Review of Best Car Speakers for Bass and Sound Quality

Finding the right car speaker for your car sometimes can be confusing. There are many speakers on the market and when you make research online you can get lost quickly.

The best possible way to make your purchase is to try speakers and hear them out before buying them. Unfortunately, most people do not have that opportunity. 

Here we are, as Speakers Focus, we reviewed many speakers from different sizes starting from 3.5" up to 6x9". In this article we will list the premium and value speakers of each category, so you may find yourself a suitable speaker.

We rated each speaker according to their bass performance, sound clarity, loudness, and price. We applied for the same rating numbers across all sizes listed here, and, naturally, smaller sizes get lower points from us. The bigger size speakers get, it becomes louder and bassy.

If you are not familiar with the technical properties of speakers and you would like to learn more, you may check out our definitive car speaker purchase guide for detailed information. 

If you would like to check our size-specific reviews here they are;

Comparison Table Best 6x9 Speakers for Bass and Sound Quality
Brand
Model
Speaker
Type
RMS
Power
Sensitivity
(@1w/1m)
Frequency
Response
Loading ...Kicker 46CSC3542-Way30 W88 dB80 - 20k HzCheck Price
Loading ...JL Audio C2-3502-Way25 W82 dB130 - 22k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Polk Audio DB4022-Way45 W91 dB85 - 22k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Focal ICU1002-Way40 W90 dB100 - 21k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Kicker 46CSC542-Way75 W90 dB45 - 20k HzCheck Price
Loading ...JL Audio C3-525Component75 W90 dB48 - 25k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Polk Audio DB6522-Way100 W92 dB40 - 22k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Focal Access 165 CA12-Way60 W89 dB60 - 18k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Pioneer TS-A6990F5-Way60 W90 dB22 - 30k HzCheck Price
Loading ...Hertz CPX 690 Pro3-Way120 W94 dB35 - 24k HzCheck Price

Kicker 46CSC354 - Value Selection for 3.5"

Specifications

  • Size: 3.5"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • RMS: 30 watts
  • Peak: 90 watts
  • Low: 80 Hz
  • High: 20.000 Hz

About the Brand

The Kicker is well-known and loved by many people around the world. They founded the company in 1973 in the US. Their philosophy is producing speakers that kick.

How Loud It Can Get?

It has 88 dB sensitivity which is remarkable for a 3.5" sized car speaker. It can handle 30 watts at RMS so, doing the quick math, it can continuously provide 103 dB. This is not too loud but fairly good for a 3.5" sized speaker.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Bass performance is relative to the strength of woofer. 3.5" size is too small for decent bass performance. This speaker can go as low as 80 Hz, which is far away from a satisfying bass performance.

Does It Sound Clear?

It sounds clear and loud for mids and highs. It earns its value through its clear sound performance.

Overall

3.5" sized speakers have some limited performance due to their sizes. Do not expect too much bass performance from Kicker 46CSC354 because this is produced for. If you are going to replace a stock 3.5" sized speaker for a better one, this will perfectly be the right choice for you.

PROS

Value Speaker
Clear High and Mid
Loudest of the Category

CONS

Little Bass


  • LOUDNESS
  • BASS POWER
  • SOUND CLARITY

 

Overall: 65/100

JL Audio C2-350 - Premium Selection for 3.5"

Specifications

  • Size: 3.5"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 82 dB
  • RMS: 25 watts
  • Peak: 75 watts
  • Low: 130 Hz
  • High: 22.000 Hz

About the Brand

JL Audio is another US company that produces high-end products all time. They were founded in the 1970s. The JL Audio is very competitive and earned its reputation by joining many national and international audio contests.

How Loud It Can Get?

JL Audio C2-350 has a sensitivity level of 82 dB. At RMS power usage, it will reach 96 dB which is not sufficient in our opinion.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Do not expect any bass performance from this speaker. It can reproduce as low as 130 Hz soundwaves. This is nothing close to bass performance.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, yes, yes. The sound you get from is so clear you will be amazed. This is an ideal speaker for 3.5" speaker, to enhance your mids-highs performance if you have enough budget.

Overall

JL C2-350 is a high-end product that you may find at 3.5" size category. Install it with a compatible system that has bigger sized speakers and preferably with a subwoofer, you will have a complete full-range system of yours. In order to achieve that, you may need to invest lots of money.

