Understanding The Anatomy of Car Speakers
Car speaker systems are often a mystery to people. You plug in your phone or turn on your radio, and voila! You’re jamming to your favorite tunes. But if you want to upgrade or add to your speaker system, it helps to understand the anatomy of a speaker’s components.
So if you’re planning a project or just curious about how your car sound system works, keep reading to learn all about your car’s speaker system. From the most critical components to the best materials to look for, this is a complete guide to your car speakers.
- How Speakers Work
- Different Kinds of Car Speakers
- Super Tweeters
- Parts of a Speaker
- Pole Piece
- Top Plate
- Voice Coil
- Dust Cap
- How to Choose the Best Speakers
- Optimal Voice Coil
- Magnet Size
- Quality Cone
- Quality Surround
- Final Considerations
Speakers are very complicated, but the gist of the process comes down to vibrations. The speakers take an amplified electrical signal and then convert that electrical signal into mechanical energy.
The mechanical energy creates a vibration, moving the cone back and forth, which results in a sound. Sound is essentially vibration moving through the air that in turn vibrates our eardrums.
The cone is an integral part of the speaker because it is the part that eventually produces the sound once the other components have created and directed the correct frequencies and vibrations.
There are a handful of different kinds of speakers you can install in your car, and they have different purposes. Some of these speakers work in tandem to cover a range of sounds and frequencies, but others are add-ons to increase your car sound system quality.
Component speakers are one of the highest-quality kinds of speakers and also the most customizable. They consist of speakers and drivers that work together and fit in various places in your vehicle.
However, they require a lot of effort and knowledge to install. If you don’t know much about speakers or car systems, you will likely want to hire a professional. You will need various speakers that work with bass, middle, and high frequencies. Plus, you need crossovers installed externally to control the sound signals.
If you want a quick and simple new set of speakers for your car, component speakers are not ideal. But for high-quality and customized sound, these are the best speakers.
Subwoofers are usually an add-on to a speaker system in a car. Subwoofers transmit the lowest sound frequencies and focus on amplifying bass and vibration to deepen the music and sound. These speakers are often installed in the trunk and send vibrations and sound through the car from this location.
There’s no reason to only have subwoofers unless you don’t want to really hear your music, but kick your car speakers up a notch.
Like the subwoofers, midrange speakers only work with a small range of frequencies. As the name suggests, midrange speakers transmit midrange frequencies, so these are necessary speakers for enjoying your music and other sounds.
You can usually find the midrange speakers on the doors of your car, where they prominently produce the most sound.
Tweeters are the opposite of subwoofers. They produce the highest sound frequencies, and you can get away with a decent sound system without them. But like subwoofers, they make a huge difference. These speakers are tiny, usually less than 2 inches in diameter. But they significantly improve the clarity of your sound so you can appreciate higher sounds like cymbals.
For true music lovers and speaker heads, you can install super tweeters in your car. These speakers usually go on your dashboard and are even smaller than tweeters, and product ultra-high frequencies tweeters sometimes can’t handle. These are not necessary but add to the quality of your sound for a better and more accurate listening experience.
Car speakers operate using magnetic energy, and many parts use various materials. From fabric to plastic to metal, your car speakers consist of many intricate components that work together in harmony. To help you understand the anatomy of your car speakers, this is a quick breakdown of the important pieces and what they all do.
The frame is the backbone of the vehicle’s speakers. This part mounts the speakers to the cabinet of the vehicle and can be made of metal, synthetic, or a combination of the two. They are rigid, resistant to damage, and resistant to vibration, so they can handle high bass and loud volumes.
All speakers feature a magnet on the back that connects to the voice coil. The stronger the magnetic field produced by the magnet, the more responsive the speakers will be, and you’ll experience a higher sound quality.
The backplate holds the magnet against the voice coil so the magnetic field can be effective. Without this, the speaker magnet wouldn’t be secure. This piece is sometimes called the t-yoke and is sometimes the same component as the pole piece.
The pole piece is metal and focuses the magnetic field, so it flows toward the speaker, improving sound and responsiveness. The backplate and pole piece are often sold and treated as one part, and both can be referred to as the t-yoke.
The top plate creates a small gap between the magnet and the pole piece. This gap allows the magnetic energy to pass between the magnet and the pole piece. Then, the energy can be directed accordingly.
The voice coil is an integral part of your car speakers. It can be positively or negatively charged, and it alternates. The alternating currents change the magnetic field. Sometimes it pulls or pushes the voice coil in the magnet.
This act produces sound waves so you can listen to your favorite tunes. The voice coil is a tightly wound spool of copper inside the permanent magnet and connects to the cone and the spider. The bigger the voice coil, the better your sound, but it does cause excess heat in the vehicle.
The cone is a rigid component made of plastic, paper, aluminum, or aramid fibers. The best material is aramid because it is durable and can handle constant vibration and movement. The cone is the circular, hard part you see at first when you take the grill off your speaker.
Made from rubber, butyl, and other synthetic materials, the surround is a flexible and sturdy ring that connects the cone to the frame. Like many components, surrounds need to handle harsh vibration without tearing or ripping. This part is tiny but integral to the quality of your car speakers.
The spider is a component whose function is to keep the voice coil and cone connected without damaging either of them. To accomplish this, the spider has to be flexible but rigid enough that it doesn’t let the voice coil shift sideways. It keeps everything aligned so the magnetic energy can be directed and consists of a fabric treated with resin.
A dust cap is true to its name, as it is a tiny little plastic cover on the front of your speaker. It is directly in the center and prevents dust, dirt, and debris from working their way into the delicate parts of the speaker like the surround and the voice coil.
The crossovers are a vital part of your speaker system because they direct high and low frequencies to the proper speakers. This part provides optimal sound quality and ensures the wrong frequencies don’t damage or blow your speakers. A high-frequency sound traveling to a low-frequency sound will likely result in a broken speaker and vice versa.
If your car’s sound system is a priority for you and you want to use the best components available, check out these tips on choosing the best parts so you can have the best speakers and sound quality.
The bigger the voice coil, the better it can transmit vibrations and magnetic energy. The material of the voice coil also matters. Some use aluminum or other metals, but copper is by the far the best because it will last a long time and handles vibrations well.
This part is simple, the bigger the magnet, the better the sound quality. The only downside is larger magnets create larger magnetic fields that will add heat to your vehicle. If you have low confidence in your air conditioning and live in a warm place, this could impact you.
As discussed, the cone is one of the most important components of your speaker system. The cone is the piece that creates the vibrations to make the sound you end up hearing. The most high-quality cones usually combine a range of different materials that work together to improve sound quality and maintain vibrations.
The best surrounds use a rubber material called Santoprene. Most just use foam, which is fine, but it’s less durable and stable when keeping the voice coil and the cone in the proper place.
Car speakers can be super expensive, so make sure you prioritize your sound needs before choosing a poor-quality speaker. Now you know there is more to a car’s sound system than just one of two speakers, and that it’s much more complicated than that.