Best Car Speakers: Make Your Soundtrack One to Remember
These car speakers will take your sound quality to the next level.
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON April 26, 2021
Drivers use their car speakers to catch up on the news, check the weather, and rock out to the radio. Sure, you might take them for granted, but your speakers are a crucial component of your vehicle. Plus, they are one of the most cost-effective ways to upgrade your ride. With little to no modifications, you can feel the beat of that bass line or enhance the treble on your classic soundtrack.
However, picking out a set of speakers can be a bit overwhelming—there’s no shortage of options, ranging in size, type, and benefits. To help you track down the best car speakers, we’ve identified the best products available on the market today. Whether you’re jamming to some EDM or feeling the soul in classic country tunes, there’s a speaker for you on this list.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Car Speakers
- Replace your OEM stereo. While car stereos usually perform fine, they lack an aftermarket option's impressive range and power. Eventually, factory speakers lose their efficacy, beginning to get noisy and make the sound seem sharp. Replacing them restores the quality of your music.
- Improve music quality. Car speakers don't only bring the music back to par—they enhance it. There are two-, three-, and four-way speakers, helping you direct the sound waves in a way that works for your vehicle. Plus, the quality of manufacturing continually improves, helping aftermarket car speakers last longer.
- Access news and weather. While driving, you rely on the radio to relay important information, and you need to hear it clearly. A good car speaker means you can easily stay up to date.
- Little to no modification required. Since your car comes with a speaker already built into it, you don’t have to make any substantial changes to fit in the new car speakers. There are options available in all sizes, so you can usually just pop them into place. Even if you need to make a slight adjustment, it’s typically nominal.
- Add a touch of flash to your ride. From the pumping bass to the crisp treble, clean sound already adds to the effect your car has. That said, there are a lot of stylish speakers available that give it an extra kick. The right set of car speakers can help you make the look and vibe of your car perfect.
Types of Car Speakers
Also referred to as coaxial speakers, these are the more basic speakers and the most prevalent on the market. The speakers feature a tweeter and a woofer, with the former being responsible for higher frequencies. Woofers deal with the bass at lower and mid-range frequencies. Since these models are so straightforward in design, they require fewer modifications and are more budget-friendly. Improving the sound substantially, you can get up to four-way coaxial speakers to control the flow of the soundwaves.
This type of car speaker consists of separate parts which are positioned throughout the vehicle. It lets you control the flow of the music based on how you mount them. You can ensure that the tweeters and woofers channel different frequencies to play to their strengths by wiring them correctly. Because of the extra control, the music quality is optimal with component speakers. However, they are more likely to require modifications to the vehicle and also take substantially longer to install.
JBL is an American-based company that manufactures audio equipment for cinema markets, studios, homes, and vehicles. JBL continuously unleashes innovative products in the market including Bluetooth speakers. The company was founded in 1946 by James Bullough Lansing and has its headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif. Try out the JBL GTO609C Premium.
Rockford Fosgate is fondly known for making quality speakers at pocket-friendly prices. The company makes audio speakers for motorsports, motorcycles, and marine equipment. It was founded by Jim Fosgate in 1973 and has its headquarters in Tempe, Ariz. A classic high-performance speaker from Rockford Fosgate is the Rockford Fosgate R165X3.
Alpine is known as a leading manufacturer of audio speakers and navigation systems. The company was founded in 1967 and has its headquarters in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Alpine products come as built-in audio systems in BMW, Honda, Dodge, and Jaguar cars. Their S line speakers, like the Alpine SPS-610 S-Series, are a great option for anyone looking to upgrade their car’s factory speakers.
If you are looking for speakers that are good enough to wake the neighbors, then Pioneer is the brand for you. Pioneer is a multinational corporation specializing in digital entertainment products, and its headquarters are in Bunkyo, Tokyo. Consider buying the Pioneer TS6900PRO if you are looking to boost the audio experience in your car.
Car Speaker Pricing
- Under $60: This is the price range for budget-friendly car speakers with less than 60 RMS and can handle a maximum power output of only 100 watts or less. The speakers have a small profile with minimal airflow and tend to overheat quickly. Despite that, most have good sound quality and bass.
- $60 to $80: Speakers in this price range do not disappoint as they come with great designs and are made of high-quality materials. They can handle extended use without overheating and have impressive sound.
- $80 and up: At this price range, you will find car speakers from top-of-the-line brands that will deliver the ultimate music experience. They offer differentiated sound levels, from low to high frequencies, on different cones with no distortion. They are also designed to be durable and deliver the best surround sound.
