While car speaker manufacturers calibrate their products to work in sets, mixing brands is mechanically possible, although matching power and sound elements are essential.
The downside is a reduction in sound quality and performance. However, you may be content with the output depending on your musical perception and the value you place on clear and authentic sound quality.
Different car speakers can be mixed and still work properly; however, sensitivity and wattage must sync to get the best sound quality and performance. Therefore, it is generally not recommended. If your circumstances dictate mixing, do so carefully and thoughtfully.
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Read on to learn the effect of mixing car brand speakers. In this article, we focus on sound quality, and all information is given on categories of speakers, specifications to consider, and workarounds, and measures to take to improve quality.
Mixing Car Speaker Brands Overview
If necessary, speakers of different brands can be mixed and work decently well.
But to preserve the range of volume, you have to choose speakers with similar output capabilities and the ability to fine-tune so you can experience an alignment of sound or tonal balance. Otherwise, mixing brands and types of car speakers will cause a level of noise distortion, especially when mixing speakers between the left and right channels.
Matched sets will offer highly tuned and better sound quality (SQ), consequently a much better experience for the music enthusiast.
Factory-built systems are typically limited in power resulting in lower volume and difficulty hearing over the highway, air conditioners, and other ambient noise.
Better sound quality is louder and musical subtleties can be heard, which adds greater enjoyment than low-quality systems. Unless you thoughtfully design the sound system and carefully purchase all elements, speakers of mixed brands will not add much to the overall sound quality.
Sound Quality Defined
Sound quality is the assessment of audio output based on a variety of measures and factors such as the following:
- head unit
- placement of speakers
- speaker system
- thickness and quality of wiring
- sound processor,
- system design
With the correct combination of features and factors, the takeaway is the music will sound authentic and real as if the musicians are playing alongside you in the car.
For fundamental concepts, check out this 16-minute sound quality reference guide video. It’s an excellent resource, especially for the budget-minded. You will find there useful resources like an amperage chart, a frequency response chart, and speaker placement information.
Types of Car Speakers
Full-range speakers deliver as much audio frequency as possible concerning the car speaker system design’s physical limitations. A full-range system includes both bass and treble. Whether in the form of 2-way or 3-way speakers, the design is all-inclusive but excludes a crossover component.
Component speakers or separates typically are treble, midrange bass, and crossover pieces. The separation of bass in the front component system offers richness and rhythm and can handle more power. And since the tweeters are mounted in line with your ear and are directional, the treble sounds better.
Power and Sensitivity
As a combination of power handling and sensitivity, sound quality is defined below.
Power Handling is determined by how much power your speakers can bring into play and is described using two values.
- Peak is the maximum power the speaker can handle in bursts without distortion, measured in watts.
- Root Mean Square (RMS), or mean power, is the maximum power the speaker can handle continuously without distortion, measured in watts.
Both are important parameters because, for example, if the manufacturer identifies the RMS as being 50-watts, and the peak is 100-watts, that means the speakers can run continuously at 50-watts and in small bursts up to 100-watts of power, and this wattage, or power level, should be allowable by your amplifier.
Sound Sensitivity is the volume of sound a speaker puts out, depending on power limitations, measured in decibels. Factory-installed speakers are typically low, 15-watts RMS or less, which optimally requires a higher sensitivity, over 90-decibels. An aftermarket system would do fine with a lower sensitivity.
The higher the sensitivity decibel rating, the louder your speakers will sound, given enough power. If your speaker brands do not match, and the front speakers are a different RMS than the back speakers, the key would be to make sure you have enough power to make up the sensitivity difference.
Can I mix Front and Back Speakers in Car?
Although some speaker brand mixing advocates consider it acceptable to allow mixing front and back speakers, there are potential sound quality problems that will be troublesome for the true audiophile.
If you install aftermarket component speakers in the front and keep the factory speakers in the rear deck because the sound will not arrive simultaneously, the music becomes slightly distorted. To overcome this issue, purchase a sound processor to fine-tune signals from your audio to your components.
Although mixing speaker brands is not recommended, there is one exception. If you choose to install subwoofers for an elevated listening experience, there is no technical reason to choose the same brand.
Besides aesthetics or consistency in the design, it is best to choose the highest quality subwoofers in your budget that fit your car speaker system’s technical criteria.
With the huge variety of subwoofers available, it can be difficult to choose the best one, but the Skar Audio Dual 8″ Complete 1,400 Watt SDR Series Subwoofer Bass Package is a complete set. It includes the speakers as well as an enclosure, amplifier, and wiring, plus it received a 5-star rating on Amazon.
Install aftermarket speaker components and an amplifier but don’t forget to purchase an audio processor. Factory stereo systems have equalization settings to automatically adjust frequencies that can degrade music tonality to preserve speakers.
Conquer Factory Sound Quality With an Audio Processor
Bass output is limited, and even if a subwoofer and amplifier components are installed, the low notes are weak and out of balance due to the equalization settings.
With the installation of a sound processor or digital audio processor, you will remove all limitations and get a clean signal. The result is a sense of depth to the music containing deep lows and brilliant highs. A number of processors even analyze car acoustics using a built-in microphone.
Although processors have been around for 20-years now, the difference in old versus new is huge due to features like intricate equalizers, digital delay allowing all sound to reach your ears at the same time, and summing of frequencies into a full-range single sound.
What’s more, they are highly customizable, and if you like the features and look of your car’s audio unit, you won’t need to replace it; add a processor component elsewhere.
Speak with a professional audio professional or carefully read the user manual requirements to match the sound processor with your specific circumstances. With a 5-star rating on Amazon, Taramp’s Pro 2.6 S Digital Audio Processor is a solid example.
Creating lots of room for customization of tone comes with 6-channels, plus a remote for ease of use and a quick installation.
Mixing car speaker brands is not recommended, although mechanically functional, because the audio sound and performance are degraded. If your personal circumstances warrant mixing brands, make a proper design of your system, and discuss the best solution for your specific needs with an audio professional before purchasing components.
Also, consider adding a digital audio processor, which has significantly improved in technology in recent years. With the properly tuned processor, you will be pleased with the beautiful balance of highs and lows, the low rate of noise distortion in your car audio system, and avoid equalizing issues that mixing brands cause.