Unless you like having stock speakers which are made with low-cost materials such as paper cones, purchasing aftermarket speakers will make your car investment that much more enjoyable. If you think about it, much of your commute time is spent listening to music, and aftermarket speakers provide considerable more quality than anything you will get from the car factory.
The first thing to consider is the size of your stock speakers since aftermarket speakers will easily fit into this slot. Of course, you can always increase the speaker size and even add a subwoofer with a little more investment.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Car Speakers 2017
- 2 Best 4-Inch Car Speakers
- 3 Best 5.25-Inch Car Speakers
- 4 Best 6.5-Inch Car Speakers
- 5 Best 6×9-Inch Car Speakers
- 6 Best Speakers 2017 Buying Guide
- 7 How Many Speakers Do You Need?
- 8 The Difference Between 2- & 3-way Speakers
- 9 Full-Range Vs. Component Speakers
- 10 Why Max Wattage Is Not Important
- 11 Car Speaker Materials
- 12 Increasing the sound quality even more
- 13 Conclusion
Best Car Speakers 2017
In this guide, we have the best speakers you can find. Whichever speaker you choose, we guarantee that you will be happy. Yes, some are still better than others but it is marginally and I’m not sure that even an audiophile would notice the difference. To make it easier for you, we have sorted the speakers in their different sizes. But before that, let’s compare the 12 best car speakers in 2017 in a classic table format.
|Alpine Type-S SPS 410||4"||45W||140W||4 Ohms||2-Way||86 dB|
|Polk Audio DB401||4"||45W||135W||4 Ohms||2-Way||91 dB|
|Rockford Fosgate P142||4"||30W||60W||4 Ohms||2-Way||86.5 dB|
|Polk Audio DB521||5.25"||45W||135W||4 Ohms||2-Way||93 dB|
|Pioneer TS-A1376R||5.25"||50W||300W||4 Ohms||3-Way||89 dB|
|Kicker DS525||5.25"||35W||70W||4 Ohms||2-Way||90 dB|
|Infinity Kappa 62.11I||6.5"||75W||225W||2 Ohms||2-Way||95 dB|
|Kenwood KFC-1695PS||6.5"||75W||320W||4 Ohms||3-Way||88 dB|
|JBL GTO638||6.5"||60W||180W||2 Ohms||3-Way||92 dB|
|Pioneer TS-A6986R||6x9"||100W||600W||4 Ohms||4-Way||92 dB|
|Infinity Kappa 693.11I||6x9"||110W||330W||2 Ohms||3-Way||96 dB|
|JBL GTO938||6x9"||100W||300W||2 Ohms||3-Way||94 dB|
Best 4-Inch Car Speakers
If you have stock speakers which are sized at 4-inches, the most affordable thing you can do is purchase a set of 4-inch speakers. Unless you are willing to expand the slot for your speakers, 4-inch speakers should be more than large enough to provide the quality sound you are looking for.
Alpine Type-S SPS-410
Alpine has consistently been one of the most popular car speaker brands available, simply due to their high-quality materials that can produce accurate sound from nearly the entire audio spectrum. When you add in a subwoofer and amplifier to a pair of Alpine speakers. you will instantly fall in love with your new car stereo.
These speakers are 4 inches in length, produce readings from 97-22,000 Hz (which is essentially all you will need to hear), and have an RMS power of 90 watts per set, and 45 watts on each side. Although you will likely never reach this point, they have a maximum power of 280 watts per set and 140 watts each side.
Although these speakers are of considerable power and prestige, they are limited. For example, they are a 2-way speaker, which means they bunch the woofer and tweeter together which can challenge the sound quality. As a result, don’t expect to have chest-bumping bass solely from these speakers. Of course, you can still hear the bass sounds, but this is where a subwoofer will come in handy.
These speakers have a mounting depth of 1 21/32” and a full diameter cut out of 5 1/16” which should be plenty of space to replace a set of 4” stock factory speakers. In the end, you can’t go wrong with purchasing a pair of Alpine speakers, and these are one of the most affordable aftermarket options for you to consider.
