2 Way Vs. 3 Way Speakers: Which One Is Better? Settling The Debate!

The question of which type of car speaker sounds best over the years has been the subject of much debate, trash talking, and condescension over the years: are 3-way speakers better than 2-way speakers?

In spite of the fact that there have been a lot of articles written by purported “experts” and “industry specialists” asserting that 3Way sounds better than 2Way based on various technical specifications and audio engineering data, the answer to this question is quite clear: there is a basic understanding of what 2-Way and 3-Way actually mean before you can answer this question.

As you probably know, we’ve covered both types of speakers in our comparison between the best car speakers of this year, and you’ve probably seen both types of speakers quite a bit. Here is a closer look at what sets them apart from each other.

2-Way Speakers: What They Are, And How They Work

In essence, 2-way car speakers consist of a full-range speaker (sometimes called a woofer cone) and a smaller cone (called a tweeter) to cover the high frequencies, which is what makes 2 way car speakers so effective.

Using a crossover network to direct sound signals to the tweeter cone, in which only sound signals within a specific range of frequencies are allowed to be transmitted through the tweeter, upper range frequencies are directed to the tweeter cone.

There is a crossover within the speaker system that separates the lower range and mid-range frequencies from the upper range frequencies and directs them to the cone of the full range speaker system.

Since they were able to split the sound up into two directions, these speakers were referred to as two-way speakers, since they could resonate the signal independently of one another. This configuration allows for an increase in the clarity of high-frequency and mid-to-low range sounds because they are able to resonate independent of each other.

In a large measure, the sound quality of your speakers will be determined by the configurations of the woofer, the tweeter, and the crossover.

Two types of 2-Way speaker kits are available on the market:

  • COAXIAL
  • COMPONENT

To make it easier to install the speaker inside existing car door speaker enclosures, you can place the tweeter in the center of the woofer cone instead of the side.

Component 2-Way Speakers

Come in sets of six components: 2 full range speakers, 2 tweeters, and a pair of crossover networks.

It is the tiny speakers that come ready to be mounted anywhere in the vehicle, rather than the tweeters being mounted right in the center of the full range cone, usually in the corners of the dashboard or higher up on the doors (most cars already have tweeter cutouts right where the inside of the sideview mirror mounts on the front doors) and most vehicles already have these cutouts.

The full range cones are mounted over the existing speakers and are then installed in place of the tweeters once they are mounted independently.

There is a crossover network for each speaker, and each crossover network is wired to the outputs of each car stereo speaker.

3-Way Speakers: What They Are, And How They Work

Due to the fact that they are equipped with integrated crossover networks and two tweeters along with one larger woofer cone, these car speakers get the name Car Speakers.

The tweeters are usually mounted side by side, coaxially with the cones of the woofers, and are always mounted side by side.

Rather than a sound engineering decision being the reason behind this, it is a decision made purely on the basis of finances.

There is a good deal of material cost associated with the production of high-quality tweeters (like neodymium), which makes the overall cost of replacement car speakers a great deal higher as well. In an effort to lower the overall material cost for aftermarket car speakers, manufacturers started using a type of plastic that is relatively less expensive for tweeters, known as mylar.

Despite the fact that these less expensive tweeters were capable of producing high levels of audio output, they weren’t anything like their more expensive counterparts that use neodymium or titanium.

There was a solution to this problem by adding a second tweeter mounted next to the first one so that the volume output of the entire system could be doubled in order to solve this problem.

Crossover Networks: How They Work With 2 and 3 Way Speakers

Car speaker systems rely heavily on crossover networks as their circuit brain.

A car stereo audio signal splitter is a device that divides the high frequencies from the low frequencies and redirects the two audio signals to the correct speaker for the vehicle.

A crossover network is a means of transferring the sound signal from the woofer or tweeter to the loudspeaker, and the more crossover networks the better the sound quality.

There is a disadvantage with integrated crossovers, in that they are less efficient electrically, and because of this, they are not able to produce the same level of clarity and quality as a crossover network that is independent.

Which Is Superior?

Compared to a three-way speaker, 2-Way speakers are going to be able to provide greater clarity and quality to the audio as well as better fidelity to the source signal in terms of overall audio quality.

The reasons for this are as follows:

  • The Tweeters are usually mounted coaxially over the full range woofer cone of a 3-Way speaker, rather than coaxially over the woofer cone of a 2-Way speaker. Consequently, the woofer cone blocks a considerable quantity of sound that would otherwise be emitted by it, which reduces both the volume and the clarity of the sound.

  • There are a number of materials that can be used to make 3-Way tweeters for car speakers, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or similar plastics. As a result, these two-way component tweeters are not going to produce the same crisp frequencies as the majority of mid-range and high-range component tweeters.

  • Integrated crossovers are included with the 3-way speakers. While they are certainly easier to install than most factory or aftermarket car stereos and sound a lot better, they will simply not give you the best value for your money if you hook them up to a car audio amplifier based on how they are wired.

As a result of their non-coaxial mounting and independent crossover network, 2-Way component speakers provide far superior sound quality than any 3-Way Speaker, allowing them to fit better in any room. Although they is more work and require a little more wire work and installation time, they provide far superior sound quality than any 3-Way Speaker.

Consumers tend to look at electronics and automatically assume that more means better, more superior, and this is why there is a tendency to automatically assume that more equals better when it comes to 3-Way speakers.

Here is a look at some of the best 2-Way and 3-Way car speakers that you can find.

In order to determine which is the better buy, you have to spend some time reading their specifications and paying attention to their overall configuration.

