The Definitive Guide for Car Speaker Purchase

Many of us love to listen to music while driving. Imagine your favorite music playing on the radio, what do you do? Turn up the volume up of course! But as soon as you turn the volume up you start to hear some buzzing, that disturbs you. Well then, you may need a new advanced pair of speakers for your car.

If you have not made any speaker purchase before, the terms related to the car speaker may be seen as too much and complicated for you at first glance. In this guide, we will explain every term you need to know before making your purchase and how to be able to compare two different speakers from different brands to choose the correct one for you.

Car Speaker Technical Properties

Looking for car speakers, like many other speaker types you will confront some basic technical properties. In the following, we will express the most widely used ones for you.

Frequency

Frequency is the number of oscillation per unit time as a definition. The sound is formed of waves that oscillate in changing frequencies. To measure the sound frequency, a second is used as a time interval. The number of oscillations in a second is called Hertz (Hz) as a unit.

Humans can hear sounds that have frequencies between 20 Hz to 20.000 Hz. Below 20 Hz, there are sounds called infrasounds. Although we may not be able to hear that sounds, some animals such as elephants, moles, and rats may be able to hear as low as 5 Hz sounds. Above 20.000 Hz, there are ultrasounds which our ears are not able to hear again. However, cats (up to 40k Hz) dogs (up to 60k Hz), dolphins (up to 160k Hz), and many other animals will be able to regard their hearing capacity.

The frequency range of each individual person changes. You may simply try your hearing range from the video below. Get a small headphone, put it on, and play the video. Do not forget to adjust the volume of your device before starting this experiment. Also do not worry that if you can hear all the way through 20 to 20.000 Hz. I was able to hear between 20 – 16.000 Hz and a doctor friend of mine said this is perfectly OK, nothing to worry about 😊 (Some resources states that hearing up to 12.000 Hz is normal)

 

Do not mistake the frequency with the volume, or technically the sound intensity (dB). Sound intensity is a measurement that indicates how loud the sound is. The frequency of a sound can be low and volume (or sound intensity) might be up, there is no correlation. So let us explain what does the low frequency and high frequency indicates.

Low-Frequency Sounds are sounds you will hear from a drum or tuba will have a low frequency. We call these types of sounds as bass often. Typically bass sound has between 20-400 Hz range.

High-Frequency Sounds are generated by the violin may be called as high-frequency sounds. They are also called highs. Generally, we consider 4.000 – 20.000 Hz as highs.

Between 400 – 4.000 Hz is generally called as Mid-Range Sounds. Human speaking generally falls into this category.

Speaker Frequency Response Range

Speakers have different frequency response range depending on their design, material, purpose, number of ways, and many other things. Before getting further deep into this, let us briefly explain what is frequency response range?

It is an indication of the speaker's capability to reproduce the sounds. In other words, a speaker can not reproduce sounds that do not fall into its response range. It will not make any sound and stay silent as if there is no signal taken.

Why does the frequency response range should bother you? Well, for high-frequency sounds, almost all of the speakers no matter what their sizes, can generate up and more than 20.000 Hz. They all may not all clear but you may not be able to get that information from looking to frequency response range of them.

What you can learn from this property is how low they can hit. The best speaker of 3.5" size category may hit barely 80 Hz while many of the 6x9" sized speakers can hit below 30 Hz. Between 30 Hz to 80 Hz, there are many rich bass sounds is missed which will decrease your bass performance of the sound system by far.

However, this does not simply mean that if the size gets bigger, the frequency range will increase. No, wrong! Premium speaker companies do not make speakers cover all the frequency range possible. The intent to make speakers as clear as possible. They leave the reproduction of low sounds to subwoofers, which are bigger speakers that are operating between generally on 20 to 200 Hz range. Adding decent crossover and amplifier to your system, you may get a really decent sound system, which we will explain in detail at the "How Should I Set Up My Car Audio System" section.

In summary; the speaker frequency response range indicates the soundwaves that can be produced by that speaker. What you need to care about is the low frequency of speakers, since most of them easily can over-perform the human ear at high frequencies.

If you do not have a subwoofer on your sound system and do not plan to install in one; you should better get speakers that can hit as low as 35 Hz at least. The lower, the better for this case. Otherwise, your sound system will omit some of the bass sounds and this will decrease the bass performance.

Ways

Ways is one of the most fundamental properties of speakers. If you already started to look for speakers, you must see "2-Way", "3-Way", "4-Way", or even "5-Way" speakers. If a speaker is better if it has more ways? Let's find out.

What is Way?

Speakers are formed of drivers that reproduce the sounds. The way is indicating the number of drivers located in a speaker. Drivers can be located in the same body which is called coaxial or maybe different bodies which are known as components. We will investigate their difference in the following parts of this guide.

