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JL Audio M6 vs. Rockford Fosgate M2 Speakers


Introduction
The JL Audio M6 speakers are widely regarded as the best marine speakers in the world. However, they aren't the only marine speakers in the world. If you are looking for value, there are other options and one of those options is the Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers. Both brands are known from their origins in car audio and both JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate are two of the most iconic brands when you think "Amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers." We will break down the differences between the JL Audio M6 and the Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers.


Product Offerings
JL Audio has two different lines of marine speakers, M3 and M6. To make things fun and a little confusing, Rockford Fosgate also uses the letter "M" to designate their speaker lines with M0, M1, and M2. We will try to make this as clear as possible, and while the numbers might mean something within Rockford and JL, they do not cross over. Rockford Fosgate's M1 and JL Audio's M3 have similar performance specs and price points, and the same is true with Rockford's M2 and JL's M6.
JL Audio M6
• 6.5"
• 7.7"
• 8.8"
Rockford Fosgate M2
• 6.5"
• 8"
• 8" Horn Tweeter



Grilles
JL Audio M6
• White Sport
• White Sport w/ RGB LEDs
• Titanium Sport
• Titanium Sport w/ RGB LEDs
• White Classic
• White Classic w/ RGB LEDs
Rockford Fosgate M2
• White Sport + White Stainless Mesh w/ RGB LEDs
• Black Sport + Black Stainless Mesh w/ RGB LEDs



M6-650x vs. M2-65
Power Handling
First, we are going to compare the power handing of all three speakers. The power handling is important because it helps give you an idea of how loud and how clear the speakers will play. The more power you can give your speakers, the louder they will get, the cleaner they will sound, and the better they will sound when turned up and playing loud. For the sake of this comparison, they are all virtually the same. Can you hear the difference in 25 watts? Probably not. The volume knob can adjust any perceived difference in volume.
JL Audio M6-650x
• 75W RMS
Rockford Fosgate M2
• 150W RMS




Efficiency Ratings
The speaker's efficiency rating gives you a standard baseline to tell you how loud that speaker will play. The higher the SPL, or efficiency rating, the louder that the speaker will play, given the same amount of actual power. We measure this value in dB at 1W/1m. The actual speaker output is controlled by the volume, which can be adjusted up or down. Still, it is a good baseline to tell you how efficient the speakers are and how "loud" they play, assuming the other variables are held constant. It is important to keep in mind that every 3dB the volume doubles. Does .5dB matter? Probably not. If it is 3dB louder, will you notice a difference? Yes, assuming everything else stays the same.
JL Audio M6-650x
• 89.5 dB @ 1W/1m
Rockford Fosgate M2
• 91.8 dB @ 1W/1m




Tweeter Size & Material
The JL Audio M3-650x and M6-650x both come with specially treated silk dome tweeters. Silk dome tweeters are very popular for their rich, warm, and balanced sound profile. Many people think silk dome tweeters just sound better. JL Audio has found a way to use specially treated silk in their marine speakers. They have tested to ensure that it stands up to the elements, including both salt fog and UV exposure. The silk dome tweeters are popular because they just sound better.

Now, if you are thinking, "Well, I will just go with JL because they have silk dome tweeters," there are other things to consider. The tweeters that come in the Rockford speakers are going to play much brighter and much louder than the silk dome tweeter in the JL M3 and M6. In an outdoor, marine environment, there is a ton of ambient noise from the wind, water, and engine. That noise is going to cancel out fidelity. Also, in a boat, the speakers are often located down low and not pointed toward your face and your ears. In these types of environments, the loud and bright speakers cut through all of that noise. Also, what do you want from your boat's speakers? Do you want it just to be loud? Or, are you willing to sacrifice sheer volume for sound quality? A lot will also depend on the type of boat you have and how you use it. Also, how loud is "loud enough?" These are questions we can't answer for you, but these are essential things to think about when selecting the right 6.5" speakers?

