Component or full-range speakers – which one is ideal for your car?
The sheer variety of car speakers available can make it hard to narrow down the choices. The type of speaker, its power and even the material it is made of will all have an impact on the final decision. Keep these salient points in mind to identify the ideal speaker for your vehicle.
Speakers need to be matched to the car’s stereo system
You need to understand the role of these two key features before you start looking at new speakers for your car.
The speaker’s sensitivity determines how much power is required to produce a particular volume. Most factory installed car stereos are low-powered (often less than 15 W RMS per channel), and should be matched with speakers that have high sensitivity ratings (90 dB or more). However, if you had replaced the factory installed stereo with a high-powered one after buying the car, then the new speakers should have low sensitivity ratings. Correct matching of power and sensitivity yields better sound quality.
As the name suggests, this specification provides an idea about the amount of power the speaker can handle. The speakers you select don’t need the capacity to handle high power if the car stereo system is a low-powered one. However, if the stereo is coupled with an external amplifier the power handling capacity of the speakers needs to be matched to the power output levels of the amplifier. Consider the speaker’s maximum RMS power handling - which is a measure of the speaker’s power handling capacity over a long period - instead of just its peak power handling level.
Types of Speakers
Now that you have clear idea about speaker sensitivity and power handling, let’s look at the types of speakers on offer. There are essentially two types of speakers - component speaker systems and full-range speaker systems. Let's explore each category individually.
In this speaker system the primary components - tweeter, subwoofer and woofer - that lend a distinctive characteristic to the audio quality are separated. The tweeters are the small speakers for high frequency sound waves, subwoofers are for the low frequency sound waves (the bass), and the woofer for mid-range frequencies. This allows you to move them around inside the vehicle to design an audio experience suited to your musical taste. These speaker systems are significantly more expensive than the full-range speaker systems and ideal if you're looking for an advance audio experience.
These are all-in-one speaker systems – tweeter, woofer and subwoofer built into one body. The ease of installation is one of the key advantages of full-range speaker system. So, if you’re simply looking to replace the factory installed speakers with minimum effort and within a budget, then this speaker system is ideal. Full-range speakers are available in a variety of sizes. Hence, it is important to check the size and shape of the installed speakers so that the new speakers can be simply dropped into the existing speaker receptacles.
Speaker Build Quality
The materials that make up the speaker determine its build quality and have a direct bearing on both the durability of the speaker and the quality of sound it produces.
Woofers made of lightweight yet stiff materials like polypropylene or synthetic fabrics with a metal coat produce the best bass sound. Polypropylene is often mixed with mica to further improve the quality of the bass timbre. The materials determine the clarity, accuracy and thump of the bass.
The materials that make the surrounds of a woofer are also worth considering, because it has an effect on both the quality of bass and the woofer’s overall durability. So, rubber surrounds last longer than foam or cloth surrounds, plus can better withstand extreme temperature and moisture.
The materials used to make a tweeter have a direct impact on the type of sound it produces. The popular choice is soft materials for tweeters, such as polyurethane, silk or textile blends, which produces a warm sound. However, if you prefer high and snappy tones, then opt for tweeters made with harder materials like graphite, metal or ceramics. Ultimately, it depends on the quality of sound you prefer.
Some of the other key features
Often the contours of the car’s interiors mean that the speaker is placed in awkward positions. In such cases, pivoting tweeters can be swivelled and positioned to match the listener’s seating, thereby greatly improving the audio experience.
External crossovers ensure that there is a clear demarcation between frequencies directed towards the woofer and the tweeters, which helps in producing a cleaner sound. This demarcation is important because then neither the woofer nor the tweeters are burdened with frequencies they aren’t designed to produce. Some component speaker systems are equipped with two separate amplification channels for the woofer and the tweeters. Do keep in mind that external crossovers are available in only some full-range speaker systems.
It is best to opt for detachable tweeters because they can not only be installed with both a full-range and a component speaker system, but can also be removed and preserved when you sell the old car and buy a new one.
The variety of speakers available have increased manifold over the years, and their prices vary greatly. It’s advisable to begin the process of selecting new speakers for your car with a clear budget range in mind. This will help in narrowing down the options. Get in touch with us if you have any queries or doubts.