PROS

High Quality Material
Clear Sound

CONS

No Bass
Not Loud
Relatively Pricy

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 50/100

Polk Audio DB402 - Value Selection for 4"

Specifications

  • Size: 4"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 91 dB
  • RMS: 45 watts
  • Peak: 135 watts
  • Low: 85 Hz
  • High: 22.000 Hz

About the Brand

Polk Audio is on the market for over 40 years. It is another US brand, that relies on heavy engineering and constantly developing its products. Polk Audio is known for producing strong speakers that are resistant to dirt, humidity, UV effects which are also called IP55 certified. DB402 itself has this Marine certificate and you may use it on your convertible, ATV or bike.

How Loud It Can Get?

Loud enough. DB402 has 91 dB sensitivity level which makes it one of the loudest speakers in this category. At 45 watts RMS level, it can reach up to 107 dB which is satisfying.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Polk Audio speakers with bigger sizes have decent bass performances. Yet 4" size is not appropriate for decent bass performance. DB402 can reproduce 85 Hz at a minimum. You will need some additional speaker or subwoofer along with this speaker to have decent bass.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, it is clear. You can increase the volume up to RMS level yet still no distortion, no fatiguing at the sound.

Overall

This marine certified 4" speaker is one of the best value speakers on the market. It is loud, sounds well and sure will make you happy.

PROS

Marine Certified
Clear Mids and Highs
Loudspeakers

CONS

Needs Subwoofer
Bass is not Good

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 67/100

Focal ICU100 - Premium Selection for 4"

Specifications

  • Size: 4"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB
  • RMS: 40 watts
  • Peak: 80 watts
  • Low: 100 Hz
  • High: 21.000 Hz

About the Brand

Focal is a French company that is founded in 1979. They are constantly developing their products by aiming for the best quality you may get. Their product range focuses on home stereo systems, car speakers and headphones.

How Loud It Can Get?

Focal ICU100 has a 90 dB sensitivity level which is very good for a 4" speaker. It can continuously output 106 dB at the RMS power input level, which passes our threshold of 105 dB.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Premium speakers generally leave the duty of bass reproduction for a more suitable speaker in the 4" size category. Focal IC100 can reproduce as low as 100 Hz, which is far away from outputting any bass performance.

Does It Sound Clear?

Get a subwoofer and leave the rest to ICU100. It sounds flawless, so rich and good you will be amazed. Even at high volumes, it does not fail, performs well all around.

Overall

ICU100 is a nice sounding speaker that will satisfy you even with high-end audio systems. For 4" sized speakers, this is the best you can get (assuming you have already subwoofer) if the only budget is not an issue for you.

PROS

High Quality & Durability
Clear Sound

CONS

No Bass
Relatively Pricy

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 67/100

Kicker 46CSC54 - Value Selection for 5.25"

Specifications

  • Size: 5.25"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB
  • RMS: 75 watts
  • Peak: 225 watts
  • Low: 45 Hz
  • High: 20.000 Hz

About the Brand

As we stated in the review of 46CSC354, the Kicker is a successful American company that is passionate about producing products with good bass.

How Loud It Can Get?

46CSC54 is a strong speaker. It can handle 75 watts continuously. It also has a 90 dB sensitivity level. When you do the math, it can output around 108 dB at the RMS power input level. This is loud and will be satisfying for a car stereo system.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Kicker 46CSC54 has a wide frequency range that you most probably will not observe in many of 5.25" sized speakers. It can hit as low as 45 Hz, and this provides a fair bass performance. If you are changing a stock 5.25" sized speaker, you will have an improvement in the bass performance.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, they are clear and loud. 

Overall

Kicker 46CSC54 is a decent speaker that values every penny you spent it on. You can select this for stock speaker replacement without any worry.

If you are building a custom audio system and do not want to invest in subwoofer, go down to see the speaker with bigger cones.

PROS

Budget Friendly
Wide Frequency Rate
Deeper Bass Relative to Other 5.25"

CONS

Slightly Needs Subwoofer

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 83/100

JL Audio C525 - Premium Selection for 5.25"

Specifications

  • Size: 5.25"
  • Design: Component, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB
  • RMS: 75 watts
  • Peak: 225 watts
  • Low: 48 Hz
  • High: 25.000 Hz

About the Brand

As we informed in C2-350, JL Audio is a very passionate company that aims to produce only the best stereo audio equipment. They obtained their hard-gained reputation in the market through many local and international competitions.

How Loud It Can Get?

Same as Kicker 46CSC54, JL Audio C525 has a 90 dB sensitivity level and 75 watts RMS level. It produces 108 dB at the RMS level which is enough and greater than our 105 dB threshold. 

