What are the Best Car Audio Brands in 2021?

Best Car Audio Brands in 2021

Driving a car while listening to music is quite relieving, especially when traveling long distances on road trips. However, the best car music listening experience is only possible when having the best car audio system. There’re several manufacturers of car stereo systems available today. However, some manufacture mediocre car audio systems. Thus, it’s good to separate the good from the bad. Here’re the 10 best car audio brands available today.

1- Pioneer

Pioneer Corporation, popular known as Pioneer, is among the most renowned car audio brands. Pioneer specializes in manufacturing a wide range of visual and audio systems. The company also licenses some of its patented technologies to other brands.

Brief history

Pioneer was founded by Nozomu Matsumoto in 1938. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Initially, it was founded as an electronics repair shop, specializing in repairing radios and speakers. Today, the company specializes in manufacturing audio and visual products, including car audio systems.

Most notably, Pioneer contributed significantly toward the development of the first-ever car CD player and the first-ever detachable face head unit. The company continues to develop innovative car audio systems among other innovative visual and audio systems.

Products

Pioneer specializes in manufacturing video and sound systems for cars, marine vessels, home AV systems, headphones, and DJ systems. The company also manufactures optical drives for computers and DVD/CD players.

Its car audio products include CD receivers, DVD receivers, car speakers, car subwoofers, car amplifiers, multimedia navigation receivers, and digital car media receivers.

Best Product Overall

The Pioneer AVH-2300NEX DVD Receiver is the best car stereo product from Pioneer. It’s an innovative car entertainment system featuring a DVD player, 7-inch screen, multiple audio sources, and support for popular Apple and Android music streaming services and applications.

2- JBL

JBL is popularly known for its high-end sound equipment, especially headphones and loudspeakers. The company has been around for decades. It’s always one of the top brands to consider when shopping for car speakers.

Brief history

JBL was founded by James Bullough Lansing in 1946. The company is named after him. Initially, it was known as James B. Lansing Sound. Thereafter, the company name was changed to JBL Sound. JBL’s first products were loudspeakers. The company introduced the “JBL” logo on its products as a trademark.

The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, United States of America. The company has two independent divisions including JBL Professional and JBL Consumer. JBL Professional specializes in producing professional sound equipment such as studio equipment, tour sound systems, installed sound systems, DJ and production sound, and cinema sound. On the other hand, JBL Consumer produces sound equipment for car and home entertainment.

Products

Since its foundation, the company specializes in manufacturing amplifiers, loudspeakers, subwoofers, processors, headphones, and wireless speakers. Formerly, JBL car audio systems were used in high-end Ford car models. Today, JBL car audio systems are used in Toyota car models.

Best Product Overall

Overall, the JBL GTO629 Premium 6.5-Inch Co-Axial Speaker is the best car audio product from JBL. It comes as a pair of coaxial speakers. These speakers deliver rich sound and have a pivoted tweeter. Bass and highs can be adjusted independently for enhanced sound optimization.

3- Kenwood

Kenwood is among the few companies that set standards in the car audio industry. The company introduces innovative audio equipment annually. They manufacture audio components and complete audio systems. Their product lineup is extensive such that you can have several different products from the same brand for enhanced customization.

Brief history

Kenwood is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded by William Kasuga in 1946. During its establishment, the company was known as Kasuga Radio Co. Ltd. It was later renamed Trio Corporation. Later on, it was renamed Kenwood. The name Kenwood was formed from the words “Kenmore Appliances” and “Wood”.

Kenwood merged with JVC in 2008 into a company known as JVCKENWOOD, which is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan. The merged company produces audio products under the brand names Kenwood, JVC, and Victor.

Products

Kenwood is among the oldest manufacturers of home theatre systems, audio receivers, and communication radio equipment. The company has been manufacturing car audio components since 2001. It discontinued home theatre units and audio receivers in 2007.

Today, Kenwood specializes in manufacturing home audio systems and car audio systems. Its car audio systems are available as OEM and aftermarket systems.They include car speakers, car amplifiers, receivers, and navigation systems.

Best Product Overall

Among its wide range of car audio systems, the Kenwood Excelon XR600-6DSP6-channel car amplifier is its best product. The amplifier outputs 75 watts RMS per channel and has factory radio inputs. It’s also integrated with a digital signal processor (DSP).

4- Bose

Bose is known for its pricey top-of-the-range car audio systems. Most of its products are worth the price due to their high-quality construction and reliability. Bose has a huge market share in the headphone and speaker market.

Brief history

Bose Corporation, simply known as Bose, is an American audio electronics manufacturer, with its headquartersin Massachusetts, United States. The company was founded by Amar Bose in 1964. Since its inception, the company is known to protect its brand name, trademarks, and patents.

Its first product was a speaker known as Bose 2201. The speaker was first sold in 1966. It comprised 22 speakers built into one cabinet but facing different directions. The idea behind this design was to utilize walls to work as sound reflectors.