Each speaker is sold in pairs. So a 2-way speaker set will have 4 drivers at total in 2 speakers.

The modern market offers speakers with 2,3, 4 or more ways. At 2-Way Speakers, there are "Woofers" and "Tweeters".

Woofers are the biggest driver in speakers. They move slower and reproduces the low-frequency sounds, such as bass sounds. Tweeters on the other hand are small drivers that move very fast and reproduces high-frequency sounds.

3-Way Speakers have "Mid-Range" drivers. The addition of this additional driver makes enable the other two drivers to work on a narrower frequency range and makes speakers able to output more clear sound.

4-Way Speakers have another additional driver called "Super-Tweeter". This driver is designed for reproducing very high frequencies, which comforts tweeter to work in an even narrower range and increase the sound clarity by further.

Increasing the number of ways means dividing the frequency response range of speakers more. So each driver of that particular speaker will try to reproduce less soundwave and increase the clarity.

Do More Ways Always Better?

No, not necessarily. An increasing number of ways requires a higher quality of crossover. Crossovers are the equipment, which takes sound signals from your head unit and distributes among the drivers of speakers. When the number of ways increases, the overlaps, and cancellation of the speakers must be well adjusted to avoid the muddy sound.

How Can I Compare Speakers with Different Number of Ways

If you are going to compare speakers from the same brand, the increasing number of ways will indicate a clearer sound output.

Comparing speakers from different brands and trying to make a judgment according to their number of ways will not give a correct idea for you all the time.

Some speaker brands such as Pioneer are good at making 4 or more ways speakers at an affordable price. They sound really good and fill the value speaker category in our lists most of the time.

Some speaker brands focus on 2-way speakers and obtain perfect results. Focal, Hertz, and other premium car speaker brands produce only 2-way speakers and have the best clarity. Of course as a disadvantage, often they can not hit low-frequency sounds and requires a subwoofer addition to the sound system.

In short words; the increasing number of ways is an indication of better sound quality within the same brand. Making a comparison between different speaker brands is not applicable.

As a last tip, do not purchase speakers from unknown brands just because they have more ways.

Design

Coaxial and component. These two terms are forming the design of car speakers. Let us explain how they differ and what are the benefits of them over each other.

To express the basic difference between each speaker, we prepared and illustration for you. In the figure above, you are seeing a 3-way coaxial speaker and a 3-way component speaker. As we explained in the Ways section, each speaker has a mid-range, a tweeter, and a woofer since they are 3-way.

The main difference is you can tell is the drivers of Coaxial Speaker are placed in one body while Component Speaker has separate bodies for each driver. Also, you see a separate Crossover, which controls each driver's response frequency range. Coaxial speakers generally have smaller crossovers installed on their bodies, not separate like components.

Coaxial Speakers’ Advantages

Coaxial speakers are to be seen most of the cars on the market as stock. The reason behind this is this design has many advantages relative to component speakers which are favored by car manufacturers. Let's list them out.

1) Cheaper

These speakers are generally cheaper. Just look at the figure above, both of them 3-way, however, a coaxial speaker uses less than half of the material used by the component speaker.

Using less material for bodies, wiring comes with the advantage of smaller package sizes and decreased transportation fees. As a result, even in the same brand, coaxial speakers can be offered for much less price.

2) Smaller Space Needed for Installation

Having all drivers collided in one body enables them to save space. Component speakers need to be in separate bodies, which means in your car it will cover much more area relative to the coaxial ones. Also, it has a big separate crossover which is to be placed somewhere right? The compactness of coaxial speakers stands for as a plus for them, in this manner.

3) Easier Installation

Do you want to replace your stock speakers by yourself? Also, you are going to try this for the first time? Replacing your stock coaxial speakers will be much easier than trying to install a component, speakers.

Since many cars have coaxial speakers as stock, trying to change them component speakers will require some bodywork in your cars' interior and you may not have the required skills to perform this task in the right way. Just saying 😊

Component Speakers' Advantages

Coaxial speakers have a lot of advantage right. Most importantly they are more economic. So why there are still component speakers are selling for a higher price? Let's find out.

1) Bigger Crossover

You can think the crossovers just like a brain. The sound signals are received by crossovers are sorted out and sent to the corresponding driver in a fraction of time. The higher performance you get from a crossover increases the sound clarity.

2) Isolation of Drivers

The performance of the sound reproduced by drivers can be affected by the vibrations of neighbor drivers. Isolating them on their own bodies maximizes the sound quality you obtain from each speaker and also again increases the clarity.

