If you spend lots of time in your car, a good set of speakers is a worthwhile investment. A great-sounding car stereo system makes a long commute, or a drive across the country, a more enjoyable experience. 

The best place to start is by replacing your stock speakers. Most standard car speakers are about 6.5 inches in diameter, so finding a good set of speakers in that size range means you can install a replacement set with minimal modifications. There are lots of choices in this size to fit every need or budget. Additionally, some of these speakers are good options if you’re looking to upgrade the sound on your boat or motorcycle. 

In this review, we’ll cover the best 6.5-inch speakers, including our recommendations for best value, best sound quality, and other categories. 

Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate R165X3
Best for Sound Quality: Hertz HCX 165
Best Value: JBL CLUB6520
Best Factory-Replacement: Infinity REF6522IX
Best All-Weather: Polk DB652
Best for Bass: Alpine R-Series R-S65

How We Picked the Best 6.5 Speakers

One of my first cars was a 1982 Toyota Celica with a factory OEM seven-band equalizer and blown speakers. Upgrading to four new Polk 6.5-inch speakers improved the sound quality dramatically. Since then I’ve always believed a good set of speakers is the best way to upgrade your car’s sound quality. 

To compile this list, I looked at 10 to 15 brands of 6.5-inch speakers and reviewed them based on sound quality, build quality, power, and price. I also looked at speakers that provided a good upgrade over the factory OEM speakers and sounded good with or without added amplification. Whether you just want to upgrade the sound in your factory stereo or plan to upgrade it in the future, it’s always better to go with the best 6.5-inch speakers that can handle either. 

You’re not going to get a lot of bass out of a 6.5-inch speaker, so it’s better to look for clarity in the mid- and high-frequency ranges. If you want low-end bass, the best solution is to add a subwoofer and avoid overpowering your 6.5-inch speakers. 

Finally, price is always a consideration, and there are always trade-offs. But upgrading your 6.5-inch speakers is one of the most cost-effective ways of upgrading the sound of your car stereo. And you can’t go wrong with any of these picks. 

Best 6.5 Speakers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate R165X3

All-Around Winner. Rockford Fosgate

Why They Made The Cut: The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers combine great sound quality for factory and aftermarket stereos at a great price, which makes it the top pick.

Specs:
Type: Three-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 52Hz (hertz)–20kHz
Power: 45 watts RMS / 90 watts peak

Pros:
Great sound across all frequencies
Ideal for factory and aftermarket stereos
Easy to install
Durable and well-built 

Cons:
May require an amplifier for best sound quality 

The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers are the top choice if you’re looking for a great set of speakers for a wide variety of factory and aftermarket applications. The three-way coaxial stereo speakers can handle 45 watts of RMS power or 90 watts of peak power. They provide great quality sound, are well-built, and are easy to install. 

Each speaker has a tiny half-inch silk dome piezoelectric tweeter, providing responsive high-frequency audio. The three-way coaxial configuration offers a better range and more natural sound quality. 

The only downside is these speakers might not provide the best sound quality when paired with a low-powered factory head unit. To get the best sound, you’ll want a head unit or amplifier that provides close to the 45-watt power rating of these speakers. 

There are better-quality speakers out there that cost more money, but the Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers provide the best combination of sound quality, durability, and price. 

Best for Sound Quality: Hertz HCX 165

Strong Sound. HERTZ

Why They Made The Cut: For the best 6.5-inch speakers with amazing sound quality, choose the Hertz HCX 165. 

Specs:
Type: Three-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 50Hz–22kHz
Power: 100 watts RMS / 200 watts peak

Pros:
Crisp sound across all frequencies
Clear, strong sound for low frequencies
Bright, clear sound for high frequencies
Tweeters can be turned and adjusted 

Cons:
Expensive
Do not come with grilles or covers

Hertz offers some of the best-quality speakers you can buy, and the HCX165 speakers are no exception. They provide amazingly clear, high-quality sound thanks to their oversize magnets and pure copper voice coils. The cones are well-engineered to provide exceptional, long-lasting performance. 

The HCX165 speakers handle an impressive 100 watts RMS and 200 watts of peak power to generate loud, clear sound. The tweeters feature a rotary function that allows you to adjust their direction, customizing the sound to your preferences. 

