Best Car SpeakersAutomotive
Alpine Car Audio Component System
Why we like it: This amazing pair of speakers does justice to any song you care to play on them.
The word ‘Alpine’ already pumps up the heart rate of any audiophile within earshot. These 6.5-inch speakers come in a pair and have a combined power output of 660 watts, that is 330 watts on each side. Frequency response is between 65Hz to 29 kHz and the sensitivity level is at 87 dB. The highs, in particular, are a plus on this model as it delivers them clean and without irritating your ears. That is just your typical run-of-the-mill Alpine build quality.
Naturally, in order to deliver this kind of performance, this pair will sap quite a bit of juice, up to 220 watts for each a set. But we are not complaining. If you have ever taken a listen to them, you will know they deserve every bit of it. These speakers are any audiophile’s wet dream. All of the specs come together to make some of the best sounding speakers you have ever listened to. It resonates sound with crystal clarity that you would be hard pressed to find lower down its price range.
BOSS 4-Way Car Coaxial Audio Speakers 2 PAIR
Why we like it: There is not much to sigh at with these speakers and a whole lot of ear candy to enjoy.
The components work harmoniously to bring out the different sounds in candid detail and clarity. These FOUR BOSS P55.4C 5.25″ 300W 4-Way PHANTOM Series Car Audio Speakers use high-end poly injection cones along with rubber surrounds to extract some sweet performance from the 300-watt peak power output. The sound is every bit as menacing as the looks. These coaxial speakers somewhat resemble a 90s kid’s attempt at drawing a device from the future. We just cannot get over the combination of black and gray. It is pretty dope.
Thanks to a custom tooled bridge integrated mid-ranges and tweeters, there is excellent mid and high frequency response ranging from 85Hz to 20kHz. The sensitivity level is on the high side as well at 93 db. Impendence is a sweet 4 Ohm. They are also very good value for money. At the rate they sell, you will likely blink twice at the fact that you are actually getting four speakers for your money. Not bad, not bad at all. Now, about that party you were planning.
Infinity Kappa Series Coaxial Speakers
Why we like it: With no beating around the bush as to its strong points and not so strong points, these speakers let you know exactly what you are paying for and are almost never to disappoint.
Infinity’s Kappa coaxial speakers are designed to complement a contemporary style of interior design so they certainly will not stick out as an elephant in the room. It may have additional speaker wiring in it but it makes up for that with 2-ohm nominal impedance and relatively higher output to its competition. Also, we think it is a rather good looker. It has stylish chrome features on its grill and lack of any noticeable mounting screws help it fit right into any form of modern interior.
Sensitivity is not at a premium with the Kappa series. For an RMS of 150 watts, the Kappa series has a respectable peak output of 450 watts combined. These speakers hit the lows nice and strong and there is no mucking about with the highs either. They certainly make a factory system look dull. Overall, it is a tempting modern design, beautiful to look at and measures up to a high standard. It is a true product of its time.
Kenwood 6×8″ Oval Custom Fit 3-Way Speaker
Why we like it: These would be a big upgrade over any stock speakers. Sound oodles out of them in high volume and clarity.
The Kenwood KFC-C6895PS car speakers have a maximum power output of 360 watts and RMS at 85 watts. Impedance with these speakers are a very good 4 ohms. In order to hit those highs with a sledgehammer, the tweeter is ceramic and ½ inch in size and the paper cone is 6×8 inches. There is also the pleasant surprise of a good bass as well. The cone woofer is 6×8 inches and can reach notes down to 63 Hz.
The quality of the sound is further enhanced by a basket that is black and made of steel to lessen noise cancellation. And to top it all off, you get a 1 Year VM Innovations Warranty deal. If you are thinking of upgrading from stock speakers, this is a sweet option to go with. Performance is impressive and the going rate not at all intimidating. Plus, there is the warranty to soften the investment. Chances are if you get one of these, you are going to be a very happy driver.
Kicker D-Series 6.5-Inch Coaxial Speakers (Pair)
Why we like it: This set of speakers serves up a great combo of practicality and performance and promises to be a valuable asset in most automobiles you can own.
Practicality is often traded for higher sound quality but with the Kicker, that is not the case. It has 13mm polyethylene-naphthalate domed tweeters which keeps tweeter protrusion to a minimum and thin-profile woofers that stay out of the way of the car windows and shifting mechanisms in the door. The maximum power output of the Kicker DSC654 car audio speakers is 240 watts (480W for every 4-pack) with RMS power nice and low at 60 watts (120W for every 4-pack), an average showing but we will get to how that is taken care of in a bit.
The design is much better than with factory sound. It is definitely a coaxial upgrade versatile enough to fit into just about any door of a vehicle. The motor structures of the woofers are highly sensitive and make the volume output significantly high for such a moderate power output. That is a pretty effective compromise right there. In addition, they can also manage excess power coming from the amp, definitely a worthwhile upgrade for when the factory speakers can no longer cut the mustard.
JBL 6.5-Inch Component Speaker System
Why we like it: JBL has built this to high standards of practicality and durability but they have given away nothing in terms of performance.
