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Best Car Speakers for the Money

James Benchman
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by James Benchman

Looking to upgrade your car’s stock sound system? Not only is upgrading your audio components easy, but it allows you to unlock concert hall quality sound in the comfort of your car.

But, if you’re just learning about car audio, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different aspects of your car stereo, as well as all of the different brands, each promising the best audio experience possible.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the first component you should look to replace in any car audio setup: the speakers.

Read on as we take a comprehensive look at ten of the best car speakers on the market and share some of the most important things you’ll need to know about mobile audio to make the best choice for your car.

Top 5 Car Speakers
All Around Speaker
  • Size: 6.5 Inches
  • Power: 60W RMS , 270W Peak
  • Weight: 6.17 Pounds
For Deep Bass
  • Size: 6×9 Inches
  • Power: 150W RMS , 600W Peak
  • Weight: 11.2 Pounds
Good Sound Quality
  • Size: 6.5 Inches
  • Power: 120W RMS , 240W Peak
  • Weight: 8.8 Pounds
Kicker 6.5 Inch Speakers
  • Size: 6.5 Inches
  • Power: 60W RMS , 240W Peak
  • Weight: 4.5 Pounds
  • Size: 6.5 Inches
  • Power: 45W RMS , 90W Peak
  • Weight: 3.5 Pounds

Best Car Speakers Reviews

1. JBL GTO609C – Best All Round Car Speaker

JBL GTO609C

As one of the most renowned audio brands on the market, JBL continues to deliver high-quality sound. While you could spend thousands outfitting your car with JBL’s top of the line speakers, the GTO609C will get you started for under $100.

The GTO609C is loud, handling up to 270W with oversized voice coils for increased power handling. JBL engineered these speakers with a larger than average woofer that moves more air than the competition. The cones are engineered from a carbon infused material that’s lighter and stiffer than polypropylene cones. The result is a speaker which offers greater bass handling and response, which makes these car speakers a good choice when installing a subwoofer is not an option.

Where the GTO609C shines is with the design of their tweeters. Each tweeter features a standard fabric diaphragm and includes a dual level volume adjustment which allows you to adjust the tweeter levels to compensate for poor placement.

The tweeter mounting system is especially interesting and allows you to easily adjust tweeter placement if necessary. This is especially helpful for cars with poorly designed tweeter placements, as you’ll be able to tailor the location and directionality of the tweeters.

Verdict:

At under $100 a pair, it’s very difficult to beat the JBL GTO609C. These car speakers provide impressive frequency response, tight and punchy bass, and an overall sound that’s incredibly difficult to match for the money.

Pros
  • Great sound
  • Impressive bass
  • Innovative construction
  • I-Mount tweeter system
Cons
  • Difficult to mount grilles

2. Pioneer TS6900PRO – Best Car Speaker For Bass

Pioneer TS6900PRO

If you’re hoping for something that’s going to wake the neighbors, the P.R.O. Series from Pioneer is worth a closer look. The TS6900 is a 6×9 that offers impressive power handling, quality components, and impressive bass response.

The most notable thing about the TS6900PRO is the power handling. An impressive max power rating of 600W ensures you’ll have plenty of headroom to spare, no matter how high you like to crank it.

Mounted at the center, 2 ⅞” bullet tweeters provide crisp, clean high-end even at the highest volumes. For the woofer, Pioneer opted with a tried-and-true pulp cone. While it may not win any awards for breaking new ground, the woofer is responsive and offers impressive bass handling from a paper cone speaker.

The heavyweight stamped steel frame is rugged and durable, and dual-layer rubber surrounds help ensure that the TS6900 can stand up to anything you can dish out for the life of the system.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for a coaxial car speaker that handles bass incredibly well, even at ground shaking volumes, this may be a speaker for you.

Pros
  • Incredible power handling
  • Impressive bass response
  • High-quality components
Cons
  • Weighs slightly heavy
  • Very difficult to install in doors

3. CT Sounds Meso 6.5 – Best Car Speaker For Sound

CT Sounds Meso 6.5

CT Sounds have been making waves in the audio community for some time now thanks to their reputation for durability and high-quality materials. The Meso line is no different.

