How To Wire Tweeters With A Built In Crossover To An Amp
Tweeters, even inexpensive ones, can make a world of difference to your system. however, you may need to know a bit more before you begin. I’d love to help!
In this article, I’ll show you how to connect tweeters with integrated crossovers to an amplifier. I’ve spent hours creating clear & detailed diagrams to help too.
I’ll cover a lot of topics that really matter:
- how to connect tweeters with integrated crossovers to an amplifier
- using tweeters with integrated crossovers in an amplifier
- using tweeters with a 2-way component speaker crossover
- whether or not you can use tweeters with an amplifier that drives subwoofers
how to connect tweeters with built-in crossover to an amplifier
The good news is that car tweeters with crossovers are generally quite easy to connect to the amplifier of your current (or new) mobile audio system.
There are a few things you should know first:
- Most of today’s 2 and 4 channel car amps can drive a 4 ohm full range speaker and a 4Ω tweeter connected in parallel at the same time .
- it is possible to keep the tweeter crossover and use an amp’s built-in crossover later (see the related section below for details).
- not only should you never use a tweeter without a crossover, but also you should not connect a tweeter to the subwoofer outputs under normal circumstances. I’ll cover it in more detail later as well.
- You can replace the original tweeter crossover with a better one or use it with a two-way speaker crossover if you wish.
how to connect tweeters with crossovers to an amplifier
To connect tweeters with crossovers to an amplifier, you’ll want to use one of the following configurations, as these are the most common situations you’ll run into:
- connect to unused amp channels with a full range output option: follow the positive and negative wiring connections on the amp, making sure to match the same speaker polarity on the tweeter (either on the tweeter or marked on the external crossover for those using one in-line).
- “touch” the full-range speakers already connected to the amp: don’t mix the polarity – for correct sound, make sure you connect the tweeter positive & Negative speaker wiring to the same as the speakers already connected to the amplifier. to save time, effort, and speaker wire, you can connect them in parallel to the speakers themselves if that’s convenient. you’ll get the same audio signal there as you would on the amp, as long as they’re full-range speakers .
- connect to unused amp channels: using a pair of full range rca output from your head unit or use a pair of rca y splitters on the amp to connect the second pair of signal inputs to unused full-range amplifier channels. you’ll probably need to set the amp’s gain to a good level to match the speakers you’re already using.
tweeter wiring connection
Although it is true that many tweeters come with connectors already on the cable, it is sometimes easier (and gives better results) if you use another way of connecting the cable. crimp connectors, for example, deliver professional results and won’t let you down.
In my experience, some of the connectors (usually slide-tab or “spade” type) that come with car tweeters are a pain. in fact, I rarely use them.
Keep reading to find out how to connect your tweeter wiring with professional results.
where to install your tweeters
Car tweeters work best when they are installed in a good direction towards the ears. that’s because high-frequency sounds are more directional than bass, for example. As a rule, try to avoid installing them lower in your car or truck. this is one of the reasons you see factory-installed tweeters mounted in the doors of vehicles or on the side pillars near the windshield.
not always an option, but when possible it is better to mount tweeters:
- high up, near the level of your ears
- pointing towards you
That’s because, unlike subwoofers, which create huge sound waves that are so big it’s hard to tell where they’re coming from, the highs are directional, which means you’ll get better performance from the tweeter when the sound is directed towards you and unobstructed.
example of a factory speaker upgrade in a car door with a separate woofer, tweeter and crossover. notice how the aftermarket tweeter mounts to the factory bracket, attached with hot glue.
It’s one of the reasons factory-installed tweeters are placed high in the doors or on the side pillars of the factory windshield. in fact, high-end home stereo speakers are designed the same way…only both the tweeter and woofer are placed on the same “plane” or level for best results.
This is also one of the reasons why component car speakers include tweeters designed to be mounted separately, to get the best possible sound by placing them in the best position you can find.
how to connect tweeter cables like a professional installer
For excellent installation quality, I recommend using better connectors when possible. It really only takes a few steps, and before you know it, you’ll be great at it!
the steps are:
- strip the speaker cable and prepare it for the connector
- insert it firmly into the crimp connector (of the correct size)
- use a crimping tool in a suitable way and sign to permanently connect the cable
then repeat for other wires as needed.
how to strip the speaker wire
To strip the speaker wire, you can use various tools. my recommendation (and preference) is to use an affordable tool called a crimp tool. most of these not only crimp connectors but can also cut and strip wires.
Stripping speaker wire can be tricky at first and takes a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly after a few tries. the trick is to pinch only the insulation of the cable and not the strands of the cable itself.
If you catch the wire on the inside by over-tightening with a wire stripper, you’ll likely break the wire and have to start over.
to strip the speaker wire from the tweeter:
- Insert the wire into the stripper and carefully close it over the insulation. use enough force to hold the wire in place and lightly pinch the insulation, but not enough to apply force to the inside of the wire.
- hold the tool & press firmly into place so it doesn’t move.
