Why You Should Replace Your Car Speakers

replace car speakers
Replacing your car speakers with aftermarket units can yield higher quality sound even if you stick with less expensive coaxial units. kutberk / E+ / Getty

Unless you have a relatively late model vehicle that shipped with premium sound, there's a pretty good chance that your car or truck is begging for a serious speaker system overhaul. Whether your speakers are starting to wear out due to age and use, or they weren't ever that great to begin with, there are a ton of reasons to replace car speakers. The main argument against replacing speakers is cost, and it can get pretty expensive if you upgrade to component speakers, but it's actually remarkably easy and cost effective if you go with high quality 2-way or 3-way direct replacement units.

Your factory speakers should also be one of the first components to hit the chopping blockif you're in the planning stages of building a whole new sound system. It’s highly unlikely that the original equipment speakers in your car or truck will be up to the task of working with a premium head unit and amp anyway, so leaving them in place will severely hamstring your new dream system. If you want the most out of your custom car stereo system, your best bet is to replace the “full range” factory speakers with high quality component speakers and throw in at least one subwoofer, but high quality full range speakers will usually still yield a quality improvement over your stock system..

Upgrading Factory Speakers

If you want to squeeze the best possible sound out of your factory sound system, and you don’t have an enormous budget, the speakers are a great place to start. Most OEM systems use “full range” speakers, which is a fancy way of saying that each speaker has a single driver that’s responsible for producing the entire audio spectrum, or at least as much of it as a relatively compact car speaker can.

The advantage is that full range speakers are comparatively cheap and take up less space than individual component speakers, but you end up paying elsewhere with muddier sound. If you replace car speakers that fall into the "full range" category with 2-way or 3-way speakers that have multiple drivers, or even individual component speakers, the difference in sound quality can be remarkable.

Premium aftermarket speakers also tend to be engineered better and constructed from higher quality materials than factory speakers. Most factory speakers use surrounds that are made out of foam and paper, which deteriorates over time. When the surrounds wear out, the sound quality drops significantly. High quality aftermarket speakers tend to use rubber surrounds that last longer and facilitate the delivery of higher quality bass.

The cones in aftermarket units are often made from denser materials as well. That’s another one of the reasons a high quality aftermarket speaker will typically have better bass reproduction than a similarly sized factory speaker. So even if you don't have the money to spend on high quality 2-way or 3-way speakers, replacing old, worn out factory speakers with new units will typically result in better sound.

Building a Car Audio System From the Ground Up

Replacing your factory speakers won’t make up for a low-powered head unit or amp, which is why many audiophiles choose to design a new system from scratch. In that case, it’s even more vital to replace low quality factory speakers with superior aftermarket units.

In the same way that 2-way and 3-way speakers provide better sound than “full range” speakers, component speakers are even better at reproducing high highs and low lows.

Since you can hand pick a head unit and amp to match your speaker configuration, this type of setup will allow you to blow other car audio systems away.

Replacing factory car speakers with real woofers and tweeters is more complicated than just dropping in some 2-way or 3-way speakers, but it allows you to design a real soundstage that’s perfect for your car.