If you are tired of the poor quality of the preinstalled factory speakers in your car, a 3-way speaker is the best option to improve your audio experience. A set of 3-way speakers will give you decent bass, clarity of middle frequencies, and crisp and clear highs. Best of all, they are affordable and easy to install — most 3-way speakers will fit easily into the pre-cut slots in your car.
While a component system of separate subwoofers and tweeters will give your car the best audio quality possible, they are difficult and time-consuming to install and are more expensive. A set of 3-way speakers is a decent compromise. They offer great audio quality without the hassle of complicated and expensive installation.
It can be a challenge to wade through the vast amount of options available, but we’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve put together this list of in-depth reviews to help you find the perfect 3-way speaker to suit your unique needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Kicker 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers||
|Best Value||Rockford Fosgate Full-Range 3-Way Coaxial Speaker||
|Premium Choice||JBL GTO939 3 Way Black Car Coaxial Audio Speakers||
|Sony XSFB1330 3-Way Car Audio Speakers||
|JBL Stage 9603 3-Way Coaxial Car Audio Speakers||
The 10 Best 3-way Car Speakers — Reviews 2021
1. Kicker 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers — Best Overall
These 6×9-inch speakers from Kicker are our top choice overall for 3-way speakers. They have an RMS rating of 90 watts each and a peak power rating of 360 watts. The thin-profile design allows them to fit snugly into most standard car speaker fittings, and the tweeter has a zero-to-minimal protrusion that keeps it flush. While the Kickers may not have much in the way of power, the lower output comes with clear and superior sound quality that lacks distortion. They have a crystal clear-middle frequency for great vocal reproduction and crisp and cutting highs.
The only thing lacking in these coaxials is the bass. While you wouldn’t expect tons of bass from a small 3-way speaker, the bass from the Kickers is still disappointing.
2. Rockford Fosgate Full-Range 3-Way Coaxial Speaker – Best Value
The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 coaxials are our choice for the best 3-way speakers for the money. They have a mounting depth of 2.15 inches and a diameter of 6.5 inches and come with mounting hardware and great-looking front grills included. They have integrated high-pass crossovers, polypropylene cones, and silk-dome piezo tweeters. Each speaker has an RMS rating of 45 watts, with a peak power rating of 90 watts.
These speakers give a punchy mid-range response and clear and cutting highs. The bass response is great after a bit of minor EQ tweaking, and these speakers give a surprising amount of kick. The low price comes with a caveat — they will not last as long as more premium speakers, even if you are gentle on them. This keeps them from our top position. That said, they will give you great value for money.
3. JBL GTO939 3 Way Black Car Coaxial Audio Speakers — Premium Choice
JBL is a force to be reckoned with, and it is a brand that makes some of the best car speakers available. These GTO939 3-way speakers live up to the JBL brand, both in construction quality and sound quality. They feature a specialized Plus One woofer cone with a rubber surround, adjustable mylar-titanium tweeter, and a super-tweeter. They have a peak power handling of 300 watts and an RMS rating of 100 watts and a slim 3-inch mounting depth.
In keeping with the great sound quality of JBL, the highs are rich and crisp due to the added super-tweeter, and the middle and low frequencies are smooth and deep. They can handle high volumes for a long period of time, without any distortion, but the bass may be muddy at high volumes. These are premium speakers that come at a premium price, which keeps them from our top two positions.
4. Sony XSFB1330 3-Way Car Audio Speakers
The XSFB1330 3-way speakers from Sony are a great option if you’re looking to upgrade your car’s factory-installed speakers. They are made with foamed-mica cellular reinforced woofers, a 1-inch polyester tweeter, and ¾-inch piezo super-tweeter. They are rated at 35 watts RMS and 240 watts peak. Don’t let the low RMS rating deter you, though — these speakers can pack a punch and provide a rich bass response with clear highs.
The bass response on these speakers is rich and clear but lacking in power. Even with EQ tweaking, they won’t give you much bass thump at all. That said, the addition of a super-tweeter will give you great highs, so adding a subwoofer may make for a great-sounding setup.
5. JBL Stage 9603 3-Way Coaxial Car Audio Speakers
The Stage 9603 coaxial speakers from JBL feature an aesthetic that makes them look as great as they sound. They can pack a punch, with an RMS rating of 70 watts and a peak power of 210 watts. The injection-molded polypropylene woofer cone, PEI balanced dome tweeter, and piezoelectric super-tweeter will put that punch to good use, giving these speakers warm and smooth middles with crystal-clear highs. This sound, combined with the low price and trusted name of JBL, ensures great value for the money.
Several users report little to no bass response, though, and a distorted, muddy bass at high volumes. They can have an overall “tinny” sound, but this can be largely mitigated by EQ correction.
6. Pioneer TS-A1670F Max 3-Way Car Speakers
The TS-A1670F 3-way speakers from Pioneer are both great looking and great sounding. They have a peak power rating of 320 watts and an RMS rating of 70 watts, which is plenty of power for the average audiophile. The woofer cone is made from a multilayer mica matrix, which is designed for optimum sound quality and optimum longevity. The midrange speaker cone is a cellulose fiber, and the tweeter is a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) hard-dome design. This makes it a true 3-way speaker, which will deliver punchy bass, smooth middles, and crisp and clear highs.
Some users report distortion, even at low volumes, and muddy and barely audible bass response. The speakers are also prone to rattling at high volumes.
7. Alphasonik AS26 Max 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers
The AS26 coaxial speakers from Alphasonik come in a set of four, and with an RMS rating of 35 watts each, you’ll get a total RMS output of 140 watts. They will peak at 350 watts, which will give you plenty of bang for your buck. These speakers come with universal mounting holes, making them a breeze to install in most factory locations. Each speaker also comes with attractive grills included and has a mounting depth of 2.32 inches.
