A Review and Buying Guide of the Best 3.5 Speakers in 2021

Everyone desires to get the best audio from their music system, and that means having the best sounding speakers. If you love high frequencies more, you’ll want the best tweeters and if you love hearing booming bass, you’ll want the best low-frequency speakers. But how you can know the best speakers? It’s quite simple with the help of this review and buying guide. If you’re a car owner who is tired of the poor sounding stock speakers in your car, then it’s time to replace them with the best 3.5 car speakers. These speakers can easily fit into any automotive due to their compact size. However, not just any 3.5 speaker sounds great. Some sound better than others. Thus, you’ll need to be careful with the choice you make. Luckily, you don’t have to worry anymore on where to start when choosing replacement speakers for your car. Here’s a review and buying guide of the best 3.5 speakers in 2021 to assist you in making a more informed choice.

Quick Comparison Table of Best 3.5 Speakers

Speaker Model

Frequency Range (Hz)

Sensitivity (dB)

Our Rating


80 to 20,000


120 to 22,000


JL Audio C2-350x

130 to 22,000


90 to 21,000


96 to 20,000


How We Wrote this Review

There’re dozens of different 3.5 car speaker models to choose from. They all come with their unique features and technologies. Today, the best speaker manufacturers use modern sound technologies to have a competitive edge over rival manufacturers and to ensure consumers enjoy the best sound. However, while there may be dozens of speakers to choose from, not all speakers are made equal. Thus, it can be quite tricky to make a choice. That’s why we took the initiative to prepare this review to assist consumers in choosing the best 3.5 aftermarket car speakers.

We managed to pick a list of six speakers among the many 3.5 models available in the market. We shortlisted these six speakers based on their benefits over other models. Our basis of shortlisting them was based on data from different manufacturers and views of real users. We also took time to interview different car music installation centers about their views on different speakers. Upon analyzing our research findings, we came up with this shortlist and review of the best 3.5 aftermarket speakers. Thus, with this review, you’ll rest assured that you’re making your choice from the best speakers available today.

Top Five 3.5 Speakers

Although we’ve taken time to shortlist and review the best 3.5 automotive speakers, they’re not made equal. They come with their own unique features, benefits, and shortcomings. One model may be great for you but bad for another person. Simply read on to know the best one for you.

1.Kicker 43DSC3504

The Kicker 43DSC3504 tops our list for its slim design that makes it easy to install in any automotive space. Considering the fact that it’s manufactured by a trustworthy brand, it’s designed for the satisfaction of a consumer’s audio needs. Here’s why this 2-way speaker made it into your top 6 list.

Features and Benefits

  • Ultraviolet treated surround- The foam surround that comes with this speaker is treated to resist the harmful UV radiation. The benefit of UV treatment is to ensure the speaker lasts long when installed on a dash surface that is prone to direct sunlight.
  • Extended voice coil- Kicker has designed this speaker with an extended voice coil. This speaker coil technology guarantees unmatched sonic quality.
  • Reduced tweeter protrusion- The tweeter that comes with this speaker is built with minimal protrusion. As such, it doesn’t protrude excessively from the surface such that it allows for installation in any automotive space.
  • High sensitivity- This Kicker speaker is designed with high sensitivity. Thus, it can be connected with a stock receiver and still deliver more output than stock speakers.
  • Thin mounting profile- The speaker is designed in a thin profile. Therefore, it can be installed even in the tightest car door spaces.


  • Great peak and RMS power
  • Thin mounting profile
  • Very affordable
  • 2-way design
  • UV-treated speaker surround
  • Comes with mounting hardware


  • Treble demands damping down 
  • Bass is decent but not booming
  • Some little rattling sound at high volume


If you’re looking for speakers that can fit in the tightest car space without protruding excessively, then you shouldn’t search any further. Grab the Kicker 43DSC3504 right away and enjoy its thin mounting profile.

2. Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch

Rockford Fosgate is one of the most renowned speaker brands. Its P132 Punch 3.5 inch model has not been left behind. It’s specially designed for music fanatics who want the best music for their automotive. Read on to know its benefits, shortcomings, and why it’s worth your consideration when searching for the best 3.5 automotive speakers.

