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Old 08-11-2005, 09:09 PM   #1
offset
Scooby Guru
 
Member#: 32636
Join Date: Feb 2003
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Dayton, OH
Vehicle:
2004 Impreza STi
Silver/Silver

Default Cabin Speaker Buyer’s Guide and FAQ

Cabin Speaker Buyer’s Guide and FAQ
**Note: Please post any follow-ups to this thread in the offset’s Car Audio Manifesto thread if you have updates or corrections so this thread can stay clean. Start a new thread for any 'how-to' questions.
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=824983

Component Speakers -
Component speakers typically consist of a woofer and tweeter. The woofer is most commonly 6.5” or 5.25” and the tweeter is anywhere between 3/4” and 1.5”. There are sometimes a three piece set with something roughly along the lines of a 6.5” midbass, 4” midrange, and tweeter; however those are typically only used in highly customized installations. Also included with an actual component set of speakers is a passive crossover. This is what diverts the highs to the tweets and the lower frequency to the woofers (or midbass).

Coaxial Speakers (2-way) -
A coaxial speaker is a tweeter mounted right over the top center of a woofer. Very generally speaking a set of coaxial will be more limited in terms of power handling and sound quality as compared to a component set. However the flip side of this is that coax speakers are usually more efficient (better for use with head unit power) and are easier to install.

polyaxial Speakers (3-way, 4-way, or more) -
Also known as a tri-axial for a woofer with midrange and tweeter combined together (or even more speakers, but they all wind up being a woofer with multiple tweeters in reality). There have been some high quality speakers with this design, but it is very uncommon. For the most part I would say if you are considering a speaker without a separated tweeter, stick to a coaxial. *note: Sometimes a three piece component set mentioned above is called a 3-way the same as a tri-axial speaker is called a 3-way, and these can be confused at times.

Front Speakers -
Mounting speakers in the front can usually be done in one of two spots; the stock locations in the door or in kick panels. Kick panels are usually custom made from fiberglass and are put in place of the dead pedal where the driver would rest their left foot and also on the right side of the passenger footwell. The reason for doing this is it increases and somewhat equalizes the distance from the listener to each side of speakers; which in turn provides better imaging. As a bonus the wiring is also much easier to run as it doesn’t have to go into the door. The downside however is a lot more effort for building custom fiberglass enclosures and the loss of some foot room (which people with bigger feet usually can not deal with).

Rear Speakers -
There are two basic options for installing rear speakers; in the stock locations in the rear doors or in the rear deck. In the doors without getting too fancy the most that can be fit is 5.25” using a mounting ring (as described above). Typically 4” speakers can be fit without much effort however. For the rear deck, that will require customization. There may be some cutting involved to fit speakers with a bigger basket. Without to terribly much work 6.5” speakers (or 6”x9” if you prefer) have been used.
Reasons against rear speakers (with a couple reasons for)…
http://www.teamcaf.org/geolemon/Phasing/Multiple.htm
There was a poll take on NASIOC concerning the use of rear speakers that indicates the general listener prefers rear fill however…
Rear Fill: Yea or Neh?
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=541057

Sealing and Sound Deadening doors -
The best way to make your doors feel more solid like some luxury cars do is to use sound deadening to add some weight and decrease resonant vibration. But the real reason to do this is to make an incredible difference in the midbass from the woofer in the door. If you are serious about improving the sound quality of your system, properly sound deadening at least the doors can help tremendously. For more information please see the Sound Deadening Buyer’s Guide and FAQ…
(soon to come)

Protection -
While car audio speakers are typically designed more suited to the harsh environs of a car, it is still a good idea to keep water from pouring down on them (either from rain or washing your car). There are foam baffles that can be installed along with the woofers. It isn’t necessary to fully cover the speaker with these however; and that can actually cause some problems by not giving the woofer enough air space in back. I typically cut them in half long ways and just put them over the top to avoid having the water run down directly on them.

