Installing speakers in cars can turn out to be very confusing for many people. Why? Because most of us want our speakers to perform optimally and to produce the best possible sound quality.
As a result, many get confused about when and how to install car speakers for the best results. And this always brings up the question, “do car speakers need a box?”
Car speakers need a box for better sound quality. However, the amount of space you have in your car and the size of your speaker will determine if you can successfully install your speaker in a box or not.
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People that own smaller cars usually don’t hesitate before installing their car speakers with the enclosures. In this article, you’ll be learning all you need to know about speaker enclosures and when you should have them with your speakers. So keep reading.
Do Car Speakers Really Need A Box?
The main concern for people when installing speakers in their cars is where to install the speakers. Some attempt to install their speaker in the doors, while others prefer to have speakers only on rear decks. In short, there are several places in every car where you could install your car speaker.
After figuring out where to install speakers, the next concern for car owners is whether to install the speakers using enclosures or not.
Most people are already familiar with speaker boxes/enclosures from their homes. But a car has a limited space already and may or may not have a toom for an enclosure. Before we clarify whether your car speakers need a box, let’s first take a look at the benefits of having a speaker box in your car.
Boxes enable dynamic bass.
As we already discussed, it is good when speakers are installed in the boxes. When you place the speaker in the box, typical speakers must be installed with a magnet inside the box. The only exception to this rule is when we install subwoofers.
You can also install more than one speaker in a box as long as it is big enough to accommodate them.
Larger boxes will have to be placed in the trunk of your car or behind the backrest as you can’t put them anywhere else.
As we already know, boxes enabling high bass and better sound quality in your car. Because sound comes out of both the rear and front of your speaker, without an enclosure, the sound coming from your car speaker’s front will cancel the sound coming from the back. And this will lead to distortion of low frequencies sound leading to reduced audio quality.
That is why it’s always a good idea to install an enclosure for your car speaker if you can and get better bass and sound quality.
I’ve seen people with a 3D audio system in their vehicles installing more than one speaker in a box. And you can imagine how good the sound quality will be. When the speakers play strong bass, the box makes you feel more bass because of the increased vibration.
In short, more vibration equals more bass.
Enclosures keep your car speakers safe.
Installing your car speaker in a box or an enclosure does a lot more than just improving the sound quality. An enclosure also helps keep your speakers safe, protecting them from any mechanical damages.
Imagine installing your car speaker in the rear deck. Without the boxes, the backs of your speakers will be exposed to a trunk area where sharp or hard objects can easily damage their cones or wires.
Instead, you can install a box with the speakers inside the trunk, especially in the smaller cars, where there may not be enough room for the speakers in other places. In this case, although your sound quality and dynamic will be much better because of the box, your trunk’s capacity will be reduced.
If you care more about sound quality than being able to store more items in your trunk the same as I do, then no problem. Installing your speaker in your trunk with an enclosure will help prolong its longevity.
Do car speakers come with enclosures?
Depending on the manufacturer and speaker type, speakers may come with enclosures or not. Typical coaxial speakers for installation inside the car come without boxes, but marine speakers for example, are fully closed and sealed.
For speakers that don’t come with boxes, you can buy enclosures for them or order customized boxes to fit with your car’s shape.
Many manufacturers sell complete packages, including speakers, enclosures, amplifiers, wirings, audio heads, and so on. These packages are usually designed for SUV or other large vehicles with sufficient space to install all these accessories, including a subwoofer.
The best part about customized packages is that they perform in high quality, and because they are adapted to the specific car model, they are not visible.
Why speakers sound better in a box?
I’m sure you are now paying more attention to the enclosures than before reading this article. The thing is, it’s easy to think of speaker enclosures as just mere boxes when one takes a look at them.
But as you know, appearances can be deceiving. Speaker enclosures influence the sound quality, but to feel the difference, you have to listen to the speaker without the box and then to the same speaker placed in an enclosure.
The difference is hard to describe using words, but imagine a guitar or violin without a resonance chamber. I don’t think a sound produced by these would be anywhere close to the complete guitar we know. The same effect you can expect from car speakers without enclosures.
When you are playing music, your speaker’s cone pushes forward and then compresses the air in front of the speaker. Simultaneously, the air at the back of the speaker expands and creates a sucking effect that is similar to the vacuum.
Front and the back of the speaker create opposite air forces, and when the speaker is not in the box, these forces simply canceling each other, especially at low frequencies. This is why even the best and most expensive speakers may sound thin and flat without an enclosure.
To summarize, your speaker enclosure works to prevent the sound cancellation described above. But how does it do this?
The enclosure traps the rear radiation and prevents it from colliding with sound radiation from the front of the cone. Enclosures that are made for the best music quality are usually sealed and filled with sound-absorbing material.
Do door speakers need enclosures?
You are probably wondering how it’s possible to install an enclosure in a car door. Well, let me tell you, enclosures can be installed in the car door.
Most of the time, the door itself works as the enclosure. Since your speaker is directly and always in contact with your door, you get good bass. But using your car door as an enclosure isn’t an ideal proposition. For superb audio quality, you actually need to install an additional enclosure in your car door.
Some car models come with door speakers preinstalled in enclosures, but if yous does not have them, you can add speaker baffles that will surround the back of the speakers. Speaker baffles will not only make produced sounds better but will also protect the speakers from dripping water and moisture inside the door.
You could also get good sound quality by using your car door as an enclosure if you alter the conditions inside of the door, like using sound-deadening material to produce better sound.
