2 Way vs 3 Way Speakers, Which Are The Best?
The 2 way vs 3 way speakers debate is one that will go on and on, because there is no out-and-out winner. Surely if a speaker set has 3 speakers it will sound better than one with 2 drivers, no? That depends on a few factors.
Of course, there are 4 way and 5 way speakers, but really you don’t need all the extra drivers. 3 way or 2 way speakers do the sufficiently, and any more drivers just get in the way.
There’s a big difference whether you choose coaxial vs component speakers, too
So what should you get when it comes to 2 way vs 3 way speakers? Well, let’s take a deeper look at and check out the pros and cons of both.
2 Way vs 3 Way Speakers
The main difference is the amount of drivers in each speaker. 2 way speakers boast a woofer and a tweeter, while a 3 way speaker boasts those two and a mid-range driver.
Because a 3 way speaker has more drivers they can concentrate on a narrower range of frequencies, and this should result in more precise soundstage in your car.
All speakers have either built in or external crossovers, and these divide the frequencies and send them to each driver. 2 way speakers will work with wider frequencies as these only have 2 drivers, whereas 3 way speakers work with narrower frequencies because of the additional driver.
For a 2 way speaker, the crossover frequency is around 2.5 kHz, so all of the sounds above 2.5 kHz will go to the tweeter and anything below 2.5 kHz will go to the woofer.
For 3 way speakers the 2.5 kHz crossover will send sounds above that to the tweeter, but because there’s an extra driver, there’s another crossover frequency which is usually around 350-500 Hz.
Anything between 2.5 kHz and 500 kz will go to the mid-range speakers, and anything below 500 Hz will go to the woofer. So, with that extra driver you would think the 2 way vs 3 way speakers debate is done and dusted. Surely, a specialist driver that can help relieve the woofer a bit can reproduce better sounds? Well, yes and no.
When it comes to 2 way vs 3 way speakers, it’s more about the money you spend, to be honest. Because you’re buying less drivers, 2 way speakers are cheaper to make. But when you want to buy the best car speakers, think about the quality of the components you’re buying.
When you get a set of 2 way speakers, you’re buying one less driver in each, than you will with a set of 3 way speakers. So, if you see some 2 way speakers that are as expensive as some 3 way speakers, the 2 way should have better quality components. This should result in a batter sound coming from the 2 way than the 3 way speakers.
If you go for cheap 3 way vs more expensive 2 way speakers then you are really cutting yourself short and you would be better spending a little bit more and getting some good quality 2 way speakers.
What Are 2 Way Car Speakers?
2 way speakers are good enough, especially if you buy good quality ones. Don’t get me wrong, if you ask me whether I’d recommend 3 way or 2 way speakers, then probably I’d go for 3 way.
But, 4 way or 5 way speakers vs 2 way speakers, I would definitely go for the 2 way speakers, because you don’t need all the extra drivers. Extra drivers just mean more cost, more installation headaches, and if they’re coaxial speakers, the extra drivers will stifle your woofer.
A 2 way speaker has 2 drivers: a woofer, and a tweeter. It’s that simple. The woofer concentrates on the widest frequency range from 60 Hz to 4k Hz. And of course the tweeter produces the higher frequencies, usually above 4k Hz.
Because the woofer has a wide frequency range to handle, it won’t be as precise as an identical 3 way speaker, but if you get some good quality 2 way speakers they will be good enough for most people.
Because of the wide frequency the woofer in a 2 way speaker has to cover, the bass isn’t the best in 2 way speakers. But I wouldn’t buy 3 way speakers thinking I was going to make a massive difference with the bass. If you love your bass, you should get a subwoofer, no matter what speaker set up you have.
The 2 different types of 2 way speakers are coaxial and components speakers, so let’s take a closer look at each type.
2 Way Coaxial Speakers
2-way coaxial speakers are the most common car speakers used, and the ones that car manufacturers mostly use, because of their relative cheapness.
2 way coaxial speakers have both drivers together in the same device. The tweeter protrudes from the middle of the woofer. There’s a built-in crossover that sends the frequencies to each driver, but there are no other components in 2 way coaxial speakers.
They come in all standard car speaker sizes, and because it’s just one device, they are the easiest car speakers to install.
The sound can be limiting, albeit it much better than your factory speakers. But if you go for the cheaper 2 way coaxial speakers, I wouldn’t expect a big difference for too long as cheap car speakers are made with cheap materials.