JL Audio M6-650x
• .80" Silk Dome Tweeter
Rockford Fosgate M2
• 1.00" PXNX Tweeter




Power Source
Your speakers must match up well with your power source. If you are powering your speakers directly off of your radio, the M3-650x is your only option among these three speakers. If your amplifier is putting out 50+ watts per channel, you should have enough power for any of the three options. Music is dynamic, so is the power output of your amplifier as the speaker cone moves. Can you hear the difference in 25 watts, outside, on your boat? Probably not. Can you hear the difference in 50 watts? Yes. If you have an amplifier that is putting out less than 50 watts RMS, I would probably defer to the JL Audio M3-650x. If you have a high power amplifier, remember that you can always turn the gain down. But if you don't have enough power and your gain is maxed out, you can't turn it up any higher.
JL Audio M6-650x
• Amplifier Required
Rockford Fosgate M2
• Amplifier Required




LED Lighting

The Rockford Fosgate M1 and M2 speakers come standard with their Color Optix RGB LED lighting. The RGB LEDs are located behind the tweeter grille and shine backward onto the speaker to illuminate it. Rockford's Color Optix RGB LEDs are unique in that they are complete, plug-and-play. You don't need to run special, speaker wire. You don't have to cut, crimp, solder, or terminate. Instead, you buy Rockford's RGB LED controller, and you buy their Color Optix cables. Plug one end into the controller and the other end into the speakers. Repeat the process for the next speaker. You can then control your LEDs via Bluetooth using their app on your phone. The JL Audio M3 and M6 speakers are available with or without RGB LEDs. If you want them, buy the model that comes with the LEDs. They are slightly more expensive, but that's because they have LEDs. The LED models for the M3 speakers are available in the white sport and gunmetal sport grilles. All three grille styles of the M6 speakers are available with LEDs.

Now, the real difference in RGB LEDs is seen on the JL M6 speakers. The M6 speakers feature JL's patented, Transflective RGB technology. On these speakers, instead of putting the LEDs in the grille, behind the tweeter, the LEDs are located on the speaker basket itself. The cone is made from special, translucent material, and the LEDs light up the cone from the backside. Putting the LEDs on the speaker basket instead of behind the tweeter allows the M6 speakers to have more LEDs. Also, because the cone is translucent, it lights up smoother with less halo effect, and you don't see the "hot spots" that you oftentimes see when the LEDs are behind the tweeter. As a result, the M6 speakers are hands-down, the best looking LED speakers in the world. They light up brighter, and the output is smoother than any other LED marine speakers.

JL Audio M6-650x
• Optional for All Grille Styles
• The Best Looking RGB LED Speakers in the World
Rockford Fosgate M2
• All Speakers come Standard with RGB LEDs
• Color Optix LED System Offers Plug-and-Play Installation






Our Recommendations

There is no denying that the JL Audio M6 6.5" speakers are widely regarded as the best 6.5" marine speakers you can put in your boat. You want something that is going to perform and something that is going to last. and JL has built a reputation for just that. However, Rockford Fosgate has come out with their latest line of premium marine speakers with the M2. These speakers are built to last as well and aren't just, "They'll last a couple of seasons," marine speakers. The M2 6.5" speakers are designed to withstand anything mother nature can throw at them as well. This includes the salt water environment. If you are comparing apples to apples and looking at the specs, on paper, the Rockford M2 6.5" speakers outperform the JL M6 6.5" speakers. Now, when it comes to an actual listening environment things may be different, but we feel that the difference maker is in both the tweeter and the power handling. There's no substitute for raw power in a marine environment and the M2-65 handle twice the RMS power of the JL M6. Now if you don't have the amp to push them that is one thing, but when you also look at the efficiency ratings, with power being constant, the M2 is going to be louder than the M6, all things being equal. Rockford Fosgate really stepped up their game with these new M2 6.5" speakers and they are just as good, if not better than the JL Audio M6. If you are looking for an alternative, espeically if the JL Audio speakers are out of stock, the M2 is without a doubt the way to go.



Comparison
JL Audio M6-650x
Tweeter Size
.8"
Tweeter Material
Silk Dome
Deck Power Compatible
No
Grille Options
White Classic, White Sport, Gunmetal Sport
LED Options
RGB LEDs Optional
RMS Power Handling
75 Watts
Peak Power Handling
150 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
89.5 dB
Frequency Response
55 Hz - 25KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
3.00"
Mounting Hole Diameter
5.00-5.25"
Outer Grille Diameter
6.90"
Rockford Fosgate M2-65
Tweeter Size
1.00"
Tweeter Material
PXNX
Deck Power Compatible
No.
Grille Options
White & Black
 
LED Options
All Grille Options Include RGB LEDs
RMS Power Handling
150 Watts
Peak Power Handling
600 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
91.8 dB
Frequency Response
40 Hz - 25KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
2.49"
Mounting Hole Diamter
5.36"
Outer Grille Diameter
7.09"
7.7" & 8" Speakers
JL Audio does not make a true 8" speaker. Instead they make a 7.7". Rockford Fosgate does not make a 7.7" and instead they make a true 8". These are both "step-up" speakers compared to the 6.5" size which is the most popular and they are close enough in size that we will compare them against each other.