3) Enhanced Stereo Effect

As you would see on the cars that component speakers are used, tweeters are generally placed at the corners of the dash while woofers are located at the doors. As a result, you have more location as a sound source, and therefore the sound richness of the audio system increases.

Sum Up

Up to now, you should be able to tell the difference between component and coaxial speakers. For the advantage lists that are presented, many affordable brands are focusing only on coaxial speakers while premium speaker manufacturers produce component speakers to reach the best performing speakers.

It is up to you to make a selection between them. If your budget is not so high, and you would like to upgrade your stock speakers with better ones, just go with buying coaxial speakers. You may easily change them by yourself.

If you are planning something more special or extreme, such as modifying your door just like the cars in Tokyo Drift, you are better off with component speakers.

Impedance

Impedance is one of the most complex terms you might confront in this guide. The complexity resides in its nature.

First of all, you will mainly see that car speaker are labeled as 4, 6, 8 ohms. It may be confusing to know that an 8-ohm speaker will not be 8 ohms most of the time it reproduces sounds. This is valid for 4, 6-ohm speakers too. So what does this mean?

Check the figure above. This is an example of the changing impedance of a speaker over the frequency range. It starts around 10 ohms, increases up to 110 ohms at 600 Hz, and gets lower. This graph will be different for many other speakers depending on their material, number of ways and etc. So how do they decide on what impedance of this speaker has?

Actually, there is a commonly accepted rule while tagging the speakers according to their impedance. It is expected to a speaker's impedance does not fall less than %80 of the impedance tag it has. So, an 8-ohm speaker should not get lower than 6.4 ohms; 6-ohm speakers should not get lower than 4.8 ohms and so on.

If you are confused about this topic, you are welcome to watch Jones, who is an expert on this subject. Here is the video.

 

Alright, now we know roughly what does impedance stands for. But how does affect us in making speaker selection? Now, we have to visit our physic lessons from high school.

Did you remember this formula right? So keeping the Voltage at a constant level, when you decrease the resistance, the current will be increased.

The current sound systems are sourced from your amplifier if you have one. Otherwise, as stock, it will be generated by the head unit.

The important thing is, there are maximum currents can be generated by head units and amplifiers. The manufacturers of each sound equipment indicate that which impedance level is matching with their products.

In summary; as you would see in the video, you should not too worried about the impedance level so much. Because most of the time, since your speaker will play different frequencies at a given time, your system will be safe even with 4-ohm impedance speakers. However, if you want to be extra cautious about it, you may go for 6 or 8-ohm impedance speakers.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is one of the values that show how loud can get your speakers. The main idea about this indicator to give 1 Watt of power to the speaker and measure the sound intensity in decibel by standing 1 meter away from it.

Sensitivity Units

General accepted unit for sensitivity is @1w/1m. Some manufacturers may write this as @2.83V/1m which is a little tricky of them and may mislead you.

Difference Between @1w/1m and @2.83V/1m

Well, if a speaker has an 8-ohm impedance, no problem, they are the same. However, if a speaker has a 4-ohm impedance, then at 2.83 V the speaker will use 2 watts power in actual. If a speaker has a 4-ohm impedance, then at 2.83 V that speaker will use 4 watts power.

At speakers, if you double the power input you can obtain +3 dB from them. So this makes a huge difference in the loudness of speakers if you compare them on the @1w/1m scale.

Let's consider three speakers with 8, 4, and 2-ohm impedances. Each of them indicating that they have a sensitivity level of 90 dB @2.83V/1m. So;

  • 8-ohm speaker uses 1 watt at 90 dB
  • 4-ohm speaker uses 2 watts at 90 dB
  • 2-ohm speaker uses 4 watts at 90 dB

Now, you can compare their sensitivity @1w/1m at the same level of power usage as;

  • 8-ohm speaker at 1 watt outputs 90 dB
  • 4-ohm speaker at 1 watt outputs 87 dB
  • 2-ohm speaker at 1 watt outputs 84 dB

As you would understand at the power handling section, this point of view is better since the capacity of speakers is indicated by watts, not volts.

What Sensitivity Levels are Acceptable?

Sensitivity levels tend to get higher by the increasing sizes. For example, a small speaker with a 3.5-inch size will be among the best ones with having only 84 dB, while under 90 dB sensitivity is not ideal for 6x9" speakers.

The sensitivity is one of the main indicators with power handling, which together can determine how loud a speaker can get. In the following part of our guide, we will explain more about this subject and give examples of the sound intensity levels.

Power Handling Values

Power handling values are expressed in two different terms, namely RMS and Peak values.

RMS power handling level shows how much power you can give your speaker over long periods without having any problem at all. While Peak power handling on the other hand is the maximum power that a speaker can handle before failing. This is where you should stay away no matter what.

