While most late model cars now come equipped with better speakers than ever in the past, they're usually sub par to the ears of true music lovers. Take into consideration the fact that so many people listen to music from laptop and phone speakers. If you really want great audio, you should install car speakers that fit your standards.
While there are many components like wire gauge and amps that can affect the quality of car audio, your speakers do most of the work. If you don't love the sound coming from your stereo, turn to your speakers first. Cheap materials or weak magnets can lead to tears and interference that makes you not want to listen to music at all.
If you're thinking about getting some new speakers, follow these steps to make sure you find and install car speakers efficiently.
1. Find Matching Speakers
Your speakers need to match the kind of system that you have in your vehicle. Some systems will have limited wattage and won't be able to power speakers that need high wattage.
If your car has two or four channels, there's no point in getting a system with 100-watt speakers or that requires 8 channels. Extra speakers might lower the quality of your sound, as that low powered amp will be trying to move twice as many speakers as it's used to. You'll have to have your amp turned to 11 at all times, possibly damaging it in the process.
You need to also make sure before you install car speakers that your new speakers fit the old dimensions. There are very few standards for the size and shape of speakers.
Take a measurement of the speaker you're replacing before you go shopping for new ones. Also take a measurement of the space where the speaker sits to ensure that when you install car speakers, they fit.
2. Consider Their Quality
Speaker cones are made with different types of fabric. Some are composite, fabric, or even paper. Paper speakers are the lowest quality speakers.
The magnet on your speakers will also determine the quality of your sound. A ceramic permanent magnet will perform better than a wound electromagnet. Side by side at the same power level, ceramic magnets respond more quickly.
Once your speakers start booming, you want to avoid static, crackling, and crosstalk. To prevent this, speakers will include a soldered inline resistor. Others give you the opportunity to add woofers and tweeters in a series circuit configuration.
Every speaker has specific power requirements to make the cone move. Power requirements will affect wiring. If you have a low-wattage system, a larger wattage will require new wiring, which could be a lot of extra work if you didn't wire the car yourself.
3. Get Your Tools Together
While different cars will have different details, like the screws and bolts that keep speakers mounted. There's no single list of tools that will be sufficient for telling you how to install speakers. But there are some basics that you should have.
Be sure you've got a wide variety of screwdrivers and Allen wrenches to take out bolts. A tool with a combined wire cutting, stripping, and crimping tool will make sure you can manage any wire changes you need to make.
You could need to roll up your sleeves and do some soldering, so bring an iron and some solder just in case. A hobby knife or box cutter could come in handy if you need to remove cheap fabric covers or get under any epoxy holding covers on.
Electrical tape, epoxy, or glue should come in handy as well. Bring a few files and a Dremel tool along. You might have to take a millimeter or two off of the area where the speaker sits to get it securely in place.
4. Disconnect The Battery
When you perform any work with your car's electrical system, even just when you install car speakers, you should take every precaution.
Usually, every element of your car's electrical system is connected to the same "negative" or grounding terminal. That means even your speakers could be directly connected to the battery.
Prevent electrical shock or potential injury by disconnecting the battery. For your car's safety, you'll also prevent short-circuiting, which could cost you thousands in repairs later on.
5. Take Off the Grills
Panels or grills covering your speakers protect them from damage, accidental kicks, or any kind of spills. Your first step needs to be removing that barrier before you can make any changes.
You might have to pry off the grill or if they're screwed on, you might have to remove screws first. Take a good look at how they're mounted on so you don't start off your job by destroying anything. You might need these grills later.
Use a flathead screwdriver, your hobby knife, or a pair of pliers to get under the grill. Loosen it from every angle and pop it off.
Start this job off right: bring out either a pill separator, jewelry organizer, or a bunch of small Tupperware containers. Keep your screws safe and separated, with a scrap of paper that tells you where the screws were taken from.
6. Remove The Old Speaker
Your speaker is probably attached to some kind of wiring harness, so be careful in this process. Ripping out your wiring could cause you to do a whole lot of extra work you didn't plan on.
Small bolts or adhesive foam could be holding the speaker in place so remove with care. There's a chance you might want to keep the factory speakers, say in the case you get a new car, so save your bolts. Try taping them to the back of the speaker magnet for safe keeping.
7. Connect The New Speaker
Connecting your new speaker should be fairly straightforward. Usually, there are clips that come off your old speaker and fit snugly on your new speaker.
If your car doesn't have a simple connection, you might have to unsolder the old speaker and resolder your new one. When you install car speakers, pay attention to the polarity (+ and -) of each wire. Switching them won't make anything explode, but it will either cause the speaker to not move or give unintended results.
Don't replace solder with electrical tape. Weather changes will cause the tape to split and leave you with a hanging wire that could short-circuit the whole system.
If you don't know how to solder, ask someone who does.
8. Test it Out
Once the speaker is connected, test it out. Rather than waiting until you finish the work to install car speakers, better to find out your speaker is a dud now than later. Reconnect the battery now.
Turn up the stereo slowly and listen specifically to that speaker. Make sure you see clear vibrations at high volumes. If you're not getting any sound, there's probably an issue in the electrical connection.
If that's the case, disconnect your battery and check the connection. Otherwise, continue to the next step.
9. Secure The New Speaker
In order for a speaker to properly vibrate, it has to be tightly secured to the housing where it's located. Hitting a bump could cause it to fall off and incur damage if it's not well secured. You might also be driving along to your favorite song and listening to your speaker rattle with every bass hit.
After you've determined that your speaker is working at the level you need it to be, replace it back in the door or the dash area. If you haven't measured the body of the speaker, it might not fit in your door well. Rather than cram it in, take out your file or Dremel tool and put it to work.
Before you start grinding away, get a marker to mark off the material that needs to be removed. This way you won't go overboard and start taking off huge chunks of your car's body.
Your speaker might require a special mounting bracket to keep it secured to the body. If you have to drill new holes, try to use any that are existing. Then use the mounting bracket as a guide to mark off where you need new holes.
Think carefully before creating new holes. Make sure your screws won't end up slipping through the holes you create.
10. Replace Panels and Grills
After you securely install car speakers, it's time to put your panels or grills back on. Use epoxy or super glue if necessary. Get a strong and waterproof adhesive and be patient.
Follow the directions. If they say you need to hold the piece in place for two minutes, hold it for three.
You Can Install Car Speakers Easily
Once you've got the speakers you need, most car owners can install car speakers on their own without hiring anyone. If you take your time and follow directions, you should have a booming system in just a couple of hours. Take care to keep your speakers covered and resist the urge to keep your radio turned all the way to 11.