PROS / The overall audio quality is very good.
CONS / The power-handling ratings are the lowest in our review.
VERDICT / The Rockford Fosgate Prime car speakers are an affordable option that provides audio quality that is very good despite below-average high frequency accuracy and poor power-handling ratings.
The Rockford Fosgate Prime series of car speakers has a sleek, flat-black design with glossy dome tweeters. Each speaker in the series has a vacuum-formed polypropylene woofer, stamped steel basket frame and silk dome tweeters. While these speakers certainly look like high-end speakers, the Prime series is the most affordable car speaker option in our review. And while the frequency accuracy tests weren't impressive, it scored high marks in the ear tests. The series features nearly every speaker size, lacking the 3.5-, 4 x 6- and 5 x 7-inch speakers. For our car speaker review, we tested and evaluated the 6 x 9-inch model – R169X3.
To compare the R169X3 to other car speakers, we performed multiple tests. The first test was the frequency accuracy test, which graded the speaker's ability to accurately produce a 20Hz to 20kHz tone. Then we performed a subjective ear test, or blind-ear test, where listeners rated the speaker's overall audio quality as it played a variety of music. Finally, we measured the decibel level at one meter of each speaker when the volume setting on the amp was equal.
The R169X3 received a very good mark in the overall audio quality portion of our comparative review, which considered the subjective ear tests, the frequency accuracy tests and user reviews. It received one of the highest marks in the subjective ear tests, and it's one of the most popular car speakers amongst actual users. The only mark against the overall audio quality is the less-than-impressive frequency accuracy grades.
We graded the low frequencies from 20Hz to 470Hz with an A, which was the best grade for the bass in our tests, as it was nearly flawless. However, the mids received a B and the highs received a C+. The tests confirmed one of the common comments made by listeners in the subjective ear tests: that it had great bass.
In the comparative loudness tests, the Rockford Fosgate Prime's 6 x 9-inch car speaker was average. Its average volume was about 3 dB quieter than the loudest speaker's average volume was. This matches the 90-dB sensitivity rating provided by the manufacturer, which is 4 dB less than the highest sensitivity rating. It's important to note that a 3-dB difference is significant, as it represents an exponential difference in the power required to produce a specific volume. For example, if the R169X3 used 100 watts to produce a specific volume, the loudest speaker in our review would only need 50 watts to produce the same volume.
The biggest downside to the Prime series is the low power-handling ratings. The R169X3 has a continuous power handling of 65 RMS watts and a peak power handling of just 130 watts. For comparison, the best car speakers have continuous power handling ratings that range between 100 and 200 RMS watts, with peak power handling ratings that reach as high as 650 watts. With such low power-handling ratings, you can't push the R169X3 very loud before you'll experience clipping and distortion. If you prefer listening to your music with the volume turned up, you're at greater risk of damaging this speaker.
The Rockford Fosgate Prime series feature affordable car speakers that provide an excellent upgrade to your factory-installed speakers. The overall audio quality is very good, though the high-end is poor and the midrange is average. The most significant downside is the low power-handling ratings, which means these aren't for discerning listeners who prefer to turn it up.