While determining maximum power input that you give to your speakers, you may better not to exceed 1.2x the RMS value. In our comparisons, we always calculate the loudness of the speakers at RMS power handling levels and present them to you. It does not worth having a blown speaker in exchange for small dB gain.

We will explain how RMS value and sensitivity together can be used to determine how loud a speaker can get.

Sizes of Car Speakers

Car speakers have different sizes. In general, they are either round or oval shape. Some of the round speaker sizes can be given as;

  • 3.5"
  • 4"
  • 5.25"
  • 6.5"

Here are also oval speaker sizes;

  • 4x6"
  • 6x8"
  • 6x9"

The biggest car speakers you may find on the market will be 6x9" and 6.5" types. They are very powerful and make you feel like you are in a concert when you turn the volume up.

Some subwoofers start from 8" and increase the sizes up to the point that you can fit into your luggage.

Determining the Size of Stock Speakers

If you are not going for a custom design and change the sizes of speakers, then you must learn how to determine stock speakers' sizes. There are three basic ways that you might consider it.

1) Search at Google

You can quickly make a search on the internet with the knowledge of the manufacturing year, model information of your car, which should not be hard.

However, this may not be a solution for some of the brands, since they adjust properties of cars regarding the countries they sell in. It may give you a false idea and wrong purchase.

2) Measure the Speakers in Your Car

Ok, this is more like it. However, if you plan to measure the speaker without not removing it, well there, this will not work as well. If you would like to buy a speaker that will %100 fit into the car, without any modification, you need to remove the original one and see the mounting width and depth. If this is looking complex, do not worry we have an easier way.

3) Use Amazon's Garage Utility

I have been using this utility to find suitable spare parts for my Audi, not just speakers. What you have to do is selecting your car on amazon.com/garage and that is it. Amazon automatically starts to show that if some car-related products will fit your car or not including the car speakers. Until now, I did not have any problem with that utility.

If you would like to learn how you can define your car in amazon garage step by step, read our guide for it.

Performance of Car Speakers

In this chapter, assuming you looked through the terms (or you already knew it), we will explain how to compare to speakers and trying to determine which one is better. We will use the properties of speakers and try to compare them smartly.

If you have further questions, please let us know in the comments and we will add it into our guide.

How Loud Can a Speaker Get?

If you read through the sensitivity and power handling parts of this guide, most probably you already have a decent idea about this. Let's step by step explain it.

1) Learn or Calculate @1w/1m Sensitivity Level

As we mentioned earlier, some speaker manufacturers publish their product sensitivity level in terms of @2.83V/1m while others indicate that in @1w/1m. If you have @1w/1m value already you are fine, continue to the second step.

If you have a sensitivity level in terms of @2.83V/1m, let's convert it to @1w/1m. To do so, you have to learn the impedance of that speaker. In general, the impedance should be either 8, 6, 4, 2. We will explain the math behind it and you may do it for any impedance level if you encounter an irregular speaker.

Sensitivity @2.83V/1m to @1w/1m Conversion Depending on the Impedance of Speakers
Impedance
Sensitivity
[@2.83V/1m]
Power
[@2.83V]
Conversion
(dB)
Sensitivity
[@1w/1m]
8 ohm90 dB1,00 w0 dB90 dB
6 ohm90 dB1,33 w-1 dB89 dB
4 ohm90 dB2,00 w-3 dB87 dB
2 ohm90 dB4,00 w-3 dB84 dB

The math behind this table has 2 points. First of all, let's remember another high school physics formula.

If you would like to know more these kind of formulas, you may use this website for it.

According to this formula, if your voltage is 2.83V and resistance is 8 ohms, you will have 1 watt of power. Place 6, 4, and 2 and you will find 1.33, 2, and 4 respectively.

Alright, now you see that @2.83V/1m value actually is not identical to @1w/1m value. For 6 ohms impedance speaker this is @1.33w/1m, for 4 ohms, it is @2w/1m and for 2 ohms it will be @4w/1m. But to compare them we have to convert all of these to @1w/1m right?

At this point, you have to know that, doubling the power input of a speaker will increase 3 dB of sound intensity it produces. So reducing the power input of a speaker will decrease the sound intensity by 3 dB.

  • Decreasing the power input from 4w to 1w, you will decrease 6 dB
  • Decreasing the power input from 2w to 1w, you will decrease 3 dB

and so on. Now all table is clear, we determined each speaker's sensitivity level @1w/1m.

2) Learn RMS Value

Ok, I can hear some of you say "Oh, why RMS? There is peak value and it determines the maximum power handling." You are both right and wrong. Let me tell you why.

