There are two categories of speakers majorly referred to during any car stereo system upgrade which are coaxial speakers and component speakers. Coaxial speakers are also known as “full-range speakers”. They are normally installed in new cars when they are on the assembly line. These speakers’ quality varies depending on the car manufacturer.
Most cars in the market have cheap coaxial speakers installed in them in order to cut costs of vehicle manufacturing. They, therefore, allow room for car owners like you to replace the factory speakers with aftermarket high-quality speakers of their choice. Only premium luxury vehicles come preinstalled with high-quality speakers.
The vehicle manufacturer normally contracts a top-notch car audio speakers and systems manufacturer to come up with a bespoke audio system that suits car designs and customers’ tastes and preferences. Such companies include Boss Audio, Bowers & Wilkins, Bespoke, Burmeister, Harman Kardon, Meridian amongst others. These audio systems setups can cost over 3,000 USD per car.
Coaxial speakers are found virtually in every Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car stereo system that rolls off the assembly line. These speakers contain more than one driver, which includes the high-range and mid-range speakers installed into one unit. This allows them to reproduce a wide range of audio frequencies. These speakers can reproduce mid-range frequency audio.
For component speakers, they are less common, but audiophiles typically rely on them when building performance car audio systems. These speakers are made up of a single driver, so they are designed to only produce high, mid-range, or low-frequency audio range. Component speakers are technical to install hence pose a bigger challenge because each speaker needs accurate installation in order to avoid audio distortion and reach the music to the listeners’ ears in a timely manner.
Therefore, in this article, we as carsaudio.org will focus on, “how to install coaxial car speakers”.
What Are Coaxial Speakers?
You might be wondering and asking yourself, what are coaxial speakers? Do not worry because we will give you a quick description and a guide. This will make your experience shopping and installing coaxial speakers a breeze.
Coaxial speakers as we mentioned earlier are often called “full-range” speakers because they reproduce a wide range of audio frequencies from a single unit speaker. These speakers contain the same types of drivers that are found in component speakers, such as the high-range and mid-range speakers, but they are combined to save on money and space. The most common configuration is a woofer with a tweeter mounted on top of it, referred to as 2-way speakers. This design helps in saving space and also it acts as a replacement for single-cone speakers. Today, there are also 3-way coaxial speakers that contain a woofer, mid-range, and tweeter.
Coaxial car speakers were introduced in the early 1970s, and most Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car audio systems now make use of full-range speakers because these audio system designs typically prioritise cost-effectiveness over quality. These speakers are also available from budget aftermarket car audio manufacturers and replacing factory car speakers with high-quality aftermarket units is usually the most cost-effective car audio upgrade available. There are car audio companies that offer quality and affordable car audio speakers such as Pioneer.
Coaxial speakers provide not only better sound but also more installation options, they save space and are a good compromise between sound quality and price.
The difference: coaxial factory speakers vs coaxial aftermarket speakers
Most factory coaxial speakers are manufactured with a minimum frequency range. This affects their audio performance, especially at high volumes. You will find out that some of your favourite music will be falling short of certain frequency ranges. This missing frequency range will be heard as sound distortion.
Imagine going out with your friends for a car music showcase event or just an ordinary outdoor excursion only to find that you are presenting popping and crackling factory speakers. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing? Therefore, it is paramount to have your factory coaxial speakers replaced. There are many reasons why it is paramount to have new aftermarket car speakers installed.
Some of the reasons include that aftermarket speakers come with the benefit of covering wider frequency ranges. You’ll also get to install powerful speakers according to your car audio needs. With aftermarket speakers, you can combine midrange speakers with tweeters and subwoofers for full-range audio performance. Factory speakers limit you on the kind of sound you can get, and that’s why you should install aftermarket speakers to experience the kind of sound you’ve been missing.
Aftermarket coaxial car speakers’ installation might cost an arm or a leg if you decide to take your car to a car audio installation centre. Therefore, we recommend DIY for today because it is cost-effective and in the long run quite fulfilling knowing that you installed it all by yourself. If you feel sceptical about doing it yourself, DIY, you can hire a technician for the job after all you have already spent several hundreds of dollars in purchasing the new aftermarket speakers.
