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What Are Component Car Speakers?

Most car drivers don’t give much thought to the installed speakers in their cars.

But, if you’re someone who likes to crank up the tunes, you’ll want to make sure you have the best sound, and in many cases, that means getting component car speakers. But, what are component car speakers? Let’s find out.

Component car speakers are designed as not stand-alone single drivers that cover the entire frequency range. Instead, component car speakers consist of mid-range frequency speakers (or woofer), crossover and separate tweeters. Mounting a tweeter separately from your mid-range speaker will create much better sound quality with better distribution of high tones and create a better sound-stage effect in the vehicle.

Tip: If you aim for the uncompromised sound with absolute precision and clarity of every single note, consider two-way FOCAL ES 165 KX2 or three-way FOCAL ES 165 KX3 (links to Amazon).

These speakers from the Focal Elite range satisfy the high expectations of the most demanding car audio enthusiasts.

The sound they create cannot be described. It has to be experienced, so if you want the best sounding component speakers in your vehicle, check them out.

In the article below, I will give you an overview of component car speakers, when to use them and how to match them with a suitable amplifier.

What Are the Component Car Speakers?

Component car speakers are best used in systems where superior sound quality is desired. So if you’re looking for the best possible sound, component car speakers are the way to go.

To function correctly, component speakers need a crossover, which is an electronic component that filters out specific frequencies so that the correct speakers receive the proper signal.

For example, component car speakers usually have a frequency range of 60-20,000 Hz. But, the woofer only reproduces mid-range and low frequencies while the tweeter handles the high frequencies.

Focal 165 AS Access 6-1/2" 2-Way Component Speakers

The crossover ensures that the woofer only receives frequencies it can reproduce, and the same goes for the tweeter. This results in much better sound quality.

There are two main types of component speakers used in car audio installations, and those are either two way components or three-way components.

Two-way component speakers have a separate mid-woofer and a tweeter, while three-way component speakers consist of a mid-woofer for the lowest frequencies, a mid-range speaker for the mid frequencies, and a tweeter that covers all high tones.

What Are Component Speakers Good For?

Component speakers give a larger than standard coaxial speakers localization and positioning flexibility within the car cabin. This is especially important for tweeters since the high frequencies are more directional than bass tones.

If you have ever wondered why component speakers sound better than coaxial speakers, it is because the component drivers can better align the sounds they produce.

This means that the component tweeters can be placed closer to the listener’s ears while the mid-range and woofer drivers can be placed at a distance, in the lower part of the door or the kick panels, and those places do not negatively affect the sounds experience.

When it comes to the functionality, there are few reasons to use component speakers rather than the full range speakers.

#1. The signal is split between the speakers that are designed to play specified frequencies, and that directly affects the sound quality.

#2. The component car speakers offer a wider range of placement options.

#3. Component car speakers are generally capable of handling more power than coaxial speakers.

Do I Need an Amp for Component Speakers?

Technically, you can run the component speakers directly from the car radio, but for most speakers, if you want to achieve and experience the best they can, it is better to add an aftermarket amplifier.

The component car speakers are generally more efficient than coaxials, requiring less power to produce the same volume.

However, if you want to get the most out of your component speakers, an amplifier will allow you to increase the volume and quality of sound without distortion.

Especially if you use a hi-end component set like FOCAL ES 165 KX2 (link to Amazon), the amplifier is a must.

Focal ES 165 KX2 K2 Power 6-1/2" 2-Way Component Speaker System

This is because those kinds of speakers will not play anywhere near their full potential without a good amplifier.

In some car audio installations, you can find amplifiers installed after the crossovers, which means that there is one amp for tweeters and another for mid-woofers or even a dedicated monoblock for each individual speaker.

Those are, of course, rare and extremely expensive installations, but imagine how perfect sound quality is if the whole amplifier’s potential is focused just on the frequencies between 60Hz and 300Hz for one single driver. Nothing can beat that sound quality.

How Do You Wire Component Speakers?

When it comes to wiring the component speakers, there are two ways to do it.

#1. Passive Connection

The passive connection of the component car speakers is the most common, and it is the recommended way to connect component speakers.

The passive connection means all component speakers are connected to the amplifier via the passive crossover. This is also how most people wire their component speakers.

The great thing about this method is that you do not need any special equipment, advanced amplifiers, or signal processors.

In reality, that means you connect the speaker wires from the amplifier to the crossover, and then you have two sets of wires coming out from the crossover. One runs to the mid-woofer, and another goes to the tweeter.

The passive connection is simple but does not allow for fine-tuning the sound for individual speakers.

That means if you want a perfect time alignment, adjusted volume for each tweeter or woofer, and adjustable frequency to each speaker, this will not be possible with a component speaker passive connection.

