Sunday, May 12, 2024

Kicker 51KSS365 6.5 Inch 3-Way Component Speaker System

When it comes to car stereos, the sound quality of stock systems have come a long way. But there is still some room for improvement in the sound quality. The build quality of the some of the components, like the speakers, also has a lot of room for improvement. For example, many use paper cones in the midbass drivers. Whatever your reason for upgrading your car’s speakers, Kicker makes some great options. Up for review is their Kicker 51KSS365.


Features and specs:


Model:  51KSS365

Woofer (in, mm):  6-1/2, 160

Midrange (in, mm):  2-3/4, 70

Tweeter (in, mm):  1, 25

Impedance (Ohms):  4

Rec. Amplifier Power (watts):  15-80

Peak Power (watts):  160

Sensitivity (dB 1w/1m):  91

Frequency Response (Hz):  35-21k

Woofer Mounting Hole Diameter (in, mm):  4-1/2, 115

Woofer Mounting Depth (in, mm):  1-13/16, 46

Woofer Grilles Included:  Yes

The Kicker 51KSS365 came in a great looking color printed box. Opening the box revealed a well-protected speaker, held in place by custom cardboard. Materials used in the construction was mostly metal. Quality of materials used as well as fit and finish was very good. Also included were the crossovers, various mounting hardware options, and information card with manual QR code.


As mentioned above, the standard stock speakers that car manufacturers provide, definitely leaves a lot of room for improvement. Most have cheap paper cones. It’s just a matter of time before they fail. And the sound isn’t great either. Many people decide to upgrade their speakers. No matter when you decide to upgrade, Kicker has some great options for you.

Kicker has multiple different speaker lines. They all are huge improvements in build quality and lifespan, when compared to the basic factory speakers from the car manufacturer. As you move up the lines, the quality and sound improves. Their KS line is one of their upper lines.


I love the design of the 51KSS365. It not only improves the quality and sound of your speakers in multiple different ways, it’s also designed for simple installation. The midbass driver with its steel stamped basket and polypropylene cone and rubber surrounds are well made for long life, and also provides great sound. True to Kicker’s roots, it’s also designed to play loud at concert volume levels. With its 3-way design it provides better sound, more dynamics, and is more efficient.


It's design also provides for an easy installation with its high sensitivity and minimal needed power. It will work as a plug and play factory speaker replacement. 15 watts after all is all that is needed. With its use of factory holes and mounting points, the Kicker 51KSS365 is designed to be plug and play for many GM, Ford, Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles, as well as select import vehicles. The plug and play design is assisted by the slimline in-line crossovers. The metal mounting plates are also a testament to the quality of the speaker system, that Kicker is doing it right.


Not all factory systems are equal. Some are basic, some are upgraded. The basic systems are low power, but optional systems can provide pretty good power. Yet my wife’s Chevy Bolt with its optional Bose sound system still uses paper coned speakers. With the efficient nominal 15 watts rating, the Kicker 51KSS365 3-way speaker system will work great in stock factory systems. But with it’s 80 watts RMS power handling, it will also work great in the upgraded factory systems. With it’s 80 watts RMS power handling, they are even a speaker system that you can grow into. If you want to further upgrade your sound, and really wake up the Kicker 51KSS365’s for the sound they are capable of, you can add a separate amplifier for them later.


I’m really excited for the Kicker 51KSS365. They are a thin design, crafted with quality components that is also well made. And the use of factory holes and mounting points, as well as slimline crossovers, it’s a simple plug n play for many vehicles. Add to that its 3-way design, it’s a formula to really improve your vehicle’s sound quality. Now let’s see how they sound.


AC/DC Back In Black:  cymbal was really crisp and clean, with good resolution of the contact of the stick.  Guitar was nice and raw with good harmonics.  Kick drum not only had really good dynamics and low-end extension, it had surprisingly really good resolution and really full sound doing so.  It revealed how capable the mid-bass drivers are with pitch definition of the midbass.


Rush Tom Sawyer:  vocals were nice and smooth with good texture of the timbre.  Cymbals were really crisp and clean.  Synthesizers had really good harmonics, as did the guitar.  And the clinic that the drummer provided was a smorgasbord of midbass that again showcased the dynamics and resolution the midbass drivers can provide.


Nat King Cole L-O-V-E:  hi-hat was really crisp and clean with great resolution of the impact of the stick.  Bass was smooth with really good low-end extension.  Violins were very smooth with nice resolution of the bow across the strings.  Piano sounded pleasantly natural, more so than expected for this price point.  Vocals were smoother than a Dove bar, with excellent resolution of the texture of the timbre.  But as nice as the vocals were, the dynamics and harmonics of the trumpet almost stole the show.  Soundstage was both wide and deep, better than I expected at this price point.  Imaging was also closer than it should have been at this price point.  Tip of the hat to Kicker!


This was actually a harder review to do than expected, because I kept getting lost in enjoying the music.  I had to keep catching myself, and putting myself back on task.  The speaker system did a great job with the resolution and dynamics, as just a couple examples of how 3-way speaker systems can be superior to 2-ways.  All three of the drivers held their weight, and provided great sound across the frequency range.  And in Kicker fashion, not only did they sound great, they sounded great Livin’ Loud!     


Kicker has a great product in the 51KSS365 3-way speaker system.  While it’s not perfect, it definitely performs and sounds above its price point.  And while it’s a bit different than traditional aftermarket speaker systems that use a single crossover network for the entire system, having a crossover for each speaker that is in-line with the wiring has its advantages.  It does make for an extremely simple upgrade solution to existing stock speaker systems.  They are also well made to provide years of use.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Kicker 51KSS365 has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at