It’s a tale we hear far too often: someone buys a new car with a “premium” stereo system, and as they crank up their favorite song to try it out, a growing disappointment starts to spread as they realize there’s nothing “premium” about it.
That’s because unless you’re spending big bucks on a high-end luxury car, stock car stereos aren’t as impressive as car commercials would have you believe. Lucky for new car owners—or anyone with a basic stereo system—upgrading doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul. Here are 7 tips to getting the best sound out of your car’s audio system.
1. Replace the speakers
To improve overall sound clarity, new speakers are a must. You can either go with coaxial speakers, which involve single units that play a full range of music frequencies, or component speakers, which include several parts: a tweeter for high frequencies, a mid-bass woofer for low frequencies, and a crossover that takes the audio signal from the head unit and distributes frequencies accordingly.
2. Insulate with sound-deadening material
You’d be surprised how much road noise interferes with your stereo’s sound, so the quieter you can make your car, the better your audio experience. Sound-deadening mats are an extremely cost-effective way to dampen both noise from outside your car and clatter within—such as engine noise and speakers vibrating within door panels. In fact, the mats can be used almost everywhere in the car, not just the doors—under the hood and under the carpets are other useful areas to insulate from noise.
3. Add an amplifier
Amplifiers provide a power boost to your speakers, and along with it, a boost in volume capacity. Amps send precise signals to the speakers to add dimension, clarity, and crispness to your favorite music. In fact, you’ll be able to hear each individual instrument, even if classic symphonies are your jam.
4. Only use high-quality cables for your amp
If you’re going to add an amplifier to your stereo, cables matter. Undersized, bargain-brand cables won’t be able to handle the load, leaving your amplifier starving for power when you crank the volume. High-quality cables, on the other hand, let the power flow freely and ensure your amp gets the energy it needs during high demand (aka when you’re rocking out down the freeway).
5. Switch your music files to a lower level of compression
Digital music files are rapidly overtaking CDs as the music storage option of choice, but not all files are created equal. Heavily compressed files, for example, are fine to use with earbuds, but high and low-frequency information is lost when played through complex stereo systems. That’s why you should switch to a lower level of compression for your digital music—unless you plan to stick to CDs, that is.
6. Add an equalizer or signal processor
Stock head units (also known as receivers), give you basic controls over your music: treble, bass, and sometimes midrange. But the extent of that control is limited unless you add an outboard equalizer, which will allow you to zero in on problem areas. Alternatively, a signal processor can help eliminate frequency peaks and boost your bass response, allowing your music to sound just like its creator intended.
7. Add a subwoofer
A lot of people assume they’re not “subwoofer” people, as in they don’t have a desire to set off car alarms with their bass. But you’d be surprised what a decent subwoofer can do for your favorite music, regardless of the genre. Subs balance music’s lower octaves and reduce the load on your full-range speakers, adding dimension you never knew was possible.
Ready to upgrade your so-called “premium” stock stereo?
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to upgrading your car audio system, Audio Shack can help. We only carry the best brands, and our car audio experts can help you choose the best equipment for your needs and budget. Our professional installers also have extensive installation experience, from basic upgrades to fully customized stereo systems. Everyone knows Audio Shack offers the best car stereo installation in El Cajon, so drop in today to see for yourself.