6 Things to Consider Before Buying Car Speakers and Systems

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6 Things to Consider Before Buying Car Speakers and Speaker Systems

Car speakers are a means of mobile entertainment that people have been enjoying since they were first introduced in the 1930s. Vehicles originally just had one speaker mounted into the dashboard, but in the 1970s the technology evolved to include amplifiers and multiple speakers within the car. Their popularity has soared ever since then, and many people seek to upgrade the stock speakers that come in their cars or replace old, worn out ones.

These days, speakers have more than one function. In addition to playing music, people also talk on their phones through Bluetooth or listen to audio books or lectures. Shopping for speakers can feel overwhelming because there are so many things to consider, from size to power to total watts needed, and their cost can range from being relatively inexpensive to costing nearly as much as the vehicle they are installed in. For example, 2-way and 3-way speakers can be quite expensive. Pricing tends to be more reasonable for aftermarket speakers. Before shopping, drivers should consider the following 6 factors when choosing the car speakers best suited to their needs and budget.

Speaker System Glossary

Before getting started, there are a few terms pertaining to car speaker system components that shoppers should understand.

Term

Definition

Tweeter

The tweeters are the small speakers that produce the higher-end sound frequencies.

Subwoofer

Subwoofers produce the very low sounds, usually under 180 hertz, and are responsible for the pumping bass.

Woofer

The woofer is responsible for all of the low to midrange frequencies.

These are the three main components seen in speaker systems so it is necessary to understand their functions when shopping. With an understanding of some speaker terminology, buyers can consider the following 6 things before buying car speakers and speaker systems:

1. The Types of Speakers

There are two main categories of speakers. Getting the one that best fits the driver's needs could save them money and provide them with the quality sound they are looking for. The chart below discusses the two types of speaker systems .

Type of Speaker System

Description

Component

Component speaker systems are designed to deliver the best possible quality of sound. Their components, such as the tweeters and woofers, are separated so that they can be moved around within the vehicle. This makes for better overall audio because sound waves come through better on different speaker sizes. High-pitched sounds come through better on smaller speakers, and low-pitched bass sounds come through more clearly on larger speakers. (This is also why a flute is small and a tuba is large.) Component systems are higher priced and are more suited for those looking for an advanced system.

Full-Range

Full-range speaker systems are an all-in-one system. They are the simplest to install, usually the lowest price, and they can produce any range of sounds. These are best suited for those who are simply looking to replace their factory speakers. A nice set produces quality music, though they are not as customizable as component speaker systems.

Each type of speaker system can still have a different range of sounds and features. Selecting the type is just the beginning.

2. Sound Quality

The entire point of speaker systems is to produce high quality sound. When looking to upgrade speakers, there are a few things that buyers can look for to determine the quality of sound. The first thing to check is the frequency range. Stereo systems have certain frequency ranges. The wider the range is, the more sounds the speakers are capable of reproducing. Usually the peak frequency that speakers have is 20,000 Hertz, and the lowest is 10. It is not necessary for vehicle owners to have the entire range to get good sound quality. There is no guarantee that extremely high frequencies will even be audible, and to many, they will not be. However, many musicians and sound enthusiasts like to have the full range.

The next item to consider is the sensitivity rating. The sensitivity does not necessarily affect the sound directly. However, it does control how much sounds the speakers can create using the power supplied to them. If a vehicle has a low-powered stereo, then the best choice is to get a system with a high sensitivity rating. If the stereo is high-powered, then the speaker system can have a lower sensitivity rating.

 

3. Car Speaker Materials

The materials that the speaker components are made from have a large impact on the sound quality. The materials also have an impact on the lifespan of the system as a whole.

Speaker Component

Materials

Tweeter

The tweeter is usually made with soft materials such as textile blends, silk, or polyurethane, which help produce a warm sound. However, harder materials such as metal, ceramics, or graphite, make the sound pop with higher tones.

Surround Materials

The surround is the casing around the woofer. It has to withstand heat and humidity. The best performing material is rubber. However, foam and cloth surrounds are less expensive and still work well.

Woofer

In order to produce the bass sounds, the woofer needs to be constructed with a lightweight, stiff material. Polypropylene is a popular material because it produces accurate bass sounds. Other materials such as woven fabrics may also be used.

Make sure that the manufacturer lists the materials used in the speakers and systems. Failure to list the materials often means that low quality materials were used.

4. Extra Car Speaker Features

Car speakers can come with some additional features that vehicle owners may be interested in investing in to enhance their audio experience.

Features

Description

Detachable Tweeters

Detachable tweeters are universal in that they can be installed in full-range or component systems. They can come in handy when it comes time to switch vehicles because new tweeters do not have to be purchased.

External Crossovers

External crossovers are seen in some full-range systems. The feature separates the frequencies that are sent to the woofer and the tweeter so that they don't try to produce the frequencies they can't. The result is cleaner, better sounding audio.

Pivoting Tweeters

If the speakers have to be installed in an awkward place due to size limitations, pivoting tweeters can be moved around to send the sound in the listeners' direction.

Each of these features adds to the cost of the car speakers, so shoppers should only choose them if they feel that the price is worth the benefit.

5. Cost of Speaker Systems

The price range of car speakers varies greatly. Simple replacement speakers can be very affordable, while the high-tech, high-performance systems can cost as much as a used vehicle or more. Drivers should determine their budget before beginning to shop and then find speakers with the best capabilities within that range. It is easy to constantly increase the budget to include more capabilities or features in the car speakers. Remember that the size of the speaker does not necessarily reflect whether a speaker will have a better sound overall. For example, a 6.5-inch car speaker could be better or worse than a 6x9 speaker depending on other factors. The same is true for the price of the speaker; An inexpensive speaker might work just as well as an expensive, name brand speaker.

6. Car Values

Speakers should be chosen based on how they will make driving more enjoyable. In the end, speaker systems will not raise the value of the car by much. The only instance in which the value may go up slightly is in an older vehicle. The speakers are more likely to make the car more desirable, but not more valuable. In today's vehicles, manufacturers have realized the popularity of good speaker systems and they have been producing vehicles that come stock with better sound systems. This makes the value of changing out the speakers drop even more.

Buying Car Speakers

Car speakers and speaker systems are available at many locations, including specialty car audio shops, electronics stores, and even some department stores. However, since there are so many options to choose from when it comes to purchasing speaker systems, it is much easier to shop for them at a place that has a large selection. eBay has sellers from around the world that list speakers of all brands and qualities.

How to Shop for Car Speakers on eBay

Finding speaker systems on eBay is easy. Simply use the the Search bar located at the top of any page. Enter relevant keywords such as "car subwoofers" or "car speakers" and then browse the listings for the item(s) you're looking for.  You can also narrow down the selection by choosing the brands you're interested in, the condition of the speakers, and the power range.

Conclusion

A good speaker system in a car can make driving much more enjoyable for everyone in the vehicle. The ideal speakers are reasonably priced while still enhancing the car's sound system. In order to select the right speakers, shoppers need to be aware of their options. Understanding the types of speakers, their sound quality, the materials to choose from, extra features that are available, their costs, and their value aids shoppers in making a more informed decision with their purchase.

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