We have come a long way from the days of just having a good radio tuner and CD player with a couple of decent Pioneer speakers. Nowadays everyone wants to get the best audio system for their cars, but most importantly they’ll want to install it themselves for the joy that the experience brings.
It can be quite overwhelming today given all the options available in the market. So, we are going to try to make our best to break down some of the setups you would feel more comfortable about, and some extra pointers you would appreciate.
TYPES OF SOUND SYSTEMS
Upon some conscious research, we can break this into three “levels”.
- Basic: This is meant for the people who want just a little more of what their default setup can provide, a simple add-on to the default system or a basic upgrade across the dashboard.
- Mid-Range: The costs are going to be higher than in Basic but the system will offer more features and power for a customized sound experience. This level consists of all around component upgrades.
- Advanced: Well, this category is for the savviest sound system connoisseur, you’ll get fine-tuned components for people who want to have the absolute best from their audiovisual experience. The features you’ll find here are unreal and the result is an awesome ground pounding experience.
As the name suggests, this is the head of your car sound system, the head, and the cornerstone. It is from where all the sound originates, and where almost all the sound adjustments are made. You have to consider certain factors when comparing different HUs.
* Source: Here is where all your media will be, AM, FM, CD, iPod, AUX, USB, DVD, satellite radio, GPS, and Bluetooth. The most basic of HU only comes with AM, FM, and CD, a midrange adds iPod and AUX, and an advanced one offers you all of the above.
Preamp: This is where all your sound adjustment is located, balance, fade, and equalizer. Advance units come with crossovers networks.
Power: Here, the RMS power is what your unit will produce, and the max power is the top your unit can produce. The more RMS you have the more room you’ll have to operate before maxing out your unit.
Other Features: Some HU come with touchscreen LCD monitors, customizable displays, and more perks manufacturers offer for aesthetics.
If you are setting up an advanced system, a more powerful HU, high range speakers, subwoofers, you will need an Amplifier no matter what.
Amplifiers will give you more power and better sound quality. So, you have to consider certain factors when choosing a powerful amplifier.
RSM Rating: As you already know this determines the way your sound system will perform. If you want a basic setup for a small car then a 50W RMS per channel is more than O.K, for midrange, an advanced setup then go for the 75W and 100W RMS.
Channels: The number of channels is key for how many different devices are going to be powered, for example, a 4-Channel amp will power 4 devices, the more channels the amp has the more devices you can connect and the more powerful the sound will be.
Ohms: Ohms are a measure of resistance and most amps are designed to work with 4, 8 or 16 ohms of resistance. To prevent any damage to your equipment simply match the total ohm load of your speakers to the amp.
Class: There are a lot of classes of amps, they are categorized by their circuit design and power output. Now, let’s cut right to the chase, Class D amps are what you want to get, they use output transistors like switches in order to control the power distribution and they stay cooler than other classes.
Speakers can also be broken down, Driver Use, type, size, and power.
Driver use: Speakers can be full range or component, it’ll depend on the drivers. The driver is the one that converts the electrical frequencies to sound.
Type: There are several different kinds of speaking depending on which tone you are looking to improve. Subwoofers are all about that bass (remember the song?) while the tweeters handle the highest pitched sounds.
Size: Easy, will the speakers you choose to fit into the manufacturer locations in your car, or will you have to customize it?
Power: Remember that you have to match the power of your amp with your speakers ensuring proper and clean sound.