- pull on the cable. the insulation could break and the exposed wire should remain.
what you need to know before stripping speaker wire for the first time
Some types of wire (especially smaller gauges like 20 awg, 24 awg, etc.) can be more difficult to strip without breaking. For your first few attempts, practice with some spare wire that won’t cost you what you need to install your tweeter.
I recommend stripping just enough to leave about 3/8″ to 1/2″ of bare wire exposed. for crimp connectors, 3/8″ or larger should be fine.
Do not leave too long as it may protrude from the connector once inserted.
how to use speaker wire crimp connectors
shown: step-by-step images of how to strip & connect the speaker wire using crimp (“butt”) connectors. After stripping the wire, it’s time to use a crimp connector on each and a tool to crimp them together for a long-lasting connection.
Using speaker wire crimp connectors isn’t too hard, I promise! you’ll get the hang of it after doing it a few times.
How to properly crimp the speaker wire:
- Strip the wire leaving 3/8″ to 1/2″ of bare wire exposed.
- Tightly twist the wire so that it can be properly inserted into the connector.
- insert the cable at one end firmly, pushing it into the metal contact. make sure to insert it all the way.
- place the connector into the crimp tool in the proper position on the tool, near the end of the connector.
- press very hard > with the tool to make a notch on the outside of the connector. the inner metal connector should bend inward and permanently hold the cable.
- repeat the same for the other side & speaker wire.
what should it look like when you connect the speaker cables correctly?
Crimp connectors, sometimes also called butt connectors, are sold in standard colors for the wire gauge sizes they can be used with. even though the red is listed as suitable for 18awg wire, I’ve been using blue back connectors with 18awg speaker wire for years with no problems.
You should be able to find a very small pack of blue connectors (or a variety of various sizes) for just a few dollars at general merchandise stores or auto parts stores.
can you connect tweeters to the same amp as a subwoofer?
This is the short answer:
- you cannot use tweeters in a monoblock amplifier (bass only) or subwoofer output channel using a low pass crossover.
- you >you can use tweeters with unused amp outputs (channels) that are full range.
why can’t you use tweeters in a monoblock subamp or bass output?
You may not know it, but almost all monoblock (single channel) subwoofer amplifiers are designed just to produce bass. They are designed just to put out a lot of power and drive subwoofers with high volume. there is no treble (treble) to drive the tweeters at all.
also, using the channel(s) of an amp with the low pass crossover built in means you’re doing the same thing too. so you will only have a few options:
- for multi-channel amplifiers, connect tweeters to unused full-range amplifier channels.
- connect tweeters in parallel to main speakers.
If you only have a single amp to drive the subwoofers and you don’t have any unused full-range speaker outputs on your amp, there’s no way around it: you’ll have to buy another amp for the tweeters or use your main unit.
Note that the head units produce a very small amount of power (about 15 watts per channel), so your tweeters will not come close to the volume or power that your powered speakers will.
can you use the built in crossovers in an amp with tweeters?
Yes, in many cases you can use an amplifier’s built-in crossovers with your tweeters. In some circumstances, you can even completely replace the tweeter crossovers this way!
plus, it’s a way to take advantage of your amp’s features and improve the sound.
some examples are:
- using the amp’s 12d/octave crossover improves on (or replaces) the cheaper 6db/octave crossover used by some tweeters.
- remove the wired tweeter crossover, which simplifies installation.
- improve tweeter bass lock without additional parts or labor.
how to use pliers with built-in crossovers with a 2-way crossover
I’ve run into this situation myself! Let’s say you have some extra tweeters lying around or have a cool idea for your own two-way speaker setup.
Or maybe you have a component speaker system and one of the tweeters is burned, damaged, or broken. what if you could put those extra tweeters to good use or a pair you got a great deal on?
The good news is that in most cases, if the tweeter impedance matches that of the 2-way crossover, this can work.
However, the most important thing here (the “stunning” so to speak) is that it doesn’t use the integrated tweeter crossovers. you will have to remove and/or skip them.
why can’t i connect my tweeter crossovers to a two way speaker crossover?
The problem here is that a speaker crossover is designed to connect directly to the speaker’s “load” (to the speaker’s impedance or resistance, if you prefer).
Speaker and tweeter crossovers contain capacitors and inductors. no problem there, but when one crossover is connected to another it changes the way they behave. this means that (1) the sound will be wrong and (2) the crossover frequencies will be very wrong.
there is no way to “fix” that. You’ll need to make sure you remove or bypass a tweeter crossover before using it with a speaker crossover it wasn’t originally used with.
most excellent tweeter & speaker articles you can’t miss
You’re in luck! I happen to have more great articles on tweeters & speakers here:
- Are your tweeters too loud? find out here how to reduce tweeter volume with resistors.
- find out everything you could ever want to know about tweeters here.
- confused about tweeter crossover frequencies, from midrange or woofers? these are the best crossover frequencies for home and car audio.
- what happens if you change the impedance of your tweeter? find out what happens if you change the speaker impedance with a crossover.