PROS / The midrange frequencies are very accurate.
CONS / The continuous power usage is among the lowest in our review.
VERDICT / The JL Audio Evolution C2 car speakers provide excellent midrange audio, but the overall audio quality is just average and the power handling ratings are among the lowest in our review.
JL Audio has a well-deserved reputation for high-end audio. The Evolution C2 series of car speakers combine silk dome tweeters with polypropylene woofers on a steel-stamped frame. This series features speaker sizes ranging from 3.5 inches to 6 x 9 inches, though it lacks the 4 x 6-inch speaker. For this car speaker review, we evaluated the 6 x 9-inch speaker, C2-690tx from the series, because this size is one of the most common speaker sizes, especially for the rear deck of a vehicle.
The most important feature of any car speaker is the audio quality. To evaluate the audio, we recorded the JL Audio Evolution's C2-690tx as it played a tone that transitioned from 20Hz to 20kHz. The best car speaker should produce the tone as accurately as possible without emphasizing or minimizing specific frequencies. Then we used a frequency-analyzing filter to create the average frequency signature of the recorded tone. We looked closely at this frequency signature and graded the low-, mid- and high-range frequencies.
The C2-690tx received a B for the low frequencies between 20Hz and 470Hz and a B- for the high frequencies between 7.5kHz and 20kHz. It performed the best in the midrange, receiving an A-. In other words, the bass is average, the treble is slightly below average, but the bulk of the audio, where most of the tonal detail resides, is excellent. In a subjective ear test where listeners evaluated the speakers' overall audio quality by listening to a variety of music, it received an average grade in comparison to the top car speakers in our review.
In comparative loudness, which is a test where we measured the comparative volume each car speaker produced when the amplifier maintained the same power output, the JL Audio Evolution C2 was only average. This is a bit disappointing when you consider that the reported sensitivity of the speaker is 93 dB – the second highest sensitivity rating in our review. According to the sensitivity, the speaker should produce 93 dB at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. The loudest speaker in our review, which also featured a 93 dB sensitivity rating, was 3 dB louder in our comparative loudness tests.
When you consider that a 3-dB difference in volume represents an exponential increase or decrease in required power, then the difference in comparative loudness in our tests is significant. For example, if the best 6 x 9-inch car speaker in our review uses 50 watts to produce a specific volume, then the C2-690tx would need 100 watts of power to produce the same volume. This is especially troubling when you consider the low power-handling ratings.
The biggest downside to the JL Audio Evolution C2-690tx is the power handling. It has a reported continuous power-handling rating of 70 RMS watts and a peak power handling of 225 watts. Both ratings are among the lowest for a 6 x 9-inch car speaker. This means that the speaker can't handle as much power as most car speakers. When you consider the mediocre comparative loudness, you simply can't push this car speaker very hard before clipping and damage occur. In other words, it’s easier to blow this speaker than others, which is disappointing when you consider that it's also the most expensive car speaker in our review.
The JL Audio Evolution C2 series of car speakers featured a 6 x 9-inch speaker with average audio quality, though the midrange is excellent. While the sensitivity rating is among the highest, the average comparative loudness wasn't impressive, which is disappointing when you consider the low power-handling ratings. In essence, the C2 series features high-end coaxial car speakers that lack the audio quality and loudness of the best car speakers.