If you’re a car audio enthusiast, you know there are many speaker options to choose from when upgrading your car’s sound system.
Among all the choices, coaxial speakers are one of the most popular. But are they perfect for car audio? Let’s find out.
Coaxial speakers are a good option for car audio as they are versatile, easy to install and deliver good sound quality compared to single-cone speakers found on factory cars. They consist of a crossover, tweeter, and woofer built into a single speaker assembly, making them a 2-way speaker system.
Coaxial speakers are a cost-effective and easy upgrade option for car audio, but high-quality models are recommended to achieve the best sound.
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Tip: Coaxial speakers can be used in any application or vehicle. They are most popular in cars and trucks in two main sizes round 6.5″ and oval 6×9″.
Regarding bass response, coaxial speakers are not the best choice if you’re looking for earth-shattering bass.
On the other hand, they provide tight and punchy bass that is perfect for most music genres, so if you are looking for dynamic sounds, check out the wide selection of coaxial speakers on Amazon.
In this article, I will detail the coaxial speakers with their pros and cons for car audio setup.
What Are Coaxial Speakers?
Coaxial speakers are a type of speaker that has the tweeter (high-frequency driver) and woofer (low-frequency driver) mounted on the same axis.
The coaxial speakers are sometimes referred to as full-range speakers, although there is a significant technical difference between both.
The main advantage of having the tweeter and woofer on the same axis is that it makes the speaker more compact and easier to install, especially in cars with limited space.
Coaxial speakers are also generally more affordable than component speakers.
What Are the Different Types of Coaxial Speakers?
When looking at the number of separate drivers, there are several options you can choose from:
#1. The most common coaxial speaker type is the 2-way speaker. This type of speaker has a woofer for the low frequencies and a tweeter for the high frequencies.
#2. 3-way speaker adds an extra mid-range driver to cover frequencies between the woofer and tweeter. This can give the speaker a more well-rounded sound and offload some load from the woofer.
#3. 4-way speaker adds an extra super-tweeter for even higher frequency response. This design is not often used in car audio, but some prefer to have additional tweeters.
#4. 5-way speakers are rare, and they are essentially 4-way speakers with an additional either mid-range speaker or tweeter.
Although those speakers may look nice, for the average user, there is no benefit of having so many drivers within one speaker, and for me, it is something that looks fancy without actual benefit.
Still, if you want to try 5-way speakers, check out the Pioneer TS-A6997S (link to Amazon).
Why Are Coaxial Speakers So Popular in Cars?
Coaxial speakers have been the most popular speakers in cars for a few simple reasons:
#1. Coaxial speakers are more compact than other types of speakers. Compact design makes them ideal for cars with limited space since all drivers are placed together.
#2. Coaxial speakers are more affordable than component speakers, making them an excellent option for people on a budget.
#3. Coaxial speakers are easy to install. There is no need to run extra wires for separate tweeters or install additional crossovers.
Coaxial vs Component Speakers
When comparing coaxial and component speakers, you will notice a few key differences to consider for any car audio installation:
#1. Sound Quality
In general, component speakers will give you a better sound experience than coaxial speakers.
This is because each driver (tweeter, midrange, woofer) can be placed in the optimal location for its frequency range so that the sounds can be better directed towards the ears.
Component speakers are more difficult to install than coaxial speakers.
Even if you have in the car separate places for tweeters, you need to run extra wires for them and install additional crossovers.
Component speakers are often more expensive than coaxial speakers. This is due to the different designs and more components being used.
Component speakers offer more flexibility than coaxial speakers regarding sound adjustments or steering specific frequencies towards the listeners’ ears.
For example, you can choose to have the tweeters installed in the dash or doors for better sound staging. Also, you can select active connections and plug woofers and tweeters independently into the separate amplifier’s channels.
As you can see, coaxial speakers offer a simple solution if you are on a budget or don’t want to spend extra time on installation, but when you compare them to the component speakers, they have some drawbacks in terms of sound quality and flexibility.
Are Coaxial Speakers Better Than Component Speakers?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you are looking for in a speaker system. Component speakers will be the better choice if you want the best sound quality possible.
However, coaxial speakers may be better if you work with a tight budget or don’t want to spend extra time on installation.
Can You Mix Coaxial Speakers With Component Speakers?
Coaxial speakers can be mixed with component speakers in the car.
For example, often combinations are component speakers in front and the coaxial in the rear doors but do not mix both speaker types within the same pair.