Polk Audio DB401
Polk Audio speakers are another option to consider if you want a marine-styled 4-inch speaker. These speakers are packed full of wattage and capable of providing loud and clear sound at a very affordable price. These speakers come with 135 watts of maximum power and 45 RMS at 4-ohm power, which is pretty good for a car speaker.
If you have a 2-door coupe or a 4-door sedan, two to four of these speakers will be more than enough to provide loud and clear music which won’t clip (unless you pump up the volume to unsafe volume levels reaching over 100 decibels). If you are an ex-musician or drummer and like volume levels like this, you will likely be able to have your music remain clear, but your hearing will gradually get worse.
Although these speakers are of considerable quality and made with a silk-polymer dome tweeter, there is also a catch to purchasing them. Since they are made for boats, many people won’t find them as aesthetically pleasing for car use. However, if you use a grill over your speakers, you won’t even notice this anyway. Polk speakers like these have been successfully used in cars many times in the past.
If you are okay with using a set of speakers for your car that is normally used for a boat (hint: they hide behind a grill) and need a set of 4-inch speakers, make this one of your top considerations. Since they are marine speakers, be sure to measure your speaker slot and confirm that these will fit into your car.
Rockford Fosgate P142
Rockford Fosgate is one of the premier audio manufacturers, and widely known to produce high-quality speakers which can compete with any of the industry’s heavy-hitters. One feature which is especially nice about this speaker is that you can purchase it in many different sizes, ranging from 3.5 inches to 6.75 inches.
These speakers will fit into any 4-inch speaker slot, and provide enough volume and high-quality sound, as long as you have enough speakers. Since these speakers have 60 watts maximum (30 watts RMS), they can be a little limited in strength when you compare them with other speakers.
However, it is important to note that the most important thing about the speakers that you purchase is that they produce high-quality sound and that you can enjoy the music without worrying that they will easily clip like a typical car factory speaker made with paper.
Another thing to be potentially worried about with this speaker is that the lowest frequency range is 100 Hz, making the need for adding an added subwoofer or two a near necessity. If you are already considering a subwoofer, this speaker will be great for reproducing the mid-high sounds while relying on the subwoofer(s) for your bass.
In the end, aftermarket speakers are best when combined with a subwoofer. The same holds true with Rockford Fosgate speakers, which are already known for their high-quality sound. If you want a top-of-the-line brand and have a plan to deal with limited low-frequencies, this is an amazing speaker to buy.
Best 5.25-Inch Car Speakers
As your speaker size gets higher, your woofer will get larger, which means a more powerful bass. This is never a bad thing. After all, what is a good aftermarket car speaker system without some extra chest-thumping bass? If this is what you are looking for, added speaker size and subwoofers are a great thing to have.
Polk Audio DB521
Having Polk speakers in your vehicle means that they are likely made for boating, which means that they are water resistant. This isn’t a typical feature; many speakers will normally crumble upon coming in contact with liquid of any sort.
These speakers also pack a pretty decent punch, with 45 RMS a piece, and 135 watts maximum. Whether you want to use this for your car, SUV, truck, van, or larger, these speakers will provide the great quality sound that you are looking for. If you correctly set them up, two to four speakers can provide a considerable amount of power that can stretch across an entire large vehicle and provide loud, crisp sound.
The only downside to these speakers, of course, is that since they are made for boats you will want to make sure that they will work well with your personal vehicle. Specifically, you need to ensure that you place them correctly and have enough space since boats are obviously designed differently than cars.
Since Polk marine speakers can survive being placed underwater, these are a great idea to purchase if you own a jeep or a similar open vehicle which may sometimes be subject to the natural elements. If you are an off-roader, or like opening the top of your convertible, you will be able to do so safely without worrying about ruining your car speakers. The interior of your car though, is another story.
Pioneer is one of the industry-standard manufacturers of audio equipment, and these provide a considerable amount of power when you compare them to other top speakers. With an impressive 300 watts of maximum power and 50 watts of RMS power, these speakers are perfect for the person who wants loud, high-quality sound.
If you think about it, going over 50 RMS starts to get you to the level that some lower-end PA speakers will have. Unless you want to have a sound system that people can hear for blocks, this option is both powerful and affordable.
