What Is a 3 Way Car Speaker?

If you are looking for an upgrade for speakers in your car, you would probably come across with 2 way, 3 way speakers that will not have any meaning for you at the beginning. They are pretty straightforward terms and you will understand what they mean at the end of this page.

If you like to improve the quality of sound in your car, there are unlimited opportunities in the market. After learning more about the meaning of these basic terms that are frequently used in the car speakers industry, you will be able to easily differentiate each product and complete your speaker selection process accordingly.

What Does 3 Way Car Speakers Mean?

The number of "ways" in a speaker indicates how many drivers it does have. "Driver" is the name of each element that reproduces the sound by vibrating. 

There are many different types of speakers on the market. A single speaker will have only one driver in it. The basic old sound systems were trying to reproduce all range of sound frequency from single driver speakers. Today, this type of speaker is still used in a more advanced way in pair and called the "component speakers" which we will explain in the following paragraphs.

 A 3-way speaker will have 3 different drivers in the same body. One of the drivers will be much bigger and form the base for the speaker. This driver is "woofer" and is dedicated to reproducing strong, low frequency sounds in order word the bass sound. The smallest of the drivers would be "tweeter" which will have a duty for reproducing the high-frequency sounds. The third one will be the "mid-range" driver, which as you would guess, will creating be creating the sounds that fall between the tweeter and the woofer.

You may most probably be familiar with the woofer, thanks to the popularity of subwoofers. Subwoofers are speakers that are designed with one driver. The purpose of a subwoofer is to reproduce the frequency range of a woofer and even lower frequencies than that.

3-Way Speaker (Triaxial)

Why Are There Multi Way Speakers?

Modern car's interior design is too compact relative to the beginning of the 1900s. As the cars get smaller and the level of the complexity of interior design increases, there is less room left for speakers. By a genius idea, coaxial speakers are designed for cars. So instead of having components speakers at different places in the car, just a build-in 2 way, 3-way speakers started to do same work.

In this manner, the basic but strong design of 2-way speakers were started to be used with woofer and tweeter drivers. Woofers are bigger and vibrating relatively slowly to create strong bass sounds. Tweeters are designed to be smaller and have the opposite working principles with the woofer.

3-way speakers have also a mid-range driver which enables for dividing the frequency range into three parts. This way, woofer, and tweeter can work on more specific ranges and reproducing sounds with higher quality and giving a deeper feeling. 

4-way speakers have a driver specifically to work on higher frequencies in order to create crystal clear high sounds.

How Many Ways Do I Need in My Speakers?

The answer to this question is related purely design on the sound system of your car. If you have enough budget and professional help, you can select component speakers with body changes inside your car. This can have the best sound experience you have, with the integration of a subwoofer. 

If you do not want to mess with the interior of your car at all than coaxial speakers will be a better selection for you. As a rule of thumb, within the same brand, the increase in the number of ways a speaker will provide a better sound experience. The drivers of a 3-way speaker will work on the most specified frequencies and achieve better sound quality rather than a 2-way speaker.

Note that, this does not strictly mean that every 3-way speaker better than a 2-way speaker. There are many manufacturers in the market and recent years new companies entered the market with a lower price range in exchange for lower quality.

There are many high end and 2-way speakers in the system. Just combining a subwoofer and a pair of supertweeters with high-quality 2-way speakers will yield more than satisfying results.rs accordingly to get maximum quality sound.

2 Way Speaker (Coaxial)

What Are Component And Coaxial Speakers?

Component speakers are single driver speakers. You may find it in the market as pairs of woofer and tweeter separately. In order to enable woofer and tweeter act as a team and do not work on each's frequency range, a crossover is used together with them.

On the other hand, coaxial speakers have more than one driver in them. They consist, 2, 3 or more drivers in it to work as one speaker. A coaxial speaker will cover an area just as component woofer speaker, however, it will have also have tweeters on it.

Sometimes in order to specify that a speaker has 3-ways, some manufacturers prefer to use the "triaxial speaker" term. As it is explained in the previous section, by just looking the way or axis amount, you may not be able to determine the quality of speaker.

Component Speaker (woofer)

How Should I Make My Car Speaker Selection?

