What are the best 6.5 car speakers?
For some, it's clear that the Hertz HSK 165 are highest quality speakers you can get on this size, but they won't fit everyone's budget.
Some will prefer JL's ZR line. Also not a cheap treat.
That's why I've made this selection of my favorite 5, and that's after testing over 60 units!
When it comes to finding the best aftermarket car speakers, I'm relentless and over the course of the past years I've tested and installed hundreds of speaker sets.
Enough talking, here's my comparison:
Last update on 2018-09-19 at 09:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
6.5" Speakers Reviews
1. Hertz HSK 165
These speakers are not only loud, but full sounding, and come with their own crossovers (essentially bass and treble frequency splitters) to maximize the clarity of your highs and lows via the woofer and tweeter cones.
- Sensitivity: 92 dB
- RMS: 125 watts
- Peak Power: 250-watts
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz- 22k Hz
- Type: 2-Way
Even at 6.5 inches, these speakers can crank out some serious volume without distorting the overall audio signal and keeping your music crystal clear and punchy.
Let’s talk about what here is to love and loathe about these speakers.
The performance of these speakers is amazing for their size. They are quite loud and provide powerful bass even without a subwoofer and amplifier installed in the car.
The cones are well made and when properly installed and tightened down don’t generate any excess noise or other undesirable audio issues.
While the high and low frequency performance of these speakers is excellent, they tend to underperform slightly in the mid-range department.
Most listeners may not particularly notice or care about the mid-range in their music, but it does make the sound significantly fuller when listening to certain genres of music such as jazz, classical, or other nuanced styles.
However, this is really the only criticism we have with this speaker set.
- Comes with frequency crossover
- Plenty of continuous power
- Excellent sensitivity
- Crisp bass and crystal clear highs
- Mid range performance somewhat lacking
- Connecting and installing crossovers may prove somewhat challenging for first time DIY installers
- Speakers need to be mounted securely and tightened snugly to prevent door rattle and excess vibration.
2. JL Audio C3-650
JL Audio is a well known name in car audio for their premium quality audio without the premium price.
In terms of performance, the C3-650s are a significant upgrade to most factory speakers, and thanks to their include crossovers, they can easily deliver the deep lows and crisp highs that discriminating car audio users demand from their door speakers.
I already included the C3 Series on my review of the best car speakers of 2017, because I truly believe they're possibly the best ones you can get.
The crossovers small in size, making them easy to wire and install for the average DIY car audio enthusiast.
Here’s my likes and dislikes for these speakers:
First and foremost, these speakers have a higher RMS and peak than a lot of replacement door speakers, so they are quite loud for their size.
They also have the added benefit of very small crossovers that are easy wire and mount out of sight in most vehicles that use 6.5-inch door speaker mounts.
The easy to use and setup crossovers also make them ideal for use with or without an amplifier since many factory and factory replacement car stereos don’t have built-in crossovers.
This makes the C3-650s an even better choice for those who are not planning to install and wire a separate amplifier for their speakers in addition to their head unit..
While these are some powerful replacement speakers, they do draw a bit more per speaker channel than some factory car head units can handle in terms of driving the audio signal.
Of course as for any other aftermarket speaker that's this powerful, you're going to need to use an amplifier. Whether you use a 4 channel amplifier or a 5 channel amp is up to you and the configuration you're using, but you definitely want to feed the speakers with the right amount of power.
- Pumping powerful sound at 150-watts RMS
- Excellent high and low frequency response thanks to included crossovers
- Mounting is all-in-one with attractive black speaker grills and chrome JL logo
- High quality construction for both woofer and tweeter materials
- Draws more power than many comparable models, possibly requiring a more powerful head unit
- Mid-range performance is not as good as 3-way speaker systems
- Some DIY installers may find these speakers require adapters to fit their vehicle (sold separately)
3. JL Audio TR650-CSi
As an alternative to their higher end series, JL Audio offers the TR650-CSi 6.5-inch replacement speakers.
With just 50W RMS these speakers are a good choice for those who don't want to spend extra money on an amp and want to hook their speakers straight to the head unit. Most aftermarket head units crank out some good RMS so there's no real need for an amplifier.
Ideal for factory speakers that have blown out or stopped working, these speakers are extremely easy to install and function perfectly with most factory installed car stereos.
