Are you thinking about treating yourself to a new sound system? Overwhelmed by all the choice and audio jargon like “coaxial” and “component?”
You aren’t alone! The sound system world is littered with niche terms and an array of brands and models. So, let’s define coaxial speakers right off the bat. Coaxial speakers are a type of speaker that splits an audio source into either 2 or 3 different ways using different drivers and combines them into a single unit. They’re most commonly seen in car audio systems but can also be used in other applications.
Throughout this article, we’ll explore the definition of coaxial speakers in more detail, consider the advantages, and share top shopping tips to ensure you pick the best of the bunch.
What Is a Coaxial Speaker?
A coaxial speaker is usually constructed with two separate speakers:
- A Tweeter – which deals with high-frequency sounds.
- A Woofer – which deals with low-to-mid-frequency sound
This layout typically improves audio output quality when compared to a standard single-cone speaker.
But that’s not all.
Their compact build gives them more installation options, thanks to their space-saving properties and budget-friendly nature.
Unlike component speakers that separate the tweeters, woofers, and subwoofers, coaxial speakers are simple to balance. Why? Because all the sound comes from one area rather than distributed across various components.
But What Does Coaxial Speaker Actually Mean?
Essentially these 2-way speakers are on the same “axis.” Put simply, numerous speakers are constructed together inside the same assembly. The build includes a woofer, tweeter, and a tweeter crossover for enhanced audio output over a normal single cone speaker.
They are a mid-range option — a touch more expensive and higher quality than single cone speakers, but cheaper and slightly less enhanced than component speakers. All things considered, they’re a great compromise between ease of use, performance, and price.
It probably comes as no surprise then that they’re the most popular type of car stereo speakers!
What Is a 3-Way Coaxial Speaker?
Thus far, we’ve touched only on 2-way versions. However, leaving out their 3-way coaxial speaker cousins wouldn’t be fair. Thankfully, they’re super easy to understand.
3-way coaxial speakers are just 2-ways with an added speaker (typically an extra tweeter). They look slightly different but watch out for brands (lower-end ones) installing a fake third speaker to increase marketability!
Truthfully, they aren’t necessarily better than 2-way speakers. Although they can provide extended and enhanced sound output, you’re generally better off investing in a high-quality 2-way coaxial speaker instead.
The Advantages of Coaxial Speakers
Before we consider whether coaxial speakers are perfect for you, let’s dive into the summary of the advantages:
- If you currently have single cone speakers, purchasing coaxial models is a simple sound upgrade that will fix poor frequency responses.
- Provided you buy a quality set, they offer similar performance to component speakers.
- Since they’re the most popular car speaker upgrade, they’re easy to find.
- They boast a straightforward installation process for in-car audio systems. However, people also utilize them in home stereo systems.
- They’re very budget-friendly. You can typically find a good set for $25+ per pair.
- Manufacturers boast various options and price points.
Should You Get Coaxial Speakers?
Ultimately, purchasing coaxial speakers over other types is a personal decision. But here’s our two cents.
If you’re on a tight budget and aren’t overly picky, coaxial speakers are the best way forward. Consider it a “fairly good” option overall but a “way better” choice if you currently have single cone speakers.
Thanks to their easy fitting process, we recommend them if you don’t have the tools, time, or money for a custom installation. It’s simply a case of dropping them into the same slot your single cone speakers came from.
On top of that, component speakers (i.e., the higher quality option we briefly mentioned earlier) require amplifiers to ensure optimal performance. So, if you aren’t utilizing an advanced sound system, there’s really no need to splash the cash on component speakers. Coaxial models will work perfectly.
How to Choose The Best Coaxial Speakers
Ensuring you get the best bang for your buck is essential when purchasing coaxial speakers. To do that, we recommend keeping the following criteria in mind:
#1 Mounting Depth
The mounting depth determines the difficulty of installation. In this case, the easier they are to install, the better your experience.
You should look for coaxial speakers that fit inside your existing speaker mounts, ensuring you can simply drop them in and go. If the mounting depth or shape isn’t compatible with your current setup, you’ll need to splash out on a custom installation which can be ultra problematic and oh-so-expensive.
#2 Frequency Response Range
Put simply, the broader the response range, the more sounds the speakers will emit.
Coaxial speakers with a wide response produce both high and low frequencies, guaranteeing a rich, multi-layer playback. Conversely, narrow ranges omit the lowest and highest frequencies, flattening the output.
#3 Brand Name
While there isn’t anything wrong with purchasing a no-name-brand set, they tend to have much higher defect rates, worse sound, and poor design. Not to mention they are usually hard to install. Therefore, we recommend sticking to well-known (and respected) brand names, such as JBL, Alpine, CDT, and Skar.
Ensure you purchase all-weather models if you’re planning to use your coaxial speakers on a motorbike, boat, sauna, or other outdoor application. They’re made to withstand adverse weather conditions and temperatures.
#5 Extended Tweeters
In somewhat rare cases, we’ve seen coaxial speakers with tweeters that vertically jut out too far. The problem? You can’t install speaker grills over them!
Make sure to check your old speakers against your new ones to determine whether the tweeter is too tall to fit the grill. We don’t want you to waste your money!
The Bottom Line: Are Coaxial Speakers The Best?
While a component speaker is higher quality than a coaxial speaker, the latter is perfect for those with tighter budgets looking for a drop-and-go sound upgrade.
Thanks to our in-depth “what is a coaxial speaker” guide, you’re well on your way to kitting out your car, home, or outdoor space with an amazing sound system — just in time for the summer too!