If you want good sounding audio in your car, then you are going to need a good set of audio speakers. The problem is, though, how do you know what makes a set of speakers really good. In this article we will review the ins and outs of perhaps the most important part of the automotive audio experience – the speakers.

“Sound” – the definition

Sound is a wave of pressure that moves through the air. Air molecules are the physical mechanism by which the wave moves. When such pressure waves reach your eardrums and cause them to vibrate, the brain interprets this as sound.

Sound waves or vibrations are expressed in hertz, also known as cycles per second. The lower the frequency of these vibrations, the lower the pitch of the sound. The higher the frequency of these vibrations, then the higher the pitch of the sound. You probably know these high and low frequencies by the terms bass and treble.

The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). With minimal background noise, we can hear very soft sounds well under 50 dB. Most normal speech is at 60 dB, and around 80 dB or so, sounds start to get pretty loud. Prolonged exposure to about 90 db can actually damage your hearing. This is an important concept because it isn’t hard to drive audio speakers hard enough to cause ear damage; obviously we want to avoid this.

How do speakers work?

Speakers are electro-mechanical devices that create the waves of air pressure that we perceive as sound. Here’s how it works. First, inside every speaker is a driver. Drivers convert electrical energy (from an amplifier) into mechanical energy, which is the movement of a speaker cone. When speaker cones drive air, then a wave of air pressure is created. This wave exits the speaker cone and eventually travels to your ears. Your ears and associated brain mechanisms convert this wave energy into sound.

Specialized speakers

The most basic speaker in a car audio system is called a “full-range” speaker since it’s designed to reproduce the full frequency range of human hearing. Full range speakers work well enough but it’s difficult for any one speaker design to cover the full range of hearing.

A better approach is to use specialized speakers that are designed to reproduce a smaller, specific part of the hearing range. Tweeters, for example, reproduce high frequencies since their small cones can move very quickly. Woofers are larger speakers that move lots more air and create the deep, thundering bass frequencies. Today, virtually all high-end car audio systems utilize tweeters and woofers and perhaps other drivers.
Crossing over

It takes much more power to move the large cone of a woofer than the small cone of a tweeter so it makes sense to split the frequencies apart and deal with them separately. Crossover circuitry divides the audio signal into parts. This allows the specialized speakers, such as tweeters and woofers, to get the audio signals they’re designed to reproduce and the amount of power they are designed to handle.

How to get good speakers

When shopping for car audio speakers you should look for good quality. Speakers that offer inflated power handling and flash packaging are often poor choices. Spend time reading reviews and, if possible, audition the speakers with several audio sources.

Article Source Material: Holden Dodge

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