The speakers are an integral part of any car audio system. Mainly, because audio impulses are played trough them and the sound quality and overall experience depends on the quality of the speakers. On the other hand, the construction, the type and even the position of the car speakers can make all the difference between the perfect sound and pure noise. So, follow our introduction to the world of speakers, read our guidelines and “how to“ articles find the best component speakers for you and your car.
The Basic Types Of Car Speakers:
First, let us explain the basic types of car speakers. There are several main categories of car audio speakers and they are divided by type, by function, and by construction. Of course, they all play music and add to the experience but they do it on different levels or frequencies.
Coaxial Speakers (Component Speakers, 2- or 3-way speakers)
The coaxial speakers are normal audio speakers but made especially for car use and they combine two or even three types of speakers in one, thus saving valuable space in car’s interior. If you have regular home audio speakers, they are commonly made of one bass, one mid-range, and one tweeter (high tones) all together in one speaker box. But, coaxial speakers combine two or all three types of speakers into one cone making it 2 or 3 in 1 type of speaker.
The main advantage of this type of speaker is obviously space but the biggest disadvantage is the sound. Often, coaxial speakers can make loud but not clear sounds and you loose much of sound quality by playing the music from the same speaker. For example, if you have 3 way (woofer, midrange, and tweeter) speaker it will play all three sounds at the same time but mid range will cushion the bass sound coming from the woofer and it also could block the high notes coming from the tweeter speakers so the sound will not be as clear.
The most common sizes of component or 2- or 3-way speakers in size are:
The tweeters are speakers specially designed to play high notes. They are much physically smaller from mid range or subwoofers and even though they have the same basic construction as the rest of speaker range the materials and size are different. In most cases, the tweeters are mounted in coaxial 2-way speaker combo with regular mid-range speaker, but they can be bought separately.
We have already talked about subwoofers and explained much there is but let’s repeat the basics. The subwoofers are bass speakers designed to play low notes, sometimes bellow the limits of the human ear. They are often bigger and stronger than regular mid-range speakers since their sound is much more powerful. Subwoofers are often mounted in the trunk of the car giving it low and powerful bass note.
We have already explained all about subwoofers but here is a quick reminder. There are two basic types of subwoofers – active and passive. Active subwoofers have its own power or amplifier source build in subwoofer it’s called “active“ or “powered“. Often, the powered or active subwoofers are sold as a set with all components already installed. The passive subwoofers are basically just a big bass speaker without its own power source and they need an amplifier to work properly.
The four most common subwoofer sizes are:
- 8 inch subwoofers
- 10 inch subwoofers
- 12 inch subwoofers
- 15 inch subwoofers
Buying Guide For Component Speakers
If you are planning to shop for component speakers there are a couple of things you should know and a couple of questions to answer before buying. Since there are a lot of variables in car audio world it is best to use this buying guide in order to get perfect sound for your money and the best component speakers for your car.
What Kind Of Audio System You Want?
The first and the most important question. It is not the same if you want just a pair of speakers so you can listen to some tunes while driving or you want a full multi-components sound system that will blow the door out of your car. So, first you should decide what exactly do you want and what kind of music will you be playing on it. That decision will affect the type of the system, numbers, and construction of the speakers and other components (like amplifiers).
Find The Space In Your Car
The amount of space is a big factor you should consider before you buy the speakers. If you have very limited space, you should buy a 3-way component speaker of smaller size. But if you have a big car, you can install a mid-range component speaker, subwoofer and tweeter setup which will give you the perfect and full sound. Most modern cars come with prepared places for the speakers so if you have a newer vehicle look for those places and it will give you the rough idea of how much space you got to mount the speakers.
What Kind Of Features You Want
You have to decide what you want from your speakers. Do you want strong and loud sound or do you want a powerful bass or do you want a clear and perfect reproduction? All this depends on the speakers you buy, so choose according to your preferences and musical taste.
