Tag: speakers

Car Audio 101: Car Speakers

After upgrading to an aftermarket car stereo, your next move is to upgrade your factory speakers. Factory speakers are made from cheap, flimsy materials and are not designed for quality sound reproduction. Because of their low quality construction, factory speakers don’t tend to last very long. Factory speakers also do not always have a tweeter. Without a tweeter, your factory speakers will struggle to reproduce the highs in your music which results in mediocre (at best) sound quality. Aftermarket speakers on the other hand are built from much higher quality materials and feature a much more efficient design. These allow aftermarket speakers to offer greater power handling capabilities, overall sound quality as well as a greatly improved lifespan over your old factory speakers.

To go along with their better overall design and construction, aftermarket speakers also include a tweeter. Aftermarket speakers are most commonly available in either component or coaxial design. A coaxial speaker has the tweeter built into the frame of the speaker whereas with a component speaker the tweeter is a separate unit. Component speakers also include an external crossover network. Because component speakers have the tweeter as a separate unit, you can install the tweeter in a separate location from the speaker which allows for better overall sound quality.

Before you buy a set of aftermarket speakers, it is important to look in your car to see what kind of setup your car is configured for. Different cars come with different sound systems, different speakers types and even different speaker sizes.

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E46 BMW M3 Component Speaker System Installation

Have you ever listened to your BMW M3 and thought you needed a sound upgrade? Of course you have! This installation guide is for that exact purpose. It covers the installation process for a front door component speaker system upgrade on your BMW E46 M3 Coupe (2000-2006). This particular installation was for an Alpine Type-R Component System in a 2004 BMW M3 which already had an aftermarket headunit, amplifier and subwoofer installed. It is important to note when you look for speakers for your M3, be sure to find speakers with a relatively shallow mounting depth because the available space is extremely limited. Below is everything you need to perform this upgrade yourself!
Alpine SPR-60C

Products Used

Tools Used

The installation process for this BMW required your typical car audio installation tools like wire crimpers/cutters, pry tools and wire connectors as well as some more specialty tools such as an air grinder to create new speaker brackets and mounts.

Want to install an aftermarket system into your BMW E46 M3? Here’s what you’ll need:

The 4th generation E4 BMW M3 has a non-standard dash opening that can accommodate a full size, double DIN stereo or a smaller single DIN stereo with the proper dash kit. It has speaker locations in the front door panels for tweeters and midrange speakers as well as speaker locations in the rear and rear deck.

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What Is the Gain Setting On an Amplifier?

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The objective of an audio amplifier is to boost the incoming audio signal that is supplied by a radio or receiver. When we say audio signal, we mean a low voltage electrical current that a radio outputs which has all the information of your musical selection in it. The typical audio signal from a CD player averages about 0.5-2V which is not enough to power an audio speaker or subwoofer by itself; this is why we need amplifiers. The amplifier will turn that 0.5V into 20V or more and feed that to the speakers, which in turn produce music that we can hear. Ok great to know, but what is the “gain” knob on my amplifier?

If you adjust the gain knob while listening to your music playing, you will notice an increase and decrease in volume. However, this does not mean the gain control is a volume control. Let’s repeat that. Your gain knob is NOT a volume control knob. Got it? Confusing? YES! The purpose of the gain control is to level match the head unit’s output voltage (around 0.5V) to the gain structure of the amplifier (how much it amplifies a signal) so that the signal is not over driven which would produce clipping and distortion.
Think of it like this, you have two radios and each of them has a volume knob that goes from 0 to 30. One radio outputs a signal at 0.5V and the other outputs that same signal but at a whopping 5V. The amplifier will amplifier both of those voltages by the same percentage. Turn both radios to a volume of 15 (halfway), will the loudness of the music be the same for both? NO! The 5V radio will sound much louder in comparison to the radio only putting out 0.5V. Now turn both radios to a volume level of 30, which is maximum volume. What will happen? The 0.5V radio will sound loud, but the 5V radio will have damaged your equipment, exploded, or sent the amplifier into protection mode. This is where the gain comes in. Using the gain, your radio’s maximum volume will make the amplifier loud but not damaging. The 0.5V will be loud and the 5V will be louder but won’t damage anything. You can set the gain to a point where your equipment gets loud at about 3/4th of your total volume swing (ex: 0-30).
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CEA-2031 Compliant Loudspeakers

