2-way vs. 3-way Car Speakers: What’s The Difference?

Jerry Wilson
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2-Way Car Speakers

Vs. 3-Way Car Speakers

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between 2-way car speakers and 3-way car speakers, wonder no more. A 3-way car speaker can deliver a much more accurate and a much better sound output compared to that of 2-way car speakers.

The three-way speakers are made up of three components – two speakers and a crossover network. A 3-way speaker can be switched for 2-way speakers, but a 2-way speaker can never be replaced by three way style speakers. The standard two-way speakers consist of two non-directional speakers and a crossover network.

A 3-way speaker function is similar to that of a 2-way system, but there is a third component in the work – a crossover network. The job of the crossover network is to direct the sound from the high-frequency speaker toward the tweeter and the sound from the low-frequency speaker toward the woofer. The difference shows up in quality of sound output. Low-frequency sounds are smoother and crisper, delivering more accurate and powerful bass sounds than 2-way system could deliver.

Crossover networks also work together with the standard speakers, directing the sound output properly toward the speakers and lowering the distortion in the sound output.

3-Way Car Speakers

3-way car speakers are the most popular today simply because they offer the best combination of sound quality and convenience.

These speakers integrate a tweeter, midrange, and subwoofer into a single package, which makes them easy to install and work with.

The average life span of a 3-way car speaker is longer than that of a 2-way car speaker because it has fewer overall components to wear out. The schematic below shows the dome tweeter, midrange and woofer that make up a typical 3-way car speaker.

Making the Right Decision

On 2-way vs. 3-way Car Speakers

When it comes to car speakers, there are basically three things that you need to consider:

  • Type of car speaker
  • Size and wattage
  • Type of music

The type of the car speaker is basically determined by the number of ways that sound can get out of it. 2-way speakers have a tweeter at the top of the speaker cabinet and are your standard speakers with a volume knob. 3-way car speakers are separated into the woofer, tweeter and a mid range speaker, most commonly called a mid. The vocals are then usually placed in one or both of the speakers.

In the case of there being two speakers, the mid is placed in the speaker cabinet and the main vocals are placed in the dashboard. This is the case with the majority of car radio setups as the radio automatically processes the 2 channel or 4 channel audio in that manner.

With the advent of Bluetooth and car stereo systems, most often a 3rd speaker is used, which is a tweeter. This is placed at the top of the car window, where the reflections are better for greater audio quality. However if you listen to jazz or classical and you’re sick of having to place your ear against the stereo to hear the vocals, this option is worth pursuing.