Buyer’s Guide – How To Choose The Right Speakers For Your Car
The ten speakers we just looked at represent some of the best car speakers on the market. But, having great speakers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get great sound right out of the box. There are a bunch of factors that will influence how good a speaker will sound in a given car.
Now, we’ll tackle everything you’ll need to know to select the best car speakers for your ride.
Types of Speakers :
There are three different types of car audio speakers you’ll want to get familiar with as you learn more about the best car speakers for your ride.
Subwoofers are the largest speakers we’re going to be concerned with, and they typically range from 10-15” in size. They’re responsible for handling the lowest frequencies in your music. Most stock car audio systems don’t include a subwoofer. Instead, they’re added to an aftermarket system.
Sure, you can still achieve great sound without a subwoofer, but you’ll be surprised by the amount of depth and clarity a subwoofer can add to your car’s sound, especially if you listen to bass heavy music like hip-hop or hard rock.
When you close your eyes and picture a car audio speaker, chances are you see a woofer. Woofers are the medium sized speakers that are present in any car audio system. They’re usually 3.5-7.5” in size, and they handle the mid-range frequencies in your car.
The larger the woofer, the better it is at handling bass frequencies. Meanwhile, smaller woofers handle frequencies closer to the high end of the range with more accuracy.
In high-end car audio systems, it’s common to have multiple woofers: large woofers to handle mid-bass frequencies and smaller ones for the mid-high frequencies.
Tweeters are tiny speakers that handle the high-end frequencies in your music. These speakers are typically under 1.5” in size. In full-range speakers, tweeters are mounted in the middle of the woofer. With component systems, tweeters are usually mounted high in the door panel, or just behind the driver and passenger seats.
Other Components of a Car Audio System :
While these components aren’t speakers, they play a role in your car’s sound that’s every bit as important as the speakers themselves.
Crossovers are small electronic components that are present in every car audio system. Crossovers act like little computers, telling the sound where to go based on its frequency.
A crossover will send the lowest frequencies to the subwoofer (if you have one) or to the woofers (if you don’t have a subwoofer). It will also send the mid-range frequencies to the woofers and the high-end frequencies to the tweeters.
In full range systems, the crossover is built into the speaker. With component systems, the crossover is a separate device that must be mounted in the car.
Amplifiers do just what their name entails: they amplify the sound that’s produced by the input source you’re listening to.
Just like every car has crossovers, every car also has amplifiers. However, the stock amplifier present in your car is small and only provides enough power for the stock system in your car. If you’re planning on upgrading to a bigger and louder system, you’ll need to purchase a bigger amplifier to provide ample power to your speakers.
Amplifiers are sold based on the number of speakers they can power. A one channel amplifier is only capable of powering one speaker (usually a subwoofer), whereas a five channel amplifier can power a total of five speakers. Make sure you know how many speakers you’ll need to power in your system before purchasing an amp.
Amplifier guides :
Types of Speaker Systems
When it comes to car audio, there are two types of speakers we’re concerned with. Here’s a breakdown of each type of speaker and what they’re capable of:
Coaxial (Full Range) Speakers :
With a full range speaker, every component you need is built into the speaker. Full range speakers have a woofer to handle lower frequencies, and tweeters to handle the high end. Some full range speakers have additional drivers to handle mid-range frequencies.
If you’re looking to upgrade your car’s stock audio system with minimal effort and fuss, full range speakers are going to be best for you. But, if you’re looking for the absolute best in audio quality and customization, you’ll want to look into component speakers.
Many full range speakers provide additional levels of customization. For example, some offer detachable tweeters, which allow the tweeter to be removed and installed elsewhere if you prefer. Some full range speakers have swiveling tweeters that can be angled in different directions, which can have a major effect on the sound quality of your car.
Component Speakers :
Component speakers are designed to provide the absolute best audio experience for the listener. With components, each aspect of the speaker is a separate entity.
The woofers are mounted separately from the tweeters to provide the best experience for the listener.
A crossover routes the proper audio frequencies to the right speaker, ensuring that the higher frequencies are handled by the tweeters, while the lower frequencies are routed to the woofers.
These types of speakers usually use the highest quality components and offer the best sound quality with the most opportunity for customization. They’re also more expensive, more difficult to install and often require custom installation work.
See the best component speakers reviews for 2019.
Now that you’re armed with a bit more knowledge about car audio speakers and how they work, there are still a few more things you’ll need to consider before you start shopping.
The amount of power a speaker can handle is critically important. To achieve great sound, you’ll need speakers that are capable of handling the power that your head unit (or amplifier) puts out.
If the speakers can’t handle the power your head unit puts out, this will result in distortion, and ultimately, blown speakers.
If you’re sticking with your stock head unit, check your owners manual for power specs before shopping for speakers. Or, if you’re replacing the stock head unit with a new model, make sure you know the power of the head you’re going to be using before purchasing speakers.
The sensitivity of a speaker refers to the amount of power the speaker needs to receive to produce sound at a given volume.
If you’re planning on keeping some of the stock components of your car stereo, you’ll probably need high-sensitivity speakers, which require less power. But, if you’re doing a complete stereo overhaul and adding amplifiers to your system, low-sensitivity models will be better suited for your needs.
Build Quality :
The quality of the speakers you’re using has a profound effect on speaker quality. Your car is often subject to extreme hot or cold conditions, and over time, these conditions can wreak havoc on a speaker.
If you’re looking for the best sound quality and durability, look into speakers that feature rubber surrounds.
For subwoofers and woofers, stiff and lightweight cone materials offer the best durability and sound quality as well. On higher-end models, metal fibers are often woven into a material like polypropylene to enhance both sound quality and durability.
Tweeter materials vary a bit more widely, and high-end models may use cone materials that are soft like silk, or hard, like graphite. Both are durable and can produce amazing sound quality. In this case, it comes down to personal preference. Harder materials tend to produce more crisp and piercing highs, while softer materials offer a more refined sound from high frequencies.
Upgrading your car audio system is a great way to improve the sound of your car, and increase your level of enjoyment when you’re driving.
Replacing your stock speakers is a great place to begin your car audio journey. Starting with the speakers can often have a profound effect on your car’s sound quality, without breaking the bank.
The ten speakers we’ve covered above represent some of the best car speakers currently on the market. Be sure to take a close look at all the speakers we covered, and when in doubt, give a call to your local car audio professional, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction on your quest to achieving audio nirvana.
Other Speaker Articles :