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Everything You Need to Know to Understand Your Car's Audio System

Everything You Need to Know to Understand Your Car's Audio System

Everything You Need to Know to Understand Your Car's Audio System

For some people, upgrading their car's audio system represents the ultimate improvement, a chance to turn their vehicle into a mobile entertainment system. For others, it's a total gray area, a world of new possibilities that's marred by misinformation that prevents them from turning their car audio systems into the ultimate accessory.

Whatever your perspective on your car's audio system, there's a lot to know. Improvements are more than possible-they can be both reasonable and dramatic, provided you know the basics and then some.

So let's take a tour of your car's audio system. We'll show you what the components are, how it works, and how you can improve it. And if you do choose to do an upgrade after that, you'll be able to make the best possible decision to suit your needs.

How to Assess Your Existing Audio

The first thing you should know about your car's audio system is that if it's the one you have in your car from when you bought it new, you can do a lot better. Manufacturers tend to put profits ahead of sound quality, so put that fact in your hip pocket when you go to evaluate your system.

The evaluation process is simple enough. Get in your car, and play your favorite music with the volume up and the windows and doors shut. The more private the place where you're doing this, the better.

So what are you listening for? Several things. Crank the volume and listen for distortion. If you hear it, you can do an upgrade that can make you a lot happier.

Same deal with the bass and treble. Turn them both up separately, and listen for what you get. You're listening for lack of clarity in the treble, and a hollow, dead sound with the bass.

The next decisions you need to make won't have much to do with sound, though. They're about your budget and what you want, so you need to assess your listening habits and decide the level of quality you want.

The Tight Budget Upgrade

The easiest way to do a low-cost upgrade is to replace your speakers. This can cost you as little as $50, but make sure your speakers are a good match for the existing head unit in your car.

Also, think about whether the head unit is good enough for your future needs. If it is, you're done once you've put in the new speakers. If it's not, then you need to think strategically about what you want in the future.

The Factory Upgrade

Some people happen to love the factory stereo they got with their vehicle, but there are plenty who don't, too.

The first thing you're going to need to think about if you want an upgrade is whether your car is part of an integrated entertainment and information system, which will be the case with many late-model cars. This kind of integration will make it harder to do, but not impossible.

Step one is to once again replace the factory speakers with a quality pair. That will give you some improvement, but if you find yourself turning into an audiophile you may decide you need an amplifier. That will eliminate a lot of distortion, and it may be where you stop your quest for the perfect system.

The Bass and Volume Factor

Building Out Your Perfect System

You may want to keep going, however. If you do you want to start by focusing on the head unit and the amp. They'll either eliminate or expand your choices, depending on what they can handle and what you want to spend.

Once you have a better idea of how all that works, you may want to look into the tradeoffs with various other system components and options.

The Bass and Volume Factor

Remember when we mentioned distortion and hollow-sounding bass before? This is where you get to fix both of those issues.

You'll need an amp and a subwoofer for your bass, and if you're looking to completely eliminate distortion you'll need an amp and speakers that are matched to do that.

The final question involves your wiring harness. It has to be designed for both your vehicle and the system you're installing. If you're paying big bucks to do this upgrade, you should let a professional do this for you, but many people do just fine with a DIY approach if they have the expertise. and time to pull it off.

Get the Right Advice

Finally, if you need help, go to our online catalog and take a look around. You'll find great aftermarket parts, informative blogs, pricing and anything else you need.

You can also call us at 304 691-1313, or you can visit us at our Miami office if you're in South Florida-the address is 3401 NW 73rd Street, Miami FL 33147. You'll be glad you did!