Best Car Speakers

by Matthew David | Updated: August 15, 2019

The Best Speakers for Your Car in 2020

Need to upgrade your car speakers? After all, there’s nothing like hearing your favorite music playing through high quality speakers in your car.

But finding the right kind of speakers is a whole other challenge once you realize the multitude of options available in the market. That’s where we can help.

We’ll help you decide whether you should invest in component or coaxial speakers, what brands you should pay attention to, and what else to look for in our comprehensive list of the best car speakers.

Our Choice for the Best Car Speakers

CT Sounds Meso 6.5″ Component Speakers

See CT Meso Speakers on Amazon

Review – The Best Car Speakers [2020]

Want to dramatically improve your car’s sound? The easiest way to do so is to replace your car speakers. Changing your head unit is a strong second place. Finally, a good subwoofer will add some serious low end to your music, but first things first, if you want loud, clear sound, then there’s no getting around buying good car speakers.

Ever notice a crackling sound coming from your car speakers? Then there’s a good chance your speakers are blown. Hopefully, this isn’t the case and you’re just looking to replace the stock speakers that came with your car.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got you covered as we take a look at a number of well-respected audio brands such as JBL, Sony, Kenwood and Polk.

We’ve compared their sound specifications, performance, size and overall value and whittled our list down to the best speakers in each category.

picture of collection of car speakers

Best 6×9 inch Car Speakers

These speakers are best positioned in the rear deck of the back of the rear. Most cars are equipped to accommodate them without needing any additional equipment, but you may need to buy an enclosure, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

If you want full sound without having to invest in subwoofers, then you’ll want to get these big speakers, particularly if you have a big vehicle or want to ensure that you can turn the music up loud without distortion.

These can be a bit tricky to install yourself so you should probably get them professionally installed. Read about the Best 6X9 Speakers in this article.

Best 6.5-Inch Car Speakers

These are the most common door speakers as they are smaller than 6x9s, which are generally more suitable for installation towards the rear of the car. 6.5 inch speakers are still big enough to deliver solid mids and highs with good bass as well.

In other words, these speakers give you the best of all worlds and the ideal setup is a pair of good quality 6.5” speakers in the front door of the car with 6×9” speakers in the back. Read about the best 6.5 Car Speakers in this article.

CT Sounds Meso 6.5 Car Speaker

Note, at around $150, these are the most expensive speakers in this speaker size category, but many would say they’re well worth it.

While the sound specifications may not be impressive at first glance with a peak power of only 120W and a continuous RMS of 60W, it’s the performance that counts. Note: when compared to larger 6×9” speakers, the peak power and RMS of 6.5” speakers will always be lower.

In any case, in short, these speakers knock! Your neighbors will not like you as the volume on these speakers can be turned all the way up and still produce clear and crisp mids, without even connecting an amplifier.

And with a fiberglass woofer cone, they actually have very impressive bass response – perfect for rock, pop and hip hop lovers.

Again, they’re a bit pricey, but if they spare you from having to invest in an additional amplifier, then they’re well worth it.

See CT Sounds Speakers on Amazon

Best 5 1/4″ Car Speakers

These speakers are best for rear door installation. They can optionally be mounted in the rear deck as well. 

Ideally, you’ll pair them with either some 6.5″ or 6×9” speakers. Keep in mind that these are smaller speakers so they don’t have enough room to deliver true low end on their own so bass lovers beware.

1. Polk Audio DB522 DB+ Car Speaker

These are good value 5 1/4 speakers. Polk audio is a relatively newcomer in the audio game but they have an impressive array of sound systems in both the home and car.

The Polk Audio has crisp clear sound that reproduces the mids and highs faithfully but I probably wouldn’t recommend these without a subwoofer as the built-in bass leaves much to be desired.

They also aren’t terribly loud despite their 100W rating so, again, using these standalone without an amplifier may not give you the best bang for your buck.

What really sets these apart is the fact that they’re water and dust proof. In other words, if you’re a motorcycle, ATV or boat lover, and want speakers that will hold up against the elements, these are perfect.

For good measure, they have an IP55 rating. You can learn more about waterproof ratings here.