Power Handling

The JL Audio 7.7" JL Audio M6 speakers handle 100 watts RMS per speaker. The M2-8 from Rockford Fosgate handle 250 watts RMS per speaker. That is a pretty significant difference. The increased power handling of the M2 vs the M6 means that you can put significantly more power to the Rockford speakers. More power means more volume and better clarity without distortion. When you are driving the boat, it is a noisy environment and you want the extra power so that you can turn it up and hear your music over all that noise. There's no substitute for power when it comes to music.

Now, there is something to be said about JL Audio. JL products alwways blow away their power ratings. Take for instance subwoofers. A JL subwoofer that handles 300 watts blows away similar subwoofers with 600 watts. It's the magic of JL. Can the 7.7" M6 handle more than 100 watts RMS, absolutely and in real world environments, people are bridiging M series amps to power them all day long. They are giving the speakers well over 100 watts.

JL Audio M6-770x
• 100W RMS
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
• 250W RMS



Efficiency Ratings
The speaker's efficiency rating gives you a standard baseline to tell you how loud that speaker will play. The higher the SPL, or efficiency rating, the louder that the speaker will play, given the same amount of actual power. This value is measured in dB at 1W/1m. This is somewhat subjective because you can always turn the volume up or down, but it is a good baseline to tell you how efficient the speakers are and how "loud" they play, assuming the other variables are held constant. It is important to keep in mind that every 3dB, the volume doubles. Does .5dB matter? Probably not. If it is 3dB louder, will you notice a difference? Yes, assuming everything else stays the same.
JL Audio M6-770x
• 91 dB @ 1W/1m
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
• 91.8 dB @ 1W/1m




Tweeter Size & Material

The tweeter size and material have a big impact on the sound profile of the speaker. There are two typical classes of tweeters, hard dome and soft dome. For marine applications hard dome tweeters are usually metallic with aluminum and titanium being the two most popular materials. For soft dome tweeters, they are usually a textile with silk being the most popular. To withstand a marine environment the silk must have a special treatment to not degrade and break down. Hard dome tweeters are known for being loud and bright, but some find them shrill. Silk dome tweeters are knwon for being smooth, rich, and balanced. That's not to say a hard dome tweeter is shrill and that's not to say that a silk dome tweeter can't get loud. It's mostly a matter of personal preference.

The M6-770x has a 1 inch silk dome tweeter. Silk dome tweeters are used in higher end car audio speakers and are known for having a rich, balanced, smooth sound profile. The Rockford Fosgate M2-8 uses a proprietary material called PXNX and it also is a 1 inch tweeter. Rockford is not very transparent with what exactly "PXNX" is, but they say that it provides the volume and brightness of a hard dome tweeter with the smoothness and balance of a silk dome tweeter. It is somewhat of a "Best of Both Worlds" material.


JL Audio M6-770x
• 1.00" Silk Dome Tweeter
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
• 1.00" PXNX Tweeter



Power Source
There are two ways to power your speakers. You can power them directly off of your head unit or you can use an amplifier. If you are reading this article, you likely already know that you need an amplifier for these speakers.
JL Audio M6-770x
• Amplifier Required
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
• Amplifier Required



LED Lighting

Both the JL Audio M6 and Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers have a unique position when it comes to the RGB LEDs. With the JL Audio M6 7.7" speakers, you don't need to pay for the RGB LEDs if you will never use them. They are available with or without the lights. The Rockford Fosgate M2-8 speakers are only available with the RGB LEDs.

The JL Audio M6 speakers use JL's patented, Transflective LED technology. Instead of installing the LEDs behind the grille and shining back onto the speaker cone, the RGB LEDs are located on the speaker basket, behind the cone. The speaker cone is made of a reflective, translucent material that allows the light to shine through for the brightest and smoothest light output among any marine speakers. The M6 are the best looking LED marine speakers in the world and it's not really close.

Rockford Fosgate has taken a different approach with their RGB LEDs. The M2-8 speakers use their Color Optix RGB LEDs. The LEDs are located in the traditional location, on teh back side of the tweeter or grille. However, the secret sauce with Rockford is how you install, wire, and power the lights. Instead of running 6 conductor cable or needing to cut, strip, crimp, solder or terminate the wiring for the RGB LEDs, instead you use their Color Optix RGB controller and cables. When you use their controller and buy their cables, you measure the length of the cable you need, purchase the cable, and plug one end into the RGB LED controller and the other end into the speaker. It is plug and play and super easy. You don't need to mess with messy wiring and all the headaches that come from stripping, cuting, soldering, heat shrinking, crimping etc.

