In my years I have put many hundreds of car stereos in peoples car. Starting in high school I ran a small audio business out of my home and eventually grew that into two full blown car audio shops and a home install truck. I have since sold this business and used the funds for school and other things. However, much of what I learned still applies to me in my career as an audio technician doing concerts and other large-scale events. I will tell you now that buying cheap speakers is a waste of money. I watched many clients disregard my advice and buy cheap speakers just to find that their radio now sounds worse than before. You have to buy quality to get quality, and in audio, quality isn’t cheap. Here are my recommendations keeping your budget in mind.
Manny manufacturers will make there cheaper speakers with knock off parts and sometimes even outsource the manufacturing all together. The companies I use DO NOT use cheaper parts to save money, they don’t cut corners to save a buck and there reputation comes before making a cheap speaker for the masses.
Recommended brands that make speakers in your price range would be Boston Acoustics, Focal, Infinity and JL Audio. Polk makes some good stuff also but there cheaper lines are just that…. Cheap. In your price range you should be able to get into a real nice pair of infinity’s or some base JL, Focal, or Boston Acoustic’s.
This is the cheapest speaker I would buy for your car. It’s made by infinity and for the price it offers some decent features. It leaves some things to be desired but for the price it cant be beat. 1” tweeter is textile which translates to crisp high end instead of sharp and piercing like many aluminum tweeters. The poly cone is the one thing that I wish was better on these. These speakers will have an ok low end response with a good punch but lacking in the overall mid range. I would call these a step up from stock for sure but they probably wont blow you away.
Infinity Reference: $130
This is Focal’s “base” model speaker. It has some good features but Focal is holding back here. Aluminum tweeters are not my thing so that’s a negative for me, there good for throwing high end long distances but that’s not the goal in a car.…. Focal makes speakers for home and large scale audio as well. These look just like the high/high mid driver’s I have seen in larger speaker box’s that I have flown for concerts. Focal, being a home and pro audio speaker producer, is likely modifying there other lines to go into car’s…. good speakers but not my choice in car audio.
Focal Access: $170
Focal Access 570CA1 SG 5"x7" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield.com
This choice is for the person who wants some good kick and punch from there system. The manufacturer, JL Audio, is a HUGE name in the car audio industry, If you were buying sub woofers they make the best in the business. Because of the companies history of creating stupid amounts of bass there door and deck speaker fallow suit closely. If you want some low end these will be your best bet. The downside here is that JL lacks a little in the high/high mid range in there speakers. Basically, what you gain in low end you loose in high end and mid range clarity…. These are good speakers but still, not my choice.
JL Audio C2: $180
JL Audio C2-525X Evolution� Series 5-1/4" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield.com
This is my speaker of choice and probably what I will put in my car once Im done with my performance mod’s. They are made by infinity and offer the best features for your money. This speaker uses a textile tweeter to provide that crisp high end that is expected from a high end speaker. In addition it uses a formed glass fiber speaker cone to help produce smooth low end and excellent mid range response. The formed glass fiber cone is a step up from the woven cones that many use now days. Woven cones are cheaper to produce but over time loose some of there clarity and do eventually wear out (talking many many years before this happens but it does happen) . These also have the best frequency response of all the speakers listed and the highest sensitivity (more volume) of the speakers listed here. The RMS range on these is also the widest meaning it will work better with more stereo units, it also lowers the risk of damage being done by overdriving the speaker. With a speaker like this, your radio is going to cause signal distortion before you get speaker distortion…. In English, that means these speakers produce better sound at high volume than your radio can actually pump out. On top of that they come with a 3 year warranty for piece of mind.
Infinity Kappa: $180
Infinity Kappa 682.11cf 6"x8" 2-way car speakers at Crutchfield.com
Here is a link to compare all 4 of these. I did not price shop so if you look around you may be able to beat these prices.
Compare: All Car Speakers at Crutchfield.com