See Polk Audio Speakers on Amazon

2. Infinity Kappa 50.11CS Car Speakers

These are awesome speakers. Check the ratings and reviews for yourself. They are widely lauded by nearly 1,000 reviewers on Amazon as being top quality.

We don’t have much to say other than these are probably the best 5 1/4 car speakers you can buy.

In short, they’re component speakers, meaning they have separate components dedicated to handling each band of frequencies (low, medium, high. Read more below about the difference between component and coaxial speakers.

The deliver “crystal clear” sound as quoted by many reviewers, and they actually have impressive built-in bass so you can get use these as standalone speakers without having to invest in a subwoofer.

But it will cost you. These pair of speakers around $120 but you get what you pay for. We definitely think they’re worth the investment.

See Infinity Speakers on Amazon

Best 4-Inch Car Speakers

1. Rockford Fosgate P142 Car Speaker

Rockford is an established brand in the audio space and has continued to refine and innovate their speaker series over the years.

The P142 is a small 4-inch model that is complimentary to a complete car audio sound system setup. They’re certainly not cheap, but good craftsmanship rarely ever is.

As for the sound specs, they have a peak power of 60W with a continuous RMS of 30W. They are most likely too small to be paired with an amplifier given they’re comparatively low headroom.

As expected with speakers this size, the bass is lacking, but the mids and highs are solid. And the intended use of 4 inch speakers should be for delivering the mids and highs anyway.

That being said, there are over 1,500 Amazon reviewers, many of whom say these actually deliver good bass. We can’t verify what other speakers these user were comparing the Fosgate P142 to so we can neither deny nor confirm these findings. Yeah, we’re CIA agents all of a sudden.

See Rockford Speakers on Amazon

2. JBL GT7-4 Car Speaker

It’s hard to go wrong with any JBL speaker, regardless of its size or intended use. They make great speakers for the car and home and the GT74 is no exception.

Again, the bass isn’t impressive as with all 4 inch speakers, but they do indeed deliver clean and clear detail throughout the mid and top end frequencies, without any distortion when turned up loud.

If you’re looking to save money on a replacement for your stock speakers, then these may be a good option.

See JBL 4″ Speakers on Amazon

3. Infinity REF-4032cfx Speaker

On the other end of the price spectrum are these Infinity 4 inch speakers. To be fair, they have impressive reviews because they deliver awesome sound, more than justifying the price.

They have the aforementioned True Four impedance technology that combines the car’s speaker wire with these 3-ohm speakers.

Basically, this means that your head unit (you have one, right?) will view these 3-ohm speakers as being 4-ohm speakers, ie. they will sound louder and more powerful, while still delivering clean, distortion free sound, especially when combined with an amplifier.

See Infinity REF Speakers on Amazon

How To Choose the Best Speaker

There are a lot of technical terms that get thrown around without much explanation: RMS, crossovers, coaxial vs component speakers…not to mention he fundamental question of how many speakers you even need. Let’s clear up any confusion you may have.

How Many Speakers Do I Need?

As with most things, it depends. Depends on your budget and the make and model of your vehicle for starters (do you have a mini cooper or a Chevy Suburban?)

Let’s assume you have a car with four speakers and you want to replace the stock speakers. You probably want to invest in four new speakers.

If you want the bass to be faithfully reproduced, then you’ll also want to invest in subwoofers. We have an entire subwoofer buying guide that will help you decide which sub is best for you.

picture of amplifier and subs in car rear

You want to cover the full range of frequencies (low, mid, highs) and more often than not, speakers will cover the mids and highs, while a subwoofer will deliver the bass you need.

You’ll also want to take into account the size of your vehicle. A larger SUV will require more power in all of these frequencies while a Hyundai can probably get by without the use of an amplifier and powerful speakers all around.

Also consider the speakers’ positioning. Most coupes will have speakers positioned towards the bottom of the vehicle, with room for rear speakers on the rear deck of the car. Conversely, a four door vehicle should have room for at least four speakers throughout the doors.

