If you’ve ever searched for aftermarket car speakers, you’ll know that they come in various sizes, shapes, and specifications.
But you must’ve also noticed the terms ‘2-way’, ‘3-way’, and ‘4-way’ alongside these speakers.
These terms refer to the design or arrangement of the components inside these speakers. Simply put, they indicate the number of dedicated speakers inside a unit.
The idea behind this concept is that a single speaker cannot efficiently cover the entire audio frequency range (20-20,000Hz) that humans can listen to. Therefore, different specialized speakers are used to cover various sections of this range effectively.
In this post, we’ll discuss some fundamental differences between 2-way and 4-way speakers. So that you can determine which one suits you better.
What are 2-Way Speakers?
The 2-way speakers come with a tweeter and a woofer.
The tweeter is a dedicated speaker for high-end frequencies, such as vocals and instruments, while the woofer is a specialized speaker for low-end frequencies and midrange.
What are 4-Way Speakers?
On the other hand, we have the 4-way speakers. You can think of them as an enhanced version of 3-way speakers.
The 3-way speakers have 3 different speakers to handle different frequencies:
- A tweeter for high-end frequencies
- A midrange driver for midrange frequencies
- A woofer for bass frequencies
The 4-way speakers go further and have an additional speaker, aka super tweeter, to handle ultra high-end frequencies.
2-Way Vs. 4-Way Car Speakers
Below are some factors that can help you differentiate between 2-way and 4-way speakers.
The main advantage of the 4-way speakers is the extended frequency coverage.
While many 2-way speakers cover almost the entire audible frequency range, they might not be able to handle those frequencies accurately and with detail.
On the other hand, 4-way speakers offer a far more comprehensive frequency range (34-34,000 Hz in Pioneer TS-A682F, for example) as they have extra dedicated speakers for accurate and precise audio reproduction.
Both 2-way and 4-way speakers perform more or less the same regarding the actual sound quality.
Because while extra drivers in 4-way speakers should theoretically enable them to provide superior audio, it doesn’t always happen.
The sound quality also depends on many other factors, such as speaker size, form factory, mounting locations, the build material of the speakers, and even the installation quality.
Therefore, you should test a speaker by listening to music from it. Or at least read reviews about it before making any purchase.
There’s no definite trend regarding the power handling between 2-way and 4-way speakers.
Due to additional drivers, 4-way speaker speakers are generally considered to have better handling as compared to 2-ways speakers, which results in louder and distortion-free sound.
For example, many 2-way speakers come with 50 Watt RMS. On the other hand, 4-way speakers usually come with 80 Watt or high RMS, with some going at 140 Watt RMS.
That said, there are some 2-way speakers, such as Kicker 46CSC674, that can handle up to 100 watts RMS.
Therefore, you should read the specs carefully before purchasing a speaker rather than making any assumptions.
Installation of the 2-way speaker can be similar to or more complex than the 4-way speakers, depending on their form factor.
If you’ve got 2-way coaxial speakers, they’ll connect to your car audio setup like 4-way (or 3-way) coaxial speakers.
But if you’re installing 2-way component speakers instead, you’ll have to mount each speaker of that system into its mounting location, add a crossover, and connect it to the rest of your audio system. These steps make the overall process lengthier.
Cost and Availability
Generally, 2-way speakers cost less than 4-way due to fewer speakers, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.
I have seen premium brands (such as Kicker or Infinity) charge as much money for their 2-way speakers as lesser-known brands do for their 4-way speakers.
Another advantage 2-way speakers give you is greater availability. Go to any online store, and you’ll find many 2-way speakers in various sizes, such as 3.5-inch, 4-inch, 6.5-inch, etc.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about 4-way speakers. I’ve searched for them in many stores but could only find 6×9-inch or 6×8-inch options.
2-Way Vs. 4-Way Speakers: Comparison Table
Below is a general comparison table for 2-way and 4-way speakers.
|2-Way Car Speakers||4-Way Car Speakers|
|High-end Frequency Response||Handles treble frequencies effectively||Includes a super tweeter for improved high-end frequency reproduction|
|Midrange Performance||Delivers decent midrange performance||Dedicated midrange driver for better performance|
|Bass Response||Many models lack deep low-end presence||Improved bass response|
|Installation Flexibility||Compact size allows for easier installation||The large size may require more space and customization for installation|
|Sound Quality||Good for casual listeners and those on a tight budget||Suitable for audiophiles|
|Price||Generally more affordable compared to 4-way speakers||More expensive due to additional components|
|Customization||Limited options||Offer more advanced system configurations|
There were some differences between 2-way and 4-way speakers.
One important thing you need to remember is that the design alone doesn’t make a speaker sound great.
Instead, you should pick speakers according to your factory audio system, vehicle space, and budget.
Another common mistake is considering the 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way speakers as substitutes for the component and coaxial speakers.
This can’t be any further from the truth as the component and coaxial refer to the form factor of the speakers, not the design.
And that 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way speakers are available in coaxial and component forms.
Frequently Asked Question
How To Hook Up 4-Way Car Speakers?
The 4-way speakers are hooked up like 2-way or 3-way speakers. You don’t need to do any extra steps.
Can You Replace 2-Way Car Speakers With 4-Way?
Yes, you can replace factory 2-way speakers with 4-way aftermarket speakers.
Are 4-Way Speakers Better Than 3-Way?
While the extra super-tweeter in 4-way speakers allows them to handle ultra high-end frequencies better, it doesn’t necessarily make them sound better. The sound quality of the speakers will depend on their mounting location, installation quality, building material, and manufacturer.
Are 4 car speakers better than 2?
While 4 car speakers can create an immersive sound experience in your vehicle, there’s no guarantee they’ll sound better than two speakers. Oftentimes, 2 well-built speakers from a reputable brand sound better than 4 speakers from a shady brand.
Do 2-way speakers have tweeters?
Yes, 2-way speakers consist of a tweeter for high-end frequencies and a woofer for mid and low-end frequencies.
Do 2-way car speakers need a crossover?
Yes, 2-way speakers need a crossover if they’re a component speakers system.