CEA Rated Audio Components are a Sure Thing

All CEA-2031 compliant loudspeakers adopt the same testing and measurement methods so comparing them side by side is easy. Loudspeakers include car speakers and subwoofers. The Consumer Electronics Association created new testing and measurement methods for mobile loudspeaker systems that define test procedures for rating the performance and physical size of speakers. This is important because you can now compare different speakers on the same playing field. Any manufacturers who adopt the CEA-2031 logo product mark can be compared evenly to other speaker manufacturers with the same mark.

CEA-2031 Compliant Standard

CEA-2031 Compliant Standard- Listed Loudspeakers

When CEA-2031 marked speakers are compared in conjunction with CEA-2006 marked amplifiers, you can select speakers that match up appropriately with a particular amplifiers power handling capabilities. Manufacturers who test their loudspeakers to CEA standards are required to report primary power output in watts, the cut-out diameter and mounting depth as well as the speaker’s impedance. Also, the maximum RMS power output is listed in watts and total harmonic distortion (THD) along with the speaker’s signal-to-noise ratio is listed. CEA-2031 standardization changes the way equipment performance information is relayed to consumers for easier comparisons of loudspeakers.

 

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What Are Coaxial Speakers?

Coaxial Speakers Make for a Great Upgrade Over OEM Speakers

Coaxial speakers are speakers comprised of a midrange woofer and a tweeter which is either built-in or suspended over the midrange woofer. The majority of stock OEM car speakers are coaxial in design because of low cost and easy installation. With a coaxial setup, all you need is two speakers to get a wide range of sound with minimal hassle. These speakers provide adequate sound because the woofer and tweeter are mounted on the same axis so all sounds come from a central point known as the point source. Coaxial speakers come in many different sizes that will fit most vehicles with almost no modification, some are even direct replacements.

Kicker KS 650

2-Way Coaxial Speakers – Kicker KS650

Most coaxial speakers will say “2-Way or 3-Way on the package. When it says 2-way, it means it is a standard speaker with a midrange woofer and one tweeter. If it says 3-way, it is a midrange woofer with two tweeters. If you see 4-way, it will be a midrange woofer with 3 tweeters, etc. The idea behind it is that by adding more tweeters, the speaker will hit a broader range of frequencies. A higher quality 2 or 3-way system will hit most of the 20-20,000 Hz frequencies that the human ear can pick up.

Some vehicles may not even come with coaxial speakers and instead have just midbass woofers. Replacing that midbass speaker with a coaxial set will drastically improve the sound quality of your music. The added tweeter produces high notes for a rich, full sound. Installing new coaxial speakers is simple on most vehicles, sound quality will improve, and it is a cheap alternative to replacing your OEM radio.

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The Car Speaker Buying Guide

New Speakers Can Transform Your Car's Sound

Buying the right set of speakers for your car is a critical step of building your dream sound system. However, buying a set of speakers is not nearly as simple as finding a speaker design you like and plugging it in. For starters, the speaker mount locations in your car limit your choices to speakers that will physically fit. You will also need to know whether you want a coaxial speaker set or a component set with tweeters and crossovers. We like to make car audio easier to understand here at Sonic Electronix so we wrote this speaker buying guide to help you with everything you need to know before buying a pair of speaker. This way you pick the right speakers the first time.

What Size Speakers Do You Need?

Car Speaker Sizes
3-1/2″ Speakers
4″ Speakers
4×10″ Speakers
4×6″ Speakers
5×7″ Speakers
5.25″ Speakers
6″ Speakers
6×8″ Speakers
6×9″ Speakers
6.5″ Speakers
6.75″ Speakers

First and foremost you will need to find out what kind of speakers fit in your vehicle. Knowing what size speakers your car requires is the most important step in buying your speakers, because if you buy speakers that are too big or too small, they won’t fit and you’ll either have to return them for a set the right size or get very creative with your installation. Another critical specification to be aware of is the mounting depth of the speakers versus the depth you have in your vehicle. Some vehicles have incredibly limited door space and require shallow mount speakers.

