Looking for the car audio speakers and feel spoilt for choice?
Whether you’re a casual listener or a total audiophile, the right car speakers can make a huge difference in how enjoyable it is to ride down the road. While virtually every modern vehicle comes with factory-installed speakers, you can greatly enhance your favorite music by installing new speakers from aftermarket manufacturers; the question, however, is which ones are right for your needs?
In the past, car speakers were expected to deliver a standard volume, amount of bass, amount of treble and a mid-range sound. These days, you can replace or enhance factory-installed car speakers rather easily, and most importantly, you can do so affordably. If you’re ready to get the most out of your next ride, we’ve got you covered.
Want to know more?
Take a look at the following best car audio speakers to learn how they can help you get the most from your music:
Perfect for replacing factory speakers, the Alpine SPS-610 line of speakers deliver a full-range experience in a coaxial design.Read Our Review
Infinity Reference is known across the world as a leader in affordable sound, and with the 612m series, you get a speaker that can not only stand up to continuous high volume levels but also to outdoor elements.Read Our Review
If you’re looking for some serious punch to your audio, then Polk Audio has you covered with the DB461P 4×6-Inch Coaxial Plate-Style Speakerswhich are often considered to be one of the best when it comes to consumer car audio, and the DB461P is perfect for anyone who wants to get some serious sound quality.Read Our Review
How We Tested
We tested the above car speakers in a variety of current models, including consumer and luxury brands.
This was done in order to ensure that all products were provided with equal access to sound spaces and listening quality. We also utilized sound meters to keep quality levels consistent across brands. A decibel meter was utilized to ensure that all speakers were measured equally from various distances inside and outside of each vehicle.
Bluetooth Car Stereo
Bluetooth audio technology has come a long way in recent years, and currently, it can be used to send audio data to and from audio devices, including phones, tablets, televisions and car stereos. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to Bluetooth audio is that there may be a lag between pressing the play button and actually experiencing the music.
Bluetooth is always changing; are you?
In order to get the most from Bluetooth in your car stereo system, make sure that all connected devices are updated with the latest software and firmware. This can make a big difference in determining the sync of your system and devices.
Also, remember that older Bluetooth hardware may not always be compatible with newer Bluetooth technologies, so there may not be a way to correct problems. For this reason, always look for head units, speakers and other components that can be easily switched out when you go to upgrade your technology.
Car Audio Setup for Sound Quality
Quality sound is what everyone wants out of a stereo system, but how do you achieve the best quality?
The answer is that it depends. Because all vehicles are different, and because everyone has their own idea of quality, there are no hard rules for achieving the right sound. With this stated, there are some loose guidelines that you can follow in order to maximize your listening experience while heading down the highway.
- How Many Speakers?
First, consider the number of speakers. In the past, monophonic sound, referred to as mono, was the norm. Mono sound meant that only one speaker played and all sounds came through this single speaker.
In time, a stereophonic sound was developed, and today, we know this as stereo. Stereo sound occurs when two speakers are utilized to separate different sounds across as spectrum before the listener.
Why you need surround sound now?
Beyond stereo, musical engineers began to develop things like surround sound in which an array of speakers are used to surround the listener while different sound of the same recording is broadcast to different speakers, ultimately creating a much more immersive experience.
Now, if you want to have great car speakers, you don’t necessarily have to invest in an expensive surround sound system, but you can achieve great sound, even on a budget, by doing some of the following:
- Choose Quality Equipment
One of the biggest mistakes people make when seeking quality car stereo sound is choosing cheap equipment. This isn’t to say that you need to purchase high-end gear to get great sound, but don’t go for bargain-basement equipment either. Try to stick to name brands, but if you don’t, at least take the time to test the equipment in a real-world scenario first.
- Work with a Professional
Although car speakers, amplifiers, head units and other components are easier than ever to install these days, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could cause serious damage to your vehicle.
As a result, if you aren’t sure about installing a component, contact a professional for advice or have that person handle the process for you. Believe us: you’ll save a lot of headaches down the road by doing so.
- Use Existing Components
Many people have the idea that, in order to get great sound quality from their car speakers, they need to overhaul the entire system. This means replacing the head unit, the speakers, and all of the vehicles audio wiring. In many cases, however, this simply isn’t true.
Sometimes, you can keep certain components, such as wiring or a head unit, and just replace the speakers. In other cases, you can replace just the speakers and keep everything else. Once again, if in doubt, contact a professional to know that you’re on the right track.
- Match Components
Finally, the real key to successfully getting a great sound from your car’s stereo system is to ensure that components are matched properly.
Essentially, there are various power requirements and other factors that go into creating a sound system. Failing to properly match components could damage the components themselves or even your vehicle.
