As much as we adore the sound that comes out of the exhaust pipes, we equally love the sound that comes out of the speakers. Sure, when we’re driving a sports car we tend to keep the stereo to a minimum, and enjoy the purr of the engine on the open road instead. But we also know that that’s a minimal amount of the time spent behind the wheel.
In reality, we know that most drivers spend a lot of time commuting, a lot of time going from Point A to Point B for groceries, school, or their kids’ soccer games, and a lot of time roadtripping from one cool destination to the next. And when you’re doing any of those things, it’s important to have nice speakers.
You might think that speakers only matter for people who blast hip-hop or rock music at high volumes. In reality, whether you listen to those genres, or Broadway musicals, or classics, aftermarket speakers have a strong impact. Don’t listen to music in the car? Doesn’t matter: aftermarket speakers can make a huge different with podcasts, audiobooks, and talk radio as well.
Why not just keep your stock speakers?
Aftermarket speakers may seem superfluous. Your car comes with speakers, and often they have a pretty nice brand name attached to them, as well. While factory speakers are decent quality, they don’t hold a candle to aftermarket offerings.
Even if your vehicle has brand name speakers, they won’t be the quality that you can find on the market. They don’t cover the same range, meaning the quality will get grainy with high or low tones. They also can’t hold up to high volumes as well, and often create slightly scratchy sounding voices.
Aftermarket speakers increase your range, volume, and clarity. If you want to have better audio, you simply need to consider some aftermarket speakers.
What to do about installation
When you purchase speakers, you’ll need to install them. Installation isn’t an incredibly hard thing to do, but it does require electrical work, and some hands-on savvy. It also can take a little while. On the flipside, speakers are very affordable, so if you do all the installation yourself, you can greatly increase your vehicle’s audio situation without spending much money at all.
That said, if you’re not comfortable doing electrical work, just pay someone to do it for you. An auto shop, or most audio shops will do the installation for you. If you purchase your car speakers from a car audio shop, they’ll likely install them for a highly discounted price.
Of course, if you want to dip your fingers into electrical work, speaker installation is a great way to start. Unlike some electrical work, installing car speakers is not dangerous at all, and it’s very straightforward. It’s a great way to get your feet wet in electrical work.
The best car speaker brands in the business
While there are dozens of terrific companies making car speakers, we have seven brands that we love above the rest. We are always open to trying new companies and new models, but we find ourselves returning to these seven with great regularity. We’re rarely disappointed by their models, and the reviews from others are always stellar as well.
We’ve broken our top seven brands into two categories: high-quality, and great value. Check out the brands, and see if they might have something to offer you when you decide to upgrade your vehicle’s stereo system.
The best high-quality car speaker brands
For us, four car speaker brands stand out above the pack. These four consistently produce epic speakers across various sizes. They sometimes cost a little bit more than their competitors, but if you’re interested in creating the best audio system possible in your vehicle, those extra numbers on the price tag are well worth it. Here are our four favorite high-quality speaker brands.
What can we say about Alpine? They make absolutely terrific car speakers. They’re one of the most trusted brands in the business, and for very good reason.
Alpine primarily markets themselves to truck owners. While their speakers are great in sedans and sports cars, they really excel at truck speakers. Part of this is because of the volume that Alpine is able to create, and part of this is because they simply know trucks. For whatever reason, their speakers work very well in trucks.
Alpine also offers navigation systems, and full dash restyle systems. The great thing about Alpine is that usually you don’t just buy one or two of their speakers: you slowly build up an entire vehicle audio system out of their equipment. And, frankly put, they have terrific equipment to build with.
It’s also worth noting that Alpine offers a variety of weather-resistant products, which makes them the ideal company if you have a jeep, or another off road vehicle that may not always stay completely dry.
Chances are you’ve seen the name Boss before, and chances are you’ve seen it in a car. Boss works with a lot of auto manufacturers to provide factory speakers for vehicles.
That said, the speakers that Boss makes to be factory installed are usually not as good of quality as the speakers they make to sell you. Simply put, their aftermarket speakers are out of this world, and a can’t-miss product for anyone looking to upgrade their vehicle’s audio system.
While this isn’t the most important factor for most people, it’s worth noting that Boss offers some of the best looking speakers on the market. Their designs are sleek, sexy, and eye-catching without being over the top. They make your car look fancy, smooth, and expensive.
But above all else, Boss offers top-notch audio quality, regardless of the speaker size that you purchase. They have highly durable speakers which are trusted in trucks and off road vehicles, as well as some of the crispest, loudest, and most diverse speakers on the market, that are perfect for sedans and luxury vehicles.
Boss is also one of the most user-friendly companies on the market. They have terrific warranties, excellent customer service, and a bevy of online videos to help you install your speakers, and get the most out of your car’s stereo system.
Just like with the other names on this list, you’re probably pretty familiar with the name JBL. JBL is an audio powerhouse: they make some of the top home stereo speakers, some of the most respected Bluetooth speakers, and some of the world’s greatest headphones. Oh yeah, and they also make fantastic car speakers.
JBL has a fleet of excellent car speakers, and also sells some of the best subwoofers on the market, and some borderline-perfect amplifiers and processors. Spend a few minutes on their website, and you can pretty easily end up with an entirely renovated audio system for your vehicle.
JBL offers some of the crispest sound we’ve ever heard in car speakers, as well as simply phenomenal range. They also have perhaps the best bass that we’ve experienced from tweeters, though we still recommend purchasing subwoofers for your car.
Like Boss, JBL also makes very stylish speakers. We’ve received countless compliments on our JBL speakers before we even turn the car on. But trust us, once the audio starts pouring out, the compliments only get better!
