I’ve never had a completely enjoyable listening experience with factory car speakers. As a result, I’ve always switched to aftermarket units whenever I’ve bought a new car. A couple of months back, I started this process of finding the best 6.5 speakers when I traded in my trusty Toyota Tacoma for a brand new 2019 model.
I’ve reviewed my top five picks out of the dozen or so that I tested out.
Best 6.5 Car Speakers
Buying Guide for 6.5 Speakers
How do you decide which pair of speakers are best for you? That depends on mainly two things:
- What sort of speakers are compatible with your car’s stereo system
- What your sonic preferences are, i.e. how you like your lows and highs to sound
Speaker compatibility can be determined by looking at a few tech specs. I’m talking about a speaker’s power-handling, impedance, and sensitivity. If you’re not an ‘audio nerd’ then these terms probably won’t make any sense to you right now. That’s why I’m going to be breaking down each one.
How can you get an idea of what a speaker might sound like without actually hearing it? For this, we have to pay attention to the materials that make up the speaker components. I’ll be talking about the commonest materials you’ll find in speakers and how they impact the audio quality.
The Tech Specs
A speaker needs a minimum amount of power in order to sound the best it can. If you don’t give it enough, then the sound may be muted and you won’t hear all the details in the music. However, supply too much power and it’ll overheat and possibly blow.
A speaker’s power handling rating (measured in watts) tells you the maximum amount of power that can safely be supplied to it. The exact spec you should be paying attention to is the maximum RMS rather than the peak power handling. The former indicates how much power can be supplied on a continuous basis while the latter is the theoretical maximum. Hence the maximum RMS is a more useful and practical metric.
As a general rule, if a speaker’s maximum RMS is below 60 watts, then it’s best to hook it up to a low-powered speaker.
A speaker doesn’t simply accept all the current that is supplied to it by an amplifier. Instead it shows some resistance to it. This is known as speaker impedance and it’s measured in ohms.
You’d think that the lower the impedance, the better. That’s true up to a point. However, if the impedance is too low, it puts a lot of stress on the amplifier. This is because when the speaker doesn’t resist, the amplifier has to work hard to keep supplying a lot of current. With extended use, the amplifier can begin to overheat, causing its components to fry.
Most speakers have an impedance of 4 ohms, which seems ideal for drawing enough current while not overworking the amplifier. Some speakers have an impedance of 3 ohms to compensate for the undersized wires in modern cars which don’t supply as much current to the speakers.
Sensitivity measures how loud a speaker can get (in dB) when driven by one watt of power. Typically, it’s best to look for speakers that have a sensitivity rating of 80db or more. This means that you can still get a decent volume out of it while not having to provide a lot of power.
Sensitivity is an important factor to pay attention to when you’re trying to figure out which speakers to pair with your car stereo system. If you’ve got a low-powered stereo, then you’ll ideally need to pick a highly-sensitive speaker because otherwise you may never be able to reach really loud volumes.
Not only do speaker materials affect the overall sound; they determine how durable the unit will be as well.
Woofer cones need to remain both stiff and lightweight. If they aren’t stiff, they’ll rattle excessively when you crank up the volume of your stereo. As a result, the bass will come out sounding distorted. Similarly, if the cones are too heavy, they won’t be able to vibrate and thereby the sound waves won’t be outputted as effectively.
Because of these reasons, woofer cones are usually made of propylene. However, they can also be made out of textiles, paper, and even metals. Softer materials like silk and paper give the bass frequencies a mellower and refined sound but they aren’t the most durable. If untreated paper is used, it can be worn down by extreme temperatures and humidity.
In addition to the cone, we also need to consider what the surround is made of. The surround is the thin strip that covers the edge of the cone. Typically, rubber is preferred because of its strength and flexibility, keeping the cone from travelling too much while not inhibiting its vibrations.
You may also come across surrounds made of foam and cloth.
Tweeters can be categorized as ‘soft tweeters’ and ‘hard tweeters’. The former is usually made of textiles like silk while hard materials like metal, graphite, and ceramics are used to produce the latter. Silk tweeters tend to make the higher frequencies sound smoother and warmer, and they allow every detail to come through in the mix. However, they’re not the best at dampening the sound which means that you’ll lose accuracy in the highs when you get to really loud volumes.
