Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Gear-Fi: Non-Audio Gear and Gadgets › Which company makes the best car speakers?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Which company makes the best car speakers?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

I am curious to know which company you guys think make the best car speakers weather it be speakers bought as an option on youre new car or aftermarket ones bought on youre used car. 

I know Audi has a $6000 Harmon/Kardon option. 

 

What do you guys thin of:

-mark leveinson

-bose

-Harmon/Kardon

-JBL

 

Or any other!

 

post #2 of 43


Audi, also has a Bang & Olufsen option, which I'm sure is also good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by basketball View Post

I am curious to know which company you guys think make the best car speakers weather it be speakers bought as an option on youre new car or aftermarket ones bought on youre used car. 

I know Audi has a $6000 Harmon/Kardon option. 

 

What do you guys thin of:

-mark leveinson

-bose

-Harmon/Kardon

-JBL

 

Or any other!

 



 

post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 

I wonder how good those are then

post #4 of 43

Well, I can tell you this... In my dad's car, he has Harmon Kardons. I honestly think they are god awful treble is so recessed, in my car I have Bose speakers, and I think they sound much better to my ears. I tried fiddling with the treble and bass options in both cars, and my car speaker sounds better. Either way they both don't really sound that good since its car speakers haha, its all the glass, and reflection that make cars a less than ideal listening enviornment.

post #5 of 43

car audio is a strange one, and one that people constantly do wrong. there are 4 main things to consider in car audio. quality speakers, quality amplification, quality source, and quality acoustic treatment, and its that last one people always ignore or forget, but its the most important. 

 

car audio is a crash course in diminishing returns. if you just replace the speakers, anything over $150 is pretty much wasted money. above that you will get a different sound, but not much improvement. add a subwoofer and you will get the low end response production cars struggle with, but will sound detached from the rest of the sound ie you will hear the music played by the spears and the music played by the subwoofer, not one nice even sound. 

if you replace the head unit (the thing with the CD player and volume dial on it) and the speakers, you get another improvement, generally in clarity and dynamic range. more money = more features and slight increase in clarity. 

if you add an amplifier, you get clearer sound, more dynamic range, and more volume (if thats your thing). more money, better sound, but the returns diminishes rapidly. 

add acoustic dampening and you will get a whole new level of performance. your $150 speakers will sound better than $1000 speakers in a non treated car, clarity will increase no end, and your driving pleasure increases hugely because it feels like a luxury car, no matter what heap of junk you drive. the music will no longer be playing over the road noise, it will have replaced it. details previously lost in the background noise will become audible and enjoyable.  

 

 

with the acoustics of a car. just like home audio, you can have the best speakers in the world but if your speaker enclosures are like shoeboxes or tin cans they will sound terrible. so dynamat/similar should be used and all sheet metal areas (floors, doors, boot/trunk lid, roof, firewall, footwells) then over that some "decoupling foam" then a layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) to dampen exterior noises, vibrations, rattles, and most important resonance. the dynamat adds mass to reduce the resonance of the metal panels, the mass loaded vinyl absorbs sound waves and the decoupling foam prevents transmission of vibration between the layers, absorbing the energy. also sandwiching some dynamat and foam between the metal body panels the speakers will decouple the speakers from the metal panels. 

here is probably the most concise explanation of what the three main components of automotive sound deadening do, and also how to keep the costs down. (he calls dynamat by its proper name, constrained layer dampening or CLD)

http://www.sounddeadenershowdown.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi

 

if you have never been in a properly sound deadened car you will probably not understand why it is worth the huge expense, but seriously, a well sound deadened car - no matter what car it is - Will instantly feel like a Bentley. once a car is deadened the sky is your limit to how good you want the sound to become. suddenly the rules of diminishing returns have gone from $150 to $1,500. any improvement is easy to hear and appreciate and you will really enjoy driving a quiet car. 

 

generally for top quality you want to sound deaden, change head unit for a pioneer/kenwood/alpine with 2/3 RCA pre-outs (so you can add 3 amplifers, one for the front speakers, subwoofer and rear speakers (optional)) add a couple of amplifiers (1 2/4 channel amp for the speakers, plus one mono block per subwoofer).

then change the speakers for something by JL, Focal, DLS, Diamond, Hertz, or Rainbow preferably 3 way component speakers with individual tweeters, midrange and a mid-bass speakers. top end audio installs generally install the midrange and tweeters into the A pillers (windscreen pillars) and/or the dashboard to give a frontal sound stage. the midbass then go in the sides of the footwells or the doors, preferably angled towards the listener. 

a good install usually uses fibreglass to create custom enclosures for the speakers in the pillars, dash and footwells, then again for the subwoofers in the boot. 

