Best Aftermarket Car Speakers: Pump Up the Volume While Driving
The best aftermarket speakers give your car stereo system a new lease on life
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PUBLISHED ON November 7, 2019
If you love to listen to music as you drive, you know that the right car speakers make a big difference. Not all cars come with a high-quality sound system, so getting new speakers may cross your mind at some point. If you have finally decided that factory speakers just won’t do, here are three of the best aftermarket car speakers worth considering.
- Best OverallJBL Premium Speaker SystemSummarySummary
Made by one of the most reputable speaker companies, these speakers amp up your driving experience by displacing more air and creating more bass. They maximize every watt of power your car stereo can deliver.ProsPros
You can flush mount or surface mount the tweeters, thanks to the patented I-mount system. The speakers can deliver up to 270 watts and have large voice coils for enhanced power handling. They efficiently supply high-frequency sound without distortions.ConsCons
The speakers have a plastic trim ring that is attached to them that hinders the dash grill from fitting properly. They are also not very loud. Speaker wires and connectors are not provided.
- Best ValueRockford Fosgate Coaxial SpeakersSummarySummary
If you're looking for awesome 6.5-inch speakers that don't cost an arm and a leg, it's these Rockford Fosgate car speakers. The full-range speakers are better than most OEM speakers, and they still manage to be affordable.ProsPros
Since these are three-way speakers, the tweeters, midrange drivers, and the woofers are separate, giving you a better sound experience. The speakers are very well built and have a steel frame that protects them from hard impacts.ConsCons
When you increase the volume, the speakers may produce a slightly distorted sound. In addition, they are only ideal for listening to mid-range and high-range tones, and you need a subwoofer for the best sound.
- Honorable MentionInfinity KAPPA Two-Way Car Audio SystemSummarySummary
Finding car speakers that offer quality sound at an affordable price can be challenging. These two-way car speakers provide exactly that and feature a creative tweeter setup. They produce awesome highs and mids.ProsPros
The speakers are compatible with different types of cars. Infinity's UniPivot technology lets you direct each tweeter towards your ears—you enjoy excellent sound even if you’ve mounted the speakers at the bottom of your doors. With the right amp setup, they can produce a very good bass response.ConsCons
They are lined with plastic, and minor impacts may cause them to crack around the screws. Also, to unlock their potential, you must pair them with an amplifier. If you turn up the volume, the sound may be distorted.
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Benefits of Aftermarket Car Speakers
- Upgrade your factory sound system. If you have an older car model, there’s a pretty good chance that it didn’t come with the best sound system, from the stereo all the way down to the speakers. Even without replacing your factory stereo unit, a set of high-quality aftermarket speakers can make a significant improvement in your system’s sound quality.
- Experience a well-detailed sound. Most factory sound systems may not be able to reproduce crystal clear sound across all frequencies. If you are an audiophile you may notice that some music genres with extremely high or low frequencies may sound muffled or distorted. You can get new speakers with a tweeter, midrange speaker, and woofer that can bring out the best sound across all frequencies.
- Versatile installation options. You can install the new speakers almost anywhere in your vehicle. You can get larger speakers that fit under the seat or smaller speakers that can be mounted on either the dashboard or car doors.
Types of Aftermarket Car Speakers
Component system speakers deliver great sound with delicate vocals and detailed sound. That’s largely because the drivers come separately and are typically mounted on different parts of the vehicle. A component speaker system may consist of a tweeter, mid-range speaker, and subwoofer, which handle the high, mid, and low frequencies respectively. It also includes a crossover that ensures that the right frequencies are channeled to their respective drivers.
Coaxial (Full Range) Speakers
In a coaxial speaker system, all the drivers are integrated into a single speaker. That means you have one woofer cone with an integrated tweeter that handles all the frequencies of the sound system. For that reason, they are cheaper and aren’t as great-sounding as component speaker systems. Despite that, most aftermarket full-range speakers typically offer a better audio experience than stock speakers.