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Likewise 46CSC54, it can reproduce as low as 48 Hz. This is a successful figure to observe in a 5.25" speaker. Bass is satisfying but not complete to be used on their own only.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, this is where JL Audio shows its excellence. C525 is a component speaker and it involves a big strong crossover. This crossover makes its job so well that you enjoy what you hear from these speakers. Crystal clear, no mistakes, no error to be found from these speakers.

Overall

If you have the money, and if the price does not bother you, C525 will be a perfect choice for a 5.25" sized speaker. You will better get a subwoofer and an amplifier with this to have an advanced sound system.

PROS

High Quality Material
Clear Sound

CONS

No Bass
Not Loud
Relatively Pricy

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 85/100

Polk Audio DB652 - Value Selection for 6.5"

Specifications

  • Size: 6.5"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 92 dB
  • RMS: 100 watts
  • Peak: 300 watts
  • Low: 40 Hz
  • High: 22.000 Hz

About the Brand

As we already listed in the DB402 review, Polk Audio is an American company that is on the market for more than 40 years. They are known specifically for their engineering excellence and marine certifications. 

How Loud It Can Get?

This speaker is the second loudest one on this list. Its sensitivity level is 92 dB and when you power this at RMS level you will get 112 dB sound intensity which is insane. You will need a good amplifier for powering up your speaker constantly at 100 watts.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

It kicks, it is very satisfying. Polk Audio achieved to give both strong loud basses that satisfy you all the way. DB652 can hit as low as 40 Hz, which is a really good dept.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, it does sound almost like a premium speaker.

Overall

This is another good product from Polk company. We loved DB652 for its loudness, strong bass and reasonable price. This is the value speaker for 6.5" size category that will not let you down at all.

PROS

Marine Certificate
Clear Sound
Loudest of 6.5" Size
Decent Bass

CONS

Nothing Special


  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 88/100

Focal Access 165 CA1 - Premium Selection for 6.5"

Specifications

  • Size: 6.5"
  • Design: Coaxial, 2-way
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB
  • RMS: 60 watts
  • Peak: 120 watts
  • Low: 60 Hz
  • High: 18.000 Hz

About the Brand

Focal is a French audio system procured as we mentioned in the ICU100 review. They are good at their job ad aiming for only the best at all products they develop.

How Loud It Can Get?

Focal engineers always prioritize the sound clarity on top of loudness. So they are holding a little back this speaker in terms of loudness. It has an 89 dB sensitivity level and when you power it at RMS value, you will get around 107 dB. It passes our threshold of 105 dB by the margin.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

If you depend on this speaker to provide all-around bass performance, you will be disappointed. This speaker can get as low as 60 Hz, which is not enough to give out satisfying feeling of bass. You will need other speaker pairs like 6x9" or some subwoofer to run with this one.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, the clarity of sound is the sole purpose of these speakers. They are crispy at highs and give out decent mid-performance.

Overall

This is a premium speaker that shows its performance with a premium audio set. If you are going for some high-end stereo system, you can count on this for mids & highs.

PROS

High-Quality Material
Clear Mids & Highs

CONS

Lacks Bass Performance
High Price Tag
Not so Loud

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 82/100

Pioneer TS-A6990F - Value Selection for 6x9"

Specifications

  • Size: 6x9"
  • Design: Coaxial, 5-way
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB
  • RMS: 60 watts
  • Peak: 350 watts
  • Low: 22 Hz
  • High: 30.000 Hz

About the Brand

Pioneer is founded in 1938. They started their business with producing car speakers and over the years they added head units, navigation and other car electronics to their product range. Today they produce OEM speakers for many car manufacturers.

How Loud It Can Get?

TS-A6990F has a decent 90 dB sensitivity level. At 60 watts RMS power input it will reach 108 dB sound insensitivity which is good.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

This is where it surprises us. TS-A6990F has a 5-way design, so they were able to adjust woofers to response as low as 22 Hz! This is incredible for a car speaker. The bass performance of this speaker is awesome, beyond expectation for the price you pay for it. 

We have seen many customers who prefer to use one or two pair at the deck in order to boost the car with awesome kicking sound, rather than getting a subwoofer to achieve this.

Does It Sound Clear?

Yes, it does sound clear. Its crossover handles well that 5-way design and you do not hear disturbing sounds. 

Overall

This speaker has the strongest beat of all on this list. It has a 5-way design and handles well to perform accordingly. This speaker will sure pay every penny you spend on it.