JBL GTO Series high-fidelity speakers come in a lot of regular factory sizes, so there are few limits as to where you can fit one in. If you have been in trouble before with installing speakers and relying on them for an extensive period, this pair would be the perfect upgrade for your ride. Now, there is no need to feel bored at the wheel or scream in rush hour traffic. Let these speakers work their magic on you all the while and keep them good vibes flowing.
The GTO series has carbon-injected Plus One cones are bigger than most other speakers of the same size so more air is shifted to give a more powerful bass. There are also oversized voice coils on soft-dome tweeters which amplify power and reduce heat. The result of that is smoother and unlaboured delivery of highs. It even has a patented I-Mount system which affords an incomparable level of flexibility that can handle both flushing and surface mounting of the component tweeters.
Pioneer PRO Series High Efficiency Car Speakers
Why we like it: You would not expect these relatively tiny speakers to be about as heavy as canon ball… but that volume though; you are likely to go at least five of six units down from the last speaker you were using.
The main reason why it can shatter glasses all around the neighborhood and set the dogs in a barking frenzy is its power output. The Pioneer PRO Series pumps out a tremendous peak output of 1000 watts combined and can handle an RMS of up to 220 watts on each pair. Be careful about which way you swing the volume because one false move can have vehicles honking at you from miles around. These speakers are the tech world equivalent of a noisy puppy.
If you do happen to be stuck in traffic and accidentally tune the volume to a deafening level, at least make sure that the song you have on is a favorite for everyone like perhaps the YMCA. You may just set off a dance in the middle of the road. While the volume has been turned up to eleven with these speakers, the quality of sound has been maintained so you do not turn the volume up and instantly regret it. You literally could just drive up anywhere and make your car is the centre of the party.
Polk Audio dB Series Car Speakers
Why we like it: Polk Audio’s revolutionary db651′ speakers feature ground-breaking technology to massively enhance your car’s sound system like nothing else on the market.
Integrated into its design are some pretty fancy features and materials. For instance, the dome tweeter is made of a silk and polymer composite and the cone woofer is filled with a composite mineral of polymer and mica. The finished result makes the roll off effortless and smooth and an immediate response to any changes in volume. A very good bass sound and durability are achieved thanks to the rubber surrounds. That said, the design does bear a somewhat retro quality about it especially with a touch of metallic brown. Peak power is a mediocre 360 watts and RMS is at 120 watts.
However, none of that takes away from the performance since there is a high-efficiency. These DB Loudspeakers are Marine certified so they can perform equally well on the water as they do on land. Polk actually puts each DB speaker through a punishing sequence of lab tests simulating harsh real life weather conditions. There has to be some serious hardware and build quality that enables these speakers to come out of the testing unscathed. All things considered, these speakers keep up the standards of quality and durability usually associated with Polk and is therefore a credit to the manufacturer.
Rockford Fosgate 3 Way Coaxial Speakers (Pair)
Why we like it: These speakers are extremely good value for money providing high-quality sound overall for a lot less of a cost than you would expect.
The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 is a 6.50” is a 3-way full range speaker. The full set is likely to be a delectable sight for any audiophile. It comes with two speakers with grilles, mounting hardware, and combined high-pass crossovers. Each speaker has a Vacuum Polypropylene cone with a rubber surround, an engraved steel basket, a silk dome pole on Piezo tweeter and midrange built-in tweeter crossover. The finished product comes across as a bit heavy on the bass but can be sorted out with some minor tinkering.
Depending on the orientation of your ears, these speakers may come across as a bit much or a bit lacking with the bass but on mids and highs, it delivers just fine. It is definitely a big upgrade over stock speakers and it makes excellent returns on the cost. And that is good news, especially because, as an audiophile, you are bound to suffer hearing loss much faster than other people. Overall, clarity and sound come at satisfying levels. It is some cool kit for the money.
Novice Buyer’s Guide
Let’s face it: most of us have little clue about what goes into a good car speaker. All we know is that we want good sound, and we don’t want to have to give up an arm, leg and a few organs to afford it. Thankfully, understanding car speakers can be summed up by looking at just a few, important features. It’s never good to go shopping for tech without a little bit of knowledge on your side, and the car speaker market is a tightly packed monster filled with a lot of industry jargon. First, we’ll take a quick look at what you need to know to get the most out of your purchase. We’ll then take a look at some of the best there is to offer among the low, mid and high-end speaker systems.
Tweeters: When you think of tweeters, think of high sounds. The tweeter is a dome or cone-shaped mechanism that produces the higher frequency sounds in your speaker system. A high quality tweeter is one that will be made of strong, heat and vibration resistant material. While there are many types of materials on the market, tweeters will usually be composed of some kind of plastic, metal, or hardened and strengthened fiber. The more expensive the material it is made of, the better the quality. This holds true across all four material categories. A factory tweeter will usually be made of a cheaper plastic material, while your upper-end tweeters will use relatively expensive fabrics, such as silk, or high quality metals, such as aluminum or titanium. There is even some movement in producing diamond tweeters.
