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Best Car Speakers of 2022

Futurism logo Futurism 9/27/2022 Mark Webb
the best car speakers in 2022 © Provided by Futurism the best car speakers in 2022

Stop-and-go traffic would be intolerable without a good set of speakers for your car, and on a road trip, your favorite music becomes a soundtrack for your adventure. Upgrading your subpar car speakers for a higher-quality pair could make a huge difference, allowing you to drone out the noise of honks and beeps, and instead tune into your favorite playlist as you commute.

Car speakers have come a long way from the days of AM radio and a mono sound speaker. Today speakers come in all sizes, but the most common are 6.5-inch and 6 x 9-inch speakers. If your car uses one or both of those speaker sizes, replacing your factory ones should be easy. Most of the speakers on this list can be paired with a factory OE stereo but some will sound better with an amplifier. They also make great choices if you decide later to replace your existing head unit or add a subwoofer.

There are lots of choices in these size ranges to match your preferences and your budget. We’ve reviewed the best car speakers and have provided recommendations for highest value, best sound, and other important factors.

Research

— Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate R165X3

— Best Factory Upgrade: Kicker CS Series

— Best High-End: HERTZ HCX

— Best Budget: Boss Audio Systems CH6530B

— Best All-Weather: Polk DB Series

— Best Package: Pioneer TS Series

— Best Factory Replacement: Infinity REF6522IX

How We Picked the Best Car Speakers

On my first car, I replaced the AM radio with a new head unit and a pair of five-inch speakers. It sounded worse than the AM radio I replaced. Next, I added an amplifier with a graphic equalizer — and promptly blew out my speakers. Finally, I bought a pair of 6 x 9 speakers that matched the amplifier’s output and got the great sound I was looking for. I learned a lot from that experience including how to make all of the audio components work together. But it always starts with great speakers.

To compile this list, I looked at 10 to 15 brands of speakers and reviewed them based on sound quality, build quality, power, and price. I focused on speakers that provided a good upgrade over the factory OEM (original equipment manufacturer) speakers and sounded good with or without added amplification. Whether you just want to improve the sound in your factory stereo, or plan to upgrade your stereo in the future, it’s always better to go with the best speakers that can handle both options.

Most car stereo speakers won’t put out a lot of low-end bass, so it’s better to look for clarity in the mid and high-frequency ranges. If you want thundering low-end bass, the best solution is to add a subwoofer and avoid letting it overpower your other speakers. The key to concert-quality sound is balancing your audio components.

If price is a consideration, start with the speakers and upgrade your stereo from there. The speakers on this list are all good options for this approach and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Best Car Speakers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate R165X3

Plenty of Power. Rockford Fosgate © Provided by Futurism Plenty of Power. Rockford Fosgate

Why It Made the Cut: Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers are the top pick because it combines uncompromising sound quality for factory and aftermarket stereos at a reasonable price.

Specs:

Type: Three-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 52Hz (hertz) - 20kHz

Power: 45 watts RMS / 90 watts peak

Pros:

— Great sound across all frequencies

— Ideal for factory and aftermarket stereos

— Easy to install with plenty of size options

— Durable and well-built

Cons:

— Requires an amplifier for best sound quality

Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers are the top choice If you’re looking for a great set of speakers for a wide variety of factory and aftermarket applications. The three-way coaxial stereo speakers can handle 45 watts of RMS power or 90 watts of peak power which is more than adequate for most factory stereos. They come in a wide variety of sizes and provide a great quality sound, are well built, and are easy to install.

The only downside is these speakers might not provide the best sound quality when paired with a low-powered factory head unit. To get the best sound you’ll want a head unit or amplifier that provides close to the 45 watts RMS power rating of these speakers.

There are better quality speakers out there that cost more money, but the Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers provide the best combination of sound quality, durability, and price.

Best Factory Upgrade: Kicker CS Series

Fits Most Cars. Kicker © Provided by Futurism Fits Most Cars. Kicker

Why It Made the Cut: If you’re looking to upgrade your factory speakers with ones you can use to build a more powerful stereo, Kicker’s CS Series speakers are the best way to go.

Specs:

Type: Two-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 40Hz - 20kHz

Power: 100 watts RMS / 300 watts peak

Pros:

— Great sounding speakers with excellent mid and high range

— Excellent build quality

— Easy to install

— High RMS and peak power ratings pair well with OE and aftermarket stereos

Cons:

— Needs an amplifier to take advantage of the power

If you’re looking to replace your factory OEM speakers, the Kicker CS series is a great option. Available in a variety of sizes from 4 inches to 6 x 9 inches, these speakers will fit most cars. And with 100 watts of RMS power and 300 watts peak, you can pair these Kickers with an OE or aftermarket head unit.

The only drawback is you won’t get big, full sound unless you have an amplifier. But the good news is you can buy these speakers to replace your stock OE ones, and then upgrade your head unit and amplifier later. Additionally, these speakers work well with a subwoofer and won’t get drowned out easily with added low-end bass.

