Learn just about everything you need to know about car audio in this expansive car audio glossary that cover everything from components and gear to brands and the industry history. This page is a constantly growing wealth of knowledge for car audio newbies and fanatics alike.
Amplifier – An electrical component that takes an audio signal and give it power and volume. Amplifiers receive an audio input signal and turns it into a more powerful signal that is prepared for speakers. When an audio signal is “made larger” it is being “amplified”.
CarPlay – Software developed by Apple that allows compatible iPhones to connect to Apple CarPlay enabled stereos for an on-screen iOS-like experience that provides advanced integration between iPhone and stereo. Lean more here.
Cone – Also referred to as an acoustic diaphragm. This is the thin membrane (typically shaped like a cone) that is connected to the voice coil and moves with the vibration of the voice coil to product sound. See Example
Diaphragm – Also referred to as the cone. This is the thin membrane surface that the sound radiates from.
Enclosure – Also referred to as a Box or Subwoofer Enclosure. This is the container that the car subwoofer (or sometimes a speaker) is installed into. They are commonly made from MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard), but can also be constructed of fiberglass, or polyethylene resin.
Kicker – Kicker is a car audio company founded in 1973 by Steve Irby. Today they are one of the major players in the aftermarket car audio industry, as well as the marine, powersports, and personal audio. Learn more at kicker.com.
Parallel Wiring – A method used to wire circuits together that will lower the final impedance delivered to the amplifier.
Series Wiring – A method used to wire circuits together that will raise the final impedance delivered to the amplifier.
Speakers – An electroacoustic transducer that converts an electrical audio signal into audible sound.
Spider – Part of a loudspeakers suspension system. The spider attaches the bottom of the cone to the base of the basket and helps to keep the voice coil aligned properly around the center pole. See Example
Subwoofer – A larger electroacoustic transducer that converts an audio signal into a lower frequency audible sound. Subwoofers are specifically designed to play the deep, low bass notes (typically below 400 Hz).
Surround – Part of a loudspeaker suspension system. The surround attaches the outside of the cone to the top of the basket and helps to keep the voice coil aligned properly around the center pole. See Example
Tweeter – A special, smaller type of loudspeaker that is designed to product high audio frequencies ranging from 2,000 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Voice Coil – The cylindar at the center of the speaker or subwoofer that is wrapped (coiled) in wire. When an electrical current is passed through the voice coil, the reaction between the coil and the magnet causes the voice coil to move up and down. Since the voice coil is attached to the cone of the speaker, the voice coil movement causes the cone to move up and down. The voice coil is the core of what makes the sound in a speaker or subwoofer. See Example