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Car speakers FAQ

Sound and performance questions

Q: What kind of a difference do new speakers really make?
A: You'll find that replacing your factory speakers can make a noticeable difference. Music sounds crisper, more dynamic, and closer to the way it was recorded and better than it would with a worn-out or low-quality speaker.

Speaker replacement is also the single most cost-effective car stereo upgrade you can perform. And even the newer, factory-installed speaker systems, which may sound OK at first, aren't typically built to give you the years of reliable, ear-pleasing sound you can expect from a good pair of aftermarket speakers.

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Q: How much power do I need for my new speakers?
A: While manufacturers give a range of RMS, or continuous, power that will work for the speaker, getting towards the upper end of that power range or even exceeding it yields the best results. That said, a speaker with a lower RMS power range will be more suitable for powering with a factory or aftermarket stereo, while a higher RMS range will work better with an external amplifier.

With an external amplifier, you should pick an amp with a power rating in the upper end of your speaker's power range. For example, if a speaker is rated to handle up to 35 watts of RMS power, it will perform closer to optimum as your power source approaches delivery of 35 watts.

JL Audio TR650-CXi 6-1/2" speakers

It's better to overpower a speaker than to underpower it — the distortion caused when you push a low-powered amp or receiver to its limit is much more likely to harm a speaker than too much power.

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Q: Will my factory radio power a set of aftermarket speakers?
A: In most cases, yes. Aftermarket speakers will certainly sound better with a little more juice, but most of our speakers will sound just fine with factory power. The exceptions are matched component sets, and any speaker with a minimum RMS power rating of 8 watts or more.

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Q: Do speakers with a higher efficiency rating sound better?
A: Efficiency ratings don't tell you how good a speaker "sounds." They simply indicate how well the speaker uses power. If you're using a low-powered factory system, you'll want to choose a speaker with a higher efficiency rating (90 db and up). Low-efficiency speakers can sound great, but they'll need a high-powered receiver or amplifier for energy.

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Q: Does the type of tweeter make a difference in the sound I hear?
A: Speaker manufacturers use a variety of materials in their tweeters, such as paper, silk, ceramic, titanium, polyetherimide, and so on. One type of meterial is not necessarily superior to another, because they all have different characteristics and reproduce sound in slightly different ways. As a rule, paper is responsive because it is so light, while composites are more durable. You'll find that silk and silk/polymer blends sound very smooth and even.

In general, a dome tweeter provides better dispersion and off-axis imaging than a cone tweeter. A balanced dome tweeter combines the two designs with a dome mounted within a cone. You might want to listen to a variety of tweeter materials and designs to find the one that suits your musical taste.

Read our article about tweeter design for a more in-depth discussion.

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Q: What difference do cone materials make?
A: As with tweeters, woofer cones come in a variety of materials. They can be made of treated paper, synthetics, or composites. Woofer cones need to be more rigid because their task is to reproduce strong bass notes. Again, paper tends to be less durable, but responds quicker than other materials. All of these can sound great; you just need to experiment with different sounds and materials to find what's right for you.

Polk Audio DXi woofer

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Q: What innovations in aftermarket speakers can help improve the sound of my system?
A: If you're looking to "tweak" your system for optimal performance, you should be aware of some of the great features that several speaker manufacturers offer. For improved imaging, many tweeters come in adjustable mounts that let you focus high frequencies more precisely to your listening position.

Some speakers have bi-amp inputs, so you can power the woofer and tweeter from separate amplifiers for more powerful sound.

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Q: My new front speakers sound distorted when I crank up my system. Is there any way to improve their performance?
A: Try a set of Bass Blockers. These act as high-pass crossovers to guard against distortion, especially when you turn up the volume. Remember, the smaller the speaker, the more difficulty it has reproducing low notes at high volume. Eliminating low frequencies from a smaller coaxial speaker means you'll get cleaner, louder performance. And, since the bass coming from your back speakers (or subs) is omnidirectional, you'll never know the bass blockers are there!

