When it comes to car speakers, you have a ton of options. But where do you even begin? What makes an aftermarket speaker that much better than my current factory ones? Apparently you can either get a component speaker or a coaxial speaker when it comes to replacing your car speakers. Does it matter what you get and is there an advantage/disadvantage to getting either one? In this guide, we take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions that come up when it comes down to improving your car speakers.
Q: What makes aftermarket speakers better than factory speakers ?
If well-chosen, a set of aftermarket speakers can make a noticeable difference in terms of sound quality. Aftermarket speakers are usually built with high quality materials, so they can deliver crisper and more dynamic sound, as opposed to factory speakers built with cheap materials that tend to wear out quickly.
Additionally, speaker replacement is the most cost-effective car stereo system upgrade that you can perform. You might not want to upgrade your car speakers at first if your car is brand new and the speakers still sound okay. However, if you’re a hard-to-please audiophile seeking ear-pleasing sound,then aftermarket speakers are your best bet.
Q: How much power Is enough for my new speakers ?
The amount of power your speakers require is nominated by RMS power handling (Root Mean Square), exceeding this power range by a little bit will boost your overall sound quality. That being said, a speaker with lower RMS power handling is best suited for being powered by a factory or aftermarket stereo, while speakers with higher RMS will work better with an external amp.
It’s important to match up your speakers with the right amp. Make sure the RMS number on your amp matches the RMS rating on your speakers. If there’s a huge gap between the power handling rating of both your speakers and amp, your speakers could be under-powered, or even overpowered, which could put your speakers at risk. However, technically speaking, the risk of under-powering your speakers is much greater than overpowering them.
Q: Will my new aftermarket speakers work with my factory stereo ?
In most cases, yes. However, if you want the best results out of your speakers, it’s better to hook them up to an external amplifier or at least to an aftermarket receiver,especially if these speakers are of component type. Aftermarket speakers will sound great running off an aftermarket receiver, but they’ll really shine when driven by an external amplifier.
Q: Do speakers with higher sensitivity rating sound better ?
Sensitivity rating doesn’t tell you how good or not so good a speaker sounds. It only indicates how effectively your speakers convert power applied to them into volume. However, the higher the better. Don’t get us wrong, speakers with low sensitivity rating can also sound great, but they require a very powerful external amplifier or a high-powered receiver.
Q: What kind of a difference do tweeters really make ?
Car audio manufacturers use various materials in their tweeters, such as polymers, silk, ceramic,…etc. Each of these comes with its own set of benefits and limitations; paper for example is very lightweight, thus very responsive. Composites on the other hand are more durable.
In terms of designs and shapes, dome tweeters provide wider dispersion pattern than any other tweeter shape – even a cone tweeter. A balanced dome tweeter however combines the two shapes with a dome mounted within a cone.
Q: Speaker cone materials – What to look for ?
As with tweeters, speaker’s cones are built with a variety of materials including paper, synthetics, Woven fabrics, or composites. The more rigid the woofer cones, the stronger the bass notes. Again cones with paper are very responsive, but less durable. Polypropylene mixed with other materials, like mica, are often stiff, yet lightweight yielding more accurate bass response. Remember,the larger the speaker’s cone is the deeper the bass.
Q: Is there anything that can improve my overall sound quality in aftermarket speakers ?
There are some great features you might want to consider before venturing in. Several speaker manufacturers offer adjustable mounts for their tweeters so you can mount these tweeters in such a position, so they can broadcast their high frequencies more precisely to where you’re sitting.
A few speakers come with bi-amp inputs. These allow you to power the woofer and tweeter from different source(separate amps for example) for more powerful sound.
Q: What advantages component speakers have over their counterparts – coaxial speakers ?
Because component speakers separate all their drivers, they can provide better stereo-imaging as well as much more detailed and rich sound than you could expect from coaxial speakers.
What we like the most about component speakers, is that you can mount the tweeters wherever you assume they can perform at their best. Additionally,the separate crossovers will forward the highs and lows to the proper driver – highs to the tweeters and lows to the woofers. As a rule, if you want your component speakers to really shine out, you’ll want to drive them by an external amplifier.
Q: My new component speakers aren’t what I’ve been expecting.What’s wrong ?
There are a few things you need to do to get your speakers to sound at their best:
- Check your tweeter attenuation switch – Try switching it off to attenuate the highs that overpower the sound output.
- Are your speakers properly powered? If you’ve got some power greedy speakers, don’t expect too much out of them if you’re running them off your receiver. Remember that by under powering your speakers, you risk voiding your warranty.
- You might want to consider installing foam baffles and dynamat in your doors
Q: What’s the best way to get highs and better stereo-imaging in my car ?
Installing a pair of add-on tweeters will make noticeable difference in the way the whole system sounds. Check out our review of the best car tweeters out there. So, what makes tweeters so important?
Tweeters are a part of the picture that gives your music extra dynamic realism and finest sound. This is due to ultra-high frequencies and overtones covered by tweeters, which makes them able to render specific tone of each instrument in your music. Additionally, they give you placement flexibility which is a very crucial part of the equation in achieving realistic stereo imaging.
Car Speakers Installation FAQs
Q: Which car speakers will fit my car ?
Car speakers are classified by cone size. This size isn’t the only thing you’ll have to take into consideration. Sometimes speakers are too deep for the locations they’re meant to go in. Different speakers size can fit different enclosures by using mounting brackets. In addition, sometimes minor modifications are necessary to make your speaker fit their mounting location. Almost all online retailers including Amazon carry a huge database of car’s brands, make, year and models and thus they’re able to tell if a given set of speakers will fit your vehicle or not.
Q: Can I install my new car speakers myself ?
Yes you can, It’s not that complicated at all, especially if your speakers are of coaxial type. If that’s the case, then it’s just a matter of removing the old speakers and dropping the new ones in their mounting locations, connecting a few wires and you’re good to go. However, if you’ve bought component speakers, then be prepared to put in some effort into installing them.
Q: Can I keep my factory speaker’s wires ?
Factory speakers wires are just fine. They can be used with aftermarket speakers if you’re running them off a factory or aftermarket stereo. However, if this is your first step in upgrading your entire sound system, and you intend to add one or multiple sub(s) and amp(s) down the road, then it’s highly recommended to changes these wires.
Q: Can I use my factory grilles instead of the new grilles ?
You certainly can. Aftermarket speakers usually come with manufacturer grilles – sporting the speaker-brand’s logo. You’ll find that these grilles are excellent aesthetically and cosmetically when compared to factory grilles. However,you can use whichever ones look best to you.