While it’s beyond the scope of this guide to discuss the specifics of watts, amps, ohms and other issues surrounding car audio, you’ll want to check manufacturer recommendations when putting together a system in order to achieve the best sound possible.
Speakers with Good Bass
Bass is the low-end frequency that you experience when listening to music in a vehicle or when enjoying music at home, and typically, it is associated with larger speakers. Simplified, the reason for this is that lower tones resonate better through larger surfaces.
As a result, larger speaker cones will give off much deeper and rich bass tones compared to standard car speakers.
Learn more about enclosures:
While you can achieve great butt-rattling bass with larger speakers, the key to truly unleashing the power of bass in your car is by combining the larger speaker, called a sub-woofer, with an enclosure.
An enclosure is typically a box that is sealed and allows the sub-woofer or sub-woofers to neatly sit within. The combination allows for bass frequencies to resonate for longer and at a deeper tone than when using a sub-woofer alone.
When choosing a sub-woofer and an enclosure, you also want to think about where these components will be located within your vehicle. In some cases, you’ll get the best results by having them in the trunk, but in others, having your subwoofer and enclosure in a back seat or even under a seat can deliver more punch.
What it really all comes down to is the size of the cabin of the vehicle, the interior materials and how large the speaker and enclosure are.
An equalizer is a piece of equipment or software that allows you to control the various volumes of different frequencies.
Think about it like this.
When you are listening to a song that has a strong bass drum kick, you want that part to stand out. An equalizer allows you to raise the volume of just the bass part without affecting the high-end instruments, such as a hi-hat or a synth.
How can you get serious sound out of your speakers?
Finding the right balance for the type of music you listen to is really what makes an equalizer an essential piece of the puzzle when enjoying music from your car’s speakers. If you’re unsure of what settings you need to use, don’t worry as most equalizers come with pre-settings that allow you to quickly and easily tailor your sound to your music.
When using an equalizer, it’s a good idea to listen to music on certain settings inside your vehicle, but also do the same standing at various distances outside of your vehicle. This is a common tactic used in the music industry to determine whether levels are correct or not when working on a recording.
In these cases, a recording engineer will record an artist’s song, place multiple versions with different equalizer settings on a CD and then play these in a standard car.
Here is the deal:
The engineer will listen in the car, standing outside the car, standing 20 feet away and so on in order to see how different frequencies sound in all areas in order to find what changes need to be made to equalizer settings in order to achieve the perfect blend.
What Makes a Car Loud?
Although most people tend to think that making a car loud simply involves installing large speakers, there are actually many factors involved. While it’s true that larger speakers are going to make a car loud, the choice of an amplifier is important.
Do you really need an amplifier?
An amplifier acts as a go-between, connecting the speakers to the source of the sound. The amplifier you choose needs to match several key factors, including ohms and wattage. An amplifier that produces very little wattage and is paired with a speaker that needs a lot of power is going to be a waste of money.
Likewise, an amplifier that too much power can overload and blow a speaker very quickly. The key is to find the balance, and this can be done easily by matching manufacturer recommendations. When in doubt, always take your vehicle and speaker components to a professional to ensure that installation is completed correctly.
Here’s the truth.
Something else to think about when considering what makes a car loud is the effect that sound waves have on the car itself. You’ve likely heard someone drive by with an incredibly loud stereo system playing very low bass, and when this happened, you probably noticed a high-pitched vibration along with the low bass sounds.
This occurs when the bass waves, which are low in frequency and thus travel at a slower rate, meet the actual metal of the vehicle playing the music. In some cases, a license plate may rattle, while in others, a slightly loose trunk may jiggle along with the bass waves.
While this may make a car “loud”, it’s typically undesirable and off-putting, especially to people hearing the bass on the outside of the vehicle. In order to avoid this, make sure your vehicle is in decent shape before attempting to make it loud using bass speaker components.
Virtually all of the today’s modern vehicles include at least two door speakers, but exceedingly, drivers enjoy more than just these door speakers. More and more, vehicle manufacturers are including speakers in consoles and even seats in order to provide a more immersive listening experience.
Can you install your own speakers?
While high-end vehicle manufacturers typically include premium door speakers, you’ll likely receive standard speakers with a standard car.
As a result, you might consider replacing these speakers with aftermarket versions. Doing so can greatly enhance your listening experience, but if you aren’t sure how to go about the installation process, it’s best left to a professional while he checks the car on the jack stands.
Trucks present both a unique challenge when selecting speakers as well as an advantage. The challenge when selecting truck speakers is that most trucks have little room in which to install replacement speakers or things like speaker boxes. In many cases, trucks will only be equipped with a single row of seats, meaning that any speakers aside from those installed in doors will have a very tight fit.
So what’s the deal with truck speakers?