The reason for this is if the left and right speakers are different, it will create an unbalanced sound stage, and the sound quality will suffer because different models, even within the same brands, will have different sound characteristics.
So, within the same pair, you need to decide to use either coaxial or component speakers.
Sound Characteristics for Coaxial Speakers
A coaxial speaker is one where two or more drive units are physically co-located so that all sound waves radiate from the same point.
The most typical arrangement is a coincident midrange and treble, as seen in all existing car speakers.
The downside is that in many vehicles, the car’s interior will distort the sound perceived at the listening position.
This reflection, especially in smaller cars, often has higher amplitude since the distance is closer than in larger vehicles like SUVs. It is especially notable in cars with interiors made like sound absorbers.
A more important part of the sound characteristic in the coaxial speakers is that in many speakers, the woofer cone acts as a waveguide for the tweeter, which results in matched sound directivity.
Coaxial drivers using tweeters with small voice coils can have the tweeter physically co-located with the woofer’s voice coil, but this solution you can see more often in home speakers.
Do Coaxial Speakers Have Good Bass?
Many coaxial speakers can have excellent quality bass. However, remember that are several factors that determine the quality of bass produced:
#1. The size of the driver.
In general, the larger the driver, the better quality bass it will produce because the larger cone that can create better SPL.
#2. Cone material.
A stiffer lightweight cone can produce better quality bass because it can move more air faster and without distortions.
#3. Driver suspension.
A driver with a better suspension can hold its shape better when reproducing bass frequencies, which results in better quality sound.
#4. Power handling.
A higher power rating usually means a larger magnet and better quality bass.
#5. Frequency response.
Speakers with frequency responses starting lower can produce deeper bass.
Higher sensitivity means that the speaker can produce more volume with less power, resulting in better quality sound, especially at lower volumes.
As you see, when focusing on the bass, there is only the power you need to look for. You can easily find many speakers that handle 100W RMS or more but are not designed for dynamic bass.
An excellent example of coaxial speakers with great bass are Hertz MPX690.3 Mille PRO, or if you want a more affordable option or for an open vehicle, try Polk Audio from MM Serie (links to amazon).
Both speakers are excellent, with low tones starting at 30Hz, which is an unbeatable result for standard car speakers.
They also have a high 94dB sensitivity, meaning they will play loud even with a small amplifier or in an open space.
Do Coaxial Speakers Need an Amplifier?
Most factory coaxial speakers do not require an amplifier to produce good sound. The reason is that they are already designed to handle a wide range of power.
However, the amplifier is recommended for the aftermarket coaxial speakers because it will increase the volume without distortion and give you more control over the sound.
Whenever someone asks, I say that the amplifier is mandatory for the coaxial speakers with a wattage higher than 60W RMS.
Of course, you do not have to use it, but the sound quality may suffer, and there is no actual benefit of having strong branded speakers and powering them from the serial stereo.
If you have an external amplifier, you need to use the low pass filter to set the crossover frequency to match the frequencies supported by the coaxial speakers.
For example, if coaxial speakers are designed to produce sounds starting at 50Hz, you must set the LPF (Low Pass Filter) at 55 or 60Hz. Otherwise, the amplifier will send to the speakers frequencies they cannot handle, and you will hear a lot of distortions.
Using an amplifier, you will need to connect it to the speakers using a speaker wire. The best way to do that is to use a high-quality OFC wire that is thick enough to handle the power.
Thicker wire will also allow for less resistance, which means more power will reach the speakers, resulting in better sound quality.
For most installations, the right speaker wire size would be 16AWG, but for the strong speakers over 150W RMS, you need to increase it to 14AWG.
When searching for the speaker wires, I recommend checking out OFC KnuKonceptz (link to Amazon).
Do Coaxial Speakers Need Crossovers?
When you use coaxial speakers, there is no need for additional crossovers. Coaxial speakers have built-in passive crossovers that filter each driver’s frequencies.
The crossovers may only be needed when you decide to passively connect different speakers to the same amplifier’s channel, like for the component speakers.
How to Connect Coaxial Speakers to Car Audio
There are three main types of coaxial speaker connections used in car audio systems:
#1. Spring-Loaded Terminals
These are the most common type of connections found on coaxial speakers. The spring-loaded terminals make connecting and disconnecting the speakers easy without needing any tools.
#2. Binding Posts
Binding post connections are more secure than spring-loaded terminals and provide a tighter connection between the speaker and amplifier.
#3. Spade Terminals
Spade terminals offer the same level of security as binding post connections, but they are easier to connect and disconnect.
