Bipole vs Dipole Speakers: What’s the Difference?

Music is one thing that everyone enjoys. Whatever genre it is, be it rock, jazz, or pop, we love being absorbed in it.

Today when watching movies, we no longer have to go to the cinema to get a full experience of it. With the emergence of streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO, we can enjoy them in just a few clicks. With a big screen, speakers, perfect ambience, and company of loved ones, we can still feel that we are at the movie theater. 

A big factor of enjoyment in playing video games is the sound effects such as the explosions, engine sounds, and background music. At home with a good setup, we can definitely enjoy these pleasures. Quality speakers allow us to create these moments in our homes. 

Today, there are different kinds of modern loudspeakers that are suited for different frequency ranges. One such example are the bipole and dipole speakers which form surround sound speakers to improve immersion. Here, we discuss the differences between each and how it aids setting up your home theater system.

What Are Surround Sound Speakers?

Surround sound speakers can offer a more immersive experience for the users. In a surround sound speaker system, there are at least five speakers with the main three being propped in the center, right, and left. The remaining two which are called Surround Right and Surround Left are placed between the main right and left speakers. 

There are different kinds of surround speakers such as monopole (direct-radiating speakers), bipole (bi-directional in-phase speakers), and dipole (bidirectional out-of-phase speakers). 

What’s the Difference Between Bipole and Dipole Speakers?

Bipole speakers are basically monopoles that are placed on opposite sides that give out sounds in all directions. 

They have two drivers placed opposite each other which deliver the same audio synchronously. The cones move in the opposite directions away from the magnet at the same time. Since they are in phase with each other, this allows it to produce more air which gives a better bass. 

With the drivers working in the same direction and at the same time, they are able to reach more areas of the room such as the walls and ceiling. More sounds will be produced since they don’t cancel each other when they intersect. Bipole speakers can also function as main speakers. 

bipole vs dipole speakers
Monopole, Dipole & Bipole Speakers (From Crutchfield)

On the other hand, dipole speakers function differently. Despite having two speakers similar to bipole, they perform in the same direction. One of the cones approaches the magnet, while the other one moves away from it. There is a null in areas where the sounds converge which results in a poor bass. 

Let’s take a close look at some of their other differences:

Dispersion

Since bipole speakers perform at the same time and direction, they have the same amplitude, phase, and frequency. Constructive interference refers to the phases where the sounds are loud. There are also times when the volume goes down to zero which is called destructive interference. 

On the contrary, the left and right waves of dipole speakers cancel each other out in areas where they meet which are usually the lower frequency waves. This indicates a creation of a number eight pattern also called destructive interference. This is why the bass of dipole speakers is not as good as that of the bipole speakers. 

Reflection

When a bipole speaker is placed against a wall, the reflection from one driver can obstruct the wave from the other driver which produces constructive reinforcement and destructive interference. 

On the other hand, comb filtering is what happens in dipole speakers. Since the waves are produced at different times where the wave from the one driver bounces off the wall and joins the wave just being produced by the other driver, they have the tendency to destroy and boost each other as well.  

How to Set Up Your Speakers

Now that we’ve learned the main differences between bipole and dipole speakers, here are some tips on how to set up your speakers properly.

Front speakers

The front speakers must be placed one meter away from the side, back, and front walls. They should have a distance of two to three meters from each other. The audience chair should also have the same distance from the speakers. 

Bipole and dipole speakers

Surround speakers can be installed at ear level or even above it. It is ideal to prop it two to three feet above ear level. 

With the bipole speakers performing in phase with each other, they don’t have a null area, unlike the dipole speakers. With this, they can be propped on the side and back walls. 

In a 5.1 speaker setup, bipole speakers can be placed above and behind ear level on the side walls. Another option is hanging from the ceiling above and behind the ear level. Lastly, they can also be set on the back wall above ear level. 

For the dipole speakers, to maximize its null effect, the listener is advised to sit where the sound waves cancel each other out to get the most out of the ambiance effects. In a 5.1 setup, they can be positioned at the side walls or hung from the ceiling at the same level as the listener. 

I am not getting enough bass, do I have a backwall cancellation? – Genelec  Support
From Genelec Support

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bipole and Dipole Speakers? 

Bipole speakers can offer more bass because they are in phase with each other thus creating more air. They can also be used as primary speakers. Since there are sounds at the back and front, a diffused sound is produced. 

On the other hand, the acoustics of a room can affect the audio made by bipole speakers. The sounds made by bipole speakers are not as open-sounding as those of the dipole speakers. 

Dipole speakers create an effect wherein the audience can’t tell where the sound is coming from giving an illusion of a more immersive experience. They offer a larger surround sweet spot. 

