2 Way vs 3 Way Speakers: How Do you Know What Fit You Best?
In the never ending battle of the 2 way vs 3 way speakers, it’s not surprising that you are confused which you should get for your car.
Here I have listed at least three reasons you should get the 2 way and the 3 way and another set of reasons why you shouldn’t.
But before giving you the list, let me define each of these types of speakers.
What is a 2 Way Speaker
As the name suggests, 2 way speakers have 2 (of course) drivers: the woofer and the tweeter. The former is in charge of producing low and midrange frequencies. The latter, as you guessed it, is for the high range frequencies.
However, it is also common to find two woofers and one tweeter or one woofer and two tweeters. Regardless of the number of speakers, these are still considered 2 way speakers because the frequency division is still one.
What is a 3 Way Speaker
The 3 way speakers, on the other hand, have three drivers: The woofer, the tweeter, and the midrange. This is the most common setup although there are those that install the woofer, the tweeter, and the super tweeter for the “earitating” high pitched sounds.
Component vs Coaxial Speakers
Both the 2 way and 3 way speakers may either be component-also called separates, or coaxial-also called full range.
The coaxial speakers, for cars especially, have the tweeters mounted on top of the woofer. This is ideal if you have limited space. Also, this type of speakers is relatively cheaper than component ones.
Another factor you may want to consider when getting coaxial speakers is when you haven’t mastered the ropes of car audio installation. Most factory car audio units have one place for speakers. Hence, choosing coaxial would mean you only have to place your replacement coaxial speakers where you removed the factory ones.
If you are, however, after the sound quality, then component speakers are your best bet. But since these are separate drivers, it would also cost more money and time to install. At times, you also have to modify your spaces in the car so as to accommodate all three or two speaker drivers.
One more thing, component speakers offer better customization opportunities. So if space and money are not an issue, better get this type.
Reasons You Should Buy 2 Way Speakers
- The sound is well balanced. Given that you have wide range 2 way speakers, this type can offer a balanced sound. Some refer to this sound as live-like and organic. This is because there is a balance between the tweeter and the woofer driver.
- It is designed for bass-less music. If you like a lot of Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Beethoven, or any song genre that doesn’t require much bass production, then 2 way speakers are your best choice. Because of its balanced, live-like sound quality, you’d be able to enjoy a quality sound just fine.
- It is easy to setup. Because having more than one speakers means you have to control the frequencies using a crossover, having two speakers spells easier frequency filtering.
Also, in a coaxial setup, 2 way speakers have only one driver (the tweeter) that somehow blocks the air flow from the woofer. When there’s less obstruction, there’s less hassle.
You will divide the frequency range into two-which frequency will be played by the woofer and which goes to the tweeter-and you’re good to go.
Also, if you are going the component speaker route, basic math and logic tell you that 2 drivers are easier and faster to install than 3 separate speakers.
It can also mean that you don’t have to install more amps or other paraphernalia, which saves you more space and money.
The Cons of 2 Way Speakers
- It can’t go very loud. One of the drivers of the two way speakers, most often the woofer, is designed to play a wider range of frequency. In the woofer’s case, it’s both the low and midrange.
- Doesn’t give accurate bass. As previously mentioned, the woofer plays both the midrange and the bass. And when you’re the jack of all trades, you’re also a master of none.
- Not ideal for customization. Having only two speakers means you only have one crossover point. Although that lessens the complexity of filtering frequencies, it also means you cannot really customize the sound as much.
To be able to do that, the cone size and materials have to be a balance of flexibility, stiffness, largeness, and smallness.
In other words, it has to be flexible enough for the lows yet stiff enough for the mids. It should also be big enough for the low frequency yet big enough to play the middle frequencies.
Because of this seemingly hybrid properties of 2 way speakers, their capacity to go loud is hampered thanks to the limitation in their design.
It can play both frequency ranges alright, but its limited size stops it from playing accurate bass. Doing so requires excursions and a lot of power handling, which makes it susceptible to distortion.
Which is why I only recommend it for bass-less listening.
It’s only either mids and highs will go to the tweeter while the low will pass through the woofer or the highs to the former and the mids and lows to the latter. There’s not much option.
Reasons You Should Buy 3 Way Speakers
- The sound imaging is more accurate. Having a single driver dedicated to playing only a certain range of music results in sound accuracy and clarity.
- It is designed for bass-ful music. If you like to head bang a lot to either rock, R&B, or trap music, 3 way speakers may work better for you.
- You can customize more. Three speakers translate to more crossover points. In this case you have two, which means you can customize the frequency filtering more.
Because there are three speakers, each one is a master of at least one. The woofer is designed to hit only the bass, the midrange is for vocals and other sounds in the middle, and the tweeter is for the cymbals and other high pitched sound.
This also spells all frequencies are played and virtually not one is missing.
Because the woofer only plays the low frequencies, its design is meant to hit the lows as accurately as possible. This means the size, the materials, and whatnots are created for the low frequency.
But if chest thumping bass is what you’re after, a simple woofer may not be enough. You will need to have a dedicated subwoofer for that.
You have more freedom which frequency range goes to the woofer, the midrange, and the twitter speakers. Being able to do so gives you the benefit of tweaking your way around the speakers and the crossover that suit your needs.
The Cons of 3 Way Speakers
- More difficult to install. Logic tells us that the more speakers there are, the more installation time and effort it requires. This is especially true for component speakers. You have to install three separate speakers. Wire each of them. Fine tune each of them. Et cetera.
- It costs more. Based on what your math teacher told you, if you buy more products, you spend more money. Unless, of course, the product is a buy 1 get 1 promo.
- More challenging to tune. Dealing with 3 speakers means you have to make sure each of these is playing the assigned frequency the way you want them to. This is up to you and your filtering abilities using the crossover.
But in 3 way speakers, you can’t buy the woofer and the midrange then gets the tweeter for free. That is rarely the case.
In other words, if you go the 3 way route, you have to pay triple plus the accessories these type of speakers requires.
If you have component speakers, you also have to consider the placement of each driver and the timing. This means the mounting angle should be appropriate. Also, the frequencies should be played at the correct beat and tempo.
Choosing between 2 way and 3 way speakers is, by and large, a matter of personal preference. If you are concerned about space, budget, and balance and prefer music without much bass, the 2 way speakers are your best bet.
If, on the other hand, the bass is what makes you get through the daily commute to work, go the 3 way route.
However, the number of speakers are not the only consideration. You should also decide whether you are getting the coaxial or component speakers. Budget and space conscious individuals are better off with the former. Audiophiles do better with the latter.
If you still can’t decide between the two, this video might help you.