the speaker terminals and the device is necessary to aid in accurate reproduction of the information, instruction, or information.

Is a speaker a transducer?

A transducer is any device that converts energy from one form to another. For instance, in this case, the speaker converts the electric energy into analog energy. Hence, it would be appropriate to call a speaker transducer.

What is audio input vs output?

A microphone is a good example of an audio input device. The role of these devices is to send audio signals to a computer’s processor. The computer can use the data for recording, relaying commands, or processing.

On the other hand, audio output devices receive audio signals from a computer and process them into sound. The most popular audio output device is a speaker on your TV, laptop, computer, or smartphone. A headphone is another type of audio output.

What are some differences between an input and output device?

The following table summarizes the differences between input and output devices.

Input DeviceOutput device
These devices send data and information to a computer processorThese devices receive processed data and information from the computer
They can only send data to a computerThey can only receive data from a computer
Sends signals that are not human-comprehendible (digital signals)They convert the signals into a human-comprehendible form
Examples of input devices include keyboards, mice, joystick, microphones, scanners, and cameras.Examples include speakers, monitors, printers, projectors, headphones.

Can a speaker be used as an input device like a microphone?

If you are wondering whether you can use a speaker as an input device, the answer is yes. When you compare a speaker to a microphone, you will notice significant similarities.

Both devices use similar components to send and receive sound. The only difference is that the microphone will capture sound, while the speaker will deliver sound.

Therefore, if you can find a way to reverse how electrical signals travel through a speaker, then you can use it as a microphone. Simply rip off the speaker from its box.  Connect the positive terminal of your speaker to the negative wire and then connect your negative terminal to your positive wire.

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Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Is a Bluetooth speaker an output device?

A Bluetooth speaker is an output device. The only difference between this speaker and the conventional one is that you don’t need a cable to connect it to a playback device or computer. Instead, it uses a Bluetooth connection and is only compatible with devices that have Bluetooth functionality.


We appreciate the time you took to read the entire article. By now, we hope that you understand what type of device a speaker is, and why it stands more as an output device than an input device.