Unless you purchased a new car with a premium sound upgrade, your car uses cheap factory installed speakers – a single driver that produces all the frequencies of an audio signal. Car manufacturers use low-quality speakers because it keeps production costs down. However, factory speakers can degrade quickly, especially if you always have your stereo turned up whenever you get in your car. After a while, your commute's playlist will start to sound tired and distorted, forcing you to switch to talk radio or silence.
Fortunately, replacing your factory-installed speakers is easy. In most cases, the only tool you'll need is a screwdriver. Swapping out the factory speakers for auto speakers with multiple drivers can provide a remarkable improvement to the sound landscape of your car. Two-way and three-way speakers are the most popular replacements for factory speakers because separate drivers produce the frequency ranges. Instead of one speaker producing all the frequencies, which leads to a muddy mixture of bass, midrange and treble, the parts are distinct and clear.
The best car speakers allow you to hear things you never heard with the factory speakers. You'll hear lyrics you previously couldn't make out. You'll pick out subtle guitar parts buried in the mix. You'll feel the drums as if at a concert. By replacing your factory speakers, you'll actually look forward to your daily commute. You'll want to go on long road trips. You won't mind running errands across town on weekends. The best car audio speakers help you rediscover your passion for music – and the Pioneer A-Series, Infiniti Reference X and JBL GTO car speakers give you the best chance of this. For more information, read our articles about car speakers.
Speakers create sound by moving the surrounding air at various frequencies. This basic property makes automobiles one of the most difficult acoustical environments because there are so many factors that can interfere with that movement of air – the sound and vibrations of the engine, the sound and vibrations of the tires rolling against the road, the interior material's ability to reflect and absorb sound waves, the shape of the interior, etc. Every car has its own unique acoustic challenges. A certain car speaker might sound epic in one car and lifeless in another.
The first step is to find out what size speaker your car uses. It doesn't matter how good a speaker sounds if it doesn't fit the mounting bracket. Since size is so important, we reviewed car speaker series based on the common sizes used in the most common locations – rear deck speakers and door speakers. We also considered the speaker design options and the help and support provided by the manufacturer.
Below are some of the criteria you'll want to consider when choosing the best car speaker for your automobile.
Rear Deck Speaker Performance
For the speakers mounted behind the backseat, we reviewed the most common size – 6 x 9-inch speakers, which are typically the biggest speaker in a series that's not a subwoofer. We rated the audio quality by listening to how the speaker produced a diverse range of music using a flat E.Q. setting so that no single frequency range was boosted.
A high score for audio quality reflects a speaker that not only produces fully shaped bass, mid-range and treble frequencies but also produces excellent stereo imaging – the ability to create the perception of space in the mix. As you're flying down the freeway, the best 6 x 9 speakers should make it feel like the band is with you in the car, rocking out around you as if you're on stage.
One of the most important specifications for a car speaker is the sensitivity, which is the volume you'll hear sitting one meter from the speaker when the speaker uses one watt of power. A higher sensitivity rating means that you can produce more volume with less power. In addition, you'll want to consider the frequency response range, the power handling ratings, impedance and mounting depth.
Door Speaker Performance
Door speakers can range a lot in size. For example, smart cars tend to use 3.5-inch and 4-inch speakers because of the limited room. Many sedans uses 5.25-inch car speakers in the door. However, for this car speaker review, we compared the best 6.5-inch car speakers, as this is the most common size. We reviewed these speakers in the same way we reviewed the rear deck speakers – listening to a diverse playlist on a flat E.Q.
After determining an audio quality score, we compared sensitivity, frequency range, power handling, impedance and mounting depths. The best 6.5 car speakers have wide frequency response, high sensitivity and power handling, low impedance, and shallow mounting depths.
Speaker Design Options
Many car speaker series offer a wide range of speaker designs in a series. If you're looking for the best possible audio experience, the component speakers are the way to go. However, these speakers are not for the novice car audio enthusiast. Since the woofer and tweeters are separate, component speakers require a customized installation that will likely require tearing up your interior to find the optimal speaker locations for your car. If you're an audiophile that must have the best audio, it's well worth it.
The most common speaker designs are the two-way and three-way speakers. These speakers have a driver for the woofer and additional drivers for the mid- and high-range frequencies. Some manufacturers also have four- and five-way speakers, which further break up the frequency response. Finally, the best car speaker designs include an adjustable tweeter mount that allows you to aim the sound at the best position for your car.
Help & Support
For customer support, you should consider the warranty. The industry standard is one year. Should you have any problems, you should be able to contact support through email or telephone. You should also be able to find answers to common issues and concerns on a FAQs page. User forums are also an important resource for sharing ideas and concerns with people who use the same car audio products.
If your car speakers sound dull and tired, there's no reason why you shouldn't replace them with one of the best car speaker brands. In most cases, the installation takes only a few minutes. All you need is a screwdriver and a desire to experience high-quality audio as you roll down the road.