Many modern cars now come with decent stereo systems, especially compared to older vehicles, when an AM radio might have been an extra cost option. But maybe you want better audio from your car without having to spend a premium for unknown components from the factory. Thankfully, the aftermarket will let you upgrade to the best car speakers available, many of which are direct replacements so you don’t have to worry about complicated wiring, getting a new head unit or even adding an amplifier to your car. This is especially important as most new vehicles now have complex infotainment systems that aren’t easily removable.

When shopping for replacement car speakers, make sure you’re getting the correct size speakers for your specific car. Otherwise, you may need to look at getting a custom installation done. Our recommendations for this list are intended to be OE replacement speakers, something you could do in your own garage if you have a bit of knowledge with wiring and how stereo systems work.

1. Best Performance: JL Audio C2-650X Evolution Series

jl audio evolution series c2-650x

You have likely heard of JL Audio if you have ever done any research on car audio. These are some of the most expensive speakers on our list, but if you want some of the best-sounding speakers they’re the way to go. The C2-650X Evolution Series are 6.5-inch two-way coaxial speakers, featuring a 6.5-inch subwoofer and a 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter. Designed to deliver high-frequency detail, smooth mid-range, and powerful mid-bass, the woofers have mineral-filled polypropylene cones, long excursion capabilities, and stamped steel frames.

The tweeters are coaxially mounted and aim to provide smooth and extended response, on and off axis. These speakers are rated at 60 watts RMS or 225 watts peak with 4-ohm impedance and frequency response range of 59 Hz to 22 kHz.

2. Best on a Budget: Pyle PL463BL Three Way Sound Speaker System

pyle three-way sound speaker system

Pyle offers affordable options for replacement car speakers in a variety of sizes and speaker system classes. You can even choose the speakers’ maximum output power so you can get the exact ones you want. Available sizes include 4 x 6-, 4, 5.25-, 6×9-, and 6.5-inch.

The 4 x 6-inch speakers are three-way and have a maximum output power of 240 watts. They’re triaxial speaker systems, with a woofer that features a blue poly injection cone to enhance stiffness, while the one-inch ASV voice coil is designed to handle high-wattage, high-temperature situations. As a three-way speaker system, it features a one-inch neodymium film dome midrange and .75-inch piezo tweeter. The result is smooth, loud, and detailed sound for each pair. They are low impedance, so the four-ohm component speaker compensates undersized wiring often found in modern cars, helping you make the most out of every 240 watt the stereo can deliver.

The four-inch speakers are two-way with maximum output power of 180 watts, and a 20-ounce magnet structure and .5-inch neodymium film dome tweeter, and frequency response. It is also 4Ω impedance and has a .75-inch high-temperature ASV voice coil. They provide up to 90 watts RMS, or 180 watts peak power.

If your car takes 5.25-inch speakers, Pyle’s offering is three-way with output power of 100 watts RMS or 200 watts peak. They also feature a 20-ounce magnet structure, .5-inch neodymium film dome tweeter and are 4Ω impedance. The ASV coil however, is a one-inch unit.

Four-way speakers are available as 6 x 9-inch speakers with a 50-ounce magnet structure, one-inch film dome midrange and frequency response. Also 4Ω impedance, the 6 x 9s have a 1.25-inch ASV voice coil. They provide up to 200 watts RMS or 400 watts peak power.

Lastly, the 6.5-inch speakers Pyle offers are three-way triaxial speakers with 360 watts peak power handling. They feature a one-inch ASV coil, 4Ω impedance, one-inch neodymium film dome midrange and .75-inch piezo tweeter.

Pyle’s speakers are an affordable, cost-efficient option to upgrade your car’s factory stereo.

3. Best Mid-Range: JBL GTO629 Premium 6.5-Inch Co-Axial Speaker

JBL GTO629 Premium 6.5-Inch Co-Axial Speaker

For decades, JBL has established itself in the home audio industry ,and now its engineers are creating high-quality speakers for automotive use. The 6.5-inch GTO Series two-way component system are rated at 90 watts RMS each, or 180 watts per pair. They feature carbon-injected cone material with patented Plus One woofer-cone technology, helping increase output with no extra power.

These speakers have vented magnet assemblies on the woofer/midrange driver, helping keep the voice coil nice and cool. This increases reliability for greater power handling while helping eliminate power compression that can distort a speaker’s sound.

Designed to be replacement for factory speakers, the GTO Series have three-ohm voice coils that allow compensation for added resistance from thin factory speaker wire. Helping remove harmful frequencies are external 12dB/octave crossover filters.

