There are many debates about which speakers are better. For example, is it 6x9s or 6.5s?
Although you may get the exact specifications of each speaker, some differences between 6.5″ and 6×9 speakers play a role in their sound quality. Let’s take a look at what those are.
6×9 speakers offer a larger surface area (cone), which creates a louder sound and better bass response because bass frequencies need bigger cones to produce larger sound waves. On the other hand, many 6.5″ speakers are more affordable and require less power from the amplifier.
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Tip: Swapping factory speakers with ones of a different size is not always necessary. If you have installed 6.5″ and are searching for a stronger bass, you do not have to go for 6×9″, or vice versa.
Below are my most favorite and best speakers in each size that I would not replace with anything else:
6.5″ – FOCAL 165 AC Access. These French speakers have everything you may need and do not cost a fortune. High sensitivity, unbelievable mid and high sound clarity and 60W RMS mean you do not need an amplifier.
6×9″” – JBL GTO939. I simply love the sound they make, but you better get an amplifier because these JBLs are of low impedance, and without a proper power boost, they will not be as loud as they should be.
The amazing thing about GTO939 is that you will not get many car speakers with bass as low as 45Hz. It is impressive and honestly, better than some small subwoofers.
In the article below, I will detail the differences between each type and will look into other factors that may also influence the sound quality.
Which Speaker Size Is Better 6.5″ or 6×9?
Typically when you are looking to upgrade the midrange speakers in your vehicle, you will be purchasing either 6x9s or 6.5-inch speakers.
Both these speakers have their pros and cons, with the most noticeable visual difference:
- 6×9 are oval
- 6.5 are round
Are 6.5 Speakers Louder Than 6×9?
From a sheer volume perspective, if you have the two speakers set up in the same system, the 6×9 will be louder because it has a larger cone area to produce more bass.
In addition to that, manufacturers have seen a gap in the market when it comes to 6x9s.
Over the recent years, they have been coming out with some fantastic speakers that offer you a more comprehensive frequency range.
That means the speakers sound better and can play higher and lower frequencies giving you more enjoyable audio experience.
Which Size Speakers Sound Better?
Since 6×9 speakers have larger cones, they can move more air than a 6.5-inch speaker.
As you may know, bass frequencies are large, slow-moving sound waves, and because of their size, they require a large surface area for the best effect. This is why subwoofers are so big.
Good 6×9 speakers can produce deeper bass than comparable 6.5-inch car speakers. In fact, if you get yourself a good pair of 6x9s, then they may be roughly equivalent to small 8-inch woofers.
Hence, you may not need to spend extra money on a subwoofer if you have good quality 6x9s. On the other hand, if you opt for a pair of 6.5s, you will most definitely need a sub to achieve the same bass level.
What About 2-Way and 3-Way 6x9s and 6.5s?
Besides the fact that when placed in the same scenario, a 6×9 is more likely to outperform a 6.5.
Another factor that can play a crucial role in your car speakers is whether the speakers are 2-way or 3-way.
2-way or 3-way is just a term to distinguish how many drivers specific speakers have. Typically, manufacturers produce different drivers to play different frequencies.
A woofer will play the midrange frequencies, while a tweeter will play the high frequencies.
In the case of a 2-way speaker, it will usually comprise of a woofer and a tweeter. A 3-way speaker will have an extra driver known as a super tweeter.
Now, you can get both 6x9s and 6.5-inch speakers in 2-way and 3-way versions, and most audio enthusiasts believe that a 3-way is better because it has another driver, right?
Well, typically, what will happen is the additional driver will be placed above the woofer and the tweeter above that.
The super tweeter now blocks the woofer and does not allow sound to move past it, essentially blocking the sound and creating a poor listening experience.
Remember that the more sound that can reach your ears, the better your overall sound quality performance, and having an additional driver placed directly above the woofer inhibits this.
Therefore, if you choose a 6×9 or a 6.5-inch car speaker, you should always consider going for a 2-way system that will most likely produce better overall sound and be pleasant on the ear.