Do You Need An Amplifier?
Most of the new cars come equipped with some kind of sound system or at least a preparation set for installing. However, if you to built your own sound system with aftermarket speakers you will have to decide do you want (or need) and amplifier. If you want more power than stock and if you want a better and cleaner sound, the amplifier is a must. In that case look for stronger speakers which can handle the power.
Check out the most common amplifiers:
- 4-channel amplifiers
- 5-channel amplifiers
The Power Level And RMS Index
Whether you replacing or upgrading the existing system in your car or you are building totally new audio set-up you should always match the output levels of amplifiers and speakers. This way you will get the balance between the components, stable working, and clear sound. If you mismatch the power outputs of the components, that can be very dangerous and it can result in breaking or blowing of speakers. That happens when you send to much power over the amplifier to the speaker which is lower RMS index and have fewer watts of power. The speaker literally can handle that power and it will break.
The quality is a very important aspect and if you want a proper set-up you will need better speakers. If you found a rubber surrounded speakers that are good since the rubber is durable and long lasting. Foam and cloth surrounded speakers are not as good since those materials are not as durable. You should avoid these speakers. They could be cheap but they wouldn’t last long. On the other hand, look for quality materials for the housing of the speaker cone, like aluminum or even titanium. Those are more expensive options but you get a very durable product.
The sensitivity is an important aspect of a speaker system and it is when speaker converts the electrical power from an amplifier into sound. You should always look for high sensitivity index numbers since it shows that the speaker will give more sound at same volume.
The prices of the car speakers can vary from a couple of bucks to hundreds of dollars and you will find yourself balancing between the quality and affordability. However, it will help to set a budget and stick to it before you start. Of course, you can always find better deals somewhere else and you should consider buying in bundles (like speakers with amplifiers or speakers with the cables) since you can get a discount. Think of installing a quality car audio system in your car as an investment which will bring the value of your vehicle up.
How To Install Component Speakers In Your Car
Since almost all modern cars come with some sound system pre-installed or with preparation for installing it is relatively easy to put a cd player and set of speakers in the car. However, to avoid making common mistakes and do it quickly and without any problems follow our instructions:
Measure The Diameters Of The Speakers
Before you even start you must be sure that your aftermarket speakers fit the holes in the doors, dash and rear panels. It will be very embarrassing if your new speakers are too small or too large for available space. So, do your measuring correctly to be sure that everything fits as it should. If you are installing speakers into a modern car, look for advice online and best locations for placing the speakers, amp, subwoofers, and tweeters.
Get the proper tools
You don’t need some expensive or hard to find tools for this job but you’ll need a set of screwdrivers, clamps, wires, wrenches and electrical tape. Having all of that will make installing the speaker’s easy job and you will not need to cut any corners or make any compromises.
Disconnect the car battery
Small but important step in the installation process. You do not want to deal with wiring and electricity while your car is connected to the battery. There are so many things that can go wrong so it is best and smartest to disconnect the battery and install the speakers without any fear.
Remove the door panels
The most common place for component speakers is door panels, front and rear and rear panel behind the seats (in sedans and hatchbacks). The component speakers are mounted low, close to the floor of the vehicle because it gives best sound dispersion and creates the effect of the much powerful sound system. Especially if the front speakers are two or three way which includes the subwoofer speaker. Removing the panels is a little bit tricky since the most of screws and bolts are hidden below the arm rest or plastic covers. Be careful to remove it correctly and use factory manual if it is available since you do not want to break or damage your door panel.
Be careful with the doors
When you removed the door panel, be very careful not to break anything inside. In modern cars, doors are full of wires for locking and window mechanisms and there are rubber sealings and plastic pieces. Best advice is to remove and dismantle the pieces which you know how to put together after. If you find anything that is too complicated, ask for help. The door panels removal and connecting the components are the most tricky parts of installing audio equipment in the car. This is why the most enthusiasts take their car to the professionals and minimalize the risk of breaking something themselves.