Since these speakers are 3-way, you can position your tweeter separately and have extra headroom for your subwoofer. This means that you might not need to consider getting a subwoofer with these speakers. However, there are always better options to consider if you want speakers that can provide plenty of volume.
If you want high-quality speakers which provide top-quality sound and power that can easily be loud enough for a large vehicle, these speakers will sound great with only a couple. However, adding more speakers means that you can have more volume at a lower volume position, and less distortion if you want to pump it up loud.
The nice thing about 3-way speakers is that you can use your woofer as subwoofers at foot level while positioning your tweeters at ear level. This is a great way to balance out your sound and make things even. In the end, the most important thing is that the sound coming out of the speakers is high quality, and you can never go wrong with a couple of Pioneers.
If you need a 5 1/4” speaker that is both affordable and of decent quality, make this one of your top considerations. This is a great option for replacing blown speakers, while not making other factory speakers sound too much different from your new aftermarket speakers. Just keep in mind that since these are 2-way speakers, they won’t provide too much bass.
With 70 watts maximum, and 35 watts RMS at 4 ohms, these speakers are of considerable power, and fit to any vehicle that has this size speaker slot. However, considering that you have 5 1/4” speaker slots available in your vehicle, you really should consider getting speakers which provide a little bit more power.
Kicker speakers are not necessarily the best brand of car speakers on the market, but they are capable of matching up pound-for-pound with any other speaker if you have plenty of slots and space in your vehicle. These are also a great option for limousines which need 10-20 speakers in a row but don’t want to blow out the ears of the passengers.
In the end, these speakers are great quality, affordable, and a pretty good option for anyone who wants to upgrade their car speakers. However, another thing to note is that you will probably also want to add a subwoofer or two so that you can have plenty of chest-thumping bass. Typically, car speakers don’t provide this feature.
Best 6.5-Inch Car Speakers
Once you get up to speaker sizes of 6.5 inches and more, you start to allow more room for your woofer to bump. Sure, smaller speakers can bump too, but bigger speaker size means more bass. In all honesty, the tweeter really won’t be affected much as you go up or down in speaker size.
Infinity Kappa 62.11I 6.5-Inch
The company Infinity was founded in the U.S in 1968. Since then, they have been making speakers for the car industry. You can even find their speakers in some Hyundai’s and many Chrysler vehicles today.
The Infinity Kappa 62.11l is a 6.5-inch 2-way coaxial speaker. The woofer cone is made of glass-fiber with rubber surrounding it. It has an RMS range of 5-75 watts with a peak power of 225 watts. If you are not a fan of the design on the grill, it’s possible to remove it completely.
The sound from these speakers is fantastic. They are loud and clear, even on the highway they are a beauty to listen to. They are performing very well in high and mid and if you get an aftermarket head unit (or better yet, an amplifier), they will deliver a great low as well.
A nice thing is that Infinity will include brackets for 6.5-inch and 6 ¾ so that you can use the 62.11l for any of the sizes. They are not cheap but good speakers rarely are. Something to note about them is that they are big. The grill in the front sticks out quite a bit and the magnet in the back is really big. Make sure to check the size of these and the place where you plan to install them before purchase.
Kenwood KFC-1695PS 6.5-Inch
Kenwood is a great speaker purchase option for anybody and is known for producing high-quality and durable products around the car sound industry. These are also 3-way speakers, which means that you will have your tweeter separated from your woofer. This is a great feature for making the speaker sound better. If you like speakers that are both loud and clear, this is one of the best 6.5-inch options on the market.
These speakers can produce an impressive 75 watts RMS and 320 watts maximum power. Unless you want to use your car as a professional PA system, a pair of these speakers will prove to be more than loud enough. They also have a pretty decent frequency response range which is 75-20,000 Hz. You might still consider purchasing separate subwoofers, but this is a pretty decent range of frequencies for car speakers.
If you need speakers which are 6.5 inches and are okay with installing a separate set of tweeters, this will be a great aftermarket speaker option. Since these are three-way speakers, you will have a separate component for your lows, mids, and highs. Many people will prefer this function over having 2-way speakers, and they produce better sound.
