Decoding Decibels: Coaxial vs. Component Speakers for Car Audiophiles

So, you’ve got yourself a new ride, but the speaker system just isn’t cutting it. It lacks that punch, that oomph, that panache, that deep bass that really shakes things up and might even loosen your tooth fillings.

You might be pondering the idea of upgrading your car’s sound system. But here’s the snag – you can’t quite figure out whether you need a coaxial or a component sound system. That’s where we come in!

We’re here to guide you through the process of choosing the perfect speaker system for your car. We’ll be diving deep into coaxial and component speaker systems, exploring their pros and cons, and everything in between. Our goal is to help you in making the best decision for your car audio needs.

Let’s dive right in!


Which is better, coaxial or component speakers?

In terms of sound quality, component speakers have a clear advantage over coaxial speakers. They offer excellent frequency response, allow customization through audio equalizers, and come with dedicated crossover boxes that are more precise than passive high-pass filters, providing finer control over the frequency range of each driver in your sound system.

Additionally, each driver in a component speaker system works independently, making them the preferred choice for audiophiles.

On the other hand, coaxial speakers prioritize affordability and ease of use. They are simple to install, requiring minimal modifications to the car interior. Coaxial speakers can be seamlessly integrated with your existing sound system and are generally more compact than component speaker systems.

That’s the basic gist of coaxial and component speakers. Now, let’s dive a little deeper and explore what makes each type of these speakers unique and the pros and cons they bring to the table.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

What Are Coaxial Speakers?

Coaxial speakers are one of the two common types of speakers. They include two or more drivers, usually a tweeter and a woofer, into a single unit, making them noticeably smaller than component speakers.

This design also simplifies the installation process, as coaxial speakers usually skip the need for a crossover box, instead relying on passive inline capacitors. These capacitors act as a High Pass Filter (HPF), letting only the audio frequencies within the drivers’ threshold pass, thus safeguarding the drivers from damage.

Before we dive into the next type of speakers, namely the component speakers, let’s briefly examine the advantages and disadvantages of coaxial speakers to get a clearer picture of what makes them tick.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Coaxial Speakers

Coaxial speakers offer various advantages when compared to component speakers. To begin with, their configuration of multiple drivers within a single unit makes them incredibly easy to install in a car.

Their compact design allows seamless integration into your car’s existing sound system, requiring minimal modifications. This means you can enhance your audio experience without drastically altering your car’s interior, keeping it close to its original factory specifications.

Another advantage of coaxial speakers is that they usually come with built-in passive crossovers and don’t require a separate crossover box, reducing the need for extensive wiring and saving labor time. This not only saves space but also makes the entire installation process more cost-effective compared to component speakers.

Another significant advantage of coaxial speakers is their packaging. A single coaxial speaker can be 2-way, 3-way, or 4-way, with 4-way coaxial speakers containing the tweeter, mid-range speaker, woofer, and subwoofer, all neatly placed in a sleek, compact package. This feature makes coaxial speakers particularly handy for older cars and compact or subcompact cars where space is usually at a premium.

However, like most things, coaxial speakers aren’t without their drawbacks. One significant issue is their audio quality, which often falls short when compared to component speakers. This limitation stems from their inline capacitors, which often can’t match the clarity and audio frequency isolation offered by dedicated crossover boxes.

Additionally, audio interference is quite common, especially in budget-friendly 3-way and 4-way coaxial speakers. In these setups, each driver has to operate within a narrow frequency range, but since inline capacitors aren’t as good as dedicated crossovers when it comes to audio filtering and isolation, this often results in drivers picking up unwanted frequencies, leading to sound distortions. In the worst cases, this might even damage the drivers, especially tweeters, which tend to be highly fragile and sensitive.

Another limitation of coaxial speakers is the placement of the tweeter. Ideally, tweeters, which are responsible for high-frequency audio, should be as close to the car passengers as possible. However, coaxial speakers are positioned alongside the woofer and subwoofer, usually placed at the rear of the car. This setup severely restricts audio imaging and makes it challenging for passengers to hear high-pitched sounds and instruments, especially piccolo, piano, violin, xylophone, and similar instruments.

Overall, the advantages of coaxial speakers far outweigh the disadvantages. That’s why they are the go-to choice for people who want to boost their car audio without making significant modifications to their car interior. Coaxial speakers are not only highly affordable but also easy to install and can be seamlessly integrated into your car’s existing sound system.

But if you’re an audiophile, coaxial speakers might not fully satisfy your craving for high-quality sound. This is where component speakers come into play.

What Are Component Speakers?

