If you want to upgrade your car’s audio system, you might wonder if component speakers are worth the investment.
Component speakers are a better choice for custom car audio systems. With their advanced design, you can install different sound drivers anywhere and get optimal sound quality. A typical car audio system has two woofers, two tweeters, and two crossovers for each pair of channels.
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Tip: Most component systems should be powered by A/B class multichannel amplifiers.
Although many car audio installations use standard passive crossovers, you can wire the component speakers actively to the amplifier, which means each tweeter and woofer has its dedicated amp channel.
An excellent example is the Skar RP-75.4AB (link to Amazon), which may not be as efficient as compact D-class amps, but its created sound quality makes it an outstanding choice for component speakers.
In this blog post, I will break down everything you need to know about component speakers so you can decide if they’re right for you.
What Is the Difference Between Component and Coaxial Speakers?
Component speaker systems are the best way to take your car’s audio system to the next level, offering better sound quality and convenience.
Here’s what you should know about component speakers before investing in them for your car audio setup.
The most significant advantage of component speakers is that they offer improved sound quality over standard full-range speakers.
This is because each component speaker set is composed of separate drivers designed to reproduce different parts of the audio spectrum.
This separation, although it offers similar to the coaxial speakers’ frequency range, allows you to get a more accurate sound with less distortion, even at high volumes.
#1. Coaxial speakers are the main stock speakers for most new cars.
Drivers are located in the same speaker, making coaxials smaller than components. If you buy an upgraded sound system, most likely within new speakers, a component system option is available, but you may need to pay extra.
#2. Component speakers separate the drivers into different parts and strategically locate them within the car. The result is a better sound system, albeit a more expensive one.
To make an informed decision to purchase and install car speakers, you should understand the following speaker terminology for both component and coaxial options:
- Crossover filters and splits high and low frequencies and sends them to different speakers.
- Tweeter drivers are designed to produce high frequencies, also known as treble loudspeakers.
- Woofer drivers, much larger than tweeters, are designed to produce low-frequency sounds, also known as bass loudspeakers.
- Mid-range speakers drivers produce middle of the road frequency sounds.
- Impedance rating describes the power needed to deliver optimum electrical signals and is measured in ohms.
- Minimum and Maximum Frequency Response, from treble to bass, is the range of tones the speakers can handle, measured in hertz.
- Peak Power Handling is the burst of power sustained without distortion in watts.
- Root Mean Square Power (RMS) is a continuous power sustained without distortion in watts.
- Sound Sensitivity measures how much volume speakers can throw out given the available power. The rating is shown in decibels.
Electronic Industries, Incorporated, an American company, brought the speaker concept to the forefront in the 1970s.
Soon afterward, competing electronics companies produced their models, popularizing the coaxial design.
A coaxial speaker’s sound reverberates from a single structure. An advantage is that the coaxial built into a single unit will fit into tight spaces, and you don’t need an external crossover. Also, coaxial models usually cost less.
But a disadvantage is that the sound from the tweeter may arrive, to a small degree, before the sound from the woofer due to the tweeter sitting on top, affecting sound quality.
Components are not all-in-one, full range, frequency speaker systems like the coaxial.
More aptly described, you can buy components per set containing crossovers and two-way (separate tweeter and woofer) or 3-way (tweeter, midrange driver, and woofer) frequency packages.
Are Component Speakers Better?
In addition to superior sound, the advantages of installing component speakers are:
#1. The flexibility of locating the sets in the vehicle. For the best sound quality, you should install pair of tweeters higher on the door than the woofers.
#2. A crossover divides and delivers separate frequencies to the drivers, which reduces sound distortion.
#3. Sound is more authentic by splitting different frequencies because you can hear individual instruments.
However, the disadvantage is that components are best set up about 12 in (30.48 cm) from the crossover to reduce the possibility of echoing.
How to Install Component Speakers in a Car?
Installation specifics depend on which component set you have purchased, and the main difference is the tweeters positioning in different places.
To be sure it will fit, use the Crutchfield website car selector to Find What Fits Your Car, and with this information, you can purchase the set.
To start, understand the general process flow for separate two-way speakers:
#1. Take off car door panels.
#2. Disconnect the factory-installed speakers and mount your component set.
#3. Attach the crossover to the middle of the door.
#4. Replace factory coaxials with woofers, which are about the same size, at the bottom of the door panel.
#5. Install tweeters in mounting brackets at the top of the door.
#6. Run wires from the tweeters to crossovers and from crossovers to woofers.
#7. Test system.
#8. Reassemble the door panels.
As a precaution, read this cheat sheet from Dummies.com, Car Audio System Signal Flow (link to Amazon opens in the new window), to view how the wiring is set up in most car audio systems. If you add an amplifier, the wire gauge chart is also helpful.
Regarding amplifiers, factory sound systems generally have a small, built-in amplifier in the car stereos, which cannot provide the needed amount of power for most car speakers.
You can install an amplifier to increase power with your new component system.
Use the car’s factory wiring, as shown in the article from Crutchfield, How to Connect an Amplifier to a Factory Head Unit. Mount the amplifier under the passenger’s seat, in the panel, or in the trunk.
The advantage of keeping the crossover is that it protects signals from mixing up frequencies between tweeters and woofers.
After buying component speakers, find the online guide that walks you through the installation process specific to the brand you purchased.
For example, this informative and instructive video shows how to install one of the best component speakers you can find, the Alpine R-S65C.2 (link to Amazon opens in the new window).
Can I Install Component Speakers Without Crossover?
Component speakers can be installed without crossover, but in this connection type, known as an active, you must connect each tweeter and woofer to the individual amplifier’s channel.
It means that four channel amplifier can power one pair of a 2-way speaker system in the active configuration. Following the same pattern, a 3-way component set will need a six-channel amp.
Although it may seem more complicated, the active connection gives better control of every single driver and the ability to fine-tune the frequency response.
Can I Replace Component Speakers With Coaxial Speakers?
By replacing component speakers with coaxial, you will lose the ability to separate higher and lower frequencies and customize the level of treble and bass in your audio.
Also, the sound quality will have less clarity and authenticity of instruments. But on the upside, you will not have as many system pieces to deal with, and it is a quicker install.
Above all, purchasing components or coaxial car speakers is totally up to you.
Knowing your budget and expectations will help you decide which kind of speaker is best for you, but on a personal note, if the space in the car allows, I am always going for component speakers.
Can You Mix Coaxial and Component Speakers?
If factory installed in a primary vehicle package, the rear deck speakers are most likely coaxial.
After installing the component system in the front doors, you can keep the rear coaxials or replace them with higher-quality coaxial speakers.
But that is not recommended because the sound coming from the coaxial tweeters will not arrive at the same time as the tweeters from the component system. This causes the music to be a bit disordered.
To overcome this issue, individuals may buy a processor to delay each driver syncing them up.
Another solution is to cut off the rear coaxial speakers and keep the component speakers going in the front doors.
The best solution however is to use either coaxial or component but not both in the same front or rear channels.
So there you have it. Component car speakers will achieve the best audio quality in your vehicle due to the separation and location of the frequency drivers, among other reasons.
To install component speakers, you are limited by your budget and determination to get the most authentic, accurate audio system your car can handle.
Mixing components and coaxial is mechanically possible and works fine, but audiophiles will not appreciate the lower sound quality.
While replacing component speakers with coaxial is also doable, but it will most certainly reduce the sound quality.
For the purest and most enjoyable sound, go with the component car speaker set.