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FAQ: What speakers/amps should I go with?

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  • FAQ: What speakers/amps should I go with?

    What speakers/amps should I go with?

    This is a question that is often asked by newcomers and veterans alike in the Car Stereo world.

    Many people want to get the best bang for their buck, which is completely understandable. However, these is not one set of speakers that will fit everyone’s needs.

    Building your system is much like building a computer. You buy a processor based on the capabilities of the motherboard. You wouldn’t buy an AMD processor for an Intel board. The memory you buy also depends on your motherboards capabilities. Same with the hard drives, if you’re mother board can take a SATA 3.0 hard drive, why would you just put an IDE drive on it?

    Imagine the motherboard as your requirements for sound. The processor, memory, and hard drives are all of the components of the stereo system. Then there’s the always present money issue.

    Some words of advice I can give you:
    • Stay with name brands. There’s something to be said about an amp that claims 3,000 watts of power with only a 20 amp fuse. (P = A x I x E [168 watts = 20 amps x 12 volts x 70% efficiency])
    • If a brand tends to make claims that are too good to be true, guess what? They probably are.
    • For a speaker, there are a few things to consider. What size opening do you have available in your car? What about depth? What about available power? What about money?
    • You don’t need to be so concerned with matching claimed amp power output with claimed speaker power handling. Just stay close to the speakers claimed requirements and you should be good.

    This is all I have for now, just woke up and not yet thinking completely coherent.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  • #2
    I wanted to add one thing to this. Go to a car audio shop and actually listen to the speakers.

    Just because they are claimed as being good by someone on the internet, doesnt mean they really are. You wouldnt buy a car at the recommendation of someone on the internet, you would go test drive it first.

    Go tell the car audio salesperson what your budget is and have them make a few diffrent recommendations as to what they think would be ok and WHY.


    • #3
      FAQ: What speakers/amps should I go with?

      I grabbed this from a BMW forum and thought you all could use it here. if you know of anything that should be added, just add it. This list is current as of February 2006

      Camxrunner of came up with this list. Thought it was ingenious and could be very useful to the BFC CA&E community. Thank you Cam.

      This list is my personal OPINION on what I consider how manufacturers and their products rank. I have used some of the products listed, but most of these brands/models listed is what I have came across from years of research on the subject, and/or from first hand listening.



      Audison VRx, LRx series
      Zapco C2K
      Genesis Series 3
      Xetec P5 line ( )
      Steg K series
      Steg Master Stroke
      Focal Power

      Audphile but a step down from the above
      Genesis Profile Series
      U.S. Amps Tube amps
      Linear Power
      PPI Art amps
      DLS A series
      U.S. Amps
      Soundstream Reference, Class A
      Xetec Gravity
      Zapco Reference
      Diamond D7 and D9 amps (D7's can be had cheap right now, good amps)
      Arc Audio CXL, XXK
      Phoenix Gold Ti, ALso Older MS and Limited Production amps(Anniversary Editions, etc)
      Phase Linear


      JL Slash amps
      PPI Powerclass (Pre DEI)
      Elemental Designs (good warranty, underrated power too)
      Diamond D5 and D3 (very cheap right now on ebay, good amps, esp. D5's, very flexible crossovers if you need onboard crossovers)
      Arc Audio Kar
      Phoenix Gold Tantrum
      Memphis-Very compact
      Pioneer PRS (older line)
      Orion-Pre DEI
      MB Quart amps
      Rockford Fosgate
      Older Mobile ES Sony
      Exile Audio, new company founded by former Phoenix Gold employees.
      Xetec Xircuit and Vector Series amps

      Pioneer Amplifiers
      Infinity, and JBL amps (pretty mch same thing)

      American HiFi
      MA Audio
      Newer Sony
      Lanzar(Except Opti Drive amps. Those are pretty good actually)
      New Soundstream
      Phoenix Digital
      Power Acoustik
      Lightning Audio
      Trouble deciding on car speakers? Clicky Clicky
      Speakers: DLS Ultimate Iridium 6.3 Link
      Subwoofer: removed
      Amplifier#1 (Front Stage): DLS Ultimate A4
      Amplifier#2 (Sub) removed
      Carputer: Removed for tablet install


      • #4
        Next will be Speakers.