4. BOSS Audio CH6530 Chaos Exxtreme

boss audio car speakers

Another affordable option for speaker upgrades comes from BOSS Audio’s Chaos Exxtreme lineup in 5.25-inch and 6.5-inch sizing. The 5.25-inch speakers are available in two-way or three-way form, while the 6.5-inch speakers are offered in two-way, two-way shallow mount, three-way, and as a component set.

The 5.25-inch, two-way speakers have 4-ohm impedance with a frequency response range of 100Hz to 1 kHz. Each speaker features a one-inch polyimide dome midrange and one-inch aluminum voice coil, while the woofer cone is constructed from poly injection. Peak power is at 100 watts x 2 for 200 watts. The 5.25-inch, three-way units add one tweeter to each speaker and have peak power of 112.5 watts x 2 (225 watts).

The 6.5-inch, two-way speakers have similar specifications as the 5.25-inch units, except for peak power of 125 watts x 2 for 250 watts. The shallow-mount versions require 1.8 inches of mounting depth, compared to 2.1 inches for the standard two-way speakers. The three-way version adds a tweeter to each speaker, with peak power at 150 watts x 2 (300 watts).

Lastly, the component set comes with two 6.5-inch speakers, two tweeters, two crossovers, and grills. They have peak power of 112.5 watts x 2 (225 watts). When purchased from Amazon, the BOSS Audio speakers come with a three-year Platinum Online dealer warranty.

5. Rockford Fosgate Prime R169X2 6 x 9 Inches Full Range Coaxial Speaker

rockford fosgate speakers

One of the most well-known brands in the car audio industry is Rockford Fosgate, and the company’s Prime family of speakers is a great choice as a mid-range option. The lineup includes six sizes from four inch to 6 x 9 inch housings.

The smallest Rockford Fosgate Prime four-inch speaker is a two-way full-range speaker at 30 watts RMS, and is designed to be a factory replacement option. The speakers feature a vacuum polypropylene cone, rubber surround, stamped steel basket, silk dome flush mounted tweeter, and integrated tweeter crossover. They are 4 ohm impedance with a frequency response range of 100Hz to 20kHz.

The 5.25-inch speakers are two-way units rated at 40 watts RMS and are similar to the 4-inch speakers with a vacuum polypropylene cone, rubber surround, silk dome flush mounted tweeter, and integrated tweeter crossover. They are also 4Ω impedance.

The 6 x 8-inch speakers are also two-way speakers rated at 55 watts RMS, while the 6 x 9-inch speakers are rated at 65 watts RMS. The Prime 6.5-inch speakers are three-way full-range units with 4Ω impedance, frequency response range of 52Hz to 20kHz, and are rated at 45 watts RMS. Lastly, the 6.75-inch speakers are rated at 45 watts RMS.

6. Polk DB652 UltraMarine

Polk DB652 UltraMarine Dynamic Balance Coaxial Speakers

A replacement for the very popular Polk DB651s, the new DB652 UltraMarine speakers keep the bright sound that everyone loves, and add a tougher housing to stand up to abuse, along with other improvements. We think that marine-grade, IP56-dirt and water-resistant speakers are an excellent choice for anyone who wants great sound in a working environment—we’ve seem more than one pickup with ruined speakers in the lower door panels from both water and physical abuse, and these are also very popular on motorcycles. The grilles are removable if you want to keep them behind the factory ones.

And these are meant to take it, with a non-corrosive plastic grille, a polypropylene UV-tolerant cone, waterproof inner and outer surrounds, and stainless steel mounting hardware. Sold as a pair, they have 6.5-inch round mid/woofers and 0.75-inch tweeters. They advertise 40Hz to 22,000Hz total frequency response and are 100 watt speakers with a peak of 300 watts, which is a big upgrade from the 60-watt DB651s.

7. Alpine SPS-610 6.5-Inch 2-Way Type-S Series Coaxial Car Speakers

alpine type-s series speakers

Part of Alpine’s Type-S speaker lineup, the SPS-610 is a competitively priced OE replacement speaker. The 6.5-inch two-way coaxial units feature a one-inch wide range silk dome along with an optimized magnet circuit that drives CCA wire and soft silk diaphragm with high efficiency. The swivel tweeter offers more than 10 degrees of movement for proper sound tuning.