 

 

 

so, a basic, low effort and good value for money install would be to add dynamat to the doors to reduce resonance (dynamat does NOT block outside noise very well, this is what foam and MLV do), replace the stock speakers with 6.5" 2-way component speakers (tweeter and midrange) made by alpine (not the alpine type R speakers, they are terrible), DLS, Diamond, rainbow, hertz or focal, and replace the head unit with a decent alpine, kenwood or pioneer. keep an eye on sensitivity ratings of speakers as some NEED an amplifier to sound decent, other ones just sound better amped. 

 

then from there you can add a subwoofer (or two!), amplifers, more sound deadening (floor, trunk, firewall, roof) all to whatever budget you have.

generally 10" subs give a fast punchy sound, 12" subs a little slower.  ported subwoofers boxes are more efficient than sealed boxes and can produce lower frequencies, but again are slower and less punchy. using 2 subwoofers make them sound more effortless and a cleaner sound, but you lose the use of your boot/trunk. 

avoid no-brand amplifers, and any amplifer that quotes 1000watts power for a cheap price, they lie! use RMS power quotes NOT the max power quotes, and look at THD values (no more than 1% THD. in car audio THD values are inherently higher than home hifi so less than 0.1% THD are quite rare in anything but top end stuff)

 

 

hope some of this was useful or interesting. 

post #6 of 43
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roosta View Post

car audio is a strange one, and one that people constantly do wrong. there are 4 main things to consider in car audio. quality speakers, quality amplification, quality source, and quality acoustic treatment, and its that last one people always ignore or forget, but its the most important. 

 

car audio is a crash course in diminishing returns. if you just replace the speakers, anything over $150 is pretty much wasted money. above that you will get a different sound, but not much improvement. add a subwoofer and you will get the low end response production cars struggle with, but will sound detached from the rest of the sound ie you will hear the music played by the spears and the music played by the subwoofer, not one nice even sound. 

if you replace the head unit (the thing with the CD player and volume dial on it) and the speakers, you get another improvement, generally in clarity and dynamic range. more money = more features and slight increase in clarity. 

if you add an amplifier, you get clearer sound, more dynamic range, and more volume (if thats your thing). more money, better sound, but the returns diminishes rapidly. 

add acoustic dampening and you will get a whole new level of performance. your $150 speakers will sound better than $1000 speakers in a non treated car, clarity will increase no end, and your driving pleasure increases hugely because it feels like a luxury car, no matter what heap of junk you drive. the music will no longer be playing over the road noise, it will have replaced it. details previously lost in the background noise will become audible and enjoyable.  

 

 

with the acoustics of a car. just like home audio, you can have the best speakers in the world but if your speaker enclosures are like shoeboxes or tin cans they will sound terrible. so dynamat/similar should be used and all sheet metal areas (floors, doors, boot/trunk lid, roof, firewall, footwells) then over that some "decoupling foam" then a layer of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) to dampen exterior noises, vibrations, rattles, and most important resonance. the dynamat adds mass to reduce the resonance of the metal panels, the mass loaded vinyl absorbs sound waves and the decoupling foam prevents transmission of vibration between the layers, absorbing the energy. also sandwiching some dynamat and foam between the metal body panels the speakers will decouple the speakers from the metal panels. 

here is probably the most concise explanation of what the three main components of automotive sound deadening do, and also how to keep the costs down. (he calls dynamat by its proper name, constrained layer dampening or CLD)

http://www.sounddeadenershowdown.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi

 

if you have never been in a properly sound deadened car you will probably not understand why it is worth the huge expense, but seriously, a well sound deadened car - no matter what car it is - Will instantly feel like a Bentley. once a car is deadened the sky is your limit to how good you want the sound to become. suddenly the rules of diminishing returns have gone from $150 to $1,500. any improvement is easy to hear and appreciate and you will really enjoy driving a quiet car. 

 

generally for top quality you want to sound deaden, change head unit for a pioneer/kenwood/alpine with 2/3 RCA pre-outs (so you can add 3 amplifers, one for the front speakers, subwoofer and rear speakers (optional)) add a couple of amplifiers (1 2/4 channel amp for the speakers, plus one mono block per subwoofer).

then change the speakers for something by JL, Focal, DLS, Diamond, Hertz, or Rainbow preferably 3 way component speakers with individual tweeters, midrange and a mid-bass speakers. top end audio installs generally install the midrange and tweeters into the A pillers (windscreen pillars) and/or the dashboard to give a frontal sound stage. the midbass then go in the sides of the footwells or the doors, preferably angled towards the listener. 

a good install usually uses fibreglass to create custom enclosures for the speakers in the pillars, dash and footwells, then again for the subwoofers in the boot. 