The first thing you’ll notice about these car speakers is the build quality. The magnets are huge, the surrounds are made from NBR rubber, the grilles are thick and heavy, and the woofer cone is made from a fiberglass material that looks like it could stop a bullet.

As for the sound, the CT Sounds Mesos offer impressive bass response at all volumes and punchy mids. Unfortunately, the high-end gets a bit shrill, but it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to fix.

One thing to note, since the magnets on these speakers are so large, door installs may present a bit of a problem for door installations.

See Also : Best 6.5 Speakers Reviews.

Verdict:

The Meso series from CT Sounds offers impressive build quality, good bass handling, and great sound overall. While they’re built with very high-end components, they’re still more affordable than many comparable car speakers. If your current system has decent EQ capabilities, these speakers are well worth a closer look.

Pros
  • Impressive build quality
  • Good bass response
  • Crisp & Clear sound
Cons
  • High end is a bit shrill

4. Rockford Fosgate R165X3 – Best Budget Car Speaker

Rockford Fosgate R165X3

Rockford Fosgate with the R165X3 have once again succeeded in manufacturing a high-performance speaker at a low price. At around $40 for a pair, the R165X3 are more affordable than some OEM replacements, but they outperform many car speakers at twice the price.

At 90W max RMS, the R165X3 doesn’t have the same power handling capability of some more expensive car speakers, but what it lacks for in power, it makes up for in the quality of its components.

The 6.5” woofer features a vacuum polypropylene cone with a 1” silk dome tweeter and silk dome midrange. An integrated crossover sits behind the speaker, routing each frequency to its proper component. A rugged stamped steel basket, rubber surround and rugged grilles help ensure that your speaker will be able to stand up to anything you can dish out at it.

Verdict:

For the price, it’s almost impossible to beat these car speakers from Rockford Fosgate. They’re well made from quality components, and they offer a significant upgrade over most factory car speakers.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Good build quality
  • Beautiful mid range and highs
Cons
  • So-so bass response
  • Possible voltage dropping if not calibrated properly
  • Can be difficult to install

5. Kicker DS65

Kicker DS65

Kicker is notorious for the speakers and subwoofers they produce which are designed especially for today’s modern music. Kicker is also known for their ultra-high power handling and robust bass response. But, does the DS65 live up to their reputation? Yes, they do.

The DS65 features a max RMS of 240W, and while there’s plenty of speakers that exceed this slightly, the DS65 just SEEMS louder. Like all Kicker speakers, the bass response is impressive.

Thanks to the low profile design of the DS65, this speaker drops in with ease in virtually all mounting situations. If you’re a DIYer, you can have a set of these wired up and installed in just an hour or two, with few headaches.

Where these car speakers from Kicker do fall a bit short is in the durability category. The woofer cone is made from non-reinforced polypropylene which doesn’t provide the same durability as more technologically advanced materials.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for an affordable speaker that’s loud and provides plenty of bass, the DS65 may be the ideal option for you. But, buyer beware, these speakers don’t feature the same heavy-duty construction as many of their competitors, and we wouldn’t expect them to last as long as these overbuilt models.

Pros
  • Great bass response
  • Great sound at high volume
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Lower quality components than many competitors

6. Infinity Kappa 60.11 CS

Infinity Kappa 60.11 CS

The Kappa 60.11 CS from Infinity is extremely similar to the JBL GTO609C, which isn’t too surprising considering both Infinity and JBL are owned by the same parent company, Harman.

Like the GTO609C, the Kappa 60.11 CS features Plus One cone technology, which allows for a larger cone to be used inside this 6.5” speaker. They also feature a composite speaker frame and rubber surrounds, just like the GTO609C.

Where the Kappa 60.11 CS differs slightly is in the quality of sound it produces. While they don’t offer quite the same bass response as the JBLs, the highs and mids these speakers produce are off the charts. I have a hard time thinking of a 6.5” car speaker that produced a more clear or accurate sound than the Kappa 60.11 CS does.

While these speakers can be powered with a head unit, you’re able to unlock the true potential of these speakers by pairing them with a capable amplifier.

Verdict:

For the audiophile looking for the crispest and clean reproduction of the music they’re listening to, these car speakers are hard to beat. While they’re a bit on the expensive side, many will find that the extra cost is worth the bump in audio quality.