It should be relatively easy to find the speaker size your car can use in your vehicle manual. Another great place to start is on our Car Speakers page here you’ll be able to find out what size speakers fit in your vehicle.

What Kind of Sound Do You Want?

Pioneer TS-M650PRO

Knowing what you want to get out of your sound is another major step towards buying the correct set of speakers. Gearing your sound towards your taste of music will ensure you get the most enjoyment possible out of your system. Are you looking for natural sound reproduction, or more of an enhanced sound with accented bass and highs? The type of vehicle you own is also another detail to be aware of. Are you going to install these speakers into a vehicle with a lot of outside noise, such as a convertible or motorcycle? Or maybe you’re looking to install a sound system into a more conventional vehicle like a sedan or SUV. These types of questions help you decide what type of speaker and tweeter material you should look for. We’ll explain what types of materials make what kind of sounds a little further down in the article under the “Cones” section.

Full-Range Car Speakers vs. Component Systems
Our full-range car speakers are available in many shapes and sizes. Most have a woofer and tweeter molded into the speaker. Some also have midrange drivers. In contrast, component systems feature separate woofers and tweeters. This allows you to mount the tweeters in an optimal location for generating a more realistic sound. They also have midranges and external crossovers, which send separate frequencies to the woofer and the tweeter for a more efficient and cleaner reproduction.

How Are You Powering Your Speakers?

Speakers require power and they receive power via the speaker leads that they’re connected to. This power is provided by some type of amplifier, whether it be a head unit or an actual external amplifier. Head units (or stereos) have limited power they can supply to speakers. Standard factory head units usually provide a very low amount of wattage to each speaker, around 5-10W RMS per speaker. Aftermarket head units not only gives you about twice the power, but they also open up a lot more options for your sound system. An aftermarket head unit will improve the dynamic range of the sound system, and provide you with superior sound processing components. An aftermarket head unit paired with an external amplifier will truly maximize the potential of your speakers. You’ll get a larger sound stage, deeper bass, punchier mids and crisper highs due to the more effective power transfer from source to speakers.

What Else Should You Know?

Sensitivity Rating
The sensitivity rating is a very important aspect to consider when gauging a speaker’s quality. An efficiency or sensitivity rating tells you how effectively a speaker converts power into sound. The higher the sensitivity rating, the more efficient the speaker, and the louder it will play given a set amount of input power. An efficient car speaker helps you maximize your available power.

Cone Material
Cone and Surround Material Are Important Pieces of Your Speakers

There are three main components of a speaker that decide what kind of sound it produces: the cone, the surround, and the tweeter composition. The cone can be assembled using three different materials – paper, plastic, and woven fiber. These materials can go by many different names, but it all boils down to those components. Paper cones provide you with the most natural sound reproduction, and are more associated with Sound Quality (SQ) installs than with SPL installs since paper cones less durable and rigid than other cones. This can open the door for potential distortion if you aren’t careful when tuning your system. Plastic cones such a polypropylene are the most commonly used in car speakers because of their overall good balance between natural sound reproduction and durability. Finally, woven fiber cones are typically found on higher-end speakers. They can be composed of glass, Kevlar, and other components. These typically can display the best blend of quality sound reproduction, intense detail capturing, accurate imaging and optimal rigidity.

Tweeter Material
NVX XSPTW

Tweeter material can change the way vocals are heard. Aluminum tweeters are very helpful for vehicles that have a lot of road noise, like convertibles or motorcycles. This is because they are built with a “brighter” sounding material that can be a bit louder than a neutral silk dome tweeter or other soft domes. The tweeter material is also important to consider when you go back to “What type of sound do you want?” Metallic tweeters tend to sound louder, while soft textile dome tweeters tend to sound more neutral and smooth.