Mount the speakers
We are assuming that your car has pre-cut openings for the speakers and in this step, you should put the new speakers in holes. If you measured correctly, the new speakers will fit right in. Do that for all places you want to put the speakers, front, and rear doors or rear panel behind the back seat. Be sure that you bolted your new set of speakers firmly to the door trim since you don’t want them to rattle and vibrate each time you turn the volume up.
Invest in the cables
Good advice for all car audio fans is to invest in a set of quality cables. Sometimes the good cables make all the difference between standard and great sounding system. The cables are not expensive and if you spend all that money on new speakers, amp, tweeters, and subwoofer it would be stupid to ruin all that with the set of low-end cables. Of course, safety first and do not leave any cable without isolation or protection and be extra careful.
Test your system
After you mounted your speakers, connect them with cd player, amplifier, subwoofer, and tweeters and test them before you put the door trim panels back or tuck away all the cables. This is needed just to see if you connected everything properly and all power lines work as they should. If the something is wrong you would be able to fix it without tearing your car apart again and if everything is ok, you can put the interior back as it was.
Put everything back together and enjoy your music
If the test is successful and you get the sound you wanted, you should put everything back together. Be careful with tucking the cables inside the doors and under the carpet so they do not cross or rub on other parts of the car. Places that could be problematic isolate with electric tape for more protection. If you do a good job the interior will look as it were before and there will be no trace.
First the component speakers and then the rest
If you are planning to install a full system that contains the component speakers (midrange), subwoofer and tweeters, first you will put in the mid range and test it. After that, you should install the subwoofer and test it and the tweeters should be the last. This way you will install each component individually, test it and see how it works. On the other hand, in this process, you will hear exactly how each of these types of speakers work and how they make perfect sound together.
What is a Tweeter?
The tweeters are an interesting part of the colorful world of car audio components and they are basically a small speaker designed only for high notes which subwoofers or ordinary mid-range speakers can not play. That is why the construction of the tweeters are somewhat different in terms of material used and frequencies on which they perform.
Tweeters used in car audio systems are always a regular cone type but there some other types (electrostatic and ribbon type) but those are used on an industrial scale and for other purposes. Tweeters as a class of speakers weren’t popular until the CD revolution in the 80’s which brought clear sound to the masses and audiophiles wanted a set of speakers that could produce high tones without any loss.
Since they are only for high pitch noises, the tweeters are small and not very powerful but they are important if you want a best possible sound for your car. Follow our guides and find the best tweeter for you and your musical taste.
Installation of the Tweeter Speakers
Basically, everything we mentioned for regular component speakers works with the tweeters, however, there are a couple of things that you should consider when installing this kind of speakers.
Since the tweeters have a specific purpose, to produce high pitch sounds, the location of the speaker is very important. The tweeters are always mounted much higher than the subwoofers or regular component mid range speakers. In car interiors, the best place for tweeters is in corners of the dashboard near the windshield or near the roof above the drivers and passengers heads. If you install tweeters on this locations you will get good sound. Manufacturers always install the tweeters near the top of the doors or in the A pillar closer to the roof.
Aim for the ears
The tweeters being so small and light are easy to install and position in the interior but for the best results, you should put them directly towards listeners ears. This way the high and delicate high-frequency sound that they produce will not be lost in the cacophony of sounds inside your car.
As you can see, the component speakers are, in fact, the only solution when it comes to the car audio systems. They offer both the acceptable sound quality and space-saving feature and they come in various sizes and shapes to suit the interior of your car. Follow our product reviews and guidelines to find the best component speakers on the market.
Of course, if you plan to transform your car into the concert hall you can always pair them with the subwoofer and set of the tweeters for the full audio experience. Since we have covered all aspect of car audio market you can find advice and buying guides can help to find right subwoofers and the tweeters for your car and musical taste.