When shopping for new stereo components, you may come across something known as a “crossover.” While most people are familiar with speakers and amplifiers, crossovers are often a mystery. So, what is a crossover and how does it work in conjunction with a stereo system?
A crossover is an audio component that turns a single input signal into two or three output signals, separating band frequencies by low, mid and high range. Each of these frequencies feeds the speakers to which they are connected, whether it's a tweeter, woofer or subwoofer.
The general idea behind crossovers is that it produces a higher quality sound. Some speakers are better suited for different frequencies. Take tweeters, for instance. They provide optimal sound when given high-range frequencies, whereas subwoofers produce higher quality sound with low-range frequencies. By using a crossover in your stereo system, you can send the right range of frequencies to the right speakers; thus, creating a high-quality sound.
It's important to note, however, that there are two primary types of crossovers: passive and active. A passive crossover is unique in the sense that it's often built into speakers. Assuming your speaker already has a passive crossover, there's no need to buy an additional one. They are wired between the amp and speakers, making them particularly easy to install. The only downside to using a passive crossover is its lack of power – at least when compared to its active counterpart.
Also known as an electronic crossover, an active crossover provides more power than its passive counterpart but also more work when installing and setting up. Furthermore, active crossovers are more energy efficient since they don't waste unnecessary amounts of power by filtering amplified audio signals.
The short answer to this question is yes, you'll need a crossover in order for your car or motorcycle stereo system to function as intended. With that said, some speakers feature built-in crossovers, in which case you won't need to buy or use a separate crossover. (all Steel Horse Audio systems/amps include crossovers).
To recap, a crossover is a device that takes a single input signal and converts into multiple output signals, each of which has a specific range of frequencies. These outputs can then be connected to the appropriate speaker, matching low, mid and high-range frequencies for a higher quality sound produced by the stereo.
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