How to Upgrade Component Speakers

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How to Upgrade Component Speakers

Listening to music on the road is one of the great joys of daily life for many people. While standard, factory-installed speakers can do some justice to music, many car audio enthusiasts prefer to leverage component speakers when listening to music in an automobile. These optimised speaker systems allow users to customise the soundscape of a vehicle, accentuate frequency ranges, and underscore certain aspects of their favourite styles of music.

From time to time, component speakers need an upgrade to take them to the next level of audio performance. Understanding how these speakers work, the accessory items that affect their performance, and the tweaks that can be made to improve a car sound system is crucial when purchasing new components for a vehicle. Consumers who want to upgrade their car's audio systems can also improve their shopping experience by learning the best retailers that offer car component upgrades, including the online auction site eBay.

How Component Speakers Work

When a consumer purchases a car, the car typically contains factory-standard speakers. These speakers are called coaxial speakers. A coaxial speaker combines two separate speaker components, the woofer and the tweeter, into one speaker. The tweeter is the component that addresses the higher frequencies in music and some mids, while the woofer addresses the lower range of the frequency spectrum, including the bass.

Component speakers, on the other hand, are systems that separate the various components that are used to address different parts of the frequency spectrum into separate units. They also contain a midrange component that brings detail to the vocal range in music, as well as crossover components that ensure that all the components work together well. In this way, the soundscape in a car is much more detailed, and a consumer can customise the soundscape to create an optimal listening environment.

Upgrading Component Speakers

There are a number of techniques consumers can use to improve the quality of a component system. These vary from switching out various speakers, adding new speakers, or optimising accessory items, such as crossovers.

Upgrading the Woofer in a Component System

The woofer is the element in a component system that addresses lower frequencies and produces the bass sound in music. Given the prevalence of bass in much contemporary music, many consumers prioritise quality woofers above all else.

A woofer's quality correlates directly to the material used in its cone and the size of that cone. The material used in the woofer cone determines how confident and deep a bass sound is. Materials such as mica or titanium are capable of creating much more resonant bass sounds than other materials. Many cones in the market are made from polypropylene. Consumers who have a polypropylene cone can consider upgrading to mica or titanium to enhance the bass sound.

Improving 'Thump' in a Woofer

Another consideration to make when upgrading woofers is whether or not a component is delivering enough 'thump'. Especially with musical styles like hip hop, the thump of a bass can make a big difference to the quality of the music. Woofers with larger excursions can push out a bigger bass sound.

When upgrading a woofer to enhance the bass sound's power, consumers should also ensure that the surround used to buffer the woofer is as stable as possible. Surrounds help prevent the woofer from buzzing, which can distort a bass sound. They come in foam, rubber, and cloth varieties. Rubber surrounds are the most durable and provide sustained support to a system. Replacing the surround in a woofer or upgrading to a woofer with a rubber surround from a cloth or foam surround can greatly enhance a component system's bass performance.

Improving Power in a Woofer

The magnet in a woofer can affect how assertive the bass is in a component. Magnets drive the power system of a woofer. A more powerful magnet is capable of driving a more powerful sound. Individuals who want to upgrade their bass sound may need to consider whether their current bass component has an optimal magnet.

Upgrading Tweeter Drivers

Quality tweeters are defined by a crisp, bright, and clear sound in the higher frequencies. When upgrading tweeter components, the materials used in a tweeter can be one of the central factors in determining its quality. Ceramic and graphite are the materials most likely to produce a bright, clean sound in a tweeter. If an existing tweeter is made of silk or plastic, it may produce a dull sound and need to be upgraded.

Positioning Tweeters

Another way to optimise tweeter performance is to position the tweeter optimally within the car's soundscape. Different mounts and detachable tweeters can allow consumers to direct the tweeter's sound projection in the ideal direction to create a balanced soundscape. Consumers who want to leverage this technique can look for tweeters with rotating or pivot mounts that allow for optimal positioning of a tweeter.

