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Car Speakers Buying Guide

How do you begin to choose car speakers? It is actually something that is far less complicated than most might think. So, you don't have to listen to music coming from only one speaker any longer! This buying guide will help you learn how to choose the right speakers for your listening needs.

The Terms to Know

As you begin to look at the different options in car speakers you will see the same terms repeatedly, and it is a good idea to really understand what these things mean. So, be sure to understand the following:

  • Power - car speakers can handle a limited amount of wattage, and if they are asked to take more than that they are not going to function properly (and may even fail altogether). So, know the kind of power your stereo system puts out, and if you have a lower powered system (let's say around 50-100W) you can save yourself money by also investing in lower powered speakers. You will see most speakers described by their "nominal" input and by their "maximum" input. Thus, a pair of speakers may have a maximum input of 350W, but show a nominal input of around 40W.

  • Sensitivity - this is the famous dB rating of speakers and it tells the buyer how the speaker can convert the power (watts) into volume (decibels). For instance, the higher the sensitivity rating of a speaker, the louder it will play at the specified power.  When a stereo has the stock "head unit" at work, it often means that it is a good idea to invest in speakers with greater sensitivity because the "amp" or amplifier in the stock unit is not as effective as multiple amps serving specific functions.

  • Full range - if you can afford to get full range speakers, you will want to do so because they are capable of reproducing the sound thanks to the special interior features of the individual speakers. 

  • Components - individual or separate speakers that are designed for optimal sound. They usually are made of sets that feature multiple tweeters, woofers, and crossovers that work seamlessly together.

  • Woofer - a cone-shaped feature inside of a speak, the woofer is made from many different kinds of materials (with some preferred over others) and which helps to reproduce the bass and lowest notes.

  • Tweeter - this is the part of the speaker that is meant to reproduce high-frequency sounds. They are made from different materials and some are superior to others. Shaped like a cone, they are similar to the woofer but perform a different sound reproduction.

  • Crossover - these are often described as filters that control the frequencies of the speakers. Most systems have what are known as "passive" crossovers, and these have special locations for mounting. There are also "active" crossovers that work before the amplifiers kicks in and which are a specialty option.

Narrowing the Options

Now that you understand the various terms that will appear in the descriptions of speakers, it is time to consider how to narrow down the field and make a good choice. One of the first things you want to consider is the array in your vehicle. Some systems use speakers in places that require specific designs and wiring. While there are some speakers that can be installed without any sort of disassembly of a vehicle's interior, there are some that need door panels and the entire dash to be removed.

Additionally, you may be designing more than just a basic car speaker array. For instance, you may want a subwoofer to be part of the system, and this can mean that you now require a car amplifier in addition to the full range of speakers. What this also means is that there is a higher demand for system power, and the vehicle may not be adequate to such needs. Remember too that the materials from which all speaker and speaker components are made will tend to have an impact on the overall quality of the sound coming from your system. If you were to disassemble speakers you would see that the interiors are often made of a mixture of hard and soft materials meant to reproduce sounds accordingly. The ways that the speakers are mounted can have an impact on the quality of the sound.

Be sure that you choose speakers that are suitable for your vehicles audio array or placement. Don't select speakers based on pricing. Though there are some sets that are really inexpensive, you are better off if you choose a good brand and speakers that meet the requirements listed above. Some reliable and famous manufacturers include Pioneer, JBL, Sony, Kenwood, Alpine, Panasonic, Rockford Fosgate, and Soundstream among many others.

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