Four things to look for when buying car speakers
Wanting to upgrade that car sound system? Here’s how to start.
In addition to using your smartphone to start your car, new car speakers can inject new life into your trusty four-wheel mode of transportation. However, considering the different shapes, types, and sizes available, choosing car speakers can be hard. But if you keep a few critical things in mind, you can find the perfect speaker set for your car.
Types of car speakers
The aftermarket car speaker world brings you two main alternatives. However, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type to choose the best car speakers for your car and sound experience.
These speakers usually have all the elements, woofer, tweeter, midrange and super tweeter, in one basket. Choose full-range speakers if you are looking to replace your car’s factory speakers without much hassle.
Also, full-range varieties are available in various sizes that can easily be mounted into different speaker locations. In a majority of cases, you only have to remove the old speaker and plug in your new aftermarket speaker. Furthermore, you can find full-range speakers in just about every price point and power range.
Component system speakers utilize a unique speaker design that lets you attain the best possible sound from your stereo. The typical component speaker system features separate tweeters, woofers and external crossover that work together to bring you an exceptional sound experience.
The tweeter is separate from the woofer so you can mount it in the best position for imaging. Music in your car tends to sound more realistic and with greater depth.
The unit’s crossover is external to the tweeter and woofer for better reproduction of frequencies. Furthermore, component systems usually feature better material and drive exceptionally dynamic and detailed sound compared to full-range speakers.
Match speakers to your current system
While considering what speakers will work best in your vehicle, you need to take into consideration two main specifications.
A speaker’s power handling capability allows you to know exactly how much power, in watts, it can handle. If your current system is low powered, your aftermarket speakers shouldn’t need to have a watt rating that’s too high. Conversely, a power system with external amps requires speakers with wattage that’s close to the amps’ output.
The key spec you should be looking for is the Maximum RMS and not the peak power handling. The RMS rating takes into account the amount of power a speaker can handle continuously. That said, the best car speaker should have a 2 to 50watts RMS for you low-powered stereo – instead of one with 10 to 80watts RMS rating.
Sensitivity is the amount of sound a speaker is capable of yielding once power is applied to it. To choose the right speakers for a 15watts RMS, low-power stereo, sensitivity ratings of 90dB are optimal.
If your stereo offers you 16watts RMS and above, with the help of an external amplifier, consider speakers with a low sensitivity rating. Properly powered speakers offer you excellent sound quality.
What materials to look for when choosing car speakers
When deciding what speakers you want, don’t forget to take into account the different materials available – it can make a difference.
The speaker’s material plays a critical role in not only its durability but also sound quality reproduction.
The woofer should feature a stiff, yet lightweight, material to produce the low notes in music. Most manufacturers use synthetic films such as polypropylene for the woofer speakers.
Mixed with other materials such as mica, polypropylene becomes stiffer, helping it to offer you a better bass response. Other materials like synthetics or fabrics coated with titanium or aluminum are also strong, lightweight, and bring accurate responses. Furthermore, all these materials are designed to stand up to moisture, heat, and cold.
The tweeter material has a big role in how sound is reproduced. In general, most tweeters feature soft materials such as silk, textile blends or poly for a refined, yet mellow sound. Tweeters with hard materials like graphite, ceramics or metal bring you snappy and bright highs.
The material around the woofer allows the cone to move freely and emit better sounding bass notes. The surround material should be capable of withstanding humidity and temperature extremes. While rubber surrounds offer the best overall performance, cloth and foam surrounds still perform well and are cheaper.
A couple of features that are commonly found in car speakers can play a vital role in improving sound quality in your vehicle.
Swivel or pivot tweeters
If you’re replacing speakers that are low in the door, look out for full-range speakers fitted with swiveling tweeters. Tweeters are designed to reproduce high directional frequencies, so swiveling them allows for better soundstage management for a realistic experience.
Use external crossovers
Component speakers usually feature passive external crossovers for cleaner separation of frequencies going to the woofer and tweeter. Also, your woofer and tweeter don’t waste energy trying to play frequencies it can’t reproduce. The result is a cleaner, better efficient sound experience.
Most crossovers allow bi-amping through extra input terminals. Instead of using a single channel from amplification to the woofer and tweeter, you can have separate cables for each set carrying different signals from a separate amplifier or amp channel.
Such a setup allows tweeters and woofers to receive only dedicated amplification. You should be looking for this feature if you want to achieve a seriously high-performing sound system.
Detachable tweeters speakers can be used as either component systems or full-range speakers whenever you want. This is a nice feature if you would like to reuse your speakers in different cars.
The car speaker is the essence of your vehicle’s sound system. If you use the tips above to purchase a good speaker system, you will enjoy a great sound experience every time you get into your car. However, if you buy a bad speaker, you won’t enjoy your system, no matter what you’ve brought to it.
In the end, it is all about your taste and what your needs are. Therefore, ensure you pick the best car speaker using the simple guide above.