Last updated: August 23, 2021

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Tired of not being able to enjoy your favourite songs at full volume or with rich bass while driving? No problem! You have the option of fitting new loudspeakers to any car. Best of all, you can install them yourself and you don't have to spend a fortune on very high quality. With our large car speaker test 2021 we want to help you find the best car speaker for your needs. We have compared coaxial speakers and component speakers and listed the most important advantages and disadvantages. This should help you with your purchase decision.




Summary

  • You can upgrade your car at any time with a new car speaker and enjoy music in the highest quality. You can either do the installation yourself or consult a hi-fi professional.
  • Before buying a car speaker, you must know the dimensions that are intended for your car. You can find this out either by measuring yourself or by searching for it on the Internet.
  • When comparing car speakers, don't look at the maximum power, but at the average power, abbreviated as "RMS". This gives you a realistic indication of your speaker's performance.

The Best Car Speaker: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a car speaker

Who is a car speaker for?

Car speakers are a must for anyone who likes to listen to music in very good quality while driving. Unfortunately, it is very common for older used cars to have an outdated speaker system. If you still want to enjoy your favourite songs at high volume and with rich bass, you should consider buying a new car speaker. But it's not just older used cars that are affected. Many car manufacturers do not put much emphasis on the speakers they install as standard in their cars. Of course, you have the option of having a much more expensive audio system installed, but then you have to reckon with a significantly higher list price.

What size car speakers should I buy?

There are many different sizes of car speakers you can buy. However, the mere diameter or installation depth says nothing about the quality and performance of the speaker. There are small 10 cm speakers with an output of 300 watts, but also some with only 150 watts. Likewise, there are large speakers with 16.5 cm and 240 watts as well as 300 watts.

In Germany, you will almost exclusively find the sizes 10cm, 13cm, 16cm, 16.5cm or 20cm.

Nevertheless, the size of your loudspeaker is very important. The unit is usually installed in the front doors. The series loudspeakers that were previously installed have a certain size that you must use as a guide. Unfortunately, it's no use if you have an installation depth of 40mm, for example, and then buy a speaker with 70mm.

What does the wattage of a car speaker mean?

The wattage of a loudspeaker refers to its power handling capacity. In a way, it's basically about how much power the speakers can handle. The higher the rating, the higher the maximum power handling of your car speaker.

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Note: No matter how good your speaker is, it can only work if you plug it in properly.
(Image source: pixabay.com / RAEng_Publications)

However, the power of your amplifier and the power handling of your car speaker must be matched. The relationship between the two components is similar to the relationship between tyres and the speed of your car: tyres must always be designed for the maximum speed of a car. If you have a fast car, it would be very dangerous to have tyres for low top speeds. Likewise, it would be wasteful if you drive a small car but have the most expensive sports tyres. Analogous to this comparison, you should therefore make sure that your loudspeakers can handle the power of your amplifier. Conversely, it is of little use if loudspeakers with a high load cannot deliver their "music power" due to an amplifier that is too weak. In summary, it can be said that more watts also means more power handling. So if you want to listen to very loud but still high-quality music, we recommend a high wattage.

Decision: What types of car speakers are there and which one is right for you?

There are two different types of car speakers: The coaxial speaker and the component speaker. The main difference between the two types is that with a coaxial speaker you only have one speaker that covers all frequency ranges. With a component speaker, you have several speakers that are installed. You will find the advantages and disadvantages of each type in the following comparison.

What distinguishes a coaxial car speaker and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The coaxial loudspeaker has a nested design. This means that a smaller speaker is mounted in the middle of a larger speaker. With a coaxial speaker, low, medium and high tones come from the same source. This makes the speaker sound most natural to the ear. This type of loudspeaker is best suited for inexperienced hifi tinkerers, as it is the easiest to install. A coaxial loudspeaker is also worthwhile for small cars, as sounds in all frequency ranges are played out with only one speaker. You can mount these on the dashboard.

Advantages
  • Uncomplicated installation
  • Ideal for small cars
  • Covers all frequency ranges
Disadvantages
  • No direct alignment possible
  • Sound is lost when installed in the footwell

What distinguishes a component loudspeaker and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In a component loudspeaker, the woofers and tweeters are not nested. They are separate speakers. Component speakers are especially recommended for music connoisseurs and enthusiasts. You have the option of installing the woofer in the footwell and the tweeter at the height of your head. Low, medium and high tones are thus emitted from different sources. The sound is therefore distributed very harmoniously. However, the installation of component loudspeakers is considerably more complex than the alternative coaxial loudspeaker.

Advantages
  • Can be aligned with the driver
  • Very good sound
  • Various components can be combined
Disadvantages
  • Installation is complex
  • Components must be installed separately

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate car speakers

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between a variety of possible car speakers. The criteria you can use to compare car speakers include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Performance

If you've looked at car speakers before, you've probably noticed that they talk about maximum power and average power. However, you don't need to pay much attention to maximum power. It's just the maximum power in watts that your speaker can theoretically reach for a short period of time. But it doesn't say much for the actual practice. What is important for you is the average power. This is indicated with the abbreviation RMS. The abbreviation means "Root Mean Square" and is a more realistic estimate of the actual power of your loudspeaker.

