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Difference Between 2 Way, 3 Way, and 4 Way Speakers

James Benchman
Last Updated on
by James Benchman

If the outside noise that drowns out your music irks you, then a speaker system is your lifesaver.

Listening to your favorite songs on the radio, computer, or phone without the help of a boosting system hides the best quality of your music and makes it easy for unwanted noise to interrupt.

The solution to this problem: a high-quality speaker system that brings out the best version of your favorite audio.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about how these systems work, the difference between 2 way, 3 way, and 4 way speakers, and which one you should buy.

How Speaker Systems Work

Every sound has a specific frequency and amplitude.  When a device produces music, it sends sound waves through the air with those frequencies and amplitudes, allowing you to hear specific details such as high pitches and bass.

In plain English, ‘frequency’ is the pitch of a sound while ‘amplitude’ is how loud it is.

According to Universal Class, when the sound waves produced by the device comes in contact with waves already existing, resonance occurs, meaning the sound put out by the device is prolonged.

2 way, 3 way, and 4 way speakers are all loudspeaker systems, but what sets them apart from each other are their different frequencies and how many speakers are included.

For example, some speakers can handle only high and low frequencies, while others can handle high, low, and mid.

The number represents how many speakers the monitor contains — 2 ways include 2 speakers, 3 ways include 3 speakers, and 4 ways include 4.

While it would seem to be true that the more speakers a monitor has the better quality sound it produces, that assumption is false.  The quality of a speaker system depends on the setup of the crossover, the components its made of, the cabinet design, and how well the speakers are matched.

Speakers get their ability to boost certain audio while blocking out others from producing certain types of wavelengths.  According to Physics.org, depending on the frequency of the audio, the system will produce a specific wavelength in order to amplify the sound.

For example, low pitch audio generates long wavelengths, whereas high pitch audio generates shorter ones. Learn more about speakers in our car speakers guide.

What is a 2 Way Speaker?

Also known as a coaxial speaker, this sound system is ideal for anyone who enjoys jamming to music in the car or likes to keep one on hand in case of a special occasion.

The 2 speakers included are a woofer and a tweeter, but it lacks a mid-range.  The woofer generates low frequencies of about 500 Hz and the tweeter handles higher frequencies ranging from 500 to 20,000 Hz.

Even though the speakers will produce both high and low frequencies, the amplitude and the bass depending on their size.  For example, a larger woofer will generate a louder bass thanks to its ability to handle larger movements of air, but as a result, can’t produce high-end frequencies.

While the co-axial only consists of two components, the vast majority of people who use speaker systems find that it’s more than enough to boost their music and keep out the unwanted external noise.

  • Handles high and low frequencies
  • Sufficient for boosting music and keeping out noise
  • Most affordable
  • Lacks a mid-range
  • Not as loud as bigger monitors

What is a 3 Way Speaker ?

This speaker system, also called the tri-axial speaker, includes a woofer, tweeter, and additional component called the mid-range.

Due to its extra part, the triaxial speaker can produce audio that’s more detailed and its frequency range is a bit wider than the co-axial.

By balancing the slope of the frequency, the speaker generates sounds that are more natural to the human ear, making it one of the more pleasurable speaker systems.

However, if you’re looking for a speaker that can produce more high-end frequencies, some tri-axials substitute the mid-range for a super tweeter, which extends the high frequencies in order to produce more detailed audio.

  • Woofer, tweeter, and mid-range
  • More detailed
  • Wider frequency range
  • Generates natural sounds
  • Expensive

What is a 4 Way Speaker?

Not only does this speaker contain a tweeter and midrange cone, but it also has a bass cone and an additional tweeter.

Also known as the quad-axial, this speaker has a wider range of high frequencies thanks to its extra tweeter and can produce sounds better than speakers with only one.  However, if the audio you listen to doesn’t consist of many high frequencies, the extra component doesn’t add much to the overall value and the quad-axial can sound quite similar to coaxial and triaxial speakers.

If the extra tweeter doesn’t add much quality, then what makes a quad-axial unique from the others?

Even though its additional component doesn’t serve much purpose, the speaker’s bass cone works wonders.  Not only is the bass better than most other speakers’, but the volume is also louder.

  • Boosts bass and volume
  • Tweeter, mid-range, bass cone, and extra tweeter
  • Handles extremely high frequencies
  • Most expensive
  • Extra tweeter doesn’t add much to the overall quality

3 Way vs 4 Way vs 2 Way Speakers – What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between 3 way vs 4 way vs 2 way speakers is their components.

A speaker’s components determine its functions, such as which frequencies it can reproduce and how loud the audio will be.  2 way speakers are the most limited in this aspect, and 4 way speakers can do the most.

However, the sound quality between the two aren’t much different in terms of higher end frequencies.

Each speaker is essentially adding onto the last.  Whereas coaxials consist of only a woofer and tweeter, a tri-axial has both plus a mid-range.  Finally, the quad-axial has a woofer, mid-range, and two tweeters.

Which Speaker is Right for Me?

Unless you use a loudspeaker system on a regular basis, listen to high pitch audio, or own a home theater, having a 4 way speaker might not be worth the investment.

Although it offers more than the coaxial and triaxial, there’s not a huge distinction in sound quality.

3 way speakers (tri-axials) are ideal for those who use a loudspeaker system on a consistent basis and who are passionate about hearing every sound their audio has to offer.  Having a monitor with a tweeter, woofer, and mid-range is sure to bring out the best in your music.

Triaxial speakers are the most common and are featured by the majority of audio systems.  However, 2 way speakers (coaxials) are enough for most users.

Unless you’re an audiophile who pays close attention to every detail, having a co-axial will be sufficient for all of your audio needs.

Looking for the best speakers? Read our coverage below:

About James Benchman
James Benchman
James is an Automotive Mechanic with over 20 years experience and 300+ car repairs. He is an expert with cars and has worked with different models from the biggest brands. James is a Mechanic , Husband , Father of 3 , and head of content at Caraudiologic. Learn more about us
  1. I have a Chrysler 300 2012 and am looming for speaker load and clear with base. What u recommen.

    1. Hi Julio, that’s not all the info I’d need to see exactly what fits your car (for example, do you have the Alpine system, Bose speakers right now, do you see a Beats logo on your door speaker cover?). But, here are some good choices to consider; first for door speakers or if you can spend more here’s a great choice, there are also dash and rear deck options. Let me know if you’re looking to replace & upgrade all of them and I can match a total speak system recommendation or two for you.

  2. I have a 2013 corolla but is want to install new car speakers so which yhu recommends.? 2way or 3way or 4way ?

    1. Hi Taileen, if you have the room and ability to do it, there’s no question that the more sophisticated the speakers the better. So, I’d always go for a 4-way before a 3. A 3 before a 2 and so on. Good luck!

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