Bass Blockers

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Q: What's the advantage of choosing component speakers for my car?
A: With a properly powered set of matched components, you'll get better imaging and a much more detailed and dynamic sound than you could expect from conventional speakers.

Mounting the separate tweeter closer to your ears optimizes your speakers' imaging and brings out a level of detail you may have never heard before. The premium-quality woofers deliver forceful, dynamic bass and midrange, while the separate crossover networks will properly routing your highs and lows to protect your tweeters and make your system sound its best. As a rule, component speakers generally require an external amplifier to really come alive.

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Q: My new component speakers aren't living up to my expectations. What's wrong?
A: Here are a few tips to get your component speakers sounding their best:

  • Check the crossover setting — many think that a flat setting for the tweeters is the way to go, but you'll often find that you need to attenuate the highs to counteract too much brightness
  • Are you feeding them enough power? With most sets of components running them off your receiver just can't give them enough power to operate properly. Remember, underpowering your speakers is more dangerous than overpowering them.
  • Like a good sub, speakers need time to break in.
  • Are you getting rattles and vibrations? Check your mountings — you may benefit from installing foam baffles and Dynamat in your doors. Keep in mind, you've created new openings for the tweeters as well.

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Q: What's the most affordable way to get crisper highs and better stereo imaging in my car?
A: If you often find yourself reaching for the tone control to "sharpen" your stereo sound, you're likely to notice a big improvement when you install a pair of add-on tweeters to your system. Most factory speakers are "dual-cone" models — they use paper whizzer cones to reproduce high frequencies. The result is sound that's dull and lifeless. You'd be stunned at the number of "premium" or "name brand" factory systems we've seen that rely on these little paper megaphones to handle the highs.

What makes tweeters so important? It's true that they reproduce the high notes, but there's more to the story. Besides being responsible for recreating the very highest frequencies in your music, tweeters impact the realism of the overall sound as well. This is because the ultra-high frequency information that tweeters handle helps render the specific timbre of each instrument in your music.

Timbre is a word used to describe an individual instrument's sonic fingerprint or voice. A good pair of tweeters will help you distinguish an overdriven guitar sound from a saxophone, and a saxophone from a trumpet. High-quality tweeters also add crispness to your music for a more realistic listening experience. They can ensure that the sound of a snare drum comes across as a satisfying crack instead of a muted thud, and they help you hear the rattle and click of strings plucked on an upright bass. You'll feel like you're right there in the studio with your favorite musicians.

Add-on tweeters also give you placement flexibility. They'll help you achieve realistic stereo imaging — that sense of the precise physical location of each of the musicians in the recording.

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Installation questions

Q: I have 6"x9" speakers in my car. Why doesn’t your website show that any 6"x9" speakers fit?
A: Even though speakers are classified by cone size, it’s not the only factor in determining if a speaker fits your car. Sometimes speakers are too tall or too deep for the locations they’re meant to go in. In addition to measuring every speaker model we carry, we also measure thousands of vehicles. That's how we know that we're recommending the right stuff for your car or truck. If a speaker you’re interested in isn’t listed as fitting, give us a call. Sometimes minor modifications can make it work.

Speaker dimensions diagram

Mounting height and depth, along with tweeter protrusion, are major factors in determining whether or not a speaker fits your car. (Click the photo for a larger view.)

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Q: How difficult will it be to install my new speakers?
A: You can count on a simple installation with any of our "Easy-Fit" speakers. And in most cases, a new pair of speakers is about the easiest car audio component to install in your vehicle. As a Crutchfield customer, you'll benefit from the free, vehicle-specific instructions found in our MasterSheet™, free wiring harnesses that eliminate splicing, and our friendly, toll-free technical support. For a more detailed look at what's involved, check out our car speaker installation page.

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Q: Do I need new wire to replace my factory speakers?
A: Factory speaker wire is fine if you're powering your new speakers with a factory or aftermarket stereo. But if you plan to install an external amplifier that's rated at 50 watts RMS or more per channel, then we recommend that you run new speaker wire.

