When looking at lists of the Best Car Speakers and trying to decide on a speaker that's right for you, you really need to ask yourself, “What am I looking for in a speaker?” Here, we want to help you answer that question, and teach you what to look for when choosing component car speakers.
Common Speaker Terms & Ratings
Lets define a few common terms that are compared when rating a speaker:
Power Handling: Power handling is the measurement a manufacture gives to rate how much power a speaker can handle and operate at. It is given by two measurements, RMS and Peak (or MAX). RMS Power rating is the amount of power the speaker handles continuously, while the Peak Power rating is the amount of power a speaker can handle in short bursts. When comparing speakers, RMS Power is the more relevant and important rating to look at.
Sensitivity: The speaker sensitivity rating is a measurement of the amount of sound the speaker will emit from the power it's given. The higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the speaker is with the power it's given. For lower powered systems, you want a higher sensitivity rating. For a higher powered system, you want a lower sensitivity rating. Lower sensitivity rated speakers are meant to handle higher power.
Frequency Range: Frequency range is the frequencies that the speaker emits sound at, measure in Hz. Normally they are given from a low frequency to high, for example: 20 – 22,000 (22k) Hz. This measure how low and high the speaker can actually emit sound at.
Speaker Design and Materials
Woofer: The speaker woofer can determine the responsiveness, and quality of the speaker. The stiffer and more lightweight the material used, the more effective the speaker is. Polypropylene is a very common material used for the cone, as well as woven fabrics such as kevlar. Aluminum and titanium are also used in higher end speakers.
Woofer Surrounding: The woofer surround also is an important aspect of the speaker system and effect the sound as well. Durable, lightweight, and free moving materials are used to allow the woofer to move with as little energy possible. The material is essential for a long lasting and performing speaker too. As speakers get older and used, humidity levels and wear-and-tear can crack and even break the surrounding of the woofer. Rubber surrounding is typically the most long lasting an high performing material. Foam an cloth surroundings are found on less expensive component speakers, with lower performance and shorter life spans.
Crossovers: When you purchase a component car speaker system, a crossover is almost always a part of the package. External crossovers are typically used to lessen the amount of distortion a speaker might have by separating the frequency inputs. Signals can cross through coated wiring and cause distortion, so an external crossover system will limit this.
Now that you know what you're looking at when trying to find a speaker, check out our list of best car speakers to find the system for your car.