Price is the only major drawback, but in this case, you get what you pay for. The only other concern I have is the lack of a grille or speaker cover for protection. You can fit these speakers behind a factory speaker cover or find an aftermarket one, but that hides the cool rotating-tweeter function. 

You can spend less money and get speakers that are almost as good, but when it comes to high-powered, high-fidelity audio, nothing else sounds as good in a 6.5-inch package.

Best Value: JBL CLUB6520 

Excellent Value. JBL

Why They Made The Cut: The JBL CLUB6520 speakers offer the best combination of low price and good sound quality. 

Specs:
Type: Two-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 50Hz–20kHz
Power: 50 watts RMS / 150 watts peak

Pros:
Good sound quality
Great price
Easy to install 

Cons:
Lacks low-end bass response
Mounting hardware isn’t the best quality 

The JBL CLUB6520 speakers are a great value option. They provide better sound quality than factory speakers and are easy to install. These durable two-way coaxial speakers are made with UV-resistant polypropylene and will handle years of use. The 50 watts of RMS power and 150 watts of peak power allow them to provide clear treble and midrange sound at high volumes. 

The only drawbacks are due to the low price. The two-way coaxial speakers lack a low-end bass response, which can be resolved by adding a subwoofer. There have also been complaints about the quality of the mounting hardware, especially the screws. 

But if you’re looking for improved sound quality for a reasonable price, the JBL CLUB6520 speakers are a great choice. 

Best Factory-Replacement: Infinity REF6522IX

Well-Built. Infinity

Why It Made The Cut: If you’re looking to upgrade your factory speakers, the Infinity REF6522IX speakers are the top pick. 

Specs:
Type: Two-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 53Hz–21kHz
Power: 60 watts RMS / 180 watts peak

Pros:
Great-sounding speakers with excellent mid- and high range
— Excellent build quality
— Universal mounting brackets
— Sound great with a factory OEM head unit and no additional amp

Cons:
Short wiring connectors
Lacks low-end bass response 

If you’re looking to replace your factory OEM speakers, the Infinity REF-6522IX speakers are a great option. The full-range coaxial drivers include oversize woofer cones that deliver high bass output. One-inch dome tweeters provide clear highs and include an adjustable tweeter output level. The speakers offer 60 watts RMS and 180 watts peak and provide loud, clear midrange sound when connected to a factory head unit or amplifier. 

The only drawback is a lack of low-end bass response, especially when using these speakers with unamplified factory OEM head units. Additionally, the wiring connectors are short, making it difficult to hook the speakers up. However, the speakers do come with two different mounting brackets, making them easy to install.  

Drawbacks aside, the Infinity REF-6522IX speakers are one of the best ways to upgrade the sound of your factory head unit with or without added amplification.

Best All-Weather: Polk DB652

Loud and Clear. Polk Audio

Why It Made The Cut: The Polk DB652 speakers provide great sound and are built to handle all weather conditions. 

Specs:
Type: Two-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 40Hz–22kHz
Power: 100 watts RMS / 300 watts peak

Pros:
Marine-rated waterproof
— Well-built to handle all weather
— Clear and loud, with great sound quality

Cons:
Lacks low-end bass response 

If you need an all-weather speaker for your motorcycle, ATV, boat, or other watercraft, the Polk DB652 speakers are a dependable option. Marine certified, these speakers are made to withstand the toughest weather conditions. 

They sound great as well. With a frequency response of 40 hertz to 22 kilohertz, these speakers are loud and clear with a clean sound across a wide frequency spectrum. With 150 watts RMS power and 300 watts peak power, they also complement amplified systems and subwoofers. 

Like most two-way coaxial speakers, the Polk DB652 speakers lack low-end bass response. But if you want the best speakers for the elements, look no further.

Best for Bass: Alpine R-Series R-S65

Power Player. Alpine

Why It Made The Cut: Alpine’s R-Series R-S65 speakers provide the best low-end bass with great overall sound quality for 6.5-inch speakers. 

Specs:
Type: Two-way coaxial
Frequency Response: 65Hz–29kHz
Power: 100 watts RMS / 300 watts peak

Pros:
Great bass sound
— Excellent overall sound quality
— Work great with amplified stereo systems

Cons:
On the expensive side

Most speakers on this list lack good low-end bass response — but not the Alpine R-Series. They provide premium sound quality with excellent low-end bass response. 

