Best 3.5 Inch Car Speakers

3.5" speakers are the smallest speakers that you may find in cars. They do not produce bass but they can enhance your mids-highs experience by far.

In the following revies, we provided five of the best 3.5" sized speakers on the market. The list is in the descending order in terms of price tag the speakers have.

If you are not familiar with speaker purchasing, you may first start reading from our buying guide for 3.5" sized speakers.

Comparison Table Best 6x9 Speakers for Bass and Sound Quality
Brand
Model
Speaker
Type
RMS
Power
Sensitivity
(@1w/1m)
Frequency
Response
JL Audio C2-350JL Audio C2-3502-Way25 W82 dB130 - 22k HzCheck Price
Rockford Fosgate P132Rockford Fosgate P1322-Way20 W85 dB120 - 22k HzCheck Price
JBL GX302JBL GX3022-Way25 W89 dB90 - 21k HzCheck Price
Kicker 46CSC354Kicker 46CSC3542-Way30 W88 dB80 - 20k HzCheck Price
Kenwood KFC-835CKenwood KFC-835C2-Way10 W89 dB96 - 20k HzCheck Price

JL Audio C2-350 - "Premium Selection"

Specifications

  • Build: Coaxial
  • Design: 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 82 dB
  • RMS: 25 watts
  • Peak: 75 watts
  • Low: 130 Hz
  • High: 22.000 Hz

About the Brand

JL Audio is an American manufacturer and founded in the 1970s. They are one of the most ambitious brands and earned their place at the top of the car industry by investing their time and money on research and development. They joined many competitions on car audio design, and they are well known for their strong subwoofers.

Material Used

JL Audio uses a 3.5" woofer made of mineral-filled polypropylene cones and a 0.75" tweeter with silk dome. Silk dome increases the accuracy of the tweeters and increases the overall sound quality especially at highs. The mineral-filled polypropylene cones increase the life-span of woofers and enable them to operate at higher volumes without failing.

How Do They Perform?

Do not forget these are only 3.5" sized. As an outcome, they are not so loud. They have only 82 dB sensitivity rating and they can reach to 96 dB at RMS power level. This is a sound intensity that you exposed to when you are in a subway car. Ideally, we are looking for 105 dB or more at RMS to call speakers loud.

C2-350 sounding very clear, you will get only high-quality sound from that. No distortion, no buzzing at all, only rich decent sound.

What they lacking is bass performance. They can response as low as 130 Hz, so you do not get any bass performance from these pairs.

Overall

They are good quality, nice and clear sound speakers and one of the best for 3.5" sized car speakers. Do not expect any bass from these pair and leave that job to be done by other parts of your car audio system, and leave highs for these two small pair, you will be fine.

PROS

High Quality Material
Clear Sound

CONS

No Bass
Not Loud
Relatively Pricy

  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 50/100

Rockford Fosgate P132

Specifications

  • Build: Coaxial
  • Design: 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • RMS: 20 watts
  • Peak: 40 watts
  • Low: 120 Hz
  • High: 22.000 Hz

About the Rockford Fosgate

Rockford Fosgate is a company founded in the US in the 1970s. They get in the market with an innovative equalizer and jumped into the car speaker sector right after that. They design and engineer their products in Tempe AZ.

Material Used

P132 has a coaxial and 2-way design. Tweeters are made of PEI and they can sound clear even at high volumes. Woofers use polyetileyn as material. The material quality is far better than any stock speaker you can come across as stock.

How Do They Perform?

Likewise JL Audio C2-350, Fosgate P132 can not produce bass. They can hit as low as 120 Hz, which is not sufficient. 

When it comes to mids and highs, P132 sounds clear. The sound it generates almost as rich as C2-350, with just a little difference.

P132 has a sensitivity level of 85 dB and power them up at RMS level, you will obtain 98 dB. Not too much but better than C2-350.

Overall

This speaker is one of the ideal speakers in this category. They are not expensive and paybacks the money invested as performance.

PROS

Good Quality Material
Clear Sound
Moderate Price

CONS

Not Loud
No Bass

  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 50/100

JBL GX302 - "Value Speakers"

Specifications

  • Build: Coaxial
  • Design: 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB
  • RMS: 25 watts
  • Peak: 75 watts
  • Low: 90 Hz
  • High: 21.000 Hz

About the JBL

JBL sound company is founded 70 years ago in the US. This brand is well known for may audio systems, speakers, headphones, Bluetooth speakers, etc. The common property of JBL brand products is they are looking well as good as they sound.