When you are ready to make your purchase, keep in mind that Kenwood speakers are widely known for their quality and affordable price. If you need to purchase aftermarket speakers and would like to have a nice set of 3-way speakers which are considerably loud, make this one of your top choices.
JBL is one of the audio industry’s heavy-hitters and is widely known by many to be the best brand of speakers, especially for PA sound. They also make some great car audio and provide a considerable amount of power and frequency range which can compete with any other car speaker on the market. JBLs are one of the best options for you, and these speakers are both high quality and affordable.
These JBL speakers pack 180 watts of maximum power and a powerful 60 watts of RMS power. If that weren’t enough, they also have high-pass and low-pass filters which will cut off undesired frequencies from the low and high spectrum from playing loudly. This is a practice that many experienced audio engineers will also do, but it is a desirable feature for speakers as well.
Anybody who needs 6.5-inch speakers that are some of the best car speakers on the market, you will be negligent to pass up a pair of JBL speakers. Sure, there might be better options for your personal needs, but when you throw in top-quality 3-way speakers from one of the world’s best manufacturers, you really can’t go wrong.
One thing to look out for with these speakers is that although they are considerably high-quality, they don’t offer as high of RMS power as other speakers in this category. Some might remark that they tend to distort at high volume, but as long as you keep your speakers within a range that won’t end up hurting your eardrums, you should be fine.
Best 6×9-Inch Car Speakers
If you have enough space to fit a 6 x 9-inch speaker, you will not be let down by the possibilities that you will have with this size speaker. As speakers go up in size, the woofer also tends to get larger. I’m sure you know what this means: more bass.
Pioneer is widely known by many people to be the best car speaker brand. If you have enough space to fit this 6-inch x 9-inch speaker in your car, you will likely not want to install more than two. Since it operates with 600 watts maximum power and 100 watts RMS power, these speakers are insanely powerful.
Have you ever been to an outdoor event with around 50-100 people, and there was a man running a PA system? Odds are, the speakers that this man was running were not too much, or at all, more powerful than those you see here. The difference, of course, is that these speakers are made for cars.
These are also 4-way speakers, which means they also contain a second tweeter to allow for crystal-clear high frequencies. One tweeter is used for the normal mid-high high frequencies, and the other is reserved for the super high frequencies. This is great for listening to genres of music which contain plenty of hi-hats and G-funk instruments, for example.
The only downside to these speakers is their large size. The longest side measures almost the length of a ruler (9 inches), which means you really need to make sure the length of your speaker slot before you purchase these speakers. Just because you want the biggest speaker doesn’t mean that it will fit in your car.
Infinity Kappa 693.11I
Another great option to consider for the 6 x 9-inch car speaker class is the Infinity brand. As you may know, Infinity is one of the top brands for car audio. If you want to have a similar amount of power as the Pioneer speakers above, but with a slightly more aesthetically pleasing look, then this is a good speaker for you.
The cone is made of carbon-injected glass fiber, which is considerably more powerful than any factory speaker you will find. If you want a speaker that will last a long time, the cone is one the most important materials for ensuring that the speaker never blows. However, one thing to keep in mind is that this is a 3-way speaker, and not a 4-way (which is not that big of a deal).
The nice thing about these speakers that makes them stand out in this size is that they have 110 RMS watts per speaker and 330 maximum watts. If this isn’t enough power for you, you might as well consider purchasing hearing aids along with your speakers. Keep in mind that 100 watts at full volume will be able to be heard for a long distance.
When you purchase this set of Infinity speakers, you will likely not need more than two. If you purchase more than two, you might want to consider keeping the volume down. Since the quality of the sound tends to be better when the volume is kept at mid to low volumes, this is recommended anyway.
JBL is probably the best car speaker for anybody who has plenty of space in their speaker slots and is willing to invest the extra amount of money. When you are purchasing speakers for your car, you need to remember that this is an investment that will last several years. If you are already considering top-of-the-line speakers, then you should just settle for a speaker like this.
