Tweeters are the smallest component speakers today. They are specially designed to reproduce upper-range sound frequencies. Upper range frequencies or high frequencies are what you call treble. These frequencies include sounds such as vocals and high-pitched instrumentals.
Woofers and bigger speakers cannot reproduce high frequencies. That’s where tweeters come in handy. They add detailed and crisp sound to an audio system. They are commonly used in car music systems and home audio. You can also use them in boats, ATVs, and motorcycles. So how many tweeters do I need in my music systems? Read on to find out.
Benefits of adding Tweeters
Before discussing the number of tweeters you need in your car, boat, or ATV, it will help to discuss the benefits of adding tweeters. Why are tweeters so important? Well, it is only possible to get good quality music by ensuring the incoming sound signal is reproduced accurately.
If your music system doesn’t have tweeters, you will lack certain music details such as high-pitched vocals and instrumentals. By adding tweeters, you will ensure that your music system reproduces all audible details.
If you have set up a music system using component speakers, then you will need to add separate component tweeters. On the other hand, coaxial speakers come with built-in tweeters to deliver full-range sound. However, some coaxial speakers don’t deliver the best treble. In that case, you will need to add component tweeters.
Tweeters are also beneficial in that they offer stereo imaging. What is stereo imaging? It refers to how music allows the listener to get spatial cues of where musical instruments are positioned when recording a song. By listening to music with tweeters as part of your music system, you will find it easier to tell whether a certain instrument is placed at the center, on the right, or left. Stereo imaging helps in understanding how music artists want their music heard.
Types of Tweeters for Cars, ATVs, and Boats
1. Dome tweeters
Just like their name suggests, these tweeters feature a dome shape. Their shape allows for wider dispersion of high frequencies. Essentially, high frequencies are directional. Thus, the dome shape disperses them better in larger listening spaces. In most cases, dome tweeters have higher power ratings when compared to cone and semi-dome tweeters.
2. Cone tweeters
Cone tweeters are commonly used in car music systems. They look like standard speakers in shape and design but are much smaller in size. Also, they are inexpensive. Their cones are made of light materials for extremely fast vibration to produce high frequencies. They are typically made of inexpensive materials and do not offer the best accuracy.
3. Ribbon tweeters
Rather than featuring a standard diaphragm, they use a magnetic force that makes a thin ribbon to reproduce sound. The design of the ribbon allows it to move linearly to produce sound. Their design allows for the production of high-quality treble.
4. Horn tweeters
Horn tweeters feature a horn structure design. The horn design helps in controlling the dispersion of high frequencies for more efficiency. They also produce high-quality treble.
5. Super tweeters
They are a special type of tweeters designed to reproduce the highest end of audible high frequencies. Super tweeters produce treble with more power and volume. They are more ideal for audiophiles who love playing their music loudly and those who love highs. Super tweeters are less ideal for home audio since their sound output is less detailed.
How to Mount Tweeters
There are several tweeter mounting options depending on the tweeter design. The most common mounting types include:
1. Surface mount
Surface mounting allows for the easiest mounting option. You only need to drill a small hole, then place the tweeter on the hole. The speaker cable will go through that hole. With this mounting option, you can mount the tweeter on the door panel or dash.
2. Bottom mount
With this mounting method, you will mount the tweeter on the existing factory location. For this to work, buy tweeters that match in size to the existing ones. However, if the tweeters don’t match, you can use mounting brackets or adapters to mount them.
3. Flush mount
Flush mount tweeters sit flush on the mounting location. In this case, you will drill a hole in which the entire depth of the speaker fits. You can still angle the tweeter toward a certain listening position for enhanced sound imaging.
How Many Tweeters Do I Need In My Car?
Now that you know what tweeters are and the common types of tweeters today, it will also help to know the number of tweeters you need in your car. In most cases, you only need to install two tweeters in your car. Generally, you will install them in the front of your car to enhance your overall listening experience.
However, if you prefer more high frequencies in your car, you can install four tweeters. In this case, you will install two at the front and two at the back. Also, many larger cars sound best with four tweeters while two tweeters are enough in many smaller cars.
Where to Mount Tweeters in a Car
When installing two car tweeters, the most preferable mounting location is on the front dash. One tweeter on the left, and one tweeter on the right. They should be installed in a way that they face toward the center of the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat.
Installing them that way allows them to disperse highs to the listening position of both the driver and the passenger. Also, the sound from both tweeters will reach the listener simultaneously. However, for this mounting location to work, you may have to modify some mounting locations.
If your car has factory mounting holes on the dash, you will find it easy to install them. Alternatively, you can buy tweeters that allow for surface mounting such that you don’t have to drill any mounting holes.
You can also mount tweeters on the upper area of the car door. However, you won’t get balanced sound output since one tweeter will be farther than the other. You can also install them on the A-pillar or sail panel. The A-pillar refers to the pillar sitting between the windshield and front door window. The sail panel refers to the panel sitting at the corner of the car door window.
How Many Tweeters Do I Need On My Boat?
If you fancy boats for sporting, fishing, or leisure, and you want to install a music system in your boat, you can also add tweeters. In this case, the number of tweeters to install will depend on the size of your boat. A small boat can do with two tweeters. Medium boats can do with 4 tweeters. Larger boats would need 4 or more tweeters depending on your preferences.
Where to Mount Tweeters in a Boat
Preferably, mount speakers on locations where they will be away from excess moisture. You can install them on the dash or pillars. Position them in a way that they face the deck or cabin. For a small boat, you can install them on opposite sides facing the centerline of the boat. For large boats, you can install two on the dash facing the deck, two at the opposite facing the centerline, and two at the back facing the deck.
How Many Tweeters Do I Need On My ATV, Motorcycle, or Bike?
For an ATV, motorcycle, or bike, you will just need one or two tweeters. If you are installing one tweeter, the best location is at the center of the handlebar. If you are installing two tweeters, mount one on the left side of the handlebar and the other one on the right side of the handlebar.
Adding tweeters to your music system is a great thing to do. By adding tweeters, you will enjoy balanced sound output and improved sound imaging. You can install tweeters in your car, boat, ATV, bike, or motorcycle. The number of tweeters to install will depend on the size of your car or boat and your listening needs. Just ensure you mount them properly for the best listening experience.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.