Two different different brands, two unique approaches to LED speakers, no bad options.

JL Audio M6-770x
• Optional for All Grille Styles
• The Best Looking RGB LED Speakers in the World
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
• All Speakers come Standard with RGB LEDs






Our Recommendations

When it comes to the 8" speakers, more so than the 6.5", the differences between Rockford Fosgate and JL Audio come down to personal preference and what you want your speakers to do. The Rockford Speakers cost less money than the JL Audio, they handle more power, and they are more efficient. But, in the 8" models, the Rockford speakers are designed to play loud. The JL Audio M6 handle plenty of power and will defeinitly get loud too. It all depends on how you use your boat, how you like your music, and how loud is, "Loud enough?" There's nothing quite like silk dome tweeters, but in an open environment like a boat, loud also matters.

The M6 7.7" speakers are more popular than the M2-8 speakers from Rockford. On paper, the Rockford appear better, but if you don't have an amp that is putting out 250 watts RMS and instead is putting out 100, it will come down to looks and the sound profile that you want. Bright and loud (Rockford) or smooth and loud (JL Audio).



Comparison
JL Audio M6-770x
Tweeter Size
1.00"
Tweeter Material
Silk Dome
Deck Power Compatible
No
Grille Options
White Classic, White Sport, Gunmetal Sport
LED Options
RGB LEDs Optional
RMS Power Handling
100 Watts
Peak Power Handling
200 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
91 dB
Frequency Response
45 Hz - 25KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
3.32"
Mounting Hole Diameter
6.25"
Outer Grille Diameter
7.70"
Rockford Fosgate M2-8
Tweeter Size
1.00"
Tweeter Material
PXNX
Deck Power Compatible
No.
Grille Options
White & Black
 
LED Options
All Grille Options Include RGB LEDs
RMS Power Handling
250 Watts
Peak Power Handling
1000 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
93 dB
Frequency Response
35 Hz - 25KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
3.35"
Mounting Hole Diameter
7.05"
Outer Grille Diameter
9.07"
M6-880x vs. M2-8H
Both JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate make a bigger or better-than the 7.7" or 8" marine speakers. For JL, they offer an 8.8" version of the M6, the M6-880X. For Rockford, they offer a horn tweeter version of the M2 8" speaker with the M2-8H.



Power Handling

The JL Audio M6-880x speakers are bigger and thus they handle more power. The 8.8" M6 speakers handle 125 watts RMS. The M2-8H and M2-8HB speakers handle 300 watts RMS which is pretty insane. Now you don't have to give the 8" horn tweeters all 300 watts and to be honest, most people give the M6-880x more than the 125 watts RMS by bridiging a JL Audio M-series amplifier. There is this sweet spot between 150 and 200 watts per channel that will work well for both speaker lines.

JL Audio M6-880x
• 125W RMS
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
• 300W RMS



Efficiency Ratings

The speaker's efficiency rating gives you a standard baseline to tell you how loud that speaker will play. The higher the SPL, or efficiency rating, the louder that the speaker will play, given the same amount of actual power. This value is measured in dB at 1W/1m. This is somewhat subjective because you can always turn the volume up or down, but it is a good baseline to tell you how efficient the speakers are and how "loud" they play, assuming the other variables are held constant. It is important to keep in mind that every 3dB, the volume doubles. Does .5dB matter? Probably not. If it is 3dB louder, will you notice a difference? Yes, assuming everything else stays the same.

The JL Audio M6-880x have a sensitivity rating of 90.5dB @ 1W/1M and the M2-8H have a sensitivity rating of 94dB @ 1W/1M. This is 100% due to the horn tweeter. The horn tweeters absolutely scream and are super aggressive. A coaxial tweeter just can't compete or compare. If you want loud, the M2-8H is going to blow away the M6-880x when it comes to loud.

JL Audio M6-880x
• 90.5 dB @ 1W/1m
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
• 94 dB @ 1W/1m




Tweeter Size & Material

Typically when it comes to tweeter materials, we are talking about hard dome vs soft dome. Well in this instance we are comparing a coaxial style tweeter and a horn tweeter.

