The ongoing debate over component vs coaxial speakers has been running for years. There’s no doubt that these stereo systems are the two most popular car speakers, but which is superior?
To answer this in brief, component speakers are the best in terms of quality, efficiency, and performance. They can produce flawless audio while giving users the most control.
However, this doesn’t blow coaxial speakers completely out of the water. In fact, there are many reasons coaxial speakers have been commonly used by audiophiles for so long.
But before we get into which is best, let’s first start from the top with the meaning of each of these stereo systems and how they function.
What Are Component Speakers?
In car stereo systems, speakers that come with a crossover system that separates sound frequencies within the speakers to enhance and clarify audio output are called component speakers.
This type of speaker is considered more modern compared to other types and comes with tweeters, crossover boxes, and mid-woofers (mid-range woofers). However, these parts have to be installed individually.
By having each of the parts separated, component speakers are very location-flexible. Its design isn’t lazy with all the parts (tweeters, subs, etc.) in one, but rather they can come in a 2-way set (mid-woofer and tweeter) or a 3-way set (mid-woofer, tweeter, and mid-range speaker).
Enhanced Audio Quality
Each of the parts captures different ranges of frequencies to enhance them individually instead of drowning them out as other speaker types do. They can be custom positioned according to which frequencies you’d like to hear more.
The mid-woofer is in charge of amplifying the mid to low audio frequencies while also sharpening some of the high-pitched tones. By separating the audio frequencies like this, the speakers can produce better sound quality.
Also, the tweeters are responsible for the clear treble sounds, which gives the audio its “crisp” quality. So, the tweeters, mid-woofers, and crossovers work together to control the high, medium, and low frequencies of your selected audio, respectively.
What Are Coaxial Speakers?
This type of speaker is a single system, which means that it has a tweeter, woofer, and crossover but all within the same unit. Coaxial speakers are the most common type of speakers that are easy to install and fit into the same receptacles as low-quality and outdated speakers.
Responsiveness to Audio Frequencies
While 2-way coaxial speakers are common, 3-way coaxial speakers also exist. They are sometimes called triaxial speakers and have better high-frequency audio coverage due to their piezo tweeters.
But, coaxial speakers sometimes struggle with managing frequencies, so 3-way ones have a greater likelihood of clashing audio frequencies and distorted sound production.
Build and Function
Coaxial speakers feature a mid-woofer that takes up most of its outer appearance with a tweeter integrated into its center, which is also visible. The speaker itself has only one input terminal to power the unit, while the tweeter and mid-woofer transfers audio frequencies.
The speakers have a very simple designed crossover which has one capacitor. It only transfers frequencies through the tweeter and not the mid-woofer. As a result, high-frequency audio signals are affected and impact the overall sound quality.
However, coaxial speakers are able to produce decent audio output with adequate clarity. In comparison, they are much better in terms of sound quality than single-cone speakers.
What Are the Differences Between Component and Coaxial Speakers?
There are differences between component and coaxial speakers that go beyond their overall uses and definitions. These are the main distinguishing factors of component vs. coaxial speakers:
As we have mentioned before, Coaxial speakers are known for having integrated speaker systems, whether it be 2-way or 3-way. Their speakers, tweeters, woofers, and crossovers are all assembled into a single unit that is mounted altogether.
On the other hand, component speakers come with separate parts. This means that their speakers, crossover boxes, woofers, and tweeters are all individual units that are mounted separately. This is why most audiophiles who want to build their own surround system go for this type of speaker.
On average, component speakers have a much better range of quality crossovers than coaxial speakers. At a minimum, crossovers in component speakers are about -12dB or octaves. The tweeters are of higher quality material, such as aluminum, silk, and others.
Coaxial speakers have a significantly lower crossover quality, with a rating of -6dB/octave. This is due to the fact that their tweeters are made with lower-quality material to cut costs and save space within the unit to make room for the other components.
Component speakers have a higher range of power ratings compared to coaxial speakers. They are available in an RMS rating of 65 watts to 100 watts and even higher.