Today, Bose has closed most of its physical retail stores across Australia, Europe, Japan, and the U.S. The company now focuses on selling its products on online stores, including its website and other sites such as Amazon and Best Buy among others.

Products

Bose is popular for its home sound systems, headphones, professional sound systems, speakers, and car audio systems. Car audio systems from Bose are popularly used as OEM audio systems. They’ve been used in top car models such asChevrolet, Nissan, Audi, Hyundai, Renault, Fiat, Porsche, Mazda, GMC, Infiniti, and Cadillac among others.

Besides car sound systems, Bose also manufactures home video and audio systems such as computer speakers, TVs, home theatres, and portable speakers. Bose also has a large market share for consumer headphones and aviation headsets. Bose also manufactures military headsets.

Best Product Overall

Its best product is the Bose Performance Series sound system. This is an OEM sound system specially designed for luxury cars including Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Infiniti Q50, and Infiniti Q60.

5- Alpine

When shopping for automotive audio systems, one of the major brands you’re likely to come across is Alpine. The company has partnerships with numerous car manufacturers to supply OEM audio systems. Alpine also manufactures aftermarket audio systems. Its products are loved for their durability.

Brief history

Alpine Electronics Inc, simply known as Alpine, is a Japanese manufacturer of consumer electronics. The company was founded in 1967 and was initially known as Alps Motorola. It was established as a partnership business between Motorola and Alps Electric. The company was later bought out by Alps in 1978, where it became Alpine Electronics.

The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Alpine is famous for being the first-ever manufacturer of automotive navigation systems, with its first navigation system being created in 1981 for Honda. In 1982, Alpine manufactured the first-ever computerized car equalizer. Alpine has also contributed to other innovations such as automotive CD changers, head units, swivel in-dash monitors, and in-dash receivers among others.

Products

Alpine manufactures several audio and video systems including car multimedia systems, amplifiers, signal processors, subwoofers, and speakers. The company also manufactures marine audio systems. Alpine also manufactures in-car iPods, with the first-ever such device being manufactured by Alpine in 2004. Alpine also manufactures iPod car receivers.

The company also manufactures BioLite displays. These are display systems that allow for a wide viewing angle and enhanced visibility in daylight. Alpine also manufactures innovative car navigation systems, both OEM and aftermarket systems.

Alpine’s OEM audio equipment are used in some car models such as Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Land Rover, BMW, Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Lincoln, Audi, Honda, and Jaguar among others.

Best Product Overall

The Alpine CDE-172BT Bluetooth Receiver is its top product. It’s a single DIN head unit that’s packed with tons of features. It’s compatible with most Android and iOS devices, both wirelessly and via USB. It also features a detachable faceplate and CD slot.

6- Rockford Fosgate

Rockford Fosgate is yet another top manufacturer of car audio equipment. Its audio equipment are known for their powerful performance. Audiophiles who love deep bass will definitely consider their subwoofers.

Brief history

Rockford Fosgate was founded in 1973 by Jim Fosgate, an engineer and inventor based in the U.S. During its foundation, the company was known as Fosgate Electronics. Fosgate invented the first-ever car amplifier and demonstrated the amp in an electronics show in 1973.

Fosgate Electronics experienced financial challenges in the late 1970s and was sold to Camelback Capital Corp. After being bought, Fosgate Electronics was renamed Rockford Corporation. The company is now popularly known as Rockford Fosgate. It’s headquartered in Arizona, U.S.

Products

Rockford Fosgate is known for designing and manufacturing world-class car speakers, car amplifiers, car subwoofers, motorcycle audio systems, signal processors, speaker enclosures, and accessories for car audio systems.

The company also manufactures motorcycle audio systems such as motorcycle speakers, motorcycle amplifiers, and accessories. It also manufactures audio systems for UTVs and marine vessels.

Best Product Overall

Its best product is the Rockford Fosgate R500X1D Prime car amplifier. The amplifier is a single-channel class D car amplifier. It has a power output of 500 watts RMS at 2 ohms.

7- Kicker

Kicker builds its car audio systems for performance at a reasonable price. The products are known to perform well when used for prolonged periods as they don’t run hot very easily, thanks to their high-performance construction. As such, Kicker’s products are mainly preferred for their reliability.

Brief history

Kicker was founded by Steve Irby in 1973. The company is headquartered in Oklahoma, U.S. The company was established as a manufacturer of sound systems for entertainers, auditoriums, and churches. In 1980, Kicker developed a full-range speaker box for use in cars.In 2008, Kicker developed their first home audio system.

The success of their initial products in the car audio industry gave them leverage to manufacture more car audio systems. The company has hundreds of authorized dealers in the U.S and a large network of global distributors and dealers.

Products

Kicker manufactures a wide range of high-performance car audio systems including car subwoofers, car coaxial speakers, car tweeters, mid-bass drivers, full-range speakers,car amplifiers, component systems, equalizers, signal processors, and subwoofer boxes among other products.The company also manufactures home audio systems for use with Zune media players and iPods.