Woofers: The woofer is a cone-shaped speaker that produces the lower frequency sounds in the speaker system. Just as the tweeter gets its name from the high frequency sounds it produces, the woofer’s namesake comes from man’s best friend. Much like the tweeter, a woofer’s quality can often be measured by the material. Woofers must be able to withstand a lot of pressure from movement, therefore a good woofer material is one that is both strong and light, as well as heat resistant. Woofers come in many materials, ranging from very low-end paper materials, to very high end metals and composites that can withstand high stress without warping. While metal woofers are certainly the strongest and often the most expensive, they have drawbacks in resonance, with less of an ability to dampen sounds if not properly constructed.
Powerhandling: The minimum and maximum amount of power that a speaker can handle is an important factor in your purchasing decision. The speaker’s powerhandling comes with one key number: the RMS (Root Mean Square). This is typically noted as a range, such as “2-60”, and indicates the minimum and maximum amount of watts needed to power your speakers continuously. This number is important for all car buyers, but especially for those with hybrids or fully-electric vehicles. You will want to be conscious of the amount of power that running your speakers will require. The other key, although less important, powerhandling number to note is the “peak power” number. This is typically much higher than the RMS, and is often in the hundreds, such as “180”. This number indicates the peak amount of wattage that your speakers can take at any one time. This number is often reached when listening to music with heavy bass or drum sounds. Being conscious of the powerhandling number can help you avoid overstressing your car’s speaker system and helping you avoid ruining the speakers prematurely or of experiencing a dreaded speaker blowout.
It is also important to be conscious of the speaker’s sensitivity rating, measured in decibels (dB). The higher the number, the less power a speaker requires in order to reach higher volumes without distortion. For most car speakers, this number typically ranges between 88 to 92 dB.
Frequency Range: The frequency range of your speakers determines just how deep that bass can get, and just how high those notes can reach. A speaker’s maximum and minimum frequency ranges are measured in hertz to kilohertz, with the low frequencies for car speakers ranging from 20 to 2,000 hertz (Hz), and the high frequencies from 8 to 22 kilohertz (kHz), or 8,000 to 20,000 Hz. While frequency ranges can go both higher and lower than this, this range actually represents the full range of hearing for humans. Car speakers typically are not designed to go lower, or higher, than this frequency range since humans cannot actually hear it. However, some car speakers come with ultra-high frequency supertweeters, which produce sounds in frequencies that users cannot hear, but that they can most certainly feel. High-end and mid-tier component systems will often include these, thereby increasing the price of such systems. It is important to note, however, that such systems may have different power requirements as well. Likewise, the actual range for human hearing can vary drastically based on age, with younger individuals able to hear sounds more fully in the entire range, and older individuals typically lacking the ability to hear some sounds, especially in the extreme lower and higher frequencies. As a buyer, it may even be wise to test your own hearing before purchasing a system. After all, why buy more frequency strength than you’ll need? (For what it’s worth, I did the test myself while researching for this review, and discovered my own frequency perception is between approximately 190 and 16,000 Hz, a very sad testament to my loud-music-filled youth).
Speaker Fitting Size: Your car speakers can come in all different shapes and sizes. However, there are some sizes and fittings that you should be more aware of. While speaker sizes usually range between 3.5 to 6.75 inches, the most common fitting size is 6.5 inches. Before purchasing your new speakers, make sure to check your user manual to either ensure that you are buying the right size, or that the speaker system you are purchasing comes with an adjustable attachment for multiple fittings.
While there are certainly more aspects about your future car stereos that you could consider, the above five are what every buyer new to the industry must be intelligent about before making a purchase. With those in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the best low to high-end speakers currently available on the market.
Making the Right Choice
If you are in the market for the best car speakers available, you have a tough decision to make. Do you take the risk of buying lower priced speakers that may break sooner than you’d hoped, or do you spend your entire paycheck on the most expensive set you can find? While that choice is ultimately yours, there are a few things you may want to consider:
- All-plastic systems will not give you the best quality sound. While they are cheap, they will likely also sound cheap, if not at first, then within a relatively short span of time.
- High end systems may use higher quality materials to produce better quality sounds, but few people will be able to tell the difference.
If you’re truly looking for the best bang for your buck, I suggest going with either the mid-tier Focal Access 165 A1 or the Polk Audio MM6501. Unless you’re driving a Ferrari and you need your speaker set to match the quality of your vehicle, these sub-$300 systems will provide you with the highest quality sound for the best price. Not only will you be able to reach the best mid and high range frequencies, the sound quality will be almost on par with that of the highest priced systems without giving up too much on the low end frequencies. You will likely also get much more life out of these, as the materials will not degrade nearly as fast as lower priced sets.
Choosing the right speaker system is no easy task. The nuances in sound can sometimes be difficult for the average buyer, and the multitude of options can leave even the most experienced consumer a bit flustered. Regardless of what you do choose to purchase, when buying a speaker system there is absolutely no substitute for hearing it for yourself. Everyone’s ears will tell them something slightly different, so make sure that you try before you buy.