One of the easiest, and most common upgrades you can make on your car are your speakers.
It’s also that one upgrade that you’ll feel the most, which is why it’s a common situation to have people want to upgrade their car audio after a while.
That being said, when you look into upgrading your speakers, you’ll come across two main types – coaxial speakers, also known as full-range, and component speakers.
This, obviously, begs the question, which ones are right for you, and which are better?
While there is no answer to which ones are better, because it’s an individual matter, we can compare both and see which type you should go for.
Coaxial vs Component Speakers: Main Difference
The main difference between coaxial and component speakers is rather fundamental, and has to do with how each speaker type works.
Coaxial speakers are known as full-range speakers for a reason. They’re systems that take all the components, and combine them in a single structure.
The most common solution is a woofer, and a tweeter that attaches somewhere on the top. Most coaxial speakers come with built-in crossovers.
Take a look at Rockford Fosgate P1462, for example. It’s a 2-way 4×6-inch coaxial speakers pair with mineral-filled polypropylene woofer and 3/4″ polyetherimide (PEI) dome tweeter.
You have probably experienced a pair of coaxial car speakers. Most factory setups, except for those on some of the higher end cars, will come with coaxial speakers.
To add to this, they’re a lot more common in the aftermarket world too, and we’ll get to the reasons in a minute.
Component speakers, on the other hand, have separate drivers for separate purposes. This allows you to install the different drivers at different locations in your car. The JBL Stage 600C is a good example of such speakers. It’s a reasonably-priced 6.5-inch component speakers system with 2 tweeters and 2 woofers – all separated.
To make sure each of those speakers is only fed the frequencies it’s designed for, an external crossover is used.
And while sure, you could say “that’s it”, this fundamental difference leads to a lot of differences in a few key aspects when choosing which ones to go for.
What Aspects Should You Consider?
Ease of Installation
Having a pair of speakers that are easy to install is important for many who don’t really want to take their car to a mechanic.
And if you want to do things yourself, you’ll want to grab the simpler solution, which is coaxial speakers.
Coaxial speakers come with a simple, fast installation, and you only have a single input connection to handle.
You can grab a pair that’s built well and uses high quality materials, and you’ll have a smooth and easy installation process.
On the other hand, component speakers are a bit more complex than that.
And this is especially true if you’re getting component speakers that you want to mount at different positions in your car – you’ll need a lot of time and patience for that, let alone knowledge.
Yes, some are simpler to install than others, but all of them are more complicated than coaxial speakers. And that can affect the overall upgrade cost if you’re hiring a mechanic to do it.
This is actually one of the downsides of coaxial speakers, and is why component speakers take the win in this category, hands down.
Component speakers have separate drivers for separate frequencies in the spectrum, which results in a much more clean sound.
You have woofers for the bass, you have tweeters for the high end, and you have midrange components for everything in between.
To add to this, component speakers are excellent at imaging.
This is mostly because you have the ability to mount tweeters at ear level, which makes you feel like the music is coming from your dash. This is an incredible experience which goes a long way towards sound quality.
On the other hand, coaxial speakers have a massive downside – their imaging is just bad.
This isn’t just true for one specific model, but for all of them.
The drivers for separate frequency spectrums are just too close to each other, which is why you’ll get frequency interference.
When it comes to customization, flexibility and overall amount of things you can play with, component speakers certainly take the cake here, too.
This is especially true if you’re going for a custom audio system, where component speakers allow you to install things where and how you like them, to achieve the sound effect you want.
For example, a typical component speaker system comes with two woofers, two tweeters and two crossovers.
You could add extra midrange drivers if you want a bit more oomph in the mid frequencies, too, or go for super-tweeters for better sound quality at the high end.
With this, you can choose how you set things up. If you place the speakers in a way that they’re facing the listener, you’ll achieve on-axis response.
This puts the music “in your face”, and results in better higher frequencies.
On the other hand, if you place them to face away from the listener, you can enjoy off-axis response and improved bass. If you’ve ever wondered why a subwoofer sounds better when it’s behind you, here’s your answer.
The last thing you should consider is the price.
With coaxial speakers, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and they’re oftentimes cheaper. The fact that they’re built to save space, time and money to begin with, goes a long way.
On the other hand, it takes a lot more time to make component speakers, and it takes a lot more materials, which is a cost passed on to the consumer. This is why they’re more expensive than coaxials in most cases.
Coaxial vs Component Speaker: Which One is Better
As we mentioned earlier, there is no clear answer as to which are better, but you can get an answer to which ones are better for you.
If you don’t care about quality too much, and just want a wallet-friendly set of speakers that you can even install by yourself, a pair of coaxials are absolutely perfect.
On the other hand, if you aren’t opposed to going the extra mile with installation, and spending a bit more, component speakers are the better pick. They’ll also get you much better sound quality and imaging, and are overall a lot more versatile to work with.