XTC Foam Baffle 6.5” pair
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=260-788

Sound Characteristics -
Many things affect the way a speaker sounds, but the most prominent seems to be the material it is made of. For the woofer there are many different materials available, far more than I would bother to list here. I haven’t heard any particular material for woofers in car audio that made me settle on only that material. More importantly however is the general material type for the tweeters; and tweeters are commonly referred to as either hard dome or soft dome depending on material used. A hard dome tweeter is constructed with some type of metal such as aluminum or titanium. A soft dome tweeter is usually made of either paper or silk. A hard dome tweeter tends to have more pronounced highs, while a soft dome tweeter a little more subtle. There are tons of terms thrown around for describing sound characteristics, represented by the following line…
< -- harsh -- shiny -- bright -- neutral -- mellow -- dull -- dark -->

Most people feel that a hard dome tweeter tends to wind up somewhere on the left side of the line while a soft dome lands on the right. A hard dome tweeter might even get to the point where it becomes ‘fatiguing’ to listen to, while a soft dome may lack too much detail and clarity. Currently the soft dome tweeters seem to be more popular. The people who enjoy techno or metal styles of music are more apt to like hard dome tweeters however.
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Last edited by offset; 08-12-2005 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 08-11-2005, 09:09 PM   #2
offset
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
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2004 Impreza STi
Silver/Silver

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In the end it is all a matter of personal preference on what sounds best (and that is the most important statement I can make in this whole FAQ). You should always bear in mind that speakers commonly sound somewhat different in a car than they would on a sound board in a store. For that reason it is always best to find someone locally who has that pair of speakers installed in their car that you are considering and listen to them that way. It is possible to get used to hearing speakers on a sound board and knowing how that would translate in a car; as I got very used to doing this while working for a couple local car audio stores.

Wiring -
There are two basic options, reusing the stock wiring or running new wire. The thought is that the stock wire is very easy to reuse and is good for at least about 80 watts. If running from an aftermarket head unit, it will simply tie in using the stock wiring harness connector. If you are running from an external amplifier then the stock wiring can be reused by running the speaker wire from the amp to the wiring behind the head unit, and at that point it can be spliced into the speaker. Wiring harness for connecting the stock speaker harness to an aftermarket speaker make for a nice clean install and prevents you from needing to chop off the stock harnesses and splicing more wiring. For those who are running significant power or prefer to be more thorough, new wire will need to be run from the amplifier through the door jam grommet and to the speaker. I have included links for removing door panels and running wire after the Installation section. For all of the information you will ever need concerning wire, including some wonderful calculators showing how much power can be carried by certain lengths and gauges of wire can be found here…
http://www.bcae1.com/wire.htm

Installation -
Of primary concern with installation of speakers in a Subaru is the depth the doors have available. Most speakers will require some sort of speaker ring in order to move the speaker further out from the door. These can be made out of plywood; but if you aren’t ready for that level of DIY, then you can always either a) go to a local speaker shop and ask for a set (they can build them pretty cheaply and quickly) or b) order some perfectly made Subaru specific speaker ring from IAPerformance. There is a wonderful pdf showing examples of what size and depth of speakers will fit with the adapter rings on the IAPerformance website listed below (the link to the pdf is toward the bottom of the page). In that pdf there is also some very good information regarding the mounting of the woofer in the doors. It shows how to trim the back side of the door panel to prevent the cone from hitting the panel if needed. And Stephen (aka EastCoastScooby) also sells door pin extensions to help getting every last ounce of room for some of the really large speakers.

If dealing with a component set of speakers, installation of the crossover and tweeter also have to be considered. The crossover can basically be stuck anywhere you find room. Most people install them inside the doors since that can make the wiring easier at times. You can also mount them under the seat or in the trunk for easier access (very nice to have when troubleshooting problems. Check some of the pics in the following links for ideas on where a crossover may fit.

The tweeters are the most crucial part of the install with regard to sound quality (imaging, depth, and clarity among other things). The stock location makes the install easier; however it is also one of the worst spots for sound quality. The sail panels (the small triangular panel at the front top of the door) is a better choice, but still not ideal for most situations. One of the best spots is the A-pillars (the plastic between the windshield and the side windows). Below is a link showing a nice install of the tweeters in the A-pillars. Other spots include the kick panel area, near the top of the dash, or custom mounted lower in the door next to the woofer; these are usually reserved for advanced installers.

