There is no shortcut when it comes to building and maintaining a credible audio system for your car entertainment system. Factory dash speakers may not be as good as you may have wanted them to be prompting you to try and make the sound system look as good as the car itself.
Most of these factory supplied speakers produce dull sound which may not go down well with audiophiles making aftermarket brands to be constantly innovative so as to offer elite performance.
Such innovations include the compact 3.5 car speakers that are designed to fit in the smallest spaces bringing your sound quality to enhanced levels. They can be virtually installed just anywhere and they make a huge difference in as far as high and mid-range frequencies are concerned.
We have compiled a list of 5 top performing 3.5 speakers from recognized brands to help you as you begin the upgrading process and we can assure you that they are safe bets.
Before we get to individual reviews, let’s have a look of these top brand key attributes in summary as highlighted in the comparison table below.
Table of Contents
Comparison Table for the Best 3.5 Car Speakers in 2020
Infinity REF3022CFX [Overall Best]
80 -20,000 Hz
90 - 22,000 Hz
120 - 22,000 Hz
90 - 21,000 Hz
1. Infinity REF3022CFX - Overall Best for 2020
Infinity REF3022CFX is an excellent improvement on your existing factory speakers thanks to their sensitivity and frequency response that enables them to produce quality sound. These speakers feature tough built materials allowing them to provide surprisingly strong performance from speakers of such size. They work with an external amplifier and they are also work well with your aftermarket stereo or factory radio.
Infinity REF3022CFX Key Features and Benefits
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Our Verdict: With Infinity REF3022CFX you can rest assured of great sound with no unwanted distortion or noise as long as the volume is kept at reasonable levels. They fit perfectly in any car and they will definitely elevate you car’s sound to desired levels.
Get a taste of detailed sound with the amazing REF3022CFX.
2. Kicker 43CSC354 CSC35
Kicker is a popular brand and this particular series is a very affordable upgrade from factory stereo. Kicker 43CSC354 CSC35 is tough and it pays attention to every detail elevating your sound experience to a startling level. These coaxial speakers work best with recommended power of 30 watts and they will serve you for years to come without breaking a bank.
Kicker 43CSC354 CSC35 Key Features and Benefits
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Our Verdict: Kicker 43CSC354 CSC35 won our hearts for its great sonic performance coupled with budget price. To get the best out of these speakers, you can power them with an aftermarket stereo, a factory radio, or even a small amp.
Don’t hesitate to get these pair of speakers for a quick and affordable upgrade.
3. Polk Audio DB351
Music has never sounded this good,especially when coming from a small speaker such as the 3.5 speaker range. Polk Audio DB351is engineered to produce well-balanced sound with minimal distortion and the good thing is that it has a good bass response too. What makes this speaker stand out from the rest is that it is marine certified meaning that it can be used in boats and ATVs. It is also designed to withstand other harsh weather elements.
Polk Audio DB351 Key Features and Benefits
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Our Verdict: Polk Audio DB351 will keep on rocking and rolling even under extreme temperatures, rain, and sun without feeling the heat. You can rely on these set of speakers for the reproduction of any music genre.
Install Polk Audio DB351 in your car to set it apart from the rest.
4. Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch
Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch pumps out commendable amount of bass despite its small size and small range. The highs and mids are incredibly clear although using bass blockers is highly recommended to prevent any distortion. To allow for flexibility during mounting, these speakers come with a flex fit basket which gives room for minor adjustments after they are installed.
Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch Key Features and Benefits
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Our Verdict: Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch is here to satisfy your every craving and it is capable of handling intense play sessions without affecting the sound quality. They maintain high level of performance and they are the perfect choice if you are in search of excellent high frequencies.
Buy a set of P132 Punch on Amazon at a cost-friendly price.
5. JBL GX302
JBL GX302 has deservedly earned a spot in our review due to its excellent sensitivity and attractive cup design. This model has taken into consideration the fact that vehicles are designed differently by incorporating a tweeter deflector that acts as a waveguide allowing for both angled and rotational installation thus optimizing the off-axis performance.
JBL GX302 Key Features and Benefits
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Our Verdict: JBL GX302 ensures that you get nothing less than quality which is paired with functionality and the result is excellent performance in the frequencies.
JBL GX302 offers you unmatched bass performance all at very affordable prices. Check prices on Amazon.
Buying Guide: How to Find the Best 3.5 Speakers
It is important to keep some few key factors in mind when searching for the perfect 3.5 speakers for your car so that you don’t settle for anything less than the best. Most of these features are common to most aftermarket speaker which is why it is important to do some research before purchasing any speaker. They include;
1. Speaker Sensitivity
This is the measure of how loud a speaker is depending on power provided and it is measured in decibels (dB). If your car audio system is low powered then you need a set of 3.5 speakers with high sensitivity of about 90dB and above. At the same time, if you have a high powered audio system, a set of speakers with low sensitivity ratings will serve you well.
Next, you need to consider the power handling of the speaker so that you able to know the amount of power (watts) that the speaker can handle. If your stereo system features a powerful external amp then you need 3.5 speakers with power handling that is close to the amp output. In short, you need to consider the maximum RMS and peak power handling alike so that to avoid sound distortion in the case of too much power or a scenario where the speakers struggles to deliver due to too little wattage.
