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Car Speaker Buying Guide

Car audio systems are among the most common to be upgraded, accessorized, or simply repaired. Speakers aren’t always the quality you want, and they can blow or deteriorate in sound quality – and it always happens with your favorite tune at high volume. Fortunately, they aren’t the most complicated repair you could undertake, and plenty of options are available across a spectrum of budgets.

 Whether you’re looking for a simple upgrade or want to create the perfect sound system, this buying guide will help you find the best car speakers for your needs. Learn what features to consider, such as sound quality, power output, and installation process. You’ll also get helpful tips that can make the selection process easier and ensure that you get value for your money.

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Types of Car Speakers

Generally, you can break down speakers into three categories: component, coaxial, and subwoofers. And depending on the vehicle you drive, you could have one or more types installed. Or, if you’re doing an upgrade, you’ll need to know what each type brings to the table.

  • Coaxial speakers come in two varieties: 2-way and 3-way. 2-way speakers feature two drivers that produce both the high and low frequencies while 3-way models feature three drivers that create both highs, mids, and lows. They’re common for factory-installed speakers too. Coaxial speakers generally offer good sound quality at an affordable price point, making them a popular choice for budget conscious shoppers.
  • Component speakers are typically higher quality and consist of multiple speaker types in the same system, hence why they’re called components. They typically consist of one speaker for the highs and a separate woofer for the lows. This allows you to customize the sound according to your needs. Component speakers are usually more expensive than other types of car audio but provide excellent sound quality.
  • Subwoofers are specifically designed for deep bass tones. They are often larger than other types of car audio systems and can produce powerful low frequency sounds without distorting or losing clarity. Subwoofers can be used to complement any existing car audio system, enhancing its overall sound quality.

Speaker Features and Specifications

6×9-inch, 6.5-inch, 5 1/4-inch, 4-inch, and 3.5-inch. These common speaker sizes produce a diverse range of tones. Typically, the smaller the better for high-range sounds that make audio sound clearer. As you get larger, the added surface area responds better to low frequencies, so there’s more bass from bigger sizes.

Aside from speaker size, power handling is a spec to take note of. It refers to the maximum power that a speaker can handle before it becomes damaged. This is usually measured in watts, and a higher wattage rating usually translates to louder sound and larger bass response. An underpowered speaker may not be able to produce the sound that you want, and be sure that your amplifier has enough power output to drive your speakers properly.

The sensitivity rating refers to the amount of sound pressure a speaker can produce with a given amount of power. Typically, this is measured in decibels (dB). A higher sensitivity rating means that the speaker will be louder at lower power levels, while a lower sensitivity rating indicates that it takes more power to reach the same volume level.

Different materials can affect how a speaker sounds, with soft materials like natural fabrics absorbing more sound, while hard materials like metal reflecting sound back into the cabin. Generally, larger magnets produce louder and clearer sound because they generate more power. Speakers with a curved shape or cone-shaped design are better at producing bass and mid-range frequencies, but you might need a shallow speaker to fit the location.

Factors to Consider When Buying Car Speakers

You want your audio system to sound clean and crisp, loud enough for your taste, and most of all, you want your parts to last. These five criteria should be top of mind whether you’re buying the best car speakers money can buy or OEM replacements.

  • Sound quality can greatly affect your listening experience. Factors like speaker type, size, and shape all have an impact on sound quality, so make sure to do research before you make a purchase to get the best possible outcome for your car’s audio system.
  • Compatibility is arguably the most important factor to consider. If you’re looking for direct replacements, the speaker needs to have the same mounting holes, depth, and even the resistance in ohms needs to be compatible. Otherwise, it’s not going to function as it should, if at all.
  • Price, of course, is also a consideration. You can get a standard OEM replacement or a low-cost, no-frills speaker starting around $15 or so. But if you have the money to spend, you’ll get far greater sound from more expensive options.
  • Installation makes a difference too. If you aren’t technically savvy, you might want to have a mechanic install your speakers for you.
  • Brand reputation should always be in mind when you’re shopping for auto parts, including speakers. For speakers that sound the best, are built to last, and often have technical assistance only a phone call away, choose a brand name you recognize or that gets excellent reviews online.

Tips for Choosing the Best Car Speakers

Keep in mind that buying car speakers can be extremely simple like replacing OEM speakers, or beyond complicated with aftermarket upgrades that are like opening Pandora’s box. Here are a few tips:

  • Read up on speaker installation techniques. If the resistance doesn’t match your original speakers, you might be able to use them still by bridging them – that’s another topic altogether.
  • Don’t skimp. While there are many cost-effective speakers on the market, the only bang for your buck is a blown speaker.
  • Keep it simple, if possible. Upgrades are fine if you are capable of running speaker wires and power wires to install speakers and amplifiers, but high-grade direct replacements maintain your electrical system integrity and keep everything clean.

At an AutoZone near you, find car speakers and other audio system components to repair or upgrade your car. Not sure which parts are best for your project? An associate can help you make the right choice. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

FAQ/People Also Ask

How do I choose the right speakers for my car?

If you’re searching for direct replacement speakers, simply enter your vehicle information to see compatible options, then select the speaker you need.

How many watts is a good car speaker?

If you’re looking for high-quality, high-volume sound, look for speakers with 40 to 50 watts of RMS power.

Which brand is best for car speakers?

Many car audio specialists have brand loyalties, but car audio has come a long way in a couple of decades. Kenwood and BOSS Audio are two brands that are good value and good quality.

What size amp do I need for my car speakers?

To choose an amplifier, take the total RMS power for the speakers it will power and select an amp with RMS power 100 to 150% of that value.

What is the best Hz for car speakers?

You’ll get the best bass performance between 40 and 80 Hz, but generally, 80 to 120 Hz will produce excellent low-end sound.

Which car speaker is best for bass?

Choose a subwoofer to enhance your car’s bass sounds. There are many choices of self-contained subs on the market.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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