Best Car Speakers 2017 [Reviews and Comparison]
If you’re sick of the sound quality you get from the factory-installed sound system included with your brand-new car, then it’s time for you to get the best car speakers to really enjoy a whole new music experience.
After testing an insane amount of car speakers for the last months we've crafted a list with the 5 best performing car speakers that you can buy right now.
From budget friendly, to audiophile-level speakers, here's everything you need to get yourself the best.
I've also created a complete buyer's guide for you.
Let’s get started!
Car Speaker Comparison Chart
On this comparison chart you can see how many sizes are available for each speaker or speaker series, the RMS rating for the two most common speaker sizes, whether the speaker is made on those sizes and our rating.
Why you should replace your factory speakers
During design, the sound system isn't one of the main concerns for the automaker.
Automakers focus more on efficiency, power, mpg, safety, exterior design, driveability, comfort...
Then for the extra features you may want, you've got to pay.
You've probably seen it if you've browsed new cars at a dealership: "Premium Car Audio setup add-on by $799.00". Nice upselling...
That's because factory speakers suck. They are usually made from cheap materials, have paper cones that don't last at all, and their RMS rating is tremendously poor.
If you didn't bite on the upsell for fancy yet still not good enough speakers the manufacturer kindly offered you (ha!) it is time you get some aftermarket speakers.
When it comes to upgrading your sound system from the factory, you get a better overall design from the speakers.
The components work better together higher-quality tones and sounds.
With the new speakers, you’ll hear some of the finer details that you never heard previously.
You also enjoy a much better overall experience because they are made with quality and durable materials.
No matter what you do, any sort of an upgrade is going to provide a noticeable difference.
Car Speaker Reviews
Now that you know what to look for in a high-quality sound system, here are five of the top-rated systems you can buy today. Whether you want to upgrade your own car’s audio system or you want to give these systems as a gift, these choices are some of the best you can find.
1. JL Audio C3 Series
When it comes to finding a quality car speaker system that is second-to-none, look no further than the JL Audio C3 Series.
This comes on 6.5 inch, 5 inch and a dual 5x7" or 6x8" size. It is a two-way convertible component that you can customize however you want.
It has a peak of 300 watts per set, which means it rates at 150 watts on each side of the sound system. Standard power output is half that at 150 watts per set, or 75 watts per side. You control the amount of power going to each set based on your needs.
The frequency response rate is also exceptional in that it gives you plenty of range so that you can easily get the results you want.
The range goes from 48 to 25,000 Hz, which is one of the highest ranges you will find. The frequencies settle to within three decibels of the exact frequency.
This particular speaker system has a sensitivity rating of about 93 dB and an impedance of 4 ohms, both of which help deliver exceptional sound quality.
For us, there are no better 6.5" speakers in the market right now, and these are by far the best car speakers for sound quality. The only downside we can find to these speakers is the price, which is as premium as the product.
- Greatest quality.
- Best Frequency Range
- Very High Sensitivity
- Very flexible
- Full System
- The tweeter is really powerful, only recommended for audiophiles.
2. Rockford Fosgate R Series
Right off the bat, it’s important that you realize there are a lot of different size options that you can choose from when it comes to Rockford Fosgate speakers.
These components are some of the best in the industry, so pay attention to these speakers.
There are seven different size options in the Rockford Fosgate R series. Before you go ahead and buy them, make sure that you’re getting the sound system that fits perfectly in your vehicle.
Additionally, this is on the more affordable end for speakers, which is always helpful when you consider which sound systems deserve your hard-earned dollars.
The R series comes with two speakers, one for each side of the vehicle, in the following sizes: 4, 5.25, 6 x 8, 6 x 9, 6 x 9 (two-way), 6.5 and 6.75 inches.
These standard sizes can fit most vehicles whether you have a compact car or an SUV.
In terms of the features and specifications of these particular speakers, you’re going to get a vacuum polypropylene cone with a rubber surround.
These help protect your speakers and point the sound in the right direction.
