Kicker is a company known mostly for producing quality speakers for cars. The Kicker KS, CS, and DS series are among its best speaker lines in the automobile segment. The DS series only offers a coaxial setup, while the KS and CS series have coaxial and component setups available.
In summary, the Kicker KS series is the most expensive of the three. The Kicker, CS, and DS series go head-to-head, and exchange in terms of price, but most users consider the Kicker CS as mid-priced. All three series are four-ohm models making them ideal replacements for your factory speakers.
So, which Kicker series is the best for you? Let’s find out.
Hands down, the KS series provides the best sound performance and options among the three Kicker lines.
Using the 6.5” coaxial speakers, Kicker claims that the peak power a speaker can handle is 240 watts, while the Kicker CS is rated at 300 watts. Kicker does not specify the max power the KS series can handle, but based on my experience, the KS can handle just about the same power as the CS or maybe more. However, I did notice the CS speaker being louder, but the KS is crisper and more detailed.
If you are not planning on adding an amplifier or upgrading your radio unit, the Kicker DS speakers will be a good replacement for your stock speakers, but the CS series will be a night-and-day difference from your factory setup.
However, if you are planning to purchase a better radio or if you’re looking into an amplifier, I suggest going with the Kicker KS series. The Kicker KS speakers will be able to utilize the amp better since these speakers are more capable of handling the extra power while producing a noticeably richer sound compared to the Kicker CS line.
In this category, the Kicker KS wins by a long mile, most especially for audiophiles. But, if you just want a better sound experience overall without other necessary upgrades, then the Kicker CS will do just fine.
You may also check out the Kicker’s 2019 CS Components.
Both the Kicker CS and DS lines have coaxial speakers made with UV-treated foam surrounds, while the KS series have butyl rubber surrounds. UV-treated foam surrounds ensure that your speakers can withstand the wear and tear of changes in the environment, making them perfect for countries that frequently have sudden shifts in weather between hot and cold or dry and rainy or snowy.
I noticed that stock speakers easily break down and get muffled since I live in a country that suddenly shifts from dry, hot weather to a cold and rainy one. The UV treatment available even in the cheapest series, the DS speakers, will be able to handle these changes without difficulty.
The Kicker KS series, on the other hand, are made with butyl rubber surrounds to ensure that the speakers would last a very long time. Despite the Kicker CS and DS series being UV-treated, they are still made with foam materials that are ultimately less durable than Kicker KS’ butyl rubber material.
I would recommend that you look into the Kicker KS line if you plan to keep your speakers for the whole lifetime of your vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, the UV-treated surrounds are very durable and will last for years, if not decades, but butyl rubber is simply sturdier as compared to foam.
Here is the Kicker’s 2016 DS Coaxial Speakers Manual.
Fit and Options
The Kicker KS, CS, and DS speakers are specifically made to fit most cars today. Kicker offers a wide array of sizes to cater to the different sizes of mounts in different cars. All three series have coaxial speakers in the 3.5”, 4”, 4x6”, 5.25’, 6.5”, 6.75”, 6x8”, and 6x9” sizes (3-Way). However, the Kicker KS series offers additional options in the 2.75” and 4x10” sizes, and an additional 6x9” choice that is not a 3-way design.
So, if the stock speakers in your car are in the 2.75” or 4x10” size, only the Kicker KS series will fit your vehicle unless you drill and customize it for mounting.
All three series offer coaxial speakers, which means that the tweeter is built-in to the system. However, the more high-end Kicker KS and CS series have a component option with the tweeter and the woofer separated to allow more customizability.
The Kicker CS series’ component option is offered in the 6x8”, 6x9”, 6.75”, 6.5” sizes. The Kicker KS series, on the other hand, is available in the same sizes but with the additional choices of 5.25”, 6.5”, 6.75”, and 6x9” 2-way.
- By the way, if you're a light truck owner, then your sub needs to be at least 6" in size. Fortunately, Kicker CS is offered in 6"+ sizes, which also allows it to cross out the noise of even the loudest mud-terrain tire on the market.
In terms of tweeters, the Kicker KS line has ¾” and 1” options, while the CS tweeter is only offered in the ¾” variant.
Practicality and Price
The order of price, from the most affordable to the most expensive, goes Kicker DS, CS (DS and CS are interchangeable), and KS. Indeed, the KS series will provide the richest sound; however, it will also cost you more. The Kicker DS and CS, on the other hand, will be the most affordable but will lack sound quality as compared to the KS models.
In my opinion, the Kicker CS series will be the most practical choice as it perfectly balances the cost as well as sound performance. Also, because the Kicker CS series has coaxial and component options, you are given more freedom to choose whether you want a simpler setup or a more customizable one.
Amazon offers the Kicker DS and CS Coaxial speakers (6.5”) at around the $80 range. Honestly, I find it strange that the Kicker DS speakers are priced almost the same as the CS series since the former is less capable. In comparison, the Kicker CS 6.5” coaxial speaker is priced upwards of $100.
Check the 2020 KS Components on the website of Kicker.
If the budget is a priority and you’re not planning to upgrade anymore, the Kicker CS will be a great factory speaker replacement. Truth be told, the Kicker DS series doesn’t figure around the options since it’s priced almost the same as the competitive CS line. However, if you want the best audio quality as well as the most options, then the Kicker KS line will be the perfect Kicker series for you.
At the end of the day, the best speaker among Kicker’s KS, CS, and DS series boils down to what you value the most – is its price and simplicity, sound quality, or a mix of both?