Today’s automobiles are designed to take advantage of many different technologies; particularly those involving dashboard interfaces. Bluetooth connectivity, navigation systems and infotainment apps are just a few features commonly found in passenger vehicles these days, and are often integrated directly with a car’s factory sound system. Unfortunately, this can present problems if you fancy yourself as something of an audiophile, enthusiastic about pure sound quality.
Many factory stereos are built missing low-end oomph and high-end crispness. They are also not typically well suited to cater the many frequencies in between. Upgrading your setup via amplifiers, subwoofers or more powerful speakers can improve output in unique ways, however, none can fully compensate for poor sound shaping. That is where a digital sound processor enters the equation.
A Quick Primer on Sound Shaping
Understanding what sound processors do starts with understanding the concept of sound shaping. Equalizers, or EQs, are perhaps the most basic example of sound shaping, or in other words, boosting and limiting frequencies to modify the final output.
You might have a five- or seven-band EQ on your home stereo, or integrated as part of digital audio playback software. However, when it comes to your car stereo, you are more likely to find yourself stuck with just two “bands”—bass and treble—or worse, merely a collection of presets. Many stereos also cap certain frequencies in an effort to protect the factory speakers from being overloaded; this is usually most prevalent when it comes to bass tones, making faithful audio reproduction virtually impossible.
The job of a car audio sound processor is to flatten out all of the shaping that would otherwise be performed by your car’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) stereo. It eliminates the unwanted peaks and valleys, returning the signal to a clean, flat state (imagine the positions of sliders on an equalizer), ultimately allowing you to accentuate the right frequencies for your audio of choice. In the end, you are left with a more accurate representation of the original recording and a more appealing listening experience overall. It also can factor in the vehicle’s shape, size, and speaker location to give you the best imaging available.
Describing Basic Sound Processors
It is worth noting that factory sound processors do vary in complexity. Whether you are a casual music lover or a professional sound engineer, there is an option best suited for your preference. The most accessible units do most of the heavy lifting for you. They require only the necessary connections be made to your OEM stereo and applicable aftermarket installations, such as amps and woofers. These processors take most of the complications out of the equation, making audio improvement about as painless as can be.
A quality product will generally offer a plentiful number of inputs and outputs, ensuring full functionality for your vehicle’s entire sound system. For best results, it is recommended to also look for 24-bit and 48kHz resolution support.
Exploring Full-Featured Sound Processors
It goes without saying that audiophiles tend to prefer more control when it comes to their listening technology; fortunately, there are plenty of highly configurable options in the world of aftermarket sound processors. Many offerings provide truly in-depth audio control, giving users the ability to highlight and define each aspect of their audio much more precisely.
For example, a higher-end sound processor could offer more EQ bands, or even separate control over multiple bands on each separate channel. In order to keep processor units physically manageable, manufacturers will often package them along with integrated software, allowing for pinpoint customization via connected laptop computers or other similar devices.
A high-end processor is also likely to offer more full-featured performance in general. Some of the most popular functions to look for include advanced bass frequency restoration, multiple audio sourcing and tweakable time alignment. Time alignment is a process used to improve the synchronous timing of audio as it reaches a listener’s ears, despite being piped in from multiple sources positioned at various distances to the listener him or herself. When executed properly, it can enhance just about any sound content in a truly significant way.
Elevate Your Listening Experience
You spent a long time researching your vehicle, and you love it for what it is—minus the poor sounding factory radio. Luckily, there is no need to tear apart your dashboard to get the most out of your speaker system. With the right digital sound processor, and matching amplifiers and speakers to compliment it, you are in store for aural output the likes of which you would expect from a high-end home stereo. Start hearing your music the way it was meant to be heard, everywhere you go.
The team at Audio Express has the equipment and expertise to transform your car, truck or SUV today. We offer a wide-range of products from top car audio brands, plus installation performed by a team of dedicated professionals.
Whether you are an experienced DIY pro or someone looking for a full-service solution, we have got you covered. Contact us today with any questions and we’ll be glad to assist.