Car Speaker Specifications
The real challenge when browsing for car speakers is understanding the specifications of the speakers you are looking at. Once you understand the specifications of the speakers, you have a better understanding of what your looking for and you also become a better judge of what’s actually a good deal. I am going to cover what each common specification of car speaker means.
The most common specifications that you will see listed for car speakers are type, size, RMS power, MAX power, Frequency response, sensitivity, surround, cone, voice coil wire, voice coil size, magnet size, tweeter size, mounting depth, and cut-out dimension.
Car speaker types include coaxial speakers and component speakers. Coaxial speakers have both a woofer and tweeter built in. Component speakers are only a woofer or tweeter. Coaxial speakers are also called full range speakers. Coaxial speakers are far more popular for those looking to replace or upgrade their car speakers. Component speakers can be more fine tuned that coaxial speakers but component speakers are more finicky to install properly and don’t produce high quality sound unless they are fined tuned to high degree. Installing component speakers may require you to create new holes in your car to align the tweeters with your ears.
The speaker size is fairly straightforward but finding out which sizes will suit your car is something you need to determine before you go speaker shopping. The easiest way is to look up the speaker sizes acceptable for your car. You could also measure your speakers yourself, or check your owner’s manual. Some cars also have the speaker measurements written under the speakers. You can also make the speaker holes bigger for larger speakers but this would become a more complicated project. Some cars have the ability to accept multiple size speakers due to the use of brackets.
6.5 inch speakers are the most common size stock speaker. They are considered wimpy but upgraded 6.5” speakers can still add considerable audio quality.
5” by 7” inch speakers are an upgrade from 6.5” speakers but they are not as common and not too many cars fit them. They do however, offer an upgrade in range of sound, and sound clarity.
6” by 9” speakers are probably the largest speakers most people consider when upgrading their car speakers. These are going to produce the highest quality sound.
RMS stands for root mean squared. It is also referred to power handling. RMS is the amount of power that a speaker can handle for a sustained, continual period.
Max power represents how much power the speaker can handle for a short duration of time. Max power is similar to RMS power but speakers are not designed to be run continually at max power. It is okay for speakers to occasionally reach max power but speakers shouldn’t continually operate at max power.
Frequency response refers to the range of audio frequencies that the speaker can accurately produce. Frequency response is listed as a range. The human ear deciphers frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 kHz.
Bass is generally considered as the range between 20 Hz and 300 Hz.
Mid is generally considered as the range between 300 Hz and 4 kHz.
Treble is generally considered as anything above 4 kHz.
Along with the range of frequencies a speaker can produce, frequency response is often noted with a variance listed as a number +/- with the units of decibels (dB). The variance represents how much the sound may be changed by the speaker compared to the sound that is intended to be heard. A variance of +/- 3dB or less is considered as ideal. Three decibels of variance is considered low enough to be completely undetectable by the human ear.
Sensitivity is a measure of the volume capability of the speaker. It measures how much volume can be outputted per 1 watt of power.
84 dB or less sensitivity is considered poor
88 dB sensitivity is considered adequate
92 dB sensitivity or higher is considered great
The speaker cone is the part of the speaker that pushes air back and forth to produce sound. The speaker cone is also referred to as the speaker diaphragm. The material of cone can vary widely vary and the best material is somewhat open to debate. The goal of a speaker cone is to be both lightweight and rigid. These requirements make fiberglass an excellent material for a cone, because fiberglass was designed to have these exact properties.
Voice Coil Size:
The voice coil is a metal coil that carries a charge to the cone which allows it to function. Larger voice coils allows the speaker to have power and have more control over the sound. The downside to larger coils is that larger coils generate more heat.
Most speaker magnets are made from Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt. Cobalt is considered a premium material because it a more expensive material and has slightly better performance. The speaker magnet has much less impact on the speaker performance than the voice coil.
The mounting depth is the depth of how far your speaker with reach inside your car. You should measure the depth of the speaker holes in your car to know that there will be the same or more space in your car in order to allow the face of the new speaker to be flush with the interior.
The cut-out dimension is the second important dimension to know before you buy your new speakers. The cut-out dimension is the width of the face of the speaker.
Car Speaker Recommendations
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