Differentiated from a coaxial speaker with the tweeter mounted atop the woofer, the individual drivers in a component system are installed in places that elicit the best sound for any type of music. Traditionally positioned at the upper end of a car audio company's speaker offerings, component speakers or "separates" are used by car audio enthusiasts for whom mobile musical fidelity is paramount.
1Musical Tastes: A good speaker can play any type of music with equally agreeable sonic results. However, different component midrange speaker sizes affect bass performance, or the frequencies associated with the slap of a bass drum or the undertow of a bass guitar. Component midrange speakers are normally offered in diameters of 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 1/2 inches, with bass response increasing proportionally. Larger midrange speakers offer more solid bass, making them more logical for use with rock, rap and techno music. Smaller speakers are great for crisp midrange for jazz and classical music, or if factory speaker locations prohibit use of a larger speaker
2Materials: Car audio environments are not speaker-friendly places. Some materials simply hold up better over time when exposed to moisture, ultraviolet rays, heat and cold. Santroprene and butyl are common alternatives to foam and treated fabric, selected for their increased longevity and ability to keep the midrange driver centered. These materials will not dry rot or become brittle, and hold up better to abrasion. Midrange speakers are usually made from polypropylene, aluminum, Nomex, Kevlar or a ceramic/aluminum composite. Tweeters are made from aluminum, silk, titanium or Mylar. Metals in speakers are designed for rigidity teamed with less mass but are more expensive to produce compared to polypropylene. Component speaker materials are based on the manufacturer's theories on performance, but there is no inherent direct correlation with a certain type of material and sound quality. The exception is when Mylar or plastic is used in tweeter construction, neither of which is rigid nor light enough in mass to offer top-end treble performance
3Various Configurations: Component speakers are offered in two-way and three-way designs. Two-way configurations offer a woofer and tweeter, with the crossover blending the transition between the two. This means that the woofer must play higher and the tweeter lower frequencies than what might be ideal. Three-way versions add a dedicated midrange speaker, bridging the gap in audio frequencies between the woofer and tweeter. This allows each driver in the component speaker system to play within a tightly controlled range, offering more refined and detailed performance. Another option for the mobile audiophile is the ability to bi- or tri-amplify the system, with separate amplifier channels directly connecting to the woofer, midrange and tweeter. Taking this approach allows more control of each speaker with less interference from the passive chokes and filters contained within the crossover.
4Performance and Pricing: Car audio component speakers many times operate in similar price ranges as better home speakers. This is primarily due to the fact that these speakers are built in very similar ways as their residential cousins, with the added benefits of increased power handling and driver cosmetics. Car audio component speakers are priced from the low hundreds to four figures per pair, with most in the $300 to $500 range. Features that affect pricing include materials chosen, power handling and intangibles such as a brand's success in the car audio competition circuit.