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Selecting speakers

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

Rud31

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The general way of selecting speakers for home audio is usually auditioning them, to get the understanding of their sound signature and tonality, if it is what one is looking for or not. But how does one goes about selecting speakers/equipment for Car ? Auditioning is infeasible at best as that would mean having exact vehicle make/model and replicating conditions of intended usage scenarios. Car damping tries to reduce vehicle dynamics when it comes to SQ but at the end of the day, vehicle cabin is still a 4th order bandpass enclosure with it's own transfer function (might be wrong on this bit).
What are the some rules, do's and don't while choosing car audio? Is it the brand(s) to stick with or performance numbers to go by?
I'm not planning any ICE setup but want to have a discussion on this for reference and knowledge sake.
 

Passive_audio_enthusiast

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In my opinion if you have a speaker which doesn’t distort much to eq or dsp, with very good speed we are good to go in a car. Since every cars interior is different, we definitely need a dsp to do it right. An average speaker can sound very good with a dsp and a good speakers potential won’t be utilized if installed bad. To me, most stock systems these days are optimized to the car interiors from factory. Many a times they have already measured the car and have chosen drivers or set the decks tuning in such a way that it sounds decent without any change. When we change the speakers on such a system, most of the times we gain on some areas but compromising something else. To get it right again or make it better than stock we need a dsp again. If we know what we are doing with the dsp, we don’t need really high end drivers to get a good sound.
 

shyamv

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Here's my take as someone who used to work for an automotive audio company...

Factory-fitted audio systems in cars that cost less than $40-50K don't really have custom or finely-tuned audio components. In cars below this price point, price matching audio components are slapped on with some pre-defined audio profiles based on speaker configuration, car size etc. Beyond this, there isn't really any serious optimization. This is true even for entry variants of the likes of premium brands such as JBL, Bang & Olufsen, Bose, B&W etc. So you can imagine how it might be in Indian cars which mostly have very basic, mostly off-brand audio components.

A car is usually a much smaller environment in comparison to a listening room. Moreover, limitations related to placement of speakers, road noise, external noise, mechanical vibration, poor power supplies etc make it difficult and expensive to get even to even 20% of the overall home hifi quality one can achieve for the same expense.

So a few thumb-rules.

1) Any spend on audio of more than 10-15% of the on-road price of a car is a waste unless your car costs above $75K or equivalent.

2) Of your total budget, allocate 40-50% on damping, noise insulation, secondary battery, wiring harness etc as the car environment plays a much bigger role in terms of audio quality than components.

3) Get any after-market brand that's available at your car accessories dealer as it doesn't really matter unless you are willing to spend serious money. There isn't much to seperate between JBL, Polk, Alpine, Kenwood, JVC, Kicker, Sony, Pioneer in the entry aftermarket space. So, I am not sure if auditioning is actually required for the component purchase.

3) Spend more on amplification and speakers..less on head unit. Get component speakers rather than coaxial if you can for better imaging, seperation.

4) Get a good after-market audio installer, someone who is familiar with the products, understands your music preferences, can install it in the right way with attention to harness, cables etc and can even fashion custom enclosures if required as most default speaker placements are not ideal for audio. More importantly, some who knows that audio tuning in a car is much more than changing EQ, tone controls, balance or fade on the head unit.

5) Pay particular importance to the soundstage in the car as most car audio systems tend to have a very forward sound-stage and not all enveloping. This becomes more important if one is chauffeur-driven.

6) Finally, don't get a sub-woofer unless you again willing to spend serious money in tuning it. Subwoofer and cars are a recipe for migraines and headaches.

You can take a look at TeamBhp for advice on car audio from experts who claim to know a lot more!
 

Kannan

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There is nothing different about the speakers for car except the size when it comes to drivers. They are optimised to fit in the door (usually 5 to 6.5 without need for fabrication) and tweeters have a smaller mount and mostly sealed in the rear. Usually the midbass drivers have higher QTS to compensate for leaky doors. Tweeters will usually have a better off axis responce to compensate for the usually off axis position.
The passive crossover will have compensation for the distance between the midbass n tweeters. Better crossover will even have adjustments to compensate for the distance for multiple location options.
Crossover plays a very critical part in car audio.

