What Kind of Speakers Should Be Put in a Van?
By Serm Murmson
Van sound systems must distribute sound to a larger cabin than that of an average car. This increased space may actually make it easier for you to install speakers. However, you must make sure that the speakers are a good match for your amplifier or receiver and that they'll work well with your van's physical space and the music you will play in your van's stereo.
Speakers can handle a certain amount of electrical power, in watts. Manufacturers list an amplifier or receiver's power output in terms of either its peak power output or its Root Mean Square power output. The RMS power output is the average power output of an amplifier or receiver. When such a device distorts, or clips, it outputs more than its listed RMS power output. This spike in output could damage your speakers. To prevent this, select speakers that have a lower power rating than your amplifier or receiver's RMS power output so that your speakers will be able to handle the signal without damage. Your amplifier or receiver's RMS power output should be listed in the device's technical documentation.
The physical size of the speakers is important to consider with respect to your van. If the speakers will be installed on door panels, make sure that the thickness of your door panel will accommodate the speakers. If your door is not thick enough, the back of your speaker may bump against various components inside your door. If you are replacing speakers, try to find a new set that fits in the existing speaker holes. This will minimize the work you need to do during the installation process. Some vans may also have extra space above doors or seats. If you choose to install your speakers in these areas, make sure that you install them securely to prevent injury to the van's driver or passengers.
The number of speakers you should install depends primarily on your stereo system. If your stereo system uses only a receiver, you should match the number of speakers to the number of channels. On the other hand, if the sound comes out of an amplifier, matching the number of channels is less important. If you have trouble determining the number of channels of your receiver or amplifier, check your device's technical specifications. If the number of channels is not listed on its own, it may be listed in the device power ratings. For example, an RMS power rating of 50 watts x 4 means that the device can send 50 watts to four channels. The space of your van may also influence the number of speakers you install. Because van cabins are large, you may wish to have enough speakers to distribute the sound to each section of the cabin.
A subwoofer is an optional extra speaker that boosts the bass frequencies of your sound system. Because the subwoofer handles primarily low frequencies, it is a supplemental speaker to the main speakers. The main speakers will produce sound best in the middle and high frequencies. If you are unsure whether or not to supplement your van's sound system with a subwoofer, consider the sort of music you wish play on your system. If lower frequencies are not predominant or important, then you probably don't need a subwoofer.
Serm Murmson is a writer, thinker, musician and many other things. He has a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago. His concerns include such things as categories, language, descriptions, representation, criticism and labor. He has been writing professionally since 2008.