How to Select a Car Audio System

Sometimes, it’s not the look or model of the car… but the sound that emanates from it! A car’s audio system can be its owners ‘signature’. And while many men may say NO to this, really, how many women notice mag wheels? But when they get in your car and you play some good tunes, and the sound reaches her ears just right, she’ll notice that!

When you buy a car, it probably already has some audio system in it. For instance, the car may already come with a built-in CD player. When you’re buying a new car, the car dealership staff will also almost always show you a brochure of car audio options from so-so to top-of-the-line. Budget is your only limit.

Don’t be shy to ask for ‘cheaper’ alternatives or simply say ‘no, thank you’ when offered these new and hot car audio systems. There are plenty of third-party sellers where you can get car audio equipment too such as car audio parts dealers and suppliers, Internet e-commerce sites, and maybe you even know a friend or two who wants to upgrade and sell their existing car audio systems

1.  Car audio evolves but the primary requirement is the same, sound quality

Car audio has gone a long way from just old reliable AM/FM radio option. Today, you can have almost anything in your car: CD player, MP3 player, DVD video player, and even a TV.

Whatever the audio system though, one thing remains constant: sound quality!

However, sound quality does not only depend on the audio device. It also depends on the following.

  • media player system installed and used;
  • speakers installed and used;
  • general acoustics quality of the car; and
  • any sound obstruction resulting from the presence of other devices in the car.

Still, it pays to know some basic info about sound quality so that you can choose wisely between different audio systems, makes and models (considering all other aspects are the same).

First is the signal-to-noise ratio or SNR, which is gauged in decibels. This is the quantity of signal strength as opposed to background noise in the car audio equipment or signal. Basically, the higher the decibel rate the better the sound quality of the equipment. As a gauge for you, an average car CD player has an SNR of 90-100 decibels.

Second is the frequency response or FR, which is expressed in Hertz (Hz). This measures just how much of the audio spectrum (from bass to treble) is replicated. Basically, the wider the FR the better the sound quality of the equipment. As a gauge for you, an average car CD player has an FR range of around 10 to 20 kHz.

2.  Your CD player options

Undoubtedly one of today’s more prominent car audio equipment of choice is the CD player and changer. And even with this option, you have a choice between the following:

  • In-dash CD Player, which is often what you see on the car dashboard combined with an AM/FM tuner, MP3 player, and others.
  • In-dash CD Receiver, which is often located elsewhere in the car.
  • Go portable! Use a cable and adapter or a Bluetooth wireless connection to play your fav tunes from a portable CD player.

Now, don’t just go for any CD player. If you intend to use it in your vehicle then you must consider two things: (a) will it fit the space you have allotted for it? and (b) will it actually compliment the ‘look’ of your car? For the latter, fortunately, CD players normally do not come ‘locked’ with a specific faceplate so this may be quite easy to deal with.

A car without a car audio system is almost as if it’s ‘naked’ so take the time and shop around and invest in a good one for your wheels.

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