Material Used

JBL GX302 has a 2-way and coaxial design. It has a rubber surround to protect the vibrations of the speaker decreasing the sound quality. Its woofer has a deeper and wide design that is called "Plus One". This design enables that it has higher bass performance for the same size.

How Do They Sound?

GX302 is not so loud but still, it is the loudest of this size category. It has 89 dB sensitivity and it will sound at 103 dB which is not bad.

Bass performance is again almost non-existing with hitting as low as 90 Hz. At mids and highs, it can compete with expensive speakers, they are crisp and clear.

Overall

These speakers have the quality of JBL and perform their best. It is our pick among the 3.5" sized speakers.

PROS

Loudest of Category
Value Speakers
Nice Design

CONS

Insufficient Bass Performance

  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 65/100

Kicker 46CSC354 - "Editor's Pick"

Specifications

  • Build: Coaxial
  • Design: 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • RMS: 30 watts
  • Peak: 90 watts
  • Low: 80 Hz
  • High: 20.000 Hz

About the  Kicker Company

Kicker is another sound equipment producer founded in 1973 in the US. Today this brand is known internationally, especially for its bass performance.

Material Used

Kicker 46CSC354 belongs to the successful 46CSC family of Kicker, which is offered at various sizes on the market. Like its bigger brothers, this 3.5" sized speaker has 2-way, coaxial design. Kicker 46CSC354 also has an EVC structure (Extended Voice Coil) to feature stronger bass and deeper bass response. Polypropylene usage at woofer increases the durability of speakers.

Any Bass Performance?

Well, this little speaker tries hard to live up with the brand and kick it but what can you expect from a 3.5" sized speaker? It can hit as low as 80 Hz, but still misses the most of bass frequencies.

Regarding sound clarity, it is clear. Strong at mids and crispy at highs, you will not have any problem with those.

This pair has a sensitivity of 88 dB and at RMS power level you will obtain 103 dB just like JBL GX302. 

Overall

You will obtain identical performance from these speakers compared with the JBL GX302. Thanks to its modest price, Kicker 46CSC354 is our selection for this category.

PROS

Value Speaker
Clear High and Mid
Loudest of the Category

CONS

Little Bass

  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 68/100

Kenwood KFC-835C - "Budget Selection"

Specifications

  • Build: Coaxial
  • Design: 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB
  • RMS: 10 watts
  • Peak: 40 watts
  • Low: 96 Hz
  • High: 20.000 Hz

About the Kenwood

Kenwood founded in Japan in 1946. In 2008, they merged with JVC company and renamed JVCKenwood.

How Does It Perform?

They are the entry-level product of Kenwood company. Still, they invested in R&D to obtain 89 dB sensitivity in this product. When you power these at the RMS level, it will sound 98 dB. It is not too much but, it will sound louder than stock speakers.

They sound clear compared to many stock speakers. It will enhance your car's audio performance by far. However, do not expect a high-end speaker performance from this pair.  Regarding bass, they can reproduce as low as 96 Hz, so bass is non-existing.

Overall

You may buy this speaker as a budget selection and OEM replacement. Do not expect any bass performance bu it will give mids and highs worthing more than its price.

PROS

Cheap
Good Mids and Highs

CONS

No Bass
Not Loud

  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 53/100

You may also would like to see the best car speakers for bass and sound quality that includes different sizes of speakers from each category.

Buying Guide: Selecting Correct 3.5" Sized Speaker for Yourself

You may be not familiar with any speaker's technical specifications. It is alright, by following our guide you will know how to compare differently 

Do You Really Need a 3.5" Sized Speaker?

First thing is to be sure about getting the correct size for your needs. If you are going to replace your OEM speakers and do not want any kind of bodywork at the interior of your car, you should be sure that you are purchasing the correct size. It sometimes can be unclear for you where to measure, and determine the size of old speakers even after you remove them. Our advice is to check them a 3.5" sized speaker's compatibility with your car at the "amazon garage"  feature. Using that feature, you may easily learn that if you can use a speaker in your car or not. 

Check our guide for how to use amazon garage and also two other alternatives for learning your cars stock speakers size.

2-Way, 3-Way, 4-Way? What does that mean?

Speakers have different numbers of drivers in them in order to reproduce sound. "Way" is the term that indicates how many drivers are included in a speaker.

2-way speakers have woofer and tweeter inside them. Woofers are bigger cones for producing low-frequency sound, which is also called as bass. Tweeters on the other hand, much smaller than woofers and they produce high sounds.