However, coaxial speakers can range anywhere between 35 watts to 65 watts RMS. This could be linked to the different parts of a component speaker in contrast to coaxial, as more power is needed to keep the individual parts running.
As you might have already guessed, component speakers are more capable of producing clearer and crisper audio than coaxial speakers. This is because their individual parts are all designed to control and maintain a specific range of frequencies.
But this does not mean that coaxial speakers cannot produce good sound quality. They are able to produce audio that is better than other speakers, such as single-cone speakers. Plus, they are great for beginners who wish to build a surround stereo system but aren’t ready for the commitment for component speakers.
Installation and Maintenance
Since component speakers come with individual parts, they have to be installed separately. This means that users have to install and maintain the woofers, crossover boxes, and tweeters individually. All in all, this can be very time-consuming and challenging, especially if you are new to stereo systems.
Coaxial speakers do not have this issue, as their units are all integrated into one. So, the effort of maintenance and installation is cut down significantly.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Component Speakers
Component speakers are not only great for custom surround systems, but they are also perfect for audiophiles who desire high-quality audio. These are the summarized pros and cons of component speakers:
- Controls and maintains frequencies of different ranges individually with each of its parts, producing high-quality sound
- Excellent response to audio signals at different frequencies, which smoothens audio output for crackle-free sound
- High RMS power handling capacity ranging from 65 watts, 75 watts, 100 watts, or even more
- Highly efficient crossover with -12dB/octave, more powerful than other speaker systems
- Made with quality materials, such as tweeters made of aluminum, ceramic, silk, and more.
- High-performance woofers, tweeters, and crossover boxes work in unison to bring about flawless sound
- Allows users the freedom to mount each part as they desire to build custom surround stereo systems
- Installation is very time-consuming and complicated, which may deter beginners from trying out the system
- Maintenance and repair are difficult, as each part requires individual attention and care
- Costly, especially replacements for separate parts
Advantages and Disadvantages of Coaxial Speakers
Coaxial speakers have been around for a long time and are the most popularly used stereo system. However, they also come with their own set of pros and cons, just like component speakers. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of coaxial speakers in brief:
- Simple and saves space, perfect for compact cars as they require minimal room and are able to produce a greater sound effect
- Easy to install, all parts are integrated into a single unit, so installation is quick
- Able to produce full-range sound without requiring additional parts or tweaks
- Great upgrade from old factory speakers, as they are able to fit in almost any receptacle
- At the same level of praise and reliability as most component speakers, as assessed by professionals
- Cost efficient, most units go for as low as $50 and come in a range of different models
- Lower audio quality in comparison to component speakers
- Most technical issues require replacement
Which Are Better: Component or Coaxial Speakers?
Now that you’re aware of the difference between component and coaxial speakers, their functions, and their pros and cons, it’s time to assess which of these two stereo systems produces sound more efficiently.
Here is the performance of component and coaxial speakers in terms of sound clarity, volume, bass quality, and the overall audio output –
Component speakers use an external crossover that is made with better-quality inductors and capacitors than coaxial speakers. With these highly efficient components, these speakers are able to filter out excess frequencies and audio signals that disrupt the sound quality.
So, component speakers can produce high-quality sound with optimum clarity and little to no distortion.
On the other hand, coaxial speakers are more of a budget sound option as they come with lower-quality crossovers and tweeters made of cheap materials. These cheaply sourced parts heavily reduce the sound quality, resulting in overlapping static noises.
As we already mentioned, component speakers, come with individual parts that are responsible for controlling a specific range of frequencies. The mid-woofer in component speakers is in control of the mid to low frequencies, otherwise known as bass.
These mid-woofers take the load off of the rest of the assembly, which means that it is able to focus solely on the bass quality. Coaxial speakers can’t do this because their parts are integrated as one unit.
Additionally, a component speaker’s mid-woofer can be placed lower to the car floor to bring out the bass, allowing users to feel the “ground-shaking” bass even during car rides.
Some component speaker crossovers come with a tweeter volume control feature which allows users to control the intensity of treble sounds maintained by the tweeter. Plus, these tweeters can include overload circuit protection to prevent electrical issues from a power surge.