 

 

 

so, a basic, low effort and good value for money install would be to add dynamat to the doors to reduce resonance (dynamat does NOT block outside noise very well, this is what foam and MLV do), replace the stock speakers with 6.5" 2-way component speakers (tweeter and midrange) made by alpine (not the alpine type R speakers, they are terrible), DLS, Diamond, rainbow, hertz or focal, and replace the head unit with a decent alpine, kenwood or pioneer. keep an eye on sensitivity ratings of speakers as some NEED an amplifier to sound decent, other ones just sound better amped. 

 

then from there you can add a subwoofer (or two!), amplifers, more sound deadening (floor, trunk, firewall, roof) all to whatever budget you have.

generally 10" subs give a fast punchy sound, 12" subs a little slower.  ported subwoofers boxes are more efficient than sealed boxes and can produce lower frequencies, but again are slower and less punchy. using 2 subwoofers make them sound more effortless and a cleaner sound, but you lose the use of your boot/trunk. 

avoid no-brand amplifers, and any amplifer that quotes 1000watts power for a cheap price, they lie! use RMS power quotes NOT the max power quotes, and look at THD values (no more than 1% THD. in car audio THD values are inherently higher than home hifi so less than 0.1% THD are quite rare in anything but top end stuff)

 

 

hope some of this was useful or interesting. 



Thanks a lot for the info! I will definitely sound deaton my car more 

 

post #7 of 43

high end cars are already insulated well. albeit usually not with dynamat. i will tell you having owned a lexus and currently owning ml home stuff the lexus system is a joke. as are pretty much all stock systems. even aftermarket systems if you think you can make a car sound like high end home equipment you are wasting your money. if boston still makes the "road" speakers those were good. amazingly bose seems to be the best car audio lol. take that for whatever it's worth. most new high end cars you cannot put in a new system at all/easily. so just get the harmon/ml/els or whatever option and be done. you couldn't do much better in the aftermarket anyways. now, if you want a boom system that is certainly possible haha. don't get me wrong, i have heard nice car systems. not even close to top end home equipment though. personally i feel it is not worth the money.

post #8 of 43

^^ It all depends on your priorities.  I commute for 2 hours a day to and from work, and once at work I have the luxury of listening to headphones as I work.  At home I'm typically very busy with my 2 kids (newborn and toddler) and have very little time to listen to music.  So for me, I have higher end car and portable setups, and a more "consumer level" home setup.  That may (probably will) change as my lifestyle changes).

 

Back to the OP, prepping your car and install is everything!  After that, there's a whole range of choices and opinions, so I won't go into it too much.  I will say that if you can make yourself familiar with crossover design or are building an active system, you might want to look at raw drivers by companies like Seas, Dayton, or Tang Band.  If you're sticking to passive and want an all-in-one component set, check out Morel, Dynaudio, Hybrid Audio, and the other companies mentioned above.

 

BTW, a great community for car audio is DIYmobileaudio.com.  

post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man View Post

high end cars are already insulated well. albeit usually not with dynamat. i will tell you having owned a lexus and currently owning ml home stuff the lexus system is a joke. as are pretty much all stock systems. even aftermarket systems if you think you can make a car sound like high end home equipment you are wasting your money. if boston still makes the "road" speakers those were good. amazingly bose seems to be the best car audio lol. take that for whatever it's worth. most new high end cars you cannot put in a new system at all/easily. so just get the harmon/ml/els or whatever option and be done. you couldn't do much better in the aftermarket anyways. now, if you want a boom system that is certainly possible haha. don't get me wrong, i have heard nice car systems. not even close to top end home equipment though. personally i feel it is not worth the money.



sure if you own a high end car you dont need as much after market sound deadening, to my knowledge lexus, jaguar some mercedes and some BMW's, have a decent amount of deadening, and removing sound deadening is a big NO-NO, add to it but dont remove it, its too expensive per gain to replace existing deadening. in the UK we drive tin cans with very little sound deadening so we have to do the whole car to get a nice car audio system. sound deadening is most effective in cars which sound loud whilst driving, or theres the classic "slam the door" test. a well deadened door will make a solid "thunk!" whereas a budget door with sound a bit more hollow and metalic. "knock testing" is another way. knock on the doors and panels like you would on a house door, if it sounds hollow it needs more deadening, but if it thunks it should be ok. if it tings you need to make it a priority. 

post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdub77 View Post

^^ It all depends on your priorities.  I commute for 2 hours a day to and from work, and once at work I have the luxury of listening to headphones as I work.  At home I'm typically very busy with my 2 kids (newborn and toddler) and have very little time to listen to music.  So for me, I have higher end car and portable setups, and a more "consumer level" home setup.  That may (probably will) change as my lifestyle changes).

 

Back to the OP, prepping your car and install is everything!  After that, there's a whole range of choices and opinions, so I won't go into it too much.  I will say that if you can make yourself familiar with crossover design or are building an active system, you might want to look at raw drivers by companies like Seas, Dayton, or Tang Band.  If you're sticking to passive and want an all-in-one component set, check out Morel, Dynaudio, Hybrid Audio, and the other companies mentioned above.

