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Component vs Coaxial Speakers: We Test Their Sound Quality

Last Updated on: October 7, 2022

Coaxial and component speakers are the two types of audio equipment you have installed in your vehicle. When you buy a new car, it typically comes with single-cone speakers installed.

However…

As one upgrades their OEM car stereo system, most people add or replace the stock units with coaxial or component speakers to improve the listening experience.

Both speaker types come with their pros and cons. This article will help you decide which speaker best suits your requirements in component vs coaxial speakers. 

Main Differences Between Coaxial vs Component Speakers

The main differences between coaxial vs component speakers are: 

  • Coaxial speakers combine all the drivers in one unit, whereas component speakers come as separate drivers. 
  • Coaxial car speakers are affordably-priced and readily available, whereas component systems cost more and need professional installation.
  • Coaxial speakers are compact to save space, whereas component systems enable customization. 
  • Coaxial speakers typically have low power ratings (35-65 RMS Watts), whereas component speakers have higher power ratings (65- 100+ RMS Watts). 

Why Are Coaxial Speakers Popular?

The coaxial speaker is a full-range system featuring multiple speakers assembled into one driver. 

These speakers, like the Alpine S-S65, typically feature a woofer cone and a tweeter with a crossover built into one speaker unit. These are full-range speakers, also known as 2-way coaxial speakers. 

Alpine S-S65

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The 3-way coaxial models, like the Rockford Fosgate R165X3, feature an additional piezo tweeter driver to supplement the main tweeter. 

Rockford Fosgate R165X3

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Coaxial speakers are a popular choice for car owners as they are compact, affordable, and easy to install. They are typically used to replace factory-installed speakers because they deliver better sound quality than traditional single-cone speakers. 

Also, coaxial speakers are more readily available in retail stores than component systems due to their affordability and ease of installation. 

While they are common in car stereo systems, coaxial full-range speakers are available as home theater, wall and ceiling speakers, and outdoor audio systems. 

Advantages of Coaxial Speakers

  • Affordable upgrade for stock car speakers
  • Easy to install and is a direct fit
  • Low power handling for small cars
  • Better sound quality than factory-installed models
  • They don’t need professional installation
  • Plenty of variety in brands and models available to choose 

Disadvantages of Coaxial Speakers

  • Limited sound quality because the woofer reproduces both mid and low-range frequencies

Do Component Speakers Sound Better? 

Component speakers have better audio quality, unlike coaxial speakers, mainly because the individual drivers produce a specific frequency response, thus giving audio clarity.

The tweeter and mid-range speakers come as separate drivers with better quality build materials and a crossover system. 

By having a subwoofer in the component system, the woofer can reproduce the midrange sounds while the sub delivers the low-frequency bass, giving the effect of a better sound stage.

Component speakers are not as readily available in the market as full-range coaxial systems, but they are the better option for audiophiles.  

A 2-way component speaker, such as the JBL GTO609C Component Speaker system, includes a pair of tweeters for a high-frequency sound range, two low-range speakers, and a crossover system.

JBL GTO609C Component Speaker system

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On the other hand, the 3-way variety, like the Focal Access 165 A3 Component Speaker Kit, includes mid-range drivers with tweeter and woofer speakers, plus two crossover networks.

Focal Access 165 A3 6.5-Inch 3-Way Component Speaker Kit

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Benefits of Component Speakers

  • Enhance the audio quality of your car stereo system
  • More drivers mean better frequency response to give you detailed sound
  • Ability to customize the sound image in your car
  • Speakers have better quality materials and crossover networks
  • More power handling gives you clear audio at a high volume

The Downside of Component Speakers

  • It costs significantly more than coaxial speakers of the same size
  • They require professional installation
  • A component speaker setup requires more space in the car

Do Amplifiers Improve Sound Quality?

Including amplifiers in your car audio system will improve the sound quality significantly. Amplifiers take the audio signals from your car stereo, amplify and push it through the speakers to create sound.

OEM car stereo head units typically feature built-in amplifiers with limited output, usually between 15-18 watts per channel.

However, adding an aftermarket amp to your car audio setup gives you more power and headroom to crank up your volume without distortion. Additionally, amplifiers give you a more flexible sound system with superior sound quality, especially if you are installing a subwoofer.

Car speaker amplifiers are available in four types, with the Class A/B and Class D amps being the most utilized models for car audio systems. 

Crossover Differences Between Coaxial and Component Speakers

A crossover is an electrical circuit that separates specific frequency bands in the audio spectrum and sends them to the respective drivers. Crossovers comprise different electrical components that include inductors, capacitors, and resistors. 

The crossover is an essential element in any car stereo system as it enables the sound reproduced to have greater fidelity.

Coaxial speakers typically feature a simple high-pass crossover. It is a cheap capacitor attached to the tweeter to block low-range frequencies. 

The woofer does not come with a crossover filter as the design relies on the fact that it will gradually roll off the high frequencies, which keeps the cost of manufacturing coaxial speakers low. 

While it works as intended, the low-quality sound may distort at a high volume. Component systems use an external crossover network for each driver, with quality capacitors and inductors. 

The high pass filter on the tweeter blocks out the mid and low-range frequencies, while a low pass filter blocks out high frequencies from getting to the woofer. 

Some component speaker crossovers include a volume control option and overload circuit protection on the tweeter. The result is clear, undistorted sound, especially at high volume, giving you a much better listening experience.

Can You Mix Component And Coaxial Speakers?

Yes, you can. Many drivers prefer a mix of coaxial speakers in the back with component speakers at the front to create the best sound stage. 

Combining the two systems has its advantages, as explained in the video below:

Ideally, if you want to use a combination of the two, having component speakers at the front is more beneficial and gives you the best sound quality. It allows you to install the tweeter drivers on axis, at the top of the door, instead of at the bottom, as you would with a coaxial speaker. 

This setup gives you a better listening experience as the high-frequency range is audible, whereas it would sound muffled if it was at the bottom. 

On the other hand, having coaxial door speakers at the back enhances the overall audio. Plus, it minimizes having the tweeters directly in the ears of the people seated at the back. 

Alternatively, you can opt for hybrid coaxial speakers that detach the tweeter driver from the woofer and fix it at a convenient position. 

Pro Auto Thought: Now that you understand what these speakers can do to enhance your audio, how about having an idea about a specific speaker setup you could use to further amp your listening pleasure? Read our post here — 2 Way Vs 3 Way Speakers.


Conclusion

So, which is the best speaker system, component or coaxial speakers? Generally, there isn’t one variety that is better than the other because each type has its purpose and advantage.

You should get coaxial speakers if you are low on budget and just need to upgrade factory speakers to get better car audio.

On the other hand, I recommend component speakers if you are intent on superior audio quality for high-fidelity music and want to customize sound imaging in your car.

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