Well, this may sound challenging for the first-timers, a toolbox of a few kits is required. The right tool kit is required for a coaxial speaker’s installation. You may consult the car audio shop technician or search over the internet for your car model to get the right tools recommendation. Read on through this article for simple steps on how to install a coaxial car speaker by yourself.
Have the Right Speakers
First and foremost, you have to source the right coaxial speakers for your car. The speakers should be of matching characteristics for the best audio quality and experience. This will make the installation process easier rather than getting the wrong speakers for the job. You might be wondering how to source the right speakers. There are two methods that you can apply which are effective.
One, you can take measurements of the existing coaxial car speakers or read your car manual to get specifications of the speakers in terms of size. If you do not have the car manual or you bought the car used, do not worry because there is another easier way to do so.
Two, you can use the internet and search for your car model and the year of manufacture. On the car manufacture’s website, you will find the speaker specifications such as dimensions. Using the given speaker dimensions, you can use them to source and purchase coaxial speakers of your choice.
If you are unable to obtain your car speaker size and dimensions, you can still install any coaxial speaker size of your choice. This depends on whether the speakers fit your car. If they do not fit your car, additional screw holes and expand the speaker cavity in order to securely fit the speakers.
Coaxial speakers should be easier to install because they come as one unit, either 2-way or 3-way and no crossovers are required for installation. The coaxial speakers’ crossovers are inbuilt in the speaker framing which makes installation work easier and less complicated.
Tools Required for car coaxial speaker installation
Before getting started with the car coaxial speakers’ installation, you need to have a toolkit with all the required tools ready. As we stated earlier in the article, the toolkit can be purchased from a car audio shop. The toolkit is inexpensive and after use, it can be stored for later use. The tools required for installation include:
- Screwdriver set.
- Panel removal tool.
- Allen wrench.
- Torx driver.
- Socket wrench.
- Crimping tool.
- Electrical drill.
- Electrical tape.
- Soldering kit.
- Cable ties.
- Hobby knife.
The tools are not limited or restricted to those listed above. You can use any tool that might be necessary or available in order to save on costs and make the process inexpensive.
Disconnect the negative battery terminal
Now it is time to get started. These measures are very critical hence they need to be followed procedurally to avoid messing up the whole procedure. All electrical works done in a car require the electrical current flow to be discontinued in order to prevent shorts of components, blow of fuses or electrical shock to the user. All electrical components are connected to one grounding or the negative battery terminal. This means that all speakers may have a direct connection to the car battery. Therefore, the first step should be battery disconnection to avoid any damages and injuries.
Car speakers electrical wiring
Another key precaution is the car electrical wiring. Car factory wiring comes denoted with colour codes. In standard wiring procedures, black wires are connected directly to the negative terminal whereas white or red wires are connected to the positive terminal. Therefore, when installing the coaxial speakers, ensure that the factory wires cut out are connected to the new speakers or use a plug connector to connect the factory wiring to the new speakers. Although coaxial speakers come preinstalled with crossovers, no wiring is required. The only wiring that is required is from the speakers to the receiver. Whichever colour coding you will find in your car, match the terminals correctly and do not attempt to reverse the polarities because it will damage the speakers.
Types of installations
Installations vary depending on your vehicle model and type. After going through thoroughly the various coaxial speaker sizes in the market and purchasing your options, now it is time to identify the coaxial speaker installation methods.
Some speakers will fit right into the factory speaker openings and use the factory grilles and brackets present. But there are speakers that will require additional mounting brackets which may come with the coaxial speakers or purchased separately. Some speakers will require some minor modifications to the installation locations such as the door panels. The minor modifications include drilling new screw holes, cutting a small area of metal, pressboard, filing cardboard or plastic to make room for a coaxial speaker that is larger than the factory opening.
Coaxial car speakers’ installation
Choosing the locations
Car coaxial speaker installation varies widely depending on the type and model of the car. Different cars have different interior designs. The common methods are where, one, you need to pry up the speaker grilles and swap the factory speakers with aftermarket speakers. This process is referred to as installation of coaxial speakers without door panels removal, that is if the speakers are being installed on the doors.