Component speakers are a bit more sophisticated than coaxial speakers. As the name implies, each component or driver of a component speaker is placed separately, with a dedicated external crossover unit. This crossover unit can be either active or passive, depending on the specific component speaker model. This makes component speakers a bit more complex than coaxial speakers. Let’s dive deeper and take an in-depth look at all of their pros and cons.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Component Speakers

Let’s begin by exploring the advantages of component speakers. Firstly, they offer remarkable flexibility. The individual components, including tweeters, mid-range speakers, woofers, and subwoofers, can be placed anywhere in your car. This freedom allows you to fine-tune the soundstage, ensuring seamless and customized audio imaging according to your preferences.

Another significant advantage of component speakers lies in their power rating. They can effortlessly handle more powerful speakers with higher impedance, larger cones, and greater wattage, provided you have a sufficiently powerful amplifier to drive them.

Additionally, component speakers feature separate crossovers. Unlike inline capacitors, which offer limited filtration ability, crossovers tend to be much more precise. They provide accurate frequency filtration, enhancing audio fidelity. Moreover, crossovers enable you to fine-tune the frequency equalizer using software, allowing you to fine-tune and customize any specific frequency—an excellent feature for those with discerning ears.

However, component speakers do have their drawbacks. For instance, they tend to be pricier than coaxial speakers. Setting them up requires more time and expertise. Furthermore, modifications to your car’s interior are usually necessary to install a component speaker system. The crossovers also take up additional space, which can be problematic in compact cars.

Moreover, component speakers are not beginner-friendly; they require a certain level of knowledge and expertise. Choosing the right drivers for your specific component speaker setup can also be overwhelming due to the multitude of options available.

Nevertheless, if you aim for the best sound quality in your car system, component speakers are, without a doubt, the better option, hands down. While they require more effort and expertise, the end result justifies the investment, offering a superior audio experience that’s well worth the extra work and investment.

Coaxial vs. Component Speakers: An Objective and Detailed Comparison

Now that we’ve covered the basics of coaxial and component speakers let’s evaluate each type from different angles and see how they compare.

Sound Quality: Coaxial vs. Component

When it comes to sound quality, component speakers clearly outshine coaxial speakers. Component speakers use dedicated crossovers, providing superior sound quality and audio fidelity compared to coaxial speakers.

Crossovers allow precise equalizer settings, allowing you to customize your car audio system to your liking. For true audiophiles, component speakers are the obvious choice due to their unmatched sound quality.

Installation Complexity: Coaxial vs. Component

When it comes to installation complexity, coaxial speakers have a clear advantage. Unlike component speakers, where each driver requires individual setup, coaxial speakers pack multiple speakers into a single unit, and with 4-way coaxial speakers, you can even have up to four different frequency drivers in one setup.

Moreover, coaxial speakers require fewer wires as each wire can drive multiple drivers, simplifying the installation process. Coaxial speakers also don’t require extensive car modifications, allowing you to maintain the factory-spec interior.

Price Range and Value: Coaxial vs. Component

Component speakers tend to be pricier than coaxial speakers. They require more work, wiring, modifications to the car interior, dedicated crossover boxes, and labor.

On the other hand, coaxial speakers are relatively inexpensive and can be seamlessly integrated into your car’s factory sound system with minimal modifications. Both systems offer good value for money, so it all depends on your own personal preference.

If you’re on a tight budget or prefer minimal car modifications, coaxial speakers are the way to go. However, if exceptional sound quality with strong bass is what you’re after and you’re open to the idea of modifying your car’s interior, component speakers are the ideal choice.

Customization Options: Coaxial vs. Component

While both systems can be customized, component speakers, with their separate, independent drivers, offer more customization possibilities. You can add numerous tweeters, mid-range drivers, woofers, and subwoofers. Component speakers can also be customized with various active and passive crossover boxes, allowing fine-tuning of the audio equalizer and the addition of different presets. This level of customization is often lacking in coaxial speakers, so if you prioritize customization, component speakers are the way to go.

Best Use Cases: Coaxial vs. Component

Coaxial speakers are best suited for compact and subcompact cars, especially hatchbacks, where space is limited. They can easily replace stock car speakers without significant modifications to the car interior. On the other hand, component speakers are more suitable for full-size sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans.

In summary, both coaxial and component speakers have their unique strengths and applications. Your choice ultimately depends on your budget, space limitations, desire for customization, and willingness to modify your car.

AspectCoaxial SpeakersComponent Speakers
Sound QualityDecent sound quality.Superior sound quality due to dedicated crossovers.
Installation ComplexityEasier installation due to the all-in-one design.Complex installation requiring individual setup and wiring.
Price Range and ValueMore budget-friendly. Seamless integration.Pricier due to additional components and labor. Exceptional sound quality.
Customization OptionsLimited customization compared to components.Extensive customization with separate drivers and crossovers.
Best Use CasesIdeal for compact cars, especially hatchbacks.Suitable for full-size sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans.