Hard tweeters, especially those made out of metal, can colour the sound with bright overtones. The highs will sound sharper, meaning they’ll cut through all the pesky road noise. Hard tweeters are also much better at dampening, which means the tweeter will not rattle when you turn up the volume.
The Type Of Speaker
Car speakers can be categorized into two main-types: full-range and component. Here’s a brief overview of each:
These speakers contain all the essential sound drivers. The simplest ones may have just a single woofer and tweeter, to handle the lows and highs respectively. Typically, the tweeter is mounted to the woofer.
More expensive full-range speakers may also contain one additional driver. This could either be a supertweeter, which handles the extended upper frequencies, or a midrange-driver, which handles the middle frequencies. So basically, the former reproduces the really high-pitched signals while the latter determines how forward-placed or ‘present’ the overall sound is.
Full-range speakers aren’t that complicated and as a result, they’re easy to install. In addition, you can find full-range speakers at a wide variety of price points.
The biggest difference between component speakers and full-range ones is that the former contains an additional component: a crossover. A crossover separates bass, middle and treble frequencies and sends each to the appropriate driver. Since all the frequencies are handled separately, the sound will come out sounding extremely detailed and accurate.
In component speakers, the tweeter isn’t mounted to the woofer, which means that you can mount it in a spot that provides better imaging. Imaging refers to how accurately a speaker can reproduce the original panning of instruments. By placing the tweeter in a direction where treble instruments are typically placed, you’ll experience a more ‘live’ feel with the music.
Lastly, component speakers are usually made of higher-quality materials than found in full-range speakers. As a result, they’re typically more expensive.
Best 6.5 Speaker Reviews
Now that you know a thing or two about speakers, let’s take a look at my favourite 6.5 speakers for this year:
Carbon-Inject Plus One Cones
JBL’s Plus One design ensures that the woofer cone is about 30% larger than average. This added surface area allows it to push more air and sound waves out at once. As a result, the bass coming out of the speaker sounded quite massive but still very detailed and nuanced. Every time I cranked up the volume a bit further I expected the bass to get distorted but that never happened.
The woofer cones were extremely capable of dampening, thanks to the extra stiffness afforded by the carbon injection.
The GTO629 sports a silk tweeter, which outputs warm, well-rounded highs that contain every bit of the detail present in the original mix. Sound aside, this tweeter is quite durable as well, thanks to the ‘edge-driven’ design which basically allows it to dissipate heat very effectively. As a result, you can have music playing through the speaker for hours on end without overheating the tweeter.
This is a feature I’d never come across before in other speakers. The UniPivot design actually allows you to tilt up the tweeter (assuming that it’s mounted in a low position) and thereby aim the sound waves directly at your ears.
The GTO629’s power handling is rated at 5-60 watts RMS which means that it can technically work with high-powered stereo systems. However, I’d pair it up with a low-powered system just to be safe. Plus, it’s got a sensitivity of 93dB which means that it doesn’t need much power to get loud.
- Details lows and highs
- Does not overheat with prolonged use
- UniPivot tweeter
- High Sensitivity
- The highs tended to distort slightly at high volumes
- 6.5" CS Series 2-Way Car Speakers
- Power Handling: Peak: 300 watts / RMS: 30 watts
- Mica cone ; Ferrite Magnet-Woofer and Neodymium Magnet -Tweeter ;...
- Hybrid Rubber and Cloth surround
- 1" Poly-Ether Imide balanced dome tweeter
Poly-Ether Imide Tweeter
Tweeters made from synthetic films are stiffer and therefore better at dampening than silk tweeters. The CS-J620 tweeter is made from poly-ether imide which isn’t merely a durable hard material; it also drives up the frequency peak to 22kHz instead of the 20KHz you get with normal tweeters. Because of this, I was able to hear more details in high-pitched vocals and falsetto lines and yells didn’t sound as ‘ear-piercing’ as they typically do with most other speakers.
