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 Speaker Selection
This tutorial is on Speaker Selection what to look for and what and, the pros and cons of various types. It is the first of a series aiming to assist people who are planning to install a car audio system or upgrade an existing system.




I have completed a range of installations in different vehicles the characteristics of which vary from car to car with particular experience in installs in the Ford Falcon range EA - BA. The pictures included are largely my own but if you have a pic that is relevant to a point I'm making please e-mail it to me and I'll happily include it in place of all of mine pics.

Speaker Selection
Brand
There are a huge number of choices when it comes to speaker brands and although many people will swear by a particular brand or type of speaker they are largely a personal choice and you should let your ears make the final decision not the marketing hype.

I recommended auditioning several sets of speakers before committing to a purchase. This can be done in store but beware of the following things
- The store is a much nicer listening environment than a car as speakers are on axis (facing you as opposed to jammed down low in the door or in kick panels)
- Speakers are an equal distance apart (equidistant) as opposed to most cars where the drivers side will be closer to you)
- Many stores have subwoofers playing with speakers to give an added sense of bottom end. You should listen to speakers by themselves to get the correct impression even if you plan on using a subwoofer later.
- Speakers are usually in a board in nicely made sealed enclosures. In the car you may not be able build a speaker into its optimum enclosure

It is best to audition them speakers in other peoples cars if possible. You find that most people are happy to let you have a listen to their system if you ask nicely so come along to any Fordmods meet and ask away. If all else fails I'm happy to let you listen to mine and a few others I have done so just hassle me... Car Audio Australia also has a number of meets and people there are running a diverse range of speakers in a range of cars.

That said a number of manufacturers have established an excellent reputation over time for producing quality speakers time after time some include:
- Focal
- Dynaudio
- Boston Acoustics
- Morel
- Pioneer
- Alpine
- Image Dynamics
- MB Quarts
- Digital Dynamics (subs)
- Diamond Audio
- Soundstream
- Earthquake
- Phoenix Gold
- Scan-Speak



While there is no hard and fast rule, my experiences & the reputation in the car audio industry is not as positive for some brands. This does not mean they do not make good speakers, it means that they have a reputation for poor quality or poor consistency product and that they do not sound as good as many of the more expensive brands listed above. That said they are usually considerably cheaper. They include
- BOSS
- US Audio
- Sony


Size
It depends on a number of factors such as budget and locations available but I'll give you a brief rundown.

Tweeters --> Frequency Response is typically 3khz- 20khz
Typically range from ½ inch to 2inch with most being around 1inch in size.

Midrange --> Frequency Response is typically 800htz- 3khz
Typically range from 2inch to 5.25inch

Midbass --> Frequency Response is typically 60hz- 800hz
Typically 6inch, 6.5inch or 8inch

Subwoofers --> Frequency Response is typically 20hz- 100hz
Typically 10inch, 12inch or 15inch

Although there are 4 types listed above it are not necessary to have all of these in a system with the minimum number recommended being 2 way and the maximum a 4 way system. The most popular system configuration is a 3 way with a pair of splits (tweeter and midrange/midbass) up front and a subwoofer for low frequencies.

Tweeters
Consider the mounting hardware offered for a particular tweeter and where you are planning on mounting it. I.e. does it come with flush mount (surface) brackets, swivel mounting brackets or screw in from behind? Although most tweeters are small some have reasonably large magnets and you may need to consider the depth if you plan on mounting them up high in the A-pillars where space may be restricted.
Tweeters are very directional so it is important to ensure nothing is blocking their sound path and they should generally be either aimed upwards or mounted higher in the car to lift the sound stage height. I have found that in the falcons aiming the tweeter at the opposing headrest work quite well.

2 common tweeter materials are hard dome (metal) & soft dome. Hard dome tweeters can benefit from extended high frequency response 18khz - 22khz + but can sound a little harsh or aggressive at higher volumes especially if mounted high up in the car such as the dash or A-pillars. Soft dome tweeters often have a more mellow sound however they often suffer roll off above 16khz and theie relaxed sound is not to everyones liking. Once again there is no hard and fast rule just listen to a few sets and make up your own mind. Quality component sets often have +2db and -2db adjustments in the crossover to assist you in getting the sound you desire from there speakers.




Midrange
With a 2 way front stage the midrange driver also plays midbass frequencys so looking for a speaker that will play down to your subwoofer crossover point is important. In a 2 way system I would only ever go as small as a 5.25inch midrange, as 4inch & smaller have difficulty reproducing low frequencies.

With a 3 way front stage the midrange plays a narrow band of frequencies and size is not especially important as lower frequencies are played by the midbass driver but it can be an important consideration for mounting as you should mount your midrange no more then ONE HANDSPAN away from your tweeter so you do not get image separation.

Midbass
Midbass drivers are used as part of a 3 way front stage. They are a larger speaker and typically mounting options are limited. It is important to mount this speaker securely as it moves with some force.




Subwoofers
These reproduce low frequencies below 100htz, are large, often heavy and most require an enclosure to produce the best results although some free air subwoofers are available.
Ideally you should select a subwoofer that is no more than 2 sizes larger than your midbass (or midrange for 2 way systems) speaker up front as they will blend better with your front stage and create a bass up front impression.
i.e. 6” midbasses up front = 10” subwoofer
i.e. 8” midbasses up front = 12” subwoofer

There will be a separate Tutorial on Subwoofers as there is a lot to cover.




Final Considerations
Other than brand and size it is important to consider the following
- Budget
- Mounting locations available
- Power you plan to drive them with – I found my Focal Utopias sounded great but needed at least 200rms per side. If you are planning to run speakers from a headunit then you should consider a speakers sensitivity and recommended power handling range
 
 Document Summary
 
Document description: Part 1 of Pyroay's Car Audio Tutorials
Document written by: pyroay on 05 2005>, Copyright © 2005 pyroay, all rights reserved.
Document revised: 08 2005 - Revision 1.0
Document views: 14025 since 05 2005



 

 

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