Guides to buy car speakers

Posted by hw on May 25th, 2021

There are many ways to add new life to your music in the car, but new speakers offers one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to upgrade your sound. We have what you need, whether you just want to replace your factory speakers or if you plan to install an amplifier and need speakers that can handle a lot of power.

How many car speakers do I need?

There's no standard for the number of car speakers that are factory-installed in a vehicle. In fact, they seem to get more numerous every year as car makers introduce premium factory sound systems with perks like noise cancellation and simulated engine noise.

When replacing front and rear speakers, a good goal is to have a voice-matched system. That means having the same brand and series of speakers in the front and rear. If you're on a budget, that doesn't have to happen all at once. Focus on your front speakers first. When you're ready, update the rear with speakers from the same speaker series for consistent sound characteristics.

Speakers for the front of your vehicle

Some vehicles only have two speakers in the front, one per door. They use a full-range design. Other vehicles feature four speakers in the front, two per side. This is typically woofers in the door and a tweeter either higher up in the door or in the corner pillar or dash.

Many vehicles also have a center dash speaker, which typically handles vehicle essentials like door chimes and navigation prompts, in addition to playing music. Many people opt to leave the original speaker in this spot.

Speakers for the rear of your vehicle

Rear door speakers, rear deck speakers, and tailgate speakers are often full-range, although components have become increasingly popular. Rear speakers provide sound to backseat passengers and "rear fill" for the front row. Rear speakers generally don't make a significant contribution to the sound experience in the front seats. As a result they can be less important to drivers who don't have passengers very often or to sound enthusiasts who don't want any interference with their front soundstage.

What size speakers should I buy?

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by a long list of car speakers, all with different sizes. The good news is you don't have to sweat speaker size too much once you've told us what vehicle you're shopping for and whether you're shopping for front or rear speakers (or both).

In that case our rule of thumb is, "the bigger the better." So, given the choice between a 5-1/4" using a bracket or a 6"x9", we'll usually say go with the 6"x9" for more oomph.

The finer points of fitting car speakers

When looking at speaker fit, we're not just talking about the diameter of the speaker opening. We're also considering the allowable depth of that opening, sufficient room for the tweeter in front of the speaker, and several other factors. 

Full-range vs. components — what type of speakers should I get?

Aftermarket car speakers can be divided into two main categories: full-range speakers and component speaker systems. Let's take a look at each.

Full-range speakers

Full-range speakers contain all the speaker elements in one basket. In their simplest form, they consist of a woofer for the lows, and a tweeter mounted onto the woofer to produce the highs. Some models will have additional drivers, like a midrange and/or supertweeter – these are referred to as "3-way" or "4-way" speakers.

You should choose full-range speakers if you're looking to replace factory speakers with minimal effort. In most cases, you simply remove the old speaker, connect the new speaker with a free Crutchfield wiring harness, and mount it. You'll find full-range speakers at nearly every price point and power range.

Component speakers

Component speaker systems use a superior speaker design to give you the best possible sound. A typical component system includes separate woofers, tweeters, and external crossovers.

In a component system, the tweeter is separated from the woofer so that it can be mounted higher up in the car. If your car has factory tweeters, you can usually mount the new one in that location.

The external crossover network in a component system uses high-quality components to ensure a sharp delineation between the frequencies sent to the woofer and tweeter. Your music will sound more realistic, more "live," and have greater depth.

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