7 Types of Car Speakers: What Are Their Differences?
There is arguably no better feeling than cruising down the highway and listening to music. Of course, you’ll want to hear your favorite song with the best sound quality possible, and your standard-issue car speakers will probably not do it for you. To get the sound that perfectly suits your needs, you’ll need to decide which speakers will work best. In essence, there are two types of speaker systems to consider for cars:
Coaxial (full range) speakers and component speakers. Their differences are highlighted by a few factors, including:
- Sound quality
Let’s dive into the various types of speakers available and their differences to help you choose the right fit for your car.
The 7 Types of Car Speakers
1. Component Speakers
Component speakers are fairly self-explanatory; various components (speakers and drivers) are installed at various locations in your car. They are suited to customization but far more complicated to install. You must get separate speakers to handle the bass, middle, and high frequencies and external crossovers to control the signals. Unless you have the required skills, you will need to hire someone to install them.
There a few types of component speakers you can choose from, all of which have their unique uses.
A subwoofer is a speaker that produces the lowest sound frequencies possible, ranging from 20–200 Hz (Hertz). This bass adds depth and power to your music. Subwoofers work best with a custom box enclosure to contain and direct the bass frequencies accordingly. Subwoofers are generally placed behind or under the seats or in the trunk of your car. They range in size from 8 inches to 15 inches.
Midrange speakers control the middle-range frequencies in your music, reproducing the sound in the range of 250–2000 Hz. They add the “mid-scoop” and clarity, which cannot be handled by a subwoofer or tweeter. Midrange speakers produce the main detail of sound and clarity to your system. Most of the time, they are round and placed in the doors of your car. They typically range in size from 3.5 inches to 6.5 inches.
Tweeters produce the highest sound frequencies, ranging from 2000 to 20,000 Hz ( the upper limit of the human ear). They provide clarity to sounds like cymbals and voices in your music. Tweeters are typically the smallest speakers in a component setup and are placed higher up in the car than the other drivers. They range in size from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches.
Lastly, for the real sound enthusiast, there are super-tweeters. They are even smaller than a typical tweeter and are used to supplement the high frequencies. A typical tweeter can sometimes distort or fail to handle ultra-high frequencies in your music. A super-tweeter solves this problem by producing frequencies around and over 20 kHz.
6. Component Speaker Sound Quality
Component speakers are designed for either bass, middle, or high frequencies and give you the best sound quality possible. Because they are separate speakers, you can mount them in the locations that best serve their purpose, giving you customizable stereo-imaging options.
This will give your music more depth, clarity, and an immersive quality due to the various frequencies from different places. The separate crossovers will help provide a distinct difference in sound throughout the specific speakers.
Because component speakers are so specialized, they are made from superior-quality materials and are more expensive. Additionally, buying separate components, including crossovers, can add up, making this system far more pricey than coaxial setups. You will also need a separate amplifier specifically matched to your speaker’s power needs. Depending on the size of your component system, sometimes multiple amps are required.
The upside to component speakers is customization, and the options on component setups are nearly endless. Depending on your tastes, you can install massive or multiple sub-woofers, as many mid-range speakers as you like, and tweeters adjusted perfectly to match. You can decide and adjust where you place them in your car to get the best immersive musical experience possible.
Your component system’s power and volume capabilities are entirely up to you and not limited by the built-in amplifier of your car’s stereo. You can add as many speakers as you like in as many variations as you like. Customized component speakers produce higher volumes, and the sound quality is superior. Even at high volumes, the separate crossovers ensure the speaker components are not being pushed beyond their capabilities. Overdriven speakers will create a muddy or even distorted sound.
7. Coaxial Speakers
You’ve likely heard coaxial speaker systems before; most factory-installed speaker systems have coaxial setups. Put simply, coaxial speakers have the full range of sound built into a single contained unit. They usually consist of different-sized woofers with a tweeter attached to the top or on a pole running to the middle.
Coaxials have a built-in crossover that takes the input signal and splits it into bands of high, middle, and low frequencies. This allocates the signals to different parts of the speaker. They come in a few band configurations.
At its most basic level, a car speaker has one single driver. It is just a speaker with no additional properties. However, most coaxials will at least be in the 2-band range; these speakers contain another sub-speaker housed within. A 2-band coaxial typically consists of a woofer and a tweeter. The larger speaker handles the lows and middle frequencies, and the tweeter takes care of the highs. This is the most common configuration of a coaxial.
3-Band coaxials have an additional midrange speaker. This will give your sound system an extra “mid-scoop” and is a noticeable upgrade if you want more depth to your sound system.
Finally, we have the 4-band coaxial. This major upgrade is for true audio enthusiasts. Not only do you get the bass woofer, mid-range speaker, and tweeter, but they also come with an additional super-tweeter. It’s the most comprehensive model of coaxial available.
Coaxial Quality of Sound
With all the separate parts in one unit, the sound quality is bound to be compromised. Even the best brands of coaxial speakers have limitations because of the inherent problem of combined components. Having the tweeters fixed to the speaker limits the frequency separation that allows for truly good-quality sound.
With coaxial speakers, the drivers are placed too close together to have a real dynamic sound quality. This can sometimes result in a “muddiness” caused by different frequencies being mixed at close range.
The advantage that comes with a combined unit is affordability. The speakers produce all sound frequencies and are easier and cheaper to manufacture. However, the ease of production and high demand for coaxial systems often make the materials and quality inferior to what you’d find in a component system.
Another advantage of coaxial systems is installation. Unless you have the required skills, you’ll need to budget extra money to have a professional install component speakers. Coaxials make this process faster and far simpler. If you’re just looking to replace your car’s factory speakers, they are a natural choice.
They come in various sizes that mount easily into standard factory speaker locations in your car. You can install them in an hour or less with a few tools. The units have only one input connection for the plug-and-play installation.
Coaxial speakers also come in several power ranges. They usually run just fine with the built-in amplifier in your car’s stereo, mitigating the cost of the extra amp you’ll need with a component system.
The type of speaker setup you choose depends entirely on your needs and musical tastes. If you are a bass lover who likes listening to loud dance music, coaxial speakers aren’t going to cut it. You’ll need separate, customizable sub-woofers to optimize the low frequencies. If you aren’t much of a musical enthusiast and just want to listen to background music, easily installable and affordable full-range coaxials are the perfect fit.
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Featured Image Credit: MikePhotos, Pixabay