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Q: Can I use my factory grilles for installation?
A: You certainly can. In many cases, aftermarket speakers come with manufacturer grilles (usually sporting the speaker-maker's logo), which you can use if you prefer. Some manufacturers are shipping speakers with radical-looking grilles that are designed for excellent cosmetics and minimal sound obstruction.

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  • Kirk C Bonanny from Wilkes-Barre,Pa

    Posted on 12/6/2020

    I've found I get the best sound by mounting the tweeters as high as I possibly can in different vehicles as I find that tweeters mounted at dash level or lower sort of "get lost" and are far less efficient insofar as the ability to "pick them out" of the overall sound. My question stems from the materials I've read that come with many component speakers in that many want the tweeter mounted "X" far from the mid bass driver, mid range etc... Is there any rule to how close (or far) from other components a tweeter should be mounted in a vehicle?

  • Jimmie Adams from Lawrence

    Posted on 2/4/2020

    Which one will provide the better bass a 6 and a 1/2 speaker with 200 rms or a 10" speaker with a 150 rms

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 2/5/2020

    Jimmie, as long as you're giving the 10" adequate power, the bigger cone is likely going to provide more satisfying bass. But "better" is subjective and applications vary. If we can help make a speaker recommendation, give us a call!
  • Paul Hubbell from Victoria

    Posted on 12/13/2019

    This question has probably been asked 1000x time over but here I go. I have an "ish" understanding of impedance but no idea if it makes a difference with door speakers. My amp is 2/4 ohm stable and I have 2ohm jbls in all my doors. All coaxial, and I plan to keep it that way for a while Will I need to flip a switch, or wire the speakers/amp any differently if I swap to 4ohm speakers in the future? And will 4ohm speakers be any louder than the 2ohm or will it be about the same and a waste of effort to swap?

  • Harris from Gainesville

    Posted on 12/4/2018

    So I'm getting new speakers for my truck. I found the speakers that I want but there is a bundle that comes with tweeters. Do I really need the bundle with the tweeters or can I just get the speakers without the tweeters?

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 12/5/2018

    Harris, by bundle, do you mean the external crossovers (they often look like little black boxes)? If so, yes, you'll need those. They ensure that the tweeters don't receive lower frequencies that they can't handle. We do carry tweeters (and component sets) with inline crossovers, which means they won't have boxes you need to decide where to hide. I've passed your question along to our Advisors. Someone will contact you soon to help out.
  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    Shoeb, the RMS rating should be per speaker. So, in your case, you should be able to give each speaker 75-150% of 70 watts and you should be fine.

  • Shoeb from New Delhi

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    got a Jbl CX-62SI pair of speakers. The rms of these speakers is 70 watt and peak output is 280 watt. Is this 70 watt means these both speakers have a combined rms of 70 watt(means each speaker has a rms of 35 watt) or the single speaker has a rms of 70 watt?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/12/2016

    David, Ohms are the units of measurement for impedance or resistance. This tells you how much a device will resist the flow of current given it. If you take two signals of exactly the same voltage strength and send one to a 4-ohm speaker and the other to an 2-ohm speaker, twice as much current will flow through the 2-ohm speaker. In other words, the 4-ohm speaker will require twice as much power (wattage) to play at the same volume. 4 ohms tends to be the standard impedance for car speakers. Outside the impedance question, I would assume the Bose speakers you're talking about, if not new, were part of another car's factory system. If your vehicle is not the same as the vehicle (year, make, model, and Bose sound package) from which the Bose speakers are coming, these speakers probably won't work with your vehicle. If your vehicle has a factory Bose sound package, and you're buying direct replacements from the dealer, you should rely on the dealer for the right match. Otherwise, give us a call and we can help you with aftermarket speakers for your vehicle.

  • David from Nottingham

    Posted on 9/12/2016

    What is the difference between a 2 oms and a 4 oms speaker ? I have the chance to get some bose 2 oms speakers for my car thanks david

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/29/2016

    Rusty, a 5-channel amp will do. Each component tweeter can share a channel with a front coaxial. However, you'll want to select component tweeters with a selectable level control so that you can manually adjust the highs if they sound too bright.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/26/2016

    Ben, since you've gone to the trouble of rewiring the tweeters, I'm assuming there's no tweeter attenuation levels on the component tweeters. Also, since the change occurred with the replacement of the head unit, I'm wondering if tweaking with the head unit settings wouldn't improve the sound. Beyond that, I suggest that you give our Tech Support team a call for free help troubleshooting your system if you purchased that gear from us.