Coaxial speakers can produce high ranges of volume, but the downside to this is that the sound usually starts to crackle as the volume increases due to the low-quality crossovers.
In general, coaxial speakers are able to bring out the best volume performance when they are installed in smaller cars.
Overall Audio Output
The responsiveness of component speakers to audio signals is extremely on point with little to no delay. Their woofers, crossovers, tweeters, and speakers work hand in hand to bring out the best audio with no interference from unwanted frequencies.
There is no doubt that component speakers are more well-designed to produce the best audio, hence their high-quality parts and individual components. Coaxial speakers are able to produce decent-quality audio, but they are nowhere near the crispness and clarity that component speakers are capable of.
Should I Get Component or Coaxial Speakers?
Although one type of speaker might be more powerful or popular than the other, it doesn’t rule out the other speaker completely. In fact, it’s possible that a component speaker might be a horrible choice for your car; rather, a coaxial speaker is more well-fitted.
Here’s the speaker type you need to choose according to your needs:
These are great for beginners that are just moving on from their old factory stereos. Coaxial speakers are highly affordable, with the cheapest ones going as low as $50, and sound quality better than most built-in stereo systems.
They are a massive upgrade from factory stereos. This is not only because of their overall better audio output but due to their compact size that can fit into almost any receptacle without adjustments.
Coaxial speakers are also perfect for busy users who don’t want to go through the hassle of extensive installation processes, amplifying, and running extra wire. This is a simple speaker type that is very easy to put into your car, no matter your expertise.
If professional-grade sound quality is what you’re after, then component speakers are the way to go. They are the perfect option for audiophiles who like to take full control of their music, such as the different frequencies and their ranges.
Also, if you want to take matters into your own hands and get creative with the placement of the assembly, you can build your own custom surround system using the individual parts.
Moreover, you can add to the assembly by integrating an amplifier or making tweaks to achieve the audio quality you prefer most.
Of course, you should also be open to the high prices and complex installation process that comes with owning a component speaker system. Regardless, this type of speaker system is definitely worth the investment and won’t let you down in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need an amp for the component or coaxial speakers?
Getting an amp for your component or coaxial speakers is completely optional. However, it is highly beneficial if you do so. This is because an amp will filter out distortions, block power-robbing, supply more power for increasing volume, and more. Plus, it is very easy to set up and maintain.
2. What is the difference between 2-way speakers and coaxial speakers?
Coaxial speakers consist of a woofer and a tweeter often called “pairing.” The speakers are paired with two subwoofers, sub 1 and sub 2. Basically, coaxial speakers are able to produce the best quality sound without the need for another woofer and with low effort (in contrast to 2-way speakers).
3. Do coaxial speakers have good bass?
Yes, many coaxial speakers with exceptionally good bass are available in the market. These models usually have a very powerful woofer and are a bit more expensive than regular coaxial speakers.
4. Are coaxial speakers more popular than component speakers?
Yes, coaxial speakers are more popular. This is mainly because their affordability and component speakers are more of a “higher-end” type of car stereo system. Coaxial speakers are also compact and fit into almost any car receptacle, so these are easily sought after.
5. Which sound system is best for bass?
A component sound system is best for bass. This is because their mid-woofers are designed specifically to carry out bass frequencies and are made of high-quality materials. You can also enhance the bass by mounting the mid-woofer closer to the floor of your car to create the “ground-shaking” effect.
6. Can you combine coaxial and component speakers?
Yes, it is possible to combine both coaxial and component speakers. However, it can be tricky as you will need to adjust the crossovers of both speaker types and possibly remove one of their tweeters. Many audiophiles combine them to enhance audio quality without needing an amplifier.
To sum up our points for coaxial vs component speakers, the component speaker is by far the best in terms of quality. However, coaxial speakers are much better for compactness, easy maintenance and installation, and simplicity. Both component and coaxial speakers are able to produce satisfactory audio output.
Regardless of our verdict, your choice lies in your hands. Whichever sound system qualifies for all your needs is the best for you. So, our advice is to closely assess which speaker type fits your criteria the most, and you will undoubtedly be satisfied.