2 Way and 3 Way Car Speakers. What is the difference?

There are many car speakers available, with a different number of drivers with the most popular 2 way and 3 way models. There are some interesting facts about both types, so I decided to write an article about the differences between 2 way and 3-way speakers and which one to choose for your car.

The main difference is the number of drivers. 2-way speakers have a woofer and tweeter built in the same basket, while 3-way speakers have additional mid-range drivers that support frequencies between 500 Hz and 4 kHz. Both speaker types have crossovers that block and direct certain frequencies to the specific speakers.

Thanks to additional mid-range drivers, the sound coming out of the 3-way speakers are more precise, which improves the overall audio experience.

In other words, 3-way speakers make not only a stronger vocal but also the sounds of a guitar, drums, saxophone, or piano are much more dynamic. 

This is, however, the case when we compare the same type of speakers that have the same or similar quality.

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Tip: When searching for car speakers where the priority is the sound quality, you will achieve the most sophisticated results with the 3-way component systems.

They have so much to offer, and thanks to the active crossovers, the whole system can be installed in various places in the car. If you would like to install such speakers in your vehicle, check the best 3 way car systems on Amazon.com now

We have to remember that high-quality 2-way speakers will outperform sound from budget 3-way speakers. “Which is better?” discussion is not just about the number of drivers installed, so in the article below we will go through more details, to better understand how both types of speakers work.

What are the types of 2-way car speakers?

As mentioned earlier, a 2-way speaker has 2 drivers, a woofer, and a small tweeter.

Woofer works in the bottom, and mid-range frequencies, usually from 60 – 4.000 Hz, and that supports the majority of the sounds we hear. Woofers are also the weakest point of 2-way speakers. Since they produce a wide range of tones, they cannot produce deep and strong bass at the same time.

difference between 2 way and 3 way car speakers

2-way speakers are cheaper due to the simpler design and fewer parts used, especially crossovers are simple. However, you have to remember that a pair of speakers made from top-quality materials that provide a hi-end sound can still cost over a thousand dollars.

When looking at the design and functionality, we can find two types of 2-way speakers.

2 way Coaxial Speakers

2-way coaxial speakers are most commonly used in cars. They are offered in all standard sizes and are easy to install in factory places. Unfortunately, they do not always produce great sound quality, and when you choose the low or mid-range models, you may end up being disappointed.

The best places for coaxial speakers are car doors or rear decks. Some cars have them also installed in the dashboards, but these are often the smaller speakers, like 4”.

2 way Component Speakers

2-way component speakers are a higher level of 2-way speakers. Woofers and tweeters are independent drivers, to which signal is distributed by crossovers. Thanks to added crossovers, each of the single speakers produce separate sounds, and that significantly improves overall music quality.

You can install these speakers in various places in a car. Woofers usually replace original factory speakers, while tweeters are being installed on the upper part of the door, or in the “A” (front) door pillars.

Component speakers are also more expensive than coaxial models, and if your car was not originally equipped with this type, installing separate twitters can be challenging for which you may need professional support.

Both drivers have to be precisely wired, and crossovers set correctly, otherwise, you may not hear the sound quality you expected. Especially important is the right wiring and setting up crossovers.

What Are The 3 way Car Speakers?

As the name suggests, 3-way speakers consist of 3 drivers, a woofer, mid-range driver, and tweeter. A mid-range driver improves sound quality in comparison to 2-way models because it works in a smaller range of heard frequencies.

Similarly to for 2-way speakers, 3-way speakers can be divided into two main categories:

3 way Coaxial Speakers

3 way coaxial speakers have additional mid-range drivers that are aligned with twitters and mounted on top of the woofers. These mid-range speakers support most of the heard by human eye sounds, like vocals, guitars, drums, or violins. This small mid-range driver needs to be designed and built from the highest quality materials. Otherwise, the sound effect for you may not be satisfactory. 

If I had to choose a budget 3-way coaxial speakers or others, I would definitely look for a higher level of the 2-way version that sounds exactly like I want to hear. You can easily install them in the same factory places in your car. The only thing that I came across during my research is the fact that I could not find many 3-way speakers made in the smallest sizes, like 4”.

Minus of these speakers is the price. 3-way coaxial speakers usually cost more, due to the more advanced design and better crossovers used.

3 way Component Speakers

3 way component Speakers are the flagships of the car speakers in this article.

All three drivers, woofer, mid-range, and tweeter, are separated, and you can install them in any place in the car you can think of. It is a fantastic solution for everyone who wants to listen to the highest quality of music. A few weeks ago, I heard a 3-way system in my friend’s car, and I was astonished by what they are capable of. I mean, the sound was outstanding and so clear, I did not want to leave his passenger seat.

The minus is, 3-way systems may require professional installation if you want to hear what these speakers can do if they have the right configuration.

Also, 3-way systems are the most expensive of all types. Of course, there are lower quality models, but if I went for three separate drivers in my car, I would aim for the best. Otherwise, instead of installing cheap 3 way speakers, I would choose a 2-way component system from the top shelf.

What in The Speakers Affect Sound Quality?

So, that is it regarding types of speakers, let’s now check how single elements of the speakers affecting the sound. Speakers have a complicated design where every part has to be calculated correctly without cutting corners, but there are two crucial components in each speaker that can make what you hear better, or worse.

  • Cones are the parts of the speaker we see the most when speakers are installed. Cones by vibrating make the sound, therefore material used must be light and in the best quality. The majority of the cones are made of paper, polypropylene, aluminum, fiberglass, or woven composites coated with aluminum or titanium. For example, aluminum is often used for woofer speakers due to its stiffness. Different material types can make different sounds, and also have different prices.
  • Other crucial elements for car speakers are magnets. Probably you saw different sizes; every magnet type plays the role to achieve the best possible sound. They are made from different materials like ferrite or neodymium and also being used in various kinds of speakers due to their different characteristics. Neodymium magnets, for example, are smaller and much lighter than other types.

Which Type of Car Speakers Should I buy?

If I was looking for sound quality and wanted to install speakers in different places in my car, I would definitely choose the 3-way component systems. They have much to offer, and thanks to the active crossovers, the whole system can be set in many combinations.

If my funds were limited and still wanted high-quality sound, I would choose a 2-way system. They can be installed easier and cheaper than 3-way systems and, if, from the top shelf, they still can fulfill my sound quality needs.

If I did not want to make any changes in the car and use factory places for the speakers, I would shoot for the highest quality, top-shelf 2-way coaxial speakers. They come in so many different sizes, materials used, and power ranges, so I am sure I would find the one that sounds like I want to hear. Also, I would not need to drill new holes in a car or door panels.

What About 3 Way Coaxial Speakers?

Well, I am not convinced they sound much better than 2-way coaxial. I heard several models, and to be honest, there is not much difference between 2 way and 3-way car speakers. I am not saying they sound bad, but I am not sure if they are worth the extra money. For the same value, I could purchase better quality 2-way coaxial speakers. But this is me.

There are several options to choose from, and I hope I helped you with basic information regarding both types of car speakers.

How do you know the sound quality you look for, and if they suit the type of music you like? The only way to say “I take this one” is when you hear how they play, so try various models and choose the best for your needs.

Good luck with your new car speakers.


Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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