Component vs. Coaxial: Know the Difference

4x8 car audio speaker

Anyone with the slightest bit of car knowledge has likely heard of the two types of speaker systems: component and coaxial. But not everyone knows what their differences and similarities are.

The component versus coaxial debate is a common one in the car-audio industry. Therefore, we decided to tackle it head on to clear away any confusion. 

The world of speakers is loaded with intimidating technical jargon. If this is your first time reading about these terms, feel free to skip to the end, where I’ve added a section that explains all the basics.

Component vs. Coaxial: A Deep Dive

Each of these two speaker systems has its benefits and drawbacks. You can use either one when installing a new sound system for your car or upgrading an old one.

Yet while one type may work great in all cars, the other may not be as efficient. It’s important to know which style works best for your vehicle and budget. This will make it easier to find the best type of speakers that fit your car-audio needs.

Let’s learn about the differences and similarities of each of these speaker systems. Here’s a rundown of how each type of speaker system operates.

Component Speakers

Component Speakers and Crossovers with Amp

Component speakers are referred to as “separates.” They’re the less common of these two types of car-speaker systems, yet many audiophiles use them to deliver a well-balanced sound performance.

Component speakers come with separate speaker parts, each containing a single driver. This means each piece is built to produce one frequency range: either low, mid-ranges, or highs. This is why component speakers offer more versatility.

Component speakers come with two tweeters, two woofers, and two external crossovers. Each is installed separately, yet they work in unison to create a more balanced sound equalization inside the car.

In addition to these parts of the speaker, you may need an equalizer, an amplifier, or one mechanism that can simultaneously do both jobs. This is a great option if you want your separate speakers to sound more harmonious and better attuned as they work as one.

Pros of Component Speakers

  • Deliver a more detailed, super-clear sound
  • More customization options
  • Higher woofer and tweeter technology options
  • Better power handling
  • Enhanced sound accuracy and frequency response
  • Highly advanced crossover design

Cons of Component Speakers

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to install

Coaxial speakers

Three-Way Coaxial Car Speaker

Coaxial speakers are also known as “full-range.” You’ll usually find them pre-installed in almost every car that comes directly from the manufacturerone reason they’re so popular.

Some coaxial speakers have a woofer and a tweeter connected together. In this case, they’re known as two-way speakers.

Some brands offer three-way coaxial speakers, also known as tri-axials. These speakers consist of a woofer with a tweeter placed on top, just like the two-way speakers. They also come with a mid-range driver.

Mid-range speakers have a boost to them that increases the sharpness and clarity of the audio. They also have balanced frequency ranges for a smoother sound output.

This leads us to the 4-way speakers, which are less common and consist of an additional “super-tweeter.” This ultra-high-frequency driver accurately reproduces the highest ranges on the audio spectrum.

You can think of coaxial speakers as a convenient compromise: They combine the weak single-cone speakers that deliver poor sound output with the high-end component speaker system.

Pros of Coaxial Speakers

  • Easy to install
  • Economical
  • Direct fit
  • Built-in crossovers
  • Widely available
  • Wide sound range
  • Compact

Cons of Coaxial Cables

  • No customization options
  • Possibility of sound interferences
  • Lack a powerful bass sound

Setup of Component and Coaxial Cables

Here are some technical details that set each speaker system apart.

Component Speakers

Component speakers are made up of multiple separate speakers. The setup usually consists of a woofer that measures 4 to 6.5 inches alongside a 1-inch tweeter.

Each part is set up separately. The woofer can go in the car door and the tweeter can go between the front door and the windshield.

If you like to isolate certain sound ranges for a more detailed listening experience, component speakers are an excellent option. Just know, however, that you’ll probably need to adjust your car with several external components beforehand. More on this below …

External Parts for Component Speakers

Component speakers require an external passive crossover. This mechanism uses capacitors and inductors to help block the highs from reaching the woofers and bass speakers. It also prevents the bass and lower mid-range sounds from going to the tweeters. This results in a more detailed and flawless audio performance.

Component speakers may also require tweeter attenuation, which helps control its volume output.

You may also need to install tweeter fusing, which should be a part of the tweeter overload circuit protection system. This will reduce the risk of overloading the speakers while listening to high-power audio.

External Parts for Coaxial Speakers

Coaxial speaker systems have both a woofer and tweeter situated on the same axis. It’s typical to find a built-in passive crossover, though you won’t see that in component speakers. This sort of system produces balanced frequencies with minimal distortions.

Since the woofer and tweeter are placed together in a single unit, the sounds resonate from only one fixed point. This design is strikingly different from component speakers, where each part is separately mounted in a different area.

The Verdict

Coaxial, or full-range speakers, are fitted with everything they need for a clear, crisp sound and come in several parts. During installation, each part is strategically placed in the car’s interior, which offers a more comprehensive and detailed sound output but makes the installation process more difficult and time-consuming.

Coaxial speakers are much easier to install and their compact, versatile size makes them simpler to set up virtually anywhere in the car. You can even install them yourself to avoid extra installation fees.