The second installation procedure is where the door panels have to be removed in order to access the factory speakers. Sometimes the speakers can be at the rear where they are located at the trunk or behind the back seat. This depends on the car. This procedure takes more time as compared to the first one.
The benefit of installing coaxial speakers in your vehicle allows you to achieve a full range of frequencies at any price point. In this article, we will look at how to install coaxial car speakers so you can feel comfortable taking on the project.
Door coaxial speaker installation
Door coaxial speakers are the most common speakers in the car audio industry. Therefore, in any car, you will hardly miss finding speakers installed on the doors. Audio from speakers located on doors is of superior quality. A car owner should not fail to install car door speakers because they sound better due to the void space in the door panels and are relatively easy to install. The following are the steps commonly used in the installation of car coaxial speakers.
Replacing door speakers without door panels removal
Coaxial speakers’ installation can involve replacement without removal of the door panels. Cars with such types of speakers make the degree of difficulty of replacement less but it varies according to the car type. Modern cars have stopped adopting this method hence it is increasingly rare to find a car with such a type of speaker installation. These cars have their speakers changed by easy swapping where it involves removing the coaxial speaker grille cover and having the old speaker replaced.
Your car’s door speakers are a hugely important part of good sound. They’re usually easy to replace, but the degree of difficulty involved in getting to them can vary. Some grilles are mounted by screws or friction fittings where they require you to remove the screws or pry the grille to remove the speaker.
Therefore, there are three basic and simple steps applicable in replacing a door coaxial speaker in a vehicle. They include:
Step 1: Remove the grille and factory speaker
By removing the grille and accessing the factory coaxial speaker, you need to be gentle with the speaker, since it is probably attached to a wiring harness and you might want to reinstall the factory speakers if you sell the car later. Some car audio speakers manufacturers also use a sealant or foam when they first mount the speaker, therefore you might need to cut through that material with a utility knife.
Step 2: Unplug the factory wiring harness
Attach the wiring harness to your new speaker’s terminals and ensure that the polarity is correct. With the wiring harness connected to your new speaker, simply plug the other end of the harness into the factory wiring harness.
Step 3: Test the speaker
Before you put the new coaxial speaker into place, test the speaker to ensure it is functional.
Step 4: Recheck the connections
For one last time, retest the new coaxial speakers to make sure that they are working, then re-attach the factory grille. You are now good to go with a new set of aftermarket coaxial speakers.
Replacing coaxial speakers by door panel removal
Step 1: Removing your car door panel
Generally speaking, installing door coaxial speakers is a bit of a process that involves multiple procedures to be carried out. The main idea is getting the door panels out, followed by the factory speakers, the installation of the new speakers followed by the door panels again. If you own a newer car, you will need to remove the door panels to replace the factory speakers, unlike older cars where door panel removal is not required.
For the old-fashioned cars with window cranks, the first procedure is removing the crank before the door panel. Some window cranks are secured with a screw at the pivot which is sometimes hidden by a piece of Snap-on trim.
In most cars, the window crank is held in place by a single spring clip which is removable by using a retaining clip tool designed to remove this clip. A shop rag can be used but by the application of a little more effort. Depress the surrounding door panel, look behind the crank and rotate the handle until you see the spring clip. Move your hand in a back-and-forth motion in order to ease off the clip.
Prying out will be required to disconnect the electronic control module that controls the power windows and the locks. These modules are typically built into the armrest, which is often a part of the door panel, so you can basically skip ahead and get to work on removing the panels.
After removing the window crank or disconnecting the power functions, the only thing holding the door panel on should be a few retaining clips and possibly a few more screws that will need to be removed. The correct procedure of removing the door panel is by pulling it straight out starting from the bottom corner. This process should not be hurried to avoid the risk of breaking the door panel. A trim panel tool for careful working is essential for this process.
Once the corner is loose, work across the bottom of the panel and up both sides, again being careful not to use too much force. With the bottom and sides lose, the panel should now be hanging by some trim that sticks down into the window well. Lift straight up and it should detach from the door.