Features and Benefits

  • PEI dome tweeter- The tweeter that comes with this speaker is designed using the PEI dome tweeter technology. This tweeter design allows for smooth highs.
  • OEM adapter plate- An OEM adapter plate is included with this 2-way speaker. The plate allows for the installation of the speaker without cutting or drilling new speaker holes since it allows for alignment of the new speaker with the stock mounting holes.
  • FlexFit basket- The speaker basket is made of FlexFit design. This speaker basket technology allows for the speaker to fit in odd-shaped stock speaker holes. With this technology, you won’t have to drill or cut new holes.
  • Mineral-filled speaker cone- Another key benefit of this speaker is its mineral-filled speaker cone. The mineral-filled cone comes with the advantage of extra-stiffness and handling bass without distortion at high volume.
  • Butyl rubber surround- The Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch boasts of having a butyl rubber surround. These surrounds are long lasting and don’t degrade easily.


  • Comes with mounting hardware
  • Very affordable
  • Inbuilt crossover
  • 2-way driver system
  • FlexFit speaker basket
  • Integrated crossover


  • The voice coil rattles a little bit at high volume
  • A little bit of distortion at high volume
  • Highs may be a bit harsh for some people


Overall, the Rockford Fosgate P132 Punch offers clean and clear sound with decent bass. They sound well-balanced and are indeed worth your consideration when looking for great 3.5 replacement speakers.

3. JL Audio C2-350x

The JL Audio C2-350x 2-way speaker system is designed to deliver impressive sound and boasts of being a great replacement speaker solution for the ever dull stock speakers. Most importantly, this speaker is designed to offer unmatched efficiency with smooth mid-range response and deep low frequencies. Check out more of its details below.

Features and Benefits

  • Silk dome tweeter- The speaker boasts of having silk dome tweeters. Silk dome tweeter diaphragms offer smooth transitions in high frequencies. 
  • Integrated crossover- A key feature of this speaker is its integrated crossover. The crossover filters audio frequencies and ensures the tweeter and woofer reproduce the frequencies they can handle, thereby reproducing balanced sound.
  • 2-way speaker system- The speaker comes with a tweeter and woofer. The tweeter reproduces high frequencies whereas the woofer reproduces mid-range and low frequencies.
  • Mica-filled woofer cone- It’s worth noting that the woofer cone of this speaker is filled with mica. Mica enhances the rigidity and strength of the speaker cone.
  • Polyether foam surround- The speaker comes with polyether foam surround. Polyether enhances the longevity of the surround.


  • Comes with mounting hardware
  • Deep bass
  • Smooth high frequencies
  • Magnets are protected with rubber surround
  • Easy to install
  • Loud enough


  • Higher price range
  • Doesn’t come with grilles
  • May require an aftermarket stereo or amp to sound great


Audiophiles should consider the JL Audio C2-350x for its great performance. Although it’s on the higher price range, it offers value for money. Thus, consider it in your shopping list.

4. JBL GX302

JBL is known to set trends in manufacturing sound equipment. The JBL GX302 is designed to deliver unmatched sound and features a modern, unique look. It also uses patented technology for unmatched performance. Simply read on to discover why we’ve featured this speaker among the best 3-1/2” car speakers.

Features and Benefits

  • Plus One woofer technology- The speaker is designed with the patented Plus One woofer technology. This technology allows for a larger cone surface area, thereby enhancing low-frequencies and sensitivity.
  • Edge-driven tweeters- This 2-way speaker features edge-driven tweeters with soft dome design. They allow for enhanced power handling for both high and mid frequencies.
  • 3-ohm voice coil- Another key benefit of this speaker model is its 3-ohm voice coil. The coil is able to get more power from the amp, thereby delivering clean, rich sound.
  • Tweeter deflector- A unique feature about this speaker model is its tweeter deflector. The deflector allows for rotating and angled sound, thereby delivering sound throughout the car regardless of its design.
  • Compatibility- The speaker is compatible with both stock and aftermarket stereo receivers. You can still use your stock stereo with this speaker. 


  • Balanced dome tweeter
  • 2-way speaker system
  • Comes with foam gasket strips
  • Polypropylene cone
  • Rubber surround
  • Affordable 


  • The highs are very thin at high volume
  • Doesn’t come with grilles
  • The speaker terminals are not marked as either +ve or -ve


The build quality of this speaker is outstanding. It also features unmatched sound technologies. While the highs of the JBL GX302 are a bit disturbing, you’ll get decent full-range sound all at an affordable price.