They are durable, have reasonably good sound quality, and are easy to install yourself if that is what you want to do.
In terms of overall quality and value, these speakers are not meant to necessarily upgrade the audio in your car.
These are the speakers you buy because your factory speakers stopped working and you can’t stand the buzzing or dead zone when listening to music in the car anymore.
They are not going to blow the doors of other car speakers in terms of volume or power, nor are they necessarily the best sounding speakers on the market.
They are meant to be factory replacements with adequate audio specs. That’s it.
- Compatible with most factory car stereos
- Easy to install
- Durable and well made
- No included crossovers
- Low power compared to most replacement 6.5-inch speakers
- More of lateral replacement than an upgrade
4. JBL GTO638
With over 60 years of experience in audio design, JBL is one of the top brands for premium audio products in the world.
They also manufacture the factory speakers for numerous car brands that come pre-installed with most vehicles, so their premium products tend to have much better fit and overall sound than their competition.
- Sensitivity: 92 dB
- RMS: 60-watts
- Peak Power: 180-watts
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 21,000 Hz
- Type: 3-way
The GTO6358s are some of the best value speakers you can install in your vehicle, and they offer a wide variety of features that you won’t get with most replacement speakers.
Let’s take a look about the love/hate factors on these speakers.
3-way speakers are exceptionally good at delivering the best possible sound quality over the full range of the audible spectrum, especially when it comes to vocals and genres of music like classic and jazz.
The GTO638s also have adjustable sensitivity for their woofer, tweeters, and super tweeter so you can balance the frequency response to your taste and listening preferences.
These speakers also have a built in crossover network to split frequencies from incoming headunit signals, making them an excellent choice for use with an existing car stereo.
Thanks to their peak power of 180-watts, they can also handle signal from a newer and more powerful head unit or amp as well, increasing their overall versatility.
The base 60-watts RMS of power output of these speakers is lower than many in their class, which is great for compatibility, but not so great when it comes to overall power and performance.
To really bring out the full potential of these speakers, a powerful head unit or additional speaker amplifier is going to be a necessity.
- 3-way component speaker design
- Adjustable sensitivity for woofers and tweeters
- Built-in crossover network-60
- watts RMS means greater versatility and compatibility with existing head units
- Lower RMS power means optimal performance requires a more powerful head unit or separate amplifier
- External sensitivity controls are susceptible to passengers bumping or nudging them
5. Pioneer TS-A1676R
It is a well know fact that Pioneer offers one of the highest value for money ratio in the whole car audio industry.
Whether they are making speaker towers for high end home theater systems or premium quality earbuds for audiophiles on the go, Pioneer is the brand to beat in all things audio.
That being said, the Pioneer TS-A1676Rs are everything customers and audio fanatics have come to expect from Pioneer:
First of all, we love 3-way component speakers.
The added mid-range performance is a major selling point for car audiophiles, and the “wall of sound” performance for these speakers is truly exceptional.
The bass is superb, the highs crystal clear, and the mid-range sounds so good on vocals you’d swear the singer was riding shotgun.
They also have a lower RMS for increased compatibility with existing stereos, but they can handle up to a whopping 320-watts from an upgraded head unit or stand alone amplifier if necessary.
If your budget is forcing you to upgrade one piece at a time, these are an excellent choice.
50-watts RMS isn’t a whole lot of RMS power, so you may find to get the most out of these speakers that you need a more powerful head unit or a good stand alone speaker amp.
Additionally, installing these speakers may require adapters for certain vehicles, and there is no adjustable sensitivity for the woofer, mid, or tweeter cones.
All of that is handled by the built in crossover.
You may find that you need to tweak the equalizer on your stereo a bit to get the sound you are looking for.
- Amazing audio quality and high value to cost ratio
- Compatible with most factory head units
- Plenty of power capacity for upgraded stereos and stand alone amps
- Attractive design and speaker grille
- Lower RMS power means these speakers may not be as loud as expected without a good head unit or amp to drive them
- Installation may require adapters for some makes and models
6. Rockford Fosgate P1650
These speakers are part of Rockford Fosgate’s Punch line of speakers, and they definitely live to their name in every way.
These versatile speakers can definitely kick out some serious volume, all while maintaining a premium audio fidelity that is virtually distortion-free.