Before making any purchase, go over the following suggestions.

1) Learn What Size Speakers Suits for Your Car

The most common yet the most basic mistake is purchasing a speaker that does not fit in the car. There are various type of car speaker dimensions such as; 3", 4", 5-1/4", 6-1,2" diameter or elliptic speaker with dimensions like 4"x6", 6"x9". You can find out your car's speaker dimensions by searching on the internet. If you can't, follow the guide in wiki how to measure it yourself. Also, amazon.com offers a free menu to show if the speaker fits into your car or not. Learn how to use it by reading our article about it.

You may check our guide for finding your car speaker's size and three alternative way for it.

2) Study Power Input Limits of Speakers and Amplifier 

Drivers in the speakers are basic machines, which reproduces sound waves according to the data they obtain from crossover and amplifying it with the power input.

Drivers have maximum power limits that they can operate without failure. If you send speakers more power than they can handle than they will simply be destroyed.

Regarding the power handling of speakers, you will find "Peak value" and "RMS value". Since our devices are working on AC circuits, the power input to our devices has graphs of sines. RMS value is the DC equivalent of AC power, and it stands for "Root Mean Square" that you may be familiar with in your maths class. If you are wondering more, you can watch it in the link since we will not cover the details of it in this article.

As a reminder, if you are dreaming to upgrade your amp with a bigger one with more power output to increase the total volume of your car's speakers, you have a chance to kill your speakers if you overload with the power they can not handle.

Rockford Fosgate 6.5" 180W 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers Stereo

Pioneer 6.5 Inch 3-Way 320 Watt Car Coaxial Speakers

3) Check Out Sensitivity of Speakers

Do you love to play music at maximum volume? So you better check sensitivity value. Assuming the peak watt values of the two speakers are the same, a speaker with higher sensitivity will produce a louder sound.

The sensitivity value is measured by the decibel output of the speaker when 1 watt of power given to it. Moderate speakers will have around 80-82 dB of sensitivity. Decent speakers can have sensitivity levels high up to 90-92 dB.

The difference of 12 dB may seem like nothing. However note that to increase sound volume by 3 dB, you need twice power input. So a speaker with 80 dB sensitivity 1will operates as follows;

  • 1 watt = 80 dB
  • 2 watts = 83 dB
  • 4 watts = 86 dB
  • 8 watts = 89 dB
  • 16 watts = 92 dB

Regarding these sound levels, 85 dB is acknowledged as the start of the high-level sounds. After this level the sound is starting to damage your hearing ability, depending on how much time you exposed to it. At the cinema, you would be hearing 105 dB of sound at maximum while at the concert it can get high up to 120 dB. It is more than enough to aim for 105 dB. 

Depending on the maximum watt input of your speaker, you would be fine to reach up to 105 dB with speakers that have 86 or more sensitivity.

4) Type Selection Component vs Coaxial

If you are going for a DIY model and you do not want to mess with your car's interior design then you should select coaxial speakers. You need to just demount old speakers from your car and install new ones by making two cable connections and enjoy your music.

If you go for the component speakers and your car's original speakers are coaxial, you will have a hard time modifying your car's body and require professional help. 


If you are looking for speakers with good bass performance without needing any subwoofer, check our article for it.

JBL GX963 300W 3-way

2 Kicker 5.25" Coaxial

Let's Summarize It

If you are a professional, know what you are doing and would like to transform your car into a boom box, then you should go with component speakers. Do not forget this choice will require a decent change in your car's interior and sound system setup.

If you want to hear high-quality sound but do not want to mess with your car's interior design, then select coaxial speakers. Many high-quality end products will satisfy your needs.

According to our experience, we have found the easiest, budget-friendly and also having rich reproduction of sound with the 2-way speakers with a subwoofer system. You may easily implement a subwoofer into the trunk of your car, and upgrade your amplifier if needed.

As final advice;

  • Do not go for the unknown new brands just because they are cheaper.

We hope this article helps you to clear out the question of what is a 3-way car speaker that you had in your mind.

Would you like to learn more information about car speakers? You may want to check out our ultimate car speaker guide that you must read before purchase.