Pros
  • Crisp and clear sound with impressive clarity
  • High-quality components
Cons
  • Mediocre bass response

7. Infinity Primus Series 6X9

Infinity Primus Series 6X9

The Primus series are three-way car speakers, so it features a 6×9” woofer and 1” tweeter in addition to a 5/9” super tweeter. These speakers handle a very impressive 300W max RMS, which is among the highest peak power handling of any woofer on the market.

Like other models from Infinity and JBL, these car speakers also feature Plus One technology, which allows for a larger woofer in the same sized frame. A polypropylene cone and durable rubber surrounds ensure that the Primus series is built to last.

These car speakers are a particularly good option for those looking to power their speakers with their existing head unit, as they do a fantastic job of utilizing every bit of available power they have. That said, they’re even more impressive when hooked up to an amp.

These speakers produce beautiful bell-like highs and full mids, they even offer decent bass response, making them a good option for installations without a subwoofer.

Verdict:

The Primus series offers the impressive sound and durability that enthusiasts have come to expect from Infinity car speakers. At well under $100 a set, they’re also more affordable than other Infinity car speakers, and most car speakers from lesser manufacturers for that matter.

Pros
  • Great sound
  • Built to last
Cons
  • A bit difficult to install

8. Alpine SPS610

Alpine SPS610

Another option in Alpine’s rock solid S series of speakers is the SPS610. The 610 is a 6.5” coaxial speaker that makes an ideal choice as a replacement for your car’s factory speakers.

Just like the SPS619, the SPS610 offers impressive power handling, with a peak power capacity of 240W. From the extra rigid voice coil to the poly and mica blend woofer cones, the SPS610 is built to handle high volumes without the distortion that’s common with cheaper replacement speakers.

The tweeters are 1” and have an omni directional swivel, allowing you to tune the sound to your car. Like the SPS619, they also feature a silk dome. These speakers also feature butyl rubber surrounds. So, durability shouldn’t be a concern for you.

Verdict:

While the SPS610 is far from the loudest or best sounding car speakers on the market, they’re perfect for the audio enthusiast who is looking for an improvement over their stock sound system.

Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Good peak power handling
  • Impressive bass response
Cons
  • Doesn’t include a grille

9. Polk Audio DB615S

Polk Audio DB615S

Polk Audio has a long-standing reputation for quality and affordability, and that reputation is on full display with the DB615S.

One standout aspect of the DB615S is that it’s especially forgiving for DIY installations. The speaker itself is shallow, allowing it to fit virtually all mounting applications in any vehicle, and it has multiple mounting options, which allow you to complete a professional quality install with no modification to your vehicle.

Sound wise, the DB615S offers middle of the road power and handling capability, with a peak power max RMS of 165W. However, considering the rock-bottom price of the DB615S, the speaker still offers plenty of value.

Where this Polk Audio speaker signs, brightest is in its durability. The woofer cone is made from Dynamic Balance polymer/mica composites, while the woofer is made from a silk/polymer composite. A butyl rubber surround ensures enhanced durability in harsh conditions.

Verdict:

If you’re looking for affordable car speakers with durability in mind, the DB615S is a good one. These car speakers sit firmly on the value end of the spectrum, however, so expect them to fall short of expectations if you’re an audiophile.

Pros
  • Good value
  • Easy to install
  • Marine certified
Cons
  • Poor bass response
  • Mediocre power handling

10. Alpine SPS619

Alpine SPS619

Alpine has developed a reputation as one of the leading manufacturers of car speakers and components. Their Type S line is among their most popular, and it’s a solid option for anyone looking to upgrade their car’s stock speakers.

The Type S car speakers line is available in six different sizes designed to fit popular stock configurations. They offer great power handling thanks to a 30mm voice coil with a max RMS capacity of 85W and a peak power capacity of 260W.

The 1” tweeters feature a silk dome, and they swivel 10° in any direction so that you can tune the crisp and clear highs of the SPS619 to your exact specifications.

The SPS619 are far from the best sounding speakers on the market, but they outperform virtually all other competitors for the money.

Verdict :

Alpine’s Type S car speakers are also easy to install, thanks to their wide range of different popular sizes. At under $100, the SPS619 is a great choice for those looking for quality sound and durability without breaking the bank.

Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Easy to install
  • Impressive bass response
Cons
  • Doesn’t include a grille
  • No installation instructions

Buyer’s Guide – How To Choose The Right Speakers For Your Car

The ten speakers we just looked at represent some of the best car speakers on the market. But, having great speakers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get great sound right out of the box. There are a bunch of factors that will influence how good a speaker will sound in a given car.

Now, we’ll tackle everything you’ll need to know to select excellent car speakers for your ride.

Types of Speakers

There are three different types of car speakers you’ll want to get familiar with as you learn more about the best car speakers for your ride.

Subwoofers

Subwoofers are the largest speakers we’re going to be concerned with, and they typically range from 10-15” in size. They’re responsible for handling the lowest frequencies in your music. Most stock car audio systems don’t include a subwoofer. Instead, they’re added to an aftermarket system.

Woofers

When you close your eyes and picture a car speaker, chances are you see a woofer. Woofers are the medium sized speakers that are present in any car sound system. They’re usually 3.5-7.5” in size, and they handle the mid-range frequencies in your car.

The larger the woofer cone, the better it is at handling bass frequencies and producing the best sound. Meanwhile, smaller woofers handle frequencies closer to the high end of the range with more accuracy.

Tweeters

Tweeters are tiny speakers that handle the high-end frequencies in your music. These speakers are typically under 1.5” in size. In full-range speakers, tweeters are mounted in the middle of the woofer. With component systems, tweeters are usually mounted high in the door panel, or just behind the driver and passenger seats.

Other Components of a Car Sound System

While these components aren’t speakers, they play a role in your car’s sound that’s every bit as important as the speakers themselves.

Crossovers

Crossovers are small electronic components that are present in every car sound system. Crossovers act like little computers, telling the sound where to go based on its frequency.

A crossover will send the lowest frequencies to the subwoofer (if you have one) or to the woofers (if you don’t have a subwoofer). It will also send the mid-range frequencies to the woofers and the high-end frequencies to the tweeters.

In full range systems, the crossover is built into the speaker. With component systems, the crossover is a separate device that must be mounted in the car.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers do just what their name entails: they amplify the sound that’s produced by the input source you’re listening to.

Amplifiers are sold based on the number of speakers they can power. A one channel amplifier is only capable of powering one speaker (usually a subwoofer), whereas a five channel amplifier can power a total of five speakers. Make sure you know how many speakers you’ll need to power in your system.

Types of Speaker Systems

There are two types of speakers we’re concerned with (coaxial car speakers and component speakers). Here’s a breakdown of these types of car speakers:

Coaxial (Full Range) Speakers:

With a coaxial speaker, every component you need is built into the speaker. Coaxial speakers have a woofer to handle lower frequencies, and tweeters to handle the high end. Some coaxial speakers have additional drivers to handle mid-range frequencies.

If you’re looking to upgrade your car’s stock audio system with minimal effort and fuss, coaxial speakers are going to be best for you. But, if you’re looking for the absolute best in audio quality and customization, you’ll want to look into component speakers that can outdo coaxial speakers.

Component Speakers:

Component speakers are designed to provide the absolute best audio experience for the listener. With component speakers, each aspect of the speaker is a separate entity, unlike coaxial speakers.

The woofers in components speakers are mounted separately from the tweeters to provide the best experience for the listener.

A crossover in component speakers routes the proper audio frequencies to the right speaker, ensuring that the higher frequencies are handled by the tweeters, while the lower frequencies are routed to the woofers.

These types of speakers usually use the highest quality components and offer the best sound with the most opportunity for customization. They’re also more expensive and often require custom installation work. So, there’s that definitive between components and coaxial speakers.

See the best component speakers reviews.

Important Considerations

There are still a few more things you’ll need to consider before you start shopping.

Power Handling

The amount of power a speaker can handle is critically important. To achieve great sound, you’ll need speakers that are capable of handling the power that your head unit (or amplifier) puts out.

If the speakers can’t handle the peak power your head unit puts out (such as 45 watts), this will result in distortion, and ultimately, blown speakers.

If you’re sticking with your stock head unit, check your owners manual for power specs before shopping for speakers. Or, if you’re replacing the stock head unit with a new model, make sure you know the power of the head you’re going to be using before purchasing speakers.

