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Best Car Speakers of 2022: Highs, Lows, and Bass

It used to be that a radio and speakers were optional in a vehicle. Now, this is nearly unheard of in almost all new cars, and things like Bluetooth and navigation utilize entire speaker systems to convey information and whatever else might be heard through a connected device.

The Best Car Speakers

For some people, good audio quality from a set of speakers helps them concentrate better while driving. For others, quality sound means that their Sunday drive is more enjoyable. For still others, quality sound from a good set of speakers is an essential part of their hands-free business calls while traveling to and from locations.

Regardless of whether your car speakers are essential, useful, or just for pleasure, a good set can be well worth the money.

1. JBL GTO 609C Premium Speaker System

JBL is a well-respected brand within the automotive industry. Several automakers like Toyota and Ferrari even offer JBL sound systems in some of their models. The GTO 609C component system is highly-rated and designed to be compatible with most stock head units and amplifiers.

The GTO 609C’s cone is carbon-injected, making it stiffer than many competitors, enabling low frequency sounds to be more easily produced from the relatively small speakers. The 6.5-inch speakers are also housed in a reinforced glass-fiber frame to prevent warping and twisting during and after installation.

Peak power handling is rated at 270 Watts with continuous power handling rated from 5 to 200 Watts. Nominal impedance is rated at 3 ohms, sensitivity is rated at 92 dB, and frequency response ranges from 67Hz to 21kHz.

2. Infinity Kappa 62IX Coaxial Speaker System

The Infinity Kappa 62IX Coaxial Speaker System is pricier than the previous JBL system, but this system packs quite a punch with its stiff fiberglass cone construction, rotating tweeter angle, and oversized voice coils, all of which provide a robust sound experience for any need.

Infinity speakers are durable, undergoing multiple stress tests to reach the limits of what they can handle so that buyers get a tested product. A 2.7-ohm impedance and 95 dB sensitivity rating ensure that enough power is fed through the system to produce excellent sound.

Peak power is rated at 225 Watts with continual power handling rated at 75 Watts. Frequency response is rated between 45Hz and 25kHz. It's large 30 mm voice coil diameter prevents sound distortion at low frequencies.

3. Focal 165CA1 SG 2-Way Coaxial Speaker System

The Focal SG 2-way coaxial speaker system is more expensive still than both previous products, but they come highly-rated by many customers and installers. The entire system is well-built and durable with an open cone and glass-fiber woofer.

Like the Kappa 62IX, the Focal has a swiveling tweeter for better sound direction at low installation heights. The voice coils are cooled by numerous vents, and the crossovers are engineered to maximize sound at all frequencies. As a result, many professionals tout this system as one of the most natural-sounding compared to others.

This system has a 120 Watt peak and a 2 to 60 Watt power handling range. Frequency response handles 60 Hz to 20kHz, sensitivity is rated to 92 dB, and impedance sits at 4 ohms.

4. JL Audio C2-650X Evolution 2-Way Speaker System

A 225 Watt maximum peak power rating, a range of 15 to 60 Watts of continuous power handling, a 4-ohm impedance rating, a butyl rubber surround, and a similar price make the JL Audio C2-650X Evolution speaker system and the Focal 165CA1 SG very similar.

The JL Audio system does not have a tweeter swivel like some of the other systems, but it does have rigid molded mica polypropylene woofer cones for deep frequencies and silk tweeter domes for delicate high-frequency sound. 

Built-in crossovers further ensure that even sound distribution across all frequencies is achieved. Many experts recommend this product for its ability to show off the subtlety and delicacy of various sounds and different music.

5. Rockford Fosgate R165X3 Prime 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speaker System

Rockford Fosgate is another well-known and well-respected industry player. Their audio systems are used in various car models over several brands. The largest advantage this system has over others is its comparatively low price for high-quality sound.

This 3-way speaker system includes a woofer, silk-dome piezo tweeter, and midrange with integrated tweeter crossovers for seamless sound at all frequencies, and a rubber surround for increased durability. A polypropylene cone adds stiffness and superior low-frequency quality.

The speakers are rated for 90 Watts of peak power, 2 to 45 Watts of continuous power handling, a 91 dB peak sensitivity rating, a 4-ohm impedance, and a frequency response of 52Hz to 20kHz. Grilles are included with all speakers.

Types of Car Speakers Explained

car speakers

There are generally three or four types of different speakers – also called driver – types depending on who you ask. These different types handle different sound frequencies to provide the widest range for the listener.

Full-Range/Coaxial

Full-range or coaxial speakers contain several types of different speakers within one basket or system. Depending on how many different types of speakers are contained within one basket also determines if it is a 2-way, 3- way, or even a 4-way system.

The three most common types of speakers are subwoofers that handle very low frequencies, tweeters that handle very high frequencies, and mids that handle everything in between. Most full-range speakers contain woofers and tweeters, making them 2-way systems. A speaker that contains a woofer, mid, and tweeter in one basket is considered a 3-way system.

Some manufacturers split midrange speakers into midrange and midbass, and some include a super tweeter in their systems. These “extra” speaker types are made to handle a range of sounds more easily that might be missed by regular tweeters or subwoofers. Full-range systems are usually easier to install than component systems.

