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In this article: We'll review our pick of best car speakers, broken down by size and type. We'll detail features, specs along with some insightful reviews.
Automotive speakers come in a variety of sizes and types. A simple Google search such as “what is the best car speaker” may pull up a variety of lists from several websites, but a few will actually provide you with the context that you need to determine the “best car speaker” for your vehicle and application. It's the random lists that provide little to no context about how to make a decision on products like expensive car speakers that you want to avoid!
To start, there are a few key components to determine what type of speaker you should be looking for. Some of which, you've likely already figured out but worth noting nonetheless:
- What's your goal here? Are you trying to replace a blown speaker? Or, are you trying to build an externally amplified system or just upgrade your speakers using your OEM head unit? Are you trying to get more bass?
We'll point to specific speakers in our lists that are great for OEM upgrades for example, or some that are great for bass. But, identifying your goal is the first step to determining the car speaker that's best for you and will help you narrow your view. If you ARE looking to amplify your system, note the specs of the speakers that you chose (RMS power handling, frequency range, etc). These should help to drive your decision when you chose a car amplifier to match your speaker. We have a few recommendations for the best car amplifiers as well that you can look at.
- What size speakers are in my vehicle? This is probably the most critical aspect here, and why we've decided to break out our list of best car speakers by size. You can put a 6 1/2″ component speaker in a 6×9 speaker cutout with adapters but you can't do it the other way around. So knowing the size of speaker that your vehicle has, how many and where is important. For this reason, we've also created an interactive list of vehicle speaker sizes to help you determine which size speaker you should actually be looking for.
- How much do you want to spend? Clearly, not everyone wants to spend $350+ on a single pair of speakers. Even though the options on this list may seem pricy, you can drill into each individual speaker list to see more options that may be more affordable. You get what you pay for.
This isn't by any means a comprehensive list of things to consider here, but at least you can start to see how we think about the process of choosing a speaker, and why a simple search for something like ‘the best affordable car speaker' might be misleading and result in a choice that really doesn't do you any good.
So before taking a look at this list, start by identifying the size of speaker that you're trying to replace or upgrade in your car. This list will represent our top picks for each size category, but also will provide a link into the full list for each size as well if you want more options. Hopefully, by structuring our list this way, you'll not only find a relevant speaker based on your goals, size and budget, you'll find the best option for you.
Here Are Our Best Car Speakers of 2023
- Best Overall 5 1/4″ Component Car Speaker: Infinity Reference 5030cx
- Best Overall 5×7 Car Speaker: JL Audio C5-570X
- Best Overall 6 1/2″ Coaxial Car Speaker: Focal PC 165 FE
- Best Overall 6.5″ Component Car Speaker: Focal PS 165 FXE
- Best Budget 6 1/2″ Component Car Speaker: Polk Audio DB6502
- Best High-End 6 1/2in Component Car Speaker: Morel Supremo 602
- Best Overall 6×8 Car Speaker: Rockford Fosgate Power T1682
- Best Overall 6×9 Car Speaker: Focal RCX-690
Best Overall 5 1/4″ Component Car Speaker
See full list of Best 5 1/4″ Component Car Speakers
Infinity Reference 5030cx Quick Review
Originally introduced in 2019, the 5030cx is still the reigning top pick on our list. Not only has the Reference 5030cx built a reputation for their ability to handle power with clarity and longevity, they've done so at a very competitive price point. These 5.25” Reference component speakers take advantage of patented Plus One™ technology that allows for more cone area. A larger cone area can impact things like sensitivity and frequency range. A general rule of thumb, the larger the cone area, the better the speaker is at producing lower frequencies (bass). And for the highs, a .75” edge-driven textile tweeters hit the high frequencies with ease, even when pushing the system to its max.
Although these may not be the absolutely best performing speakers on our list, what we think is great about these speakers is how universal they are. With a 65W RMS power handling and 93dB sensitivity rating, they're a great candidate for an external car amplifier, but also a fantastic match for those just looking to use a factory or aftermarket head unit for power. And when you combine their performance specs like these with the fact that they're relatively affordable, they really are a great pick.
|Size||5 1/4″ Component|
|Power (RMS)||65 watts|
|Power (Peak)||195 watts|
|Frequency Response||67 – 21,000 Hz|
- Good choice for factory location replacements
- Durable speaker with a reputation for taking abuse beyond its limits
- Crystal clear mid and high range
- Limited Low-Range Frequency limits
- Use of an amplifier is recommended to get the best sound
- They do not come with grills
Best Overall 5×7 Car Speaker
See full list of Best 5×7 Car Speakers
JL Audio C5-570X Quick Review
We are going to start this list off on the right foot and show you an ultimate upgrade to your car audio system. This package isn’t cheap, but you’ll get what you pay for in terms of performance. This package includes a pair of the newest Evolution-series JL Audio 5×7” coaxial speakers and a pair of adjustable crossovers.