#2. Active Connection

The active component connection means each component speaker has its dedicated amplifier channel.

This allows you to have separate volume control or independent time alignment for each driver within the system, giving you much more flexibility and precision regarding sound quality.

When connecting the component speakers actively, you connect each of the separate drivers to the individual channel of the amplifier.

This means that to connect a pair of two-way speakers, you need a four-channel amplifier, and if you have component systems in the front and the back of the car, you will need two four-channel amplifiers to power them all.

Do I Need a Crossover for Component Speakers?

Most component speaker sets are equipped with the passive crossovers and those being used in most cases, but there is no need to use a passive crossover for the component speakers.

If you decide not to use a passive crossover, you must connect each speaker to a separate amplifier’s channel and tune it individually.

This is called an active connection and requires an amplifier equipped with DSP (Digital Signal Processor), or at least with the independent high pass and low pass filters for each channel.

An excellent example of such an amplifier is the Audio Control D-4.800 (link to Amazon), equipped with the DSP and complete crossover control.

AudioControl D-4.800 4/3/2 Channel High Power Amplifier W/DSP & Matrixing

The passive crossovers are generally used with component speakers because they are simple to set up and do not require an external power source, like the active crossovers.

If you use a passive crossover, connect it between an amplifier and a speaker. The passive crossovers are designed to direct the specific frequencies to the appropriate drivers.

For example, if you have a component set with a woofer and a tweeter, the passive crossover will take the low-frequency sounds and send them to the woofer, while high-frequency sounds will go to the tweeter.

This ensures that each speaker is only responsible for the frequencies it can produce without distortion.

The passive crossovers are generally included with component speakers, but you can also buy them separately.

Focal Kit165W-RC 6.5” 2-Way Component System (w/Crossover), RMS: 80W - MAX: 160W

Below I listed a few advantages and disadvantages of typical passive crossovers used in the component speakers:

Advantages:

#1. Dividing the signal into low and high tones and directing them to the specific speakers.

#2. Protection of the speakers in case of damage to the amplifier.

#3. Crossovers allow using only two amplifier channels for all four (or six in a three-way system) speakers

Disadvantages:

#1. Crossovers consume some of the amplifier’s power.

#2. Crossovers do not allow for advanced tuning as when using a DSP, for example.

#3. Crossovers do not allow to adjust the volume to the individual woofers and tweeters.

If you decide not to use a passive crossover and make the active connection instead, check the impedance of the individual speaker and confirm if your amplifier can support this impedance.

Can You Wire Component Speakers in Series?

As a standard, the component speakers are connected in parallel from the crossover to the amplifier.

This means that the positive terminal of the first component speaker is connected to the positive terminal of the second component speaker and so on. The final component speaker in the chain is then connected to the amplifier.

When you connect the speakers in series, their total impedance will increase, meaning they need a lower power supply from the amplifier.

You can use the series connection if your amplifier is not strong enough, however the negative side is that sound quality is affected because the speakers will not play efficiently.

Personally, I would not connect component speakers in series in my car.

Do You Need a Subwoofer With Component Speakers?

Even the best or most expensive component speakers will not be able to create the depth and dynamic that subwoofers are capable of.

This is because component speakers cannot reproduce the lowest bass frequencies effectively, and even if some mid-woofers can go as low as 30Hz, they cannot create the needed sound pressure.

A subwoofer can significantly improve the sound quality in your car in any system, and I recommend using one even if you have component speakers.

An excellent and not expensive is this single 12″ Skar (link to Amazon).

How Do I Match My Component Speakers to My Amp?

Matching speakers with a suitable amplifier can be tricky, especially if you want to make an active connection and all single speakers have different impedances than the amplifier.

In general however, assuming that you have 4 ohms speakers and 4 ohms amp, the power ratio should be a minimum of 1:1 per channel, up to 2:1 per channel.

In other words, for 100W speakers (per channel), you should use an amplifier with power between 100W and 200W RMS per channel.

This may sound a lot, but many speakers demand more power than an amplifier can produce and actually may sound worse when underpowered rather than when time amplifier may seem too powerful.

This is because when an amplifier is pushed to its limits, it can start clipping.

Clipping is when the peaks of the sound waves are cut off, which results in a lot of distortion, and that can damage your speakers or overheat and shut down the amplifier.

To avoid this, make sure you use an amplifier with more power than your component speakers need.

Conclusion

Component speakers are a great way to improve the sound quality in your car.

Because of the separate drivers, component systems offer many advantages over standard speakers, such as better sound quality, easier installation, and the ability to upgrade individual component speakers as needed.

If you are looking for a great way to improve the sound quality in your car, component speakers are a great option.

Just make sure to match them with a quality amplifier and subwoofer for the best results.