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What are component car speakers?

And why do they sound so much better?

At Crutchfield, we've never settled for ho-hum car sound — and speakers firing at your knees leave a lot to be desired. For the best possible sound in your car, we recommend a component speaker system. Separate tweeters and woofers will mean a little more work on installation day, but years of enjoyment — thanks to the three big audio advantages of component speakers.

JL Audio C2650 component speaker system

Why do you want separate woofers and tweeters?

Normal coaxial speakers, whether factory-installed or aftermarket, combine the woofer and tweeter into one speaker. It's a convenient way to get great sound from a single speaker opening, but the design of the woofer and tweeter are both compromised in this arrangement. 

Component speakers separate the two drivers and introduce a crossover to let them each do their job better. 

The basics of speaker placement

diagram of component speaker system
Tweeters go up high

Tweeters handle the delicacies of the high range. Since higher frequencies are more directional than lower, it’s important to mount tweeters as close to the ear level of the listener as possible. That said, the tweeters should still be close to the woofers so that the different frequencies don’t reach your ears at different times.

Crossovers hide away

Acting as traffic cop for the audio information coming from your amp or radio, external crossovers ensure that frequencies above a fixed point go to the tweeters, and those below go to the woofers. These little boxes can be securely tucked away wherever there’s space in your doors or dash.

Woofers go down low

Your component woofers are usually mounted in your vehicle’s factory locations, most likely in the doors. Free from any physical interference by the tweeters, the more resonant low frequencies will create a solid foundation for the detailed highs.

The three big benefits of component speakers

Installing component speakers in your car gives you sound that’s better, higher, and wider. 

Better tonal clarity

Thanks to the crossover networks, the woofers and the tweeters are freed up to do more for their assigned frequencies. A defined crossover point prevents each driver from stretching to play frequencies it can’t really handle. With this new boost in clarity, you may be surprised by what’s revealed in your music. Individual instruments stand out from each other with distinction, giving your music timbre and warmth.

graphic illustration of an audio signal being split between high and low frequencies.

Better sound stage

If you’ve never experienced component speakers in the car and are accustomed to sound hovering like a fog below you, this might actually be the most noticeable adjustment. By elevating your tweeters to the dash, A-pillars, or sail panels of your vehicle, you’re raising the stage, so to speak, so that your music sounds as if it’s right in front of you, rather than by your knees or even behind you. You’re one step closer to a more authentic audio experience.

graphic illustration of sound moving up from the floor to above the dash

Better imaging

Once again, tweeter placement adds new dimension to your music. With a raised soundstage, tonal clarity, frequency separ­ation, and stereo separation, you’ll experience more accurate imaging. Enjoy the thrill of spatially distinct instruments across your dash, as if the musicians were set up before you. 

graphic illustration of musicians' positions on stage

Add an amplifier to give them the power they need

Often, component systems are designed to handle higher amounts of power than their same-brand coaxial counterparts. They'll work fine when powered by an aftermarket stereo, but they'll really sound their best when powered by an external amplifier. Keep this in mind when you're planning your system.

If you don't intend to add an outboard amp, then make sure the component speakers are rated to perform well on just deck power.

Installing a car amp in the trunk

Installing component tweeters and the right fit for you

Check out these resources for installing component tweeters and how to get the best sound possible from them. 

Our car speakers buying guide also goes into a lot more detail about how to choose the right speakers (whether a component system or coaxials) for your car audio system. Be sure to check it out. And then use our vehicle selector to find out which speakers will fit your car.

More questions about component speakers?

If you have any questions about your options, contact our advisors via phone or chat (found at the top of this page). They're here to help.

  • Jeff B from Tucson, AZ

    Posted on 12/23/2021

    What effect does the crossover frequency of a component set have on the potential performance for imaging and soundstage? I've got a 2013 Focus, with component tweeter at dash level in the doors, and the woofer down near the bottom of the door. Will there be any noticeable difference between component sets designed with lower crossover point (like 2kHz) versus a higher one (say 4kHz)? At what frequency do we really want up at head level versus down in the footwell area when the components have significant separation? (Is there an easy way to figure out crossover point in Crutchfield's listings?)

  • MLT from Monroe

    Posted on 4/21/2021

    I am upgrading the sound system in a 2004 Dodge Ram regular cab and I'm wanting to use component speakers in the front. I have room for a 6x9 in the door, 3.5 inch in the dash, and the tweeter in the sail panel. Would it be worth going with a 3-way component system? Or would a 2 way component be good? I have room for a 5.5 behind the seat and I'm also going to add a 10 or 12" sub behind the seat as well.

    Commenter image

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 4/21/2021

    MLT, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.
  • Leobardo from México

    Posted on 11/1/2020

    Muy buen servicio..

  • Allen from Jacksonville

    Posted on 7/2/2020

    Hi. I have a 2012 Dodge Challenger RT with a subwoofer I installed recently. It's a 12 in Rockford Fosgate powered by a little 250 watt kicker amp . Someone already put component speakers/tweeters in the front door/deck and it sounds great up front but not much of anything in the back seat. The rear deck speakers are stock. Do you recommend I make the rear deck speakers components as well or go with some 2 or 3 way speakers?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 7/7/2020

    Allen, 2- or 3-way speakers should work out just fine for the rear deck. If you'd like any recommendations, just give us a call!
  • James from Honolulu

    Posted on 5/4/2020

    Is it ok to use two different brands of component speakers for my doors, or would it be best to use the same brand for my doors.

  • Joel from Skiatook

    Posted on 4/8/2020

    I have a prime 300 x4 fosgate amp. "Birth sheet says 423". Infinity component 6x9's and tweeters. Infinity 6x9 3 way speakers and 3.5 infinity dash speakers. Whats the best way to wire this up?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 4/10/2020

    Joel, if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Angelo T. from Palm Harbor, FL

    Posted on 8/30/2019

    I have Rockford Fosgate R165S component speakers. I was wondering if I could wire them as seperates rather than having the tweeter piggy back off the woofer. I have a RFosgate R2504 4-way amp and I would rather wire the tweets to the front channel and the woofers in the doors 2 of them and 2 woofers in my rear deck to the rear channel. Is this a doable setup?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/5/2019

    Angelo, I'm not quite clear on the setup you're thinking about. It sounds like you want to bi-amp the front components and still power the rear speakers with the same amp? That would require a 6-channel amp when you have an amp with 4 channels. The piggy-back scenario would be the way to power all those speakers with 4 channels. Keep in mind that if you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Brandon from Melbourne

    Posted on 7/20/2018

    Hey, I had alpine r type component speakers installed in my previous car. Before trading it in, I took out the woofers but forgot the tweeters! Would they still be worth putting in the rear two speakers in my new car (are they going to work properly without the crossover?)

    Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 7/23/2018

    Brandon, without the tweeters, you'll be missing out on the high frequencies. Those woofers weren't built to handle them. That said, it could be done if you're okay with just mid-bass/midrange and you can set crossover points at an amp.
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/19/2018

    Awesome, Dogman15! Glad we could help.

  • Dogman15

    Posted on 3/16/2018

    Thank you for this article! I was wondering what exactly the difference between component and non-component speakers was, and this answered my question perfectly, and I learned something new!