Most modern cars nowadays come with decent stereo systems, especially compared to older vehicles. But maybe you want better audio from your car without having to spend a premium straight from the factory. Thankfully the aftermarket has a wide selection of speaker upgrades available, many of which are direct replacements so you don’t have to worry about 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.
Table of contents
- 1. Best Performance: JL Audio C2-650X Evolution Series
- 2. Best on a Budget: Pyle Speakers
- 3. Best Mid-Range: JBL GTO Series
- 4. BOSS Audio Chaos Exxtreme
- 5. Rockford Fosgate Prime
- 6. Polk Audio db651
- 7. Alpine SPS-610
- 8. Kenwood KFC-1695PS
- 9. Infinity PR6500CS Primus
- 10. Cerwin Vega XED693
- How to Upgrade Your Car Speakers
- Choosing the Right Speakers
- Tools You Need
- Accessing Front Dash Speakers
- Accessing Door Speakers
- Accessing Rear Deck Speakers
- General Steps
- 1) Disconnect Your Battery
- 2) Removing the Factory Speaker
- 3) Install the New Speaker
- 4) Test the New Speaker
- 5) What About Components?
1. Best Performance: JL Audio C2-650X Evolution Series
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 Speakers
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 4×6 inch, 4 inch, 5.25 inch, 6×9 inch, and 6.5 inch.
The 4×6-inch speakers are three-way and have a maximum output power of 240 watts. The triaxial speaker systems have 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 3/4-inch piezo tweeter. The result is smooth, loud, and detailed sound for each pair. They are low impedance, so the 4-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 4-inch speakers are two-way with maximum output power of 180 watts and feature a 20-ounce magnet structure, 1/2-inch neodymium film dome tweeter and frequency response. It is also 4-ohm impedance and has a 3/4-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, 1/2-inch neodymium film dome tweeter and are 4-ohm impedance. The ASV coil however, is a 1-inch unit.
Four-way speakers are available as 6×9-inch speakers with a 50-ounce magnet structure, 1-inch film dome midrange and frequency response. Also 4-ohm impedance, the 6x9s 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, 4-ohm impedance, one-inch neodymium film dome midrange and 3/4-inch piezo tweeter.
Pyle’s speakers are an affordable, cost-efficient option to upgrade your car’s factory stereo.
3. Best Mid-Range: JBL GTO Series
For decades, JBL 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 necessary.
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 Chaos Exxtreme
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 100 Hz to 18 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-inch 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
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 4-inch, 5.25-inch, 6×8-inch, 6×9-inch, 6.5-inch, and 6.75-inch speakers.
The Rockford Fosgate Prime 4-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 100 Hz to 20 kHz.
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 4-ohm impedance.
The 6×8-inch speakers are also two-way speakers rated at 55 watts RMS, while the 6×9-inch speakers are rated at 65 watts RMS. The Prime 6.5-inch speakers are three-way full-range units with 4-ohm impedance, frequency response range of 52 Hz to 20 kHz, and are rated at 45 watts RMS. Lastly, the 6.75-inch speakers are rated at 45 watts RMS.
6. Polk Audio db651
Although the Polk Audio db651 speakers are marine certified, they’re great car speakers for your car. These are 6.5-inch coaxial speakers that come with 6.75-inch adapter rings to fit other vehicles. They feature Dynamic Balance Driver Technology for pure distortion free sound, while the polymer/mica composite cones are stiff and lightweight. Helping offer consistent sound are Klippel Optimized Components and the low-mass two-layer Kapton voice coil has a high melting temperature to handle high power applications.
Liquid-cooled 0.75-inch silk/polymer dome tweeters feature powerful Neodymium magnets and are on a swivel so you can precisely aim the sound. The built-in two-way crossovers help keep the high and low frequencies flowing to the proper drivers for clear, crisp audio.
The Polk Audio db651 are rated at 60 watts RMS per speaker or 120 watts per pair.
7. Alpine SPS-610
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-1695PS
Another reputable brand in the car audio market is Kenwood and one of its offerings is the KFC-1695PS, which are 6.5-inch three-way coaxial speakers. They are rated at 75 watts RMS or 320 peak with 4-ohm impedance. The woofer features a 6.5-inch paper cone, while the tweeter is a 1.5625-inch paper cone. There is also a 0.5-inch ceramic super tweeter.
Frequency response is rated at 75 Hz to 20 kHz and these speakers have a mounting depth of 1.8125 inches. They have an overwhelming number of positive reviews on Amazon, delivering solid performance for the price.
9. Infinity PR6500CS Primus
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.
10. Cerwin Vega XED693
An affordable 6×9-inch speaker offering 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 50 Hz to 18 kHz.
For the price, these are some of the best 6×9-inch speakers you can buy and work great as an OE replacement with the stock head unit.
How to Upgrade Your Car Speakers
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
- 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.
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.
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