Modern cars are installed with electric windows and locks. The door panel removal procedure is actually similar to that of old-fashioned cars. You will need to remove their control module which is located around the armrest area before removing the door panel.
Once done, check for any clips or screws that may still be holding the panel in place and detach them. Use a panel removal tool to detach the panel from the door. Remove the door panel procedurally just as in old-fashioned cars. Ensure less force is used and start from the bottom corner pulling the panel outwards by use of a panel tool.
Step 2: Choose the mounting location
Coaxial speaker mounting location can either be at the top or bottom section of the door panel. Mounting a speaker at the top section takes less time and effort than mounting at the bottom section. However, you will have to cut new holes if you are installing the speakers to a different location from that of factory installation.
Before cutting any hole, check whether the speaker will fit in that area. Check whether there are obstacles behind that section. You can place the speaker over the door and see whether it can fit in that section.
Step 3: Removing the factory speaker
For matching coaxial car speakers, you will only need to remove the existing speaker and install the new one. The door panels once are removed and the factory speakers get exposed. Remove the screws holding the speaker in place by use of a screwdriver.
Care should be observed while removing the speaker because it is connected to a wiring assembly which is reusable for new coaxial speaker installation. In some cases, you may find the speaker is mounted to a type of foam rather than screws hence a cutting tool such as a knife is suitable for detaching it.
If you need to modify the panel to fit custom speakers, then read on through the article.
Step 4: Door modifications for coaxial speakers mounting
Modifying a car door to accept speakers requires ingenuity and labour, but it also lets you put the speaker where you want it to be. This happens when you cannot fit the new coaxial speaker in the factory speaker holes on the door panel. You also can usually choose whether to top-mount or bottom-mount your speaker. Top mounting tends to be easier and requires less mounting depth, but you should choose the option that works best on your vehicle.
Door modifications involve cutting metal, plastic, and/or fabric. This makes it a skilled man’s job thus an experienced do-it-yourself person or a talented rookie can achieve this level of modifications.
The instruction manual should be used during this modification in order to get the best speaker position. The manual has a template where it should be placed over the potential mounting areas and observations of any obstructions behind the surface. Ensure the modifications will not affect the door mechanisms such as doors and locks. Look at the clearance with the window rolled up or down before you do anything permanent. Also, close the door to ensure no obstructions.
Check behind the door panel to see how much metal or material that you will need to cut from the door frame. Locate the speaker mounting position on the back of the door panel. Tape the template on the exact spot and trace the inside edge with a temporary mark pen. Lay the panel flat on a clean surface and cut out the circle with a sharp utility knife.
Cut your metal using a jigsaw, but be careful here. Ensure that you are not cutting through the door panel and metal at the same time since that might rip the panel covering. When cutting exposed metal or metal covered by a plastic panel, wrap the base of the saw with electrical tape to prevent marring. Remember to keep the blade clear from the car’s exterior, where it could cause pockmarks. Vacuum the debris when you are finished. Safety wear can be worn where appropriate such as safety glasses.
Double-check to confirm that cutting out a hole around that section will not affect any door or car functionality, especially the door locks and windows.
Step 5: Connecting the coaxial speaker in your modified door
A little extra work is required after mounting the new coaxial speaker or wiring the speaker. Start the wiring process by use of the factory rubber tubing between the door and the door jamb to run speaker wires from the door into the car body.
A factory boot or plug should be available, if not use a drill to create a hole that reaches the desired speaker location. Structural still is used to offer support to the hinges to isolate the edge of the door, hence using an electric drill to make your work easier.
Protecting the wiring from the sharp edges of the holes is essential. A rubber grommet or flexible tubing is run between the two holes. This will keep the insulation from getting damaged when you open the door. Also, position the wire where it will not get pinched by the hinge or a portion of the door jamb. Leave enough slack so that the door can open all the way.
If your new coaxial speaker is designed to be top-mounted, you can replace the door panel after you run the wire through the jamb and for bottom-mount speakers, attach the speaker to the panel before you reassemble the door.
