Best Car Component Speakers: Upgrade Your Audio Experience
Experience clean and clear high, mid, and low tones with some of the best component speakers
When given the choice between coaxial and component speakers, most car owners choose coaxial speakers because they are more affordable and easier to install. While most aftermarket coaxial speakers can give a significantly better audio experience than factory speakers, combining the tweeter and woofer into one cone may compromise their design and potential. This is why the sound experience isn’t as great as a component speaker system with separate drivers.
A typical component speaker system consists of a separate tweeter, woofer, and a crossover. Although they may take you a bit longer to install, each unit can have a better design. Also, since the drivers are mounted separately, they can have enough room to move more air and produce the best sound quality. The drivers create a more realistic audio experience where you can hear every instrument, experience the thrill of clear vocals, and the frequencies don’t feel like they are colliding with each other. Our buying guide provides a good base for anyone looking for the best car component speakers.
Benefits of Car Component Speakers
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- Clarity. The crossover networks in components speakers help to deliver the right frequencies to the respective drivers. The low frequencies are sent to the woofer, mid-range frequencies to the mid-range speaker, and the high frequencies to the tweeters. As a result, you get a more clear and detailed sound so you can enjoy every beat of the music you listen to.
- Better speaker arrangement. Instead of having all your speakers under the car seat or on the doors, you can spread out the speakers to create a better listening room. You can install the tweeters at ear level and the woofers close enough to the tweeters (preferably at the doors) so all the frequencies reach your ears at the same time.
- Sound imaging. Component speakers provide a sound imaging advantage where you get to have a concert-like experience in your vehicle. You can also identify where exactly every frequency is coming from.
Types of Car Component Speakers
Tweeter drivers handle high-frequency sounds such as whistles, cymbals, bells, screaming, or glass breaking. You can also get super tweeters for very high-frequency sound. Your speaker set-up will include a crossover network that directs frequencies typically above 2,000 hertz to the tweeters.
Mid-range speakers, as the name suggests, handle the mid-frequencies (frequencies between high and low frequencies). These are sounds that are more familiar to the human ear such as human speech, or instruments such as a guitar, flute, or piano. Mid-range sounds are ideally between 500 and 2,000 hertz.
Low frequency sounds below 500 hertz are ideally directed to the woofers. These frequencies are low to the human ear so turning up the bass creates more sound vibrations so you not only hear the bass but can also feel it. With a good woofer, you can make out instruments such as organs, tubas, cellos, guitars, and bass drums from your music.
Under the umbrella of Harman International, JBL manufactures some of the best audio equipment for home, automotive, and personal use. JBL was founded by James Bullough Lansing back in 1946, and is headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. To streamline its operations, the company is divided into two parts: JBL Professional that serves the larger audio industry, and JBL Consumer that caters to the home market. Some of its popular products include headphones, loudspeakers, Bluetooth speakers, and car speakers.
Headquartered in Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan, Alpine Electronics specializes in designing a wide range of car audio and navigation systems. Alpine was founded in 1976, and its parent company is Alps Electric. Due to the ingenuity that goes into designing its products, a variety of vehicles, including BMW, Chrysler, Mercedes, and Jeep models come with factory-installed Alpine sounds systems. Check out some of the best Alpine car speakers here.
Jim Fosgate founded Rockford Fosgate in 1973 as a manufacturer of audio equipment and accessories for audiophiles. The company is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., where it designs a wide range of speakers, amplifiers, subwoofers, and mounting hardware for automotive and marine equipment.
As part of the JVCKenwood Corporation, Kenwood specializes in manufacturing innovative audio and communication equipment for automotive, marine, home, and personal use. The company was founded in 1946, and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Some of its popular car audio equipment includes car speakers, head units, and amplifiers.
Car Component Speakers Pricing
- Under $100: This price range includes entry- to mid-level component speakers that can provide a decent replacement for your factory speakers. The size is not a reflection of the price so you can also find large eight- to 12-inch speakers here.
- $100 and up: Although higher-priced speakers aren’t guaranteed to perform better than the lower-priced alternatives, they usually have better designs dedicated to durability or better performance. Therefore, expect to find a hi-tech speaker system that provides a concert-like experience, and can last through harsh operating and weather conditions.
The amount of power a speaker can handle is usually measured in watts. A speaker’s power handling capacity is given in RMS and peak power. Most importantly, consider the RMS power or the amount of power the speaker can handle continuously; it will determine whether you can match it with a low-powered stereo or if you need to connect it to an external amplifier.