Best Product Overall

Among its numerous car audio systems, the KICKER 43CWR124 car subwoofer is the best product. The subwoofer measures 12-inches with a massive power rating of 500 watts RMS and 1000 watts peak power at 4 ohms. It works with both ported and sealed subwoofer enclosures.

8- Infinity

Infinity is among the best car audio brands available today. Its car speakers are famed for their optimum acoustic imaging. Most notably, Infinity car woofers and tweeters feature drivers that are positioned to enhance acoustic imaging for the best listening experience.

Brief history

Infinity is an American-based brand that specializes in manufacturing speakers. The company was founded in 1968 by three individuals including Arnie Nudell, Cary Christie, and John Ulrick. It’s headquartered in Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Since its foundation, the company focuses on using innovative materials to manufacture its speakers. Its speakers are often made of top-quality materials such as neodymium magnets and polypropylene cones. Its first speaker was made of electrostatic panels and a servo woofer.

In the late 1970s, the company produced electromagnetic induction tweeters and midrange speakers. In the 1980s, the company produced the Infinity Reference System, which as a speaker system comprising 76 tweeters, 24 midrange speakers, and twelve 12” woofers.

Infinity was acquired by Harman International Industries in 1983. In 2017, Harman became a subsidiary of Samsung. Harman is headquartered in Connecticut, U.S. It continues producing and selling some of its products under the brand name Infinity.

Products

Infinity mainly produces speakers for cars, boats, and home entertainment. Most notably, Infinity produces amplifier remotes, processor remotes, car amplifiers, components speakers, coaxial speakers, components subwoofers, powered subwoofers, midrange speakers, digital signal processors, subwoofer boxes, tweeters, marine amplifiers, and marine radio among other products.

Best Product Overall

The Infinity Reference REF6522IX coaxial car speakers are its best product. These speakers come as a pair of 2-way speakers, with a power rating of 60 watts RMS and 180 watts peak power. Their frequency response ranges from 53 Hz to 21 kHz.

9- JL Audio

JL Audio boasts of producing some of the best-sounding car and marine speakers. Their designs are award-winning, with most of their technologies being patented. Its subwoofers are also known to be some of the best in the car audio industry.

Brief history

JL Audio is a popular producer of consumer audio systems headquartered in Florida, U.S. The company was founded in 1975 by James Birch and Lucio Proni. The term “JL” was formed from the first initials of their first names.

Its first products were home speakers. From the late 1980s, the company entered the car audio market. In the early 1990s, JL Audio won several awards after winning competitions for car audio systems.

The company introduced its first subwoofers in 1991. Its first component speakers were introduced in 1992. After its large success in car audio systems, JL Audio started designing home audio products in 2004.

Products

JL Audio specializes in manufacturing car subwoofers, car amplifiers, car speakers, amplifier and processor remotes, components speakers, car equalizers and signal processors, midrange speakers, subwoofer boxes, factory system adapters, and other car audio accessories.

The company also manufactures marine audio systems including marine speakers, radio, remotes, subwoofer enclosures, subwoofers, marine source units, and marine-grade connection systems. Its home products include powered subwoofers, in-wall subwoofers, in-ceiling subwoofers, and subwoofer crossovers among others.

Best Product Overall

The JL Audio 10TW3-D4 car subwoofer is one of its best products. The subwoofer measures 10 inches and has a power rating of 400 watts at 4 ohms. The speaker is among the best shallow mount component car subwoofers made today.

10- Polk Audio

Polk Audio manufactures car audio systems that deliver high-quality sound at a reasonable cost. The company focuses on designing car audio systems with a balance between design, performance, and price.

Brief history

Polk Audio was founded in 1972 by Mathew Polk, Sandy Gross, and George Klopfer. The company is headquartered in California, U.S. The trio were classmates in university. Upon graduating, they designed and made a speaker system meant for a music convention. Their first successful speaker system was made in 1974.

Polk Audio was bought by Directed Electronics in 2006. Since 2008, Directed Electronics is known as DEI Holdings. DEI Holdings continues selling some of its audio systems under the brand name Polk Audio.

Products

Polk Audio specializes in manufacturing car audio systems, portable speakers, soundbars, 5.1 speakers, outdoor speakers, bookshelf speakers, and wireless speakers among others. The company also manufactures FM tuners and amplifiers.

Best Product Overall

The Polk Audio DB651 2-way car speakers are its best product. The speakers come as a pair measuring 6.5 inches and 6.75 inches. They have a power rating of 120 watts RMS and 360 watts peak power.

Conclusion

There’re quite a good number of car audio brands available today. As you can see, each brand leads in manufacturing certain car audio products. The top brands have a rich history and continue dominating the market since their inception. By choosing products from the best car audio brands, you’ll stand better chances of buying high-performance and reliable car audio systems.

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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