Figuring out what you need.
The very first thing you should consider before everything else is figuring out what you need/want.To be honest ,it’s the most toughest part of the process.Do you want your sound system to make you fell like you’re at a live concert ? Or do you want a system that can simply deliver big bass ? May be you want a system that can do both.Starting with a goal in mind is absolutely necessary, I’ll be damned if this doesn’t save you from potentially wasting money on components or wasting time on designs and installations that don’t fit your overall objectives.
We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good sound system,but generally, you’ll want to build a sound system that will enrich your music by producing clear and natural sound , and so we’re here to help.The greatest sound system isn’t necessarily neither the loudest ,nor the most expensive.It’s the one that truly satisfies your cravings.
In order to built a great sound system that meets your needs,start off by asking yourself : what is the most important thing that you want your new car stereo to do for you ? If you don’t come up with an answer right away,don’t worry,just start by taking a look at your current setup.
So How does your current stereo system measure up ?
How does the sound of your current system make you feel? Does your sound system produce flat boring sound ? Does funky rhythm sound notes get you smiling? Do you usually find yourself tapping your foot or drumming your fingers on the steering wheel or even moving your head in certain directions?
No? Then is the sound monotonous,muffled,flat and hollown? You’re probably listening to speakers that lack dynamism, variable sound output at every frequency level ,which is mainly caused by low quality or deteriorated equipments.This can also be due to the absence of an external amplifier (We’ll get into that later).
How to Troubleshoot Your Current Sound System
It’s not always easy to figure out what part of your sound system is to blame.You just know that it sounds lousy, but you don’t necessarily know why.You don’t have to be an audio system expert in order to figure it out,tough.Here are some easy simple steps you can take to narrow things down.
- Listen to each speaker individually.
- Are all the speakers working, or do you hear a slight rattle or distortion ?
- How’s the overall performance of your speakers on the road ?Is it very distinguishable or can you barely hear it?
- Do all your sound system’s functions seem to work okay ?
- What do you feel like you’re missing ?
Now, rate your current setup.
It’s not advisable to replace every part of your sound system while changing only a single part is all you need to get you to what you wanted.For this reason we highly recommend that you start making a list of all the components in your system and then,rate them on a scale of 1-10.This will allow you to spot the weakest component and fix it.Installing a good new set of speakers is usually one of the first step to achieving better sound ,given that your receiver or amplifier is powerful enough to power them.
What would you like your system to do that it won’t do now ?
- Play CDs or MP3 files ?
- Deliver Big Bass without distortion ?
- Play DVDs on a retractable or built-in screen-touch display ?
- Control your cellphone or other portable audio device ?
- Make calls and stream music using a Bluetooth connection ?
So, what are your available options ?
Tip #1: Replace your car’s speakers
Speakers are the last thing that car manufacturers think about when designing and building a car.Factory speakers are usually made of lightweight paper or other cheap-to-produce materials that tend to wear down and fall apart quickly.That’s the reason why they look cheap and sound pretty horrible , and even the so-called “premium” sound systems lack performance and power to deliver top-notch sound.
A good new set of aftermarket speakers will truly improve the overall sound quality of your car audio system. Best of all, they’re easy to install and usually pretty affordable.
Tip #2: Add an amplifier
Most headunits have buit-in amplifiers, but these amps aren’t neither powerful nor adjustable as external amps.Additionally, a subwoofer requires more power to operate than what a regular headunit can put out.You could also consider a separate amp to drive your subwoofer(s),and use the amps built into your headunit to power your speakers.Using separate amps requires crossovers between the amps and speakers to distribute the amp’s signal to the correct speakers.
Using a separate amplifier will provide more clean power than any car stereo, and that’ll make a day-and-night difference in terms of sound quality.
Tip #3: Add a sub and hear what you’ve been missing
We’ve installed a lot of car audio systems, and one of the best thing that we love to see is when somebody hears a sub in their car for the first time and yells “WOW ,that’s Amazing”.A well-choosen subwoofer will immerse you in a pleasurable listening experience.On the other hand,a subwoofer will take a load off your speakers too, since you’ll be playing your tunes with the bass control set at “0” instead of “+5”.
Subwoofers come in various sizes,types, and shapes.The most common sizes for a mobile subwoofer are 8″, 10″ or 12″.Some manufacturers offer amplified subwoofers with enclosures, which are an easy off the shelf solution for people who don’t want to bother themselves with designing and installing an enclosure.
Some brands went the extra step and created shallow mount subwoofers which are intended to be used in vehicles with limited space such as pick-ups , sport cars, and compact vehicles.These thin subs are usually mounted either behind the seats or in rear speakers deck.
Tip #4: Car Stereo Head Units and Receivers
Keeping your in-dash head unit (or receiver) isn’t a wise decision (No head unit typically has more than about 60 watts of total output power).Simply because most factory head units don’t have pre-amp outputs (RCA), meaning you cannot use external amps.Luckily, there is a workaround if you want to cut down the costs .It consists of using speaker level to line level converters, but these tend to sacrifice some sound quality.
If you’re willing to replace your in dash-head unit,then the design and the size are some of the important keys to take into consideration.There are standard and oversized head units available.The standard size is also called single DIN,and the oversized units are commonly known as 1.5 DIN or double DIN.If you have the space , Double DIN units are your best bet, because they usually feature LCD monitors for video playback and GPS navigation.
Tip #5: Build a better sub box. Or simply buy one
Installing a subwoofer inside the wrong enclosure can negatively affect its performance.Additionally,You can destroy a sub that’s designed for ported box use by driving it hard in a sealed enclosure.We’re not going to get into the debate about which is better,they both clearly work,and it really boils down to personal preference.It’s also very important to build your sub’s box with the correct dimensions. A mismatch can result in short term wearout or a sub fatality.
All these issues can be avoided by buying a ready-made enclosure that’ll work with your subwoofer
Building a sound system from scratch is not going to be an easy job.There are many factors to be taken into consideration.The topic is a bit complex, but we’ve done our best explaining some of the concepts here.By now , you’re a lot closer to building a good sound system for your car.You’ve figured out what should be upgraded and pinpointed the way forward to a better listening experience.