One of the most disappointing things is buying a new car, plugging in a phone or popping in a CD, and realizing the built-in speakers just won’t cut it. No matter if you’re replacing on an old vehicle or looking to upgrade to a new one, a set of speakers can always benefit.
As the new year rolls in, many people want to use the extra dough they scraped up during the holidays to turn up their audio experience within their vehicle. We wanted to help ease the process for you by picking up what we believe to be the best car speakers for 2021.
Rockford Fosgate R165X3
Starting off this list is a pair of flexible three-way speakers at a good price. While not the cheapest on this list, the Rockford Fosgate R165X3 proves to be an excellent middle-of-the-road speaker with some great sound.
The speakers measure 6.5” in diameter, with a mounting depth of 2.15”. Of course, your vehicle will determine if that’s the right size for you. However, the 6.5:” is surprisingly good for the size. Bass punches through much more than expected from such a small driver. While bassheads will always need a dedicated subwoofer, these speakers do a good job.
This is largely due to the distribution between the three different drivers. You get a midrange driver, a woofer, and a tweeter inside. Breaking down the speaker into a 3-way design helps keep each area cleaner, a major pro to these speakers.
The speakers will handle 45W RMS and 90W peaks, so make sure you don’t overextend them. While these speakers aren’t the best sounding on the list, they’re sure close. If you want a good mid-range option at a decent price, then these speakers are for you.
If you want to go even more budget than you can get a set of four Kenwood KFC-1665S for $10 more than a pair of the Fosgate’s. While the audio quality diminishes quite a bit, you get a whole set of speakers for outfitting your vehicle.
The main change is from a three-way design to a two-way one. Instead of a midrange driver, you just get a woofer and a tweeter. What this translates to is a less pronounced midrange that instead blends into the bass. However, the bass is very good considering the setup.
This speaker comes in at the same size as the Fosgates and does a good job reproducing low-end like the former. The two-way design doesn’t hurt it much.
It does hurt the midrange, though. While highs and lows are in the right spot, the midrange isn’t as defined as I would have hoped. Still, this speaker sounds great, especially considering the cost.
Coming in between the two in price is the JVC CS-J620, This affordable pair of speakers highly jumps up the quality for just slightly more than the Kenwoods. With an exceptional high-end response and excellent power handling, this is a solid cost-effective option.
This is another two-way speaker, but the frequency definition is far superior. Bass is deep and booming, dipping well into the sub-region. As with every other speaker on this list, they won’t replace a sub for those who demand a boatload of it, but it does a good job nonetheless.
What’s impressive is how much power these speakers can handle. You can pump 30w RMS and a whopping 300w peak through them. If you’re like me and like to run your speakers load, these are a good option for you.
While definitely budget conscience, the JVC CS-J620 manage to provide an incredible value. You’ll see a significant improvement over the stock speaker in your car, and the excellent power handling means they’re unlikely to blow.
If you’re looking for more than just a stock upgrade, then you’re going to need to jump up in price. Thankfully, the Kicker CS line of speakers jumps the quality while still providing an exceptional value.
As a standard size for most vehicles, this 6.5” speaker will deliver, but anyone in the line works based on your needs.
This is another speaker with a two-way design. However, the bass punches through much more clearly. I’m not sure what Kicker has going on, but the low-end doesn’t seem to intrude on the mids too much. Instead, the speaker sound balanced throughout the frequency spectrum.
The bass is so defined due to the excellent power handling of these speakers. You get 100w RMS and 300w peak. This means that you should hear low frequencies reproduced with ease, no matter what the volume is. If you want a good value option that reaches above a simple stock replacement, then these speakers may be for you.
Boss Audio CH6520
Boss Audio doesn’t make the best-sounding speakers in the world, but they do make some of the most inexpensive. The CH6520 Speakers are an excellent option for the replacement of stock speakers for a dirt-cheap price.
The sound quality is of the hyped variety, meaning you’re going to get some exaggerated highs and lows from them. While it’s not for me personally, that doesn’t mean the speakers don’t have merit. If that’s your preference, then it’s fine for you.
Despite hyping these extremes, the speakers don’t reach too high or low. Frequency response is only rated to go down to 100Hz. So, while you do get a considerable amount of bass, it doesn’t pump nearly as much as other speakers and, while you get some pretty bright sound, you don’t get the ultra hi-res response.
Combining all of that together and the CH6520 chalks up to an ambitious speaker that falls slightly short. However, that’s not factoring in the cost. When that is considered, these speakers are a great deal that produces great sound.
