Can I Use Car Speakers For Home Audio?

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Can I Use Car Speakers For Home Audio?

Here’s an interesting question that came to me just a few months back…can I use car speakers for home audio? I had been thinking about it for a while by that time, so I decided finally, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Besides personal curiosity, I felt like the answer to that would be something that others might also find helpful.

I want to preface this by saying I come from a town that isn’t known for being the quietest, (that’s putting it lightly..) so I tend to hear loud music quite a bit.

That’s actually how I got the idea in the first place.

I was walking down the sidewalk one day in the summer, and someone came whizzing by blasting really loud music.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the same thing, but it was the kind of startling loud that rattles everything within a 5 block vicinity.

My first thought was how that was comfortable to listen to at that volume.

But I then began to wonder something else; it got loud sure, but how would a decent car system sound at home at moderate volume?

So being the inquisitive person that I am, I did some research and didn’t really find too much.

It seemed like there were mixed opinions on the subject. Seeing that, only way I would actually get an answer would be to see for myself.

That’s exactly what I did.


How I Got The Test Car Speakers

Obviously, I didn’t just have a spare set of car speakers lying around since that’s not really my thing.

Luckily, I knew someone who did; one of my good friends who’s interested in car audio. I told him about the idea, and besides initial confusion, he agreed.

“I don’t exactly think that’s going to be a good idea bro, but let me know…”  I told him it probably wasn’t, but it was something I wanted to find out.

By that point, I was all set, and ready to hook them up.


How I Set Them Up

So a real quick and interesting tidbit about car audio, the speakers themselves function the same as any other normal home theater speaker would.

The big difference present though, is the enclosure that they’re placed in is specifically tuned for the driver inside.

That means that the enclosure can usually compensate for any inadequacies a speaker might normally have.

There’s also the difference in impedance (electrical resistance) between the 2 types of speakers with car speakers being able to play louder with less voltage.

But car manufactures also know that yet another big influencer to the sound is going to be gain.

Car gain is really similar to room gain, like we talked about before. If you can’t recall the definition, I’ll give you a quick idea.

Simply put, it’s when sound waves bounce off their surroundings and reinforce the overall output.

Basically, it “gains” in intensity; hence the name.

While usually good, this can also be a bad thing when not done right…IE not using them for their intended purpose. I think with being a car guy, that’s what my friend was alluding to.

Without a car frame to reinforce its output, it was going to likely sound a lot different since it wasn’t designed, or even tested for home use.

Still, that didn’t hamper my curiosity.

Connecting it was really easy though. Obviously there were no 5 way binding posts or anything like that. But all I had to use was some standard copper wire to the receiver, and I was ready to roll.


The Sound?

So how do you think it sounded? Go ahead I’ll give you a few seconds to guess………

If you guessed not great, you would be correct. Whether it was movies, music, or whatever, the sound just wasn’t good. It truthfully sounded muddy but tinny at the same time if that makes any sense.

There was no dynamism, no articulation, or depth to the bass truthfully.

It did get plenty loud though, but that’s pretty much it.

The weirdest thing though, was that a few months prior to even that test, my friend had this same speaker in his car before replacing it.

I could vividly remember that it wasn’t anything like that at all. It was actually pretty decent. I think that result further drove home the fact though, that tuning to a specific vehicle really does make all the difference.

Still I wasn’t done and I wanted to see if the subwoofer I had gotten as well would do any good.

So I hooked that up the same way, and I found something interesting. The subwoofer surprisingly wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be.

Now granted it wasn’t anywhere near amazing, but it got loud at least. Even then, there in lied the problem. While It got loud, there really wasn’t any substance to it.

What I mean by that is it definitely had some punch, but it also had no chill, so to speak.

It was boomy, and didn’t offer a level of detail I’ve come to appreciate from other subwoofers.

The sub just wasn’t a good fit.

I called my friend after and he just laughed and said he wasn’t surprised.

To be quite frank, neither was I, but at least I had a definitive answer finally.


