Everyone knows about subwoofers; they’re what make your windows rattle when the guy next to you in traffic is blasting his own tunes. But there is so much more to car audio than those big, loud boxes that often go in the trunk. Midrange speakers and tweeters complete the package because without them, you have a muffled mess.
Tweeters are not okay at the back of your car as you will not get the optimal sound quality you would if placed correctly. To get the best performance from your tweeters, position them to face the listener, including the car’s dashboard, “A” panel, kick panel, and door.
If you’ve been thinking of installing tweeters, this article will explain the reasons why you shouldn’t install them in the back of your car. It will also discuss alternate locations preferred by others who use tweeters and the pros and cons of those choices. Keep reading to learn what you must know before installing these speakers in your car.
Sound Direction Matters
You may hear musicians and sound technicians say things like, “bass is non-directional,” which means it doesn’t matter if the speakers are pointing at the listener or not, the lower-pitched sounds can be heard. But your midrange speakers will not transfer sound to the listener very well if they’re aimed away from their ears. The same goes for tweeters, yet to a greater extent.
As their name implies, midrange speakers handle the sounds in the middle ranges, typically from about 500 Hz to approximately 8,000 Hz. Tweeters, however, handle the sounds with frequencies above 8,000Hz all the way up to 32,000Hz and beyond. Any more than that is imperceptible to humans, and as people age, they begin losing the ability to hear above 30,000 Hz – a number that continues to decrease as they age.
Now think about the speakers you’ve seen in car doors. They are usually no wider than six inches (15.24 cm) or so. These are the midrange speakers, and you may remember a small circle in the center of these speakers–a circle raised as if it were a separate speaker. It is. This is a tweeter, so if you have one of these combo speakers, you don’t have to worry so much since the tweeter goes where the midrange speaker ends up living.
Those midrange speakers usually find their way into the door or dashboard of your car so that they can come closer to pointing at your ears than if they were in the trunk or the backseat. Purists, audiophiles, and speakerheads often dislike the combination midrange-tweeter speakers because they prefer to have three kinds of speakers in three different places.
Why Are Tweeters Not OK at the Back of My Car?
You may argue that if you mount your tweeters under the panel running along your rear window, you can somewhat aim them at your head and get those higher frequencies–the cymbals and jangly guitar licks–moving and grooving with your sound system. But you would be wrong.
For tweeters to perform at their best, they need to face the listener. The configuration of most car interiors makes it challenging to point tweeters in the proper direction when they are in the back.
If you put them in the rear window panel, they will face up, bouncing the sound off the window. Installing them in the backseat headrests is also an impractical solution, mainly because the heads of any backseat passengers would block the sounds.
Novices might think, “My friend’s subwoofer was in his trunk, so I can put the tweeters there, too.” Except that no, you can’t. If tweeters are poorly positioned in the car’s interior, the sounds will at least bounce around and reach your ears eventually; but in the trunk, the sound emitted would have to travel through metal and cloth to get into the interior before it even hit your ears.
Best Placement for Tweeters
Placement matters when it comes to tweeters because you need to be able to properly aim the speakers in exactly the right direction for optimal performance – this is known as tuning the system.
For tweeters that are not part of a midrange/tweeter combination speaker, there are four common locations considered by the experts to be the best spots for your tweeters. If you’re installing multiple tweeters, such as this Stark Super High Frequency Mini Car Tweeters, they come in eight-pack sets, and you may wish to use more than one of these spots:
- Dashboard. This is perhaps the easiest installation spot because there is no need to cut any holes; just simply mount the speakers. The tweeter can be aimed away from the glass and toward the driver and passenger.
- “A” panel. This is the strut between the door and the windshield; installation on the “A” panel may be the best place in terms of being able to aim the speakers. You can even find accessories for “A” panel installation in specific models, like this Eastar Tweeter Cover, for a Honda by searching online.
- Kick panel. Located below the dash and next to the car’s pedals, the kick panel is a good spot because it is close to the listeners. There is less potential for specific aiming of the tweeters, but this is still a good and popular spot for installation.
- Door. Probably the most popular location, the door offers more real estate to choose from when it comes to placement of the tweeter, and being closer to ear level than the kick panel, provides better efficiency in getting the sound from speaker to ear.
You will need to consider many things when making the location decision, but most notable among them is just how much (if at all) you want to cut out of your interior. Door mounts usually require sawing out a section of the door’s interior panel to mount the speakers. You’ll also need to consider how you mount the speakers, as there are flush mounts, surface mounts, and angle mounts (likely the best choice to allow for aiming your tweeters).
Do I Need Tweeters?
Whether or not you need tweeters really depends on what you want from your sound system. But honestly, if you’re asking this question in the first place, tweeters may not be for you. If you spend your time in the car listening to talk radio, your factory-installed speakers are more than enough. And if your car is new enough, it has a pretty solid system in it already.
But you may want them, and that’s fine; perhaps you listen to a lot of music, you are a music aficionado, or you’re a musician yourself and have a discerning ear. You will be able to tell the difference between the speakers they put in your car at the Toyota factory and the hand-picked, meticulously installed system. If this is the case for you, you’ll further appreciate having them installed in the correct place–and the back of your car is not that.
Tweeters are not necessary for your car’s sound system to work correctly or even well. But they do offer a marked improvement in sound over factory-installed speakers. When used in concert with woofers and midrange speakers, tweeters can be part of a truly outstanding sound system.
To get the best performance, tweeters must be placed correctly. Putting them in the back of the vehicle is not optimal and will severely detract from their performance. Be sure you know what you want from your sound system and how to achieve it before you start cutting holes in your car for speaker mounts.