Car Speakers Buyers Guide

As the centrepiece of any car stereo system, your car’s speakers have the potential to make longer journeys more fun and traffic jams enjoyable.

One of the greatest benefits of upgrading your car speakers is to create a higher fidelity and clarity of sound. With improved sound clarity, your favourite songs or radio stations will be clearer, crisper and sound closer to reality.

But little did you know, the speaker systems fitted by your car’s manufacturer don’t always offer the best sound and overall experience. And this is why many car owners choose to upgrade their car’s speakers to a more specialised package.

So where do you start? Well, we’ve put together this helpful buying guide to give you a head start when it comes to choosing your next car speakers.

Make sure your speakers and your system match

There are two main specifications to consider when choosing your next car speakers that will have a positive impact on the overall sound quality.

Sensitivity

The sensitivity of a speaker is measured to identify how it converts power (watts) into volume (decibels). The rating is measured in decibels and the higher the rating the louder the speakers play.

Most factory-installed car stereos are fitted with low-powered speakers (15 watts RMS per channel) or less. If your car is fitted with a low-powered stereo, speakers with high sensitivity ratings of over 90dB will be most suited to your stereo. Alternatively, high-powered stereo systems with 16 watts RMS or more will benefit from speakers with a low sensitivity rating.

Replacement speakers with a high sensitivity level will also work best if your car is fitted with an anemic factory stereo. And if you’re working with a high-powered external amp, speakers with a low sensitivity level are the ones to go for.

Power-handling

How much power a speaker can handle is measured in watts and is known as power-handling. Though it sounds technical, it ensures your speakers are capable of handling the power that your stereo or external amplifier produces. This is why many people prefer to buy a new stereo before looking at speakers.

The rating consists of two numbers. The lower number is the minimum wattage required to get the desired sound from the speaker, whereas the higher number is the amount the speaker can handle for an extended time. When looking for new car speakers, you should match your power source level to the speaker’s recommended range (RMS).

What type of car speakers do you need?

When upgrading the sound system in your car, there are three types of speaker systems to choose from: micro amplifiers, full-range (coaxial) speakers or component speakers.

Micro amplifier

Micro amplifiers and micro subs such as the Vibe Optisound offer the simplest solution for boosting your car’s sound. This simple plug and play system allows you to keep your factory stereo and speakers, while having enough juice to power your system and boost sound. Micro amplifiers can also be used as the foundation for a whole new system.

Full-range speakers (Coaxial)

Full-range are the most popular type of car speakers and can be found in almost all car stereo systems. They contain all the speaker elements and are capable of producing a wide range of audio frequencies. To achieve this, they consist of a tweeter for the highs and a woofer for the lows.

Coaxial speakers are the best option if you are looking to upgrade factory speakers with minimal fuss. These speakers mount effortlessly into the location of your current speakers and can be fitted yourself relatively easily. If you don’t fancy doing the groundwork, we’ll always fit your new car speakers for you, just head down to your local Halfords store. Our complete range of coaxial speakers covers a great selection of price points, sizes and brands, including leading car audio manufacturers Pioneer & Kenwood.

Component speakers

Component speakers use the most superior design and offer the best possible sound. A typical component system includes a woofer, tweeter and external crossovers - all of which are specially designed to sing in tune.

Because each element is separate, you can mount the tweeter (a small speaker that produces high frequencies) in the most effective place on the woofer (a large speaker that creates low frequencies) - producing better sound with greater depth. The crossover network is also external, which means that certain frequencies are sent to specific speakers - reducing distortion and improving the overall sound clarity.

Car speaker size and configuration

To ensure you purchase the correct speakers, it’s important to gather information around the size and configuration of your existing unit. With coaxial speakers, it’s as simple as measuring the speakers in your car and then finding a replacement that drops into the existing space. With component speakers, having the correct sizes and configurations of your existing unit is vitally important. You’ll be able to find this information in your car’s manual.
Build quality and speaker material

Great sound and durability come from good speaker material. Build quality is another reason why people upgrade the speaker system in their car, and with most modern-day cars equipped with low-quality speakers, it’s an investment worth making.

Tweeter materials

A tweeter is often made of textile blends or silk which produce a clear and mellow sound. But if you want those high notes to be crisp and bright, choose speakers made of hard materials like metals, ceramics or graphite.

Woofer materials

A woofer made of stiff, lightweight material will produce bass notes that resonate throughout your car. Polypropylene is the go-to material when it comes to woofer cones, and while it serves well, polypropylene mixed with metal-coated synthetic fabrics or mica will produce a better bass sound and sustain heat, cold and moisture too.

Surround materials

Surrounds are the name given to the soft rings on the woofer. It allows the woofer cone to move freely and produce lower frequencies. Because of the heavy vibration caused by bass frequencies, for the best results, the surround should be made of a durable material such as rubber. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative - choose foam or cloth.

How much does it cost to replace car speakers?

The cost to replace your car speakers depends entirely on the system you choose. With our complete range of brands, sizes and configurations - the sky’s the limit. A speaker upgrade can cost as little as £15 if you’re purchasing new coaxial speakers. Installing a Vibe Optisound micro amplifier or sub is relatively inexpensive too, with each unit costing around £80. As for component speakers, the price depends on the size, configuration and brand of speaker. Because they feature individual components which delivery optimal sound quality, component speaker systems tend to be the most expensive option.

What are the best speakers for a car?

We stock a wide range of car speakers, so choosing the ‘best’ car speakers often comes down to your personal preference. Sure, there are high-end component speakers that offer the best live sound, but these often come with a higher price tag that not everyone can afford. When choosing your new car speakers, think about the type of system you want to install along with build quality and speaker material.

If you’re looking for easy functionality and simple set-up, full-range speakers or a micro amplifier will provide you with the boost you need to enjoy your music on the road. For true music lovers who want a more ‘live’ and dynamic sound, component speakers will give your tunes the credit they deserve, but come with a higher price tag and a more complex fitting process. But don’t worry, because we also offer to fit your car speakers for you at your local Halfords store.

The best car speaker brands

Pioneer

Pioneer is a leading car audio brand and their speakers are among our best sellers. Pioneer car speakers are easy to install and provide excellent sound quality when paired with a matching head unit. They are also a great option if you,re looking to upgrade your standard car speakers to improve the sound. We offer a great range of Pioneer coaxial speakers with a choice of RMS power and sizes.

Shop Pioneer speakers

Vibe

Vibe allows customers to completely transform their car speaker system. Vibe Optisound speakers are car specific, fitting seamlessly into door panels. They have bespoke details to ensure the best sound clarity regardless of the shape and size of your car. With a choice of coaxial speakers, component speakers and complete speaker kits, Vibe offers the ultimate upgrade package to experience a ‘real-life’ sound.

Another plus point with Vibe speakers and their installation kits is that they are simple to install. They are also invisible once installed, making them perfect for lease hire or company cars. And if you sell your car, they can easily be removed without any damage.

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Alpine

Alpine is one of the most renowned brands in the world of car audio thanks to a wide range of speakers, subwoofers and add-ons. Their speaker systems have a unique design and are well known for their excellent build quality and choice of speaker materials. Alpine car speakers produce clear vocals, dynamic bass and are an excellent upgrade for any current speaker system.

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