Speaker installation is very critical for performance.
Whether you spent $50 or $1000 on a set of speakers, if they are not properly
installed, the sound will not be up to par.
What makes a good installation? Well, certainly mounting
speakers in most factory locations, such as on the bottom of the doors pointing
at your legs, are not acceptable. In this cases a new mounting location might
need to be improvised.
The first thing to consider is distance. If the left
speaker is only a couple feet away from your ears, while the right speaker is
several feet away from you, then the sound will arrive at different times
giving you poor sound. The left speaker will sound louder since it is
The best solution is to figure out a location where the
difference between the distance of the right speaker to your ears and left
speaker (also known as path length difference), are minimal. This is where
kick panels shine, making it the preferred location for many audiophiles and
The other solution, which can get expensive, depending on
the gear you get, is delays. By adding a delay to the left speaker, the sound
can be doctored to arrive from both sides at the same time. This is only a
patch, and does not sound as well as equally spaced speakers, but is the
second best alternative.
Multiple Speaker Placement
If you have a system with two or more speakers per side,
you need to carefully try different locations to obtain the best possible
sound in your car.
Let's take a 2-way system with a tweeter and woofer per
side as an example. The woofers are mounted in the factory location at the
bottom of the door. The tweeters are mounted high up on the front corner of
the door panel. Looking at the speakers from the driver's seat, you can see
that there are 4 speakers all aimed towards different orientations and all at
a different distance to your ears. This interaction of sound waves at
different frequencies arriving at your eras at different times seldom sounds
good. The best thing to do is mount the woofer and tweeter on each side as
close as possible to each other. This is also why kick panels are used so much
Professional installers do use some tricks such as
inverting the tweeters' polarity when mounted for example on top of the dash
while the woofers are low. Achieving good sound with unconventional mounting
schemes is very, very hard and is only achieved after plenty of time has been
spent trying different configurations.
Our ears can distinguish the direction of sound more
easily at higher frequencies. This means that aiming the mids, and most
importantly, tweeters towards your ears play a critical role in sound
imaging. Midbases are not so critical, but should be also aimed towards
the listener's ears if possible.
To figure out the best aiming angle involves many hours
-even days- of work. To start, try to aim the speakers towards the
center of the car. Play around with different angles until you obtain
the best "sweet spot".
Subwoofers should be mounted up front for best sound.
Since this is not possible in most cars, mounting subs in the back is not such
a bad thing, since most people can't distinguish where bass comes from. If you
have good midbases going down to 60 Hz or less and subs picking up the signal
below 60 Hz, then the bass will seem to come from the
Everyone is aware that subwoofers need a properly designed
enclosure to give top performance. How about midbases and mids? They also do
sound much better if they are installed in enclosures. The best sounding and
easier to build enclosure type for midbases and mids is
If you are using speakers that fit into a factory
location, make sure there are no gaps or holes. Sometimes building a
wood or fiberglass baffle helps reduce holes and gives you much better
sound. Always be careful when using power tools around speakers.
Warranties usually don't cover holes in speakers.
For unconventional speaker locations, sometimes metal has
to be cut. If you have the resources, plasma cutters and pneumatics
tools work great. For most mortals that do not have these tools, a pair
of metal snips (left and right cut) will do the