When you buy a car stereo, it has to be one of the most important purchases you make in your life. So how do you choose which is the best and right for your needs? A car stereo can be quite expensive and depending on what type of system or device it is, whether factory fitted, aftermarket or an add-on, it can cost you enough that you would want to make sure you get an ideal one. Here are 6 tips to help you choose the top car stereo.
The Head Unit
This is the first thing you have to consider when buying a car stereo. The head unit is the core of your vehicle's audio system and is what processes all incoming signals from your radio, CD player, iPod or smartphone. A well-rounded double DIN head unit is an ideal choice for drivers who want the best of both worlds. This kind of head unit is not too big or bulky and can be mounted in a variety of ways, from being stuck to the top of your dashboard to being concealed within it. To properly choose a head unit, you have to consider what your needs are. For example, do you want a touchscreen head unit or one that has physical buttons? A head unit with a high-resolution screen is ideal for those who love watching DVDs and playing games in their cars.
The Sound System
Once you have decided on the type of head unit you want, the next step is to consider the sound system. You have a few different options when it comes to choosing your car stereo's speakers. Some car stereos have factory fitted speakers and amps while other ones come with speaker pods that can be attached in various areas of your car's cabin including under floorboards or behind panels for added volume and quality. If you are looking for a high-quality system, it is ideal to go with an aftermarket sound system. However, if you do choose an aftermarket sound system, make sure that you have the head unit programmed properly so it can compensate for any changes made by your new speakers.
To illustrate this point, let's take a look at how different speakers can change the way sound is heard. The standard OEM speakers are ideal for factory fitted systems, particularly when they are installed by manufacturers themselves because of their superior quality. Aftermarket speakers will interfere with your head unit's processing of the sound signals it receives, which will, in turn, affect its ability to enhance the sound.
Once you have chosen your head unit and speakers, the next step is to choose an amplifier. The more powerful your amp, the louder it will be able to go with less distortion. An ideal amplifier for a car stereo system has RMS power of between 50W - 80W per channel at 4 Ohms or 4W - 60W at 2 Ohms.
The Subwoofers and Subwoofer Enclosures
When choosing a car stereo, one of the most important aspects is probably bass response, so finding the best subwoofers for your vehicle is quite crucial. An ideal subwoofer is one that has an RMS of 100W and a maximum power of 200W. Also, depending on the size and type of car you own, there are different types of subwoofers that will work with your system and give you the kind of bass response that you want. For SUVs and trucks, a dual voice coil subwoofer is ideal because it can produce strong, deep bass that will fill up the entire vehicle.
The Amplifier Interface
If you are using an amplifier with your car stereo system, there are some things to consider when it comes to interfacing it with your head unit. The easiest interface option is to use line-level inputs. However, for this kind of interface, the head unit should be able to support one that is pre-out/power-in or should have an external amp turn on lead (also known as a remote turn on or RCA low-level input). Another interface you can choose is speaker level inputs. This type of input is ideal for those who are running an aftermarket head unit.
Finally, there is the cable connection. For most OEM systems, you will need to use a speaker wire that is 16-gauge or larger to connect your car stereo with your vehicle's speakers. For aftermarket systems, the rule of thumb is to use the highest gauge wire that is applicable for your sound system. The amp's manual will specify what size cord you need to connect it with your head unit.
By following these steps, you will be able to choose the right car stereo for your vehicle. Just remember that even though aftermarket speakers cost less than their upgraded counterparts, they will not produce the same kind of sound quality as those using factory fitted speakers.