Whether you’re an audiophile or not, you definitely love the sound of quality music. As such, it’s the dream of every car owner to have the best sound quality in their car. However, getting quality sound in a car is not a walk in the park. There’re certain things you need to do to make your car music sound great. For instance, if someone else’s car stereo is sounding great but yours is not, then there’s something you’re lacking. Probably you don’t have the right car stereo components or there’s something you’re not doing right. In most cases, poor sound quality in a car is as a result of using factory stereo components or low-quality aftermarket stereo components. In other cases, you might be having the right components but the car cabin is not dampened properly. Regardless of your situation, here’re the top 12 tips for getting the best sound quality in your car:
Upgrade the head unit
The head unit is the center of control of a car stereo music. It’s where you play music from. Even when streaming music from portable devices, the sound has to go through the head unit before being reproduced by the car speakers. Thus, the kind of a head unit you have in your car largely determines the kind of sound quality you’ll get. If you’re still using a factory receiver, you’ll hardly get quality sound. Most factory receivers are low-powered and made of cheap materials. Even if you’re using high-quality speakers, you won’t get quality sound with a factory receiver. So what’s the best solution? Simply replace the factory head unit with a high-quality aftermarket receiver.
Aftermarket receivers come with multiple advantages. High-quality aftermarket head units come with more features than factory head units. Basically, you’ll choose between a single din head unit and a double din head unit. The main difference between the two is that a double din head unit is larger in size than a single din head unit. Double din stereos also pack more features that single din stereos. However, single din stereos are more suitable for cars with limited space due to their smaller size and compactness. When upgrading your head unit, consider the power and features of the head unit. It should at least have a dedicated preamp output and several speaker outputs. There are many different add-ons for cars and a good sound system can increase the costs of owning the car even though it probably will not increase the value.
Replace the factory speakers
Upon upgrading your car head unit, you’ll also need to ensure that you have the best speakers. The work of a speaker is to reproduce the sound signals it receives from a sound source. The kind of speakers you have in your car will therefore determine the kind of sound quality you’ll get. Most cars come with factory speakers. Factory speakers are often made with limited sound reproduction abilities. Their frequency range is usually limited and they often sound distorted when turning the volume up. Thus, you need to upgrade your factory car speakers and invest in high-quality aftermarket speakers. After all, it won’t make sense to have a powerful receiver and low-quality speakers.
When shopping for replacement speakers, you’ll choose between coaxial and component speakers. Coaxial speakers are either 2-way, 3-way, or 4-way speakers. Basically, 2-way speakers comprise of a woofer and a tweeter driver built into one speaker basket. 3-way speakers comprise of a woofer, tweeter, and super tweeter. On the other hand, 4-way speakers comprise of a midrange driver, woofer driver, tweeter, and super tweeter. Component speakers comprise of a single driver system such as a standalone tweeter, woofer, or midrange driver. Coaxial speakers are easier to work with and take less space than component speakers. However, component speakers are more ideal for a customized car sound system.
Invest in a car subwoofer
Good music cannot be complete without some bass. While some aftermarket speakers deliver decent bass, they’re still incapable of delivering punchy bass. So what can you do to get punchy and clean bass in your car? If you always love listening to music with punchy bass, then you’ll definitely need to add a car subwoofer in your car. Subwoofers are specially designed to reproduce low-frequency sound. Bass usually exists in the lower frequency spectrum of a sound wave. As such, a subwoofer will be your best bet in getting the best bass reproduction in your car sound system. There’re different types and sizes of car subwoofers. The type and size of the subwoofer you’ll choose will depend on the level of bass you need and the available space in your car.
Add a subwoofer box
While a subwoofer will add bass to your car, getting the best bass quality will require adding a subwoofer box. A subwoofer box or enclosure creates a surround sound effect by enhancing bass reproduction. It also boosts the depth of the bass and making it sound tighter. You can choose between a ported and a closed subwoofer box. A ported sub box is ideal for loud bass whereas a closed sub box is ideal for tight bass. You may build your own sub box or buy a premade one. The size of the box should be proportional to the size of the subwoofer for the best results. Also, ensure the sub box can fit in your available car space.
Add a car amplifier
If you’ve installed powerful car speakers and a powerful subwoofer, the head unit alone may not be powerful enough to drive them all. While a head unit can drive a powered subwoofer through its preamp output, it wouldn’t drive powerful speakers effectively. Thus, you need to add an amplifier to get the best sound quality in your car. An amplifier works by boosting a weak signal from the head unit to output a more powerful signal to drive speakers efficiently. When buying an amplifier, ensure it is powerful enough to drive the speakers you have installed in your car. Also, ensure the speakers has several channels. The more the channels it has, the more the number of speakers you can connect.
