Music is sent from the sound source to speakers, which can be in your ear, in your car, or at a concert. Speakers are also called transducers because when an amplifier sends a sound signal to a speaker, the electrical energy of the motion is turned into mechanical energy, which moves a cone back and forth. This movement forces the air around, which makes the sound waves we hear.
But there’s more to speakers than how it essentially functions, as each part contributes to the whole. Aside from that, speakers have different types and come in different sizes.
In this blog, we will be learning more about the types of car speakers, their sizes, and why upgrading your factory speakers to aftermarket ones gives you the best sound for your car audio system.
Anatomy of a Car Speaker
A car speaker is the sum of its parts. Each part serves an important role and helps produce the audio you get to enjoy. Starting from the top of the speaker to the bottom, here are those parts and their responsibilities:
One of the most familiar parts, the cone helps determine the frequency response and deliver the overall sound quality of the audio in the speaker. Once activated by the voice coil, the cone pushes air back and forth to create sound waves. Polypropylene is one of the most popular materials for speakers cones and you will frequently see it being used on speakers of all budget types. Some materials in top-of-the-line speakers are carbon fiber, pressed paper, and even kevlar.
The dust cap, also known as a dust cover or dome, is mounted in the center of the speaker diaphragm and prevents dust, dirt, and other particles from entering the voice coil and other components. The dust cap does have an effect on the frequency response and the overall behavior of the cone itself.
A spider is a type of suspension that centers the moving parts of the speaker and preventing side to side movement. Without it, the speaker would move uncontrollably and would not function properly due to unnecessary vibrations.
Sits between the magnet and the basket. It creates a gap in which magnetic energy is directed at the voice coil.
One critical component of any speaker is the magnet. These are the driving force of the speaker and are responsible for making the cone move. These magnets and their magnetic fields create vibrations and ultimately the sounds you hear from the speaker itself.
The coiled wire is attached to the apex of a speaker cone and functions as an electromagnet. Typically copper or aluminum, the wire is coiled around a magnetic piece of metal. The current that passes through the coil provides the necessary force to the speaker cone.
Holds the pole piece and magnet.
Basket (or Chassis)
The speaker chassis, also called the basket, is the metal frame that is responsible for holding the speaker together. The chassis is then held in by the speaker case which helps prevent deformations and alignment issues and conducts heat away from the voice coil. Speaker chassis are usually made from aluminum alloy or thin steel, although plastics are also used on lower-end speakers.
Types of Car Speakers
Speakers come in two forms – Component speakers, which are the “simple” speaker, and Coaxial speakers, which are two or more speakers combined into one unit.
Components usually come in kits, which include the midrange driver, tweeter, and separate crossover network. Though the components can technically be used to replace any single component of a system, they are usually sold in kits. The separation of the tweeter is to provide a better sound stage in the vehicle since they are installed on the pillars and can point more directly at our ears instead of our feet
Full-Range / Coaxial Speakers
In a Coaxial speaker setup, the tweeter is directly mounted onto the other speaker while the tweeter crossover is mounted onto the side of the speaker for added convenience. Coaxial speakers also come in different forms. These are:
- 2-way (has 1 speaker mounted)
- 3-way (has 2 speakers mounted)
- 4-way (has 3 speakers mounted)
Car Speaker Sizes
When deciding on the best speaker size for your car, it’s crucial to take into account the car’s speaker setup. There is a common belief that larger speakers produce better sound. Even if a larger speaker would produce better sound, it wouldn’t work in the allotted space.
To get an overview of different speaker sizes, take a look at all car speaker sizes below. If you’re not sure what sizes are in your car, head on to Sonic Electronix’s Fit Finder.
3.5-inch speakers are usually mounted on the dashboard, below the windshield. Even though these speakers are small, they do an excellent job of producing high frequencies. Due to their size, these speakers can be used in a wide range of situations.
4″ speakers can be found in many vehicles. They are usually mounted on the dashboard, in the doors, or on the rear deck below the rear window. It is the largest tweeter made by car companies. They make high and mid-range frequencies to make clear vocals and some low-end bass.
4×6″ speakers were a common size in older car models. Most 4x6s are coaxial and come with a built-in speaker. Adding a subwoofer to a set of 4×6 speakers gives you more control over the frequency ranges for better performance.
4×10-inch size speakers are coaxials that cover a good range of frequencies from high to low mid-range. Oval speakers that are 4×10 inches are mostly found in older Saab and GM cars.
Relatively small, 5.2-inch speakers are suitable for door speakers, especially the rear doors. They can be installed in virtually any car model.
The 5×7-inch speaker is not a common size, but still ideal for replacing factory speakers of similar size for better sound quality. Considered as mid-range speakers, they are quality equipment will have little to no sound distortion.
6-inch speakers produce mid-range sound and a bit of bass. Ideal for clear, loud music since they can withstand shock from increased volume and car movement.
Mostly found in car stereo systems, 6.5-inch speakers are considered midrange and are commonly installed in the front doors on either side of the car.
6.75-inch speakers fit in most vehicles and are able to enhance the acoustic clarity of your audio system. These deliver high-quality mid and low-range sound. They offer deeper bass than other small-size speakers – ideal for bass heads.
6×8″ speakers are great for those who want to have a smooth blend of higher and lower frequencies. These speakers typically will produce more bass than a comparable circular speaker due to the increase in cone area and the larger excursion. They demand more power due to their larger size and may need an amplifier installed for the right amount of voltage.
6×9″ speakers can be a great option for a clean and loud sound. This size is capable of delivering exceptional mid-bass that can’t be found in smaller speakers. Due to their size, 6×9” is best to install in a rear dashboard. Some car owners modify their front door speaker ports to fit.
For car audio enthusiasts who want their speakers to go the extra mile – 8-inch speakers are designed for booming music. They’re the best solution for the deepest bass. This size is also called woofers or mid-range speakers.
Upgrading Your Car Speakers
Factory speakers are not built for sound quality reproduction and are constructed from low-grade materials that won’t last very long.
Your car speakers will certainly handle more power, play louder, and sound better if you replace your stock units with aftermarket ones. Watch our video above for a more thorough explanation of the benefits of replacing your stock speakers.