2 Way Component Speakers
Whether it’s 3 way or 2 way speakers, component speakers can produce more precise sounds. And you will get a better high fidelity from most 2 way component speakers than you would from 2 way coaxials.
The main difference with components and coaxials is that with component speakers, the drivers are separate, and so is the crossover.
It makes installation more complex, but because the drivers are separate, and the crossovers in component speakers are better, you will get a better sound for sure. If you don’t cheap out that is.
As with the 2 way vs 3 way speakers debate, the coaxial vs component speaker debate depends a lot on the money you spend. Component speakers are more expensive to produce, so if you see some components and coaxials at roughly the same price, the coaxials will have better quality materials, and so I would go for them.
Because of the separate parts, installing the component speakers is more complex. For the standard installation, however, you will likely put the woofer in the car door along with the crossover, albeit a few inches apart. And most people put the tweeter in the A-pillar, or dash, or a bit higher than the woofer on the car door.
Component speakers installation can be difficult, because as well as installing each component you have to set the crossovers as well. It’s not too difficult, but it does add more complexity to the installation of component speakers.
For advice on setting the right crossover frequency, you check this article out…
What Are 3 Way Car Speakers?
3 way car speakers are speakers with 3 different drivers: a woofer, mid-range driver, and tweeter.
With the 2 way speaker you don’t get the mid-range driver, so this can be a major benefit for 3 way speakers as each driver won’t have to work as hard as it’s 2 way compatriot.
Notice how I said, ‘this can be a major benefit’ there? That’s because it isn’t always a benefit. Remember what I said up there about 4 way and 5 way speakers getting in the way? 3 way speakers aren’t overdoing it, but sometimes a third driver can get in the way of the woofer, and muffle the high fidelity. It’s all about the design and materials used.
3 Way Coaxial Speakers
3 way coaxial speakers are known as triaxial speakers, but most people refer to them as coaxial. Like the 2 way coaxials, these are just one device, but with a main woofer, and a mid-range and tweeter protruding from the middle.
As we already know, the woofer can produce the widest range, but if you have a smaller mid-range it will relieve the woofer of its load. However, unless it’s a high quality mid-range, it might hinder the sound quality rather than improve it, and that’s why I don’t like to go for 3 way coaxial speakers.
I don’t like too many speakers in the way of my woofer, and with coaxials, there’s nowhere else to put the other 2 drivers. So unless you get the very best 3 way coaxial speakers, I wouldn’t bother. If you can’t afford component speakers, just get some good quality 2 way coaxial speakers.
3 Way Component Speakers
So, with 3 way or 2 way coaxial speakers, I would choose 2 way, but when it comes to component speakers, it’s a different matter.
As you already know, 2 way vs 3 way speakers is pretty complex and with no clear winner. Until you look at the best 3 way component speakers that is.
3 way component speakers are generally the most expensive of all 3 way or 2 way speakers, and the best ones can produce unbelievable sounds.
Like the 2 way components, the drivers are separate, but of course you get 3 different drivers and a crossover.
These are the best car speakers for driving the best quality sounds in your car. If you want your music to be crisp and precise, and be able to hear all the different instruments, 3 way component speakers should be your choice.
That’s if you’re willing to spend the extra dollars, of course. As with the other speakers, if you cheap out on some 3 way components, then you might have been better getting the 2 way speakers, as they will be built with better material and the sound will be fantastic anyway.
The main drawback with 3 way component speakers is the installation. 3 separate drivers and a crossover is no easy task, but if you are prepared to do the work, or pay a professional to install them, you will get the best soundstage in your car.
2 Way vs 3 Way Car Speakers
Choosing any audio equipment can be daunting, but the thing about getting the best speakers is getting what suits you and your budget.
Don’t get carried away by going for the 4 way- or 5 way speakers. They aren’t necessary and the extra drivers can get in the way and affect your high fidelity.
When it comes to coaxial speakers, I would recommend some good quality 2 way coaxial speakers. 3 way coaxials just add more drivers in front of your woofer, and some good quality 2 way speakers will do a great job.
Of all the speakers I’d recommend it is the 3 way component speakers. As long as you don’t cheap out, you will be getting some speakers that can add so much definition to the soundstage in your car.
They are harder to install and the crossover setting adds another level of complexity, but when it comes to 2 way vs 3 way speakers, 3 way components are the best.