Step 6: Test the speaker
This involves reconnecting the car battery and turning on your car stereo head unit to test the speakers. After attaching both speakers to the panels, connect your wires to your receiver or amplifier and listen to some music. If they sound right both at high and low volume, then you have done everything the right way as intended.
After the test is done and every check confirmed to ensure that the speakers are properly connected, you can disconnect the battery again and put everything back into place.
Step 7: Connecting the wiring assembly
Upon removing the wiring assembly from the factory coaxial speaker, attach it to the new coaxial speaker. Ensure that each speaker terminal is connected to the correct polarity. In case there is no wiring assembly, you might have to solder the existing wire onto the terminals of the new speakers. Ensure you reattach any wiring modules that were removed from the door before screwing everything into place.
Step 8: Attaching the new speaker in place
After confirming the polarities are properly connected, you can reinsert the speaker into the speaker hole and screw it firmly into place. Then reattach the speaker grille in place. Once done, repeat the procedure for any other door.
If you are installing a matching coaxial speaker to the factory one, then the procedure is quite easy as said. Doesn’t it? However, if you are installing a custom coaxial speaker or speakers that do not match the existing factory speaker hole in terms of size and position, ensure that you have made the right drillings and cuttings to fit the speakers properly.
Some matching speakers also require door panel disassembly in order to reach the speakers. This should be done using the procedure provided above. Ensure that you screw the speaker firmly in place and reattach the door panel correctly by redoing the disassembly procedure. Reattach the speaker grille to hide and protect the speaker cone from physical damage.
Crimp quick-slide terminals onto your speaker wire and connect the wire to the speaker, noting the proper polarity. If you can, use “speed clips” over the new screw holes. Speed clips are slotted pieces of metal through which you drive the screw. They give the screws something extra to hold on to, thus providing support when the door is slammed. Vacuum clean any debris fixing the new coaxial speakers. the interior of the door should be left clean and tidy.
Step 9: Reinstalling the door panels
When the door panel is properly positioned, push the friction fittings back into their seats and replace enough of the screws and clips to hold the panel loosely in place. Do not clip on the window crank, since you might have to remove the panel again. disconnect the electronic control module that controls the power windows and the locks. For both the old fashioned and modern vehicles, ensure the window and locks are firmly fixed into place. The modern car window and door modules are typically built into the armrest, which is often a part of the door panel, where it should be fixed properly.
Installing rear coaxial car speakers
Rear coaxial car speakers vary a lot, especially based on your car model. Your car design will largely determine how you will install them and the effort required. In some instances, you will simply remove the existing speakers and install the new ones directly. However, in other cars, the scenario is different where you will have to disconnect existing speakers from within the trunk or after removing the back seat.
Regardless of your car design, we have an explanation that will sort you out during the coaxial car speakers’ installation. Here is the procedure for the installation of rear car speakers:
Step 1: Removing the factory rear speakers
Start with removing the factory coaxial rear speakers. The removal process will depend on their location. If they are installed in a hidden area such as within the trunk, access them and remove the grilles, then unscrew the speakers and detach them. If the speakers are located at the back seat area, push or bend the seat forward (depending on the vehicle seat configuration) in order to access the speakers.
Step 2: Connecting the new speaker
Connect the new coaxial speakers and also remember to connect the polarities correctly and recheck the installation process. Once done, screw the speaker temporarily for testing.
Step 3: Testing
Test the new speaker before attaching everything back in place to ensure they are in good working order.
As you can see, you do not have to always pay for a car audio technician or a company to have your new set of aftermarket coaxial speakers installed. Some tasks such as installing car coaxial speakers can be categorised as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) jobs.
What you are required to have is the right toolbox with the right tools in it. Be careful with the procedure because it might sound easy written but you find it does not exactly translate to your mental image. Expect to experience or not experience some technical hitches or challenges. If you are required to do some modifications, ensure that they are safe and worthwhile. Ensure the wires, cables and harnesses are correctly and nicely tacked into position. Test your speakers before fully fixing them into place. This will allow easier modifications or corrections to your installation.
By equipping yourself with these elaborate yet simple tips and steps on how to install car coaxial speakers all by yourself, you will end up finding it fun and a learning process that can be cost-effective yet adventurous.