Peak power handling value indicates the limits of a particular speaker. If you match the power output of your head unit or amplifier according to the peak value of your speaker, by chance your speaker will last two weeks.

RMS is a safe value that you may use to power up your speakers. I have seen some experts suggesting that powering up a speaker up to 1.5 times of RMS value. In my opinion, it does not pay off the risk you get. Let me give you an example.

Let's say you have the Pioneer TS-A6990F as your speaker.

Its RMS is 60 watts. While setting up your sound system, if you power it up to 1.5xRMS, than you will have 90 watts. Doubling the power input will increase the sound intensity by 3 dB. So If you give this speaker 1.5 times more power than RMS, you will only increase your around 2 dB (due exponential increase). An increase in sound intensity by 2 dB may not affect your experience but it can wear down your speakers more quickly than they should. Therefore we stick with the RMS value as maximum power input.

3) Do the Math

We have all that we need, now math time. Again we will use only the principle that when you double the power input, the sound intensity increases by 3dB. That is all. So I basically mean;

  • 2 watts = +3 dB
  • 4 watts = +6 dB
  • 8 watts = +9 dB
  • 16 watts = +12 dB
  • 32 watts = +15 dB
  • 64 watts = +18 dB

and so on.

If you have a speaker that has 90 dB sensitivity @1w/1m and it has RMS of 64 watts, then 90 + 18 = 108 dB will be the how much it can loud consistently. For the RMS rates between the powers of two, you can interpolate and make this calculation.

4) Power Output Capacity of Headunit

Now, we have found out the potential of speakers, but are we able to power them up to RMS value? If you do not have an amplifier and you want to get a 6x9" most probably no, you will not be able to. To explain, I will include some information about head units.

Head units are the main control center for your car system. You may call it a radio, multimedia center, stereo or something else. In actuality, it gets power from your battery and distributes this power to speakers.

Generally, a stock head unit will have 4 channels, which means it will power 4 speakers. The voltage it gets from your car battery will not exceed 14.4 V, and that is the maximum voltage it can offer per your car speakers.

Remember the (P=V2/R) formula? Let's investigate maximum power we can get for speakers with different impedance levels.

  • 8 ohms -> P = (14.4)2/8 =26 watts
  • 6 ohms -> P = (14.4)2/6 =35 watts
  • 4 ohms -> P = (14.4)2/4 =52 watts

This calculation may show the maximum output levels of a given second. This is also referred to as PMPO (Peak Music Power Output). However, this will not be sustainable and the head unit will not be able to power 4 speakers at once at 52 watts over a long period.

For that RMS power is used. A decent head unit will have up to 20-25 watts RMS per channel.

So if your sound system does not have an amplifier and even if your speaker has 128 watts RMS, you will not be able to power it more than 25 watts and the maximum output level of your speaker will be limited to "sensitivity + 13 dB", instead of "sensitivity +21 dB". In cases as such, the sensitivity level gains more importance, relative to the RMS power handling level.

5) Understanding the dB

Ok, now you are able to calculate and compare speakers according to their potential maximum volume. Understanding the dB will be a plus for you so that you can value the importance of the loudness of a speaker for yourself.

The human hearing range is accepted to be in 0 – 140 dB. Below 0 dB there are still sounds but humans are not able to hear. The same goes for 140 dB too. 140 dB is the permanent damage limit, exposure to this much intense sound even for a short period of time will decrease your hearing ability.

The sound intensity is measure by decibel (dB) is a logarithmic scale, so increasing the sound from 80 dB to 90 dB, the sound intensity will increase by ten times.

So a 140 dB sound will be 1.000.000 times more powerful than 80 dB sound! Crazy right?

Exposure to certain levels above 90 dB will damage you hear gradually. Below we prepared a nice graph to understand sound intensity levels and possible damage hearings depending on the time you exposed to.

In the UK, you are obliged to wear protective equipment if you are working in an environment that has a noise of more than 80 dB.

We are considering a speaker to be loud enough if it passes the 105 dB threshold. 105 dB can louder than a concert and exposing it for around 5 minutes will be alright. So your favorite music plays and you turn on the volume to the max, enjoy it and turn the volume down afterward.

Actually, some speakers can achieve 115 dB. You should be aware that when you are having a headache after turning the music volume to max, most probably you are damaging your ear and decreasing your hearing ability each time you do, so be careful about it.

What is a sign of Good Bass Bang?

In this section, we will investigate how we can understand if a speaker bangs or not. Information is given here only for determining the bang of the speaker. To evaluate the bass performance of a speaker, you should also experience the clarity of the speaker, which we will explain in the following sections.