Precision manufacturing creates the right cone to direct the sound in the perfect direction, while the lightweight rubber components buffer the sound from the rest of the speaker.
You won’t find this high-tech advancement in standard factory components.
Furthermore, the silk dome pole-mounted tweeter and midrange provide lightweight, yet sturdy, mounting hardware for your system. Instead of taking away from the sound experience, the components used to put the speakers in your car enhance your listening.
Rockford Fosgate prides itself on customer service after the sale.
That’s why it comes with easy-to-mount hardware and instructions that are so simple that just about anyone can install these speakers.
These speakers have been an all timer best seller and have a massive amount of positive reviews, which proves that price doesn't always compromise quality.
It simply doesn’t get any better than this for two speakers that overhaul your audio system. The power rating is 65 watts per side, or 130 watts between the two speakers.
Customers rave about the power behind the smallest speakers in this set.
- Fantastic sound
- Easy to install
- May need extra harness for some installs
3. JBL GTO 638/938
If you’re looking for a pair of three-way speakers that perform just as well, if not better, than some of the most expensive options on the list, then the JBL GTO is for you.
This particular pair of speakers packs in a ton of features that are going to make your listening experience as great as it possible can be.
For starters, you’re going to get a patented woofer cone that makes your car sound like you’re in a movie theater or surround-sound chair in your home.
Additionally, you’re going to get a true sound from built-in crossover network that delivers even tones between both speakers.
These units measure 6.5 or 6x9 inches, while the Plus One woofer cone provides great sound thanks to the rubber surround on the woofer. In terms of the tweet, it is a mylar-titanium tweeter and it is adjustable with level control so that you can easily get it how you want it.
JBL touts that the tweeter used in these speakers are the same as those found in home theater applications.
Therefore, you get even more quality sound that you expect to only hear while watching the latest blockbuster summer movie.
These speakers need 180 watts for peak power handling, and the impedance comes in a 3 ohms.
These speakers may be small, but they pack quite a wallop as you would expect from a woofer or subwoofer going to lower frequencies.
This is one of the best all-around speakers, but it’s most definitely a great buy if you want fantastic-sounding bass.
You have a two-inch mounting depth, so it’s important that you make sure your vehicle can accommodate this measurement.
As stated earlier, these tiny additions to your car audio’s arsenal are well worth it.
The downside of this speakers is that without an amplifier they simply won't deliver.
They are rated 100w RMS and that's pretty much what they need, so if you're going to hook them up straight to your head unit, we advise you go for the RF's Punch instead.
- Small and lightweight
- Great for bass
- High power
- Strong mylar-titanium tweeter
- Underperforms when not paired with an amplifier.
4. Rockford Fosgate Punch P Series
The Punch P series is yet another product that comes from a highly recommended brand.
These speakers are our top pick as they have a lot of configurations.
Rockford Fosgate is also one of our trusted brands for we know from first hand how good is their customer service.
Additionally, this particular model is available in 11 different sizes, so be sure you have measured properly or you have checked a guide to ensure you’re buying the right fit for your vehicle.
Sizes include 3.5, 4, 5.25, 6, 6.5, 6.75, 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 6 x 8, 6 x 9 and 6 x 9 four-way in terms of inches.
The 5 x 7 full-range speaker comes with a maximum power handling of 120 watts, which is plenty to make sure that you are able to get the sound you desire.
Additionally, it comes with some other great features such as the FlexFit basket design, dome tweeters, injection molded cone, and a one-year standard warranty.
The FlexFit basket on this speaker means that you’re going to have no problem slightly adjusting the speaker after it has been mounted so that you can get a perfect fit on this speaker when you install it.
In terms of the specs, there is a 75Hz to 22kHz frequency response with a 89 dB sensitivity.
Same as the R series from Rockford Fosgate, these are an absolute superseller article with more than a thousand reviews.
You can hear a sample audio from this speakers on this video.