James Bullough Lansing founded JBL in 1946. It’s a reputable audio equipment manufacturer that’s headquartered in Los Angeles, California. JBL is known for making some of the best sound equipment for vehicles, homes, cinema markets, and studios. Some of its best aftermarket door speakers are the JBL Premium Speaker System and JBL Premium Component Speaker System.
Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Rockford Fosgate makes affordable and high-quality speakers for motorcycles, vehicles, and marine equipment. Jim Fosgate founded the company in 1973. Some of its best-selling aftermarket car speakers are the Rockford Fosgate Coaxial Speakers and Rockford Fosgate Prime Full Range Speakers.
Infinity Systems was founded in 1968 and is currently headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. It’s a subsidiary company of Harman International Industries. Infinity Systems manufactures a wide range of audio equipment including car audio amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers, and marine speaker systems. Some of its best coaxial speakers are the Infinity KAPPA Three-Way Coaxial Speakers and the Infinity Kappa Multi-Element Speaker.
Since its inception in 1938, Pioneer has been known to manufacture some of the best-sounding and long-lasting speaker systems. From its headquarters in Bunkyo, Tokyo, it designs headphones, home theater systems, and speakers for marine and automotive equipment. One of its best car speakers is the Pioneer G-Series Car Stereo Speakers.
Aftermarket Car Speakers Pricing
- Below $50: Most speakers within this price range are two-way speaker systems. Two way systems only split the frequencies into two parts: low and high. For that reason, you don’t get the best sound quality in comparison to high-end models.
- $50-$100: This price point is mostly for components and three-way speaker systems. The audio quality and sensitivity of the speakers get better the higher you are in this price range. The speakers also come in a variety of sizes and designs that can withstand extended playtimes without overheating.
- Over $100: Most speakers within this price range are high-end components speakers and four-way coaxial systems. You must pay for quality and power-intensive speakers. That means that you will most likely have to buy a new head unit or an amplifier that can power the new speakers.
The build quality or construction of a speaker has a profound effect on the sound quality and how well it’s going to do in extreme weather changes. Extreme heat or cold conditions can damage a speaker. The most durable and heat-resistant woofers are made of stiff yet lightweight polypropylene cones with a butyl rubber surround. Tweeters produce the best sound when made of soft material like silk or hard material such as graphite.
You can find car speakers that are as small as 3.5 inches and some as large as nine inches, which are typically fitted under the seat or in the car trunk. Larger speakers offer better sound quality since there’s room for better sound dispersion in the speaker components. However, they take up a lot of space in the car, and you may have to modify the mounting enclosure to fit them in.
Power Handling Capacity
Most speakers are rated in watts, which tells you how much power the speakers can handle before they overheat and blow out. Speakers with a low power rating can be powered with your factory stereo. If the speaker has a higher power rating than your stereo output, you either have to buy a new head unit with a higher power rating or include an amplifier in the setup.
- Sensitivity: This is the amount of power that needs to be channeled to a speaker so that it can produce sound at a specific volume. High sensitivity speakers require less power in that respect and can, therefore, be powered with your stock stereo components.
- Compatibility: To guarantee that new speakers are compatible with your vehicle, select the same size as your stock speakers. You won’t have to modify the original mounting hole or struggle during installation.
- Frequency Range: A speaker with a frequency range of about 80 to 20,000 hertz means that it can only produce lows and highs within that range, respectively. Any frequency out of that boundary will sound distorted. You should, therefore, prioritize speakers with a higher frequency range for richer and well-detailed sound.
- Impedance: Speakers have an impedance rating, which is measured in ohms. You need a speaker with low impedance for better sound quality. A speaker with high impedance restricts electrical signals or how easily music frequencies flow in the speaker. You have to use an amplifier to improve the signal flow.
Best Aftermarket Car Speakers Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: JBL Premium Speaker System
The JBL Premium is a 6.5-inch coaxial speaker system that’s designed to move more air and make better-sounding bass than other speakers in its class. The woofers are made of carbon-injected Plus-one cone material, which is stiff yet lightweight. The speakers have a two-inch mounting depth and a mounting diameter of about five inches.
