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 excellent car speakers for your ride.
Types of Speakers
There are three different types of car 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.
When you close your eyes and picture a car speaker, chances are you see a woofer. Woofers are the medium sized speakers that are present in any car sound system. They’re usually 3.5-7.5” in size, and they handle the mid-range frequencies in your car.
The larger the woofer cone, the better it is at handling bass frequencies and producing the best sound. Meanwhile, smaller woofers handle frequencies closer to the high end of the range with more accuracy.
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 Sound 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 sound 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.
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.
Types of Speaker Systems
There are two types of speakers we’re concerned with (coaxial car speakers and component speakers). Here’s a breakdown of these types of car speakers:
Coaxial (Full Range) Speakers :
With a coaxial speaker, every component you need is built into the speaker. Coaxial speakers have a woofer to handle lower frequencies, and tweeters to handle the high end. Some coaxial 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, coaxial 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 that can outdo coaxial speakers.
Component speakers are designed to provide the absolute best audio experience for the listener. With component speakers, each aspect of the speaker is a separate entity, unlike coaxial speakers.
The woofers in components speakers are mounted separately from the tweeters to provide the best experience for the listener.
A crossover in component speakers 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 with the most opportunity for customization. They’re also more expensive and often require custom installation work. So, there’s that definitive between components and coaxial speakers.
See the best component speakers reviews for 2020.
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 peak power your head unit puts out (such as 45 watts), 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. So, high sensitivity can be an advantage because they’re easier to drive well. So, instead of needing 90 watts, a pair of coaxial speakers with high sensitivity can operate just fine at 45 watts.
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 and durability, look into car speakers that feature a woofer cone with rubber surrounds and appropriate mounting hardware.
For subwoofers and woofers, stiff and lightweight cone materials offer the best durability and sound as well. On higher-end models, metal fibers are often woven into a material like polypropylene to enhance both sound and durability (like handling peak power).
Tweeter materials vary a bit more widely, and high-end models may use cone materials that are soft like silk, or hard, like graphite.
Upgrading your car speakers is a great way to improve the sound of your car. The ten speakers we’ve covered above represent some of the top car speakers currently on the market and you can’t go wrong.
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