Speakers are transducers that convert electromagnetic waves into sound waves. The speakers receive audio input from a device such as a computer or an audio receiver. This input may be either in analog or digital form. Analog speakers simply amplify the analog electromagnetic waves into sound waves. Since sound waves are produced in analog form, digital speakers must first convert the digital input to an analog signal, then generate the sound waves.

The sound produced by speakers is defined by frequency and amplitude. The frequency determines how high or low the pitch of the sound is. For example, a soprano singer's voice produces high frequency sound waves, while a bass guitar or kick drum generates sounds in the low frequency range. A speaker system's ability to accurately reproduce sound frequencies is a good indicator of how clear the audio will be. Many speakers include multiple speaker cones for different frequency ranges, which helps produce more accurate sounds for each range. Two-way speakers typically have a tweeter and a mid-range speaker, while three-way speakers have a tweeter, mid-range speaker, and subwoofer.

Speakers typically come in pairs, which allows them to produce stereo sound. This means the left and right speakers transmit audio on two completely separate channels. By using two speakers, music sounds much more natural since our ears are used to hearing sounds from the left and right at the same time. Surround systems may include four to seven speakers (plus a subwoofer), which creates an even more realistic experience.