If you spend a lot of time in your car, then you understand the importance of the stereo system. Whether you’re stuck in a daily commute, or on a fun road trip, chances are you use your car stereo a lot. To make your driving experience even nicer, you might be thinking about upgrading your speakers, so that your podcasts, audiobooks, and especially music sound a lot better.
Upgrading speakers is a fun task, whether you just want to improve your sound system, or you have a blown speaker. There are lots of good options to fit whatever your desires and budget may be, and it’s a relatively easy way to modify your vehicle. However, purchasing new speakers can be an overwhelming endeavor, so it’s important to know what to look for. To make the process smooth, fun, and successful, check out our guide on how to choose the right speakers for your car stereo.
Part 1 of 3: Choose your speaker style and price range
Step 1: Choose your speaker style. You can choose between a full range or a component speaker system.
Full range speakers are the basic speaker systems that are included in most vehicles. In a full range system, all of the speaker components (tweeters, woofers, and potentially midrange or supertweeters) are contained in one speaker group.
Usually the car has two of these speaker groups, one on each front door. The benefits of a full range system are that they’re usually more affordable, easier to install, and take up less space.
The other option is a component speaker system, where each speaker in the system is free-standing. Each speaker in a component system will be installed in a different part of the car, which gives a more comprehensive and realistic sound.
What you listen to in the car can play a big role in choosing between a full range or a component system. If you primarily listen to talk radio, audiobooks, and podcasts, then you’ll barely even notice the difference between these two systems, and you may want to opt for a full range set, as it’s likely to be more affordable. If you mostly listen to music, however, you’ll likely notice much better sound quality from the component system.
Step 2: Choose your price range. Car speakers can be found in nearly every price bracket. You can find dozens of quality options for under $100, or you can easily spend in excess of $1000.
It all depends on how much money you want to spend on your speaker system.
Since there’s such a wide array of speaker prices, you should figure out how much you’re going to spend before you begin shopping, so that you don’t get talked into spending more money than you wanted to.
Part 2 of 3: Match the speakers to your vehicle
Step 1: Match the speakers to the stereo. When purchasing new speakers, you need to make sure that they will work well with your car stereo.
Stereos can be broken down into two general categories: low-powered, which is defined as 15 or fewer watts RMS per channel, and high-powered, which is 16 or more watts RMS.
Low-powered stereos should be matched with high-sensitivity speakers, while high-powered stereos should be matched with low-sensitivity speakers. Similarly, if the stereo is high-powered, the speakers will need to be able to handle a large amount of power, preferably as much as the stereo is outputting.
- Tip: If you’re invested in getting a great audio system in your vehicle, you may want to consider purchasing a new stereo when you buy new speakers to make sure they work well together.
Step 2: Match the speakers to the vehicle. Not all speakers will fit in your car. Before purchasing any speakers, you’ll want to make sure that they are compatible with your vehicle.
Many speakers will list which vehicles they are compatible with, or a speaker salesperson should be able to help you. When in doubt, you can always contact the speaker manufacturer for an answer.
Part 3 of 3: Shop around
Step 1: Use online resources. If you know exactly what kind of speakers you want, then it’s probably best to buy them online, as you can easily shop around and find the deal that’s best for you.
Make sure you check multiple online marketplaces before ordering your speakers, so you can see if anyone has good deals or special prices. It’s not always the large, popular websites that have the best prices.
Step 2: Visit an automotive audio store. If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks, nothing beats buying your speakers in person.
If you visit an automotive audio store, you’ll get the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a knowledgeable salesperson, who can help you determine the perfect speaker fit for you and your car, and answer all of your questions.
You’ll be able to get a hands-on shopping experience, which is always helpful when trying to choose the best sound. The store will also have a professional available to install your speakers for you at an affordable price.
- Tip: If you purchase your speakers online, but don’t feel comfortable installing them, your local automotive audio store can install them for you. However, you will usually pay less for installation if you purchase the speakers through the store.
Once you purchase your new car speakers, it’s time to get them in your car and get listening. If you’re opting to install the speakers yourself, be extremely careful with the wiring. Speaker wiring is located near lots of other important wiring, such as the wiring for the climate controls, windshield wipers, power door locks, and airbags. If you damage a wire you may compromise one of these systems. If you do damage a wire, or a warning light comes on after you’ve replaced the speakers, a trustworthy mechanic from YourMechanic can inspect the vehicle and find the cause of the issue.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Choose Speakers for Your Car Stereo and was authored by Brady Klopfer.