Best High-End: HERTZ HCX

Prime Sound Quality. HERTZ © Provided by Futurism Prime Sound Quality. HERTZ

Why They Made the Cut: For the best premium speakers with amazing sound quality it’s hard to top the HERTZ HCX lineup.

Specs:

Type: Three-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 50Hz - 22kHz

Power: 100 watts RMS / 260 watts peak

Pros:

— Crisp, clear sound across all frequencies

— Excellent frequency response

— Respectable RMS and peak power

— Tweeters can be turned and adjusted

Cons:

— Expensive

— Do not come with grilles or covers

Hertz offers some of the best quality speakers you can buy and the HCX series is no exception. Available in a wide range of sizes, they provide amazingly clear, high-quality sound and are well-engineered to provide exceptional, long-lasting performance.

The Hertz HCX speakers handle an impressive 100 watts RMS and up to 260 watts of peak power to generate loud, clear sound. The tweeters feature a rotary function allowing you to adjust their direction, customizing the sound to your preferences.

Price is the only major drawback, but there are more expensive speakers out there that don’t sound nearly as good. The only real concern I have is the lack of a grille or speaker cover for protection. You can fit these speakers behind a factory speaker cover or find an aftermarket one, but that covers up the cool rotating tweeter function.

You can spend less money and get speakers that are almost as good. But when it comes to high-powered high fidelity, the Hertz HCX line delivers the standard in premium sound.

Best Budget: Boss Audio Systems CH6530B

Great Value. BOSS Audio Systems © Provided by Futurism Great Value. BOSS Audio Systems

Why They Made the Cut: Boss Audio Systems’ CH6530B are a bargain upgrade over your stock OEM speakers.

Specs:

Type: Two-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 100Hz - 18kHz

Power: 100 watts RMS / 300 watts peak

Pros:

— Great price

— Decent sound quality

— Good power ratings

— Good quality with a three-year warranty

Cons:

— Frequency response isn’t as low or high as other speakers

— Don’t expect high-end, premium sound

Available in 5.25-inch and 6.5-inch sizing, the Boss Audio Systems CH6530B is a great budget speaker that offers good sound, good quality, and good power. There are other speakers that cost a few dollars less, but they don’t have Boss Audio’s reputation, quality, or three-year warranty.

Each speaker features a one-inch polyimide dome midrange and one-inch aluminum voice coil, while the woofer cone is constructed from poly injection. RMS power is rated at 100 watts with a 300-watt peak. And the shallow mount design will let you fit these speakers just about anywhere.

The sound quality is better than most factory speakers, but not as good as other speakers on this list. However, no other speaker in the $30 range can touch it. If you want a good speaker upgrade for very little money, it’s hard to beat the Boss.

Best All-Weather: Polk DB Series

Set Sail. Polk Audio © Provided by Futurism Set Sail. Polk Audio

Why It Made the Cut: The Polk‘s DB series speakers provide great sound and are built to handle all weather conditions.

Specs:

Type: Two-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 40Hz - 22kHz

Power: 100 watts RMS / 300 watts peak

Pros:

— Marine-rated waterproof

— Well-built to handle all weather

— Clear, loud, with great sound quality

Cons:

— Lacks low-end bass response

The Polk DB series is a good upgrade choice and has the benefit of being marine rated. That means if you need a speaker for your boat, motorcycle, ATV, or other watercraft, these speakers are a dependable option. Available in sizes ranging from 4-inch to 6 x 9, they are made to withstand the toughest weather conditions.

They sound great as well. With a frequency response of 40 hertz to 22 kilohertz, they are loud and clear with a clean sound across a wide frequency spectrum. The 150 watts RMS power, and 300 watts peak power also makes them a good complement for amplified systems and subwoofers.

Like most two-way coaxial speakers, the Polk DB series lacks low-end bass response. But if you want the best speakers for the elements at a good price, the Polk DB series is hard to beat.

Best Package: Pioneer TS Series

Four-Way Surround Sound. PIONEER © Provided by Futurism Four-Way Surround Sound. PIONEER

Why It Made the Cut: A great high power, great-sounding speaker package for under $200.

Specs:

Type: Two-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 36Hz - 25kHz

Power: 80 watts RMS / 350 watts peak

Pros:

— A bundle of four great sounding speakers

— Excellent build quality

— High-performance drivers

— True four-way sound

Cons:

— May require modifications to factory mounts

So far, all of the speakers on this list have been available in standard sizes, making them easy to install in existing factory mounts. However, this Pioneer TS series package comes with four 6 x 8-inch oval speakers, which may be tricky to install.