Mica Injected Polypropylene Cone
Minerals like mica and carbon are added to polypropylene woofer cones to increase the stiffness. This meant that I could pump up the volume for a passionate solo karaoke session and never have to worry about an annoying rattle in the low-end.
The CS-J620’s surround is made of a rubber-cloth hybrid, which is quite interesting. Cloth surrounds are generally stiffer, which makes me think that the engineers at JVC were trying to combine this quality with the flexibility of rubber.
There were a couple of design features that made the CS-J620 easier to install. Firstly, it’s got a shallow frame which vastly reduces the possibility of it hitting the window track or glass. Secondly, the speaker has a pre-arranged hole pattern which meant that I didn’t have to drill any myself. If modifications are required, JVC has you covered with enough screws and mounting tabs to ease the process.
With a power handling of 30 watts RMS, the JVC CS-J620 should only be paired with a low-powered stereo. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because of its high-sensitivity (92dB). Trust me, this thing can still get really loud!
Finally, the impedance is rated at 4 ohms, which means that it won’t stress out your amplifier when you listen to music for a long time.
- Increased upper-frequency range
- Doesn’t distort at loud volumes
- Easy to install
- Not compatible with high-powered speakers
- Shallow-mount 6-1/2" Coaxial car speakers
- 6-1/2" 2-way car speakers Plus One+ polypropylene woofer cone with...
- 1" edge-driven, textile dome tweeter included brackets allow mounting...
Plus One Cone Design
Just like the JBL GTO629, the REF-6522EX from infinity sports a Plus One cone design. This means more air is pushed out of the woofers, striking you with powerful, detailed low-end punches. However, unlike the GTO629 the cones aren’t injected with carbon. As a result, I did notice a little bit of distortion when I jacked up the volume close to ear-splitting levels. However, it’s completely fine if you don’t plan on listening to music really loud all the time.
The REF-6522EX’s woofer cones feature a rubber surround, which prevents it from travelling too much when pushed with a lot of power.
The Infinity REF-6522EX comes with a textile tweeter and you know what that means: mellowed-out highs with incredible detail. If you like hearing all the nuances in instruments, then this tweeter could make you quite happy.
The Infinity REF-6522EX’s power-handling is rated at 55 watts RMS which means it’s safer to pair it up with a low-powered speaker. Fortunately, it’s highly sensitive (93 dB) so you can still get really loud with it. This speaker features ‘True Four Ohm Technology’ which basically means that the actual speaker impedance is 3 ohms but the speaker wire adds 1 ohm, totaling to 4 ohms which are directed towards the amplifier.
- Excellent sound quality with a deep, rich bass response and well-polished highs
- High sensitivity
- Not compatible with high-powered stereos
- Bass tends to distort slightly at really high volumes
- 6 5" A-series 4-way car speakers
- Power handling peak 350 watts per pair/ RMS 80 watts per pair
- Carbon and mica reinforced IMPP woofer cone
- Elastic polymer Surround material
- 1mm PET dome tweeters
Unlike the other speakers on this list, the Pioneer TS-A1680F sports a hard tweeter made of polyethylene terephthalate. The PET improves the dampening capability of the tweeter, preventing any excessive vibration when dealing with high volume levels. The high frequencies emitted from this tweeter were very sharp and detailed. I found that I didn’t have to roll up the volume to drown out the road noise during my commutes.
Reinforced Woofer Cone
The TS-A1680F’s woofer cone is reinforced with both carbon and mica, which means that it’s incredibly stiff. This means that I could turn up the volume to the very extreme and still never hear any distortion.
The TS-A1680F features a crossover that separates the bass and treble frequencies at 3600Hz. As a result, this speaker had great imaging. I put on some Bach to test out the accuracy of the instrument panning and was quite impressed with the results. I was able to tell that the violins were at the left and cellos and brass were panned to the right.
The TS-A1680F’s power handling is rated at 80 watts RMS, which means that it can be safely paired with a high-powered stereo. Coincidentally, it’s got the lowest sensitivity out of all the speakers at this list, with a rating of 88dB. Its impedance is rated at 4 ohms, which minimizes the load on the amplifier.
