Listening to the stereo in your car is a wonderful way to spend time on long commutes, family road trips, or while sitting in traffic. Many luxury or expensive cars come equipped with high-end sound systems. However, if you don’t own an expensive vehicle or have a vehicle with a state-of-the-art stereo and want a high-quality sound system, take heart. Most upscale sound systems are available as an aftermarket product or upgrade, and when properly installed, this hardware can give you years of refined listening pleasure.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Quality Sound System in Your Car?
Not only will having a premium sound system in your car enhance your audio experience, but you also gain additional benefits, including:
- Increased resale value: Adding or upgrading to a high-quality stereo system adds value to your vehicle if you decide to sell it or trade it in in the future.
- Extra features: Modern sound systems for your car come with basic features like AM/FM radio, satellite radio subscriptions, and a CD player. However, sophisticated sound systems have extra features, like smartphone compatibility, docking stations, and high-power output.
- Precision sound quality: Lower-quality sound systems often lose some of the higher and lower bass notes. In addition, many factory sound systems have limited power output, resulting in quiet sounds. Upscale sound systems often have a higher noise threshold so you can hear the sounds better over ambient, road, or wind noise.
No matter how often you listen to audio in your vehicle, having a premium sound system offers several benefits.
What Are the Main Components of a Car’s Sound System?
Understanding the makeup of car sound systems can help you decide what type of system you want for your needs. The basic pieces of a car sound system include:
Stereo Receiver or Head Unit
The head unit is the brain of the stereo system. This is where you regulate the volume, change radio stations, switch from AM to FM, access your Bluetooth and satellite radio, and play CDs. Advanced head units let you manage your smartphone integration, access navigation, and other infotainment functions.
To get a powerful sound from the head unit, the stereo system needs an amplifier. The amplifier adds enough power to make the speakers move and vibrate enough to make the sound. The better the quality of the amplifier, the better your sound will be.
Without speakers, you wouldn’t have audio. The speakers in your car receive the amplified electronic signal and turn it into the right type of mechanical vibration to make the speaker cone vibrate and create sound. Some types of speakers are woofers, subwoofers, and tweeters. When combined, these pieces give you a balanced blend of audio. The higher the quality of the speakers, the better the sound quality.
If you love hearing the bass in music, you’ll want a subwoofer as part of your sound system. Woofers and subwoofers are like loudspeakers that amplify low-frequency sounds.
Car sound systems are complex, so you want to research the various components of the system to see which one is most compatible with your vehicle, lifestyle, and listening needs.
Best Car Stereo Receiver # 1
- High-resolution LCD display
- Single DIN
- Hands-free calling and music streaming
This Jensen car stereo receiver puts out 180 watts and measures 8 x 3 x 3 inches. Enjoy wireless Bluetooth connectivity, voice-activated Siri and Google assist, and smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Use your smartphone to change the settings, radio station, and volume through the J-Link app. Note that while this stereo does include an AM/FM radio, it does not have a CD player.
Best Car Stereo Receiver # 2
- Double-DIN-in-dash digital media receiver
- Resolution WVGA of 800 X 480
- 6.2-inch clear-resistive touchscreen
This double-DIN Pioneer car stereo receiver puts out 200 watts, and its dimensions are 9.6 x 6 x 10.8 inches. Pioneer designed this car stereo receiver for WMA and WAV formats. Enjoy Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming, and the USB and auxiliary inputs built into the receiver. Note that while this stereo does include an AM/FM radio, it does not have a CD player.
Best Car Speakers # 3
- Tweeter, woofer, subwoofer
- Polyurethane 6×9-inch 4-way full-range speakers (other sizes available)
- High-strength voice coils
These popular BOSS 4-way speakers deliver outstanding sound quality. Dimensions for these speakers are 9.5 x 6.5 x 3.4 inches with a mounting depth of 3 x 13 inches and a mounting hole of 8.8 x 6 inches. These speakers have an impedance of 4 ohms with a frequency of 45 Hz to 20 KHz, and a sensitivity of 88 dB.
Car Audio Sound System FAQ
Do I Need Inputs and Connectors?
Depending on your needs, you may need inputs for your old iPod, headphone jacks for passengers, or a DVD player for passenger entertainment. You’ll need special connectors and inputs for select devices.
Do Most Car Sound Systems Have Smart Technology?
The higher-end systems usually have smart technology and integration. If you have playlists you enjoy listening to, you want a sound system that has smartphone compatibility for apps like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora, or Spotify. In addition, a good deal of new infotainment and sound systems have hands-free calling and texting technology along with turn-by-turn navigation.
Can I Install a Car Sound System Myself?
Depending on how confident you are with removing the hardware in and around the dashboard, you can install the sound system yourself. For years, Crutchfield has specialized in selling not only car audio equipment, but also the bits, pieces, and instructions to help DIYers install these themselves. If in doubt, though, a professional audio sound system technician will have the right tools and knowledge to put the system in without causing damage to the interior of your vehicle.
Can My Factory Car Speakers Handle a Powerful High-Output Stereo Receiver?
In some cases, your factory speakers will work with a high-powered stereo. If you’re getting a high-powered stereo receiver to improve the sound of your audio, consider putting in top-notch aftermarket speakers for the ultimate listening experience.
Having the right sound system for your vehicle can enhance your listening experience. Whether you listen to music, podcasts, or sports, you want the best performing sound system with all the features you need for an enjoyable audio adventure.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.