JL Audio engineers carefully tune these speakers to provide a depth and richness you won’t find in comparable round speakers while enhancing the entire sound spectrum by using premium components. The cone is mica-injected polypropylene which provides excellent rigidity with the addition of vibration dampening that improves midrange frequencies.
These coaxials include three-quarter inch silk dome tweeters perfectly matched to the deep, rich sound of the woofers. The included crossover network provides 4 tweeter attenuation levels and three midrange presence adjustment. Dial your system in and enjoy the cleanest sound you’ve ever heard from a 5×7” speaker.
|Power (RMS)||75 watts|
|Power (Peak)||225 watts|
|Frequency Response||48 – 25,000 Hz|
- Excellent sound quality, particularly in midrange frequencies
- No distortion or buzzing even at high volumes
- Included crossovers are high-quality and compact
- Expensive way to replace your speakers
- Works best when provided additional amplification
- Requires wiring of a separate crossover
Best Overall 6 1/2″ Coaxial Car Speaker
See full list of Best 6 1/2″ Coaxial Car Speakers
Focal PC 165 FE Review
We’ve always loved Focal products. We’ve featured their products in various best lists for years now, including our list of best 6.5” component speakers. Before the PC 165 FE we had the K2 Power. A list of recommended car speakers should never exclude a few brands, one of them is Focal.
One glance and you’ll want to hear these Focals. The PC 165 FE is our pick for the best overall 6 1/2 inch coaxial speaker. Its flax-fiber woofer cone is pretty unique to Focal. Flax cones are made from flaxseed which is a common material used historically for textiles, parchment and so on. Flax creates an acoustically ideal cone material because it naturally dampens unwanted vibrations, it's light and incredibly durable. To top it off, Focal's TMD (tuned mass damper) surround is engineered to maximize the performance and movement of the cone. We recommend checking out Focal's article that details competitive analyses of some of the alternative materials to TMD. Pretty cool.
One of our personal favorite parts about this speaker isn't the flax though it's the basket/frame. Something about a cast aluminum (a magnesium aluminum alloy to be more specific) screams quality, strength and durability. Top it off with some nice laser etching in the frame – it's the small (sometimes silly) attention to detail that Focal puts into their speakers that really make you confident in their products without even hooking them up to power.
The tweeter also features some innovative engineering with it's inverted ‘M-Profile' dome cone. This allows sound to disperse at a wider angle to help improve sound performance at extreme angles (like your A-Pillar) without having to directionally place the tweeters.
All in all, the PC 165 FE is a fantastic choice, our top choice, for a 6.5 coaxial speaker right now.
|Model||PC 165 FE|
|Power (RMS)||70 watts|
|Power (Peak)||140 watts|
|Frequency Response||60 – 28,000 Hz|
- Excellent warm and natural sound with clear midrange
- High-end look that is hard to cover up with a grill
- Made from only the best materials
- Difficult to fit in some locations due to larger-than-standard cutout size
Best Overall 6.5″ Component Car Speaker
See the full list of Best 6 1/2″ Component Car Speakers
Focal PS 165 FXE Review
Focal is serious about creating high-fidelity sound in the car audio marketplace. Their newest 6.5-inch component set is the PS 165 FXE, which incorporates the French company's iconic use of flax fibers and some of the highest-end technology in the business to produce the best sounding component speakers in the world.
Much like the PC 165 FE above, the PS 165 FXE shares the same flax technology, TMD surround, ‘M-dome' tweeters and cast aluminum frame (among other things). So for the sake of limiting redundancy, we recommend you read the quick review above in the PC 165 FE. We know these have a high price tag, but it's for a reason. Ask anyone in the stereo industry – home and automotive – and they'll know Focal. We did a first look and feature overview of this the PS 165 FXE and loved what we saw and heard. They're our choice for our personal vehicles.
|Model||PS 165 FXE|
|Power (RMS)||80 watts|
|Power (Peak)||160 watts|
|Frequency Response||55 – 28,000 Hz|
- Natural and warm sound unlike anything else on the market
- Audiophile grade stereo equipment
- Flax cone looks incredible
- Somewhat deep mounting distance may not work in some factory locations
Best Budget 6 1/2″ Component Car Speaker
See the full list of Best Budget 6 1/2″ Component Car Speakers
Polk Audio DB6502 Quick Review
Sometimes you just need a budget friendly speaker that will do the job – sound well, last and not break the bank. The Polk Audio DB6502 are the updated version of the DB6501. We've always been fans of the Polk DB series. They're among the most popular speakers on our lists. Not only are they a fantastic value and bang for your buck, they perform well. And with features like a polypropylene and UV protectant cone, and waterproof inner and outer surrounds, they're meant to sound great in the harshest conditions like boats, UTVs and other outdoor applications. So naturally, one of our favorite features of these speakers is their IP55 marine certification, making them a great choice for marine and outdoor applications! All in all, the DB6502 is at the top of our list of best value 6.5″ component car speakers – they're a great buy.