Bass sounds are low frequency sounds as we mentioned earlier. For a decent bang in your car, you should focus on sub-bass and bass frequency ranges in your car.

Sub Bass Range and Examples

The sub-bass range is between 20-60 Hz. The sounds that fell into this category are making you feel the power of the speakers. These are the sounds that vibrate your hair 😊

Between 20-30 Hz, some people are not able to hear anything. Still, you will be able to feel the vibrations of the sound on your body.

Starting from the 30 Hz, the deep bass takes place. Many of the musical instruments may not be able to play at frequencies like this. An exceptional bass guitar can play as low as 30 Hz, while regular ones will get as low as 41 Hz. While a kick in the percussion will be around 50 Hz at the lowest point.

However, some instruments such as Pipe Organ can go well below 20 Hz. Harp can get to 25 Hz while Tuba and Contrabassoon will reach 30 Hz.

If you are fun of electronic and/or deep sub music, the artificial music is produced the enhance the bass feeling and rhythm.

Bass Range and Examples

Bass range is between 60-250 Hz. Tympani, toms, trombone, bassoon, cello, and guitar can produce sounds with 80 Hz frequency. A male vocal will be able to sing as low as 110 Hz. So these frequencies determine the richness of the bass sounds and determine if a speaker generates rich bass or flat.

Car Speaker Capabilities

Car speakers have varying frequency ranges depending on their manufacture purpose, sizes, and materials.

Most of the car speakers in the market are called as a full-range speaker. These speakers have a purpose to reproduce all music frequency by themselves, without needing any subwoofer. Ideally, speakers with hitting as low as 35 Hz, will be fine. 40-45 Hz may still be ok but above 50 Hz will depreciate your joy of bass by far.

6x9" speakers, 6x8" speaker, and 6.5" speakers have different alternatives for decent bass performance. However the smaller the speakers get, it is hard to expect any bang from them and bass performance drops by far.

There are some other speakers which can be called as premium speakers. These are very expensive speakers, but they do not worry about the sub-bass sounds or even some portion of the bass sounds most of the time. You may see a pair of Focal Speakers to be listed for over $200 yet, it will not go lower than 80 Hz.

The reason behind that is these types of speakers are designed to offer the best music experience by optimizing their response range. You will need an amplifier, subwoofer, and a decent head unit to have the potential of these types of speakers, which may cost as much as an old car in total. However, the music experience you get from that type of system will be at another level.

How to Compare the Materials of Speakers?

Speakers are formed of six main parts. Namely, they are voice coil, frame, magnet motors, foams, dust caps, and the cone. Many speaker manufacturers just indicate the material of cone in their technical specifications since it is relatively the most important part of the speaker.

Sounds are transmitted by the air pressure changes in the air. Speakers are doing exactly this, changing the air pressure. The cones of the speakers are moved by voice coils and magnets regarding the alternating current they get. The current in this case, as you would guess are created by the signals that a recording machine, such as a microphone and sent to your speakers by a head unit.

To change the air pressure, the cone of a speaker is moved up and down just like a piston in action. The difference is they are much faster. Remember the frequency range? Yes, cones of a speaker can move between 20 times up to 20.000 times, or more in a second. Amazing right? Since the human eye can not follow more than 15-20 Hz in a second, we generally see the cones of speakers as stationary, or blurry.

Frames of speakers are the main skeleton speaker that pulls all other parts together. The material of this part is not so important, as long as it keeps all parts in one place.

Dust Caps generally come within the box of speakers pair. Their main purpose is covering the speaker cone from outer exposure such as direct hits, moist even some times water.

Foams of speakers absorb unnecessary vibrations generated by the moving parts of speakers. Sometimes it plays a very crucial role in the clarity of speakers. If your foams get old or do not work properly, you always have a chance to replace it easily so do not pay so much attention to this.

Voice Coil & Magnet are the working parts of speakers just like an engine They transform the electrical signals they obtain into motion to push & pull the cone. The life expectancy of this part of speakers generally higher than the cones. You may understand the efficiency of this part from the sensitivity and RMS levels of speakers, you generally you may not need to be too much concerned about the actual material it is made of. If a speaker has high sensitivity and power handling values, then it means voice coil and magnets are doing their job right.

Cones are one of the most subjective things about speaker materials. Every one of them has its own advantages and disadvantages over each other. The sound timbre and signature of each material different. The attractiveness of sounds produced by different materials very subjective.

If you are interested in the materials of the speakers, the material of cones should be the place where you concentrate on your search. To understand their material of cones, we can compare them from different points of view.

1) Linearity of Material

Cones are like the head of pistons. They are pushing the air and creating air pressures. To get a clear sound, the material should be linear and also durable. Breaking up the cones is among the biggest problems of drivers.