Add a car audio capacitor
Now that you’ve chosen great replacement speakers and subwoofer, you may face the problem of dimming lights when pushing the subwoofer hard. Pushing a subwoofer hard makes it draw a lot of power from the amplifier such that the car battery loses some power instantaneously. This results in dimming of lights whenever the subwoofer hits the deepest notes. How can you avoid this problem? The best solution is adding a car capacitor.
A car capacitor stores and discharges electrical current quickly. The capacitor works by supplying the car amp with instantaneous power as the subwoofer hits deeper notes. This way, the amp won’t take more power from the battery. The battery will continue supplying smooth current to the lights such that they won’t dim. As such, it assists in preventing under-voltage, thereby enhancing the performance of the amp.
Bypass the DAC
The DAC, which is a digital to analog convertor, works by converting digital signals to analog signals. If you’re streaming music from your smartphone to the car stereo via an auxiliary port, the DAC in your smartphone will convert the digital sound signals produced by your phone into analog signals. However, the DAC in a smartphone doesn’t deliver the best analog signals to a car stereo. Thus, you should bypass the DAC in your smartphone to get the best sound quality. You can bypass it by connecting your smartphone to the head unit via a USB cable instead of an auxiliary input. By so doing, the digital signals will be converted into analog signals by the DAC in your car stereo rather than the DAC in your smartphone, thereby getting enhanced sound quality.
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Add an equalizer
An equalizer is a device used in controlling the gain or loss of frequencies in a car sound system. Although some head units come with an inbuilt equalizer, it may have limited features. If you really want your car sound system to sound more natural, then you should add a dedicated equalizer. You’ll be able to use the controls in the equalizer to adjust the loudness of certain frequencies. With an equalizer, you can be able to make the bass, midrange, and highs sound balanced. Moreover, you can be able to customize the frequencies the way you want such that you can make bass louder than highs or vice versa according to your preferences.
Avoid turning the volume and bass boost all the way up
One major mistake that most car owners make is turning bass boost and volume to the maximum. They do so thinking that it will make their speakers sound loudest with the deepest bass. However, maximizing them may lead to distortion, especially when using a very powerful amplifier over less powerful speakers. For instance, heavy bass boost may strain the speakers, leading to distortion rather than loudness. The best thing is to use minimal bass boost and lower the highs and midrange slightly, then turn up the overall level. This way, you’ll get deeper and louder sound without distortion.
Use high-quality cables for the amplifier
The quality of power cables you will use with your car amp or home audio will affect its performance, consequently affecting the sound quality you’ll get. Using undersized and low-quality cables with your car amp will starve the amp for power especially when pushing the volume and gain controls higher. Using high-quality cables of the right size will allow for free flow of current, making the amp receive the power it requires, especially at the peak demand. As such, the amp will perform more efficiently, resulting in enhanced sound quality.
Invest in sound deadening material
If you have a powerful car stereo system in your car, it might lead to vibrations in the car cabin. The car itself is also a source of noise, especially noise from the engine and tire noise. These vibrations are noisy and reduce the quality of sound. The car cabin may also reflect frequencies, thereby interrupting sound reproduction. You can solve this problem by adding sound deadening material in your car. Sound deadeners come in the form of foams and sprays, mats, reflective insulation, and fiberglass. There’re many benefits of adding sound deadening materials in a car. They work by absorbing noise and insulating the car from external noise. They ensure that engine noise, noise from tires, and panel vibrations don’t interfere with the sound in your car. As a result, you’ll get enhanced sound quality in your car.
Use uncompressed music files
Most people compress music files with the aim of reducing their size such that they can store more music files in their portable devices. Although you may have the best car stereo in your car, if you play low-quality music files, you’ll get low-quality sound. In most cases, compressed music files lose some of their quality during compression. While they may sound good in your headset, they’ll not sound great in a good car stereo. Thus, it’s advisable to use uncompressed and high-quality music files for the best sound.
Getting the best sound quality in your car depends on the kind of car stereo components you have. As you can see, you’ll need to replace stock car stereo components with aftermarket components. You’ll also need to include other components such as an amplifier, subwoofer, and equalizer. Also, follow all the guidelines outlined in this guide. Once you follow these tips, you’ll stand a better chance of winning your next car music competition.