|Power (RMS)||100 watts|
|Power (Peak)||300 watts|
|Frequency Response||35 – 23,000 Hz|
Best High-End 6 1/2in Component Car Speaker
See the full list of Best High-End 6 1/2″ Component Car Speakers
Morel Supremo 602 Quick Review
Alternatively, if your pockets are deep and you have a high profile vehicle that needs its sound system to match its outrageousness this would be your choice. A recipient of the 2012 CEA Innovation award, the Morel Supremo 602 is Morel's flagship component speaker for the automotive market. These components create precise, linear, dynamic sound with a wide frequency range. And with crossovers that are engineered to meet the most challenging acoustic conditions of a car, you can expect positive phase, sharp roll-off and resistor-free signal paths to create total sound integration between the Supremo components to recreate a realistic three-dimensional sound.
Ridiculously priced, Morel speakers take car audio to another level in their looks, design and performance. If you're looking for greatness, here's a good option.
|Power (RMS)||140 watts|
|Power (Peak)||600 watts|
|Frequency Response||30 – 25,000 Hz|
Best Overall 6×8 Car Speaker
See the full list of Best 6×8″ Car Speakers
Rockford Fosgate Power T1682 Quick Review
When it comes to finding a great speaker to replace blown or low quality factory units, Rockford Fosgate might be the perfect choice for you. These speakers feature carbon fiber and polypropylene injected cones that are both rigid and lightweight but also durable and reliable. This design enhances midrange frequencies and prevents off-sounds many oval speakers tend to create. An aluminum one-inch tweeter gives you dynamic high range frequencies.
One feature that we particularly like is the built-in crossover. The crossover is tucked away in the basket which keeps installation clean and simple. RF applies its VAST technology to these speakers which results in an effective cone area that is up to 25 percent larger than previous designs.
|Power (RMS)||80 watts|
|Power (Peak)||160 watts|
|Frequency Response||55 – 22,000 Hz|
- Excellent sounding speaker with a robust midrange and clear highs
- Fits numerous factory speaker locations without modification
- On-board crossover simplifies install and results in better sounding speakers
- Somewhat deep and may cause interference issues when replacing factory 5×7” speakers
- Not as much bass as might be expected from a speaker this size
Best Overall 6×9 Car Speaker
See the full list of Best 6×9″ Car Speakers
Focal RCX-690 Quick Review
Another Focal option on our list (there's a trend here) is their RCX-690 6x9s. French manufacturer Focal is known for its great speakers, and great speakers don't come cheap. The Auditor Series is meant to be an entry-level speaker but it's hardly that – in both price and performance. We previously featured Focal's older model, the Performance 690C on our 6×9 list. The new design uses better basket geometry and includes much better-looking grills. All technical specs and materials are equivalent, so it's important to note the main difference between the old and new design is simply the way they look.
The RCX-690 is a three-way design. It uses an inverted mylar dome tweeter and an inverted dome super tweeter speaker to give you high-end quality without breaking the bank. We love the simplicity in the design of these speakers and the level that they perform at for the price point. They're simply a great set of 6x9s.
The RSX-690 features a sturdy double-arm steel basket for its strength and rigidity. Within the frame you'll find a polypropylene cone with rubber surround that enables the motor to move the cone like a piston while limiting flex and horizontal movement.
Where you will notice the difference between these speakers and other brands is really in the authenticity of the sound. Snare drums are tight and sharp, vocals are smooth and natural, and bass is full. You'll get great sound from other brands, but you will not find a three-way speaker that sounds this good for a better price.
|Power (RMS)||80 watts|
|Power (Peak)||160 watts|
|Frequency Response||50 – 20,000 Hz|
- Superb sound quality, particularly at high frequencies
- Smooth sound and nice deep bass
- Great performance at a low(er) end price
- Require slightly more installation depth than most other speakers
Common Speaker Terms & Ratings
When you're choosing the Best Car Speaker, CarAudioNow takes several criteria into consideration. Lets define a few common criteria and terms that are used when rating a speaker:
Power Handling: Power handling is the measurement a manufacture gives to rate how much power a speaker can handle and operate at. It is given by two measurements, RMS and Peak (or MAX). RMS Power rating is the amount of power the speaker handles continuously. The Peak Power rating is the amount of power a speaker can handle in short bursts. When comparing speakers, RMS Power is the more relevant and important rating to look at.
Sensitivity: Speaker sensitivity rating is a measurement of the amount of sound the speaker will emit from the power it’s given. The higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the speaker is with the power it’s given. For lower powered systems, you want a higher sensitivity rating. For a higher powered system, you want a lower sensitivity rating. Lower sensitivity rated speakers are meant to handle higher power.
