We all want to have great-sounding music that we can enjoy in our homes, our office or our car stereo, or in our boats. There is also a budget for luxuries that we can afford. In this post, we will help you appreciate the difference between ordinary speakers, coaxial full-range speakers, and component car speakers.
They are fundamentally different, produce sound at different levels of quality, and of course, they all impact your budget. We may also want to defy sound ordnances by having a powerful sound system that blasts music from our vehicle.
We will help you understand the differences between these different types of speakers, why they matter, and also improve your listening experience:
- The advantages and disadvantages of coaxial and component speakers
- The differences between coaxial and component speakers
- The type of sound these two designs deliver
- Installation challenges and your car audio speaker configuration
- Which design is the best choice for you and
- Whether you should stick with the factory-installed speakers in your car
Since most of the information out there is a bit misleading, let’s start by defining what coaxial speakers are designed to provide to help with your audio upgrade.
What are coaxial speakers?
Most coaxial speakers have two to three drivers or speakers built into one speaker housing. It is a speaker that comes with one tweeter mounted on top of the woofer. There may also be a mid-range driver mounted as well.
This particular car audio speaker design is used in locations where there is limited space for speakers, for example, in vehicles. Although you also see coaxial speakers used in homes, space is much less of an issue in a person’s home.
Replacement of the factory-provided speakers in a vehicle is usually straightforward since the form factor of coaxial speakers is often quite similar to the speakers installed at the factory. You may even be able to remove the factory-installed speakers and install the new high-end coaxial speakers in the same factory location without any modifications.
All sound frequencies emanate from the same location. Although the sound is much better than factory-installed speakers, there is some loss of depth and richness of sound. This is a trade-off between ease of speaker installation, price, and sound quality.
How do coaxial speakers work?
There are two, or sometimes three drivers or speakers mounted in the same form factor. The tweeter and sometimes a small mid-range speaker mounted on top of the woofer.
Moreover, the crossover control is mounted within the form factor making installation in small places like vehicles much easier. They can also use the same wiring that was provided at the factory.
In less expensive models, the crossover device is a simple capacitor on the tweeter circuit which limits the low frequencies from being passed to the tweeter and causing distortion. There is no crossover control on the woofer since most woofer frequency response characteristics have a roll-off at the high-frequency ranges and do not cause distortion that can be noticed.
A more expensive coaxial speaker system will have crossover circuits built in to control both high frequency and low frequencies to further decrease and control distortion.
Wiring Coaxial Speakers Explained
Since coaxial speakers are self-contained with woofers, tweeters, and crossovers, wiring is quite simple. In most cases, remove the existing speakers in your car, taking care not to damage the existing wiring.
Leave the wires as long as possible to provide spare wires to work with. The existing wire is connected to the sound system in your vehicle.
Connect the positive amplifier wire to the positive terminal on the speaker and the negative wire from the amplifier or head unit to the negative wire on the speaker unit. Since the form factor is the same as your factory-installed speaker, installation is relatively easy.
In some situations, the existing speaker wires may be damaged or of poor quality. You may need to replace the wires with new, better-quality wiring to improve sound performance in your car.
Coaxial speakers vs. Component speakers
A coaxial car audio speaker has the woofers, tweeters, and passive crossovers devices built into the same form factor as a single cone which makes wiring easier and installation easier. All of the sounds emanate from one location inside your vehicle, wherever the speaker is installed, which is usually in the doors.
Component speakers separate the sets of speakers into components. The woofers can be installed in the same door panel location as the factory speakers that are being replaced. The tweeter must be installed in a separate location.
Many people recommend that the tweeter is installed at ear level and in front of you to improve the stereo imaging of feeling as if you are sitting in front of the stage. The crossover must be installed separately, often under the dash, and wiring must be run to each unit.
Many people feel that component-mounted speakers deliver better quality sound. However, they are usually pricier and cost more due to installation challenges.
Benefits of Coaxial Speakers For Car Audio
There are significant benefits to coaxial speakers, although the sound quality of component speakers is better than coaxial speakers. The benefits of coaxial speakers include:
- Two and sometimes three speakers, along with a passive crossover, fit into a single combo or form factor.
- Coaxial car speakers can fit into small spaces, usually the same space as the factory-installed speaker.
- Most coaxial speakers have lower power handling ratings. Check your channel amp output and compare before making a purchase.
- Most coaxials are simple to install, usually in the same location as the factory-installed speakers.
- Coaxial car speakers offer better sound quality than factory-installed speakers at a lower price than other speaker systems.
We often compare coaxial speakers to factory-installed speakers. Most factory-installed speakers are a single cone design and do not handle either low-end frequencies or high-end frequencies well.
Before replacing your factory-installed speakers, especially in high-end cars, verify the type of speaker that came with the car. If you already have a coaxial speaker installed, you will need to consider component speakers to improve your sound quality.
Are component speakers better than coaxial speakers?
Component speakers are considered better than coaxial speakers for their improved frequency handling and sound reproduction characteristics. With proper placement of the tweeters, listeners can have an experience listing to music as if they were in front of the stage.
The active crossover devices provided improved frequency separation as well. Time alignment is managed by ensuring that the tweeter and woofer are approximately the same distance from your ear.
Furthermore, they tend to be more expensive than coaxial speakers, and installation is more challenging. The woofer can usually be installed in the same location as the factory-installed single cone speaker. The tweeter must be installed in a separate location.
Most people find that the best performance delivery is when the tweeter is installed on the dash in front of them at ear level, as this approach mimics someone sitting at stage level in front of the stage.
