Car audio systems have come a long way. The good ones sound great, and as you can expect, cost a bit. These are some reasons you might consider using old car speakers for home audio.
Having a high-quality audio system in a car is almost the norm for audiophiles. Imagine you don’t need the car anymore for some reason. You can save yourself some money by repurposing the car speakers for the audio system in your personal space.
How to successfully achieve this is what this post is about. We’ll run you through the process involved while clarifying some questions. Don’t worry, it’s easy to achieve. Just follow our guide and you’ll be done in no time.
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Are Car Speakers Good for Home Audio?
Car speakers will work perfectly for your home audio if you get the conditions right. You have to balance the impedance and limit the space you need the car speakers to cover. If you cater to those, car speakers for home audio will work just fine.
Car speakers are rated at 4 ohms while home speakers are usually 8 ohms. You can balance this difference with the way you wire the speakers.
Using a car amp for home audio is also part of the setup. In fact, that’s what makes car speakers loud enough to work for this purpose.
As for the space, car speakers are designed for small spaces. So, if you’re going to use it in your home, consider the size of the room you’re using it in. This repurposing will work best in a small room or create surround sound around your workstation.
How to Convert Car Speakers to Home Audio Speakers
With the preamble cleared up, let’s get started with converting car audio to home audio.
Step 1: Get the materials together
The things you’ll need for this project are:
- Car speakers
- Car subwoofer
- Car amplifier
- Power supply unit (PSU
- 12- and 14-gauge speaker wires
- RCA cables
- Insulation tape
- Wire stripper
When you have all these together, you’re ready to start.
Step 2: Balance the impedance
This is crucial because you don’t want your audio setup blowing up the first time you use it. An easy way out is to use a car stereo in this home audio setup. However, you won’t be getting video capabilities; we’re pretty sure that’s not what you want.
So, we’re going to balance the impedance of your receiver to those of your car speakers. Assuming you’re setting up two 4-ohm speakers, you’ll connect the positive terminal of one to the positive terminal of the other speaker with a 12-gauge wire. Connect the negative terminals in the same manner.
Kindly note that doing this will slightly sacrifice sound quality. Don’t worry about that, your amplifier will make up for it.
You also have to consider balancing the power as well. Ensure the receiver is powerful enough for the car speakers. Check the ratings behind each piece of equipment. If the speakers are 70 watts, for instance, the receiver also has to be at least 70 watts as well.
Step 3: Connect the car amplifier
People have been asking us: how can I use a amp in my house? You’re going to learn all about that now.
Amplifiers perform the important role of improving the output of your speakers. It’s especially important in car audio to home audio setup such as this.
We mentioned earlier that balancing the impedance can affect the sound quality, especially when using car subwoofers for home audio. Connecting an amplifier will nullify the sacrifice in sound quality we mentioned above.
The amp has to be powerful enough to power the speakers. Follow the power matching guide we used in the “Impedance” section.
Pro Tip: Use a class AB amp for the other speakers and use a class D amp for the subwoofer. AB amps are specialized for sound quality, while D amps are best for power efficiency.
Step 4: Connect the units
This is where you bring everything together into a working system. The speaker and RCA wires will do their jobs here.
Connect the speakers to the receiver while matching the polarity. The red speaker wire is positive, which goes into the positive port on the receiver. The black wire (negative) also goes into the negative port. If you’re using 4 car speakers, you’ll connect 2 speakers for the front (right and left) and 2 for the back (right and left).
Can I use a car subwoofer for home audio?
A car subwoofer works best for home audio when you combine it with other speakers to create an even more immersive sound effect.
Use the 14-gauge to connect the car subwoofer(s) to the car amplifier. Then connect the amp to the receiver. That’s it! That’s how to use car subs for home audio.
Connecting the car amplifier to the receiver
Behind the receiver, there should be ports for front and rare channels and a pre-out. So, watch out for the type of receiver you’ll need for this setup.
Assuming you’ve got that sorted, connect the pre-out on your receiver to the subwoofer amplifier. Use the 12-gauge speaker wires to connect the left and right pre-outs to the front speakers and the surround L and R to the rare speakers. Finally, plug the respective end of the RCA cable to the pre-out on the receiver to the amp.
If the receiver you have does not feature the pre-out section, you’ll need to use speaker to RCA adapter cables to connect the receiver and amp.
Connecting the amp to the PSU
Look for the black and green wires on the PSU. Strip the insulation about ½ an inch and connect the wires. Cover the connection with insulation tape.
Trace the black and yellow wires from the PSU (there will be a bunch of them for each color). Bridge the black wires together and do the same for the yellow wires. Now connect the collection of black wires to the ground terminal and the yellow ones to the positive terminal.
Step 5: Get an enclosure for your speakers
This is necessary to get the best out of your speakers and to make the car audio to home audio look presentable. As you know, car speakers don’t come with an enclosure, as they’re designed to be embedded into the body of your car.
You can build speaker enclosures yourself if you’re that handy or you can buy them. The 3 types of enclosure you can use are:
You’ll find this type with holes (ports) in it. The ports are there to equalize the pressure inside the speaker and outside. This type is more complex to build but creates a punchier sound.
The size of the enclosure determines the number of ports on it. For instance, a 0.05m3 enclosure will have just one port. If it’s above that and up to 0.08m3, it should have 2 ports. However, if the enclosure is over 0.08m3, there has to be 3 ports in it.
As the name implies, this type is completely sealed. The air inside helps to regulate the pressure and creates a more accurate sound. Sealed enclosures are smaller and easier to build compared to the ported design. They also produce deeper bass.
This box is a combination of the previous designs. The chamber containing the speaker is sealed while the other half has a port. This design is typical for subwoofers and produces quite a slam with maximum efficiency. You can also follow our approach to designing a subwoofer box.
The details of how to build an enclosure for a car speaker is beyond the scope of this post. However, we’ll enlighten you on something you have to consider.
That is the Qts parameter. This is a unitless measurement that combines the mechanical and electric damping of the speaker’s driver. It lets you know how powerful the speaker’s magnet and motor are.
Use this guide to inform your design
- Use a ported enclosure for speakers with QTS lower than 0.4
- Sealed enclosure if QTS is between above 0.4 and less than 0.7
- If the QTS is above 0.7, use the infinite baffle design; it’s a variant of the sealed design
For some reason, anyone might need to repurpose their car audio to home audio. As you’ve seen, it’s possible and will work well. You’ve learned all you need to know to carry out the repurposing on your own. So, are you going to try it?
If you enjoyed reading this, there’s more where it came from. Visit Sound University to learn more about speakers and get the best of your audio experience.