Most car audio sound systems and radios won’t have ultra-high fidelity sound, thumping bass, or lots of extra features like MP3 player inputs. Also, while they may emphasize one area of sound, like bass or treble, they may be missing the overall picture. And that’s why buying a new stereo system (or even simply car audio speakers), is a common way to get better sound in your car. While properly adjusting your stereo’s equalizer settings can greatly improve quality, the results won’t likely blow your mind as much as a custom car audio system can.
There are a number of ways to achieve maximum sound quality with new components. You can replace the stereo (which is sometimes called a receiver or head unit), replace the speakers, install sound-deadening materials to reduce vibration and even add an amplifier. These things can get pretty expensive; however, and fortunately for you, may not need to do all of these steps.
So, how do you get the most out of your car stereo equipment without throwing away money in the process?
Car Audio Speakers
Let’s start by taking a look at speakers. These are perhaps the easiest way to improve your in car audio quality, since they produce the actual sound within the confines of your car.
While your standard speakers often try to produce bass, treble, and midrange sounds all with one unit, aftermarket speakers often feature multiple components like tweeters and woofers that produce their own sounds. You get a higher quality sound and a more pleasing, distinct audio range this way.
Most factory speakers come with a flimsy paper cone and cheap foam materials that don’t produce deep, lasting sound. They wear down over time due to continuous use, ambient dampness and even the sun’s UV rays help degrade some speakers. Thanks to these factors, the quality of the sound drops. Replacement speakers can come with cones made of Kevlar, rubber, polymer composites (like polypropylene), Mylar film and a whole host of other materials [source: Yoder]. But keep in mind, the most durable and lasting materials aren’t necessarily the ones that produce the best car audio sound. Speakers made of rubber provide excellent sound as well as longevity; foam and cloth units cost less, yet still offer great performance [source: Nail].
A quality set of speakers can be had for a few hundred dollars, but you should know that there are extremely complex and pricy ones out there, too. That is, if you have the cash. Just remember: more expensive doesn’t always mean better sound.
Speaking of sound quality — just how much does external noise detract from your overall listening experience? Is there anything you can do about it?
Car Sound Deadening
Here’s another fairly simple way to improve your car audio quality: sound-deadening materials. In most cars, the speakers are mounted in the front doors and behind the rear seats, usually facing up towards the rear window. The vibrations from these speakers can actually shake the car (or parts of the car), which can be noisy and will generally reduce the quality of the sound.
For more Detail: How do I get the best sound out of my car’s audio system?