Pros / This speaker has excellent power handling.
Cons / The high-frequency accuracy wasn't great in our tests.
Verdict / The Pioneer A-Series was the best performing car speaker series when we reviewed it in the past, but this year it's merely average. Still, it performs well for the price.
For several years, we considered the Pioneer A-Series to be the best car speaker series because of its great performance. However, when we tested its TS-A6996R model this year, it failed to live up to its past achievements and was mostly average. Still, it’s a great value option when you consider its power handling and affordable price.
I tested audio performance by recording each speaker we reviewed playing a 20Hz to 20kHz sine tone, as this spans the range of human hearing. I then used a frequency analyzer plugin to grade how accurately the speaker created the low, mid and high frequencies. The TS-A6996R earned a B+ in the low range and a B in the mids, which means its accuracy was good in these frequencies but not elite.
The biggest concern is its high-frequency accuracy, for which it received a C. In past years, this speaker performed exceptionally well in all ranges, but the high notes it projected in recent tests were particularly grating. It wouldn't take long to cause ear fatigue with the way the highs bounce up and down.
Power handling is where this speaker series shines. With a sensitivity rating of 93 dB, it is among the most efficient speakers, according to the manufacturer's specifications. While the continuous power handling is average at 100 watts, the peak power is 650 watts, which is the highest we've seen. Only the Kenwood KFC-6995PS can handle as much power.
The TS-A6996R received a B in our comparative loudness tests, which compared the volume each speaker produced at various settings on the same car stereo. Despite its high sensitivity rating, the volumes it created were just slightly louder than average. This was surprising considering it was the loudest speaker we tested in the previous two years.
The Pioneer A-Series has a diverse selection of car speakers. If you want to customize your audio system’s sound, you can get the component speakers, which separate the woofer cone and tweeters. That way, you can install the tweeters in strategic locations to optimize sound for your car. The downside to component speakers is they often require custom installations because cars don’t usually leave the factory with tweeter mounts. Component speakers also have a more complicated wiring process.
If you just want to swap out your car’s factory speakers with high-quality aftermarket ones, you can choose from the Pioneer A-Series’ 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 midrange 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 those high-range notes are aimed at the optimal spot.
The Pioneer A-Series’ car speakers used to be the best ones on the market, but they’ve been supplanted by models in new series, like Pioneer PRO models. Still, its speakers remain very popular with users, and their performance, power handling and affordable price make them a good value.