When shopping for tweeters to add to your car, you have to consider many factors, such as the sensitivity rating, frequency response, power, impedance, and so forth. But what about the size? Are bigger tweeters better?
Bigger tweeters aren’t necessarily better; neither are smaller ones. The tweeter’s size mainly matters in one area: where they’ll fit in your car. That said, smaller tweeters might be slightly better at reproducing high frequencies with more accuracy, whereas larger tweeters can be somewhat louder.
In this post, I’ll explain why size may not matter that much with tweeters. I’ll also go over some of the factors that can actually determine how your tweeters will sound. Let’s get right into it.
Why Size Make a Difference Between Tweeters and Woofers
As you already know, sound propagates through air as waves that have a frequency measured in hertz (Hz). That frequency simply describes the total number of waves produced in one second.
So, speakers have to vibrate relatively fast when producing high-frequency sounds. On the contrary, lower frequencies will need slower vibrations to create that rumbly feel of the bass.
From a physical point of view, larger objects need way more power to move than smaller objects. And that’s why tweeters are incredibly smaller than woofers, which are even smaller than subwoofers.
If we were to reverse the roles of tweeters and woofers, both would fail quite miserably. The woofers won’t vibrate fast enough, making the high frequencies sound muffled. In contrast, the stiff cones of tweeters won’t move enough air to produce bass frequencies.
Why Size Doesn’t Matter Between Different Tweeters
According to the previous section, we may conclude that smaller tweeters can produce a wider range of high frequencies than larger tweeters. Although that’s not entirely wrong, size isn’t the only factor affecting the frequency range and the overall sound quality.
Let’s take a look at real products to see whether size really matters.
On one side, we have the Skar Audio VX35-ST, 3.5-inch super tweeters capable of producing sound within a range of 2.2–20 kHz. On the other side, we have the DS18 PRO-TW120B, 1-inch tweeters that can work within a range of 2–20 kHz.
As you can see, both tweeters can reach 20 kHz, the maximum frequency that humans can hear. They also have nearly the same low limit since the 0.2 kHz difference doesn’t really count in the world of tweeters.
Bottom Line: Tweeter size doesn’t have anything to do with the sound quality. You may prefer smaller tweeters since they may fit better on your dash or kick panel, but bigger tweeters may also work well in large pickup trucks, vans, and any vehicles that have plenty of free space.
Can Tweeter Design Affect the Sound?
Unlike size, tweeter design can directly affect how sound propagates in your car. You need to familiarize yourself with all the available options so that you can pick the tweeters that fit your car the best.
Cone tweeters are usually featured as the factory speakers in most low and mid-range cars. Because they often come with a paper cone, they can’t reproduce high frequencies as accurately as you might wish.
Besides, the paper cone will degrade with time as it’s exposed to more and more sun. As such, if you decide to get cone tweeters, try to mount them away from your car’s dash.
Another disadvantage of cone tweeters is the poor sound dispersion, meaning that you should be seated right in front of the tweeters to hear the clearest sound possible. Other passengers in the car would feel that the sound is slightly muffled.
The main advantage of dome tweeters is the wider acoustic dispersion. Even if you don’t sit directly in front of the tweeters, you’ll still enjoy your music with little to no distortion or muffling.
Paper is seldom used for dome tweeters. These tweeters are usually made of titanium, plastic, silk, treated cloth, and composite materials.
Each material surely affects the sound reproduction and clarity, but there’s no ideal material that everyone should pick. The choice mainly depends on your taste and previous listening experiences. So I highly recommend trying different materials until you find the one that works best for you.
Here are some of the best dome tweeters on the market:
- Alpine S-S10TW: Ideal for audiophiles
- JBL GTO19T Premium: The best 0.75” (190.5 cm) tweeters
- KICKER KST2504 KST250: The best silk dome tweeters
The Technical Specs of Speakers
We’ve already agreed that tweeter size isn’t a factor you should care about, and we’ve also explained how the tweeter design might affect the sound quality.
So, are you now ready to go on and buy a new pair of tweeters? Not quite.
I’ve put together a list of the most crucial technical specs that usually confuse people when shopping for speakers. Some of these specs will directly affect the sound quality, so you should make sure you understand them.
The speaker’s sensitivity is the most reliable way to describe how loud it can get when you overdrive it. It’s measured in decibels (dB), the same unit used to measure noise.
For car tweeters, aim for a sensitivity higher than 85 dB to make sure you can jam to your music, even in the heaviest traffic. On the other hand, home speakers should go well over 95 dB to efficiently cover large rooms.
Fun Fact: The average human voice records 70 dB, whereas a lawnmower may reach 90 dB. So 85 dB is a pretty reasonable rating for car tweeters, although you shouldn’t crank them up to full volume to avoid music-induced hearing loss.
Impedance is the technical term denoting the electrical resistance of speakers.
High impedance means high resistance, therefore limited electric current and low sound volume. On the contrary, low impedance correlates with low resistance, therefore plentiful electric current and loud sound volume.
If high impedance means low sound volume, then it’s clear that you should avoid going too high. But at the same time, the low impedance isn’t ideal because it’ll demand too much of your amplifier and eclectic circuit, increasing the possibility of overheating.
As such, you should aim for average impedance — about 6–8 ohms should be ideal for car tweeters.
The frequency response describes the range of frequencies that any speaker can produce. As the range gets wider, the chances of sound clipping decrease, making your music sound a lot more natural and life-like.
Most car tweeters have a range between 2.5 kHz and 20 kHz. As I said earlier, 20 kHz is the maximum frequency we humans can hear. So any product that goes over that range won’t really provide a tangible benefit.
On the other hand, not going below 2.5 kHz will mean that you won’t get to enjoy any rumbly bass. Then again, you can’t expect anything better from tweeters.
If you’re shopping for loudspeakers, then make sure to find a product that goes below 50 Hz, to say the least.
As the name suggests, the power rating describes the amount of power your speakers can receive without blowing up. Contrary to common belief, this rating doesn’t impact the sound quality whatsoever.
If possible, try to match your factory speakers’ power rating when shopping for an aftermarket replacement. That’s the best way to make sure your circuit won’t overload and burn your new tweeters.
In the world of speakers, usually bigger means better. However, for tweeters, the size difference won’t be big enough to produce any noticeable difference.