Sensitivity

The sensitivity of a speaker refers to the amount of power the speaker needs to receive to produce sound at a given volume.

If you’re planning on keeping some of the stock components of your car stereo, you’ll probably need high sensitivity speakers, which require less power. So, high sensitivity can be an advantage because they’re easier to drive well. So, instead of needing 90 watts, a pair of coaxial speakers with high sensitivity can operate just fine at 45 watts.

Build Quality

The quality of the speakers you’re using has a profound effect on speaker quality. Your car is often subject to extreme hot or cold conditions, and over time, these conditions can wreak havoc on a speaker.

If you’re looking for the best sound and durability, look into car speakers that feature a woofer cone with rubber surrounds and appropriate mounting hardware.

For subwoofers and woofers, stiff and lightweight cone materials offer the best durability and sound as well. On higher-end models, metal fibers are often woven into a material like polypropylene to enhance both sound and durability (like handling peak power).

Tweeter materials vary a bit more widely, and high-end models may use cone materials that are soft like silk, or hard, like graphite.

Final Word

Upgrading your car speakers is a great way to improve the sound of your car. The ten speakers we’ve covered above represent some of the top car speakers currently on the market and you can’t go wrong.

Other Speaker Articles:

About James Benchman
James Benchman
James is an Automotive Mechanic with over 20 years experience and 300+ car repairs. He is an expert with cars and has worked with different models from the biggest brands.James is a Mechanic , Husband , Father of 3 , and head of content at Caraudiologic. Learn more about us
7 Comments
  1. James thank you for this article. I’m looking to purchase a stereo system and speakers for my husbands car (his birthday). He is a music purest and he will only listen to albums or CDs. He claims all other formats clip the highs and lows. That said and knowing his keen sense of hearing I thought Infinity Kappa 60.11 CS speakers would do him well. Thoughts on that? Also, I need a stereo that plays CDs. Can you offer any insights to that?
    Penny for your thoughts please as this is way out of my comfort zone!
    Appreciate it

    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for your question! Your hubby is a lucky man that you’re planning on supporting his music-loving ways. Yes, the Kappas are a great choice for sound quality and I think that’s going to be a great bday present for him.

      Regarding media formats and clipping of frequencies in the spectrum, boy, that’s a loaded topic to comment on right here 🙂 I will say that if you focus on lossless formats and high quality system components, that will put you in the best place to enjoy your music. It’s not so much purely a media format issue.

      Your final question around a stereo system for his vehicle to play CDs — there are lots of good choices. It will be tough to say for sure, not knowing exactly his vehicle (make/model/year/etc.), but here are a couple of good examples, depending on what brand he may prefer and price/quality level:

      Pioneer CD Car Stereo System

      Alpine CD Car Stereo System

      Enjoy!
      James

  2. Im not sure what kind of system was used to rate and rank these speakers but I believe it was some flawed logic. Some of these speakers are great but those kickers which I have run in a couple beaters are by no means a sound quality speaker. Expected to see some focal, Hertz or even jl audio on the list.

    1. Hey Jacob, appreciate your comments here, my friend. I get what you mean and can’t argue, necessarily. The reality is, however, when you have a pair of speakers like the Kickers doing what they do under $60, you have to give them praise. You mentioned some excellent brands and we’re also talking 2-4x the cost. We’re serving a huge audience and many of them have stricter budgets. You make great points, though, and we’re going to concentrate future content on different price ranges to address more of the high-end enthusiasts among us, as well. Appreciate you being part of the community!

  3. I bought the Rockfords in this review and was highly disappointed. The sensitivity rating is way off and couldn’t even keep up with Pioneers on deck power. I had them on a clean Alpine 40w RMS and an Alpine UTE73BT. They’re such a pain to get in the doors I just added Infinity MX20s mids and JBL GTO19t tweeters to the dash on deck power. Hindsight top ten reviews had a better evaluation.

    1. Hi N8, appreciate your comments and will add your feedback on performance and installation into our knowledgebase to track overall user experiences. I’m glad you like the Alpine UTE-73BT, it’s a solid head unit. The Infinity Kappa-20MX is a nice driver and I’m also a fan. The JBL GTO19T do a nice job, especially at that price point. We’ll be doing a lot more component reviews soon!

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