A car's audio system uses wide-spectrum speakers to distribute the sound spectrum as much as possible, in a limited space. Two-way and three-way speakers, called coaxial and triaxial respectively, are traditional speakers capable of reproducing the full range of sound.

A good location, the acoustic space, the quality of the speakers, the amplifier and the type of frequency crossover contribute to the sound quality.

Frequency and sound response

Coaxial, or two-way, speakers are the most common choice, and consist of a speaker and a high-frequency speaker (tweeter). The baffle reproduces the low and mid frequencies, while the tweeter reproduces the mid-high and high frequencies. Coaxial speakers are built-in units, they feature a speaker mounted on the speaker frame, while the tweeter is suspended in an internal box above the speaker.

The individual speakers tune to isolated frequencies, which are filtered to the speakers by an electronic or mechanical crossover frequency, usually located in the speaker cone or frame.

The triaxial, or three-way, speakers feature the same built-in construction, but add an additional speaker, smaller than the baffle and larger than the tweeter, to handle the isolated midrange.

Triaxial speakers are equipment prepared to reproduce the entire audio spectrum more efficiently, since the frequency is divided into three sections, with dedicated speakers for each group of frequencies.

Component speakers for two-way and three-way systems are installed in high-end audio systems. Component systems use separate speakers, one for each frequency range, rather than integrated units. These systems are difficult to install, since they require the creation of mounting areas and audio output, which translates into having to cut part of the vehicle.

Differences between two-way and three-way car speakers

They also require external crossovers, and additional cables can bring complications. Component systems offer the advantage of being able to locate the speakers and obtain optimum quality sound; the bass speakers are placed on the floor, the mid-range speakers are placed on top, and the tweeters are pointed at the shoulder or ear area.

Crossover speakers filter frequency groups within the audible spectrum. In a two-way system, crossovers divide the frequencies into bass and treble. In a three-way system, the frequency is divided into bass, mid, and treble.

The crossovers can be mechanical, where the speaker cone is designed to limit and isolate frequencies, or electronic, where a circuit filters and isolates frequencies electronically, sending signals to the individual speakers. In component systems, the amplifier can do the integrated crossover, or use one or more units.

Normal audible frequencies are between 30Hz and 22kHz. Lower frequencies, below 30Hz, are felt rather than heard. High frequencies, greater than 22kHz, sound with a very high-pitched whistle. Look here for additional insights: 2 way vs 3 way speakers

The speakers are rated based on their ability to handle frequency ranges, with the specifications available on the manufacturer's or dealer's Internet sites.

Since all wide spectrum speakers are designed to handle similar frequency ranges, the main issue is sound. While three-way speakers are theoretically more efficient, a two-way speaker, which can handle the same frequencies, is also designed to be efficient.

The different possibilities and limitations regarding the location of a speaker and the acoustic properties of the space, particularly in a vehicle, play an important role in the final quality of the sound.

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