These speakers have nifty built-in LED lights, but bear in mind that they will need an extra 12-volt line directly to the car battery to power them. These speakers are lacking in bass and will need EQ tweaking to get them to sound good. The build quality is also fairly poor, so they may not last as long as you’d like.
8. Skar Audio SK69 3-Way Coaxial Car Speakers
These SK69 3-way speakers from Skar have an RMS output of 100 watts per pair and a peak rating of 200 watts. They feature a pulp fiber cone with butyl rubber surround and a 1-inch copper voice coil. They also have a powerful ferrite magnet, as well as two PEI premium silk dome tweeters that will give crisp high frequencies. The bass, middles, and highs are well balanced and will give a decent volume for the relatively low price.
Some users report installation difficulties, as the woofer basket is slightly bigger than average, which means you may need to alter your vehicle. The quality control also seems to be lacking, as several users report receiving speakers with broken wires inside the box.
9. Pair Rockville RV6.3A 3-Way Car Speakers
This pair of Rockville RV6.3A coaxial speakers boast an RMS rating of 140 watts per pair and a peak rating of 750 watts per pair. They have a stiff polypropylene woofer cone, with a flex motion butyl rubber surround, housed inside a high-quality steel basket. A 1.2-inch PEI dome tweeter will give crisp and clear highs, along with the high-quality aluminum voice coils. Speaker grills are included, so your speaker will stay dust-free and last longer.
The overall sound quality is poor from these speakers, with muddy bass and tinny highs. They also have a low power rating, which equates to poor audio and distortion if pushed too hard. The build quality will also leave you wanting.
10. Kenwood KFC-1796PS 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers
These 3-way coaxial speakers from Kenwood have a combined peak power rating of 330 watts. They feature a water-resistant paper woofer cone with a rubber surround, a 1.56-inch paper cone tweeter, and a 0.50-inch super-tweeter. They also have included grills to keep them safe from dust and damage.
They are advertised as a 3-way speaker, which is not entirely accurate. They have a woofer for bass and two tweeters for high frequencies but have no dedicated middle-range speaker. This gives a somewhat tinny sound, with a distinct lack of mid-clarity. The low power rating will not provide much volume and will likely distort when pushed even mildly, and they are also distinctly lacking in bass output. That said, they are an affordable option and a definite upgrade from factory-installed speakers.
A 3-way speaker is a great option if you are looking to upgrade from your standard factory-installed speakers. You can get decent sound quality without spending tons of money and without taking up too much space in your car. A set of 3-way speakers can give you decent bass, a smooth and clear middle-range, and crisp highs, all rolled into one unit. This is easier and cheaper than a complicated component setup, which will require separate crossovers and amplifiers to run. There are several important factors to consider when buying 3-way speakers, however.
More power doesn’t necessarily mean more volume and certainly doesn’t means more quality of sound. Volume output also depends on whether you are using a separate amplifier, how you’ve wired your speakers, and the speaker placement inside your vehicle.
Another often confusing factor is peak vs. RMS rating.
The RMS rating refers to how much continuous power a speaker can handle, whereas the peak power rating is how much it can handle in short, quick bursts. Typically, the RMS rating gives a far more accurate representation of the speaker’s capabilities, so that is the important number to look out for.
It can be a difficult job to assess a speaker’s sound quality without actually hearing it. Apart from obvious aspects like brand names and material quality, a few other key considerations are:
- Coaxial vs. triaxial: A coaxial (2-way) speaker will usually just provide a bass/middle woofer and highs. A triaxial (3-way) speaker will have a woofer and either an additional middle speaker and tweeter or a super-tweeter for extra-clear highs.
- Frequency range: A speaker with a frequency range of between 20Hz and 22,000Hz will give you an ideal audio reproduction.
- Crossovers: A crossover is used to separate the incoming audio signal into the separate bands of frequencies. A 3-way speaker with a built-in crossover will sound better and save you the hassle of installing a separate unit.
The 3-way speakers from Kicker are our top choice overall and the winner of our tests. With an RMS rating of 90 watts each, a thin profile design, and clear and superior sound quality, they are a great addition to any car’s sound system.
The best 3-way speakers for the money according to our tests are the Rockford Fosgate R165X3s. They come with convenient mounting hardware and great-looking front grills, have integrated high-pass crossovers, and an RMS rating of 45 watts. These speakers will give you great audio reproduction without breaking the bank.
It can be a difficult and confusing process to find a pair of decent 3-way speakers among the multitude of available options. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you narrow down the options, so you can find the right 3-way speaker to suit your unique needs.
Featured image credit: RAEng_Publications, Pixabay
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best 3-way Car Speakers — Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Kicker 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers — Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Rockford Fosgate Full-Range 3-Way Coaxial Speaker – Best Value
- 2.3 3. JBL GTO939 3 Way Black Car Coaxial Audio Speakers — Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Sony XSFB1330 3-Way Car Audio Speakers
- 2.5 5. JBL Stage 9603 3-Way Coaxial Car Audio Speakers
- 2.6 6. Pioneer TS-A1670F Max 3-Way Car Speakers
- 2.7 7. Alphasonik AS26 Max 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers
- 2.8 8. Skar Audio SK69 3-Way Coaxial Car Speakers
- 2.9 9. Pair Rockville RV6.3A 3-Way Car Speakers
- 2.10 10. Kenwood KFC-1796PS 3-Way Car Audio Coaxial Speakers
- 3 Buyers Guide
- 4 Conclusion