5. Kenwood KFC-835C

Kenwood boasts of designing and manufacturing some of the best speakers you can find. The Kenwood KFC-835C is one of the best 3.5 replacement speakers today. It’s designed to deliver great sound, all at a very affordable price. Read on to find out why it’s worth your consideration when shopping for replacement speakers for your car.

Features and Benefits

  • Dual cone design- A unique feature that comes with this speaker is its dual cone design. This allows for enhanced bass response.
  • Water-resistant cone- The speaker comes with a water-resistant cone. It keeps the interior components protected from water damage especially in high-humidity areas.
  • Strontium magnet- Another great feature of this speaker is its strontium magnet. Strontium resists demagnetization, making it ideal for use as a permanent magnet. The material also offers strong magnetic energy, thus stronger speaker performance.
  • Dome tweeter- The Kenwood 3.5 speaker also features a dome tweeter. This tweeter design allows for smooth highs.
  • 2-way speaker- Another key feature of this speaker is its 2-way driver system. It allows for full-range sound response, thus you won’t miss any music details.


  • Very affordable
  • Stamped steel basket
  • Treated pulp cones
  • Dual cone system
  • Water-resistant cone


  • Doesn’t come with grilles
  • Are not ideal for high power
  • Some crackling sound at high volume


Generally, this speaker is a great basic speaker, although not the best for an audiophile. However, at its extremely affordable price, the Kenwood KFC-835C is worth your consideration for it will deliver decent full-range sound.

What You Should Consider Before Buying the Best 3.5 Speaker

While these speakers are the best 3.5 replacement speakers you can find for your car, as you can see, they are not made equal. Each one of them has some benefits over the other and an equal share of shortcomings. As such, there’re certain things you should consider before making your final choice. This way, you’ll stand a better chance of investing in a speaker that will make you enjoy your car music and take your car music experience to a whole new level. Read on for the things to consider before buying the best 3 ½” car speaker.

Quality of Design and Materials

Different speaker manufacturers often use different design ideas and materials. Every manufacturer wants to be unique when designing speakers. While some use top-quality materials, other materials may not be the best. Thus, it’s important to ensure the design of the speaker is ideal for your needs and the materials used to make the speaker are of high-quality. Be keen to ensure the cone, coil, magnet, surround, and speaker basket are made of long-lasting materials to ensure that you won’t have to buy another replacement sooner.

Ease of Installation and Compatibility

You’ll obviously want a hassle-free speaker to install. The last thing you’ll want is struggling with the installation process. The best speaker is one that is easy to install and one that comes with installation hardware. If the speaker has an odd shape, it should come with a speaker mounting adapter. This way, you’ll not have to cut out new holes during installation. Also, consider the compatibility of the speaker. The best one should work well with a stock stereo such that you won’t have to buy a new stereo.

Power Handling

The best speaker is the one that can handle a lot of power from the receiver or amplifier without distorting. However, be cautious not to overpower a speaker to avoid damaging it permanently. Thus, consider the power of your receiver or amplifier before buying a speaker. Buy a speaker that is within the limits of your receiver or amplifier.

Frequency Range

You’ll obviously want to hear all the details in your favorite music. Thus, consider a speaker that supports a wider frequency range to enjoy all frequencies. Better still, consider a 2-way speaker to enjoy full-range sound, including highs, mid, and lows. Moreover, ensure the 2-way speaker you choose has an integrated crossover to ensure that the frequencies are properly filtered to the right drivers.

Price Range

Besides the above considerations, you should also consider your budget. While it’s important to buy a speaker within your budget, never compromise on quality over price. Again, you shouldn’t be overcharged. Thus, pay for what a speaker is worth while keeping quality in mind.


Choosing the best replacement speaker for your car can be quite challenging. However, with this review and buying guide in mind, you’ll find it easier when choosing the best 3.5 speakers. Remember that all the above speakers have their own unique features and are not made equal. While they’re the best options you can find, you’ll need to make an informed choice by comparing them based on their features, benefits, and shortcomings. Nevertheless, your final choice will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and the aforementioned considerations.

Michael Evanchuk

Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites. He enjoys swimming and boat riding during his leisure time.

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