The speaker material determines the quality of sound produced. The woofer material should be lightweight enough to vibrate easily but also stiff enough to retain its shape for accurate sound. For smooth and pleasant highs, choose tweeters made of soft materials such as silk or textile blends. For sharp and bright highs, choose a tweeter made of harder material such as graphite. As for the woofer cone surround material, rubber is more durable than foam or cloth surrounds.
The speaker sensitivity is a measure of the sound produced when provided with certain power input. It's rated in decibels. This helps you determine if you should power your speaker with the stereo or connect it to a high-powered amplifier. The higher the sensitivity, the louder the speaker is, and the less power you need to produce that level of sound. Therefore, this type of speaker is more power-efficient. On average, component speakers have a sensitivity of around 87 to 90 decibels.
- Size. If you don’t want to make a huge modification to your factory mounting holes, then it would be a good idea to get new speakers that are the same size as your factory speakers.
- Frequency Range. You must consider the range of frequencies that the speakers can emit sound at. It’s typically measured in hertz, and given in a range from the least to the highest frequency response. The larger the frequency range, the better the quality of sound the speakers are capable of producing.
Best Car Component Speakers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Best OverallJBL Premium 6.5-Inch Component Speaker System
Installing the JBL GTO609C Premium 6.5-Inch Component Speaker System means that you no longer have to drive with the windows up to create a better listening room. These 6.5-inch woofers have a slightly larger design than similar speakers in their class so they can move more air and produce better sound. Each woofer is made of a metallic, poly-injected material coupled with a rubber surround for a smooth sound. Plus, the material resists damage from harsh weather conditions. Also included is a soft dome tweeter that provides smooth highs. The tweeter is integrated with a dual-level volume adjustment control to make up for improper speaker placement. Furthermore, the tweeter features oversized voice coils for optimal heat dissipation and power handling. JBL’s patented i-mount system offers the flexibility of either a flush or surface mount.
However, you should note that the woofers are only designed to handle mid-bass frequencies — you still need to purchase a dedicated subwoofer to handle the lower frequencies. You can match them with GTO-series amplifiers so they can keep up with other GTO-series subwoofers in your vehicle.
The main benefit of the Pyle Two-Way Component Speaker System is that it’s one of the most decently priced speaker sets on the market. Not only do you get a pair of 6.5-inch midrange speakers, but you also get a pair of 0.5-inch silk dome tweeters, protective grills, wires, and mounting hardware without breaking your bank. Besides the price, the speakers have an elegant design with yellow-colored, poly-injected cones. They also include a fatigue-resistant, butyl rubber surround that’s guaranteed to last longer than factory speakers with paper cones. Also contributing to its durability are high-temperature voice coils that help to reduce thermal and mechanical stress during extended playtime. This audio system can handle continuous power of 200 watts, and a frequency range of 90 to 20,000 hertz. Lastly, the speakers can fit in OEM mounting spaces so you can flush-, surface-, or angle-mount them.
This speaker system is only designed to handle mid and high frequencies. Therefore, you still need to purchase a subwoofer if you would like to feel a deep, punchy bass in your car.
Premium PickAlpine 6.5 Inch Component 2-Way Speakers
The Alpine 6.5 Inch Component 2-Way Speakers have a significant improvement on the design to make them easier to install and better sounding than previous speaker systems in the R-series collection. They have larger voice coils that can handle up to 100 watts of RMS power and have a shallow mounting depth so they can fit in tight spaces. Both the woofer and tweeter cone features Alpine’s exclusive carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer construction that’s strong but lightweight enough to allow fatigue-free cone movement. The material also resists damage even in harsh operating conditions. What’s more, the drivers have a sensitivity of 88 decibels, and can provide a frequency response of around 65 to 40,000 hertz. When you open the package, you will get a pair of 6.5-inch woofers with grilles, a pair of tweeters with pre-installed grilles, a pair of compact crossovers, and mounting hardware. Moreover, this speaker system is backed by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Unfortunately, the tweeters may experience a slight distortion when played at high volumes. You may have to keep the volume at a moderate level to keep enjoying crisp, clear highs.
Include this single, 6.5-inch, mid-range speaker from Rockford Fosgate in your car audio set-up and fill your car with loud and clear mid-tones. The speaker can handle a peak power of 200 watts and up to 100 watts of continuous power. Four-ohm, high-temperature voice coils help to dissipate heat generated from heavy playtime so the speakers can stay in good condition for a longer period. A fiber-reinforced paper cone and a corrugated treated cloth surround help to improve the rigidity of the speaker so it can provide a tight sound despite the sound vibrations. This speaker requires a 2.24-inch mounting depth and comes with mounting hardware for easy installation. It also comes with a pre-installed grille to protect the structure from mechanical damage.
Just note that you only get a single speaker with its mounting hardware. You have to buy the amplifier separately; your stereo may not deliver enough power to drive this speaker.