The M6-880x has a 1.25 inch silk dome tweeter which is very large for marine speakers. Silk dome tweeters are used in higher end car audio speakers and are known for having a rich, balanced, smooth sound profile.

The Rockford Fosgate M2-8H has a 1 inch horn tweeter or HLCD. The horn tweeters are designed to play loud, play far, and broadcast for distance. This is the same type of tweeter that is used in stadiums, night clubs, concert venues etc. When you want and need it to be loud, a horn tweeter is the way to go.

If you want it loud, there's no comparison here. The horn tweeter on the M2-8H is going to blow away the M6-880x from a volume standpoint. Some people love the super aggressive tweeter, others can't stand them. Putting the horn tweeters in the hull of your boat is perfect if you want the whole world to hear your boat and you have the amps to power them and you smile when you think, "Make your ears bleed loud." If "Make your ears bleed loud," sounds horrible to you, and you want a "Bigger and better than an 8" marine speaker," the JL Audio M6-880x is perfect.

JL Audio M6-880x
• 1.25" Silk Dome Tweeter
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
• 1.00" Horn Tweeter



Power Source

If you are reading this you know. You need an amp for these speakers.


JL Audio M6-880x
• Amplifier Required
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
• Amplifier Required



LED Lighting

Both the JL Audio M6 and Rockford Fosgate M2 speakers have a unique position when it comes to the RGB LEDs. With the JL Audio M6 7.7" speakers, you don't need to pay for the RGB LEDs if you will never use them. They are available with or without the lights. The Rockford Fosgate M2-8 speakers are only available with the RGB LEDs.

The JL Audio M6 speakers use JL's patented, Transflective LED technology. Instead of installing the LEDs behind the grille and shining back onto the speaker cone, the RGB LEDs are located on the speaker basket, behind the cone. The speaker cone is made of a reflective, translucent material that allows the light to shine through for the brightest and smoothest light output among any marine speakers. The M6 are the best looking LED marine speakers in the world and it's not really close.

Rockford Fosgate has taken a different approach with their RGB LEDs. The M2-8H speakers use their Color Optix RGB LEDs. The LEDs are located in the traditional location, on teh back side of the tweeter or grille. However, the secret sauce with Rockford is how you install, wire, and power the lights. Instead of running 6 conductor cable or needing to cut, strip, crimp, solder or terminate the wiring for the RGB LEDs, instead you use their Color Optix RGB controller and cables. When you use their controller and buy their cables, you measure the length of the cable you need, purchase the cable, and plug one end into the RGB LED controller and the other end into the speaker. It is plug and play and super easy. You don't need to mess with messy wiring and all the headaches that come from stripping, cuting, soldering, heat shrinking, crimping etc.

Two different different brands, two unique approaches to LED speakers, no bad options.

JL Audio M6-880x
• Optional for All Grille Styles
• The Best Looking RGB LED Speakers in the World
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
• All Speakers come Standard with RGB LEDs
• Plug & Play Wiring with Color Optix RGB Controller and Cables






Our Recommendations

These are two similar but completely different animals. The 8.8" M6 speakers will play loud-enough for virtually any boater out there and sound incredible. The Rockford Fosgate M2-8H are for those that want the absolute loudest possible system possible for their boat. Both speakers are a way to "Flex" while out on the water, but they do it in two, totally different ways. You either love the horn tweeters or you hate them. If you love them, go with the Rockford. If you think you'd hate them, the JL M6-880x are probably the best sounding marine speakers in the world.

Comparison
JL Audio M6-880x
Tweeter Size
1.25"
Tweeter Material
Silk Dome
Deck Power Compatible
No
Grille Options
White Classic, White Sport, Gunmetal Sport
LED Options
RGB LEDs Optional
RMS Power Handling
125 Watts
Peak Power Handling
250 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
90.5 dB
Frequency Response
38 Hz - 20KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
5.0"
Mounting Hole Diameter
7.375"
Outer Grille Diameter
8.80"
Rockford Fosgate M2-8H
Tweeter Size
1.00"
Tweeter Material
Horn (HLCD)
Deck Power Compatible
No.
Grille Options
White & Black
 
LED Options
All Grille Options Include RGB LEDs
RMS Power Handling
300 Watts
Peak Power Handling
1200 Watts
Efficiency @ 1W/1m
94 dB
Frequency Response
20 Hz - 25KHz +/- 3 dB
Mounting Depth
3.35"
Mounting Hole Diameter
7.05"
Outer Grille Diameter
9.07"