There are many types of subwoofers out there and the more you know about them, the better you will be able to find the subwoofer that best meets your needs.
Subwoofers by Voice Coils
Every subwoofer has at least one voice coil and the voice coil(s) of a subwoofer determine how you will need to wire it up.
Single voice coil
Dual voice coil
Subwoofers by Impedance
Each of the subwoofer’s voice coils are engineered to a specific impedance. This impedance plays a major role in accurate subwoofer wiring and connecting it to the amplifier.
Subwoofers by Size
Every subwoofer has a size that is defined as roughly the diameter of subwoofer cone. The different subwoofer sizes can impact the acoustic properties and change how the subwoofer will sound.
Subwoofers by Sound
All subwoofers make sound, but not all bass is created equal. Some subs are designed more for loud sound levels, while other subwoofers are designed for accurate musical replication. The type of subwoofer you want will depend on the objective of your build.
Traditionally there are only two styles of car speakers: coaxial and component. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Coaxial speakers are designed to so that all the individual speaker drivers play sound from the same location (or axis). This is the most common type of speakers found in cars because it is easier and cheaper for a car manufacturer to make. They are also easier to replace because the installer only has to worry about removing the speaker from a single location.
Component speakers have separated drivers that mount separately. The best example of this is a car that has a mid-range speaker in the door panel and a tweeter in the A-pillar. Component systems use a external crossover to filter the audio frequencies to the mid-range and tweeter. Component speaker systems are becoming more popular as they can offer better sound quality and a more realistic sound stage.
Speakers come in many sizes from a smaller 4″ driver to a larger 6″ x 9″. The first step in replacing your car’s speakers is to determine what size speakers fit in the factory locations of your car. This is best done by using a speaker fit guide found on the internet (such as the Sonic Electronix Speaker Fit Guide) or looking up a local shop and giving them a call. Sometimes talking to a professional is the best route because they can help answer other questions you might have.
The most common size in cars are 6.5″ speakers, 6″ x 9″ speakers, and 5″ by 7″ speakers.
The most common size for a car stereo is a single DIN. These stereos are approximately 7″W x 2″H in size and will fit in just about every vehicle.
At twice the height of single DIN stereo, double DIN stereos measure in at about 7″W x 4″H. THe extra height adds more real estate to the front face of the stereo which is often filled with a large touchscreen.
Some vehicles do not easily allow a single or double DIN stereo to replace the OEM stereo and require an aftermarket stereo that is molded to the same size and dash as the OEM stereo. These stereos are referred to as OEM replacement.
Car Stereo Features
Stereos that have Bluetooth technology are designed for hands-free talking. This means a user can pair their Bluetooth enabled phone (like a smartphone) to the car stereo to make and receive calls. The stereos feature an external microphone (mounted during installation) and play the audio through the car speakers. This is the most convenient way to talk while driving. Some Bluetooth stereos also feature A2DP audio streaming to allow an audio signal from a Bluetooth device (like the Pandora app on an iPhone) to play through the car speakers.
Just about every aftermarket car stereo has a CD player (with the exception of digital media receivers). Other stereos feature DVD playback which can be used for watching movies or playing back music if the DVD is burned with MP3 files. Typically, only double DIN touchscreen receivers have DVD playback because they have a display that will actually accommodate the DVD playback.
Newer stereos have USB ports on them to allow a better connection to digital devices. This enables a user to plug in a USB flash drive, a smartphone, or in some cases a portable hard drive. These digital devices have more music storage than most CDs so a listener can have more music with them on the go. It is excellent for long road trips or when you want to quickly share some music with a friend.
If you are traveling a lot and want to make sure you know how to get to your destination, be sure to consider an in-dash GPS receiver. These receivers come with a GPS antenna and all the software needed to navigate from one destination to another. Several of the name brand stereo manufacturers have partnered with the industry leaders in GPS technology (such as Garmin™) to provide the most up to date map information.These stereos are typically a double DIN or single DIN flip out because the larger diaply makes it much easier to see the maps.
Many of the newest car stereos are compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones via a USB connection. That means a user can simply plug in their phone to the car stereo with the same cable that the phone came with. Once the phone is connected, many new features become available depending on the car stereo. Some of these features might include audio playback of music on the phone, video playback, Pandora app control, Siri control, Apple CarPlay compatible, MirrorLink compatible, and many other innovative features. These stereos are perfect for those that use their phones for music streaming.
MirrorLink Car Stereos
Perhaps the latest trend for car stereos is a technology called MirrorLink, which allows the display of a connected Android smartphone to be mirrored on the display of the car stereo. Depending on the unit, the user may or may not be able to control the phone using the stereo controls. The benefit to this is accessing smartphone apps (such as Waze, Spotify, etc) from the touchscreen of the car stereo. The most common use for MirrorLink right now is being able to connect a compatible Android smartphone via USB and setting the phone in the glove box. The user can still access of the apps they want without the distraction of text messages, emails, or other potentially dangerous distractions that the phone might cause.
The information on this website is based on my experiences and opinions. It is always recommended to consult with a professional installer before doing anything on your car. LearnCarAudio.com is not responsible for any typographical, conceptual, or visual errors on the website.