Tired of how your current car stereo speakers sound? Then it’s time you found some new three-way car speakers to upgrade with. With so many different styles and designs out there, how would you choose the best?
Here is some information for you to use while you shop.
Three-way refers to the drivers the speaker uses to produce high, mid and low frequencies. If the salesperson starts referring to terms such as coaxial, triaxle, or tweeter protrusion, they may be well meaning but it won’t help you with your search.
No single speaker has the ability to cover the entire range of audible frequencies. Three-way car stereo speakers, a configuration of coaxial car speakers, make use of three individual speakers packaged together to cover that range. Sound reproduction will be better by using the multiple speakers that comprise a three-way.
Three-way car speakers use a combination of a woofer or mid-bass, a mid-range speaker and a tweeter to reproduce audible frequencies. Frequency is measured in hertz and should be listed in the specifications of the speaker. As a general rule, woofers or mid-basses are used to reproduce lower frequency sounds, approximately 20 to 800 hertz. The midrange is used to reproduce a range of frequencies typically in the 800 to 5000 hertz range and the tweeter is used to reproduce the sounds of frequencies above that. Ranges differ based on manufacturer and the overall size of the speaker and components.
Crossover filters are used to control the frequency response of each speaker. It is important that each of the three speakers work within the range of frequencies for which it is designed. Speakers can be damaged if they are used outside of their range. Crossover filters make sure the right frequencies make it to the appropriate speaker, and that (ideally) there is little “overlap” between ranges.
Three-way speakers are available in a variety of sizes such as 5.25 inches and 6-inch by 9-inch models. This means that they can be used to replace the original speakers found in most automobiles. Replacing an original dual-cone or two-way speaker with a three-way car speaker should produce better sound reproduction. It is important to note that some three-way speakers may have a higher profile than the original speakers. Allowances for this height difference may have to be made for proper installation.
For heavier bass applications, choose the largest three-way car speaker possible. Bass, as a matter of physics, will be more accurately reproduced by a larger cone. The woofer, or mid-bass, should be constructed so that the cone is stiff, and mounted with a flexible surround. This will allow the woofer to move a lot of air, necessary to reproduce base sounds. Polk car speakers, for instance, use flexible Butyl rubber for the surrounds and a polymer constructed cone.
Picking a store dedicated solely to car audio can be a good choice, as that is their specialty. A major chain with an electronic department is another option. The key is finding the best listening room. If you can, go when it’s not busy. This will cut down on noise distraction, and the salesperson can give you more attention.
You know what kind of music to enjoy so the key is to find speakers that most compliment that sound. Try and cut down the variables when listening. If the speakers are driven with different power, the results won’t be true. Keep levels the same when listening to each selection. People who enjoy rock may want a bit more bass. Those who favor more acoustic, singer-songwriter music should focus on mid-range clarity. To concentrate on the sound and not the brand name, you may even want to listen without being told the speaker brand. Again, trust your ears to lead the way.
Obviously, a listening room and a car are significantly different environments for sound. Consider putting a request on Craigslist. If someone has the speakers you’re considering, in the same car as yours, and will let you have a listen, that’s as close as you’ll come to a perfect audition as you can have. If that isn’t an option, be sure and know the store’s return policy. Some stores will not accept returns once the box has been open. Others will. Crutchfield offers a full return for any reason, (provided you have the original box), for 60 days.
When deciding on car stereo speakers, three-ways may be a good alternative. In many cases they are priced cheaper than comparable component systems and will likely be easier to install. They are typically priced very competitively compared to two-way speakers, and should offer better sound reproduction.
Now that you are armed with valuable tips, let’s take a look at some popular models.
The K2 Power 165 KRX3 from Focal is undoubtedly the best three-way component speaker system at the sub $2,000 range. Sporting a sensitivity of 93 decibels, the K2 Power can play even your loudest metal band recordings with amazing efficiency. A frequency response of 45 – 20,000 kilohertz means that it can play the widest range of music with perfect fidelity – be it vocals, classical orchestra, or even soothing ocean waves.
To ensure that your amplifiers can handle load resistance safely with the K2 Power, it is recommended you use a four-channel amplifier to drive it; one channel for the mid-range speakers, one channel for the high range speakers and two channels for the woofers. You can still set it up with a two-channel amplifier but be warned that a load of less than one ohm per channel cannot be handled safely by most amplifiers.
The K2 Power is a component system much like satellite radio speakers, meaning you will have separate speakers for the woofers, mid-range speakers, and the tweeters. Take this into account for your current speaker setup when purchasing. You may need to cut out a hole in your car’s interior in order to mount the speakers.
If a component system is too expensive or too hard for you to install, the CSHX537X coaxial car speakers from JVC would be perfect for you. It is in the sub $50 range and since it comes integrated, it is great for a quick audio quality upgrade – just pop out your old speakers, and pop in the CSHX537X.
Being coaxial car speakers, the CSHX537X gives a very high performance and sound clarity for its size. It is also very customizable, giving you better mounting options. Its black grille can even be removed to reveal a silver trim plate for a stylish, more aggressive look.
It also comes equipped with a carbon fiber composite and Aramid Olefin woofer for added dynamic bass. Its voice coil is heat-resistant, allowing it to play continuously without degradation. As mentioned, it’s shallow and slim constructions enables easy mounting wherever you want.
If you can spend a bit more, definitely try out the MM691 from Polk Audio. These Polk car speakers have a low impedance design that allows it to pull more power safely than otherwise from your amplifiers, making it compatible with almost all car stereo systems.
The Polk Audio MM691 also sports honeycomb-textured woof cones made of woven glass composite fibers. The glass fiber construction also gives the woofers a quick, clean, and crisp response even with the loudest of sounds. Using an extra small neodymium magnet means smaller and lighter speakers that can fit into more places within your car, all without sacrificing power.