Size and Installation
Most speakers fall somewhere between four and nine inches. Typically, the larger the vehicle, the bigger the factory speakers. Usually, the speakers are installed behind a protective grill. The amount of space you have to work with determines the size of the speaker you can get (unless you want to make modifications). Generally, the more space there is, the higher-quality the audio is.
Depending on how much room you have to work with and the layout of your vehicle, you will want a different speaker setup. Within the full-range category, you can find two-, three-, and four-way speakers. Naturally, the more speakers, the higher quality the audio will be. Each of the speakers accommodates a specific frequency range, limiting crossover and cutting down on sharp, staticky sounds.
Another critical feature is the materials and build of each speaker. Sound results from vibrations, but you don’t want ambient noise. It not only compromises the sound quality, but it also can cause the system to overheat. Look for models with a butyl rubber protective layer. This material absorbs the vibrations, helping prevent damage to the system and preventing background noise.
Especially if you drive a loud vehicle, wattage is an essential feature. You can find stereos as low as 80 watts and higher than 350 watts. The higher the wattage, the louder it can get. Now, all speakers can blow out, but you are much less likely to face this issue if you’re working with a higher wattage capacity. Consider the type of vehicle you drive when picking out your new speakers.
- Hardware. The hardware used in construction plays a massive role in keeping the speakers working for longer. Be sure to look at the type of tweeter: a dome and a cone are the most common, though the cone is better able to perform at lower frequencies
- Copper Versus Aluminum Coil. This plays into how the speakers dissipate heat and how much power they can relay. Both work well, though aluminum has less resistance and is also less vulnerable to heat. However, aluminum is a malleable material that is vulnerable to pressure and impact (even on a small scale). Think copper for better control and aluminum for raw power.
- Exterior. The outside of your car speakers is the part most exposed to the elements. Whether that be dust from a dirt road or spilled coffee, the speaker's exterior is its primary protection. Consider how easy it is to clean and whether it comes with a replacement grill for after setup. The less exposed they are, the longer the speakers will last.
- Car Compatibility. You need to ensure that the sensitivity and power handling of the speaker is compatible with your car. If in doubt, check your vehicle's user manual. However, in just about every case it is standardized as long as you remain within the two to four ohm zone.
Best Car Speakers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- If you want to improve the bass levels of your speakers, consider purchasing a subwoofer and including it in the setup. It doesn’t have to be the extravagant kind.
- Play higher-quality music files from your MP3 player or smartphone. The music sounds better when it’s from a file with a high bit rate. If you’re streaming the music, set the audio to the best quality to get the most out of your speakers.
- Do not attach the speaker on a thin piece of metal like a door panel. As the music plays, the metal vibrates and kills off the music from your speakers. It’s better to install them under the seats or in the trunk.
Q: Can you put regular speakers in a car?
To get decent sound quality, you need actual car speakers. Sure, you could blast the volume on your smartphone or throw in home speakers, but the results will be subpar (at best). Car stereos are affordable, easy to install, and drastically improve the sound experience in the vehicle.
Q: How do you check if the speaker is working?
The easiest way to check the function of your speaker is to listen to music on it. Make sure you check a range of frequencies, test the bass, and make sure the volume works properly. Look for any vibrations or noisiness and try the speakers while the car is in motion. You’ll know if something is off by the quality of the sound.
Q: Can I use 8-ohm speakers in my car?
Cars use either 2- or 4-ohm speakers, while models for the home rely on 8 ohms. Since ohms refer to the electrical resistance in the system, it’s a very important consideration. Stick to low-ohm speakers for your vehicle, as they are designed for exactly that purpose.
Q: What causes a blowout in a car speaker?
The blowout could be because of a mechanical failure in the speaker when it collides with its enclosing surface and results in broken or torn components. The blowout could also be due to a thermal failure when the speaker’s internal components overheat and melt or burn. When the voice coil is burnt, you will get no sound from the speaker.
Q: Is it normal for car speakers to buzz?
The buzzing is only normal if the AM radio is on. AM signals are affected by the ignition system, and your speakers could start buzzing, especially if the radio isn’t shielded or insulated. If the AM radio is off, you probably have an electrical issue that’s interfering with the speakers, like a phone charging inside your vehicle. Another reason could be a loose wire that indicates that your speakers are wearing out.
Ready to take your car’s music game to the next level? There’s a ton of powerful yet smooth car speaker options like the JBL GTO609C Premium. Want something that won’t ding the budget? The Scosche HD6904 Car Speaker is cost-effective and installs easily.