Coaxial and component speakers are the two types of speakers that you will come across when upgrading or building car audio systems. Coaxial speakers are the most common in the market and also come included with most car stereo systems. Component speakers are popular with car audio builders and are famed for their better audio performance.
What are the differences between these two car speaker types, and which is better? Continue reading below for a better understanding. I have also included a section on how to decide which car speakers to use. Enjoy.
What Are Coaxial Speakers?
Coaxial or full-range speakers are speakers that have the same type of drivers as component speakers. However, to save space, the coaxial speaker has the drivers combined. There are two main configurations of coaxial speakers. One is the compact design using two, three, or even four speaker drivers commonly found in-car audio. The other is a two–way high power design used in professional audio. These are also known as dual-concentric or single-source loudspeakers.
Coaxial speakers in cars are either 2-way or 3-way speakers. 2-way speaker design will commonly feature a tweeter mounted on top of a woofer. 3-way speaker design, also known as a tri-axial speaker, will have three speakers tweeter, a mid-range speaker, and a woofer. Apart from these two standard car speaker designs, there is also a 4-way speaker design. 4-way speakers come with an extra speaker driver called a super tweeter. The super tweeter is responsible for handling ultra-high-frequency sounds.
Coaxial speakers are found in almost every OEM car stereo system. This type of speaker is preferred because of the cost, ease of installation, and they typically require less additional parts to give out good sound. If you are looking to upgrade your car audio system, coaxial speakers come in various sizes that readily fits most cars and are also easy to install by yourself.
However, coaxial speakers have their drawbacks, and one is their sound quality. Though they still provide an enjoyable listening experience, the best full-range speakers are no match when compared to the best component speakers. Mounting the tweeter, mid-range speaker and woofer together usually degrades the audio quality. This is because of reflection issues from the woofer behind. However, with modern technology, some of these issues are minimized.
What Are Component Speakers?
Component speakers are also known as separates. Component speakers, unlike coaxial speakers, have separate speaker drivers to handle a portion or component of the frequency response. This is done by introducing a crossover, which divides the audio signal and sends it to the respective driver for sound reproduction. Usually, a component system will have two tweeters, two woofers, and two crossovers. The crossovers are set to send the highest frequencies (treble) to the tweeters, and the lowest (bass) to the woofers. Midrange speakers are added to cover between those extremes.
Once installed in a car, component speakers have a distinct stereo-imaging advantage compared to coaxial speakers. The woofer or subwoofer is typically mounted in the truck or place of your vehicle’s factory locations like doors. Tweeters are mounted near a user’s ear level. This offers surround sound experience and better sound-stage as if musicians were set before you.
Component speaker setup also offers better modularity, which adds the benefit of a user to customize and upgrade individual parts easily. A complete component speaker system will feature a subwoofer, mid-range speakers, and tweeters. The nature of this setup makes it easy to add or upgrade current speaker drivers per user’s needs.
The disadvantage of component speakers is the cost of the system and installation. Though installation costs can be avoided if you are a DIY enthusiast and ready to learn, the price to get a good component setup up and running is still high. Apart from speakers and crossovers, car amplifiers and car equalizers are also contribute for the best sound quality. Amplifiers and equalizers also give the user better customization of a car audio system.
Coaxial Vs. Component Speakers
Component and coaxial speakers each have their advantages and disadvantages. Before you decide on which type of speaker to choose between these two options for your car, read below. I have summarized several factors that will guide you in selecting between a component and coaxial speakers.
1. Size & Fit
Most coaxial speakers easily fit the spaces designed for speakers in your car. This is why coaxial speakers are widespread and common in the market than component speakers. Because most car manufacturers also use coaxial speakers, upgrading your car audio is only a matter of getting new speakers. With component speakers, though the fit and size can be compared to coaxial speakers, you will need to do research beforehand to get one that fits your car
Coaxial and component speaker prices do not differ by much. However, if you are working on a budget, it is always advisable you go with coaxial speakers. There are two reasons to choose coaxial speakers based on your budget.
First, coaxial speakers are easy to install even for a first-timer. Because you can easily add coaxial speakers to your car, there is no need to hire an expert. Hence you get to save money, and if you love DIY projects, this might be worth a try. Second, you do not need additional devices to make coaxial speakers sound good. The audio quality is just fine without adding amplifiers, equalizers, or even crossovers.
Apart from their cost, component speakers might also require you to customize your car’s interior to install them and to get the best sound. For a budget user or beginner, the cost is just not favorable.
If you are into DIY projects and building your car audio system, component speakers are your best choice. This is because component speakers offer better modularity. Therefore you can upgrade specific components over a period of time until you achieve your desired car audio setup. With coaxial speakers, you cannot upgrade individual speakers because they come as one unit. Therefore you will have to get another speaker to substitute the current one.
4. Sound Quality
The reason component speakers offer better audio quality is because the different speaker driver is specifically assigned to handle specific frequencies. The addition of crossovers ensures the frequencies are correctly distributed to the right speakers. The low-end goes to the subwoofers, high-end to the tweeters and midrange speakers handle what is in between high and low.
The addition of other devices like a car amplifier or equalizer also improves the overall audio quality. Car amplifiers supply the speakers with the power to perform their best. An equalizer, on the other hand, gives a user the ability to customize the audio reproduction according to a user’s preferences. It also helps control frequencies attenuated or boosted because of the car’s shape, construction materials, and other factors. Read more about car equalizers.
Though component speakers tend to give better sound, the best of coaxial speakers can also offer reasonable audio quality.
In-car audio systems, an amplifier takes in weak audio signals and amplifies it so that it can drive speakers. Though a car will have a built-in amp in the head unit, the amp is sometimes not powerful enough to drive component speakers effectively. Remember. Component speakers are passive speakers and do not have internal amplification. Therefore the audio signal needs to be boosted by an amplifier before going into a component speaker to produce the sound that is satisfactory for a user.
Yes. Amplifiers take in the audio signal from your car stereo and change it into a powerful signal for the speakers. An amplifier improves the sound quality of your vehicle by boosting the volume to reasonable listening without increasing the distortion.
A woofer is a type of speaker constructed to handle the lower range part of the audio frequency. There are different types of woofers, and though they are similar in construction, they have distinct differences. They are the standard woofer, subwoofer, mid-woofer, and rotary woofer.
Like woofers, midrange speakers are built to handle the midrange frequencies. The midrange features most audible sounds like the human voice and most musical instruments. Because midrange speaker is unable to reproduce high and low frequencies, they often sound dull or flat. However, add a woofer and twitter, and you get the best sound quality.
Many people have claimed that speakers benefit from the break-in process. Breaking in a speaker involves just playing music. However, you should play something with a large dynamic range, say with strong bass and a strong high-end too. Playing music louder than normal listening levels will help break in to occur faster.
Component and coaxial car speakers both offer advantages and disadvantages. However, your choice between these two types of speakers depends on your preferences. If the budget and the ease of installation are top of your concerns, go with coaxial speakers. For greater customization and superior sound quality, component speakers are your pick.
Have I left out anything out? If yes, comment below, and let’s continue this conversation.