If you don’t know too much about cars or how the speaker system in them works, you might be at a bit of a loss when it comes to looking at getting an upgrade. Although it might be a topic that seems alien to you, it is quite straight forward once you get your head around it. There are many different types of speaker system but rather than seeing this as intimidating and overwhelming, view it as a luxury that manes you have plenty of choice and you will be able to find a perfect fit for you and what you are looking for.
One issue you are likely to come face to face with when doing your research is the debate surrounding whether you should get a 2 way or a 3 way speaker system. What does that even mean?
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Some of The Basics
Just to cover some of the basics to aid your understanding, inside a speaker box you will find one or two parts called the drivers which we will refer to over the next few paragraphs. These are the parts that vibrate when sound is coming through them.
Sounds have high frequencies, low frequencies and many in between. These different drivers are made to deal with the different ranges of frequencies. This is not one singular driver that can handle all frequencies that the human ear can and so speakers tend to have 2 or more in order to handle the different frequencies of sound.
The main types of drivers used are woofers, tweeters and mid-range drivers. Woofers handle sounds of a low frequency, tweeters handle sounds of a high frequency and mid-range drivers handle exactly that – everything in the middle. Something called a crossover is then used to split that original sounds into two or three different signals and send the various frequencies to their correct driver.
2 Way Vs. 3 Way Speaker System
Well, here we will try to explain the 2 or 3 way speaker system debate in non-technical terms. People simply use 2 or 3 way as a way of distinguishing between different car speaker systems based on how many drivers they have.
If a speaker system has more than one driver, input sound signals are split into different frequencies, with high frequency signals going to the tweeter and low frequency signals going to the woofer. Therefore, a two way speaker has its sound signals split into two different ways and in a three way speaker it is divided into three separate ways. This is a very simple and easy way of classifying different kinds of speaker designs.
2 Way Vs. 3 Way in Coaxials
In a basic 2 way coaxial car speaker, there will be a large woofer and a small tweeter inside the box. Sometimes, there may be one woofer with a few of small tweeters. This setup is most popular in coaxial systems, with both the woofer and the tweeter being in the same box.
Sometimes you can have three drivers in one but too, but usually a 3 way coaxial system (also known as a triaxial system), has an extra part known as a mid-range driver or sometimes referred to as a super tweeter which is on the woofer.
The downside of this type of system is that a coaxial uses a passive crossover inside the box and works at its best when it is only split into two: high frequency and low frequency. If you then add a mid-range driver or super tweeter into the mix, the crossover doesn’t work a well.
It is for this reason that in a coaxial, we would recommend sticking with a 2 way system for the best sound quality.
2 Way Vs. 3 Way in Components System
The audio system in a 2 way component car will be slightly different in that it will have a set of woofers and a set of tweeters but they will be in two separate boxes. No matter how many pairs of tweeters or woofers you have, this is still a 2 way system.
If you start adding external crossovers to the audio system, this will improve the quality of the components working together and in terms of a 3 way system, it benefits from this addition. The mid-range here will be more accurate and will give the ability create a much better audio experience.
Therefore, if using high quality components, a 3 way system is classed as typically better than a 2 way system with regards to the overall sound quality of the component systems. It’s important to add though that as you would expect, they are more complex to fit and cost more money. Depending on what exactly you are looking for, you may think it is well worth the money for a better sound quality or alternatively you might decided that you aren’t too bothered and want to spend as little money as possible.
In Conclusion, Which Is Better?
If you are really into your audio and hold audio quality with high importance, component systems offer much better quality and 3 way systems are largely accepted to be the best when it comes to component systems. However, if you are not going to use the audio regularly, it’s unlikely that you will even notice the difference between the sound quality in a 2 way and a 3 way system so may be better off sticking to a 2 way system and saving yourself some money.
If you are sticking with the coaxial option, perhaps because component systems are out of your budget, you are better off sticking to a 2 way system. If you go for a 3 way system in a coaxial, the performance will be worse than a 2 way and so it simply isn’t worth spending the money on.
Whilst carrying out your research into 2 and 3 way systems, you may well come across some 4 and 5 way speakers. However, just adding more and more drivers will not improve the audio output and so is not worth the money. If you want the best possible audio, output, stick with the 3 way component system, 4 and 5 ways are not necessary or particularly beneficial in any way.
- Car Audio Speakers – HowStuffWorks