The most popular and best-selling car audio products include loudspeakers which are responsible for sound quality in our cars. Whether we are listening to music, audiobooks or just to news on the radio, the clarity of sound will affect whether what reaches our ears will be pleasant or annoying, like traffic jams. It is worth getting to know the basic types of speakers, their parameters and features that will determine the quality of the sound they produce.
Built-in sound systems offered by various car manufacturers are often enough to listen to the radio and our favourite songs without any problems. However, this only applies to new vehicles in which we can choose the optional extras. The group of car audio products discussed here is dedicated to users buying used cars, in which the basic sound system does not meet their expectations. A noticeable trend is that people try to replace original sound systems with attractively priced devices, although their quality leaves much to be desired. Therefore, before making such a purchase, it is worth familiarizing oneself with the full range of products available on the market.
Types of car speakers
Depending on the categorizing criteria applied, there are hundreds of devices available on the market. They differ in shape, materials used, the type of sound desired; as well as many small, seemingly insignificant details that ultimately distinguish one product from the others. The most popular criterion is to categorize speakers depending on their frequency response. Here, we can distinguish:
- Subwoofers:subwoofers, for low frequencies ranging from 20 to 150Hz.
- Woofers:woofers, for low frequencies ranging from 75 to 3500 Hz
- Midrange:midrange speakers, for medium frequencies ranging from 300 to 6000 Hz
- Tweeters:tweeters, for frequencies ranging from 1300 to 20 000Hz, yet able to exceed the limit of the frequencies audible to the human ear (20 000Hz), transmitting sound frequencies of up to 30 000Hz.
Car speakers set:PHONOCAR-02091
Car speakers can also be divided depending on the number of drivers they have:
- One-way speakers – having a single diaphragm for the entire bandwidth
- Two-way speakers – having two separate diaphragms for high and low tones.
- Three-way speakers – equipped with an additional driver for medium tones
- Four-way speakers – equipped with an additional driver, the so-called supertweeter.
Although it is a less common division, sometimes speakers are categorized depending on construction. Here, we can distinguish:
- Cone or dual cone speakers, equipped with a rigid diaphragm with high sound directivity, which are often the first choice of loudspeakers in factory-made cars.
- Dome speakers, with a dome-shaped diaphragm, characteristic of midrange and tweeter speakers.
- Piezoelectric speakers, i.e. tweeters with a low quality of the transmitted band.
- Ribbon speakers, belonging to the group of tweeters with a metal diaphragm, which is moved by the flow of the current.
Basic parameters of car speakers
When planning the purchase of a new loudspeaker set, it is worth taking into account the basic parameters describing the devices, as well as learning more about their structure. One of the basic elements of every loudspeaker is the diaphragm. It is the material from which it is built, on which the sound quality will depend to a large extent. Diaphragms are made, among others, from paper, polypropylene, aluminium or fiberglass, and their properties affect the sound clarity. The characteristic parameters of a diaphragm are rigidity (Cms), diameter (D) and the maximum diaphragm deflection (Xmx). Apart from the speaker’s diaphragm, it is also worth remembering about other parameters characterizing the speakers:
- Sound bandwidth (resonance frequency) – it is a range of frequencies processed by car speakers. While describing the bandwidth, it is worth mentioning the range of frequencies audible to the human ear. Here, we are talking about the frequency range from 16Hz to 20 000Hz, where 16Hz is the lower limit, low frequency sounds,, and 20 000Hz is the upper limit, high frequency sounds.
- Rated power (RMS-Root Mean Square) – this parameter specifies the maximum power at which the loudspeaker will produce a clear sound without damaging the equipment.
- Maximum power – this parameter specifies the maximum power of the speaker at which it will not be damaged.
- Speaker sensitivity – its value is expressed in decibels (dB) and describes the sound level generated by the speaker.
- Speaker impedance – is expressed in Ohms (Ω), ranging from 8 to 16Ω.
Installing car speakers
The difficulty of mounting car audio devices depends significantly on their location. Therefore, two cases are worth considering. The first one is seemingly much easier – the system is mounted in places dedicated for this purpose, i.e. the holes prepared by the manufacturer, in which the previous audio set was located. The second case involves modifying those holes by the user or by a third party, as instructed by the user. This way of mounting requires expertise and much more effort.
The location of the speakers is very schematic, regardless of the brand or model of the car. The most frequently used locations include the interior components such as car doors (their top or bottom parts), dashboard, boot, as well as front or rear pillars. It is obvious that the number of such places and the number of the speakers themselves depends significantly on the audio set chosen and the class of our vehicle. Mounting a sound system in the place of the previous set often determines its depth and diameter. Choosing a location for the speaker on our own allows us to pick any device, but requires interference with the already existing locations or simply adding new ones. Such locations should be adequately soundproofed using dedicated sound-absorbing accessories.
It is nearly the same case with the speaker enclosures, whose shape varies according to the model and brand of the car.
Please note that the accessories mentioned above should be compatible with the previously selected dedicated loudspeaker set. In order to finish the installation, proper camouflage of the sound system components is needed. For this purpose, we use the loudspeaker grilles.
Finishing the installation carefully not only influences the sound quality, but also ensures protection of its elements, which prolongs the service life of the sound system.