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2-Way Vs. 3-Way Car Speakers: A Comparative Guide

 2 way vs 3 way speakers

Who doesn’t love road trips? Just driving to nowhere alone, with your friends, or your loved ones while singing along to your favorite jams on the car radio, it’s fun, right? But one vital thing for road trips is the music.

I mean, who doesn’t want music blasting off your car, with the right kind of bass and sound frequencies? The question is, which type of speaker will suit best for your road trip plans?

Getting the right kind of speaker will clearly be a big factor that will contribute to your overall experience. Just the right amount of everything with the right kind of speaker will set you on a heck of a road trip ride!

Read also related articles: Best powered subwoofer for cars, best bluetooth car adapter, and best touchscreen car stereo.

2-way and 3-way car speakers: What is the difference?

A speaker’s driver will determine how good the produced sound will be. Using its different types, that caters to different functions, makes the sound complete and whole. There are many types of a speaker that are designed to perform specific functions. These types will identify how good or how rich the sound will be produced.

2-way car speaker

A 2-way speaker has two drivers, a combination of a tweeter and a woofer in one basket. Blocking unwanted frequencies with the use of a crossover, it is off to produce better sound, but note that not all 2-way speakers have a crossover.

3-way car speaker

Like the 2-way speaker, a 3-way speaker also consists of a tweeter and a woofer. The only difference is that it has an additional midrange speaker, making the total number of the drives three. To understand better the basic parts of a speaker and what it does, below are some information.

Types of speaker drivers

Each type of speaker has its own set and range of frequencies that it is designed to produce. Listed below are the types of speakers which cater to different functions and frequencies:

Tweeter

Dynamic mid-range speaker
Cutaway view of a dynamic mid-range speaker 1. Magnet 2. Cooler 3. Voicecoil 4. Suspension 5. Membrane

A tweeter is a speaker driver that produces sound and music at an upper or a higher frequency music range. This pertains to the treble notes a music set has, hence, the tweeter is responsible for producing these kinds of notes.

Woofer

A woofer, in contrast to the tweeter, is a speaker driver that produces low frequency sounds. An example of a low frequency sound is bass notes, commonly used for most types of music. The woofer is responsible for producing these kinds of low frequency sounds.

Midrange

Midrange speakers specifically target the ‘middle’ of the spectrum. This is, by far, the most important driver because it is the one used for most sounds, like human voices or sounds of instruments, making them audible and produced clearly.

Crossover

A crossover is an electrical circuit, used to supply speakers/drivers the signal range it is designed to produce. It takes a single input signal that sends two to three output signals for the speakers/drivers.

Types of 2-way and 3-way speakers

Types of 2-way and 3-way speakers

There are two types of 2-way and 3-way speakers. These depend on the setting and composition of the drivers. A speaker’s composition will contribute to the final sound it makes or produces, saying so, its type will be a vital factor in determining which is best for which use.

Coaxial

Coaxial speakers are speakers in which all drivers are combined in one structure. Most coaxial speakers have simple, built-in crossovers.

2-way coaxial speaker

  • Woofer and tweeter in one basket
  • Has 2 speakers to divide the range in for better clarity
  • Uses an integrated crossover circuit
  • Simpler crossover
  • Less expensive
  • No midrange (may affect sound quality)

3-way coaxial speaker

  • Woofer, midrange, and tweeter, or woofer and 2 tweeters in one basket
  • Has 3 speakers to divide the range in for better clarity
  • Uses an integrated crossover circuit
  • More complicated crossover
  • More expensive
  • Woofer is obstructed by midrange and tweeter (may affect sound quality)

Component

Component speakers consist of a system with separate drivers. This makes it possible to store different drivers in different locations in your car.

2-way component speakers

  • Separate woofer and tweeter
  • Has 2 speakers to divide the range in for better clarity
  • Uses an external crossover circuit
  • Simpler crossover
  • Less expensive
  • No midrange (may affect sound clarity)

3-way component speakers

  • Separate woofer, midrange, and tweeter
  • Has 3 speakers to divide the range in for better clarity
  • Uses an external crossover circuit
  • More complicated crossover
  • A bit more expensive
  • Extra frequencies to filter

Factors to consider in choosing between 2-way or 3-way speaker

Factors to consider in choosing between 2-way or 3-way speaker

Choosing the perfect speaker for a specific use will be hard in nature, especially if you aren’t that familiar with speaker jargons, but you do need to know about the basic guide in choosing the best speaker for you.

After all, you’ll want to spend the right amount of money on the right kind of speaker that you can use over time. Here are a few factors for you to have an idea of what to consider when choosing the right kind of speaker.

Speaker quality

Speaker quality is the most important factor to look at when choosing a speaker. You may want to look for materials that are long lasting and durable. It is more likely that famous brands offer qualities that are proven and tested.

Coaxial speaker or component speaker

Coaxial speakers tend to be cheaper in price, but component speakers tend to sound better and more customizable. Don’t be fooled by the numbers though, a high-performing coaxial speaker will always sound better than a mediocre component speaker.

Crossover

Of course, the quality of a crossover will also affect the overall performance of the speaker. If you are planning on setting up your own crossover, you may want to look for the best option possible as it will determine the quality of the sound the speakers are gonna make.