Infinity Reference REF-6520cx
If you’re looking for high-end, then you can look at Infinity. The Reference line of speakers sounds amazing, coming equipped with adjustable tweeters, excellent bass response, and great power handling.
While these are component speakers, the parts come individually. You’ll get two woofers, two tweeters, and two crossovers. You can install the speakers in individual locations and use the crossovers to sync them up.
You also get mounting brackets included for most major makes of cars. What’s excellent is that Infinity includes everything you need in the box so you can get started.
The ¾” edge-driven textile dome tweeters reproduce the top-end beautifully, opening up the clarity of your music. You’ll hear details that you would have otherwise missed, really showing the craftsmanship inside.
Infinity Reference speakers are a standard for excellent car speakers. The sound is clear and beautiful and able to crank up loud. If you want the best, then this is a good place to start.
Polk Audio DB652
Polk Audio isn’t mainly known for car speakers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make some good ones. Like all of Polk’s products, these speakers are clean and clear with a fair price point that, while still pricy, still feels totally worth it.
You get an extended top and low-end on the Polk Audio DB652s. The speakers reach down to 40Hz for a solid punch and up to 22kHz for pristine highs. These two areas, like on all Polk products, shine through. The highs are bright without being shrill and the lows punch consistently and tightly.
However, the midrange does suffer. It’s not bad, but it’s not as a present I would like it to be. However, this is largely due to tastes. Many people love Polk speakers and these ones carry the same audio quality seen in others.
The DB652s are good for more than just car speakers, though. They’re marine rated, meaning they can easily be loaded in a boat. The IP55 rating means they completely rain and water-resistant and tested for degradation from salt, fog, UV, and humidity.
Rockford Fosgate R169X3
If you look at the Fosgate speakers but need a different size, then the R169X3s Speakers are what you need. These 6” x 9” speakers are beautifully crafted and hold many of the same features seen on the 6.5” counterpart.
That, of course, means the three-way design as the staple of the speaker. You get full-range sound from it. This includes a low-end woofer, a mid-range driver, and a Piezo tweeter all stacked on one another.
The speaker uses Fosgate’s ICC Crossover. This hides the crossover inside the basket of the speaker, cleaning up the look and making for a more unified speaker. It’s a marvel that three separate sources can be stack on one another.
The speaker is tuned to Klippel, an industry-leading speaker calibration and certification program, and conforms to CEA-2031 power handling standards. The size fits you, then this speaker is one you should strongly consider.
Skar Audio IX-8 D2
To satisfy low-end junkies, there needs to be a sub on this list. For a great choice at a good price, look no further than Skar Audio. Skar makes some fantastic sounding subwoofers that present enormous value for the price.
The sub can handle 150w of power RMS and 300w of power peak. The overhead of the Skar Audio IX-8 D2 is great, especially when dealing with the low frequencies. Deal with them, you’ll need to. This sub can really push it out so make sure you have dedicated control.
If you can’t, then the sub can easily overpower just about any other sound in your vehicle. If you like bouncing your vehicle as it goes down the road, great. However, it’s not the optimal way to listen, and you’ll need to adjust the sub accordingly.
Once you do, you’ll find a great audio experience underneath. The 2” voice coil has no issues reproducing shaking low-end. As soon as you strike a balance, this is a great sub to add to your vehicle.
Rounding out the list is a tiny speaker with a lot of punch. The Pioneer TS-G1045R is a full-range speaker, with extended upper and lower bands and excellent power handling for the size. While it can’t reproduce low-end as efficiently as the larger speakers on this list, it still does an admirable job.
Despite the small size, the speaker has a larger tweeter. This extends the frequency response up to 29kHz. Highs are clear and defined because of it, without harsh frequencies overworking themselves in order to reproduce the top.
Bass is surprisingly good as well. It’s not exceptional, but that’s mainly due to physics. Still, with a max power rating of 210w and a frequency response down to 38Hz, it’s impressive what this speaker can do.
These speakers aren’t ideal, but they’re small enough and cheap enough to really be impressive. If the size fits you, you’re sure to find something special.
Of course, much of the decision comes down to what you can afford and what fits within your vehicle. There are great options for prices low and high, so consider that first and you should find the speaker that works for you.
We believe the Rockford Fosgate R165X3 is the most well-rounded speaker of the lot. It has an inexpensive price point, size standard for most vehicles, and produces fantastic sound. That would be a good place to start looking.
What ones do you plan on going with? Let us know in the comments and, as always, thanks for reading.