Car Audio Systems For the Total Newbie
Feb 03, †Ј The "ideal" car audio system is not necessarily the loudest one, or the most expensive one. It's the one that best meets your needs. Is your music getting serious competition from your car's exhaust note? You should look into sound deadening materials. A little Dynamat in your vehicle will help keep road noise, vibration, and exhaust Reviews: Jan 27, †Ј How to Build the Ideal Car Stereo System. Determine What You Really Need. Only you know what you really want. Sure, you can look at the car stereo system of your friend or even officemate, but Assess Your Existing Car Sound Setup. Determine Exactly What is СWrongТ or СLackingТ in .
What is system planning? It's the process that keeps you from making costly mistakes and ending up with equipment you don't want or can't use. Here's system what happened to ebert and roeper for most car audio shoppers. I just got the same ones he bought but I bought the new gigawatt amplifier I saw in the magazines. I also bought a new head unit but I want to keep my factory speakers because I don't want to spend too much money.
Everything sounds OK until you realize that he drives a Mazda Miata and barely has enough trunk space for a bag of groceries let alone the six cubic feet those two fifteens require. Too bad he already opened the boxes and now they're not returnable.
Now that you know what you want you can figure out how to get it and stay within the set parameters. Here's how to go about it. Make auddio you take into account any vehicle limitations. This includes shallow space in the doors, bottom mount only rear deck speakers, shallow depth head unit, etc.
Almost any car audio problem can be sywtem if you have enough money. Not enough space for large subwoofers? Add more power to smaller subwoofers. No room for a double DIN head unit in your dash? Have the dash reconstructed.
If you don't have a lot of money then you need to make better buying decisions. Maybe only one subwoofer instead of two.
Maybe a four channel amplifier instead of two stereo amplifiers. A head unit without the dancing lights. One note of caution when budget shopping. Don't skimp on the speakers, especially the front speakers. If there's one thing that should be the best you can afford it's the front speakers. In my experience there is nothing else that can make or break a system like the quality of the front speaker set. The best head unit and amplifiers won't make a difference if you don't have a great front stage.
Make sure quality front speakers are a part of your system plan. In order to get the most out of your custom car audio system you need to do a little planning. Unlike home audio components, car audio components do not have the same connection standards, input levels and buil levels.
Have you ever connected a home stereo CD player to a home stereo amplifier and then had to adjust the levels to make them work? Of course not. But you will have to in car audio. I won't get into the details of each component right now but I will tell you what to look for in each component in terms of level setting. This is the term for your in-dash radio source unit, whether how to play with mind be CD, cassette or whatever. The back of the aftermarket radio should have at least one pair of Competigion jacks shown below.
If it doesn't then you will need a speaker level to RCA low level converter such as the one below. Many amplifiers have these built in so you won't need to purchase a separate one. The low-level music signal travels out of the radio through these jacks into RCA cables shown belowand then on to your next component equalizer, crossover, amplifier, etc. Most car audio components are "unbalanced" and will use these simple cables. The specification you will want to look for on the head unit is the "output voltage".
The minimum is usually 0. More is better in this case. You want a high output voltage to help minimize the noise in your system. A higher output voltage doesn't always mean your system noise will be lower but it helps. I would not consider a low output voltage to be a "deal killer" unless you plan on competing in car audio competitions.
Crossovers, equalizers and other signal processing units will have competitikn specifications. An input voltage and an output voltage. You want to make sure that the how to build a competition car audio system section of your signal processor can handle the output voltage of your head unit.
If your head unit output is 4 volts but your signal processor can only accept 2 volts then you fo be in for some overload problems. As long as your head unit output voltage is within the voltage that your signal processor can handle you will be OK.
Your signal processor input voltage will have an adjustment feature that will help you match the two voltages. The output voltage of the signal processor will be similar to the head unit output voltage. The more the better. It is probably less critical to have high voltage output here if your signal processor is near your amplifiers.
This because there will be less chance of noise radiating into the signal cable over such a short distance. Car audio amplifiers have an input voltage range much like signal processors. Again, you want to make sure that the input section of your amplifier can handle the output voltage of your head unit or signal processor.
As long as the input voltage of the previous component doesn't exceed the range of your amplifier you should be OK. It covers many topics including in depth car audio amplifier installation.
Click here. Car Audio System Planning What is system planning? So what could have prevented this? You need to know four things. What you want What you have What you're willing to give up to get what you want What you're not willing to give up Here's how it should be done.
I want a stereo system that sounds clean and can be heard for three blocks. A Honda Prelude with a factory sound system Hlw Trunk space for my golf clubs Now that you know what you want you can figure out how to get it and stay within the set parameters.
Get the best set of component speakers you can afford and drive them with watts of clean amplifier power. Install a high powered subwoofer system. Remove the factory sound system and replace it with the CD head unit of your choice making sure it has at least two sets of pre-amp outputs to competitiln fading between the front speakers and the subwoofers. You'll need to get a subwoofer system that can fit in an enclosure small enough to allow room for your golf clubs.
I'd recommend subwoofers built for small enclosures. What shoes did magic johnson wear could get a pair of twelve inch woofers that would only require how to build a competition car audio system. Maybe even a fiberglass enclosure that could be form fit to the car to really maximize available space.
You'll want a large what your baby looks like at 16 weeks to hod these woofers at high volume levels. I'd also recommend installing some sound deadening material to your car to keep the vehicle from sounding like a tin can when the system is turned up.
Take width, height, and depth measurements. You may have more than one depth measurement if you're mounting your box to an angled surface i. Make sure you t into account the space you will need to place the box in how to catch crabs with a net vehicle. If you have 40" of width behind the back seat but only a 36" trunk opening then you might have a problem.
