Picture it: You download your favorite band’s new album the minute it drops, upload it to your phone or burn it to a CD, and plug it into your car for some quality jam time. But as the first song plays, you notice something’s off…and it’s not the band or the song. It’s your lackluster car audio system, which doesn’t bother you much when listening to the radio—but now that your favorite music is involved, it’s personal.
Good news: You don’t have to accept mediocre sound quality in your car. There are several simple improvements you can make that will yield noticeable results, even if you’re on a budget. So whether you need an entire sound overall for your older car, or a few tweaks to your new car’s stock system, here are some tips for upgrading your system—and giving your favorite band the audio quality they deserve:
Tip 1: Replace the speakers
Stock speakers are something of a joke amongst car audio enthusiasts. They look cheap and sound cheaper, and even so-called “premium” systems in higher-end new cars offer inadequate performance and power. Aftermarket speakers, on the other hand, feature multiple components like tweeters and woofers that offer a comprehensive sound experience. Even budget-priced speakers will give your music more clarity, finer details, and tighter bass.
Tip 2: Replace the head unit
Stock in-dash head units (receivers) typically offer minimal power and don’t have outputs to accommodate amplifiers, but you can get a quality receiver with extras like Bluetooth connectivity for a pretty decent price. If you want to spend a little more, check out head units with LCD monitors for GPS navigation and smartphone integration. Whichever receiver you choose, it will undoubtedly integrate additional upgrades better than your stock receiver will.
Tip 3: Add a subwoofer
Subwoofers do more than just thumping and vibrating the car next to you at the stoplight. They properly balance the lowest octaves of your music and take a load off your full-range speakers. This means you’ll be able to set the bass level at “0” instead of “+5” and still get that rich base you crave (without thumping, if that’s not your thing). Bonus tip: Add a subwoofer box to enclose your sub and prevent air leaks, which can negatively affect its performance.
Tip 4: Add an amplifier
You might think more electrical energy in a car stereo system is only useful for higher volume, but the difference between ample, clean power and bare-minimum stock power on sound quality is enormous. Amplifiers supply extra power to your car audio components, so if you’re upgrading your speakers and/or adding a subwoofer, allowing a new amplifier to handle the power load is a must.
Tip 5: Use high-quality cables for amplifiers
What’s the point in investing in a quality amplifier for a power boost when the cables you buy can’t handle the load? High-quality cables allow electrical current to flow freely, giving your amplifier the energy it needs during peak demand. They also promote better signal flow between the amplifier and receiver, which means your music will have a more focused, detailed sound.
Tip 6: Use sound-deadening material
You might rock out harder in your car than anywhere else, but vibration from metal door panels and road noise outside can quickly kill your vibe. Sound-deadening materials like Dynamat absorb vibrations and noise by creating a stable platform for your speakers. As a result, you’ll hear more musical detail and you won’t need to crank the volume when outside conditions are extra noisy—which, in turn, gives your amplifier a break.
Tip 7: Add an equalizer
Metal doors aren’t the only culprits responsible for attacks on your car audio’s sound quality. Glass and plastic surfaces reflect certain tones while carpet and seat covers absorb others, leaving you with a shrill, boomy mess in place of your favorite music. But since you can’t cover your entire car in sound-deadening material, an equalizer or signal processor is the next best thing. It provides multiple options for adjusting frequency response to accommodate sound reflection and absorption.
Let us help you maximize your music
At QWIK Auto Center in Pacific Beach, we carry a huge selection of superior car audio products for every budget. So if you’re looking to give your favorite music the quality sound system it deserves, we can help. Stop in today!