From huge woofers and tweeters to the massive sound walls at the biggest stadium gigs, the biggest speakers in the world are truly mind-blowing, or should that be ear-splitting? And when it comes to the biggest subwoofer in the world or the largest sound system ever installed, the contenders are loud and proud!
Loudspeakers, or devices that amplify sound, were invented in the latter part of the nineteenth century and were used in the first telephones.
The first moving-coil speakers – similar to those we use today – were invented in the early twentieth century for radios and public address systems and the technology was patented in 1925 by serial inventors Edward Kellogg and Chester Rice.
The first commercial version of their speaker had a six-inch cone and sold for $250. Like all technological inventions, as materials, design, electronics and manufacturing processes improved, so did the product.
Today, the most powerful and biggest speakers in the world are incredibly delicate, intricate scientific instruments. So who makes the world’s largest speaker? Let’s discover where the largest sound system in the world is and if you Motorhead to the end of the article, you’ll discover the size of the biggest subwoofer in the world.
The Loudest Sound System in the World
The world’s largest sound system hits an astonishing 155 decibels but isn’t used for heavy metal stadium gigs.
The Large European Acoustic Facility – LEAF – in The Netherlands is used to blast incredibly powerful spectral noise to see if a rocket can withstand the phenomenal forces of takeoff. It’s four times louder than standing behind a jet fighter taking off.
It’s housed in an epoxy-coated, steel-reinforced concrete room 11 metres long, nine metres wide and over sixteen metres high. If a human was exposed to the noise it would cause instant, permanent hearing loss.
The World's Biggest Speaker System
The world’s largest single-room speaker installation (as it’s technically known) is at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The £2 million, 465-speaker installation took six months of through-the-night work and used over 15,000 metres of cable. It was designed and installed by d&b audiotechnik and SFL Group and includes 211 microphones.
The Largest Speaker in the World
The world’s largest speaker was originally created as a marketing gimmick for use at tradeshows and is a staggering piece of technological innovation and electronic engineering. Made by German sound company Alex-Audio, the eighty inch (two metre) woofer, weighs 350 kg and has a peak power of 5,000 watts.
The Loudest Speaker in the World
Made by Wyle Laboratories who provide scientific and engineering services to the likes of NASA and the US Department of Defense, the WAS-3000 is believed to be the world’s loudest single speaker and one of the biggest speakers in the world. Technically it’s an electropneumatic noise modulator that generates high-output sound – the the tune of 165 decibels and 30,000 watts – for battlefield applications, rocket launch simulations and airport noise-cancellation projects.
The Biggest Subwoofer in the World
There are two records for the world’s biggest subwoofer. The first is the largest subwoofer array. It’s technically not a single loudspeaker but the system, known as the Matterhorn, holds the Guinness World Record as the biggest subwoofer in the world. It is also the most powerful.
It was made by Danley Sound Labs in Gainesville, Georgia and it is a sight to see. The sensational sub comprises forty, 15-inch subwoofers each powered by a 1,000-watt amplifier – that’s 40,000 watts of amplification – and reproduces bass down to between 15 – 20 Hz.
The massive Matterhorn has its own built-in generator and uses 426 metres of loudspeaker wire.
The second biggest subwoofer in the world record is for the largest single speaker and it is the colossal Diatone D-160 made by Mitsubishi in the mid-1980s.
The 160-cm cone woofer weighed around 800 kg and it seemed it was used as a scientific instrument to test the effects of noise and vibrations rather than to play ear-bleeding music.
The initial inside tests had to be stopped because the fluorescent lamps in the ceiling shattered so it was moved outside. At a distance of around 100 metres the noise was felt as sound but at a distance of over 2,000 metres the output was felt as vibrations similar to that of earthquakes with walls rumbling and windows breaking.
This astonishing feat of engineering brings us to the end of our list of the biggest speakers in the world.