Frequency Range: Frequency range is the frequencies that the speaker emits sound at. It's typically measured in Hz. The ranges show from a low frequency to high, for example: 20 – 22,000 (22k) Hz. This measure how low and high the speaker can emit sound at.
To help you compare these three key speaker ratings for the products in our comparison, we've assembled a few charts:
Speaker Design & Materials
Woofer: The speaker woofer determines the responsiveness, and quality of the speaker. The stiffer and lightweight the material used, the more effective the speaker is. Polypropylene is a common material used for the cone. In addition, woven fabrics such as kevlar are used in higher quality speakers. Aluminum and titanium are also used in higher end speakers.
Woofer Surrounding: The woofer surround also is an important aspect of the speaker system. It can effect the sound as well. Durable, lightweight, and free moving materials are used to allow the woofer to move with as little energy possible. The material is essential for a long lasting speaker too. As speakers get older and used, humidity levels and wear-and-tear can crack and break the woofer surround. Rubber surrounding is typically the most long lasting an high performing. Foam an cloth surroundings are found on less expensive car speakers, with lower performance and shorter life spans.
Crossovers: When you purchase a component car speaker set, a crossover is typically a part of the package. External crossovers are typically used to lessen the amount of distortion a speaker has. They do this by separating the frequency inputs. Signals can cross through coated wiring and cause distortion. So an external crossover system will limit this.
Components vs Coaxial Speakers
One other quick thing worth defining before you start digging into our list is the difference between a coaxial and component speakers. If you have a vehicle with tweeters in your A-Pillar or in your dash, you'll likely need a component speaker. If there are no tweeters throughout your car that you can find, you'll likely require coaxial speakers. Our vehicle speaker size list should help with this question, but if you'd like to read up more about the difference between the two types of speakers, be sure to read our components vs coaxials article.
We know you want the best 6.5 component car speakers, the only question is, how to install them?
The thought of installing a car speakers can be quite intimidating. They're built into doors, sometimes the dashboard and maybe the rear parcel shelf. How do you get the old ones out and replacements in without damaging all that trim? And if you're upgrading to a component system, you'll need to think about how you'll remove the A-Pillar trim to access the tweeters or the dash covering.
Fact is, car speaker installation is easier than it looks. All you need are a few simple tools and a little knowledge. We'll provide that know-how here, hopefully inspiring you to tackle this not-too-difficult project. Check out our How To for Installing Car Speakers to prep yourself for your upcoming speaker upgrade.
About this List
We take our ‘best lists' very seriously. Our top pick car speakers that we compiled on this list are based on extensive research, our own experience and testing of products and of course our knowledge of the industry. In no way was this list subsidized or influenced by a manufacturer who pays us to place a speaker on a list. The recommendations here are guidelines, based on what we think are quality car speakers that will perform well, last long and are built by manufacturers that you can trust. And our lists originate here – they are not copied from other sources and thrown together without purpose. Providing you the trust that the information you read here is legitimate, and the confidence in the product you choose from this list is our top priority. We're constantly keeping these lists up to date too, so you are seeking a car stereo, you'll always find the latest and greatest here.
Upgrading your car's speakers can result in a number of things – improved sound quality, increased volume, and more powerful bass response (among others). By upgrading your factory car speakers, you can enhance your listening experience and make your music sound much more dynamic and enjoyable.
When considering replacing your car's speakers, the first thing to check is the size of speaker that's compatible for your vehicle so that they fit properly in the location you want them to. It's also important to consider power handling, sensitivity and frequency response. By aligning power handling with the power output of your head unit or amplifier and things like frequency response to your listening habits, you can ensure you chose the best car speaker for you.
Installing new car speakers can definitely vary depending on the vehicle and the speakers you choose. Generally speaking most speakers, regardless of size, will mount relatively the same as long as you chose the right size for the location. To install a speaker, you will need to choose the location and then use your vehicles factory speaker wire (or custom speaker wire if you wired it yourself) and attach it to the positive and negative leads on the speaker. Once you've connected your leads to the speaker, you can mount it in place.
Some of the most reputable brands for car speakers on the market today include JL Audio, Rockford Fosgate, Sony, Hertz, Morel, and Focal. Many of which are on our list of best car speakers!
Coaxial and component car speakers are a little different in terms of their design and function. Coaxial speakers have all the speaker elements, such as the woofer and tweeter, combined into one unit. In most cases, you'll see the tweeter front and center on a coaxial speaker. They are simple and easy to install, making them a great option for those who want a straightforward solution for almost any application. Component speakers, on the other hand, have separate components for the woofer, tweeter, and crossover network, which can be placed in different locations in the car for optimal sound quality. They are more complex to install but provide better sound quality because of their dedicated components, and greater flexibility in terms of placement.