Upgrading Crossovers in a Component System

The crossovers in a component system are the electrical elements that control the signal flow to the woofers and tweeters. Good crossovers protect woofers and tweeters by ensuring that they receive the correct and optimal signal for their needs.

Consumers who have passive crossovers and who want to improve them may consider changing to active crossovers. Active crossovers allow for detailed customisation of signal flow and optimise frequencies projected by either the woofer or the tweeter. Active crossovers, however, demand a thorough and advanced understanding of speaker systems and are usually only effective when leveraged by a seasoned audiophile.

Bi-Amping with Crossovers

Another technique consumers can consider to improve crossover performance is to use crossovers that allow for bi-amping. A crossover that allows for bi-amping has two input terminals and can carry a separate signal from a separate amp channel to the woofer and tweeter, respectively. This driver-specific amplification can make a component system much more precise and detailed.

Power Handling and Component Sensitivity

Another way to upgrade a component system is for consumers to make sure that either or both the power handling and the sensitivity ratings of the speakers are an ideal fit for a car's stereo and amplifier, if included.

Optimising Sensitivity in a Car Component System

The sensitivity rating of a component speaker essentially defines how well a driver can transform power into loudness. A driver with a high sensitivity rating is able to produce a louder sound with less power input. To illustrate how this works, the chart below lists how much power is necessary to create a specific volume at different sensitivity ratings.


Sensitivity Rating

Necessary Power to Achieve Specific Volume

Speaker 1

85 dB

100 watts

Speaker 2

88 dB

50 watts

Speaker C

91 dB

25 watts

As this chart illustrates, raising a speaker's sensitivity by just 3 dB allows it to produce the same volume with half the power. Most car stereos are low-powered, meaning they work at 15 watts RMS per channel or less. If this is the case in a consumer's car, the drivers selected for a component system should have a high sensitivity rating of 90 dB or higher. If a stereo works at a higher power rating, consumers should look for systems with a lower sensitivity rating.

Optimising Power Handling in a Car Component System

Creating a well-balanced, distortion-free component system can also mean ensuring that the power handling of the system is balanced. Efficient power handling in a system means that the drivers or speakers are able to handle the power output of the stereo or amplifier. When reviewing the power handling of a speaker, it is important for consumers to focus on the RMS power and not the peak power. RMS power is the rating that defines how well the driver can handle power in the long run. Peak power defines how powerful a brief burst can be for the speaker to handle it.

Shopping for Component Speaker Systems on eBay

The online auction site eBay offers consumers a user-friendly way to access a large catalogue of speaker drivers and component systems. As an aggregator, eBay brings together various vendors to offer a wide range of component speakers.

When shopping on the site, you can find a search bar on every page. Enter a keyword search term into this search bar to access listings that are relevant to your needs. You can also use the Advanced Search option to run a more refined search. When you see listings that seem appealing, click on their titles to access more detailed information on each listing.

Getting to Know the Sellers on eBay

When shopping on eBay, take a moment to communicate with or review your seller. Communicating with a seller can be helpful when shopping for component speakers because they may be able to help you with technical specifications or confirm relevant specs, such as an RMS rating. Reviewing a seller by looking at that seller's past auctions or feedback comments can also help ensure that the seller is reliable and honest about the speakers that are for sale.


Consumers do not need to be intimidated by the process of upgrading component speakers. In fact, by focussing on a few key issues, such as tweeter performance or woofer tone, anyone can make effective choices that can result in an optimised car audio system. Upgrading a system to improve crossover performance can also work to drive better and clearer sound.

Once these critical details are in hand, consumers can shop for component speakers by leveraging the wide catalogue of options available on eBay. This aggregator site brings together multiple vendors to offer numerous component speakers to upgrade and add value to consumer car systems. Consumers who are interested in finding and purchasing component speaker systems can also search in brick-and-mortar electronics stores or at specialty car audio vendors to find the ideal drivers and crossovers to upgrade a car's audio performance and make listening to music on the road an incredible experience.

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