- Sensitivity: 91 dB
- RMS: 55-watts
- Peak Power: 110-watts
- Frequency Response: 45 Hz - 20,000 Hz
- Type: 2-way
Their injection molded mineral-filled polypropylene cones are durable and well made, providing years of reliable service.
Here’s our likes/dislikes for these excellent 2-way speakers.
The Good:These speakers are amazingly loud for 55-watt RMS cones, even when they are run on original factory stereo systems.
Hook them up to a high quality head or amplifier, and they just get better.
Their bass response is truly phenomenal for the size of the speaker cone, and the central tweeter keeps your highs crisp without being painfully harsh or sharp.
They also come with some of the most versatile and forgiving mounting kits and grilles available, making them ideal for DIY installers who may lack experience with mounting car speakers.
The lower max power on these speakers may limit what they can be connected to in terms of a standalone amplifier or high-power head unit, and while they are louder than most comparable speakers in their class, the upper power range limitation is certainly a drawback.
Also, these speakers are easily outperformed by similar 3-way speakers in its class, making it decent for replacements but not necessarily the best choice for long term upgrades.
- Loud even at 55-watts RMS
- Excellent sound quality for a 2-way speaker
- Easy to install with adaptable installation rings and hardware to fit more models
- Lower power draw means greater compatibility with existing stereo systems.
- Max power rating is lower than comparable models
- 3-way speakers in its class offer better performance in terms of response, sensitivity, and power
7.Infinity Reference 6032cf
Infinity is all about bringing studio quality sound to car audio systems, and their Reference Series has been engineered from the ground up to provide the absolute best-in-class audio fidelity for the discriminating listener.
These speakers provide some of the clearest sound by far for car audio speakers we have ever heard, with or without an amplifier.
- Sensitivity: 93 dB
- RMS: 60-watts
- Peak Power: 180-watts
- Frequency Response: 53 Hz - 21,000 Hz
- Type: 2-Way
Let’s take a look at the good news/bad news breakdown for these speakers.
The low and high frequency sound reproduction on these speakers is nothing short of astonishing.
Even when door mounted toward the floor, they maintain a crystal clear treble and thunderous bass whether the volume is at 1 or 11.
Additionally, if you want to tweak the sound to your taste, you can also manually adjust the sensitivity of the tweeter right on the front of each speaker.
This helps to maintain the maximum possible sound fidelity regardless of where in the car the speaker is mounted in relation to the driver and passengers.
These speakers do not include crossovers, so they will have to be purchased and installed separately unless your head unit or amplifier in your car already has crossover connections for 6.5-inch 2-way speakers.
Also, these speakers sound very clear even at low volume, but their continuous operating power is significantly lower at 60-watts than many comparable models.
They may draw less power, but that also means lower max volume overall.
- Amazing crystal clear sound
- Adjustable tweeter sensitivity
- High quality construction for excess vibration and rattle-free performance
- Lower power output than similar models in its class
- Crossovers not included
- May be more challenging for DIY installers who are not familiar with purchasing and installing crossovers or using built in crossover connectors on head units/amplifiers.:
Upgrading your car audio can be a complicated process with a lot of considerations.
You have to decide if you are keeping or removing your existing factory head unit, whether or not you want an amp to boost overall power, and of course if you are going to supplement your new door speakers with a subwoofer to add some extra kick.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to set a budget that you are willing to spend, select your components carefully, and make certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can mount all of this equipment in your current vehicle.
After all, nobody likes waiting for a part, attempting to install it, and having to ship it back (often with a restocking fee) just to order what you should have gotten in the first place.
However, once you’ve got this system in mind, you are good to go.
In terms of replacement 6.5-inch speakers for your new system, I have a recommendation based on my reviews that is sure to please any car audio enthusiast regardless of budget.
Overall, if I were replacing my factory car speakers on a budget, my first choice would be the Hertz HSK 165s. These speakers are high end hardware, so even if you get the speakers first and the better stereo later, these speakers are good to go and won’t need replacement.
Also, the included crossovers are extremely easy to install for DIY first timers and don’t require a tremendous amount of car audio experience to configure and connect. Additionally, the sharp looking grille design and durable construction mean that these speakers will outlast the harshest of conditions for years to come.
I can confidently recommend the Hertz HSK 165 as the best 6.5 speakers of 2017