Most people have terrible sound in their car. The stock audio systems that come in most cars are not particularly good. The speakers are typically cheap, and mass-produced, and sound terrible. The stereo consoles that come in new cars are getting better year after year, but many are still not very well made or focused on audio quality. There are some easy things you can do to get the best possible sound performance in your car, so let us get into it!
Sound Performance Tip For The Best Car Audio Setup For Sound Quality
#1- Replace Your Factory Speakers
Typically, your factory speakers will be garbage. The carmakers do not really care about the speakers when they are designing your car, so they are an afterthought. One of the things you can do for the most immediate improvement is to get rid of those factory speakers. Just remove them and leave the wires capped so you can access them later.
Next you need to get some good speakers. Ideally, you would get speakers that fit the existing holes in your door panels, most cars come with 4 or 6” speakers in the doors. Your speaker choice should be based on your listening preferences and budget. Speakers can be awfully expensive if you go all the way to the high-end models. Here are some popular speaker brands and the general price ranges you can expect to find:
Top Quality Car Speaker Price & Brand
- Expensive but awesome- Focal 2-way Utopia XP speakers- about 2500 bucks
- Under 500 bucks and excellent- Focal 165 AS Access 6-1/2″ 2-Way Component Speakers
- Under 300 bucks Rockford Fosgate T165-S
- Under 200 bucks JL Audio C1 Series
If you go under 100 bucks you are going to be getting speakers that are probably worse than the factory speakers that came in your car, so make sure you keep in the 200+ range if you intend to upgrade that sound! If you are spending money on your speakers, make sure your interior looks nice! Learn how to condition your leather seats the natural way!
Car Audio Setup Tip #2- Get a Subwoofer
Many of the 2-way speakers out there will produce some decent bass tones, but nothing will compare to a dedicated subwoofer. If you are interested in building your own subwoofer, we covered that in another article right here!
Getting a dedicated subwoofer will instantly improve the listening experience in your car. The deep thumping bass will give you a tactile vibe, meaning you can feel the beat in your body. The sub will shake the surrounding air and seats enough to make it all the way to you in the driver’s seat! You can spend up to a thousand bucks on a super high-end subwoofer but since subwoofers just reproduce the deepest bass, the speaker does not need to be the most expensive to do the job well. You can purchase a good sub in the 200-400-dollar range.
#3 Get a Car Amplifier!
Having a dedicated car amplifier is going to give your speakers cleaner power than any stereo console. This is one of the most consequential upgrades to the overall performance of your system. Your console has a built-in amp (for example 200 watts). This is enough power to give your speakers some volume, but the problem is the power is not clean and is not optimizing the performance of your speakers.
You will hear an audible difference when you add a dedicated amp. When getting a dedicated power amplifier for your car speakers, make sure you pay attention to the power consumption instructions on your speakers or you could have a blown speaker or a fried amplifier.
Benefits of Having a Dedicated Car Amp
- Cleaner power to your speakers
- More volume
- Less distortion
- Much better sound (especially nuances)
Getting a car power amplifier is a must if you plan on having a stereo that sounds good and uses your speakers to their fullest capabilities.
#4 Sound Setup Tip Get an EQ
Because the inside of your car has so many different surfaces and materials, it really wreaks havoc on the soundwaves coming out of your speakers. To put it politely, it is far from the optimal listening environment. Because of these factors, you will need to actually curtail the sound coming out of the speakers to compensate for the absorption and standing waves and other audio issues that your car’s interior is causing.
Getting an Equalizer or signal processor is going to make an immediate difference in the way your speakers sound. The EQ will allow you to boost the treble or cut the midrange or amp up the bass, etc. The function of an EQ is to give you control over every aspect of the frequency range of your stereo system. Some of the functions of the EQ are:
- Boost treble so you can hear the highs better
- Cut some of the harsh midranges
- Add more bass
Some signal processors also have the effect of improving the sound just by being in the signal chain without changing any knobs!
#5 Upgrade Your Crossover
Lots of the factory stereos that come with cars nowadays will have frequency filters that will allow you to send certain frequencies to certain speakers. These in-dash crossovers are not the best way to do the job. The point of a crossover is to send the right frequencies to the right speakers. For example, you don’t want the low bass going to the midrange 4” speakers.
A good crossover will allow you to send only the bass to the sub, only midrange to your mid speakers, and so on. This allows each speaker to do the job it was made for and it has a very noticeable effect on the quality of your car sound. Some of the more popular crossovers are:
- Audiofrog GB2510C
- Morel MXT-380
- Morel MXR250.4i
You will have to research what kind to use in your system based on your speakers and amplifier output. Once you figure out what kind to get and put it in your signal chain you will hear a big difference right away.
#6- Tune Your System
Your system will perform much better if it is tuned correctly. If you have an aftermarket EQ, you want to make sure your console’s EQ is set to flat, meaning not boosting or cutting any sounds. When your stereo’s EQ is set to flat that sends the raw signal to your EQ which has the job of shaping the way it sounds. You should be making your audio sound adjustments at your EQ, not the console. If you are boosting your treble out of the stereo itself, by the time it gets to the EQ and you boost it again, it is going to distort and sound terrible.
How to Tune Your System Properly
- Set your tone controls at the stereo deck to flat
- On the EQ move the treble around until it sounds crisp but not too harsh
- Do the same with the bass but adjust it until the subwoofer is handling the bass and not any mids
- Adjust the crossovers so that each speaker is only handling its dedicated frequency range (mids for midrange speakers, bass for sub)
- Adjust as needed until no frequencies are harsh and no bass notes are much louder than any others.
Now that you have upgraded your components and tuned your system, you should have the best possible audio set up in your car!
Learn how much you should pay for your car here!