3-way speakers include also a mid-range driver in order to assist tweeter and woofer for handling that sound waves. This provides woofers and tweeters to work on narrower frequencies and perform more clear.

4-way speakers include another driver, called super-tweeter and this driver focuses on handling very high frequencies.

Within same brand, the increasing number of ways results in better and richer sound quality. Comparing any two different speakers from different brands just only looking at the number of ways they have does not work. Sound clarity, sound frequencies they operate, loudness and etc. can be different and 2-way speakers can beat 4-way speakers in terms of performance.

As a final note, most of the high-end speaker is designed and produced as 2-way.

Would you like to read more on this topic? Check our article that explains 3-way car speakers.

Coaxial or Component?

Coaxial and component terms are showing if the drivers of the speakers are in one body or not. Most of the component speakers are 2-way speakers, with a big woofer and a separate tweeter included. In coaxial speakers, both woofers and tweeters are placed in one body.

If you revise our list you will we did not list any component speakers on this category. 3.5" sized speakers are called as dash speakers. They perform almost as a mid-range and tweeter pair so they generally not produced as a component.

How Can I Compare which Speaker is Louder?

It is easy to understand how loud a speaker will sound and comparing them just by looking at some specifications. You will need two values, RMS and sensitivity.

Power Handling of Speakers

RMS is the speaker's continuous power handling level. You can adjust your speaker's maximum power input to its RMS level and you can use it for a long period.

There is another power handling value called "Peak Power". This the power handling level of speakers before failing. If you match your speaker's maximum power input level with peak power handling level, sooner or later you will obtain a blown off speaker.

Sensitivity of Speakers

The sensitivity of speakers is a measurement done by power speaker @ 1 watt and measuring the sound intensity by 1 meter away. It is a direct comparison for different speakers and their sound-producing capacity at the same power input levels. 

Some producers choose to give @2.83V/1m values for the sensitivity values. If you want to transform that value to @1watt/1m value it should be, you just look at their impedance level.

  • Impedance 8 ohm = no change,
  • Impedance 4 ohm = -3 dB
  • Impedance 8 ohm = -6 dB

For example, you come across a speaker that has 4-ohm impedance and 89 dB sensitivity @2.83V/1m. Then you can easily calculate that this speaker has 86 dB sensitivity @1watt/1m.

You Know RMS and Sensitivity? Good, that is Enough!

It is time for another small calculation. If you have enough power supply level in your head unit or amplifier, what you need to do is comparing speakers at the RMS power input level.

Doubling power input will increase the sound intensity by +3 dB. So,

  • 2 watts = Sensitivity +3 dB
  • 4 watts = Sensitivity + 6 dB
  • 8 watts = Sensitivity + 9 dB
  • 16 watts = Sensitivity + 12 dB

and so on. You can calculate this according to different RMS and Sensitivity levels of different speakers and easily compare them in terms of their loudness levels.

What does Low - High Frequency Means?

The frequency which is measured by Hertz shows how often a thing occurs in a second. 1 Hz means it will occur once in a second.

A perfect human ear can hear between 20 Hz to 20.000 Hz. Lower frequency sounds are strong bass sounds which are generally between 20-120 Hz. Mid-range frequency refers to our daily conversation voices. When you hear crispy sounds, like violin play, they are high-frequency sounds.

If you look up to the frequency ranges of speakers, most of them reach frequencies without any issue. The competition is focused on low frequencies since it is hard to decrease the response frequency of woofers as low as 20 Hz while having to respond to mid-range frequencies as well.

An ideal setup that is offered by us is having a subwoofer for this case. Their sole role is to have reproduced frequencies between 20-200 Hz and their increased sizes produce stronger beats. Combining a subwoofer with a high-end two-way speaker gives a decent audio system that will satisfy all over.

Regarding 3.5" sized speakers, they are too small to produce any kicking bass. You need to implement a subwoofer if you do not have any bigger sized speakers on your system.

If you need to learn more about car speakers, you may check our complete guide for car speakers.

Conclusion

3.5" sized speakers are the smallest of car speakers on the market. You may still find clear and high-quality speakers in this category but do not expect much bass from speakers on this category.

Our pick for 3.5" sized speakers is Kicker 446CSC354. This speaker is good enough to give you nice and loud mids and highs. You may get some limited bass performance but do not expect much.

If you have money and budget is no issue for you, you may select, JL Audio C2-350. This speaker has such a clear, sound, you will be amazed. Pair this with some 5.25" speakers and subwoofer, or with 6x9" speakers than you will have nice-sounding audio.

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