You can use computer software if you don't want to do the math by hand. It's good for wedge boxes too and can save some time. Highly recommended. Fo consult the specification sheet to see how much space your subwoofers of choice need.
You may find that you don't have enough air fompetition and need to choose a different subwoofer or a lesser quantity of subwoofers. If you have more space than you need common you have to decide what dimensions the extra space will be subtracted from. Do you want to make the box less wide, less tall or less deep?
For a trunk installation I usually maximize the height and minimize the depth. Then I take off some of the yo if necessary. This maximizes the usable cargo space once the enclosure is installed. Be sure you have enough mounting depth for your woofer and that your box isn't too tall to slide into the trunk. You might test fit a biuld of cardboard cut to the same size as your box's height and depth dimensions. Width won't matter for this test. If you can't slide the template into the trunk without twisting it then you need to lower your height until you can.
Some rear seats fold down and you may be able to slide the box in this way instead. Once you have all of the dimensions you can either manually determine the box pieces needed or use a computer program. Once you have all of your pieces cut, your last step is to assemble it. It shows how to assemble an enclosure from scratch using nothing more sophisticated than a power drill and a jig saw for cutting the woofer opening.
It also covers carpeting of the enclosure. Getting Your System Components to Work Together In order to get the most out of your custom car audio system you need to do a little planning. Head Unit This is the term for your in-dash radio source unit, whether buikd be CD, cassette or whatever.
The SQ front stage imaging
Jun 07, †Ј However, competitive car audio is not completely out of reach to those of us on tighter budgets. Here are a few ways you can achieve better or louder sound without forking over a huge amount of cash. Install sound-deadening material in your car. A lot of volume vanishes into your carТs door and floor panels. May 29, †Ј how to build a car audio system Ц installing new speakers [CHANGE OUT YOUR CAR SPEAKERS] The second easiest thing to do is to swap out your factory speakers with a better built set that can take a little more of a beating, this is always recommended when starting a high fidelity system especially if your intending on amplifying the sound coming from your stereo. Keep the Sound In With all of the decibels (pressure) the system is producing a lot of it wants to escape into the lower pressure environment outside the vehicle. This is why you'll see competitors pushing in on their doors to keep as much pressure inside the vehicle as possible (if the competition allows that).
It doesn't have anything to do with squeezing every last bit out of a car audio capacitor or adding an additional battery. And that isn't a judgmental statement. The fact is that the sound system is one of the places that OEMs almost universally neglect in the name of higher profits, and most people don't even realize what they're missing.
So how can you tell if your factory audio needs a little tender loving care? So where do you get started? There are a lot of different ways for a newbie to tear into a factory sound system upgrade, so there are a handful of questions that can help set you on the right path:. You might be surprised at how the simple act of pondering those five questions will set you on the road to building a great car audio system.
You can even replace components one at a time, as your budget permits, and eventually, you'll have a completely custom car sound system. One good place for budget-conscious newbies to start is the speakers. Factory speakers are typically pretty anemic, so you may notice a pretty big improvement in your sound by simply replacing your front speakers.
If you do decide to drop in new speakers, it's a good idea to make sure they'll work with your existing head unit. And if you plan on upgrading the head unit in the future, you'll want to take that into consideration as well.
Everyone has different opinions on car audio, and some people just love the look of their factory stereo. If you have a late model car with an integrated infotainment system, it can also be very difficult to upgrade the stereo.
In either case, there are a number of ways to improve a factory sound system without touching the head unit. The first step is to ditch your factory speakers and replace them with premium units.
Premium speakers are made out of higher quality materials, so they sound better and last longer than factory speakers.
That alone will typically result in a huge improvement over the factory sound. That might sound like a lot of nonsense, but it basically means that the amplifier will be able to sit between your factory head unit and your new speakers and allow you to turn your music up without any distortion. When you add one or more amplifiers, you also have the option of adding a subwoofer. That will provide you with richer bass, but you can also add a digital sound processor to improve the sound from all of your speakers.
There are a lot of options when you build a car stereo system from the ground up, so a lot of newbies shy away from that sort of drastic change. If you really want to dive in, you might want to start by considering the types of features you want out of your car stereo, which can help you find the perfect head unit. That can be accomplished in one of two ways:. Powered subwoofers are simpler, but adding an amplifier and a subwoofer gives you more flexibility.
Either way, a subwoofer is the best way to get that bass pounding. If you're after the absolute easiest way to add more bass to your car audio system, then a powered amplifier with speaker-level inputs is the way to go.
These units combine an amp and a subwoofer into one unit, so there isn't any guesswork, and they can be hooked up to any factory or aftermarket head unit. This is the absolute easiest way to install a new head unit, and it ensures that you can pop the factory stereo back in any time you want.
Actively scan device characteristics for identification. Use precise geolocation data. Select personalised content. Create a personalised content profile. Measure ad performance. Select basic ads. Create a personalised ads profile. Select personalised ads. Apply market research to generate audience insights. Measure content performance.
Develop and improve products. List of Partners vendors. Jeremy Laukkonen. Jeremy Laukkonen is tech writer and the creator of a popular blog and video game startup.
He also ghostwrites articles for numerous major trade publications. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Updated on November 10, Jerrick Leger. Lifewire Tech Review Board Member. He is also a systems administrator for an IT firm in Texas serving small businesses. Article reviewed on Jun 30, Tweet Share Email. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Email Address Sign up There was an error. Please try again. You're in! Thanks for signing up. There was an error. Tell us why! More from Lifewire.
The 5 Best Car Stereo Systems of Your Privacy Rights. To change or withdraw your consent choices for Lifewire. At any time, you can update your settings through the "EU Privacy" link at the bottom of any page. These choices will be signaled globally to our partners and will not affect browsing data. We and our partners process data to: Actively scan device characteristics for identification. I Accept Show Purposes.