Although this speaker is not a 4-way, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a 3-way and 4-way speaker anyway. In other words, despite the fact that this speaker is a 3-way, you should consider it to be just as nice as a 4-way speaker. It also comes equipped with high- and low-pass filters so that you can listen to only the most pleasing sounds to the ear.
With 300 watts maximum and 100 RMS power, and an impressive frequency response which ranges from 45-21,000 Hz, this is the speaker that many might choose to use without a subwoofer. However, just remember that there is simply no replacing the jaw-vibrating feeling that comes with a powerful sub. Since this model also comes with an intuitive crossover network, you can ensure that each part of the 3-way speaker mechanism will only attempt to reproduce the frequencies that it should.
If you are willing to invest the extra money, these speakers will give you plenty of bang for your buck. Assuming that you have the proper size speaker slots, and the means to install them, these speakers really aren’t that much more expensive than low-end speakers and offer so much more.
Best Speakers 2017 Buying Guide
Unless you are an audio technician in the music industry, or familiar with PA systems and speakers in general, understanding the technical aspects of speakers can be very difficult for anybody. To help you with your research we will now break down some of the main points of confusion that the average customer will have before they purchase aftermarket speakers.
How Many Speakers Do You Need?
This depends on your personal budget and how much sound you need. Most car systems come with two or four car speakers, but you might consider getting 6 or even 8 speakers to ensure the sound is even all across the vehicle. If you factor in subwoofers to this question (which also count as speakers) you should at least have three speakers in your vehicle.
Bigger vehicles such as vans and RVs will definitely need to have more than this. The idea is that you can hear the entire audio spectrum (low, mid, and high) across your vehicle at the same strength. For example, if there is a hi-hat playing in accordance with a bass guitar, you should be able to hear both as the track’s audio engineer intended.
The main thing to consider is the amount of power that your speakers provide, where they position the speakers, and how big your vehicle is. In any case, if you purchase a couple speakers with about 100W of RMS power, you really shouldn’t need more than two if you correctly position them.
Another thing to consider is the position that your speakers are in. Many two-door vehicles will position their speakers at the feet of the driver and passenger side, and might not have other slots available in the vehicle. If you purchase a pair of speakers with only 35-40 RMS, you might have difficulty stretching out the sound to your whole vehicle when you factor in passengers and subwoofers.
The Difference Between 2- & 3-way Speakers
Most speakers that you will find are 2-way speakers since they are easier to construct and more affordable to purchase. The main difference between 2-way and 3-way speakers is that there are three separate components for the low, mid, and high audio frequencies in 3-way speakers, whereas 2-way speakers combine all three of these frequencies into two outputs.
If you want speakers that are simple and affordable, you will likely purchase a set of 2-way speakers. 3-way speakers are great for ensuring that the sound for low middle and higher frequencies will each have their own speaker. This is a great way to protect your speakers and make them last longer.
However, keep in mind that although 2-way speakers might sound different than 3-way speakers, that this may not always be the case. Some 3-way speakers have a separate tweeter that you can position in separate areas of your vehicle. This model will be noticeably different than the 2-way models, which combine all of the different mechanisms into one speaker and then put a grill on it.
When you consider that 2-way speakers are often able to produce the frequencies desirable for music, the only thing you might choose to worry about is how reliable they are, and how long they will last. Since 3-way speakers are built with a little bit more longevity and quality in mind, many people will prefer them regardless of the audio frequencies they project.
Both 2- and 3-way speakers will be acceptable for the novice who simply wants their music to be loud and clear. At the end of the day, really any aftermarket will sound better than the stock factory speaker you have. If you want to impress a music-minded person, consider purchasing 3-way speakers.
Full-Range Vs. Component Speakers
Similar to the difference between 2- and 3-way speakers, component speakers have separated the tweeter from the subwoofer, which takes up more space but also leaves more headroom for the woofer to function independently. The main difference is that component speakers will allow you to install tweeters in different areas, such as your dashboard.
Full-range speakers will typically have all of the necessary components in one place, which generally makes the speaker and installation much easier than that of a component speaker. However, component speakers can be a lot nicer for vehicles that have speaker slots jammed down near the pedals, which means the tweeters will be harder to hear.