To avoid these types of problems, manufacturers are trying to use stiffest materials. However, only focusing on the linearity of a cone may end up in serious problems, just it is the case for some metal cone speakers.

2) Cost of Material

Cost of cones changes heavily depending on the material used in it. This also directly affects the sale price of the speakers.

Cheapest Cones are generally made of poly or coated paper. In most of the stock speakers, you may find these materials. They may sound well, depending on the engineering efforts spend on speaker design however, generally their life duration will be shorter and they will be more affected by the environmental effects.

Value Cones can be listed as fiberglass. These cones are more strong and do not wear down as quickly as poly or paper cones.

Moderate Price Cones are made of carbon fiber, plastic hybrids, and kevlar.

High Price Cones are made of metals. Premium speaker manufacturers commonly use these types of cones in their drivers.

The Highest Price Cones are made of ceramic. You may not see many products with ceramic on the market.

These are the cone materials, for the tweeters dome materials vary by a lot. It is hard to list them as we may do for the cones regarding their costs. Soft materials such as silk are often used as tweeter material.

3) Sonic Signature

Sonic signature depends on the material used in the cones. It is a very subjective change for everyone. I like the fiberglass cones and metal ones most favorable however this may not be true for yourself.

These are the basics that you need to know for your speaker purchase. There are many materials to be listed but to not dive in too much on this subject, we have found a great glossary of speaker materials from Crutchfield. You may check out here.

How to Compare the Materials of Speakers?

This questions one of the most frequently asked ones however there is no way to know just by looking at the specifications of speakers.

If you have a car audio systems shop nearby, most probably you will find out they have a stand where they installed different speakers already. In the market, there are tons of speakers from different manufacturers and sizes, so if you are looking to have something particular in mind, you may not be able to find it in shops.

In this case, you may always go and search for validated purchase comments and the amazon.com.

You have to be careful about the comments too. In some cases, there will be promotional comments that look like a fake. If you get that idea, it is most probably true. On the other hand, some comments heavily judge the pieces of equipment, most probably due to their own fault while installing it. You get the idea, just scroll and read at least 15-20 comments and try to obtain some information about the clarity of speakers.

The third one, unfortunately, is the most troublesome is actually purchasing and trying. I see many people waste their money by buying cheap stuff, around $20, and then even not bothering to return because of the shipment fee they will face.

This is the most problematic question that you have to answer while doing your purchase. As general advice, do not be the third option guy, expecting some decent sound clarity from $20 speaker is not realistic and you will be throwing your money directly into the garbage bin.

How Should I Set Up My Car Audio System?

Do I Need an Amplifier?

Amplifiers are the units that basically increases the power of your sound system. It can increase the volume of your stereo system and the joy you are getting from it.

Depends on your system, speakers, head unit, and many other things. We will summarize some of the scenarios down below.

1 ) Headunit is Old and Does Not Produce Clear Sound

You replaced your speakers with new ones, however, still, the sound you get from speakers are not clear, not loud. Then, you need to upgrade your head unit.

Headunits may object to wearing down by years. If your head unit is not able to produce decent signals for your speakers, no matter what you do, you will just obtain bad sound from your system. Even if you add an amplifier to it, the only thing you will get a louder bad sound 😊 Therefore focus on getting a new head unit rather than obtaining an amplifier.

2 ) Headunit is New, but Still Does Not Produce Clear Sound

In this case, most probably your speakers are old and already worn down. Obtaining a new pair to test if there is a change in the clarity is required. Even with a new pair, the sound is not clear, you might need to renew the wirings of the speakers.

The amplifier as we stated earlier, does not make adjustments for the clarity of your sound system.

3) Headunit is New, Speakers are New, Sound is Clear but Volume is Low

This is the case where you might need to buy an amplifier. The very first thing you should learn is how much power your head unit can generate per channel. While looking for this value, do not mistake the RMS value with the peak value. You should be looking for the RMS value. Headunit will be able to provide an RMS power level to all 4 channels at once.

The second thing you should find out the RMS power usage of your speakers. For example, if your head unit can provide 16w*4, it means the head unit can power all four channels at 16 watts at the same time. On the other hand, your speakers have an RMS power handling level of 64w. In this case, you are not fully utilizing your speakers' capacity and you may have a chance to increase the sound output from your speakers by 6 dB.

If this is not the case for you, and your speaker RMS level is less or similar to the RMS power output of the head unit, then an amplifier will not affect you. Powering more than RMS value of speaker has risks as we stated earlier in this article and you may end up with a blown speaker pair

4) You are Going to Buy Subwoofer

Please consider buying an amplifier, since the head unit will not have enough channel and power output most probably. Do not forget that, when you buy an amplifier, you will need to upgrade your battery, or have an additional separate battery for your car.

