So, you have got a new car audio system for your car, & now you are wondering how to get the most out of it to help analyze its performance & enhance your listening experience.
If you have got a cheap speaker, which does not sound pretty well or fascinating, at least to you, then modifying your crossovers could help your car audio system sound better.
If you have got them installed in the car for your already decent speakers, then setting the crossover frequencies is an even better option to get the most out of it.
I know; what you are thinking in your mind, especially if you are a non-technical guy like when I was a couple of years ago, who doesn’t even know what the hell is the Crossover.
But, don’t get worried because, in this guide, we will be discussing How to set crossover frequency for car audio systems to sound fascinating with the least possible distortion.
First, we need to cover some basics, so you can get a better understanding of most of the things, which will help you in the future without referring back to this guide again and again.
What Is a Crossover Car Audio
Most of the audio equipment, whether or not they are meant for cars, studios, homes, or somewhere else, usually uses crossovers. This is because different types of speakers including 2 way speakers and 3 way speakers have multiple drivers that work at different frequencies that need to crossover smoothly. The most important & widely used systems such as some best amplifiers, home systems & even the component speakers have crossover built-in.
So, its use in various audio products may sound strange to you especially being a new guy to these things.
If you are a science student in your tenth grade, you must have known that sounds travel in a medium through waves. These waves sometimes refer to audio signals, which are measured in hertz or what you & us call a frequency.
In a speaker system, this term is known as frequency response rate, which varies from 15Hz to 40,000Hz. This range directly & sometimes indirectly affects the performance & sound quality of your audio component.
The lower the frequency, the better the bass, & the higher the frequency, the higher the sound pitch. But this is not necessarily the case each time.
Because sometimes, these frequencies can even burn your speakers, which sometimes results in the car cabin catching electric fire if the frequency gets exceeded to limit.
Here comes the Crossover, which is essentially meant for limiting the frequency or the response rate sent to a specific speaker in the channel system speakers. Don’t mix up the Crossover with the subwoofer, which is responsible for limiting the bass frequency.
If your speaker is set to a specific range of frequencies, that unit will respond poorly, What you sometimes call on-axis or off-axis, which affects your listening experience.
Here, the crossover task is not yet completed because this has some protection tasks as well. A crossover is also meant for protecting the tweeters inside any speakers, which are mainly responsible for “playing” the higher frequencies.
This is someone like a supervisor within a project who assigns a dedicated & best task for each team member to make the job successful without causing problems. Here, the Crossover makes sure the subwoofers, midranges, & tweeters to effectively play the lows, mids, & high frequencies.
What are the types of Crossovers?
Common Categories of Crossovers
1: High Pass Filter (HPF): If you have a little bit of a technical mind, you would have gotten what this means. But if you don’t, let me tell you what a high pass crossover is.
Your Crossover is limiting the frequency range for a specific field. If a frequency generated through an audio signal uses a frequency above a particular frequency (let’s say 50Hz), then the Crossover is “allowing to pass” that signal.
2: Low Pass Filter (LPF): So, this is going to be the opposite of a high pass. This means every audio signal with a frequency of less than 75Hz will pass through (or play) that subwoofer.
3: Band Pass Filter (BPF): In simple words, you can say this guy is a versatile crossover, which has a mixture of both high pass & low pass crossovers.
These three are the main categories of crossovers, & for each of these crossovers, there’s an active crossover & a passive crossover as well.
4: Passive Crossovers: A passive crossover is somewhat where we have a predetermined or set value for the frequency, which is unchangeable. These crossovers are mainly used in component speakers, which enhances system protection.
Because if you are unaware of such things, these crossovers are responsible for protecting your system from any possible damage. However, this also affects your speaker’s power, which you may not like if you are used to being an audiophile.
5: Active CrossOvers: Here comes the active Crossover to bring some adjustments to such configurations. These crossovers now go in their amplifiers & some head units, which helps you control the crossover points.
Here, you don’t lose any (or noticeable) power so you can have excellent play between tweeters and speakers, especially the mid-range ones.
How To Set Crossover Frequency For Car Audio System?
Being a non-techie, the best & the easiest yet recommended way to set them up is by following the documentation & some paper stuff that comes with the speaker when you bought them. That documentation is not useless if you have thrown them away right next to the box.
This contains each & every single thing from start to end & even diagnosis for some time. But if you don’t have those papers, or you have probably bought second-hand stuff, then let’s move to the alternatives.
Depending on your system, whether it’s a two-way or a three-way speaker, it doesn’t suit all of these. You can never find the exact level or settings for your car audio because it can vary from your car to car, speaker to speaker & your style.
To set them properly through the amplifier & to avoid any potential damage to your newly installed setups, setting them up is a must thing. For each of the different speakers depending upon the system, you will have to take a closer look at both its high pass & low pass sides.
For your high pass filter, it is going to be known as subsonic and explicitly used for subwoofers. This filter reduces the frequencies even lower, which is hard to hear for a human ear.
The reason for it, is you want to stop your speakers from playing very low or known as bottoming out. This happens when you try to cross the limits on low volume for high bass.
Here, you have to set the frequency to the half-octave below the tuning frequency. Let’s say you have a tuning frequency of 100Hz, representing the full octave to 50Hz. You have to set the frequency even the half octave, which translates to 50Hz/2 = 25Hz less than the tuning frequency of 100Hz means 75Hz.
This way, you are likely to prevent your speakers from bottoming out and to make your car audio safe from potential loss. For your low pass crossovers, you are likely to set it by 80Hz & up to 100Hz.
Sometimes, you will get these limits built-in to the systems, which don’t need to be set them manually yet professionally. Subsonic filters are just a type of HP filter, which blocks only the lowest audible frequencies.
You have to set the subsonic filter down to 10Hz using a screwdriver, gain down & the Low pass to somewhere 80Hz (as mentioned already) on your amplifier. This way, you can also make your car speakers sound louder.
Later, you can adjust it just by visualizing yourself. Turn all the doors down & mirrors as well. Now, play your favorite or any track available there at your normal position, & keep turning the knob where you want.
80Hz is the ideal position for most of the sub & speaker amplifiers. If you exceed this frequency makes the sound bold, which may not cause distortion yet. But, heading lower than 80Hz, you are likely to face more distortion.
Don’t set the subsonic filter too low or the Low Pass one too high on your subwoofer’s amplifier. This could lead to severe damage, which is too costly. Sometimes, if your Subsonic filter is too low, then you are likely to waste power.
The Bottom Line
If you are a new driver who does not know pretty much about car audio, which leads you somehow to set crossover frequency for car audio systems, this guide is for you.
Crossovers are the crucial part of any sophisticated & best car audio system inside an amplifier or your system’s head unit. These frequencies help produce low audio signals, even at some high levels.
If you want to get used to it’s every single thing, without hustling anymore, this guide is worth reading for at least one time. You will have to understand how these things work so that you can figure them out exactly.