Other features include a butyl rubber surround for natural response and stability, as well as progressive Aramid fiber spider with optimized shape to provide deep bass, linearity, and break-up mode control at high dive levels.

The SPS-610 offers 80 watts RMS power or 240 watts peak power. These speakers also use an HD polymer frame for improved sound and installation.

8. Kenwood KFC-1696PS 6.5 Inch 2 Way Car Speakers

Kenwood KFC-1696PS

Kenwood’s KFC-1696PS two-way speakers replace their popular and long-running Kenwood KFC-1695PS, keeping all the good and improving the bad. They have the same 6.5-inch diameter, 320-watt output, and construction, but in a new lower-profile 1.875-inch mounting depth design, with the tweeter recessed fully to fit even tighter spaces. The woofer cone is now polypropylene instead of paper, and the tweeter is larger at 1.1875 inches.

Other improvements include a yoke and plate design that Kenwood says dissipates heat better; a new, more durable and better-sounding woofer damper shape; and less material in the frame to enhance bass response, which was the chief complaint with the KFC-1695PS. Continuous output is also up from 75 watts to 100 watts at 4 ohms. However, the 320 watt rating is for the pair, not per speaker, which have 160 watts or peak output individually. Frequency response is unchanged at 75Hz to 20kHz.

They are sensitive to proper mounting, but the Kenwood KFC-1696PS will give you huge bang for the buck when you get them right.

9. Infinity PR6510CS 480W 6.5 Inch Primus Series

Infinity PR6510CS 480W speakers

The Infinity PR6500CS Primus is a mid-range option, handling 80 watts RMS power or 320 watts peak power. These 6.5-inch two-way component system speakers feature the company’s PlusOne woofer cones, which increases cone radiating area over convention speakers of the same size. The result are speakers that play louder with smaller amplifiers, delivering increased bass output. They are 3-ohm impedance to compensate for thin-gauge factory speaker wiring.

The edge-driven textile dome tweeter offers increased power handling and reduced distortion, adding clarity to the mid/woofer driver. This particular product comes with a separate woofer and tweeter modules, along with an external crossover. Infinity even includes a pair of Alphasonik earbuds with the set.

10. Cerwin Vega XED693

cerwin vega 3-way speakers

An affordable 6 x 9-inch speaker comes from Cerwin Vega with the XED693. These three-way coaxial speakers feature a curvilinear poly cone, butyl rubber surround, balanced metal dome with a 2.5-inch midrange, balanced piezo metal dome 0.75-inch CV tweeter, and black coat stamped steel basket. They are rated at 300 watts max power and have a frequency response range of 50Hz to 18kHz.

For the price, these are some of the best 6 x 9-inch speakers you can buy and work great as an OE replacement with the stock head unit.

How to Upgrade Your Car Speakers

How to upgrade your car speakers

Photo Credit: penton/Shutterstock

If you’re not entirely satisfied with the performance of the factory speakers in your car, you might be glad to hear that upgrading them isn’t a challenging task for most vehicles. More importantly, there are plenty of aftermarket speakers that are affordable, and they’re typically much cheaper than an optional factory stereo package.

Unfortunately, not all vehicles use the same speaker size and some are more difficult than others to upgrade. The goal of this guide is to give you a general overview on what to look for if you’re interested in upgrading your car speakers, along with some tips, and basic installation steps. One of the hardest parts will be accessing your factory speakers, since all vehicles are different when it comes to disassembly.

Choosing the Right Speakers

There are a few things to consider when shopping for replacement car speakers. First, you will want to see what size speakers your car has from the factory. To make the install process as easy and seamless as possible, you’ll want to purchase the same size speakers. There’s a good chance you can find out the size of your factory speakers from the store you are purchasing new speakers from, or if you’re fully committed to replacing them, simply measure the speakers yourself.

The next decision you have to make is whether you’re purchasing component or coaxial replacement speakers. Generally speaking, component setups will offer better sound than coaxial speakers, but they are more expensive and may require a more custom installation. Most of the time, coaxial speakers will be direct OE replacements, so long as you match up the size.

If you aren’t planning on installing a new head unit, then you need to make sure the speakers you are purchasing can handle the power from your factory unit. You can also install a separate amplifier to power those speakers if you’re looking to really improve the sound inside your cabin. When shopping for speakers, you will normally see a “power handling” specification in “RMS” and “peak.” RMS stands for root-mean-square and that’s the value you want to pay attention to, instead of peak. That’s because RMS refers to the continuous power the speaker can handle, while peak is a reference to the maximum power level a speaker can use in short bursts.

