The Icing on The Top
Different Types Of Speakers
Pronounced “co-axial” (wish I knew that as a grom) these speakers might be the most common you will see in aftermarket spheres. The mid-woofer and the tweeter are constructed on the same axis with the tweeter sitting above the woofer, hence “co-axial”. This type of speaker is great when you are limited to one speaker location for each side, meaning no split system will work. There are certain listeners that prefer this type over the component/split style since the music is coming from exactly the same area. It is known to limit frequency separation and phase cancellation which can arise from similar frequencies arriving at different times due to the two speakers being at different lengths away from the listener. This kind of talk might be for another time though. Coax, it’s an all in one speaker, easy.
Passive Component Set
It’s called a “passive” set because it uses a passive network of coils and capacitors to split the signal, sending the lows to the mid-woofer and the highs to the tweeter. This network is called a “crossover” and is generally designed with the best intentions to deliver solid performance and accurate frequency response for 95% of installations. Some networks have options that you can choose that boosts or cuts the level of a speaker slightly or can incorporate a steeper slope for the high or low-pass filter. All this to allow as much flexibility as possible for your speaker installation. With a component set the tweeter can be installed in a separate location, commonly higher up on the dash or the pillar on each side to “raise” the perceived stage height up on top of the dash where you would like to hear the music coming from.
The main reason you want to add another pair of speakers into the mix is to take the strain of the other two trying to play higher or lower than they can comfortably or reliably play. Putting this speaker in the middle will allow the other two to stick to what they are best at. Instead of a dip in the frequency response where the two speakers meet there is now one more to pick up the slack. As well as this another speaker means more cone area, which always means more overall volume while retaining the detail of the music.
Active Component Sets
There is a big difference in sound and potential when you go from a speaker set that utilises a passive crossover, to one that by-passes that completely and is crossed over by either an amplifier’s crossover settings or a DSP (or a DSP amplifier!) While passive networks do their bet to avoid taking power away from the signal it is absolutely inevitable. Meaning that a part of the amplifiers power is being wasted as heat or blocked by the crossover. There is also the small issue of colouration. While genuinely skilled speaker designers work magic to avoid this as much as possible, there is always going to be some effect on the signal after it has been twisted and turned, modified and split through a series of caps and coils. This is where “Going Active” has massive benefits. It means more amplifier channels need to be used but also more of that clean, unadulterated power goes straight to the speaker. What’s left is pure musical output with none of the noise. Exactly what the artist intended.
To be honest any component set can be active! It isn’t just limited to sets that are sold without a crossover. Pick out a component set, toss out the little box that comes with it and pair the speakers up to a decent amplifier built for running speakers active. It is incredible the difference it will make. Not just the extra power that is available to them but also the brightness that comes from the signal coming straight out of an amplifier into your speakers. You won’t regret it, I can promise you that.