Installation is more difficult due to the new wiring that must be installed for the tweeters and also for the crossover, which is usually mounted under the dash. For many people, this challenge is worth it for the improved sound delivery quality. Always confirm that either component or coaxial speakers fit your vehicle before making a decision.
Do coaxial speakers need a crossover?
Coaxial speakers already have a simple passive crossover built-in. A passive crossover consisting of a capacitor on the tweeter circuit limits the low frequencies from being delivered to the tweeter and causing distortion. Some will have inductors as well on the woofer circuit. These units are relatively low-priced.
More expensive coaxial speakers will have better-designed active crossovers built into the form factor and deliver better sound with less distortion. The advantage of the crossover being integrated with the form factor of the coaxial speakers is that it all usually fits in the same location as the single cone speaker that came with the car.
No additional wiring is required. Although some coaxial speakers come with three speakers, in most cases, a well-designed two-way speaker can deliver quality sound experiences and the best value for the money.
Can you add tweeters to coaxial speakers?
Coaxial speakers already have a tweeter built-in, and the integrated crossover is designed to handle the frequency distribution to the woofer and the tweeter. Adding a tweeter in a separate location could cause double delivery of high frequencies at slightly different times.
In addition, a crossover would be needed to filter out the low frequencies along with additional wiring. Another solution is to purchase a three-way coaxial speaker with the additional tweeter already included.
The crossover is integrated and designed to work with the three-way system to deliver the appropriate frequencies to the appropriate speaker. Furthermore, no additional wiring is required making installation a breeze compared to adding a separate tweeter with its crossover and separate wiring.
Consumers may want to consider replacing whatever they have with a component system with an integrated design that is tuned to separate woofers and tweeters. Wiring installation will need to be taken into account since this is more challenging than installing three-way coaxial speakers.
Do coaxial speakers have bass?
Coaxial speakers do have bass, which is delivered by the woofer. The simple crossover filters out the low-end frequencies or bass sounds and prevents them from being passed to the tweeters. These low-end frequencies take power, and so they are prevented from distorting the tweeters.
Similarly, in slightly better coaxial crossovers, the high-end frequencies are filtered out before being passed to the woofer. With both speakers fitting into such a small form factor, there is some degradation in the clarity and the richness of the sound produced by coaxial speakers.
However, they are much superior to the basic cone style that many cars come preinstalled with. Component speakers take sound quality to the next level. With separate components, they can be installed anywhere in the car. They offer a more precise bass, better power rating, big range when it comes to frequency response, and an easy installation.
Do you need an amp for coaxial speakers?
Coaxial speakers can receive input from the car audio system or car amplifiers or even from marine amplifiers or marine stereos in your boat. The important point to remember is that the power output of the amp must be equal to or less than the specifications of the coaxial speakers.
Otherwise, there is a risk of overloading the crossovers and the speakers, which could damage them permanently. In addition, pay attention to the wiring requirements. The amplifier positive wire and negative wires must be wired to the same terminals on the speaker.
The existing wiring installed at the factory may need to be upgraded depending on the quality and the condition of the existing wires. Consumers may find better results by replacing the cable and wires with high-quality wires suitable for most car audio systems.
Finally, if you are planning to use the factory system unit in your car, there is no need for an amplifier to be installed with coaxial speakers.
What is better 2 way or 3-way speakers?
A 3way coaxial speaker can operate the same way as 2way coaxial sets with the exception that they have a third speaker installed, usually alongside the tweeter. The 3way devices will often be another tweeter or a mid-range speaker to provide improved sound performance.
Some 3-way coaxial door speakers perform much better than 2-way speakers. The additional piezo tweeter can hit the upper frequencies that many standard tweeters cannot. They provide enhanced sound quality and cover a higher range of sound.
But not all 3-way systems have improved sound. Good quality and the well-designed 2-way system can cost less and still deliver great sound. They can be the best value for the dollars you spend.
Take the time to shop around for a good 2-way coaxial speaker system. Listen to them with the same music each time and decide for yourself whether it is worthwhile to spend the extra dollars for a 3-way coaxial system.
Which car audio speakers will provide the best sound quality?
A component speaker system will provide overall better performance and sound quality than coaxial loudspeakers. Each speaker is installed in a separate location and does not suffer from the limitation of design or space constraints.
Components speakers do not filter any frequencies. The component speaker system receives all sounds with equal power, and so they retain their full range performance even at high volume levels.
The external crossover, installed separately, filters out low-frequency sounds and sends them to the subwoofer or speaker. Furthermore, the mountable tweeters can amplify higher frequencies since these are passed to them by the crossover.
Since component speakers allow dynamic sound adjustments, their performance can vary slightly depending on where they are installed in your car. The sound frequencies can be adjusted where they are heard through the stock speakers, especially if the low-frequency sound is being handled by a subwoofer.
A coaxial speaker basically consists of a tweeter attached to a woofer cone and mounted on the same axis. Most vehicles already come with a set of high-quality coaxial speakers that provide a decent audio quality. Getting an aftermarket replacement is simple, and you won’t need a custom fabrication done.
Coaxial vs component speaker systems are difficult to choose. Sound quality, cost, and ease of installation are the three main criteria that most people look at. They have great sound quality. However, component speakers tend to deliver better quality sound.
Component speaker systems have been used in studio monitors for many years. Your decision regarding coaxial or component speakers often depends on your budget and installation prowess. The head unit also plays a role when it comes to improving the audio quality, either for car or home audio as well.