The Best Car Audio System For Any Budget
Are you getting tired of your car’s built-in audio system? Whether your vehicle has a high quality audio system or a 1980s-style tape deck, it’s inevitable that you’ll want to upgrade to a higher quality system at some point.
With a few small upgrades, you can transform your car’s audio system and enjoy better sound quality.
Car audio systems range from the inexpensive to the ludicrous, with options a plenty available for motoring audiophiles. Whether you’re on a tight budget or you’ve got a literal fortune to spend, there’s a suitable car audio system out there for you. With a few small upgrades, you can transform your car’s audio system and enjoy better sound quality.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of car audio for people interested in upgrading from their vehicle’s stock audio system, from quick and easy speaker replacements to powered sub woofers for the ultimate in deep, powerful bass.
Building a car audio system: the basics
So you’ve decided to take the first step and upgrade your car’s audio system. What next? You have plenty of options when it comes to upgrading your car’s audio; you can move piece by piece or completely refit your car’s stereo all at once.
Every car audio system requires several separate components. At a minimum, you’ll need a car stereo (also known as a head unit) and a set of speakers. In a large audio system, you might want to add an external amplifier and install extra speakers. Check out AutoExpress.co.uk and their review of single and double-DIN head units.
Let’s begin with the basics. The factory stereo that came with your car likely isn’t as good as a third-party replacement. Even brand name stereos, such as those offered as upgrades by car manufacturers, tend to offer mixed sound quality.
If your car is new and your stereo system doubles as an in-car entertainment menu and navigational system, replacing it can be tough. Luckily, you can get a significant increase in audio quality simply by replacing your front pair of speakers.
Choosing good car audio speakers
Standard car audio speakers are rarely as good as they could be. Even esteemed car manufacturers prefer to stick with simple audio equipment that most people won’t pay much attention to than install high quality speakers in their vehicles.
Because of this, replacing the front two speakers in your car is a great way to boost its audio quality, often at a very low cost. A pair of high quality speakers from Polk Audio, Pioneer and other leading brands can cost as little as £150 to purchase.
Anybody know anything about replacing the stock speakers in a car when the old ones go out? Is it hard? Should I take it somewhere and…
— Nathan williams (@united_nathan) August 5, 2011
Before you rush out to buy a new pair of speakers for your car, it’s important that you work out what speaker size your car uses. OnlineCarStereo.com offers a car fit guide that will let you know which speaker size is appropriate for your vehicle.
Most cars use 5.25” or 6.5” front speakers, making buying a replacement pair fairly simple. If your car is fairly large – for example, a four-door sedan or SUV – it might use 6×9” full-range speakers in both the front doors and rear tray.
Adding treble, midrange and bass to your audio system
Does your car have tweeters – small, round speakers that are typically installed at head level – as part of its standard audio system? If not, you might want to install a pair to add additional high-frequency clarity to your audio system.
A high quality pair of tweeters gives the high treble noises of your audio system a bigger level of punch and clarity. These tiny one-inch speakers your music to sound crisp and clear.
Car audio tweeters are incredibly affordable – a pair of high quality Kenwood one-inch tweeters can be bought for less than £50 – and make a big difference. They’re typically installed on your car’s A-pillars to provide additional sound clarity.
While tweeters will give your audio system additional clarity, midrange and bass require heavier machinery. Adding some 6×9” speakers to the rear of your vehicle, as well as a subwoofer, will give your system some additional power and kick.
Adding a subwoofer is complicated, as you’ll need to purchase an amplifier, but it’s easy to add a pair of 6×9” speakers without changing your car stereo. 6×9” speakers are installed in the rear of your car and start from as little as £100 per pair.
Amplifiers, subwoofers and replacement car stereos
Do you like your music hard and powerful? Whether you’re a fan of drum and bass, trance, house or dubstep, you’ll want to add a subwoofer to your car audio system if you’re a fan of electronic dance music.
If you’re considering installing a subwoofer, you should also consider replacing your car’s built-in stereo. Many standard car stereos only support four-channel audio and won’t be able to support the extra connections required for a fifth speaker channel.
Installing a subwoofer is slightly more complicated than installing component and full-range speakers. Not only does it require the installation of an amplifier; you’ll also need to install a subwoofer enclosure to hold the speaker steady.
Before choosing a subwoofer, you’ll want to speak to a car audio expert to discover which size of speaker – not to mention which range of power output – is best suited to your vehicle.
From one of our fans, Leandro Burba, an Ultimo SC subwoofer install set off with some LEDs. pic.twitter.com/2jvOiUUi6U
— Morel Speakers (@MorelHiFi) May 27, 2013
Subwoofers come in several varieties. Although component subwoofers – which require an external power source – are the most popular, powered subwoofers, which don’t require an external amplifier, are an increasingly popular choice.
Powered subwoofers typically come in a pre-built enclosure, making them easier and faster to install. Since they’re self-powered, there’s no need to search for the right amplifier to power your system.
Are you ready to improve your car’s audio system?
If you’re a music lover interested in getting more from your car audio system, start with the front two speakers. Since these are the closest to you while you’re driving, you’ll get the most bang for your buck out of replacing them.
As you further upgrade your car audio system, the possibilities are endless. From high quality LCD displays and Blu-Ray players to massively powerful subwoofers, car audio ranges from inexpensive and simple to truly indulgent.
Whether you want the ultimate in sound quality or the most powerful bass on your block, upgrading your car audio system is surprisingly cheap and simple. Give your car a touch of luxury and the experience of superior sound quality today!