Buying Speakers at SonicElectronix

Remember we’re always here to help make sure you get the right setup for your vehicle. If you still have questions – give us a call at 1-877-289-7664. We’re glad to help make sure that you get everything you need to make sure your buying experience is easy and seamless.

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How To Choose An Amp

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An amplifier modulates power from your car battery to supply your car stereo system with the juice it needs to keep the bass booming and the speakers crooning. There are many aspects to consider when selecting an amplifier for your car stereo system. Here is quick list of what you should keep in mind.

  • First Choose your Speakers and Subs

Once you have settled on what types of speakers and subwoofers you will be running, you will now be able to choose an amp based on the speaker’s power ratings, impedance, efficiency, and voice coil configurations. This will help you figure out how much power you will need from your car amplifier and in planning how you will go about wiring your amp. For example, if you are only choosing one subwoofer, you will want to know if you can bridge the 2-channel amp that you have in mind.

  • A Powerful Amp Will “Amp” Up Your System

The higher the impedance of the speakers, the higher the impedance you must run the amp at. Along with that, the higher the impedance an amplifier runs at, the lesser the amount of power generated by the amp. Many amplifiers can run at either 2 ohm or 4 ohm loads, but some are stable at 1 ohm loads for optimal RMS performance.

Be sure to pay attention to the RMS power ratings, which refers to the amount of continuous power produced by an amplifier. Ignore the peak power ratings, these ratings are totally insignificant when trying to match up an amplifier with subs and speakers.

  • Efficiency Matters

The ratio of power output to power input, expressed as a percentage. For example, consider a Class A amplifier that produces 100 watts of power output from 200 watts of power input. This amplifier is rated at 50% efficiency.

To measure an amplifier’s efficiency, you need to know the power output and input levels, the car battery voltage, and the amp fuse size (measured in amperes). In the example above, assume the Class A amp uses a fuse size that is 10A and the car battery voltage is 14.4 volts. Multiplying 14.4v times 10A gives 144 watts in. 100 watts out divided by 144 watts in equals .6944. This means an amplifier with a 10A fuse and 14.4 v battery will need to be rated at 70% efficiency to produce 100 watts.

Since this is way beyond the realm of possibility, you will need to find an amplifier with a higher fuse rating to produce 100 watts. For example, take the same Class A amplifier above except imagine it with a 15A fuse instead of a 10A. 15A multiplied by 14.4v equals 216 watts in. 100 watts divided by 216 equals .4629, which means a Class A amp with a more realistic requirement of only 47% efficiency is needed to produce 100 watts.

Remember, Class A Amplifiers only offer a theoretical maximum of 50% efficiency. Class B amplifiers have a maximum theoretical efficiency of 78.5%, and Class D amps can operate at levels between 80-95% efficiency. This is important to note when considering the fuse sizes and power ratings of an amplifier.

  • Heat Sink Keeps Amplifier Temperature in Check

Consider the size and quality of the heat sink. The heat sink is used to dissipate heat and to keep the amplifier running efficiently. A heavy duty heat sink will provide better thermal stability. To further help prevent the amplifier from overheating, check out amps with cooling fans.

  • Damping Factor: Control Your Speakers

The damping factor measures how well the amp will control unwanted movement of the speaker coil. The higher the damping factor, the better the amplifier will be in controlling the speaker’s undesired movements. To calculate damping factor, divide the speaker’s impedance by the amp’s output impedance.

  • Speaker Level Inputs and RCA Terminals

An amplifier with speaker level inputs will allow you to run your amplifier from a factory receiver. Additionally, if you have no remaining preamp outputs left on your aftermarket car receiver, you can use the amp’s speaker level inputs. You want to make sure the speaker level inputs and the RCA connection terminals are secure, since your amp will have to survive the bumps and dips in the road.

  • Price

Make sure you plan your budget ahead of time. To install your amplifier, you will need amplifier wiring kits, and other accessories. You may also consider purchasing digital capacitors or other items to keep your system running at full throttle. We can help you choose which amplifier is right for you. Give us a call at 1-877-289-7664.

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