When connecting coaxial speakers to an amplifier, you need to use speaker wire with the correct connectors at the wire ends.
The wire’s size will depend on your amplifier’s power output and the speakers’ impedance.
Disadvantages of Using Coaxial Speakers in a Car
The main disadvantage of using coaxial speakers in a car is that they produce impossible to redirect sounds.
This is because the tweeters are located in the middle of the woofer, and the movement is limited even if the tweeters are adjustable.
For speakers installed in the lower part of the door panels, there is not much effect of such adjustment.
What Are the Best Coaxial Speaker Brands?
Because coaxial speakers are most popular in car audio systems, I think every single producer has them in their offer and choosing the right ones is more of an individual choice.
Below I listed three of my favourite coaxial speakers, which, if I were about to purchase right now, would be the only ones to choose. So let me tell you why (all links to Amazon):
I genuinely love Focal speakers, they offer excellent sound quality, and I believe they have the most precise high sounds I have ever experienced.
A perfect example is EC 165 K with its unique TKM (“M” profile aramid fibre inverted dome) tweeters made from aramid fibre and ultra-light surrounds made from Tuned Mass Damper (TMD).
It’s not the cheapest coaxial speaker on the market, but it’s worth every penny if you want a top-quality product.
The installation and connections are straightforward, and if you value handmade speakers with a classy design that will last for many years, do not look further.
The only downside is that they do not sound as dynamic to me as some Hertz models.
Hertz is my number one when it comes to the low bass.
I already mentioned earlier about Hertz MPX690.3 Mille PRO, which are incredible when it comes to dynamic and power.
The lows are so punchy, and Hertz also did a fantastic job with tweeters. I would not say they offer the same level of precise high sounds as Focal, but they come close.
Hertz are especially good with modern dynamic music, especially in a noisy environment.
They can easily handle external loudness thanks to high sensitivity. However, although they are popular for open cars or motorcycles, they are not waterproof and should not be used in harsh weather conditions.
If you need something more of a marine grade, check out Polk Audio below.
#3. Polk Audio:
I had a chance to try many Polk Audio products, and I must say I’m impressed with the overall sound quality they offer, especially for convertibles or off-road vehicles.
Another one I mentioned earlier is the Polk Audio from MM Serie, with clear and well-defined highs, warm and natural mids, and deep and precise lows.
I think Polk Audio is one of those rare companies that managed to offer a speaker that will sound great no matter what genre of music you enjoy.
The design is elegant and classy; thanks to the modern design and materials used, the weight is not an issue.
The only thing I don’t like about Polk Audio speakers is that they do not offer as many models two other companies, but that can actually make a choice less complicated.
If you are looking for good coaxial speakers for your car, I would highly recommend any of the three I listed above.
Coaxial speakers are a great choice for car audio, and many excellent options are available on the market.
If you are looking for precise highs, then Focal is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you want punchy lows, go for Hertz, and if you want a well-rounded sound with less money spent, then Polk Audio is a good option.
Do not forget to use a good-quality amplifier and, if possible, add a subwoofer to add the missing lowest frequencies.
What are coaxial speakers, and how do they work?
A coaxial speaker is a type of car audio speaker that combines a tweeter (for high frequencies) and a woofer (for low frequencies) in a single assembly.
The crossover, which separates the audio frequencies, is built into the speaker. This makes them easy to install, as they can fit in the same hole as older, lower-quality speakers.
How do coaxial speakers compare to component speakers?
Coaxial speakers are more affordable and easy to install than component speakers, which require separate tweeter, woofer, and crossover components.
However, component speakers offer higher sound quality and better performance, especially in terms of clarity.
What is the difference between 2-way and 3-way coaxial speakers?
A 2-way coaxial speaker has a mid-woofer and a tweeter, while a 3-way coaxial speaker has a mid-woofer, tweeter, and a piezo tweeter for additional high-frequency sound.
However, the additional speaker in a 3-way system does not necessarily guarantee better sound quality than in a 2-way.
What are the advantages of coaxial speakers?
Coaxial speakers are a cost-effective and easy upgrade option for car audio, they deliver full-range sound with no effort, and the best coaxial audio speakers can be in the same league as the best component audio speakers.
What are the disadvantages of coaxial speakers?
The major disadvantage of coaxial speakers is that the different frequencies can sometimes interfere, especially in 3-way speakers.
With cheaper brands, this is more apparent and can be annoying if you expect crystal clear sound. Additionally, the built-in crossover may limit the performance and clarity of the speaker.