Getting the best out of your door speakers.
One of the things people look out for when buying a car is the music quality. Different generations of buyers will ask about various things concerning the car’s quality, but in the end, everyone wants to hear perfect and precise music coming out of the door speakers.
The following tips will help you enhance your door speakers’ performance and make them sound better and louder.
Change Factory Audio Systems
Sound quality isn’t the top priority of your car manufacturer during your car’s design and building. Yes, car manufacturers nowadays strive to include quality audio equipment in the car, but in most cases, factory systems won’t produce the best results.
This is why you should upgrade the factory system when you buy a car unless you are truly satisfied with its sound quality.
To start, install the Hushmat Speaker Kit. This kit, which you put around the door speakers, will massively improve your speakers’ sound quality because it adds a cushion between the door panel and the speakers.
It will absorb the vibrations and prevent transferring them to the metal dor panel. And the result will be super clean music even when you are traveling at high speeds.
Replace Your Car Speakers
Sometimes, your stock speakers aren’t just good enough. Like I said earlier, some manufacturers don’t really prioritize sound quality, so in this case, the best thing to do is to replace the speakers.
There are several quality after-market speakers you can install in your door to improve sound quality. For example, JBL GTO939 will give you a fantastic audio experience, and nd you’ll get the clarity and bass quality you deserve.
Buy An Equalizer
Car interiors are usually not the best environment to get good quality music from your speakers. For example, the windows may reflect sound away while the thick carpets may soak up important tones. And this affects the quality of your audio.
A way to circumvent this is to install an equalizer in your car. A great example is the Clarion EQS755. Ideally, an equalizer should be placed next to the amplifier, or if you want to have constant access and adjust tones often, try to find a nice spot in the dashboard area.
Use Less Compressed Music Files
The quality of your music files is as important as the quality of your audio equipment. Many people compress music to reduce the size and store a large database of songs on their iPods and other devices. Although this may be good for saving storage space on your devices, it is devastating for the quality of the music files.
You can test this by playing compressed music in your car and then follow up with the same but uncompressed track. The difference in the quality of the two files will be crystal clear, and you will notice that many musical elements of the songs are missing in the compressed file.
Still, I won’t discourage you from compressing music. My advice will be for you to have two separate playlists. One will be for your car and include music of low levels of compression, while the other could be for when you are out of the vehicle.
Adjust Sound Settings Gradually
It’s important you don’t tamper too much with the sound controls in your car. For example, adjusting the bass to the highest levels will cause distortions and badly affects sound quality.
Most stock speakers can’t deal with drastic changes in the bass and will become overloaded. Remember that overloaded devices can’t perform at their best. High-quality speakers on the other hand, handle bass changes better.
Sound Deaden the Door
Your car doors are made of thin metal, which tends to vibrate when you are driving. The vibration will be more pronounced as you drive at high speeds. Vibrations adversely affect sound quality and can even drown out the music, which can be very annoying.
A way to get rid of this vibration is to install a deadening material in your car. Excellent sound deadening material is Dynamat Extreme, which, although not the cheapest, is very effective.
The first thing Dynamat does is to significantly reduce the interior noise of your car. This way, you won’t have to adjust the volume to the maximum when traveling at high speed, say on a highway.
Also, Dynamat prolongs the longevity of your door speaker. It does this by providing a stable platform for your speaker, thereby protecting it from the vibrations in the door.
Install A Subwoofer
Subwoofers are wonderful accessories to add to your car audio. Add a sub to your car, and you’ll hear your favorite music in a whole new light.
For those who aren’t familiar with a subwoofer, it’s a speaker designed to produce low frequencies popularly known as bass. Using a sub brings better clarity to your music as the device balances the octave because it will offload the lowest frequencies from the door speakers and allows them to focus on the mid-bass and high tones.
Your subwoofer’s installation location has a direct effect on its performance, and having an enclosure for a subwoofer is a must.
Having both your main speaker and subwoofer in enclosures will produce a fine sound like you’ve never heard before.
Doing all of the above will help you take your door speakers’ performance to the next level. While door speakers have different capabilities depending on specifications, with all steps, you will get the most out of your door speakers without having to turn up the volume drastically.
Car Speaker Placement And Sound Quality
The location of car speakers has a significant effect on the overall sound of your car audio system.
You have two choices of placement when installing car speakers.
- The factory locations
- The custom locations.
Factory locations for door speakers
Factory locations are where your stock speakers are located and are convenient for drop-in replacements. However, there may be a need for some custom work if one wants to get the best sound possible.
You see, those factory locations are selected by your car manufacturers after the rest of the car has been designed. Remember that car audio systems are not the highest priority for many producers, so placement of the speakers isn’t usually something car manufacturers give a lot of thought to.
The most common placement areas for car speakers are the dash, doors, and the rear deck, and these locations produce good enough sound quality for most people.
Customized locations for door speakers
There are cases that you will need to customize the interior of your car if you make advanced changes to the sound system. These modifications include drilling new screw holes, filing cardboard or plastic to make room for a larger speaker than the factory, or cutting a small area of metal or pressboard.
The most common custom location area for car speakers is the kick panel, which is the area under the dash in the far left and far-right corners of your vehicle’s interior. This may not be a good location for speaker placement, but it starts to make sense when considering time alignment.
Speakers in kick panels will have a somewhat equal distance from you, and the soundstage will be placed more in the center of your listening area.