        As I stated before, this is my OPINION Please do research heavily before you buy a certain product.

        I am sure I have missed alot of brands, so if you think something should be represented here. Post it.

        Speakers: Every person has different listening tastes. Unfortuntely most of the stuff listed here you can't exactly go and audition somewhere. And if you could it would most likely be in a sound board and will sound alot different in an in-car environment anyways.

        I always rec. wiring active if you have adequate processing, and amplification(one channel of power for each individual driver). BUT it's much easier to set up a passive component set. So results can differ.

        If you have an amp that has flexible crossovers that include a bandpass then you can do the crossovers at the amp. Using a headunit with a 3 way crossover would be preffered as you will have more fine tuning capabiltiy. You can also use an electronic active crossover+eq with great results.

        Some people prefer to get a component system that has passive crossovers. This can be good for the person that want's to run a 4 channel amp to power the front components and the sub(s) You can always go active afterwards.

        Some of these options will vary and sound completely different. Some in the same group might sound better than another.

        The most important thing is finding something that will work good in your application. Then installing it properly and tuning it properly. Plan on using an amplifier(s) for the speakers. Try to have at least 40-50 watts RMS per driver. If possible more. Alot of these speakers can handle a good amount of power. Some don't need that much. Just be sure to properly set the gains.

        I plan on using about 150 watts rms to my mids, and about 75 watts rms to the tweeters.

        Some if not most of these speakers are from home audio manufacturers but can be used in the car with great results. And in most cases these are some of the companys that make speakers for alot of the car audio offerings.

        I know I am missing alot, but some good stuff to look into:


        Seas Lotus Reference
        Seas Excel
        Focal Utopia, K2P
        Hiquphon tweeters
        MB Quart QSD
        Scan Speak
        Alpine F1 Status (similar to Scan Speak Revelators, but tweaked for Alpine)
        Arc ACS
        DLS Iridium, UR
        Image Dynamics HLCD's
        RS Audio
        CDT HD, Eurosports and 07 model lineup.
        Boston Z6
        Diamond D9

        Quality Passive Component systems Keep in mind, all these can be wired active.

        MB Quart QSD
        MB Quart PCE216 6.5" set Or PCE210 if you need 4" components. (also can be a nice 3 way active set with midbass addon)
        JL XR
        Alpine Type-X SPX-177R
        Image Dynamics Chameleons
        CDT EF, HD, they make slim mounting depth variants.
        Elemental Designs eDi6500s eDi6000s are ok for the money.
        Phoenix Gold TI 6 Elite (Morel)
        Boston Pro Series
        Exile Audio Components are pretty good for the money, not an audiophile speaker, but definitely good quality. VERY shallow mounting depth if you need it, and very lighweight too if you are building a race car and need evey weight of ounce shaved, but still want some tunes.
        Diamond Hex

        DIY Components
        Mids: 7"
        Seas CA18RNX, G18RNX - 55 each
        DAYTON RS180S-8 - 33 each (deep driver though check clearance) Nice mid
        Peerless HDS Exclusive
        Adire Audio Extremis 6.8 99.00 each
        For more choices and quick reviews, go here.
        and of course
        Phaze Audio/PPI Tubedriver mids (check ebay)
        Seas Lotus/Excel $ but awesome.


        LPG 25NFA (silk) 26NA(Aluminum) The aluminum is best suited for people that like sharper highs. These are 37 each.