If you want to purchase the most affordable speaker, it will likely be a full-range speaker. If you are looking for a fancy system which separates the tweeter from the subwoofer and allows you to put it in different locations, you should choose a component speaker.
Why Max Wattage Is Not Important
When you are choosing your car speakers, keep in mind the maximum wattage is not as important as the RMS wattage. A speaker can have 1,000W of maximum power (which by the way is extremely powerful) but if its RMS is only 300W, you should expect the wattage to normally operate at this level. Check for the RMS wattage instead of maximum wattage before you purchase any speaker.
Also, keep in mind the typical DJ’s PA system has 2,000-6,000 watts of maximum power for venue sizes ranging from 500-1,000 people. A car system doesn’t need to be nearly this powerful for the sound you want. If you purchase a speaker with, say, 100W of RMS power you could, theoretically, blow your ears out at maximum power.
When selecting your car speakers, the maximum wattage is nice to know since it gives you an idea of what your speakers are capable of. However, what will matter most at the end of the day is the RMS wattage, since this is what the speaker will normally output at.
However, you should likely never need speakers which go above 100 watts of RMS power. This is a lot more powerful than the average person who wants a loud system will realize. If your ears start to ring when you turn your car off (which is possible at very low RMS wattages), then this means you were playing your music too loud.
Car Speaker Materials
If you are installing your own car speakers, familiarizing yourself with the parts of a speaker is something that you will want to do. Most speakers will be a little bit larger than the diameter that is provided, which means that you need to ensure that they will fit into your vehicle before purchasing them.
The cone of a speaker is where your speaker will produce the bass sounds. These are usually flat and flexible. Even when you are playing music from another source, you may notice that the cone of your speaker is vibrating; this is a good thing.
The tweeter of your speaker is where you will find most of your mid- to high-range sounds. Tweeters are sometimes known as horns. If you purchase system to include subwoofers, you might decide to make most of the sound which comes from your tweeters instead of subwoofers.
One of the most important components for installing your car speakers are the brackets and audio cables. The brackets are the mechanism that you use for screwing your speaker into place, which means that you might need to account for added space.
Lastly, audio components are important for ensuring that the high-quality frequencies transmitted by the speakers are taken over into the deck, amplifier, and subwoofer. Audio cables are taken lightly by many people, but if you are willing to spend a little bit of extra money, you will be pleasantly surprised by the sound of your speaker project.
Increasing the sound quality even more
So now you have a great pair of car speakers but it’s possible to increase the quality of the speakers even more. Additional items to consider purchasing for your vehicle is a good head unit, amplifier, and subwoofer. Each of these items will only make your car system that much better.
For example, purchasing a good head unit will allow you to have more control over the EQs, and give features like iPod and MP3 connectivity, XM radio, and the ability to customize the settings of your car system. If you purchase a good head unit, you will also easily be able to connect to an amplifier, which will allow you to you connect your speakers to a subwoofer.
Amplifiers are one of the more underrated parts of a car system. For example, you can purchase a subwoofer with 100 watts of RMS power, but if your amplifier is only at 50 watts, you won’t even start to make full use of that great subwoofer you just purchased. An amplifier provides power, so if you need some extra power for a new component (such a subwoofer), buying an amplifier is something that you simply cannot skip.
Lastly, a subwoofer is something that puts the perfect stamp on your audio system. Any set of speakers will provide some bass sounds for your car, but if you want the feeling of being at a club from within your vehicle, a subwoofer is something that you will need. However, some people will simply purchase a set of speakers and a new head unit, being overwhelmed by the power of a subwoofer.
So, these are the best speakers that we can recommend to you. If you just know which speaker size you should buy (which you can see on your old speakers), then you should be pretty set with any of these options. Some of them are cheaper than others but with that, a less impressive spec sheet will come.
We tried to answer questions that we had when we were new to car speakers and hopefully they have been of use to you as well. If you have any other question, do not hesitate to ask in the comment section and we will make our best to answer them.
The only thing that is left for you now is to go ahead and purchase your new set of car speakers. Enjoy your new sound!
Last update on 2017-10-20 at 06:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API