Speaker Adapter Rings (plus much more)…
http://www.iaperformance.com/product...oducts_id=1482

Door panel removal and speaker install…
http://users.sisna.com/ignatius/subaru/mods/

Another door panel removal and speaker install (thx gharari)…
http://members.cox.net/~gilspics/stereo/stereo1.html

Install photos: running new speaker wire into the door…
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=653205

My New Door Panels (full built custom door panels)…
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=748427

My completed install
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=681151

A-Pillar Project
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=725003

For a more complete write-up on trying to obtain wonderful imaging and sound quality…
Component Tuning: Imaging and Goals
http://forum.sounddomain.com/ubb/ult...c;f=4;t=020202

Passive setups, Active setups, and Bi-Amping -
This is one last concept I thought was worth mentioning in this post. Basically it is a matter of where the crossover function happens, before or after the amplifier. For a passive setup the signal is amplified and then run through the crossover, while an active setup has the signal already crossed-over before being amplified. The passive setup is the most common and usually the cheapest. The downside is that it wastes a lot of the power to amplify the full signal only to later ‘throw it away’; and the common passive crossover (those included in a component set) aren’t of very high quality and can degrade the overall sound quality of the signal before getting to the speakers. A passive setup is usually sufficient for the majority of people with an aftermarket car audio system. An active system requires either a higher end head unit that has crossover ability built-in, or a separate powered electronic crossover. So besides the obvious negative aspect of increases cost, there is also more complexity in getting the settings correct for everything to sound up to its potential. The term bi-amping simply refers to using a separate channel of power from an amp for each speaker (both woofer and tweeter separately). While this is most commonly done only with active setups (and is virtually required for them), there are some passive crossovers that allow for separate amplified signals for the woofer and tweeter each (Alpine Type-X crossovers for example). This does seem to improve the sound quality over the regular passive setup, but still lacks some of the control that an active setup may provide a more experienced person.

General comments -
Choosing speakers for your car depends on a lot of factors. Primarily it becomes a matter of what sounds best to you. The general consensus of what most people think sounds good does seem to follow the old adage “you get what you pay for”. But some people are totally satisfied with the cheapest of speakers. My common recommendations have always been the following… If just using the power from the head unit, stick with some efficient coaxial speakers. If you will be going with an external amplifier then a set of component speakers typically yields the best results. But remember that the quality of sound is 90% install and 10% product. Sealing and deadening the doors, placement of the tweeters, supplying appropriate power through proper design all increase the sound quality tremendously. And it is for these reasons that I will not bother naming brands specifically in this buyer’s guide and FAQ. If you do have any questions about the quality or sound of a certain model of door speakers feel free to start up a new post and ask, as there will be plenty of us happy to try and help.

Last edited by offset; 01-30-2009 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 08-11-2005, 09:10 PM   #3
offset
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
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Silver/Silver

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.....
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Old 08-11-2005, 09:10 PM   #4
offset
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Member#: 32636
Join Date: Feb 2003
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.....
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Old 03-05-2008, 03:54 AM   #5
toadlord90
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Member#: 168663
Join Date: Jan 2008
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Bothell, WA
Vehicle:
2002 Impreza 2.5RS
Aspen White

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Update for adapter ring link (the other one doesn't work any more):

http://www.iaperformance.com/product...oducts_id=1482

Last edited by toadlord90; 03-05-2008 at 03:55 AM. Reason: I'm retarded and I messed up the link
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Old 08-12-2008, 03:39 PM   #6
jblaine
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Member#: 8512
Join Date: Jul 2001
Chapter/Region: South East
Location: St. Pete, FL
Vehicle:
2002 WRX chassis...
stage-infinity.com

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Another door panel removal and speaker install (thx gharari)…
http://members.cox.net/~gilspics/stereo/stereo1.html

Link is dead ^^^^
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:09 PM   #7
otobeagod
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Nacogdoches, TX
Vehicle:
2003 WRX
Silver

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Very helpful.
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