        Dayton Neo domes- 5.00 each

        Dayton RS Tweeters(large outer diameter though)

        Seas 27TBFC/G (H1212) (large outer diameter) 30.00 each

        Vifa XT

        MB Quart QTC25

        Focal TN-51, TN-52, Beryllium, TLR

        Hiquphon OW2 (99 each though)


        -Usher 9845 3" Textile
        LPG 51AT(Aluminum), LPG 50FA(textile) 64 each
        DLS UR2.5(-+75 bucks each), Iridium 3
        DAYTON DC50F-8 2" 28.00 each

        Seas Excel W15
        MB Quart QSD213
        Vifa 10BGS aka MG10
        Vifa M10
        Audax HM100Z0
        Vifa PL
        Eton 4-300 hex

        Remeber to check mounting depths, and plan on using a 1/2" to 3/4" baffle to mount the speaker to the door. That will give you some extra mounting depth. Also check clearance from the speaker to the door panel.

        Most importantly, do as much research you can before deciding to buy. These are just certain things to get you looking in the right direction. There's alot of other good stuff out there, and there are 10X more bad stuff out there. Research is the key.
        Trouble deciding on car speakers? Clicky Clicky
        Speakers: DLS Ultimate Iridium 6.3 Link
        Subwoofer: removed
        Amplifier#1 (Front Stage): DLS Ultimate A4
        Amplifier#2 (Sub) removed
        Carputer: Removed for tablet install


        • #5

          When shopping for a subwoofer, you first need to do some planning on how you want to set up the install. The amount of subs, power rating, ohm configurations, enclosure size, and subwoofer size can make for alot of different variables.

          You also need to consider your electrical system. If you're going to run over 400-600 watts rms, you should consider an upgraded alternator. (not to mention a stronger battery, and Big 2 upgrade)

          These two links are good to check out before picking out a subwoofer.


          Some subs are designed to work better in certain enclosures. There are purpose built subs that are made fro SPL. There are subs that are made purely for sound quality. Theres also "SQL" subs. These are sort of a mix of a SQ driver and a SPL driver.

          SPL subs are generally designed to be installed in a large ported enclosure. SQ and SQL subs can typically be put in both with good results. Sealed typically yeilds better sound quality and accuracy, also with a sealed enclosure the amount of airspace needed is lessened. This can be good if you are trying to do a small or stealth enclosure.

          One advantage of using a ported enclosure is that the same sub can get louder off of less power than the sub in the sealed enclosure. In most cases you give up some accuracy by going to a ported enclosure. But you can get very good results out of using a ported enclosure.

          A similar install would be an Infinite Baffle install. AKA IB. This type of install also requires less power than a sealed enclosure and can yeild very good results too.

          Infinite Baffle can be great for people that don't want to give up any space in their trunk. But space saving isn't the only reason to go this route. IB can sound very VERY good too if properly implemented.

          If you do decide to do an IB install, you need to carefully pick a subwoofer that can be used in an IB install. Do some searching on the and forums. IB installs are very popular there and there's a ton of info on it.

          When picking any sub/enclosure you need to take into consideration how much power you have avaialable. Some subs are more efficient than others, and work well off low power. Some require a certain amount of power to get moving. SPL subs typically require and work better off of more power. A sq sub is typically designed to work well off 100-400 watts rms.

          Another subject worth bringing up is the use of different types of amplifiers. The two most common types are Class D and Class AB(there's also tube amps, class T, Class A and other types, but we won't go into those)

          Class AB power is less efficient than class D. However class AB is prefered over class D for better sound quality. If you are going to do a sound quality sub install, and don't require more than400-500 watts rms, then you can probably get away with using class AB and your electrical system should be able to handle it. If you are more into SPL you can use a class D amp and a ported enclosure and get considerably louder than the sq install with the same draw on the electrical system. At some point you have to upgrade the alternator though.

          A very big SPL or SQL install will require more power.

          Here's some things to check out, be sure to do plenty of your own research before picking a sub.

          TC Sounds TC2+/Soundsplinter RL-i These subs are known for great sound quality and having the capability of getting very loud. In a sealed enclosure 400+ watts rms should be used.

          TC SOunds TC9/Soundsplinter RL-p SQL/SPL subs. These are also great subs. Send lots of power though

          Image Dynamics IDQ, old design, but hasn't been changed for a reason. Great SQ subs. For ID on the internet go to Pretty efficient subs and don't need too much power. These subs work great in sealed or ported. 100-350 watts rms is all that's needed, the 12"s and the 15"s can handle 400-500 watts rms.