3. 2-way or 3-way
Most 3.5 speakers are either 2-way speakers or 3-ways speakers. 2-ways speakers are also referred to as coaxial speakers are the most common units and they consist of a standard woofer and a tweeter. 3-way speakers, on the other hand, feature the above components and in addition, they feature the mid and high-frequency range enabling them to produce both the highs and lows resulting into much fuller and richer sound.
4. Speaker Compatibility and Configuration
Although the speakers are meant to enhance your driving experience, it is important that you select a set of speakers that match with the value of your car. It is important that you gather enough information on the speakers available in the market with regard to the specifications and present them to the after-market speaker dealer. This will enable them provide you with speakers with the right configurations as per your car model.
5. The Build Materials
The materials used on various speakers’ component have a big impact both the sound quality and general life span of the speakers. The major components feature popular materials such as silk, polypropylene and textile brands that result in the production of warmer sound. Harder materials such as graphite, ceramics or metal are also common and they lead to the production of fuller sound with higher tones.
The speaker surround components should be made of materials that are capable of withstanding heat and humidity. The casing around the woofer should preferably be made of rubber as it is more effective and long-lasting. Some woofer may feature foam or cloth surround which is still effective and less expensive.
Best 3.5 Inch car speakers FAQs
Q. How does a 3.5-inch speaker improve car audio?
Answer: 3.5-inch speakers improve the stereo imaging and vocal clarity of your auto sound system. An aftermarket 3.5” speaker will enhance the stereo effect of audio signals. A set of well-chosen 3.5s also improves bass output, and allow your audio system to produce very smooth music at all output levels. Unlike stock speakers, new 3.5” speakers will eliminate any harshness in the sound, thus making the overall audio more enjoyable.
Q. Which type of 3.5 speakers is best for my car audio system?
Answer: 3.5 car speakers are widely classified as coaxial/full-range and component. Full range 3.5s are a simpler and cheaper upgrade for OEM speakers. A 2-way coaxial speaker set-up includes a woofer and a tweeter in one woofer cone. A 3-way configuration (more advanced set-up) is popular among many car audio enthusiasts. This configuration comprises of mid-range speakers.
Component 3.5s consist of separate components in one sound system. You may choose a speaker designed with an independent tweeter connected to a subwoofer cone. Also, component 3.5s with separate mid-range speakers are available. The separation of sound components improves the speaker’s frequency response. Therefore, component 3.5 car speakers tend to sound better than coaxials. However, it’s important to note that installing component 3.5-inch speakers is more time-consuming compared to coaxials.
Q. Are 3.5-inch speakers good car door speakers?
Answer: If you are looking for mid-sized speakers to install on your car doors, consider the dimensions of the speaker carefully. While some 3.5s can make great options for car doors, some have large magnets that make the speaker too deep to fit in car doors. You need to ensure that the speaker you choose will allow the windows to roll down fully after installation.
No matter how great a set of speakers is, if it can't fit your desired locations in the car, then it is almost unsuitable or useless. Some installation experts can cut the door card to make a speaker fit in. Should you choose to go this way, make sure that the professional has experience with such adjustments; otherwise, the installation might be closed at a horrible end.
Q. Will the new 3.5-inch speaker fit in the spaces factory speakers leave?
Answer: To avoid the possible stresses and disappointments of hectic car speaker installations, make sure that the speakers you choose are compatible with the model of your car. You can check online if a specific speaker is suitable for your vehicle. An even more assuring way is measuring the dimensions of your factory speakers and comparing them with those of the new speaker you want to buy. If the sizes match, this means you will not have to make any modification to the original mounting hole when installing the new 3-5 speaker.
Q. Will I need an amplifier for my newly installed 3.5-inch car speakers?
Answer: Most 3.5-inch speakers can work with an aftermarket head unit or a low-powered factory stereo. That said, however, many people choose to use aftermarket speakers with an amplifier. The most significant advantage of having an amplifier is that you get a much stronger sound. The presence of an amplifier also reduces the chances of sound distortion, besides preventing blown-out speakers or head units.
If you already have an amplifier, make sure that the power rating of the 3.5 speakers you want to choose matches the power rating of the amp.
Q. Which is the best 3.5-inch car speaker for sound quality?
Answer: You want to invest in a speaker that will improve the sound quality of your car audio system. Among the wide variety of available speakers, consider 3.5–inch speakers that have a large cone area for increased sensitivity and better low-frequency output. Also, speakers with woofers that are made of sturdy polypropylene and rubber materials shine when it comes to sound performance. Don’t forget to check 3.5 speakers with high-quality tweeters as these add incredible clarity to the sound.
Q. Are 3.5-inch speakers expensive?
Answer: 3.5-inch car speakers are among the cheapest components of a highly-customized car audio system. You can find great 3.5s under $30. Take your time to search for the best speakers for your system, and you will take home one that suits your budget.
The Final Word
3.5 speakers have gone through immense developments over the past few years and nearly each customer has a choice befitting their needs. We have considered all important factors to consider when selecting the best 3.5 speakers and we are positive that you will find the perfect one for your car.
We picked on Infinity REF3022CFX as our top brand due to their edge-driven and textile tweeters that allows you to have great improvement in your sound experience without adding too much weight to your car.
The other models sound and look great as well and they remain our favorite options and although it all comes down to personal taste and brand loyalty, you may want to give them a try.