This system features JBL’s patented UniPivot tweeters, which produce brilliant highs that can reach your ears even when the speakers are installed low on the doors. In addition, the tweeters feature dual-level volume adjustment that offers balanced sound even with improper speaker placement. Integrated crossover components direct the low and high frequencies to their respective drivers. Also, at three-ohm impedance, the speakers can compensate for undersized wires found in most car audio systems.
The downside with these speakers is that you may experience a number of installation issues. One is that they don’t come with wires and connectors, and you’d have to buy them separately. Also, the speakers are fitted with a plastic trim ring that hinders the dash grill from fitting in a standard 6.5-inch mounting hole.
Best Value: Rockford Fosgate Coaxial Speakers
The Rockford Fosgate Coaxial Speakers are a set of four 6.5-inch three-way speakers. Each speaker has a peak power of 90 watts and a continuous power of 45 watts. The speakers feature a half-inch silk dome Piezo tweeter with high-pass crossovers and a mid-range speaker for the high and mid-range frequencies, respectively.
The speaker cone is made of polypropylene and the external surface is reinforced with steel to protect the internal components from mechanical damage. They have a frequency response ranging from 52 to 20,000 hertz and a nominal impedance of four ohms. Each speaker has a mounting depth of 2.15 inches and comes with grilles and mounting hardware.
However, there are some caveats with these speakers. They are only good for listening to high- and mid-range frequencies. They can't handle low frequencies (bass) and may sound distorted at high volumes. Consider pairing them with a good subwoofer for decent bass sound.
Honorable Mention: Infinity KAPPA Three-Way Coaxial Speakers
The Infinity Kappa is another great sounding six by nine-inch coaxial speaker system. It comes as a set of two speakers, each with an incredible peak power handling capacity of 330 watts and an RMS power of 110 watts. That means that the speaker can withstand hours of extended playtime without overheating when paired with a modern head unit or amplifier.
In addition, the speaker has a frequency response of 35 to 30,000 hertz, high sensitivity of 93 decibels, and a low impedance of two ohms. The build quality features edge-driven silk dome tweeters coupled with oversized voice coils that deliver silky smooth highs. The woofer cone is made of patented Plus One Glass Fiber.
However, the speakers distort at high volumes. Also, the external body is lined with plastic that’s susceptible to damage with minor impacts. It can develop cracks around the screws with heavy vibration. Moreover, the speaker isn’t compatible with most low-powered factory stereos. You’d have to pair it with an amplifier.
- If your car's stereo system is low powered (15 watts RMS), high-sensitivity range speakers are the best choice. If the system is high powered, get low-sensitivity range speakers.
- If you can, get three-way speakers because they have a higher frequency range. They comprise a tweeter, a woofer, and a mid-range component. Two-way speakers only consist of a woofer and a tweeter.
- Choose speakers that are made with polypropylene because it has the ability to deliver accurate bass sounds. They must also feature lightweight construction as this helps with sound production.
Q: Will my factory radio be able to power aftermarket speakers?
A: Yes, in most cases. While aftermarket speakers sound better with a little more power, most sound okay with factory power. However, there are exceptions—like matched component sets and speakers with an RMS power rating of at least eight watts.
Q: How many speakers can a two-channel amplifier accommodate?
A: A two-channel amplifier can accommodate two to four speakers. However, the ohm must range between 4 and 16 and the speakers must be arranged in a parallel line. The connected speakers must be 8 ohms for the best sound output.
Q: Does a higher efficiency rating mean the speakers sound better?
A: The efficiency rating does not tell you how good a speaker sounds; it simply tells you how well it uses power. If your car has a low-powered factory system, be sure to choose a speaker with a high-efficiency rating (90db and above).
If you're looking for aftermarket speakers and you want nothing but the best, get the JBL Premium Speaker System. But if you have a limited budget, the Rockford Fosgate Coaxial Speakers are worth looking at.