  • Ben07 from Bellingham, WA

    Posted on 8/26/2016

    I changed all my speakers to aftermarket alpines (front and rear coaxials) and run two alpine subs with a matching alpine sub. My original head unit (sony) had DSO which improves imaging and creates a virtual soundstage. Everything was ok until I changed that headunit last year to a sony double din (xav-68bt). Without dso it sounds like there is a void up front so i ended up adding Tweeters on the A-pillar (wired in series) effectively giving me 8 ohm loads powered by the deck. The sound from the tweeters is adequate but the fronts seem a bit underpowered. What would be the best option to feed the fronts more power while keeping the tweets as is? I temporarily tried a parallel connection and the tweets were overpowering. I also temporarily hooked the fronts to the rear wiring and brought them close to each other (effectively giving me 4ohm loads for both the tweets and fronts) and the tweeters were still too harsh. 8 ohm impedance seems to be what works for me since the tweets receive less power outright. Any suggestions on how to solve this?

  • Rusty

    Posted on 8/24/2016

    Do tweeters with included crossovers, for example the Rockford P1T-S, require their own channels off an amp? I plan on replacing all 4 door speakers in my jeep, and also add tweeters to the dash and a sub. Can the Tweeters be ran on the same channel as the 2-way front speakers, allowing all to be ran on a 5-channel amp, or do I need a 6-channel amp for the speakers plus a mono amp for sub or an 8-channel amp to run everything on one?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/26/2016

    Mitch, yes. "With most sets of components, running them off your receiver just can't give them enough power to operate properly. Remember, underpowering your speakers is more dangerous than overpowering them." While you may find a set of components that will be okay with lower power, an amp will always make them sound better. Since you're already putting the work into installing components, it'll be worth going the extra mile to install an amp as well, if you plan on keeping your factory receiver.

  • Mitch

    Posted on 7/25/2016

    Hi, you mention that matched component sets are an exception to getting better sound with just the factory head unit. Is this just because they will typically be underpowered? Thanks!

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/27/2016

    Miguel, give us a call with your plans. Results will depend on which speakers you're installing and where they're going. If you use the factory amp, your front woofer location will only produce bass frequencies, so if you were planning to put full-range speakers there, they won't work correctly -- you'd have to go with components. Also, keep in mind that there are no wiring harnesses available for this system, so you'll have to splice into the factory wiring.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/27/2016

    Shawn, aftermarket speakers will surpass your factory speakers. On the topic of bass, you'll hear more than you ever did with your factory speakers, but if you're in search of true, deep bass, the next step would be to add a subwoofer. We can certainly help you with all of it -- just give us a call.

  • Miguel Fernandez from Fort Worth Texas

    Posted on 6/26/2016

    I have A 2008 trailblazer with the Bose System if I buy some kicker 6.5 for the doors do I have to buy a 4 channel amp or will the factory amp work with the kicker speakers

  • Shawn Allen from peoria

    Posted on 6/24/2016

    I recently purchased a set of 3.5in speakers for my dash, wow what a difference, I'd like to upgrade the rest of my speakers as well, but from reading reviews it makes me worried I won't have very good lows, so my question is will I at least have as much bass as my factory speakers if I upgrade them to different speakers?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/23/2016

    Adam, you first step should be to retrace your steps and check all of your wiring. However, if you didn't tamper with your front speakers, amp, or head unit during installation of your rear speakers, it seems odd that your front speakers would fail in this way. It would be worth double-checking the settings in your head unit as well. Also, keep in mind that if your factory system is a premium package, like a Bose system, for instance, it may be that you cannot replace individual speakers without replacing the entire system (amp included), and that may be the reason for the speaker failure.