It sadly is slightly distorted because they really are loud 😀
- Lots of different sizes, you will surely find one that fits your car
- Quality of build and materials
- Rockford Fosgate customer service is fantastic
- Lack of depth on lows. Not the best ones for bass.
5. Pioneer TS A-Series
Everyone has a budget.
Because there are so many products on the market and since the car audio industry is highly competitive, you can find many great speakers and systems at a low price.
One series stands out from the rest in terms of value for the money.
Buy with confidence if you want an aftermarket sound system for not a lot of money.
The Pioneer TS A-series is the way to go for decent sound on the cheap. You have a ton of different options when it comes to size, system class and output power.
You have five choices of sizes, ranging from 4 x 6 up to 6 x 9 inches.
You also get to choose among three-, four- and five-way versions. Eight power options go from 200 watts to 650 watts.
In terms of flexibility, Pioneer is a master at cramming a lot of good stuff into small speakers. The frequency response goes from 32Hz to 38kHz.
While the majority of the specifications depend on which size, class and output you select, there are still some features that will remain the same throughout all of the speakers.
In general terms, when it comes to car audio manufacturers we like Pioneer more for head units than for speakers or subs but this ones offer so much value for money and they sound so good for the price that we had to include them.
Check their sound quality on this video.
- Easy to use interface
- Easy installation
- Syncs with most smartphones
- RMS 22 watts x 4 channels
- Remote control included
- Bluetooth compatible
- Plays all kinds of music files
- Takes CDs
- Aux input
- Sirius/XM compatible
- Display screen is analog, which may be a bad thing for some users
- Daylight illumination levels are poor.
- The USB connection may not work properly at times
- In rare cases, the sound quality may be lagging
Car Speakers Buyer's Guide
How Your Car's Sound System Works
A sound system converts electrical signals into sound waves. There are three main components of your car’s audio system.
The head unit controls everything, from the sound input, the bass level, the volume and the balance of the speakers.
This is often reffered as the "stereo" and its mission is to translate data (songs stored on a cd, usb, or radio) into electric pulses.
Then you (may) have an amplifier, which is a device that strengthens the audio signal to the speakers. It takes the pre-amplified signal from the head unit, and boosts it to feed powerful, undistorted signals to the speakers.
The third part includes the speakers themselves, which finally translate those electric pulses into sound.
The pulses go to the coils of the speaker and create a magnetic field that moves the cone which moves up and down, ultimately creating sound waves.
Here is an awesome animated graphic that shows with great visuals how speakers are made and how they work to reproduce sound
There are various different types of speakers that enhance the sound quality in your car, according to the range of frequencies they reproduce.
Subwoofers produce lower-toned sounds, also known as the bass.
Related: Best 8 inch subwoofer
Mid-range drivers, sometimes called woofers, handle middle-of-the-road frequencies in between lower pitches and higher pitches. Tweeters handle the highest frequencies of sound. Combine elements of all three speakers and you have a dynamic sound system that delivers.
What To Look For On An Aftermarket Car Speaker
When you shop for an aftermarket car speaker, you must know exactly what you are looking for and what can help make a great speaker system.
The following are some of the top things that you need to consider to make sure you get the right system for you among two major choices, the component speakers and the full-range system.
May sound obvious, but new speakers have to fit your car! If you are directly replacing the factory speakers, the best thing you can do if you're not sure (you can always use amazon's will it fit? tool) is take them off the door and measure them directly.
At the end of this article is a fantastic video showing you how to do all this 😉
Range of frequencies
You want to look at the range of frequencies that the speakers reproduce.
As a rule of thumb, the wider the better, although you can count that for very low frequencies, the sound quality of small speakers simply cannot be too good, as proper SQ for bass requires a bigger cone. That's typically the mission of the subwoofer.
Sensitivity is a value that expresses the capacity of the speaker to produce sound pressure.
It measures how many audible db are produced with just 1watt of power, at 1 meter of distance from the speaker.
The higher this value is, the louder the speaker is going to be.