          Image Dynamics ID, still a great sq sub, but designed to get louder than the IDQ's, 100-400 watts rms. The ID8V3 is also a great 8" sub.

          Image Dynamics IDMAX, very popular SQL sub. Works well off 600-1,000 watts rms.

          All Image Dynamics subs work well in IB installs.

          Peerless XLS and XXLS. There is a home version and a car version. The car version has lower ohms. These also work great in freeair installs.

          Diamond D6 sub great sub with 600+ wrms.

          Arc Audio D series, very similar to IDQ

          Arc Flatline, very nice SQL sub.

          Dayton Audio Titanic, good SQL sub

          Adire Audio makes good subs across their whole lineup. The Brahma is a popular sub, but very power hungry, needs over 1K watts rms.

          RE Audio makes subs that cater to everyone, SE has good sq, and get's loud. XXX is a great SQL sub. RE MT is a dedicated SPL sub, handles lots of power.

          Soundstream Exact's are nice SQ subs, and fairly inexspensive.

          Digital Designs makes great subs, most of DD is designed for SPL, but very nice sounding subs though.

          Elemental Designs- eD is very comparable to ID.

          Treo makes good SPL subs.

          Older PPI flatcone subs were really nice.

          Illusion Audio made really nice SQ subs that are very shallow(but still require good airspace), they just recently went back into business.

          Focal K2 series and Be series
          Trouble deciding on car speakers? Clicky Clicky
          Speakers: DLS Ultimate Iridium 6.3 Link
          Subwoofer: removed
          Amplifier#1 (Front Stage): DLS Ultimate A4
          Amplifier#2 (Sub) removed
          Carputer: Removed for tablet install


          • #6
            Post removed...
            Trouble deciding on car speakers? Clicky Clicky
            Speakers: DLS Ultimate Iridium 6.3 Link
            Subwoofer: removed
            Amplifier#1 (Front Stage): DLS Ultimate A4
            Amplifier#2 (Sub) removed
            Carputer: Removed for tablet install


            • #7
              Originally posted by rijndael View Post
              the link in my sig should point you in the right direction if you have any further questions
              I added your post to this thread. Thanks for finding/organizing that.

              Disclaimer To anyone who reads this: That list is fairly accurate, but keep in mind that someone's taste might be different and this is not gospel, just an observation of someone's opinion. Also, manufacturers revamp their products every year and their quality can go up, or go down, so what might be considered good one year might not be so good next year and vice versa.
              System always under construction


              • #8
                lanzar vibe series

                hey rijndael you seem pretty knowledgable about amps. what do you know about the vibe series.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dedmonson View Post
                  hey rijndael you seem pretty knowledgable about amps. what do you know about the vibe series.
                  I know enough to stay away from

                  Its made by Lanzar, which should be enough to tell you to stay away...

                  In all honesty, I dont know too much about it, as i have never been around a system using it. If I had to guess, I would probably say its a lower mid-end amp line because of the crap hardware Lanzar is known to put in their amplifiers (to me, Lanzar is just a no-no). But until i actually hear a system using one, i cant give you a really good answer.

                  I wouldnt never use it in an SQL setup...maybe a budget SPL system, but not paired with any speakers you or i would use.

                  i hope that was what you were getting at and looking for.

                  I just found some charts for you here:
                  Trouble deciding on car speakers? Clicky Clicky
                  Speakers: DLS Ultimate Iridium 6.3 Link
                  Subwoofer: removed
                  Amplifier#1 (Front Stage): DLS Ultimate A4
                  Amplifier#2 (Sub) removed
                  Carputer: Removed for tablet install


                  • #10
                    Lanzar Opti series were built by ZED audio (Stephen Mantz), who has pretty much designed amps for all sorts of companies usamps,us acoustics, cadence, planet audio, hifonics-of course these were years ago.


                    The vibe series are just basic amps. If you are on a budget they are fine.
                    System always under construction