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The Car Speaker Buying Guide

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

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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Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
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