PROS

Bang for the Buck
Modest Price
Nice Handling 5-way Design

CONS

It Could be a Litte More Louder

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 90/100

Hertz CPX 690 Pro - Premium Selection for 6x9"

Specifications

  • Size: 6x9"
  • Design: Coaxial, 3-way
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • RMS: 120 watts
  • Peak: 360 watts
  • Low: 35 Hz
  • High: 24.000 Hz

About the Brand

Hertz is a brand of Italian Elettromedia company, which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of car audio systems. The Hertz brand launched in 1998. They produce mobile audio loudspeakers, amplifiers, subwoofers, and digital interface processors. They recently added PowerSport and Marine speakers to their product ranges.

How Loud It Can Get?

CPX 690 is an extremely strong speaker. It has a respectable 94 dB sensitivity level. Its continuous power handling is 120 watts, which means you can get 115 dB sound intensity from this speaker. 115 dB is the limit where irreversible damage starts. Also, it is double time louder than our threshold, 105 dB, which is also the limitation for discos by European Legislation. To sum up, you will not want any louder speaker than this.

How Is Its Bass Performance?

Many premium speakers generally focus on the clarity of the sound they reproduce by leaving bass performance for subwoofers. CPX690 is differently achieving to output a respectable bass performance. It can hit as low as 35 Hz. It can reproduce strong basses that bang and you will not need any subwoofer.

Does It Sound Clear?

Of course. This is what makes Hertz one of the best speaker brands in the market. Its integrated crossover conducts its work so well, the sound you get from these speakers are always best. No buzzing, distortion or muddy sound at all. All the way clear and loud.

Overall

This is an extreme speaker that you may have to pay a lot. If budget is not an issue for you, go for these and you will be take your mobile sound experience up to another level.

PROS

Loud Like Nothing Else
Strong Bass
Clear Crispy Highs

CONS

High Price Tag

  • Loudness
  • Bass Power
  • Sound Clarity

Overall: 97/100

Buying Guide: What to Look for While Shopping Speaker for Car?

There are many different technical variables when you look at a speaker. Like RMS, Peak, sensitivity etc. If you are familiar with them, you allready know what to look for.

We will explain every technical values and what they are indicating in our guide. When you read through it, you will know how to evaluate these values, and compare different speakers easily.

What Size Speaker Do You Need?

First of all, car speakers are not like speakers that we buy for our home. They have some limited space on our car doors, dash, or deck to fit in. If you buy an incorrect size speaker, either you will have to do some bodywork inside your car or you have to return your speaker.

Determining the size of the speaker to use in your car is the first thing you should do. Measuring the stock speakers without removing them from the door may result in some errors and mislead you. For this, we highly recommend Amazon's "Garage" utility. You define the brand and model of your car into Amazon's Garage utility and when you check speakers on Amazon, it automatically shows if that particular speaker will fit your car or not.

For a detailed explanation of how to use this utility and more ways of determining the size of speakers, please check our separate guide for this.

2-Way, 3-Way, 5-Way? What Does Way Stands For?

"Way" term is an indication of how many drivers are located in a speaker. Ideally, drivers in a speaker have different sizes and frequency ranges to operate on.

Modern speakers are designed to have at least 2-ways. The bigger one is called woofer, and the smaller driver is called a tweeter. Woofers are producing bass sounds with reproducing lower-frequency sounds. Tweeters are oppositely much smaller, operate very fast, and reproduces higher frequency sounds.

When you come across a 3-way speaker, it will have an additional mid-range driver on it. This will handle the frequencies between woofer and tweeter, in order to narrow down their response ranges and perform better. In a 4-way speaker, there will be an additional super tweeter, in order to handle very high frequencies.

An increasing number of ways on the same brand generally indicates better sound performance. However, comparing speakers from different brands regarding the number of ways they include is generally results in inconsistent results. First of all, the quality of crossovers integrated on speakers matters a lot. A crossover is a device that organizes drivers of the speaker to work on their specified frequency ranges. If in a 5-way speaker, an insufficient crossover is installed, you will not get any performance.

Now you know what way term is standing for. While doing your shopping, if you are having thoughts of for example a Pioneer 4-way vs Pioneer 5-way speaker, you may select Pioneer 5-way for increased sound quality. However, in order to compare Pioneer 5-way speaker in terms of sound clarity with any speaker from another brand, you may need to actually hear both of them. Just looking at the number of ways does not really help since there are many other factors such as; material quality, crossover quality, loudness, frequency response range and etc.

Coaxial vs Component?