  • Adam from Petaling Jaya

    Posted on 2/23/2016

    Hi, I bought an aftermarket coaxial speaker for back door and it's run find, but my font door speaker sound are gone. What have gone wrong?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/23/2015

    Joshua, if you're replacing your current speakers with a set of components, whatever power you're currently using will probably be sufficient. If you have any questions, give us a call, and an advisor will be able to help you find the right speakers for your system.

  • Joshua j from Stockton

    Posted on 12/22/2015

    Ok I have a aftermarket deck and 2 ,12" that push 1200w that's have a rms rating of 296 each with a amp that pushes 1200 watts. If I wanted to get new tweeters would I need a nother amp or would I have to buy a new amp for the tweeters and the subs? I would like to know because if I just need to have the tweeters installed I would prefer not to have to buy a whole new amp

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/11/2015

    Breanna, size wouldn't have anything to do with your front speakers not giving you sound. If your new speakers fit in your factory openings, that's all you need. So, no need to worry about the 5-1/4" speakers. If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Breanna from Pensacola

    Posted on 11/10/2015

    I just bought some speakers. I have a Kia Sephia 2001. I bought 5x7 for back and i got them to work. I bought 6.5" for door panels cause that is what i was told to buy; however, I looked online and it says i needed 5.25". Does the size make a difference? I was told that the wiring works but i am not hearing sound from either speaker.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/24/2015

    Dean, it could. I'd say give that idea a test run and see how it sounds. This article may helpful to you as well.

  • Dean Roepke from The Villages

    Posted on 9/23/2015

    Installed 2 speakers in a golf cart, with a new Jensen marine stereo. Sound seems flat from speakers - question - the speakers are mounted in a shelf, and completely open in the back. Would enclosing the rear portion of the speakers - like with a bottom of tupperware bowls or such improve the overall sound.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/21/2015

    Matthew, you should be just fine. Upgrading those front speakers will definitely improve your sound. You can always upgrade the rear speakers later if you end up feeling like they're dragging down your overall sound.

  • Matthew Crowley

    Posted on 7/21/2015

    Do you recommend I use aftermarket speakers in the front and keep my factory speakers in the back? Or does this mess with the RMS of the speakers?

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/9/2015

    Tristen, if your subs and speakers don't share a power source, then it's pretty much a non-issue. If you're considering amp power for your speakers, it should be within the range of 75-150% of the speaker's max RMS power. So, if your speakers are rated 2-60w RMS, an amp should have minimum of 45w RMS and a max of 90w RMS. If you need help choosing an amplifier or speakers that are right for your system, give us a call at 1.888.955.6000

  • Tristen from gillette, wy

    Posted on 7/8/2015

    How many rms should I run my car speakers at if I am running my subs at 1000w rms?

  • Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/17/2015

    Matt, sorry to hear about your speakers. You've already done the first step in troubleshooting: you tested the speaker. The next question is, did the old speaker in that location work? If not, the problem is likely in the wiring or the stereo. If it did work before, maybe the new wiring harness is faulty. But you're in luck! Since you bought your new speakers from us, you can call out Tech Support line (the phone number is on your invoice). Give us a call and they'll help you figure out what's wrong.

  • Matt from Baltimore

    Posted on 6/16/2015

    I just bought replacement speakers from you and one is not working when hooked up to factory wiring. I know the speaker works because I tested it, so what could be some of the common problems? Is there a way to easily troubleshoot bad wiring without breaking open wiring harnesses or installing a new run? Maybe with a volt meter? I'd also rather avoid pulling the factory radio if possible. I inspected the exposed wiring and can find nothing wrong. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2015

    Jeff, distance from the tweeters shouldn't matter. However, there is always the possibility that the speaker wire running to the tweeters could pick up residual noise, depending on placement. Before putting your dash back together, test your system for performance. As long as everything sounds good to you and you've found a convenient spot for the crossovers, you should be good to go.


    Posted on 5/15/2015


  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/27/2015

    Hi Jason, To subscribe to our free catalog, simply enter your mailing information here.

  • Jason Cox from Ypsilanti, MI

    Posted on 4/25/2015

    Can I get a free catalog send to me please