Honorable MentionSkar Audio 2-Way Elite Component Speaker System
Manufactured by Skar Audio, this is a component speaker system consisting of a pair of 6.5-inch, midrange speakers, a pair of tweeters, a pair of crossover networks, and mounting hardware. The silk dome tweeters produce a mellow sound while the midrange drivers feature a fiberglass cone that makes the speaker responsive to a wide range of frequencies. The speakers can handle a frequency range between 50 to 25,000 hertz, and have a sensitivity of 89 decibels. Also, the speakers utilize copper voice coils, which provide better sound output and are longer lasting than the aluminum alternatives. Furthermore, the speakers can handle 100 watts of RMS power.
Just like the other options, this speaker system also has a few of its drawbacks. It is not designed to handle low frequencies so you may still need to include a subwoofer in the setup. Also, it may take you a while to install.
Honorable MentionKenwood Excelon Component Speaker System
Kenwood has a solid reputation for designing some of the best sounding car speakers, and the Excelon Component Speaker System is no exception. To help bring out every detail in the music you listen to, you get a pair of 6.5-inch woofers with an advanced hybrid pulp construction, a pair of soft dome tweeters with a neodymium magnet, and a pair of two-way external crossovers. The woofer has a resilient rubber surround that can withstand constant vibrations and resists weather damage. The magnet in the tweeters helps to improve the accuracy of the tweeters so they can provide smooth and distortion-free highs. Moreover, the speakers come with grilles to protect them from mechanical damage. The drivers can handle up to 80 watts of RMS power, and provide a frequency response of around 57 to 20,000 hertz.
However, if you like to play music at loud volumes, then these may not be the speakers for you. They may sound distorted at loud volumes, especially when playing audio with high frequencies.
Honorable MentionInfinity Reference 9630CX Component Speaker System
The Infinity Reference 9630CX Speaker System consists of a pair of 6x9-inch woofers, a pair of edge-driven textile tweeters, a pair of speaker grills, crossovers, and mounting hardware. The oversized Plus-One woofer cone offers more room to move more air to produce a richer bass output, while a durable, hi-roll rubber surround ensures you consistently get a powerful sound no matter how long you play them. The tweeters are designed to overcome harshness for smooth and pleasant high tones. Plus, the external crossovers are integrated with a push-button tweeter control so you can easily adjust the “brightness” of the sound. Additionally, these speakers operate within a frequency range of 46 to 21,000 hertz, and have a sensitivity of 93 decibels so you will get more volume from your sound system. You can power them with up to 125 watts of continuous power.
While the slightly larger-than-normal design may be reasonable for better sound quality, the woofers may not fit in all vehicles. You may have to modify the mounting hole to include them.
- Component speakers are also known as “separates”. This is because this type of speaker doesn’t have the woofer (for bass) and tweeter (for highs and mids) combined in one unit.
- One of the biggest perks of car component speakers is that they’re more customizable. Since the tweeter, woofer, and external crossover are all separate from each other, it allows you to position each piece exactly where you prefer for a more robust, immersive sound.
- True audiophiles will prefer component speakers over full-range speakers that include all speaker components in one unit. Component speakers tend to be made of higher-quality materials and emit a realistic sound.
Q: How do I know if a speaker is powerful enough for my car?
When it comes to power, you should focus on the RMS and peak ratings. The RMS figure indicates how much continuous power a speaker can handle. A peak rating outlines how much power a speaker can handle in quick bursts. Ultimately, you should focus on the RMS rating. You need to match the RMS rating to the amp rating of your car’s system.
Q: How do I pick the right sensitivity speakers for my car?
When picking car component speakers, you should focus on the opposite sensitivity rating to that of your car’s audio system. A high-amp system should be paired with lower-sensitivity speakers, and conversely, a low-amp system should be paired with high-sensitivity speakers.
Q: Is there anything I should know about installing component speakers?
Because component speakers are designed with separate parts, you should have a solid understanding of sound design and wiring before attempting to install this type of speaker on your own. If you’re not comfortable performing this task on your own, you can always work with an experienced car audio installer to complete this project.
Q: Why do component speakers need an amplifier?
Components speakers do not have built-in amps so your stereo may not provide enough power to boost the audio signal in the speakers. This is why you need to buy a separate amplifier so you can have a powerful audio system.
We rate the JBL GT0609C Premium Component Speaker System highly because it has almost everything you need to experience a meaningful sound upgrade from your factory sound system. It delivers great highs and mid frequencies without distortion, and the drivers can work for years without malfunctioning. If you are on a tight budget, you can still get a decent audio upgrade with the Pyle 2-Way Custom Component Speaker System.