How to Make Component vs Coaxial Choice?

In the coxal vs component, we explained their advantage and disadvantages. If you are still having some thoughts in your mind, maybe answering the following will make up your mind.

1) Are You Going for an Ultimate Premium Sound System?

In this case, you may have the budget for doing necessary body changes, buying an amplifier, and subwoofer for your system. Then you should go with component speakers since generally, they offer more advanced speakers.

2) Are You Willing to Make Body Changes at all?

If yes, you may choose whatever you like. However, if you do not have an idea how to do it, and you do not get service for that, stick with the type of your car's stock speakers. Otherwise, you will find yourself in trouble.

3) Do You Have Subwoofer?

Subwoofers are special speakers that are designed to reproduce sub-bass and bass sounds. If you have one already, or you plan to buy one, then you may consider getting a component speaker. Otherwise, it is wise to have a coaxial speaker in your system, since many of the component speakers are not produced to generate full-range sound and lack rich bass sounds.

4) Is Your Budget Low?

If you have a low budget, you should go for coaxial speakers. You can upgrade your car's sound system by a great deal, only changing upgrading to a decent head unit and coaxial speakers for the minimum possible price.

Do I Need an Subwoofer?

Subwoofers are specially designed speakers for generating sub-bass and bass sounds as we mentioned earlier. If you are not satisfied with your car's sound system's bass performance, simply yes you need a subwoofer.

To install a subwoofer you must have followings;

  • A place to be dedicated in the trunk of your car for a subwoofer,
  • An additional battery for your subwoofer,
  • An amplifier

To perform your subwoofer as it should, you must be able to have all of the above. If you do not want to dedicate some space in your car trunk, then you may modify your rear deck and install a couple of 6x9" speakers with decent bass. This would also make a great job of increasing the bass performance of your car.

P.S.: rear deck speaker option is not a very feasible choice for many European cars since they produce the rear deck movable, foldable of liftable in many hatchbacks, or even sometimes in sedans. If your rear deck is movable, just go with a subwoofer. Less effort & more comfort.

Should I Upgrade My Head Unit?

Headunit is the brain of your sound system. If it does not provide healthy signals to your speakers, you will not get a clear sound performance from your system.

You should upgrade your head unit on the following cases;

  • You renewed your speakers (with decent ones) and even wires, however, you are still getting buzzy, muddy sound from your system.
  • Your speakers RMS power handling values are greater than your current head unit's RMS power handling per channel rate. You would like to improve the maximum volume without getting an amplifier.
  • You want to power more speakers rather than only four.
  • You just want to upgrade your media center.

Headunit investment is not a bad way to spend your money on improving your sound system. Many people with a medium budget to spend on their sound system chooses to spend money on getting a decent head unit, rather than getting a simple amplifier. Decent head units may increase the power output per channel between 30-50 watt RMS and this will very promising for getting the most out of your speakers.

Headunit investment is not a bad way to spend your money on improving your sound system. Many people with a medium budget to spend on their sound system chooses to spend money on getting a decent head unit, rather than getting a simple amplifier. Decent head units may increase the power output per channel between 30-50 watt RMS and this will very promising for getting the most out of your speakers.

Should I Buy a Crossover?

Crossovers are parts that are used to eliminate unwanted frequencies to be eliminated before they are reproduced by speakers. They enhance the sound clarity and also help to optimize drivers working frequency range.

In-car speaker industry, many speakers come with their own crossovers. If you purchase coaxial speakers, it will have a tiny crossover in itself. For component speakers, crossovers are much larger and it is hard to not see it.

When Should You Consider Getting a Crossover?

If you are planning to build a complex sound system on your car, which will include multiple amplifiers, subwoofers, and many speakers than getting a decent crossover are essential. One decent crossover can modify the sound signals according to the needs and unwanted frequencies can be canceled out even before getting into your amplifier. This will provide a power-saving on your system and make it work more healthy, alongside getting clear sounds.

These kinds of crossovers require professional attention and knowledge to set up. You can always make trial and error sessions, but be careful for not damaging your speakers with mistakenly mixing up the frequency of drivers.

The prices of crossovers changes. You may find for even $25 ones and prices are increasing up to $1000 or more. You may check some of them on amazon.

More Questions?

Thank you all who achieved to read until this very end. This is honestly required us to spend some a great deal of time to achieve some guide more in-depth than any other one you may easily find on the internet.

Still, you may have questions that are not answered in this guide. If so, please let us know by dropping a comment below and we will do our best to answer that. Have safety and a great one.

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