This is another feature of car speakers. They can be coaxial or component.

If a speaker is coaxial, all the drivers of that speaker are located on the same body. Sometimes car speaker manufactureres call triaxial for 3-way speakers that are actually on the same body again.

Component speakers, on the other hand, are generally only 2-way and they have separate bodies. Tweeters of component speakers are generally placed in the corner of the dash while woofers of component speakers generally placed in front doors.

Component speakers tend to be more expensive relative to the coaxial speakers. The reason behind that can be stated as extra material used for component speakers. Many of the component speakers have bigger, separate crossover so they are able to sound better. Also, many experts indicate that locating drivers on the same axis may cause the vibration of woofer and tweeter to disturb each other and may reduce the lifespan. Nevertheless, coaxial speakers have many advantages as such holding less space in our car, easier to install, and less material usage. Therefore, many car speaker manufacturers focus on developing coaxial speakers and spend great R&D sources on it.

In short words, component speakers are generally better in terms of quality, more expensive, holds more space on the car, and harder to install. The tradeoff between the pros and cons leads us to stick with well developed coaxial speakers unless you are willing to pay around a thousand bucks to your car stereo system.

Low Frequency, High Frequency, Hz... What are They Stand For?

Frequency is the number of occurrences as of dictionary states. It holds a strong place in defining sounds since sounds are formed of waves. Hertz is used to indicating how many cycles that a sound wave has in a second.

A perfect human ear can perceive sounds that have frequencies between 20Hz up to 20.000 Hz. Many of us will be able to hear between 30 Hz -16.000 Hz. If you would like to try your hearing frequency range, you may check this video. Do not forget to adjust your volume :)

Low frequencies are bass sounds. Bass sound is typically indicated by 20-200 Hz. There are subwoofers on the market, which are produced to enhance the bass performance of speakers. Professional subwoofers get as low as 20-100 Hz while some extreme ones operate only between 20-80 Hz.

Tweeters are playing the high-frequency sounds. They are smaller and able to beat much faster compared to big woofers or subwoofers.

Generally, every speaker brand easily can hit the 20.000 Hz limit without an issue. The real competition begins at low frequencies. Making woofers operate at low frequencies at high volumes is extremely difficult. When you make your comparisons consider the lowest frequency that a speaker can hit.

You will be surprised that many of the high-end speakers do not hit as low as some cheap speakers. The manufacturers design them to operate with subwoofers and together they make an elite audio system. If you do not want to install a subwoofer to your system, you should get a speaker with at least capable of hitting 40 Hz sounds.

How to Compare the Loudness of Speakers?

You need to check two values; sensitivity and RMS level.

The sensitivity indicates how loud a speaker can get by powered at 1 watt and loudness measured 1 meter away. Higher sensitivity shows that a speaker can get louder at the same power input level. Average speakers have at least 80 dB sensitivity while decent ones can have between 90-94 dB.

RMS level shows a speaker's continuous power handling value. There is also a Peak power handling value, where you should stay away while tuning your audio system. Peak power handling shows when your speaker will fail, and RMS is a good value to aim for a long life span for the speaker.

How do you combine these two values to find the speaker's consistent volume output? Well, with small math which is doubling the power input to the speaker, it will increase +3 dB sound output. For example, a speaker with a 90 dB sensitivity level will have;

  • 1-watt input - 90 dB output
  • 2 watts input - 93 dB output
  • 4 watts input - 96 dB output
  • 8 watts input - 99 dB output

and so on. So if that speaker has 64 watts RMS level, it will be able to continuously output 108 dB. You may compare different speakers from different brands by just checking these two values.

How Can I Understand which Speaker Sounds More Clear?

If anyone suggests that you may understand the clarity of sound that is coming from a speaker by just comparing some technical numbers on the paper, stay away from him. There are many factors such; the type of material used, the quality of crossovers, the soundwave spectrum, the loudness of the speakers are involved in this. 

If you have a chance, go to the nearest shop you may try a demo of those. If not, what you will possibly do to rely on the people bought already and look after their comments on it.

Conclusion

This is our ultimate car speaker review that collects all of our previous experiences and reviews together. We provided two speakers for each of 3.5", 4", 5.25", 6.5" and 6x9" sizes.

As you will also find out, the bigger a speaker gets, it becomes louder and more bassy. Sound clarity depends on the material and builds of the speaker, so even at the smallest type of speakers, you will find decent ones.

We used the same pointing scale while reviewing speakers in the order for you to be able to compare them easily. I hope this page helps you. Cheers!

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