Tired of the same boring drive? Ready to customize your ride with some sweet, aftermarket gear? Start with the stereo!
If you’re new to car sound systems, you should know that the right sound system can transform your driving experience. But most of us are driving around with our boring old factory-installed sound systems intact.
You haven’t lived the sweet life until you hear your music and other media played through an aftermarket system. So what are you waiting for?
Check out this guide to learn how to design a sweet sound system for your ride.
What Do You Need? Troubleshoot Your Current System
The first thing you need to do is take a good, hard listen to your current sound system. Most factory audio systems are designed to be…frugally sound. AKA, cheap.
Factory speakers are usually made from paper or other lightweight materials. These tend to bend, crack, and tear over time. This kills your sound quality.
Start by sitting in your car listening to the stereo. You’ll want to do this both driving and parked. And you’ll want to listen to loud and soft music.
Pay attention to what you hear. If you hear rattling or buzzing while you drive, you’ve got components that are loose or broken. Change the speaker setting so you can hear each speaker by itself and figure out which ones are buzzing.
Does your stereo compete with road noise while you drive? Can you hear the bass as much as you’d like? Adjust the bass and treble knobs while you’re at it and see how you feel about the sound changes.
Is the sound tinny or distorted? Write everything down and then bring it to your local car audio shop. Or do some research online to figure out the best equipment to fix any problems.
Speaker Love: Find the Right Speakers
Speakers are one of the top offenders when it comes to distorted sound. Even the best factory speakers warp or fade over time. But a new set of quality, after-market speakers can improve almost every aspect of your sound system.
A full-range speaker recreates the full range of sounds audible to the human ear. These speakers don’t need extra equipment. They have the following components:
- Tweeter – produces high-pitch sounds
- Midrange – produces the sounds in the middle of the human hearing range
- Woofer – produces low-pitch sounds
By contrast, component speakers are broken out into their individual pieces. If you’re planning to DIY, full-range is the easiest to install. But components will give you the best sound quality.
Consult with the shop or vendor website before you buy to make sure that the speakers you choose fit in your car. You can also take your existing speakers out and measure them for a better idea of what size you need.
Amp Up the Volume: The Amplifier
Looking for a little more volume? The amplifier is what gives your sound system power and volume. Without a quality amplifier, the sound distorts when the volume is cranked to a certain level.
Amplifiers come with different channel capabilities. The more channels your amplifier handles, the more speakers you can hook up to it.
Also, you want to consider power output when you’re choosing an amp. Your speakers need a certain amount of power to run at peak performance. And every speaker system is different.
That’s why it’s a good idea to pick out your speakers and then pick out your amp. You’ll know how much power your amp needs to supply based on the usage of the speakers.
You don’t want to short your speakers on power because you’ll lose valuable sound quality. But you also don’t want to overpower them. That’s what leads to speaker blowouts.
Here is a list of the best car amps with great sound. More powerful amps are more expensive, but it’s worth it if you want your music to blast and sound great.
Feel the Beat: The Subwoofer
If you’re “all about that bass,” then you should consider adding a subwoofer. This is the big boy you usually see boxed out inside someone’s car trunk.
The size of your subwoofer really depends on what you’re looking for and the type of music you listen to. And how much space you’re willing to give up. Check out a few models before you decide.
How you enclose your subwoofer makes a difference. Usually, the bigger the better when it comes to bass. And sealed boxes are the best way to keep your subwoofer sounding great without rattling.
Worried about losing cargo space? Some subwoofers mount right into the side of your trunk, which acts as the enclosure. This only works if your trunk is airtight.
Also, remember to think about power. You need to choose something that you can power with a good amp. Many subwoofers need a dedicated amp to keep them powered.
Get Right in the Head: The Head Unit
The head unit is also known as the stereo unit, for those newbies out there. It’s the heart and soul of your sound system. Factory head units usually have the bare bones included.
Your head unit is found on the dash. Size is important. Your new head unit must fit into the existing dash setup.
You can get all kinds of features including a touchscreen, Bluetooth, and retractable displays. Many will even have the capability to play Blu-ray movies.
They have wi-fi capabilities and remote controls too. And they’ll hook up to phone apps to provide navigation and streaming music.
If you plan to listen to cassette tapes, CDs, or audio devices like an iPod, your head unit needs to support those forms of media. And it must be compatible with your amp.
Learn to Love Car Sound Systems
All the cool kids have rockin’ aftermarket car sound systems! No really, whether you listen to rap or classical, you can enjoy an upgraded sound system.
Do your research and talk to car audio professionals. They’ll help you determine what’s best for your listening pleasure.
Looking for more ways to customize your car? Check out this article for some cheap car modifications that make a big difference. At MotorEra, we’re here to help you solve your car problems with automotive resources at your fingertips!