Component

Component speaker systems can contain any of the aforementioned speaker types, but they are not all contained within one speaker basket or unit. These systems can be harder to install since a crossover is used to send power to several different components, but they usually provide better sound quality since different speaker types can be used in various places with the vehicle.

Car Speaker Parts Explained

Speakers or drivers are more complex than many people think. Their makeup and subsequent sound quality are largely due to the material type and quality of their parts.

Plates, Pole Piece, and Magnet

The back, top plate, pole piece, and magnet make up the deepest part of a speaker, and they all work to send and concentrate magnetic energy on the sound coil.

Voice Coil

The voice coil is an electromagnet that moves rapidly and vibrates the cone when its magnetic poles are rapidly and constantly reversed. The magnet field reversal provides various levels of cone vibration which, in turn, produces the frequencies we can hear.

Cone

The cone is the most recognizable portion of a speaker. It is the concave bowl that vibrates, creating the frequencies that you can hear. The faster it vibrates, the higher the frequency will be. Upon examination, the cone can often be seen vibrating while music is playing.

Gasket

The gasket is simply to connect the speaker cone to the frame for mounting. Most speakers have a front gasket, but some also have a rear gasket.

Frame/Basket

The speaker frame or basket is the speaker housing. It is the structure in which most of the speaker components, including the cone, are housed. 

Spider

The spider is a disc positioned at the bottom of the cone and around the voice coil that focuses the voice coil vibration in a vertical motion. It prevents side-to-side vibrations of both the coil and cone to keep sound energy moving up and through the cone.

Connection Terminal and Flex Wires

The connection terminal and flex wires are what provide the power necessary to make the speakers work. They connect the amplifier and voice coil.

Dust Cap

The dust cap is the small bulge that you can usually see at the bottom of the cone. It is there to prevent dust and debris from getting into the vent and back to the delicate parts of the speaker.

Car Speaker Specifications Explained

Apart from the actual components that make up a speaker, there are several specifications and requirements for car speakers that allow them to function properly with other equipment within safe operating ranges.

SPL

SPL is the measure of efficiency within a speaker – meaning that it measures how loud a speaker can be played. This is measured in decibels (dB). Every 10 dB marks twice the volume, meaning that a 20 dB speaker can achieve a sound that is twice as loud as a 10 dB speaker. 

Power Handling

Power handling refers to how many watts of power a speaker can take before it gets too hot, components fail, and they stop working. There are two types of power handling. Continuous power handling is the normal range of wattage that a speaker can handle over a long period of time. Peak power handling is what a speaker can feasibly handle for a very short duration.

Nominal Impedance

Nominal impedance is the measure of a speaker’s resistance to the flow of electricity. Some frequencies require more energy to produce, so the impedance rating, measured in ohms, is important when it comes to knowing how much power a speaker will draw from an amplifier. In a nutshell, this means that a low nominal impedance rating will require a more powerful amplifier.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is a combination of impedance rating and efficiency rating. The less resistance a speaker has, the louder it can play given that everything else is equal. This means that if two speakers with a 20 dB SPL are mostly the same, but one of them has half the impedance rating of the other, the speaker with half the impedance rating will play 3 dB louder because it requires less energy to power.

Frequency Response

Frequency response is the range of frequencies that a speaker can produce. This is measured in hertz (Hz) and kilohertz (kHz).

Speaker Installation: What you Need to Know

Car speaker installation is not always difficult, but it can be depending on several different factors. There are several different things that everyone should remember when it comes to speaker installation.

Of course, reading the instructions that come with any product – especially an electronic one – is the most important first step but also one that is commonly overlooked or dismissed. Doing this could save your car or your newly-purchased speaker system from breaking before even using them, wearing out prematurely, or even doing damage to your vehicle’s electric system

Fitment is also an important key to speaker installation. Many companies provide fitment guides to show whether or not a speaker system or component fits your vehicle. If the one you want does not fit, it is fine, but just be prepared to do some modifications or fabrication to make it fit.

The last thing to remember is to do the correct research. Chances are that you will have to do some finagling to get your new speaker system connected and working properly. It is part of the experience. But, it is always helpful to look up what you need for installation before getting the product. This will help things go faster and smoother and prevent you from making avoidable mistakes.

Final Thoughts

Upgrading your car speakers can be part of a fun project, a beneficial upgrade, or even an essential part of a hands-free driving experience for a traveling business person. Regardless of your wants and needs, it is important to know which speakers are the best for your needs.

They may seem complicated, especially when it comes to installation and technical functionality, but knowing the general ins and outs of car speakers will help you make a smarter and more informed decision when it comes time to purchase a speaker system and its related components.

Richard Reed
I've been a General Manager of a moving company and I've also been a Professional Mover for over 30 years. I've driven flat beds, reefers, dropdecks, moving vans, heavy machinery, etc. In my time as a Mover I've driven over 1,000,000 safe miles. My days of moving and driving truck are past me but The Vehicle Lab allows me to share the knowledge I've gained over the past 40 years.
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