For some folks, a stock sound system in their car is something they can live with. For others, it’s barely a starting point. When you want to squeeze the maximum performance out of your car’s sound the same way another person might soup up the engine or suspension, there’s a number of ways to go about it.
Overhaul the Speakers
Unless you paid for a high-end options package and verified that the speakers that went into it really were the best car audio speakers the manufacturer had to offer, replacing the factory-installed speakers is a big step with big payoffs in sound performance. This goes for both regular speakers and subwoofers.
Also, factory speakers tend to be made of poor quality materials, even the high end ones. Aftermarket products hold up to our harsh environment much better, since they tend to be made from better materials.
Even in modern cars, engine and road noise can impact the ultimate output of your sound system. Installing insulating, sound deadening material in the doors, floorboards and engine compartment can help manage these noise sources and add to your acoustic experience.
Add an Amplifier
Stock amps might have impressive-sounding numbers, but they may not be the best amps out there. Raw power is only part of the equation, and replacing the stock amp with one that has better control of its power, and more adjustment, is a good idea.
Set Your Amp Correctly
This is a corollary to the previous tip. Cranking everything to 11 on an aftermarket amp and calling it good is not what you want to do. Tuning the amp’s output may take some time, but it’s a step that will be well worth taking the time to do right.
Bypass the DAC
Smartphones have Digital-to-Analog Converters, which aren’t as good as dedicated high-end stereo components. Connecting wirelessly makes the phone do the work instead of your stereo, impacting car stereo sound quality. Instead, try running a USB cable from your mobile device to your stereo and hear the difference.
Use Higher-Quality Media Files
Media files have to balance file size and sound quality. If you want really good sound quality, the files will be bigger. Instead of MP3s or streaming services like Spotify, try FLAC or other lossless compression formats.
Properly Enclose the Subwoofer
Unless you like having all of your music sound like Hans Zimmer recorded it, putting your subwoofer into a box that is the right size and shape is important. Incorrectly sized or tuned enclosures adversely affects sound and longevity.
Upgrade the Wiring
If you’re going to the trouble of doing a total car speaker installation, it’s always worth it to replace the wires connecting the speakers as well. Good insulated lines help minimize signal loss. Combined with a capacitor or power cell to keep power flowing to the amplifiers, it can make for performance gains across the board.
If all else fails or you just want to leave the work to professionals, drop by Audio Express and let them give you some ideas about how to make your vehicle truly sing.