Polk is our go-to brand for home stereo equipment. It says something about the company, then, that they’re also one of our go-to brands for car stereo equipment.
The speakers offered from Polk are all completely wonderful, but they do cost a little bit more than some companies. Then again, once you hear the crispness and range of the audio, you’ll probably be digging deep into your wallet. And it’s worth reiterating: even with great companies, car speakers simply aren’t that expensive.
In addition to the quality that they offer, Polk has some of the most efficient speakers on the market. Their speakers consistently use less power than competing brands, which helps limit their footprint. They’re also some of the easiest speakers to install, which we always appreciate, and which helps you out if you plan on installing your own speakers.
Polk has always – and we suspect will always – be at the top of the food chain when it comes to innovation and technology for speakers. That is as true in their car speakers as in their home speakers. If you’re looking for the newest technology in car speakers, chances are you’ll find it in a product from Polk.
The best great value speaker brands
There are a lot of reasons to purchase great value speaker brands. If you’re on a budget, you can get 80% of the quality for half the price; what’s not to like about that. Or, if you’re just getting into car audio systems and not sure whether you want to make a big investment, a value speaker brand can be the way to get started, and see if upgraded automotive audio is right for you.
Furthermore, if you want to upgrade your car’s stereo system, but you’re not in the car enough to justify a bigger investment, than one of these brands is a great choice. It’s a great compromise.
With that said, let’s make one thing clear: the three brands listed here are all terrific car audio companies. These companies all make fantastic speakers for your cars. They just do so at a price that is a bit lower than the four companies listed above.
While always offering a low price, Infinity has some of the top speaker technology on the market. They are constantly updating and innovating their speakers. Unlike some affordable speaker brands, you can be sure that you’re getting the latest technology when you purchase speakers from Infinity.
As is the case with most of our favorite car speaker companies, Infinity offers terrific options beyond speakers. If you want to upgrade your entire stereo system for a really great price, Infinity offers not only great speaker options, but terrific subwoofers, amplifiers, and receivers as well. You can completely remake your vehicle’s sound system with Infinity, and you’ll do it for a great price as well.
It’s also a great benefit that Infinity speakers look so sleek. While many affordable speaker brands look cheap and tacky, Infinity makes smooth and stylish products. Simply put, we love them.
Our favorite thing about Pioneer is that they offer an enormous variety of speakers. They have five lines of speakers: the A-Series, D-Series, G-Series, Z-Series, and Pro Series. With these five lines, you can be sure to find whatever fits your car, your desires, and your budget.
All five of their speaker lines are great quality. They just happen to be varying levels of great quality, at different price points. We love that business model, and it makes Pioneer a perfect brand for someone just getting started with car speakers. You can find what works for you to get started, and get straight to improving the sound in your vehicle.
In addition to offering a wide range of products, Pioneer’s products themselves offer a wide range of sound. From high to low audio, Pioneer has everything covered, with remarkably crisp quality. We’ve also found that their products can handle a high volume very well, so if you like to bump music, you may have found the perfect speakers for your car.
If you’re looking for an affordable car speaker with great stats, look no further than Rockford. Rockford makes amazingly priced speakers across all sizes, that happen to have some of the best frequency and power scores in the business.
Rockford is all about perfectly crafted technology. Each speaker they offer is meticulously designed to offer terrific sound and power, at a very respectable price. And, in our experience, they deliver in both categories.
Like Pioneer, Rockford offers a few different lines of speakers. By doing this, they help you find the quality and features that you’re looking for, while also staying in the price bracket that you’re looking for.
We’ve found that our Rockford speakers consistently get compliments from just about everyone. We’ve tailgated with them, had parties alongside them, and pulled up to red lights in them. Consistently, people compliment the quality, and the volume. If only they knew the price, they’d be jumping on them too!
What to do after buying speakers
If you want to improve your vehicle’s audio quality, buying new speakers is a perfect first step. However, if you’re really invested in getting the best sound possible in your car, new speakers are just a first step.
Ideally, you want more than just a new pair of speakers in your car. You want two or three pairs, in varying sizes, and in different locations. It’s also best to get a subwoofer, specifically if you really like listening to music. Last, and certainly not least, getting an aftermarket amplifier and/or receiver will help you get the most out of your new speakers.
That said, getting some aftermarket speakers is a terrific first step. You don’t need to rush into buying more audio equipment. Spend some time with your new speakers, see if you enjoy an improved audio system, and then you can begin to build on it.
Is it important to stick with one brand?
There’s a common misconception that you should only purchase one brand of audio equipment. For instance, many people believe that if you buy a pair of Rockford speakers, when you’re ready to add on, you should only do so with other Rockford products.
In reality, that’s not true at all. We like sticking with one brand simply because it’s fun for us. It allows us to fully judge a brand, whereas it’s hard to judge an audio company when three or four different manufacturers are at work. Also, by sticking with one brand, you ensure that the aesthetics always match.
But it’s not important. Your sound quality will not suffer at all if you mix and match. You can have three sets of speakers from three brands, with a different company’s subwoofer, and another brand’s receiver, and it doesn’t matter. As long as the brands are good quality, the audio will be, too.
Upgrading the audio in your vehicle is one of the best ways to improve your driving experience. It doesn’t matter what you use your car for: everyone likes music, audiobooks, talk radio, or podcasts. Regardless of what you’re in to, you can make it a more enjoyable experience by upgrading your speaker system.
If you need some specific suggestions, check out our guide on some of our favorite speakers on the market. You’ll see a lot of products from the seven companies listed above because, if we haven’t made it clear already, we really like these companies. They offer terrific speaker products, and we have no doubt that if you’re looking to improve the audio in your car, you can do so with any one of these terrific speaker brands.