Probably every car owner at least once in his life has heard about ways in car acoustics. But what it is and what is the optimal number of ways, not many people know. Let’s try to understand these questions.
Number of Ways = Number of Speakers?
Most car owners believe that the number of ways of the speaker system is equal to the number of speakers in it. This is not always true. In fact, the number of ways depends on the number of sub-ways of the acoustic signal it contains and on the crossover. In most cases the number of speakers is still equal to the number of crossover ways, but there are exceptions where the number of ways is less than the number of speakers and there are 2-3 drivers in one way.
So what is the reason for having multiple ways? In practice, it is an impossible task to create a single transducer that can sound good across the full range of possible frequencies.
A distinction is made between four different frequency registers:
It is these registers that simultaneously correspond to the design features of different types of transducers, their potential, as well as the auditory capabilities of human perception and recognition of sound. Ideally, a pair or group of specialized speakers should correspond to each frequency register. It is quite common for high-end home speakers to split the range into smaller ones. However, for a limited space, such as a car showroom, 2-3 frequency ways are quite enough.
Let’s consider in more detail the scheme of frequency zone allocation by speakers.
The subwoofer, which is considered as a separate component from the speakers, is responsible for deep bass (low frequencies). The other three frequency zones are the components of the common three-component car acoustics. The midbass section (woofer/frequency section) operates in the range from the upper bass, including the midrange (lower boundary). The midrange link partially captures the low end of the tweeter. The high-frequency link is accordingly responsible for frequencies that are in the range above the upper limit, which is bounded from above by the midrange link.
In a crossover (active or passive), frequency division usually takes place. In the case where a passive kit crossover is responsible for frequency division, the manufacturer has initially specified fixed frequency division characteristics and filter attenuation slopes. When using a tri-amping scheme (with active frequency division), the characteristics of the filters depend on the settings of the installer. They are an effective tool for adjusting the sound depending on the type and size of the speakers, their specifications, orientation and location.
2-way or 3-way Speakers or More?
The most common are the 2-way models. They are more affordable and easy to install. In this case, the midrange is loaded twice as much. It reproduces a very wide frequency range, which includes the top of the bass and the lower treble zone. At the same time, the sound quality in the whole range is the same level, which can be achieved by modern technologies in the field of car audio.
Quite often customers get caught in a “trap” of marketing specialists, who mislead car owners by presenting 4- to 6-way coaxial systems as the best sounding models. In fact it is not so, and sometimes sound of such systems is horrible with numerous distortions.
So what is the right number of ways to choose, when you are faced with a question – 3 way, 2 way speakers vs 4 way? Answering this question (based on both theory and practice of sound), we can say that increasing it over three makes no sense at all and does not help to improve sound quality in any way. So the optimal criterion for the choice of car speakers – is the presence of 2 or 3 ways in it, and in component acoustics, talk about the number of components.