Because of the null zone, the listeners hear a softened sound coming from the reflections of the room. The sounds are enveloped because they are sent opposite to the listener. 

From Vinyl To Plastic

On the flip side, since both of the drivers are out of phase with each other, the bass sound is not that good. Dipole speakers work best in small rooms because the sounds are well-spread and not just focused in one spot. The sounds produced are the same in the whole room. 

When watching a movie, ambient sounds like the splashing of waves, the buzzing of bees, and the rustling of leaves enhance the experience. To maximize surround speakers, it must be ensured that they do not overpower the main sounds. 

The audience must also feel that they are coming from different parts of the room and not limited to the speakers themselves. Bipole and dipole speakers are good choices since they are similar to the surround speakers in cinemas. 

How to Select the Right Speaker?

There are many choices of speakers on the market today that differ in size, performance, and price. Buying a speaker is no walk at the park since it is an investment. So, here are some tips on selecting the right speaker for you:

Before buying a set, examine the area where you will place them. Since some speakers function better in small rooms and some in large spaces, you must check what kind of area you have. 

Another thing to assess is how open the room is. The size of a speaker affects the openness of the space. Placing a large speaker in a closed room will make the audio sound muffled while using a small speaker in a large space will not diffuse the audio properly thus causing it to not be heard at the back of the room. 

Next, think about where you will prop it on. If you’re planning on placing it inside a cabinet, make sure that it will not sabotage the bass produced. Similar to this, the bass can also be ruined when putting the speakers on the floor or in the corners. 

KEF LS50 Wireless 2 (from KEF)

Consider the surfaces of the room as well since sounds change when they bounce off of hard surfaces. If aesthetics matter to you, visualize how the speakers will look in the room. It’s still best if you maintain the aesthetics of your room while having a speaker that produces good quality audio. 

When buying a speaker, think about what you will be using it for. If you’re not an audiophile and are content with just a good one, maybe a pair is enough. This will be sufficient for listening to music and watching movies. If you want a more immersive experience, installing floor-standing speakers or a soundbar are good options. If you want something more than this, a surround sound system will satisfy you. 

The amplifier of the speakers must be also examined. An ideal amplifier works well with a speaker and can drive it successfully. The amplifier must match the speaker to preserve the quality of the gadget. Take note of the impedance number of the speaker. Determine what type of wire you will be using. Speaker wires are connected to a receiver. Nowadays, speakers have improved wires and even use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. 

You have the option of buying from a physical store or purchasing it online. Getting it physically from a store allows you to examine it closely and test it. You can hear the sounds in real-time and experiment based on the setup that they have. You can ensure that the piece you will take home has gone through a quality check. With the assistance of a salesman, they can easily answer your inquiries. One downside to this is having to buy it for a higher price because of rent and shipping costs. 

Buying online also has advantages and disadvantages. You can get the same quality speaker for a lower price since the seller does not have to rent a physical store as a showroom. On the contrary, there is the risk of getting a defective item and there are times when returning it is a hassle. You will not get to test it and the sample sound you hear online can differ from what you will hear in real life. In addition to this, your speaker can be damaged through the handling of the courier. 

In addition to all the things mentioned, reconsider how much budget you have. You want to get the most out of your money. Are you willing to invest a huge amount to get the best or maybe just one that functions well and is not that expensive? 

Bipole vs. Dipole: Which Should You Use?

Dipole speakers are recommended when your room is small and the acoustics are treated. If you have a small theater at home with various seats, then dipole speakers are for you. If you will be placing the speakers on the sidewalls, dipole speakers are the way to go. 

Bipole speakers are best for large rooms with uncontrolled acoustics. If you will prop them on the back wall, you should choose bipole speakers. Your choice will depend on the size of your space, the area where you will be placing them, its amplifier, and what you will be using them for. 

When watching a movie, ambient sounds like the splashing of waves, the buzzing of bees, and the rustling of leaves enhance the experience. To maximize surround speakers, it must be ensured that they do not overpower the main sounds. The audience must also feel that the sounds are coming from different parts of the room and not just limited to the speakers themselves. 

Conclusion

To summarize, bipole or bi-directional in phase speakers have better-sounding bass because the two drivers work at the same time in opposite directions. More regions of the room are reached by the sounds. They also work better in large rooms even if their acoustics are not well-treated. 

Bidirectional out-of-phase speakers also known as dipole speakers have two drivers as well but they are not in phase with each other. They work in the same direction. Its produced bass is not really the best. They cancel each other out in areas where they meet, also called the null zone. 

They are suited best for small rooms with controlled acoustics. Whether you select bipole or dipole speakers either is a good choice since they allow you to immerse in the sounds and get the best of the moment. 

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