Imagine this, you’re about to take a trip out of town and will be driving with a couple of your best buddies about to have the adventure of your life. You drive off, everyone’s getting comfy and just as you are about turn up Bieber fever on your stereo, you hear a nasty snap, crackle and pop from your system. Bummer. More often than not, most of us are aware of the sub-par audio system in our vehicles (Unless you are Mr. Rich and drive an expensive car, which if it is the case, then stop reading, this article ain’t for you Richie Rich!) and want to do something about it.
However, trying to figure out the right upgrade can be a little overwhelming given the choices of brands and specifications out there. Figuring out the right components that need replacing is equally troublesome, not taking into the account the sales hype and obnoxious sales talk.
Here are some components you can consider if you are looking to improve your system, in no particular order. Don’t live with a bad system. The amount of time spent in your car, especially in traffic, why not make it that much more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. The smallest changes can sometimes give reasonably better results.
This write-up is targeted to the average user and not advanced enthusiasts, therefore it will be kept simple and not go too in-depth on the technical aspects.
The most basic, bang for the buck upgrade that you can do. If your vehicle is still using the speakers that it came with from the factory, then pretty much any aftermarket speakers will improve the overall sound. You’ll be surprised how much difference it can make.
Factory speakers quite often use sub-par materials and have very basic designs, hence the limitation in it delivering quality sound. A simple swap for a 2-way or 3-way speakers will give you better high’s and low’s and you will notice a greater variance in sound. If you are looking for a more advanced setup, then component speakers with crossovers are a must.
Choosing the right speakers for your system
HEAD UNITS / RECEIVERS
There are a wide range of receivers in the market. Depending on your needs and budget, there IS a right unit for you out there. From basic Digital Media Receivers with USB slot to Double-din touchscreens. Some head units come with better sound processors and DAC (Digital to Analog Convertors) that gives superior sound quality when compared to factory receivers. One thing to remember here is that if you play digital files often, to use lower compression.
Choosing the right Head Unit
Sound dampening will help in 2 ways. Reducing the vibrations and rattles from your panels while improving the ability to maintain the sound accuracy from your speakers. The other benefit of using sound dampening materials is that it will help in reducing interior noise and ambient noise. When this happens, you are able to enjoy more of the actual sounds without it being polluted by external noises, especially during higher speeds.
Amplifiers are essential if you are looking for a complete system. Even high-end cars come equipped with it. Why not in your family sedan you ask? Simple. Cost. the same reason manufacturers put inferior speakers with paper cones in your car. Amplifiers can provide cleaner power than your head unit and improve sound reproduction plus also give you the ability to use bigger and better speakers.
Subwoofers are crucial if you want a full sound. No if’s and what’s about it. Without a sub, you can never get the proper lows. Especially for vehicles with touchscreen monitors and DVD playing capabilities. If you have ever watched a movie with and without a subwoofer, I’m pretty sure you get the picture.
Many people are turned off by subwoofers due to it taking extra space and also it’s booming sounds. Fret not, these days, there are powered subs that eliminate the need for an amp and also slim enough to fit under the seat. Furthermore, you do not need to set your subwoofers to maximum if club thumping sounds ain’t your thang.
What’s power without control? This is quite literally the truth when it comes to your audio system. With good speakers, amps and receivers, you need a way to control all that and the basic controls in most receivers are simply not enough.
Pre amp is basically a component that amplifies and prepares the source signal before amplification. It helps in making sure the amplifiers are receiving a powerful enough input. Pre amps come either built-in to the source unit or an external unit. Some pre amps also serve as convertors, inputting high level signals to RCA outs which can then be plugged in to amplifiers which have no high level inputs.
HIGH QUALITY CABLES
Better quality power leads and RCA cables to your amplifiers will help improve sound significantly. Having the right power cable that can handle the power needed by your amp is crucial. Not only that, a good cable with proper made terminals will ensure smooth flow of power and also ensure that noise caused by the cars electrical system is rejected.
Same applies to RCA cables. Cables made with superior design and materials that suits your application definitely help maintain the performance of your system.
Don’t let poor cables limit the potential of your setup