- Excellent Imaging
- High-quality sound reproduction with no distortion at high volumes
- Compatible with both low-powered and high-powered audio systems
- Low sensitivity so it may not get as loud with low-powered stereos
- Adaptor Rings make it easy to fit the db6501 in 6 1/2 inch and 6 3/4...
- Two way Butterworth outboard crossover with vented housing, electronic...
- Woofers feature polymer/mica composite cone with butyl rubber...
- 25mm liquid cooled silk/polymer composite dome tweeters with neodymium...
- Special Shipping Information: This item cannot be returned to...
Mica Composite Woofer
By now, you’re probably well-aware of the advantage that a mica-injection has on woofer cones. Thanks to this reinforcement, the bass frequencies never seemed to lose their nuances or get overpowered with distortion no matter how hard I pushed the volume.
Liquid-Cooled Silk/Polymer Tweeter
What the silk lacks in durability and dampening ability, the polymer material seemed to make up for. I absolutely love this hybrid because I was able to get those well-rounded highs even at very high volumes, all without having to endure any fizziness in the sound. The liquid-cooling process that the silk isn’t subject to doesn’t really do anything to add to the sound. However, it does improve the tweeter’s heat dissipating ability. As a result, I was able to have my music playing really loud for long periods of time without any worries of overheating.
Two-Way External Crossover
Two-way crossovers are simply those that split the signal into bass and treble frequencies. With the DB6501’s crossover, the split happens at the 4000Hz mark, which means that more of the upper-bass frequencies are included, providing more nuance in the sound.
The DB6501 has the greatest power handling out of all speakers on this list, with a rating of 100 watts RMS. Plus it’s got a sensitivity of 92dB as well, which means that it can be paired up with both low-powered and high-powered speakers.
- Excellent audio quality even at higher volumes
- Compatible with both low-powered and high-powered stereos
- Easy to install thanks to the surface and flush mount cups
- I can’t think of any
The Best Overall
All the 6.5 speakers mentioned in this list are of the highest quality and you can’t really go wrong with any of them unless of course they’re not compatible with your stereo system. For this reason, it was very difficult for me to pick my overall favourite. However, after much deliberation, I eventually decided on the Polk Audio DB6501. Here’s why:
- High-Quality Construction – mica-injected woofer cones, liquid-cooled silk tweeters, rubber surround… this thing was made to last! I’m positive that I won’t need a replacement for the foreseeable future.
- Compatibility – I don’t want to have to buy another pair of speakers if I ever switch to a car with a really high-powered stereo. With the DB6501, I never have to worry about that.
- The sound – I prefer the sound of soft tweeters to hard ones but hate that they have poor dampening capabilities. With the silk/polymer hybrid of the DB6501’s tweeter, my one complaint about silk tweeters has been taken care of.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Best 6.5 Speakers For Bass?
Speakers like the JBL GTO629, JVC CS-J620, and Polk Audio DB6501 are great options if you want a really deep, nuanced low-end. When picking out a speaker for bass, it’s best to pay attention to the woofer cone and surround material.
Are 2 Or 3-Way Speakers Better?
2-way speakers contain woofers and tweeters while 3-way speakers contain an additional driver (usually a supertweeter or a mid-range driver). The latter is better at separating frequencies than the former, which results in a clearer sound most of the time.
What’s The Best Door Speakers For Bass?
Door speakers need to be made of highly durable material because they have to endure high temperatures constantly. Pay particular attention to the cone and surround material. For instance, a material like untreated paper can react to extreme temperatures fairly quickly, so it’s best to avoid speakers that have them.
Examples of really good door speakers include the Polk Audio DB6501 and the Pioneer TS-A1680F.
What’s The Best 6.5 Component Speaker?
Personally, I prefer the Polk Audio DB6501. Not only does it have a really high-quality speaker but its other components are top-of-the-line too.
Are Full Range Speakers Better?
Full-range speakers are usually made of cheaper material than component speakers. In addition, the lack of crossovers means that their sound lacks the clarity you get with component speakers. That’s not to say that full-range speakers are bad. In terms of construction and sound-quality, component speakers are simply better.
The products featured on this page were last updated on 2020-02-23 at 09:25 /. Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.