Another thing to consider is that we are taking into regard a coaxial speaker system in this situation. Therefore, if you decide to go for a 3-way component speaker system, you may get different results, and I will explain why.
Is Component Speaker Design Better Than Coaxial?
Besides getting the various shapes and either a 2-way or 3-way 6×9 or 6.5-inch speaker, you can also get coaxial or component speakers.
A coaxial speaker means that the drivers are installed on the same frame (the tweeter will be placed on top of the woofer driver).
In a component speaker system, all drivers are separate, meaning each driver will be installed independently.
If you wonder what a component speaker system will look like, you will typically find the tweeters located on the dashboard, and the woofers will be installed in the door.
As the most popular coaxial speakers are 2-way, if you are genuinely looking for a 3-way system, your best option would be to go with a component system.
By doing so, you will have all three drivers separate, and you can install them in different locations in your car. Component systems you can find in both 6×9 and 6.5-inch designs.
Can You Replace 6.5 Speakers With 6×9?
You can replace the 6.5 speakers with 6×9, but because the 6×9 are larger, they will not fit the holes for the 6.5 models. Therefore you need to get customized speaker brackets that hold the larger oval drivers or cut larger speaker holes in the original mounting locations.
There are also other things you have to consider in addition to mounting brackets:
6×9 speakers generally require more power than 6.5 speakers. Therefore, if you use the factory head unit or amplifier, you may need to upgrade the wiring to accommodate the increased power draw of the 6x9s.
#2. Sound Quality:
6×9 speakers tend to have better bass response than 6.5 speakers, but they may not sound as clear at higher frequencies.
If you want the best sound quality, consider using a separate amplifier to get the most out of your 6×9 speakers.
6×9 speakers can be more expensive than 6.5 speakers, so you’ll need to factor that into your decision.
However, additional brackets, potential door modifications, and soundproofing can add up to extra cost, so take your time and calculate if replacing 6.5 speakers with larger ones is the way you want to go.
#4. Mounting Location:
If you install speakers in the car doors, you may need to modify the door panels to accommodate the larger size.
Also, you will not be able to use the original speaker grills to cover the cones. In addition, many 6×9 speakers are deeper and have larger magnets than 6.5 models, so make sure they will fit in their place.
Whether or not to replace your 6.5 speakers with 6×9 models is up to you. Both options have pros and cons, and in the end, it comes down to your personal preference.
Which Are the Best 6×9 and 6.5 Car Speakers?
Below you will see my best picks for the speakers that I could find in both 6×9 and 6.5″ sizes.
Sound quality is a top priority for me, and I have been using the speakers below for quite a long time after testing over 20 different models.
Therefore, I am not creating a long list to choose from, but instead, I am showing you the best that I would buy again without thinking twice.
Best 6.5″ 2-Way Component Car Speakers
I think Focal 165 AS is the best balance between performance and affordability you can find on the market.
Focal 165 AS makes the sounds you’ve been looking for. Crisp highs, round mids, and aggressive mid-bass make this set a standout. When I heard them for the first time, I was astonished how all instruments, guitar, drum, or violin, sound exactly like they should, so does the vocal.
If you’re looking for powerful sound with exceptional clarity, these speakers are perfect. But if you want to get the best out of them, a quality amplifier will do the job.
Focal 165 AS produces great qualities all over their frequency range, so there is no need to have any other speaker setup (unless you have two pairs of them installed).
With 60W RMS power and 91dB sensitivity, these beauties sound incredible with even small amplifiers with a minimum of 80W RMS per channel.
Focal 165AS Access is a fantastic choice if you want to upgrade your speakers from the standard OEM factory ones. They are built in the technology known from the hi-end audiophile-grade home systems.
They are not the cheapest set that Focal produces, but for the money, they are pretty incredible with no distortion even at loud volumes.
In my opinion, the 165AS system has the most precise high tones you can find these days without spending thousands on a FOCAL K2, Utopia, or Morel system.
Best 6.5″ Coaxial Car Speakers
This is a great product. Although the primary focal line is an excellent sound, perfectly defined bass, and treble, the materials are excellent quality.
