PROS / This car speaker had the highest overall audio quality and loudest volume in our comparative loudness test.
CONS / The 100-watt continuous power handling is below average.
VERDICT / The Pioneer A-Series offers the best car speakers in our review because they combine the best overall audio quality with exceptional power handling and loudness. These speakers are your best option when upgrading your car audio system.
Choosing the best car speakers for your car can be a hit-or-miss endeavor. The interior of each vehicle comes with its unique acoustic challenges. A pair of speakers can sound amazing in one car and lifeless in another. With first-rate overall audio quality, exceptional frequency response, accuracy and loudness, the Pioneer A-Series gives you the best chance at having the highest-quality audio experience. For these reasons, the Pioneer A-Series earns the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for best car speakers.
Each speaker in the Pioneer A-Series is made with a multilayered mica matrix woofer, which is designed to provide a smooth low and midrange response. Every speaker size is available except the 5 x 7-inch speaker, though an installation bracket is an option with the 4 x 6-inch speaker. For this car speaker review, we tested and evaluated the five-way, 6 x 9-inch car speaker – the TS-A6996R. In preliminary testing, we found that the 6 x 9-inch car speaker of each series was the best representative of the series' overall quality. Still, it's important that you confirm your car's installation sizes before purchasing any new speakers.
We evaluated the frequency response by recording the TS-A6996R play a 20Hz to 20kHz tone, which spans the range of human hearing. Then we analyzed the average frequency signature. The mid and high frequencies received As, and the low frequencies received a B. Much of the reason for this is the high 16-dB rise at the beginning followed by a 7-dB fall. Ideally, the frequency signature should be as flat as possible.
Despite the average low-range accuracy, the bass received high marks in our subjective ear tests. In this test, we had listeners rate the speaker as it played a variety of songs. The TS-A6996R tied for the best overall audio quality in these tests, making it the preferred speaker amongst our listeners. In addition, it's by far the most popular car speaker online when we considered user reviews. Our tests showed that it has the best overall audio quality, and the vast majority of users agree.
The primary test we performed to evaluate power handling was a loudness comparison test. The concept is simple: Keep the volume on the amplifier the same and measure the decibels produced by each speaker at 1 meter from the center of the woofer. This way, we could compare how efficient each speaker was at converting electricity to volume when all conditions were the same for each speaker. In many ways, the test is identical to the sensitivity measurement that manufacturers provide; only the speakers were tested in the same environment.
In the loudness comparison test, the Pioneer TS-A6996R was the loudest speaker. For comparison, the average loudness was 3 dB less, and the quietest speaker was 7 dB less. This is significant because a 3 dB difference in volume also represents an exponential change in the power required to create the volume. In other words, if an average car speaker used 100 watts to produce a specific volume, the TS-A6996R would only need 50 watts to produce the same volume. Likewise, if the quietest speaker used 100 watts to produce a specific volume, the TS-A6996R would only need 16.75 watts to achieve the same volume.
One minor downside is the slightly below-average continuous power handling of 100 RMS watts. This is just 10 watts below average. This is minimized by the speaker's exceptional efficiency, which means you don't have to use as much power to reach loud volumes as other speakers. However, the 650 peak-wattage rating is the highest in our review, giving you plenty of room for songs to be dynamic.
Speaker Design Options
The speaker design of the Pioneer A-Series car speakers is diverse. You have a wide variety of speaker designs to choose from. If you're looking for more customized sound, you can get the component speakers, which have the woofer cone and tweeters separated. This allows you to install the tweeters in strategic locations for the most optimized sound for your car. The downside to component speakers is they often require customized installations because your car likely didn't leave the factory with tweeter mounts. Component speakers also have a more complicated wiring process.
If you just want to swap out your factory speakers with high-quality aftermarket speakers, you have the choice between two-way, three-way, four-way and five-way speakers. The "ways" indicates the number of drivers in the speaker. For example, a three-way speaker has a woofer, a mid-range driver and a tweeter. These drivers produce specific frequency ranges from the audio signal. In addition, you can adjust the angle of the tweeters so that those high range notes are aimed at the optimal position.
Help & Support
Pioneer has a long history of making excellent, hi-fidelity, audio speakers. Each speaker comes with a full one-year warranty and a 30-day return policy, allowing you to test the speakers out before you commit to them long term. If you have any problems or questions, you can contact customer support through phone or email. You can also check out the FAQs page for quick answers.
The only support feature that's missing is a user forum for the car speakers. Choosing the right speakers for your car can be difficult. User forums allow you to read and share relatively unbiased experiences and car audio ideas from other users. Without a forum, you have to rely on the company's marketing, which doesn't help you make the best purchasing decisions.
With the best overall audio quality, an exceptionally accurate frequency response and comparative loudness, the Pioneer A-Series is the best car speaker series. It's a very popular speaker with users and recorded the loudest volume in our comparative loudness tests. The continuous power handling is on the conservative side, but the peak power handling is excellent. If you're upgrading your car speakers, these speakers are your best option.