Another specification to look for is a speaker’s sensitivity, often known as SPL. It’s rated in decibels and refers to how much power a speaker needs to put out a given volume. What you need to know is that speakers with higher sensitivity require less power, so if you’re using a factory head unit that doesn’t provide a lot of power, pick up a set of high sensitivity speakers.

Doing a complete sound system upgrade in your vehicle is a bit more complex than just swapping out the speakers. You may need to purchase an aftermarket head unit, external amplifier, and even a subwoofer if you want a complete system upgrade. This guide will focus on just swapping out the factory speakers in your car, which is a good starting point for upgrading your stereo.

Tools You Need

As we mentioned earlier, all vehicles will have a different disassembly process when it comes to accessing the factory speakers. The following tools are a good starting point and you should have them organized and ready to go before starting the process.

  • Allen wrenches
  • Crimping tools
  • Drill with bits
  • Electrical tape
  • File
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Panel popper
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Socket wrench
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Torx drivers and bits
  • Wire cutter/wire stripper

Accessing Front Dash Speakers

If your car has front dash speakers, those are typically fairly easy to access. Normally you can remove the speaker grille to access the speaker itself, although you may need a 90-degree screwdriver to access the screws of the speaker if it is near the windshield.

Be careful when removing the speaker grille to not damage or scratch your dash. It’s best to use a panel popper to remove the grille. If you noticed that the grille isn’t coming off very easily, stop and check if there are screws securing it in place from below. In that case, you may need to remove the entire dash in order to access the speakers.

Accessing Door Speakers

Door speakers are likely the speakers you’re familiar with. They’re located in the door panel and are also fairly easy to replace, depending on your vehicle. Some cars make it tricky to remove the door panel and access the speakers, while others make it a very straightforward job. If you’re lucky, your car may allow you to just remove the speaker grilles from the outside of the door panel to access the door speaker.

If you need to remove the door panel to access the speakers, use a panel popper or a flat head screwdriver to carefully pop it off. Some door panels may be more complex to remove than others, and make sure you check for any plugs that need to be disconnected. A typical door panel has switches for your power doors and windows, so there are likely a couple disconnections you have to make before you can safely remove the door panel.

Once you are able to access the speaker, remove the grille if necessary then head over to the “General Steps” section on how to replace the speaker.

Accessing Rear Deck Speakers

Rear deck speakers tend to be the most difficult to access. If you’re lucky, some vehicles will be like dash speakers, where you simply pop off the grille and can access the screws to remove the speaker. Other cars may need you to access them from your trunk, or remove the entire back seat and rear trim pieces.

Like accessing dash and door speakers, take care if you have to remove certain panels in order to access your rear deck speakers. Look for connectors that need to be disconnected. Once you’re able to access the speakers head over to our “General Steps” section.

General Steps

The following are general steps when it comes to replacing your car’s speakers. Again, specific steps may differ depending on your vehicle, but this should give you a broad idea of what’s necessary to swap out your factory speakers.

1) Disconnect Your Battery

Before you begin, you will want to disconnect the negative terminal from your battery. Since the doors of your car will be opened throughout the install process, you don’t want to drain the battery from your guard. More importantly, disconnecting your battery will prevent short circuits from occurring while you’re working with wiring.

2) Removing the Factory Speaker

We’re assuming at this point you have gained access to your speakers, whether they’re in the dash, door, or rear deck. Most speakers will be held on by screws, so simply unscrew the speaker. Before pulling the speaker out entirely, carefully unplug whatever connector is behind it.

3) Install the New Speaker

If your new speakers came with a new harness, plug that into your new speaker’s terminals. If not, make the proper connections so that you can send an audio signal to your speakers.

4) Test the New Speaker

Before you tighten the new speaker in place, you may want to give it a quick test to make sure it’s working. If you’re installing coaxial speakers, this is basically all you have to do before reassembling your dash, door, or rear deck.

5) What About Components?

If you’re installing a component set, you will likely have to install a crossover and find a location to mount your separate tweeter. That normally involves drilling and cutting either into your door panel or even A-pillar, if you wish to mount the tweeter there. This is a more custom process, which is why coaxial replacements are recommended for direct OE replacement upgrades.


Recent Updates:

December 22, 2021: Replaced discontinued Kenwood KFC-1695PS with Kenwood KFC-1696PS. Updated photos and descriptions of existing recommendations.

November 24, 2021: Replaced discontinued Polk DB651 with DB652.

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