How to Narrow Down Your Choices in Car Audio
The car stereo system is the centerpiece of your car audio. If you’re still driving around with the original manufacturer’s equipment, your car stereo should be the very first thing that you upgrade. Trust us…even if you upgrade to top-of-the-line speakers and subs, they’re not going to help you that much if you’re still using a subpar car stereo. A weak stereo signal equals weak sound. It’s as simple as that.
So, how do you go about choosing an aftermarket car stereo system?
Is this a case where the more money spent equates to better sound?
Not exactly. The truth is that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a car stereo that booms. Aftermarket equipment is now affordable, easily installed on most makes and models of vehicle, and advanced in its technology.
Let’s break down a few best practices when searching for a quality car stereo system.
The top names in car audio are the top names for a reason. Several reasons, actually. They consistently produce quality products. They offer warranties on their products just in case anything goes wrong. And they have an established history of producing high quality, powerful sound.
When you’re shopping for car audio, make sure you’re sticking with the names that you know and trust. Here are a few to jog your memory:
- Boss Audio Systems
Power and Wattage
The main benefit that you’ll see when upgrading to an aftermarket car stereo is an increase in power. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to achieve this. Most factory car stereos aren’t made to put out much, and if you push them too hard the sound gets crackly, buzzy, and distorted.
So, when it comes to aftermarket equipment, just know that pretty much anything will be an improvement. The question is: “How much of an improvement are you going to make with your new car stereo?”
Much of that can be answered by checking how much audio output the stereo can give you. Always consider RMS wattage (which is constant) over peak wattage (which is not constant). RMS wattage gives you a truer idea of what the car stereo can give you.
Additionally, stereos with a built-in preamp can’t be recommended enough. The preamp is going to give your aftermarket car stereo an even bigger boost compared to those that don’t have one.
Equalizer and Drive EQ
A couple features that you’re going to want to look for with your aftermarket car stereo system are multi-band equalizer and drive EQ (may go by another name). Equalizer – EQ for short – is an audio filter that allows you to isolate or boost certain frequencies. This gives you far more customization options when it comes to listening to your music. For instance, if your track is bass or vocal heavy, you can adjust your EQ to either play to those strengths or dial them back.
Drive EQ is another great feature that adds the clarity and quality of your listening experience. If you find yourself struggling to hear your music over typical road noise, Drive EQ is just what the doctor ordered to drown it out.
Finally, you always want to be thinking about the future when it comes to car audio. That means expansion. Once you have your car stereo situation taken care of, it’s time to move on to other aspects such as the speakers, subwoofers, and whatever other sound components you feel need a boost. However, in order to have expansion options, you need additional channels. At minimum, make sure that your aftermarket car stereo has at least four additional channels for you to branch out with. If you plan on getting component speakers, get six just to play it safe.
Ready to Upgrade Your Car Stereo? Here’s How You Do It
Now that you know what to look for in an aftermarket car stereo, your next step is to start the shopping process. Fortunately, there are many shops in your area that carry a car audio system from the industry’s leading brands. To make things more convenient, the shops will also perform the car audio installation. Trust us when we say that you want to let the pros do this. They’ll complete the job much faster and get it done right the first time. They can also give you professional insight on which car stereo system and speakers are best for your ideal listening experience.