In Closing

So to put it bluntly, if you’re still wondering “can I use car speakers for home audio?”

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it since using speakers with the wrong receiver/amplifier could damage them and from an audio standpoint, it might not be the most optimal.

I mean it’s technically possible I suppose with the right configuration, but there’s a good chance it won’t sound like it should in my opinion — which I also noticed when using a car subwoofer for home audio specifically.

I mean it was an interesting experiment though to see if it would even work to begin with, and it did; however the audio was something I wasn’t a fan of.

There was just no sense of detail in the frequencies, and just felt that home theater speakers tended to be better suited in this instance (which makes sense)

Yeah it’s common sense of course, but sometimes it takes unusual little tests like these to find out something new. Hopefully that helps.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments though, I’d love to know what you all think.

Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple.

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14 Comments so far:

  1. I love your article. It’s very well written. I love my 52 inch flat screen. But I don’t love the sound. What kind of speakers do you recommend I buy in order to get home-theater like sound when I play my tv?

  2. Well, I was of the idea that I could get for myself the harman Kardon car speakers for my lounge since the sound so good in the car. Thank you very much for bursting my bubble lolz.

  3. I’ve worked in both car audio and home theatre and I have seen car speakers use a lot in home theater. It does not look of sound good. Car speakers are designed to work in a confined space have different requirements.

    In saying this, when I was younger, I have a lot of car audio in my home theatre as at the time it was cheaper and was hella loud.

    • That’s really cool man! Yeah I couldn’t even imagine what that must have been like. I do notice that they seem to get a lot louder faster, but that’s probably due to a difference in sensitivity.

  4. Interesting. I had a home stereo system system in my car in Japan when in the Marine Corps. It was a huge speaker, the bulky 80s type that weigh 50/pounds. It nearly shop my 100.00 car to pieces. But it sounded good. Putting your standard car stereo speakers in the house would have nothing the sound can bounce off off like they do when enclosed in a speaker box. I’m guessing that’s why they dont work in the house as far as sound goes. Good post.

    • First off and most importantly, thank you for your service. But yeah I know what you’re talking about I’ve seen those before. They’re gigantic! And yep, that’s exactly it why. The sound is simply dispersed without interacting like you’d ideally want it to. Thanks man I appreciate it.

  5. Great post! I had a friend in high school that had a van and he tried to use home speakers in the back. He had a pretty powerful amp but he couldn’t get them to sound very good. He eventually put them back in his house lol! Thanks again for sharing!

    • Lol that’s interesting. See at least I’m not the only one that thought this. I might have to try this test again sometime in the future.

  6. I disagree to an extent. If you do your research and find car speakers with favourable parameters, it’s possible to end up with something decent. I built a 5.1 system based on Focal RSE165. Admittedly, I need a better center channel, but the 2 floor standers and 2 rear bookshelf’s based on the Focal speakers are extremely good. I’ve EQ’d them ever so slightly to improve the bass, but that’s because I don’t use a woofer. They’re decent enough to listen to music. The boxes were designed properly and the tweeters subdued with a series resistor. The system thunders when called upon. Bang for buck, they’re completely unmatched.

    • Understandable and true, at least for music, but even then when it comes to movies there could be certain spikes at frequencies that there shouldn’t be which could have anomolous effects in intricate details. Not saying it’s impossible, just that it’s not ideal or optimal and is certainly a lot more involved to get the sound adequate enough. EQ is a good point for sure but it depends on if the average person wants to. That sounds like a cool system too!

  7. Jay, I don’t know what kind of speakers you used or how you did it, but I actually just finished hooking up my sound system in my room. I have 2 DS18 pro-X8M 8in 8ohm midrange speakers, one 8in soar audio 8 ohm speaker, 2 12in subs, and 2 little lg speakers. I have that all connected to a home audio receiver and I use it for music and for movies/games and it sounds great. The detail from the low frequencies and the crisp sounds of the high frequencies are very potent.

    • Yeah it really depends since I do suppose it’s possible with the right configuration but I’m glad it sounds good!

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