If you want to upgrade your sound without expensive installations or modifications, this is your option since you just connect the speakers and notice a huge change.
The Focal 165 AC have a 60W RMS, which means they perform excellent with factory car stereo. However, if you do not want to miss their true potential, I recommend adding an amplifier.
These speakers are also moisture-resistant and deliver exceptional performance in high humidity areas or when you like driving a convertible with a roof down during the rain.
Best 6×9 Coaxial Car Speakers
The JBL GTO939 three-way speaker offers a premium, clean sound perfect for today’s modern cars.
Its clarity and crispness will match your favorite tones, whether from the CD or Bluetooth. In addition, the Plus One cones deliver clear, dynamic vocals, and tweeters with volume level control allow you to adjust highs to suit your preference, especially if these large speakers are installed in the lower part of the door.
The mylar-titanium super tweeters give it an edge in clarity across mid and high levels of frequency. And the best part is they are not that expensive.
Best 6×9 Coaxial Car Speakers
Without a doubt, Infinity produces some of the top component speakers on the market today and makes up for not being in the car audio game for decades with them.
Kappa 90CSX are my absolute top 6×9 system speakers with a lowered impedance, mainly due to their superior design and stronger bass performance than other 6×9 speaker types.
The sound I find is close to the coaxial JBL GTO939 but with a slight reduction in a deeper bass starting at 35Hz!!! Wow, this is a frequency known from 8″ and 10″ subwoofers. Isn’t this amazing?
Each speaker features 125 watts RMS, so if you do not have an amplifier in your vehicle, I recommend purchasing one for the Kappa speakers’ best performance.
The good amplifier must work with a low 2-ohm impedance. A great example is the AudioControl LC-4.800 with 200W RMS at 2ohm.
Now you know that 6x9s will typically be better than 6.5-inch car speakers.
They have larger cones, making them louder even if you place them in the same positions as a 6.5.
Additionally, their bass response is typically better due to the larger surface area and equates to an 8-inch woofer if you have a good pair of 6x9s.
The only thing you have to consider when it comes to choosing a 6×9 over a 6.5 inch and where one can outshine the other is when it comes to having either coaxial, component, 2-way, or 3-way speakers.
These factors, when considering your speakers of choice, will dramatically affect your sound. You also have to take into consideration your car setup and which speakers would fit. Otherwise, even if you have amazing speakers, you will not get true sub bass from either design without a good amplifier.
For the most part, I suggest going with good 2-way speakers, either component or coaxial depending on what you can afford.
3-way speakers tend to have the additional driver in the woofer’s way, but they are usually more expensive, and sound improvement is not really noticeable.
Of course, when you choose the 3-way component system where you can install all three drivers in any place inside the car, sound improvement will be remarkable.
What’s the difference between component and coaxial speakers?
Component speakers and coaxial speakers are two different types of car speakers.
Component speakers have a separate woofer and tweeter, while coaxial speakers have the woofer and tweeter built into one unit.
This means that component speakers can produce a more accurate and high-quality sound, while coaxial speakers may be easier to install.
What size speakers should I get for my car?
The size and type of speakers you should get will depend on the specific make and model of your vehicle.
You’ll want to check the speaker size that is factory installed in your car, as well as the available space in the door or trunk.
6.5-inch and 6×9-inch speakers are both popular choices for car audio systems, but you’ll want to consider factors such as power and sound quality when making your decision.
Do I need to replace my head unit to install new speakers?
Not necessarily. You can install new speakers in your car without replacing the head unit.
However, depending on the age and quality of your current head unit, you may notice a difference in sound quality if you upgrade to a newer, higher-quality head unit.
Do I need an amp to power my new speakers?
It depends on the power requirements of the speakers and your car’s factory audio system, but for most aftermarket speakers, I recommend adding the amplifier.
This is because if new speakers require more power than your factory head unit can provide, you need an amplifier to boost the power and produce the best sound quality.
Otherwise, in many cases, there may be no actual benefit from replacing the speakers.