The advantage to this, however, is that you will need smaller speakers in order to get a big sound. Because of the smaller interior of most trucks, an eight-inch speaker might provide the same intensity and bass as a 12-inch speaker.
When combined with a quality speaker box, you can receive ultra-low bass tones and crisp, rich high tones for less than the cost of a conventional installation of replacement speakers in a car or SUV.
Of course, this sword can cut both ways since you might end up making your truck cab too loud. While serious car stereo enthusiasts may say there’s no such thing, you can easily overpower your cab if you try to install too much speaker and too much power in a smaller truck. When it comes to truck speakers, try to follow the rule of thumb that less is more.
Bose Speakers for Cars
Unquestionably, Bose is considered to be one of the world’s leading audio experts. Bose manufactures everything from personal headphones to home theater systems, and many audio experts consider Bode to be among the best of the best. When it comes to Bose car speakers, you can guarantee that you’re receiving top-quality equipment.
Are you ready for the truth about Bose?
When considering Bose car speakers, it’s important to keep in mind that you will likely end up spending a decent chunk of change. Because Bose provides notable quality, both in manufacturing of sound components and in sound output, you’re going to likely have to spend quite a bit more on the brand’s products when compared to traditional big-box store speakers and components.
Although this may turn some people away, you also have to consider that Bose car speakers and associated products typically last longer and deliver superior sound quality in the long run, so it’s often worth it to spend the extra cash.
What Else is Important in Selecting Car Speakers?
Although we’ve already discussed the need for volume and quality of sound, it’s also important to point out the need for upgrades. The ability to upgrade speakers is increasingly important as technology shifts.
While you may be happy with your new speakers now, you’ll likely want to upgrade them in time, so it’s a good idea to choose speakers that can easily be swapped out.
Want to learn more?
Alongside this, it’s also a good idea to select car speakers that can be transferred if you purchase a new vehicle. This is often easy when you choose to go with large speakers that reside in a box that can simply be moved from one vehicle to another, but when we’re talking about door speakers or console speakers, the process may become a bit more complicated.
These days, most vehicle manufacturers use standard sizes when including car speakers. These tend to be between 6.5” and 6.9” depending on the shape of the speaker. While this is good news for most people who want to transfer aftermarket speakers between vehicles, it can be a problem if you’re dealing with an older vehicle.
Here is the deal.
In the past, most car speakers were 5.5” and even smaller, so in order to transfer and install modern car speakers to an older car, you’ll need to know how to trim away pieces of the door frame or console in order to get the right fit. You’ll also want to take into account the wiring for the speakers and the head unit.
Most modern head units utilize standardized wiring schemes, ultimately making it easy to install new components with clips and harnesses; however, it may be more complicated to wire new components into older vehicles, so always check the manufacturer’s specs before making a purchase.
The last thing you want to do is spend hours trying to install a head unit and speakers, only to find out that they are incompatible or you did something wrong and friend an expensive piece of equipment.
Car Speakers: Component vs. Coaxial
Do you really know the difference?
Finally, it’s also important to understand the difference between coaxial car speakers and component sets.
Simply put, a coaxial speaker is one the combines a woofer, which produces low-frequency sounds, and a tweeter, which produces high-frequency sounds. A coaxial speaker is the most common type of speaker installed in most vehicles and can produce a full range of sound.
The downside to a coaxial speaker is that, because the woofer and the tweeter are right on top of each other, sounds can become distorted due to frequency interference. Essentially, when lows and highs are being played at the same time, the sounds can ‘step on’ each other and produce distorted sound.
A component speaker set, on the other hand, separates the woofer and tweeter and may include additional mid-range speakers. Using a device called a crossover, the system automatically separates the different frequencies and sends them to the appropriate speaker.
This means that the high-frequency sounds get played through the tweeter, the mid-range sounds get played through the mid-range speaker and the low frequencies get played through the woofer.
The result is a richer, cleaner sound as all of the component speakers are carrying out the jobs they were designed for instead of trying to muscle everything in at once.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Are you ready for the outcome?
At the end of the day, if you really want to receive quality, value and the best in performance all around, then we recommend the Pioneer/JVC DEH-150MP package. While the package may be lacking in sound quality for people who are really serious about bass, the fact that it includes both a head unit and four speakers from two well-known brands in the car audio space provides serious value.
This deal is perfect for occasions when you want to purchase a plug-and-play system since there’s no guess work in what speakers will install smoothly with which head unit and the installation process is quick and easy, allowing even novice audio enthusiasts to get the job done right.
And what about specialty speakers?
Finally, our verdict on the best car speakers cannot be complete without mentioning that your needs are important. As such, if you need a specialty item, like marine speakers, then the Infinity Reference 612m wins hands down. This speaker provides UV resistance and serious moisture protection, allowing you to take advantage of Infinity Reference’s amazing sound quality in all types of weather and climates.