Best Car Audio Speakers 2017 – Reviews & Buying Guide

If you’re looking to upgrade your audio system with additional speakers or replace the old, worn out ones with brand new units, you’re definitely in the right place. The amount of speakers currently on sale can overwhelm you a bit at first, but don’t worry, choosing the perfect speaker is easier than you might have initially thought. If you know what you want/need and are able to recognize each speaker’s strong points, you can quickly find great propositions which will more than likely pair up with your requirements. There are several things you have to know before you go out and purchase speakers, and here are the main couple of aspects and areas you should be on the lookout for.

Quality

First of all, you’re obviously going to start by examining the speaker’s quality. There’s no use in purchasing a car audio speaker which will deliver insane amounts of power only for it to blow up or malfunction several days later. As a general rule of thumb, always go with reputable manufacturers which are known to use high-quality materials and devote a good amount of resources to fit and finish. Trust us, output and volume don’t mean anything if the speaker’s on the verge of disintegrating after several uses.

Power/Clarity

The amount of wattage a speaker can produce dictates how loud it’s going to be able to play your music, but it’s not as straightforward as that. You see, there are two power measurements we have to take into consideration: the RMS power rating and the Peak (Max) power rating. Simply put, the peak power rating is the maximum amount of power the speaker can take in any given instate without taking damage. The RMS power rating indicates the amount of continuous power a speaker can handle. Although knowing where the limits of a speaker lay, the RMS rating is far more important as it basically suggests what the unit is actually capable of sustaining reliably.

2-way vs. 3-way

Last but not least, there’s the argument of 2-way versus 3-way speakers. 2-way units consist of a woofer and a tweeter, whereas 3-way units come with an extra component called the mid-range. As its name suggests, it boosts the mid-range audio frequencies to slightly enhance the sound. If you don’t know what this is about, it won’t matter for you, but we have listed the type of each speaker in case you do have a strong preference.

Car Audio SpeakersMax & RMS PowerType 
Kenwood KFC-6965S320W / 40W3-way
Rockford Fosgate R165X3 Prime90W / 45W3-way
Pioneer TS-G1045R Dual Cone 4-Inch210W / 30W2-way
JVC CS-J620 300W300W / 30W2-way
BOSS AUDIO CH6530 Chaos Exxtreme300W 150W3-way

Kenwood KFC-6965S

Kenwood KFC-6965SKenwood is one of the best audio component manufacturers, and certainly the best when we’re discussing car audio speakers. Their latest KFC-6965S model is the best car speaker you can currently buy. It’s second to none, and we really do mean it. Its amazing blend of power, clarity, build quality and affordability make it an unbeatable proposition.

Kenwood KFC-6965S Key Specs

  • Max (RMS) Power: 320W/400W (40W/45W)
  • Type: 3-Way

Available in two versions, you can choose between a 320W 3-way set of two speakers and a 400W 3-way set. Because the more powerful version is just a tad more expensive, it’s the option we recommend. We should note however that it’s also bigger. Measuring in at 6×9 inches, it dwarfs the 320W unit which stands in at 5×7 inches. If size is an issue, the less powerful, more compact speaker is perfect for you.

The best part is that these Kenwood speakers don’t require an amp to sound amazing. The sound is powerful and rich in tone with just two of these units alone. The tweeter is fully integrated into the housing making it a coaxial speaker. You can mount them in a box as easily as you can on a surface (say a door panel). There’s nothing more to it really. If you want the best car audio speakers money can buy, you’ve found what you’re looking for with the Kenwood.

 

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Rockford Fosgate R165X3 Prime

Rockford Fosgate R165X3 PrimeAlthough you may not have heard of Rockford, they’re definitely up there as an audio manufacturer with the rest of the brands like Kenwood and JVC. Mostly used by professionals and audio enthusiasts alike, most Rockford speakers fall into a sort-of niche market due to their exclusivity. That said, they’re actually quite affordable and very user friendly. The R165X3 Prime is a perfect example of that.

Rockford Fosgate R165X3 Prime Key Specs

  • Max (RMS) Power: 90W (45W)
  • Type: 3-Way

The 3-way design is excellent, as is the 45W RMS power rating. Maximum power rating is where the Rockford speaker shows a surprisingly low number however. The 90W limit is actually more than you’ll ever need as you’ll rarely, if ever, actually approach it, but it’s definitely not as good as the Kenwood’s massive 400W limit. In most cases audio manufacturers overstate their maximum power limit, so when we factor in that Rockford may be understating theirs, the difference isn’t as massive.

The R165X3 is the fourth R-lineup family member. Its round 6.5-inch diameter makes it a rather large speaker, but the black/red design and the interestingly-shaped center piece make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. If you want something different from Rockford, take a look at their 4-inch, 5.25-inch, 6×8-inch and 6.75-inch speakers, but do note that most of them are 2-way units with a lower RMS rating.