Sound Quality

Component speakers provide a higher quality of sound output because of their different standalone drivers. Having that option allows the sound to flow smoothly and in perfect equalization.

The crossover design on component speakers works to filter sound frequencies, resulting in a more accurate audio performance and less distortion.

Even though coaxial speakers are full-range, they never quite attain that crisp, detailed, and satisfying sound of component speakers.

Why is this? Well, for one thing, their drivers are placed very close together. Secondly, and perhaps most important, the simple high-pass crossover design is built only to block bass output from reaching the tweeter and does nothing to block high-range sounds from reaching the woofer.

The Verdict

Component speaker systems are definitely the overall winners when it comes to sound. They deliver a high-quality, superb sound for a completely immersive listening experience.

The Personalized Touch

Component speakers offer more customization options. For instance, you can mount each speaker in different positions throughout the car for a seamless soundscape. Those who prefer more control over the details of the music they listen to will definitely prefer component speakers.

Coaxial speakers don’t provide many choices for personal listening preferences. All the drivers are combined together in each speaker unit, so you can never have the same immersive sound experience.

The Verdict

Component speakers for more customization for those who truly care about sound.


As mentioned above, component speakers have more drivers with a wider range of customization options. This makes them a more expensive choice.

Plus, with component speakers, you may need to purchase an equalizer for a more balanced sound output and have to send your car to a service shop to get the sound system installed. This process adds a lot to the overall cost.

Also, component speakers aren’t designed to easily fit in all types of cars, which means you may have to get the inside of your car customized to make room for separate speakers.

Coaxial speaker systems are more affordable. You pay for everything at once, and you don’t have to make any extra purchases for the speakers to work. Additionally, you can install them yourself to save on installation fees.

The Verdict

Coaxial speakers come out on top when it comes to price. The fact that they’re more popular opens up the potential for more affordable builds.


Now that we’ve seen what each type of speaker can offer, let’s talk about the various speaker parts in more detail. To start, all types of speakers contain drivers, which work together within the speaker system to create a full range of frequencies.

The normal standard range of human hearing is between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Speakers generate that spectrum using the following driver types: tweeters, mid-ranges, and woofers.

Read on to learn more about all the parts that go into the making of a fully functioning speaker system …


Tweeters are small drivers that produce high-frequency sounds ranging between 2,000 to 20,000 Hz. They’re great at providing a well-balanced audio soundscape and got their name from the high-pitched sound ofyou may have guessed itbirds tweeting.

Super Tweeters

Super tweeters are even smaller drivers that generate ultra-high-frequency ranges. They can be found in 4-way coaxial speakers and work in conjunction with standard tweeters.

These types of drivers are capable of delivering super-high frequencies without any distortionsfrequencies that can reach beyond the normal range of human hearing.

Mid-Range Drivers

Mid-range drivers deliver the all-important middle frequencies of sound and work alongside tweeters and woofers to produce a more enriched, superior sound output.

These speakers produce frequencies between 300 to 5,000 Hz. As you may have deciphered, mid-range and tweeters overlap a bit in their frequency range.


Woofers produce those low notes and deep bass that make your chest vibrate. These frequencies range between 50 to 1,000 Hz.

Woofers were named as such because their low-frequencies mimic a dog’s rumbling woof.


Subwoofers are similar to super tweeters, yet on the opposite side of the spectrum. These speakers are specialized drivers that generate the lowest frequencies in any audio track. Standard subwoofers specialize in frequencies between 20 to 200 Hz.

Since they’re rather large, you’ll almost always find subwoofers installed in the trunk of the vehicle.


Crossovers either come pre-installed or external. Built-in crossovers are a part of the coaxial system. However, component systems require the use of an external crossover.

Crossovers help specific frequency ranges find their way to the appropriate speaker by sending the high frequencies to the tweeters, the mid frequencies to the mid-ranges, and the low frequencies to the woofers.

All About the Sounds

Sounds move in waves just like a wave moves through the water. Yet soundwaves travel through the air in all directions, resembling a sphere to some degree.

The number of soundwaves that pass a set point per second is referred to as frequency. This is measured in hertz (Hz). So, 1 Hz equals 1 cycle per second.

When these waves are large in size, with a wide space between each peak, low frequencies result. When they’re generated quickly, one after the other with little spaces between peaks, high frequencies result.

The Takeaway

Here’s a quick recap of our component versus coaxial review: 

Component speakers provide better sound quality when it comes to performance and customization. Yes, they cost more, but they also deliver an unmatched audio output.

On the other hand, coaxial speakers are more affordable and much easier to install. Coaxials are likewise designed to deliver above-average audio quality, so they’re not a bad option.

Bottom line: You have to know what you want in your car sound system before deciding which type you’re going to buy. Are you interested in high-fi, high-grade, crisp stereo sound playback? Or would you prefer a product that’s easier on your wallet?

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. 

So which will you choose?