 

BTW, a great community for car audio is DIYmobileaudio.com.  


I totally agree with you. It all depends on priorities. What model of luxury car do you drive?

 

 

post #11 of 43

I really like the H/K system in my car. I think its like 10 speakers plus a passive sub all in a small convertible. Its not super loud (not that I want it to be) but clarity is probably the best Ive ever heard in a car and the music doesn't sound like its coming from the bottom corner of your door but from all around. Then again I think it was like a $1800 option at the dealer (I felt like someone walking out of a Bose store with a wave music system and happy about paying $600 for it afterward)

post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by alv4426 View Post

I really like the H/K system in my car. I think its like 10 speakers plus a passive sub all in a small convertible. Its not super loud (not that I want it to be) but clarity is probably the best Ive ever heard in a car and the music doesn't sound like its coming from the bottom corner of your door but from all around. Then again I think it was like a $1800 option at the dealer (I felt like someone walking out of a Bose store with a wave music system and happy about paying $600 for it afterward)


Thats exactly my feeling when paying the money for the media packages and such.

post #13 of 43

Having previously owned a very expensive car audio system, I can say that in my opinion Dynaudio and Focal make the best car speakers.... Equally good, different flavors.  I went with Dynaudio but if I had it to do over again I'm not sure what I'd choose now.  It all depends what gear your pairing with it, and car audio is a very different arena than home audio.  And there are several car audio speaker product lines from the aforementioned companies.  Focal makes an extremely expensive one, around $6,000 a pair I believe.  The Dynaudio I owned were about $1100 a pair, and this was 12 years ago.


Edited by IPodPJ - 2/14/12 at 10:51pm
post #14 of 43


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by basketball View Post


I totally agree with you. It all depends on priorities. What model of luxury car do you drive?

 

 



Lol, I definitely don't drive a luxury car.  It's a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT with 320 wHP.  It is all about passions and priorities - 2 of mine are audio and cars, why not combine them?

post #15 of 43

Let me start by saying that I work in sound as a record/mix guy. I work with high end audio daily. Over the years I have become so finicky about what I listen to that I actually have pro level studio monitors driven with studio amplification in my living room. Truth I just can't stand to listen to anything on what most people do. I guess it kinda makes me an audio snob. It is not personal!

 

 I came on here to get some opinions on what to put in my Soob (legacy Outback actually). It has to be good or I just won't turn it on! I can't, it drives me insane. To start with I want to respond to the folks who think that car audio can't be good. It is kinda like saying that rock concerts can't sound good. Actually folks you need to know you are absolutely out to lunch (on both accounts)! In fact car systems can sound absolutely breath taking but that only comes by way of knowledge and effort. Audio technology in the last 20 years has grown leaps and bounds. We have a saying. "No it isn't Rocket Science, It's Audio Science" which is equally as intricate. We have technology and applications thereof. Do you realize that some car stereos are coming with fully parametric eq's now? Time correction to compensate for differentials in distance. Active cross over networks! Are you kidding me, it's just a car! Rockford Fosgate bought up one of the top amplifier manufacturers in the biz in order to ad their amplifier technologies to the Rockford car amp aresenal. I am certain that the RF amps are now very detailed sounding in fact probably pretty clinical as Hafler amps had slew rates of up to 150 v/micro second. No, Bryston's only run around 50 and there are only a few manufacturers that have been able to pull of 75. Hafler was very unique in that regard. Their amps literally made us as operators hear every single error we made plain as day. By the way Hafler monitors were also some of the most sought after in the biz so I am certain RF speakers came a long way too. It is a serious biz with much scientific effort behind it. Harman International (Harmon Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson etc) have been putting a huge portion of their absolutely massive (biggest in the sound business) research and development efforts directly into car audio. Both Infinity and JBL make some very interesting products considering their target markets. Look online, they have both really turned heads in that regard. I would doubt they are on the level of what the discussion has been here but they are both impressive non the less I assure you. 

 

 Back to my Subaru. I need to get out of the factory ***** that is currently in it. I haven't had the chance to audition JL Audio C2,C3, C5 -650's or the Focal Access, Performance series (165's) speakers to hedge them against the highest end Infinity (which they should smoke). Some folks are going on about Alpine but I am largely unimpressed. We don't need to go on from there. I don't really want to spend over a grand on speakers for the car but I think I should have reasonable enough budget with that to get something that should approach my Tannoy (dual concentrics) in accuracy and intelligibility. Thoughts on JL Audio, Focal, Polk Audio?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Gear-Fi: Non-Audio Gear and Gadgets › Which company makes the best car speakers?