Amplifier

Are you looking for a little boost of sound and are planning to have an amplifier around? An amplifier is a device that helps increase the voltage, power, or current of a signal. This will provide an extra boost to your speakers which in turn will make the sound even better and richer.

Budget

Of course above all of these factors, your budget will define which speaker you will be able to have. If you don’t have that much of a budget, then a coaxial speaker will do, but if you aren’t that worried about spending money to get the best deal, then you can opt for a high quality component speaker.

Sound of speakers depending on size

When it comes to speakers, size does matter. There’s a big difference in the sound of a big speaker versus a small speaker. It doesn’t always depend on louder volume or more prominent bass, but of course it also depends on what purpose it will serve.

Small Speakers


While you think small speakers won’t live up to big speakers, that isn’t always the case. Using a big speaker for a small room won’t sound right, seeing that it produces heavy bits of basses that may not be accurate for the small room. Small speakers also cost a little cheaper than big ones.

Big speakers

Technically, big speakers produce louder sound and bass which makes it suitable for bigger rooms with bigger audiences. It accumulates to the extra boost a sound needs in accommodating a larger capacity. Compared to small speakers, big ones outdo the small ones when it comes to performance.

2-way and 3-way car speakers: Frequency range

A basic guide to knowing how good a speaker would produce music is based on its frequency range. This is an important factor in choosing the best speaker to produce the best music regarding its types.

Below are some information about frequency, and frequency ranges of a 2-way and 3-way car speakers.

What is frequency response?

The frequency response is the range of audible frequency range a speaker can produce. It measures how well a component will produce a specific audio. Audio like bass or treble notes’ clarity will depend on the kind of frequency a speaker has.

Frequencies are measured using the Hertz (Hz) unit. A theoretical range of the human hearing consists of about 20 Hz (lowest bass notes) and 20 kHz (highest treble notes).

Frequency of 2-way car speakers

Whether it be a coaxial or a component 2-way car speaker, it consists of a tweeter, a very small speaker, and a woofer, a large speaker.

As tweeters are for high frequency sounds, its frequency range produces from about 2 kHz up to 20 kHz. This wide range is perfect for any type of music with any range of treble notes.

While tweeters are for higher frequency sounds, woofers are for the opposite. Woofers produce low frequency sounds, or bass notes, ranging from 20 Hz to 2 kHz. Perfect for that bass drop you’re crazy for.

Frequency of 3-way car speakers

The 3-way car speaker, which can also come off as a coaxial speaker or component speakers, also consists of a tweeter and a woofer but with an additional midrange speaker. A mid range speaker’s frequency is from about 500 Hz to 4 kHz. This is the frequency perfect for the middle spectrum which balances the sound, producing a more common and natural sound.

In cases of a 3-way speaker not having a midrange speaker, a second tweeter is used, extending the speaker’s high frequency range even more.

Which is better? 2-way or 3-way car speakers?

Speakers have never been this complicated, no? Now that you know all about speakers, its types, 2-way and 3-way speakers, factors to consider when choosing, let’s do a little backtrack and weigh our options.

Coaxial or component speakers

Investing in coaxial or component speakers are good for the long run if you want a little upgrade for your car’s sound system instead of those built in ones.

Coaxial speaker

Coaxial speakers are best for a budget-friendly buy. These are less expensive compared to the component speakers, and are also easy to install for it just comes in one whole package. These are ideal if you are opting on installing it yourself.

Component speaker

Component speakers require a little more time, money, and effort seeing that it is more expensive than that of coaxial and comes with extra work, but it is totally worth it, for component speakers produce the best sounds in general. These will surely provide an over-the-top experience and a more enjoyable ride.

2-way car speaker


A 2-way speaker will, of course, be cheaper than a 3-way speaker (considering that it is not high end). What’s good about a 2-way speaker is that it may cause a little distortion and all, but not that much. This type of speaker also uses a simpler crossover which would not impact sound quality that much.

You might want to try out this JBL Club Series 2 way coaxial speaker that I found on Amazon. It’s a highly rated Amazon’s Choice car speaker that comes in a pair of two, looks awesome and ready to party, and makes superior sounds.

3-way car speaker


Compared to performance and the overall sound produced, there’s no doubt that a 3-way car speaker would be better. Its ability to be placed in different locations creates a surround sound-like experience inside your car.

One thing that a 2-way speaker lacks indifference to a 3-way speaker is the third speaker driver. Whether it be the midrange speaker, or an extra tweeter, spending extra money for this would be worth it for the performance you would get.

My best suggestion for you would be this Rockford Frostgate full range 3-way coaxial speaker. It’s Amazon’s number one bestseller, and for good reason. It’s simply the perfect high quality car speaker that you’ll ever find.

Final tips

Selecting the right kind of speaker for your preferences can be a bit hard, isn’t it? But don’t worry, with all the information and guides on choosing the best speaker for you will definitely make things a whole lot easier.

Just include these in your criteria and you will be good to go!

  • Overall style and design
  • Material quality and brand tag
  • Crossover design – passive or electronic
  • Online reviews and feedbacks
  • Sound quality by listening (if possible)

These criteria above will help you choose the best speaker suited for you, whether it is a 2-way or a 3-way speaker! Choosing the type of speaker that is compatible with your car should be the first criterion to select.

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