The term RMS stands for “Root Mean Square” which is a way of rating a speaker's capacity to handle audio signal power.
There's some math behind it although it isn't truly relevant for us.
The practical side of it, what concerns us, is that the higher this value is the more power we can (and should!) feed the speakers and the louder they are going to be.
We have to try our best to match the RMS from the speaker to the RMS the head unit or amplifier is able to produce.
In most cases, the amplified signal from a head unit wont reach more than 25w RMS. Underpowered speakers don't give their full potential, and we are likely to turn the volume up to compensate that lack of power which will produce more distortion.
However, if we include an amplifier (there are really good amps for little money, you can check our recommendations here) we can push those new speakers we just got ourselves to the right RMS and truly enjoy their full potential.
Plus, we get undistorted music which will increase the sound quality and crispiness dramatically.
In simple electrical terms, a speaker is a resistance and its value is expressed in Ohms.
You have to pair that impedance (ohm value) to the impedance your head unit or amplifier is ready to handle.
Take for instance the Rockford Fosgate Punch on 6x9" size, they rate 75w RMS at 4ohms impedance.
You want your amplifier to be 4ohm stable, and to produce as close as possible to 75w RMS for everything to work smoothly. If you are hooking them straight to the head unit, make sure the Ohm rating of your head unit is the same of the speakers.
Flexibility vs Simplicity
When it comes to the full-range speaker system, you get an all-in-one system.
Typically, these systems are going to be the simplest to install and have the lowest prices.
They produce a wide range of sounds so you can listen to just about any type of music. While they are not as customizable as the component speakers, a nice set will still provide you with quality music to replace the factory sound system.
Consider some of the extra features that can be included with a sound system, so pay attention to the features offered. For example, detachable tweeters can be installed in just about any sound system and it is great because they can easily be switched between systems.
Furthermore, external crossovers help to separate the frequencies set in the tweeter and woofer so that they aren’t attempting to produce sounds that they can’t make.
This results in much better sounding music.
Lastly, the pivoting tweeters are great because they can be moved around so that they can point towards where you are listening.
Top 3 Best Car Speaker Brands
JBL was originally founded in 1946 and dealt primarily with loudspeakers and other electronics associated with the loudspeakers.
As the company stands right now, there are two independent divisions in the company as there is a consumer company and a professional company. JBL basis its sales on making sure you get a high-quality product that delivers exceptional sound at all times.
Rockford Fosgate originally began producing audio equipment in 1973 and ever since then, the company has continued to produce high-end, exceptional-quality sound for your vehicle.
Across each and every one of its products, there is a brilliant use of technology and design so that you can enjoy everything you should enjoy about your music. When you use Rockford Fosgate, you can easily tell the difference compared to lower-end brands.
Unlike a lot of the other products that you see, JL is an independent and privately held company that really tries to deliver quality and superior high-performance audio to all of its customers.
JL strives to give customers exactly what they want because they know that great audio has incredible value and it’s easy for customer to tell the difference between low-end audio and high-end audio.
Video: How to install Car Speakers Yourself
Here's only a couple of things we don't totally agree with on that video:
1. Don't use a screwdriver to remove plastic pieces on the door panels. Much better using this tool set that is super cheap, wont scratch anything and is specifically meant for this operations.
2. Don't pull the window down before you drill the old speaker ribets. You wouldn't be the first one to drill through and hit the window. Drill, then pull down.
Besides that, make sure that the key is not on the ignition and that you're gentle removing the panel.
The Rockford Fosgate Punch P series is the best overall speaker system for your car. The reason is the combination of price, quality and high-quality sound.
Rockford Fosgate is a top brand, and the customer service is great.
Rockford Fosgate knows its status in the industry, and this series of speakers proves that the company wants to earn your business with every single product.
Buy any of these Rockford Fosgate speakers with confidence, no matter what kind of car you have in your garage. I'm confident to recommend you this speaker series as the best car speakers in 2017.
You could probably install these speakers in an hour with the right tools.