Magnets make music possible. How?

Magnets are an important component of speakers and headphones, as they convert electrical energy into sound energy. The magnets transmit the sound energy through the “cone” of the speaker. While this description isn’t as complex as actual sound design, it gives you a brief idea of how magnets play a role in sound transmission.

Using copper wire and a strong neodymium magnet, you’re able to recreate the basic technology behind speakers! The wire will transmit electrical current, making the magnet vibrate, which we will pick up as sound. To amplify this sound, we’ll incorporate a cup into the simple design, leaving you with a quick and easy magnet experiment:

What You’ll Need -

Steps -

  1. First, you’ll wrap copper wire around the disc magnet multiple times to create a coil. Start from the middle of the wire, and leave excess wire hanging off both sides of the magnet.
  2. Remove the magnet from the coil, and tape the coil to the bottom of the cup.
  3. Use a bottle cap or another round object on hand to make a larger coil out of the excess wire hanging off your first coil. Once you’ve created your second coil, you should have about a foot of wire left on both sides. This extra wire will be used to attach your speaker to a music source. Tape the second coil on top of the first.
  4. Next, place your disc magnet on top of the two coils. It doesn’t have to touch all of the wire for your speaker to work, it just has to be attached in some places.
  5. Finally, find an auxiliary cord that plugs into your radio, iPod, phone, or whatever source of music you’re using. Plug one end into the music source. On the other end, wrap one piece of the excess copper wire around the top and the other piece around the bottom. To make this step easier, you could also purchase gator clips and attach the wire to the plug end that way.
  6. Test away! You can adjust the magnet strength to amplify the volume. Stronger disc magnets tend to work better than magnets with less power.

When participating in these experiments, it’s important to follow proper safety measures. This DIY speaker is a great starting point if you’re interested in building your own audio speakers, but you could take it a step further by purchasing a speaker kit to make a more sophisticated system.
For other attractive experiments and magnetic how-tos, subscribe to our monthly newsletter. You’ll get access to more news on magnets in science and exclusive deals only available to Apex Magnets subscribers!