2 Way Speakers Reviews

1. Morel TEMPO ULTRA INTEGRA 692 6×9 Coaxial.

  • Sensitivity: 92 dB
  • RMS: 140 Watts
  • Peak Power: 250 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 35Hz -22kHz
  • 2way/3way/4way: 2-Way Coaxial

There is some impressive power handling when it comes to these coaxial 6x9s and they provide excellent frequency response as well.

Likewise, the woofers also feature copper wire voice coils, while the tweeters are similarly made of copper rather than plastic in order to maximize the sound quality.

However, despite the fact that they are good speakers, their mounting is still coaxial, and while the materials used to construct them are of high quality, they still don’t measure up to the second set of speakers from Rockford Fosgate that were reviewed earlier.

2. Rockford Fosgate Punch P165-SE 6.5 Component.

  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • RMS: 60 Watts
  • Peak Power: 120 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 43Hz-20kHz
  • 2way/3way/4way: 2-Way Component

Although these speakers aren’t as powerful as the Morel Tempo Ultras above, they’re definitely going to produce a better sound in terms of clarity and fidelity in comparison to the Morel Tempo Ultras above. Because of their independent crossovers and the ability to mount the tweeters separately in order to avoid muddying up the sound coming from the woofer cones, they are going to produce a superior sound in terms of clarity and fidelity.

When compared with coaxially mounted 2-way speakers, component systems require a little more effort in terms of installation, but the sound quality that they produce far exceeds that of coaxially mounted 2-way speakers when compared with component systems.

3 Way Speakers Reviews

The 3-way speakers are not a bad choice if you are just looking for some good speakers to replace the factory original speakers that came with your vehicle, but they are not the best long-term option if in the future, you decide to boost the power with an amplifier.

1. Hertz DCX 690.3 (DCX690.3) 3-Way Dieci Series Car Coaxial Speakers

  • Sensitivity: 93 dB
  • RMS: 90 Watts
  • Peak Power: 180 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-21kHz
  • 2way/3way/4way: 3-Way Coaxial

Considering that this is a comparison, I think you should be focusing on the frequency response range (which is good) as well as the overall RMS wattage when compared to the second example.

The last thing to consider is how much obstruction the coaxial mounted tweeters will cause for the woofer cone as a result of their coaxial mounting.

2. Rockford Fosgate R165X3 Prime 6.5-Inch Coaxial.

  • Sensitivity: 91 dB
  • RMS:  45 Watts
  • Peak Power: 90 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 52Hz-20kHz
  • 2way/3way/4way: 3-Way Coaxial

It is clear that the Hertz model is a better speaker in several different respects, and this speaker cannot compete with it.

The frequency response of these speakers is a lot narrower than that of other speakers, and their RMS output is about half as high as other speakers.


FAQ

Are 2-way system speakers better than 3-way system speakers?

Ultimately, it is a matter of whether your budget will allow you to do so. In case you work under a tight budget, you will find that the 2-way speaker system is a good fit for your needs. However, if you’re a serious music lover and aren’t afraid to spend a little more when it comes to speakers, then a three-way speaker system will be an excellent choice for you if you’re fond of good quality sound.

If you have a subwoofer, you may also be asked by some customers whether you need 3-way speakers to go along with it. It is not surprising that a three-way stereo system with a subwoofer will do a better job than a two-way stereo system without a subwoofer. Because each driver operates within a particular frequency range, you will receive a higher frequency sound from a speaker with less distortion as it is less stressed by high-frequency sounds.

What are 4-way speakers?

There are two tweeters included with these speakers, and each of them contains a cone for the bass and the midrange. It is important to note that adding a tweeter to the speakers provides the speakers with a much better high-quality sound, and therefore enables the speakers to produce a more pleasant and high-quality sound.

What is a full-range speaker?

In the course of discussions between music lovers about speakers, there is often the question as to what a full-range speaker is. Full-range speakers have the capability of covering the entire vocal range of a human being. The full-range speakers are able to reproduce all of the audible frequencies because of their drivers which feature a Whizzer cone that produces all of the audible frequencies, thus the name full-range speakers. The low-frequency range of a full-range speaker is usually 60 to 70 Hz, which is very common among full-range speakers. You may be able to go up to 100 hertz, however, if your speaker is equipped with a 10-inch long-frequency driver.

What is The Difference between 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way speakers?

In a lot of ways, 4-way speakers are similar to 3-way speakers, although they have an additional tweeter that produces a higher quality sound. As an alternative, two-way speakers are characterized by two separate frequency bands that produce the highs and lows, respectively. Drivers play a crucial role in making the difference in the sound quality. Accordingly, a two-way speaker can produce better sound than a four-way speaker, given that the two-way speaker is equipped with higher quality drivers than the four-way speaker.
Therefore, if you have to choose between a two-way speaker and a four-way speaker, the four-way speaker will give you a greater range of sound since it will give you a greater level of detail in the highs and the mids.

Are 2-way speakers good for bass?

A very important thing to remember when it comes to bass is that 3-way speakers have a dedicated woofer whose main function is to output bass. It is for this reason that 2-way speakers are great for bass reproduction.

Final Verdict

As a whole, 2-Way component car speakers are a great choice if you will be willing to spend the time and patience necessary for their lengthy installation process, especially if overall sound quality is one of your top concerns.

The 3-Way speakers are more than sufficient for factory replacements without an amplifier. However, if space is a problem, you may consider 2-Way coaxial mounted speakers which provide better sound in a smaller package, however they are not as effective as 3-Way speakers.

Taking your time and reading the facts about car speakers is crucial before buying any of them, and ignoring what hearsay from supposed “experts” says is also important.

If you take the time, be patient, and educate yourself about the difference between different types of speakers, you will be able to pick the best sounding speakers that suit the needs and budget of your car.