The average person spends roughly an hour commuting to work and back. This doesn’t include running errands or leisurely Sunday drives. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to the podcast or rocking out to hair metal – why spend that time with low-quality sound.
All equipment deteriorates with time – may as well install speakers that will outlast the Monday morning carpool.
Replace your OEM
The first step is to invest in a new set of speakers. It’ll improve the sound range to create brighter highs and deeper lows. Factory systems, depending on the make and model of your car, are sufficient for a short while. Some car manufacturers utilize JBL and Sony equipment, but because they’re developed for mass distribution these speakers aren’t made with higher quality materials seen in aftermarket products.
A set of 2- or 3-way speakers can easily beef up an existing factory set without having to replace your head unit. Coaxial speakers like this block lower frequencies from flowing towards your tweeters, so it doesn’t get overworked trying to hit the low notes it’s not meant to.
Little details you may have missed in your favorite album will come to life the moment it’s run through a proper speaker set.
Add an AMP
The amplifier is the powerhouse of your stereo. It increases signal power and current capacity, measured in volts, being sent to the different components of your car.
Imagine plugging a lamp into a faulty socket, the light will flicker or not shine as bright as it’s able. The same applies to car audio. Without the right amount of power, not enough voltage will flow to your speakers – it doesn’t matter how premium your system is. Bad current = bad sound.
The gain control on your amplifier is not a volume knob. This feature adjusts the output flow from the amp to your speakers – more or less power.
The best way to set your gain is to turn your stereo volume up to 75 percent. Then raise your gain up until you hear distortion in the sound, then turn it down. Back off roughly ten percent.
Add Subwoofer, Tweeter
Quality speakers will take care of a portion of sound quality issues, but to create a fuller listening experience it’s essential to add equipment designed that will faithfully produce a full frequency range of your music.
A subwoofer is not just a vibration machine. While some sub kits can be boosted to shake the windows, the speaker itself is designed to produce low-end frequencies from 20–200 Hz.
A tweeter operates similarly on the opposite side of the spectrum, from 2kHz upward. The average human hearing range is 20-20kHz, even those of us with damaged ears from years of concert going will be able to feel the difference a subwoofer and tweeter make.
Add an Enclosure
Subwoofers are typically sold in an enclosure since cars aren’t created to be a roving concert, yet. Like factory systems, you can swap out the enclosure box to make the ideal environment for your sub to thrive.
A vented or ported enclosure will help with the volume output and enhance the low bass response. A sealed enclosure traps the air in the box so the sub has a more accurate vacuum pull – meaning the actual mechanism that pumps air to generate lower frequencies stays on course.
Install a Capacitor
A capacitor acts like a wee back-up boost for your amplifier from the battery. As the amp worlds to control power flow, there are moments when it may need an extra push to hit those bass notes. A capacitor is not necessary for all listeners, but a great help for any rock, rap and bassheads out there so you don’t drain your car battery or accidentally short your electrical system.
Crossover; high and lowpass
Amplifiers usually have a crossover built into their circuits. A crossover is a high- and low-pass filter to keep frequencies from reaching the wrong speaker. Like high-frequencies going to the subwoofer.
This keeps your system running efficiently. You can purchase a variable or selectable crossover, so you can either freely adjust the frequencies yourself or choose from present crossover points.
High Quality Cables
The wiring and cables power the car’s sound system. Unlike a lamp, the wires are channeling more than electricity, it’s also conducting the various signals and frequencies from your music.
If your signal is traveling a longer distance, like from the head unit to a subwoofer in the trunk, a heftier cable is needed so quality isn’t lost before it reaches its destination.
Invented in the 1970s, sound deadening can be made out of butyl rubber, aluminum foil and or foam. It works by absorbing the excess interior noise created by the rattle of your car – leaving behind all the music details you worked so hard to tune.
Tone Controls/ EQ or Digital Signal Processor
Once all the equipment has been staged and supported properly, it’s time to hop in the driver’s seat and fine tune your music. Your equalizer can be accessed through your car’s head unit interface. From the sound setting menu, you can pinpoint certain waves in the sound frequency to adjust any peaks that are causing sound distortion.
Additionally, you could connect your stereo to a signal processor. The music will run through this device before heading to the amplifier which sends out the frequencies to the speaker. A DSP can have its output levels adjusted per channel to each of its speaker destinations.
Higher Quality Music Files
Don’t settle for lower quality files for your music. While compressing certain songs may allow you to store more albums on your phone, it isn’t worth updating your system just to shortchange yourself when it’s time to rock.