When using DSP and going active, tuning skills are a must.
 

Rud31

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Okay, but question remains, how does one select speakers; budget, brand, power handling, efficiency ? A Component of JBL won't be comparable to one from Morel or Focal, be it price or construction. Even their audio signature would be different. So how to select some?
 

Srinivasa Rao

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Staying on this topic, I'm looking at budget options for a car amplifier (4-channel) along with a subwoofer. I have come across Sony XM-N1004 and Infinity 12-inch Shallow-Mount/Slim Car Subwoofer. Please suggest me how this would work. My budget is around 10-12 k for both. Any other suggestions are also welcome.
 

Kannan

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Okay, but question remains, how does one select speakers; budget, brand, power handling, efficiency ? A Component of JBL won't be comparable to one from Morel or Focal, be it price or construction. Even their audio signature would be different. So how to select some?
It purely depends on your budget. Entry level JBL, Pioneer Sony etc. are not what I would recommend.

Some good brands you can go for which are available locally include Hertz, JL Audio, Infinity Kappa series to name a few. On a higher budget, you can look at the Morels, Focals, Helix, Audision to name a few.

How to choose purely depends on your music taste and budget. Generally speaking Focals are more forward sounding due to their metal dome tweeters.
Not just the speakers, source (one of the biggest caveat), amps and installation cues in car audio also make quite a difference as acres of glass and metal all over have to be accounted for.
It is now mostly Class D in car audio due to compactness of the builds and overall improvement in sound signature.

From enjoyment point of view, music well presented will be more intimate and relaxing in a car than at home unless you have a dedicated listening space.
 

Rud31

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But do selection parameters hold for car audio gear as with home audio? Are there car speakers which are bright as Klipsch or Jamo bookshelves or warm ones such as Wharfedale ones? If such characteristic classification exists for car speakers then does this holds for other equipment too such Amplifiers and Head Units? In his post @shyamv said one ought to spend less on headunit. As in home audio DAC is at heart of audio signal generation and processing, doesn't that holds for car audio too? If it isn't so then why HU such as Pioneer PRS-80 is still a goto unit for "car audiophiles" ?
 

shyamv

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But do selection parameters hold for car audio gear as with home audio? Are there car speakers which are bright as Klipsch or Jamo bookshelves or warm ones such as Wharfedale ones? If such characteristic classification exists for car speakers then does this holds for other equipment too such Amplifiers and Head Units? In his post @shyamv said one ought to spend less on headunit. As in home audio DAC is at heart of audio signal generation and processing, doesn't that holds for car audio too? If it isn't so then why HU such as Pioneer PRS-80 is still a goto unit for "car audiophiles" ?

My recommendation was for spend less around 2 Lakhs or less on car audio. At this budget, all head units offer similar quality but spending a little more on speakers would offer much better results. Headunits are essentially Source+DAC+pre-amp. Most expensive component in a head unit is the display and not the electronics inside. Just as one would do in home audio, allocating more of the budget to components at the end of the audio chain ie speakers and amp would yield much better results. All headunits at this price point are essentially consumer-grade and not audiophile grade. They are also tuned to suit most consumers. Hence my recommendation of not worrying too much about head units.

Speakers can be selected based on your budget, music and listening preferences. Again entry level brands - Pioneer, Infinity, JBL, Alpine, Pioneer, Sony, Hertz - pretty much sound the same. Morel, JL Audio, Focal, Helix, Audison are a tier above and sound much better. Or Burmester, Dynaudio etc in the premium segment if one has the budget for it.
 

balavignesh002

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@Rud31 Suggest gettinget a P99RS or HXD2 (should get an used one around 35 to 40K INR) , Go active 3 way or 4 way, based on your budget on speakers and amps.
 
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