Coaxial Speakers for Car Sound System: Our Experience

In this test, we evaluated the popular JBL GX602 coaxial speaker installed in an Acura MDX sound system. The GX602 is a 2-way speaker setup featuring a polypropylene Plus One woofer cone and an edge-driven soft dome tweeter. These speakers pack a punch, offering a power range of 2 to 60W RMS and a peak power of up to 180W, which is truly impressive for their size.

The JBL GX602 boasts a wide frequency response, ranging from 50 Hz to 21,000 Hz, with an impedance of just 2.3 Ohms and a low sensitivity of 92 dB. This makes them incredibly easy to drive, regardless of the amplifier used.

To put these speakers to the test, we played a diverse selection of tracks, including rap, funk, jazz, rock, and heavy metal, to test the entire frequency range of the speakers.

In testing, the tweeters delivered excellent high-frequency response, while the bass was deep and powerful, providing an overall fantastic listening experience. To nitpick, we noticed slight distortion at higher volumes, especially in the mid to high-frequency range.

Additionally, the bass, at 50 Hz, could have been lower, considering that some subwoofers can reach frequencies as low as 20 Hz. However, considering the price point, these issues are minor, and we really can’t complain too much about the performance.

9
JBL GX602 180W 6.5
  • Peak Power: 180W
  • RMS Power: 120W
  • Plus Onea,, polypropylene cone
  • Mounting Depth: 2.06"
  • Rubber speaker surround & Balanced dome tweeter

Component Speakers for Car Sound System: Our Experience

For the component speaker test, we chose a Chevrolet Suburban SUV fitted with Hertz Mille Pro Series MPK high-end component speaker kit. The kit features dual 6.5-inch woofers, along with two separate tweeters for high-frequency response.

The speaker system is rated for a peak wattage of 230W with an RMS of 115W, which is pretty impressive. The speakers have an impedance of 3 Ohms with a sensitivity of 93 dB. The frequency response is very wide, ranging from 30 Hz to 22.5 kHz, blanketing the entire human hearing spectrum. Last but not least, the kit includes a 2-way passive crossover.

In testing, we were impressed by the Hertz Mille Pro’s performance. The bass was loud, the highs were well-defined and separate from the low band, there was no distortion whatsoever, and everything sounded remarkably crisp and loud with a deep, powerful bass.

As is the case with JBL GX602, we put the Hertz Mille Pro Series MPK through the same series of tests and played a mixture of rap, jazz, funk, rock, and heavy metal tracks to test the speakers under different scenarios and, unsurprisingly, the Hertz Mille Pro Series MPK never missed a beat.

The only downside we can think of is the price, as these speakers are quite a bit more expensive than JBL’s GX602, and their installation procedure can be a bit difficult, especially for beginners. But you’re in for an absolute treat if you’re willing to deal with these minor quirks.

9.2
HERTZ Mille Pro Series MPK 1653 6.5
  • Component: 2-Way System
  • Tetolon Fiber Soft Dome
  • Pure Copper Voice Coil
  • Boundary Free Rubber Surround
  • Low Mounting Depth

Can You Mix Coaxial and Component Speakers?

Yes, you can technically mix coaxial and component speakers. However, the practical application of this is rather limited. That’s because coaxial speakers are full-range speakers, i.e. they cover the entire human hearing spectrum by the use of multiple drivers, each handling a different range of frequency.

On the other hand, component speakers rely on multiple drivers that operate individually and are controlled by the crossover, with each driver covering a different frequency spectrum.

Conclusion

To reiterate what we’ve already discussed, coaxial speakers combine multiple drivers into a single unit, offering easy installation, affordability, and space efficiency.

However, they often compromise on sound quality due to limitations in audio filtering. Component speakers, with separate drivers and precise crossovers, provide superior sound quality but require more complex installation and come at a higher cost.

Ultimately, the choice between them depends on factors like budget, space, and desired sound quality. However, you can’t go wrong with either of these speakers as they each bring their own set of pros and cons to the table.

Andrew is arguably the geekiest member of our team. He has a knack for new gaming hardware and awesome gadgets. Although Overwatch is his current favorite, he thinks the Counter Strike Global Offensive is the best shooter of all times. He is constantly hunting for news about new hero releases and patches. Andrew believes that playing video games is not just a hobby but a way of life. He regards his job at RealGear as a way of helping fellow gamers make the most of their gameplay by writing reviews about the hardware he uses and the FPS/ RTS he plays.

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