The more RMS, the better the performance of your speaker.

Volume

Many manufacturers list the sound pressure level in decibels on their car speakers. This gives an indication of the volume the speaker system in the car can reach without distorting the sound. As a rule, car speakers have a maximum volume of 90 decibels or just above. Higher values are technically difficult to implement and are not really needed in practice. If you don't know exactly what 90 decibels is, we have prepared a small comparison table.

Sound level (dB) Sound source Danger potential
0 - 20 dB Whispering harmless
20 - 40 dB Computer fans, background noise in the house harmless
40 - 60 dB Normal conversation volume harmless, but disturbs concentration
60 - 80 dB Lawn mower can cause long-term damage
80 - 100 dB passing truck dangerous in the long term
100 - 120 dB circular saw very dangerous in the long term
130 dB riveting hammer dangerous
140 dB aircraft take-off very dangerous

So make sure that your ears are not exposed to loud music for a long time.

Impedance

In practice, most car speakers have an impedance of 4 ohms. However, higher values (8 ohms and 16 ohms) and lower values (2 ohms) are also possible. The impedance specification on amplifiers, on the other hand, indicates which speakers they are designed for. According to Ohm's law, the lower the impedance of a car speaker, the more current is transmitted by the amplifier. If too much current flows now, it can lead to a loss of sound quality or cause a safety circuit to switch off the amplifier due to overheating. In the worst case, the transistor of the power amplifier can break. For this reason, the amplifier and speakers must be compatible in terms of impedance specification: Ideally, the impedance of your car speaker should match the specification of the amplifier. Thus, a speaker with a nominal impedance of 4 to 8 ohms can be connected to an amplifier with a specification of 6 ohms.

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Car speakers are very complex devices. Always refer to the manufacturer's technical specifications.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Caraudiocompl)

Diameter and installation depth

Before you can choose a car speaker, you need to know what diameter the speaker may have. Again, many car models differ, so you need to find out beforehand what kind of system is currently installed in your car. It would be a shame to buy a car speaker with a diameter of 16.5 cm, but your door only has a 10 cm hole for the speaker. The most common sizes of car speakers are 10cm, 13cm, 16cm, 16.5cm and 20cm.

On the Internet you can find the dimensions of the installed system for almost every model.

It's the same with the installation depth. Try to find out what the installation depth of your standard speakers is and orientate yourself on this value. Here too, a speaker with 70mm depth is of no use if you only have room for 50mm.

2-way or 3-way

Before buying a new car speaker, the question arises whether you want to buy a 2-way or 3-way system. But what is actually the difference? With a 3-way system, a somewhat better sound is possible, because not only the highs and lows, but also the mids are well controlled. Therefore, 3-way speakers usually have a somewhat stronger bass than 2-way speakers. However, the latter are used more often for the vehicle because their design can produce an optimal sound in the smallest space. 2-way speakers can be purchased as coaxial speakers for the car. These consist of several units arranged concentrically and nested, and special transducers. The main difference to the 3-way speaker is that there is only one tweeter and one woofer.

Facts worth knowing about car speakers

How do I install a car speaker?

Installing a car speaker is no easy task. Almost every car model is built differently, so installing a loudspeaker is always different. However, you should always be able to find suitable instructions for removing the door trim for your car via Google. Before you can get started, you should make a few preparations. Clean the area around the loudspeaker so that no dirt or pebbles get on the door trim. Now you need the right tools. You need:

  • Screwdriver or cordless screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Hot glue gun
  • Knife
  • Saw/file if you need new or larger holes

Now the installation can begin. Remember that you are handling a very sensitive device. The diaphragm and surround of your speaker should not be scratched under any circumstances, otherwise the speaker will be destroyed. You can start installing the speakers as soon as you have removed the door cover. First remove the built-in speakers from their holders.

If you are not sure about your skills, it is advisable to have them installed by a professional.

If they are riveted, you will have to unscrew them. Unfortunately, some models cannot be screwed on, so in this case you will have to use a drill. Then remove the tweeter and woofer. If you have bought a speaker that fits exactly into the recess, you can skip this step. The spacer ring must be fixed in the car door. Finally, connect the new speakers and existing cables and glue and screw them into the recesses with a glue gun.

My car loudspeaker is not working properly, what now?

If you notice an annoying scratching in the sound when listening to music or another problem, this can have the following causes:

  • Speakers are plugged in incorrectly
  • Cable defective
  • Radio has too few watts (RMS) for your speakers
  • Loudspeakers defective

What manufacturers/brands are there?

When buying a car speaker, you are spoilt for choice. There are many well-known brands to choose from. We list the most popular brands below.

  • Bose
  • JVC
  • Alpine
  • Pioneer
  • JBL
  • BEATS
  • harman/kardon
  • Sony
  • Blaupunkt
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