But if you can make them fit, they’re worth it. These speakers are very reasonably priced: For less than $200, you get four great-sounding speakers optimized for four-way surround sound. That means 350 watts of peak power with more detailed and fuller sound quality. The system is composed of a woofer, a mid-range cone, a tweeter, and a super tweeter. These four drivers combine effectively to create a much wider frequency response, providing you with dynamic, natural audio with plenty of detail and depth.

Best Factory Replacement: Infinity REF6522IX

Easy to Install. Infinity © Provided by Futurism Easy to Install. Infinity

Why They Made the Cut: If you’re looking to pair a factory head unit with upgraded speakers, the Infinity REF6522IX speakers are another great choice.

Specs:

Type: Two-way coaxial

Frequency Response: 53Hz - 21kHz

Power: 60 watts RMS / 180 watts peak

Pros:

— Great sounding speakers with excellent mid and high range

— Excellent build quality

— Universal mounting brackets

— Great sound paired with a factory OEM head unit

Cons:

— Short wiring connectors

— Lacks low-end bass response

If you’re looking to replace your factory OEM speakers, the Infinity REF-6522IX speakers are a great option. Available in a variety of sizes they offer plenty of options and are easy to install with their universal mounting brackets.

The full-range coaxial drivers include oversized woofer cones that deliver high bass output. One-inch dome tweeters provide clear highs and include an adjustable tweeter output level. In terms of power, 60 watts RMS and 180 watts peak provide loud, clear mid-range sound when connected to a factory head unit or amplifier.

The only drawbacks are a lack of low-end bass response and short wiring connectors. If you find yourself missing the low-end bass, the Infinity speakers pair well with a subwoofer.

Things to Consider Before Buying Car Speakers

Besides price, there are three things to consider when looking at car speakers:

Power 

Power is measured in watts and determines sound volume. But it’s more than just going with the most powerful speakers. There are two numbers to look at:

— RMS is the continuous power measurement for a speaker or the maximum rated power level a speaker can sustain.

— Peak is the maximum power rating for a speaker — this is the absolute maximum for occasional short bursts of peak volume.

Sound Quality

Everyone has a different idea of what sounds good, but the sound quality is affected by the speaker type and how it handles different frequency ranges measured in hertz (Hz). Most speakers handle sound between 40 hertz on the low end and 15,000 kilohertz on the high end.

In addition to the frequency range, car speakers usually come in one of two configurations which also affect sound quality:

Coaxial speakers combine the speaker with a woofer and tweeter in one design. Most speakers are either two-way speakers, meaning they have a separate woofer and tweeter, or three-way speakers with a separate woofer, tweeter, and a mid-range component. These types of speakers are the most common and are usually lower in price.

Component speakers separate out the woofers and tweeters from the mid-range speaker. They provide better high and low range sound than coaxial speakers. The benefit to a component speaker is better sound quality but they are also more expensive.

Durability

Build quality and durability determine not only sound quality but how long a speaker will provide a good quality sound. It may be tempting to get a cheaper pair of speakers, but you may save money in the long run by buying more expensive, better-quality speakers which should be more durable and last longer.

FAQs

Q: How much do car speakers cost?

Speakers start out at about $30 a pair and go up from there. Expect to pay at least $150 to $300 for four good-quality speakers. However, if you add a new head unit, amplifier, and a subwoofer it’s easy to spend over $1,000 on a complete system.

Q: Is a four-way speaker better than a two-way?

It depends on the quality and frequency range of the speakers. A two-way speaker with high-quality drivers will sound much better than a four-way speaker with four cheap drivers. The four-way speakers may provide a larger range of frequencies but won’t sound as good.

Q: Are bigger speakers better?

Like the question on four-way speakers, it depends on the quality and frequency range of the speakers. Smaller speakers with a higher RMS rating, more frequency range, and better quality components will sound better than larger, less powerful, and dynamic speakers.

Q: Can I install aftermarket car stereo speakers myself?

Absolutely. All you need is time and a few tools. Newer vehicles can be trickier because they have more integrated interior trim which can be harder to remove. But the process is not hard to do.

Q: How many watts is a good speaker for a car?

Most OEM car stereos are rated for 50 to 200 watts RMS of power. If you want more volume and sound, a good range is 200 to 300 watts RMS, which will pair well with most amplifiers.

Q: Do you need an amp for car speakers?

You don’t need an amp for car speakers, but it will improve the sound quality of a good set of aftermarket speakers. Some people will upgrade their speakers first and then add an amplifier and subwoofer. This is a good way to go if you want to incrementally upgrade your car’s stereo system.

Final Thoughts on Car Speakers

The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers are the best overall pick, offering great sound quality at a reasonable price. For the ultimate sound, the HERTZ HCX can’t be beaten. Check out the Kicker CS Series or Infinity REF6522IX if you want great speakers to work with your factory OEM head unit. Or if you need something to brave the elements, you can’t go wrong with the Polk DB652.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.

The post Best Car Speakers of 2022 appeared first on Futurism.

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