Therefore, if you have a two door vehicle with speakers positioned near the bottom of your car, you’ll need more powerful speakers (recommend at least 50 RMS) to fill up the car sound in the absence of any rear speakers.

picture of installing car speakers

What’s the Difference Between Two-Way and Three-Way Speakers?

Most speakers are two-way speakers due to the fact that they’re more affordable and easier to construct, thus appealing to a wider audience. In a nutshell, three-way speakers cover a wider range of frequencies (again, low, medium, high) vs two way speakers that attempt to reproduce all three frequencies with only two outputs.

Which one is better? Depends on your budget. Three-way speakers have a component for each frequency range, but cost a bit more, while two-way speakers are more affordable but may not be as good at reproducing the range of frequencies as well.

The other difference, generally speaking, is that three-way speakers tend to be more durable due to their construction so they may be a bit more reliable over the long term. That said, all of the speakers on this list are from quality brands who offer standard warranties should anything happened to your speakers so this shouldn’t be too great of a concern.

In short, get three-way speakers if you want the best sound. But if you have a subwoofer, then two-way speakers should be just fine as the bass will be accurately reproduced by the subs.

tweeters on dashboard

Full-Range Vs. Component Speakers

Component speakers allow for greater flexibility in setup of your tweeters, on the edges of your dashboard for example. Full range speakers include all components built-in while component speakers separate them out so you can have dedicated placement of your tweeters and mids.

This may make installation a bit more involved, but ultimately the audio experience should be better. Again, a lot of this depends on budget and personal preference. Full range speakers should be more affordable, while component speakers will produce the best overall sound for you audiophiles out there.

Note, none of this matters if you don’t have a quality amp and subwoofer. If you’re solely replacing the car speakers without an amp and sub, you should probably go with full range speakers.

 

A Word on Peak Power (Max Wattage)

You’ll see many speakers advertised as having peak power of  300, 500W or even 1000W! Take this with a grain of salt. What matters more is the RMS rating. This is the wattage at which the speaker will be operating the majority of the tie.

When looking for the loudness/volume capabilities of a speaker, check its RMS rating. This isn’t a stadium concert. 100W for example, is more than enough power for your car. Your mother (and your ears) will thank you.

Power Handling

This is related to RMS but its not quite the same. It’s the maximum amount of power that your speakers can handle, without getting blown out.

Again, most speakers will list a max power wattage, but pay attention to the RMS.

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.

tricked out car speaker system

Build Quality/Car Speaker Materials 

You’ll want speakers with rubber surrounds. These are durable and will hold up to extreme temperatures such as extreme colds in the Midwest to the stifling heat of a New Orleans summer.

The tweeter materials, meant to reproduce the high end frequencies, can vary in composition and there’s no right or wrong material per se. Soft materials are more malleable and may offer refined sound and increased sensitivity while stiffer materials may sound more crisp. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

The subwoofers should have soft lightweight cones that move freely inside a high quality speaker enclosure. Again, you can learn more about subwoofers here.

Also keep in mid the brackets and audio cables you’ll need to install speakers if you’re going the DIY route. Be sure to take into account the extra space that the brackets will require for keeping your speakers in place.

Finally, invest in high quality cables and a harness if you’re going the DIY route as well. There is much more to self-installation but these are the absolute basics at a high level.

car speakers in the door

Improving your car’s sound quality

As we’ve mentioned, to truly get the most out of your speakers, you’ll need a quality head unit. An amplifier and subwoofer are great additions as well, but they are secondary to a good head unit.

A good head unit will give you control over your car’s E settings, allow you to play audio from your phone or CD player, and customize additional sound settings throughout your car system.

If you plan on getting a subwoofer, you’ll need an amplifier. Period. Only an amplifier has the requisite power to take full advantage of a subwoofer.

Conclusion

Regardless which speakers you decide to purchase, they will undoubtedly sound better than your car’s stock sound system. After all, car manufacturers are focused on delivering the best vehicle, not sound. The above list covers a wide range of different options and speaker sizes for all budgets so you should hopefully find something you like.

Choose the right speaker size(s) within your budget and have them professionally installed. You’ll be in car audio heaven in no time. Cheers!