They are also a good choice for amplified systems. With 100 watts of RMS power and 300 watts of peak power, they can handle lots of power. One-inch tweeters provide clear highs, while the woofers and rubber surrounds deliver bass with minimal distortion. 

The price is on the expensive side, as there are lower-priced options that deliver as good or better high- and mid-range sound. But if you want bass from a 6.5-inch speaker, this is where it’s at. 

Things to Consider Before Buying 6.5-Inch Speakers

Choosing the best set of 6.5-inch speakers starts with your budget, as well as the following three things: 

Power 

Measured in watts, power determines volume. But there’s more to it than just picking out the most powerful speakers. In addition to evaluating root mean square (RMS) vs. peak power for the speakers, you’ll need to consider how much power your stereo cranks out. 

If you’re building a new stereo system with amplifiers and subwoofers, it makes sense to go with the best quality, most powerful speakers you can afford. However, if you’re keeping your factory head unit, you’ll want to buy speakers that are matched to your existing stereo’s output. 

Sound Quality

Sound quality is subjective and different for everybody, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. That said, sound quality also depends on the type of speaker and how it handles different ranges of sound frequency. 

Coaxial speakers are full-range speakers that combine the speaker with a woofer and tweeter in one design. Most 6.5-inch speakers are either two-way speakers, meaning they have a woofer and tweeter, or three-way speakers with a separate woofer, tweeter, and midrange component. These types of speakers are the most common. They offer good midrange sound and are easier to install. 

Component speakers separate out the woofers and tweeters from the midrange speaker, providing better high- and low-range sound than coaxial speakers. These types of speakers have better sound quality but are more expensive and harder to install. 

Durability

Build quality and durability determine not only the sound quality but how long your speakers will provide good-quality sound. Door-mounted speakers live a hard life, getting rattled every time you shut the door and exposed to extreme temperatures. So while it’s tempting to get cheaper speakers, you may save money in the long run by buying more durable speakers, which last longer. 

FAQs

Q: How do I get more bass out of my 6.5 speakers?

The best way to add bass is with a subwoofer, or to upgrade your speakers. However, if you’re looking for more bass from your 6.5-inch speakers alone, you can do the following:

— Adjust your stereo’s equalizer to provide more low-end sound
— Add sound deadening around the speaker
— Isolate the speaker with a rubber gasket

Q: Are 6 and 6.5 speakers the same? 

The only difference is size — the 6 speakers are six inches in diameter, and the 6.5 speakers are 6.5 inches in diameter. Both sizes are comparable in sound, but one size may be a better fit for your vehicle. 

Q: What size speakers are best?

The best size depends on how large of a speaker you can fit. The most popular are 6.5-inch and 6x9-inch speakers. They provide good sound, high- and midrange sound quality, and even some decent bass. Typically 6.5-inch speakers are the best option for door installation, and 6x9-inch speakers are a good option for the back seat. 

Q: Can you make cheap speakers sound better? 

There are a few things you can do to improve the sound quality of cheap speakers:

— Select a prime location: good placement improves sound quality
— Add an equalizer or inline capacitor to reduce the frequency spectrum that sounds bad
— Add an amplifier that matches your speakers’ RMS output

Q: What should the midrange be set to in a car? 

It depends on what you’re listening to and your preference. Most people think music sounds better with the midrange set to 0 and the bass and treble set to +4 and +5. 

Q: How big of a hole do I need for a 6.5 speaker? 

Most 6.5-inch round speakers have a 5-inch hole opening. If you are installing new 6.5-inch speakers to replace old 6.5-inch speakers, they should fit the same hole. If you need to cut a hole to install new speakers, you’ll want to use a 5-inch hole saw. 

Q: What are 6.5 speakers good for? 

These speakers provide good high- and midrange sound. They fit most car doors and are an ideal complement to 6x9-inch speakers or a subwoofer. 

Final Thoughts

The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 speakers are the best overall pick, offering great sound quality at a reasonable price. For the ultimate sound, the Hertz HCX 165 can’t be beaten. Check out the JBL CLUB6520 or Infinity REF6522IX if you want a great speaker to work with your factory OEM head unit. And if you need something to brave the elements, you can’t go wrong with the Polk DB652

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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