 

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Pioneer TS-G1045R Dual Cone 4-Inch

Pioneer TS-G1045R Dual Cone 4-InchThink of Pioneer as the ultimate aftermarket audio manufacturer. Kenwood is known for making OEM and AEM products, but Pioneer is king when it comes to aftermarket. The TS-G1045R speaker just further proves that point. They’re as great as they are hard to pronounce. Build quality is superb, the materials used are excellent and you can just tell these things were meant to last. Finish-wise, they’re every bit as good as the Kenwood units we just mentioned.

Pioneer TS-G1045R Dual Cone 4-Inch Key Specs

  • Max (RMS) Power: 210W (30W)
  • Type: 2-way

So why are we placing them third and not first if they are indeed that good? Well, because they’re less powerful. Maximum output and RMS are about 25% lower than the Kenwood speakers, at 210 Watts and 30 Watts respectively. Make no mistake, they’re still more than powerful enough for nearly everyone, capable of delivering far more than one would expect from such a small car audio speaker. Speaking of small, did you notice how small they really are?

The round shape with an aircraft-inspired design doesn’t just make them unique and original, but incredibly compact as well. The 4-inch diameter means you can squeeze them into just about any spot, which is more than what can be said about the Kenwood pair. An amazing set of speakers with the legendary Pioneer name backing the quality of the speaker up.

 

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JVC CS-J620 300W

JVC CS-J620 300WJVC is an old-school audio manufacturer. They’re not as popular in the aftermarket scene today, but that doesn’t mean they’re not competitive. In fact, it’s completely the opposite. Take the CS-J620 speaker as an example. Its stats suggest it’s a slightly-above-average unit, but as always, the devil is in the details. Build quality is as good if not better than most speakers and the sound is incredibly clear. We knocked points off for the somewhat boring design, but other than that, there really isn’t anything to complain about.

JVC CS-J620 300W Key Specs

  • Max (RMS) Power: 300W (30W)
  • Type: 2-Way

The 300W maximum power rating is excellent, but the 30W RMS rating is just fine. As we mentioned in the beginning, JVC likes to do things old-school, so if you’re after a ton of power, look elsewhere. The 2-way design does mean that the JVC speakers are lacking a mid-range component, but the woofer and the tweeter somehow make up for it. The sound is crisp and incredibly sharp, as one would expect from a JVC audio speaker.

Measuring in at 6.5-inches they are on the larger side of things (as large as the Rockford speakers in fact), but the round shape makes them easy to install. Factor in the value, and you quickly realize that bang for buck, very little can come close.

 

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BOSS AUDIO CH6530 Chaos Exxtreme

BOSS AUDIO CH6530 Chaos ExxtremeBOSS is a real ‘boss’ when it comes to audio equipment. They always want to have the most powerful speakers, and this latest CH6530 Chaos Exxtreme speaker lives up to its name. Maximum power rating stands at 300 Watts but it’s the RMS figure which impressed us the most. A full 150 Watts of RMS Handling per pair. Now that’s some serious firepower.

BOSS AUDIO CH6530 Chaos Exxtreme Key Specs

  • Max (RMS) Power: 300W (150W)
  • Type: 3-Way

This particular model is a 6.5-inch diameter unit, but the CH-range of BOSS speakers offers a car audio speaker smaller than 5 inches in diameter. A more powerful 350W max power rating speaker is available, but it’s got a 2-way component design. The least powerful speaker of the entire CH lineup is the 140W 2-way unit. We still recommend the 300W option simply because of its potential capabilities. It’s as affordable as the smaller units, so there’s no reason purchasing a less powerful option unless you don’t have the room to accommodate the CH6530.

We knocked a few points off for build quality and materials, hence why BOSS is fifth on this list. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just that the rest of its rivals are exceptional when it comes to fit and finish. It’s still an amazing car audio speaker.

 

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Conclusion

Kenwood takes the cake thanks to the KFC-6965S’ remarkable sound quality, sharpness of tone and stellar build quality. The speaker is physically large however, so you want to make sure you have enough room to accommodate it. Rockford comes in at second, only let down by its low RMS power rating. Otherwise it’s an amazing speaker with a cool-factor most units on this list don’t possess. The Pioneer speaker is compact yet powerful, with great fit and finish. If you’re lacking space and are in need of a smaller speaker, the Pioneer unit is a match made in heaven. JVC comes in at a close fourth, lacking in design to Pioneer. For the price however, there’s no denying that it’s the clear winner in our test if you want affordability. BOSS came in guns blazing with the best RMS power rating, but the build quality wasn’t as great as the rest of the speakers. It still claimed fifth place however, a great achievement given the amount of car speakers currently for sale.

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