A Custom Sound System Boosts your Car’s Interior
You want a custom interior for your car, and everything looks fine except the sound. Therefore, you want to upgrade the sound system. Either if you are an audio connoisseur, or you want to feel the vibrations of that beat on the whole car, you have individual needs that the original sound system of your vehicle does not satisfy.
A car’s interior has a limited space where to fit everything that is in it, including you. Therefore, every component of the vehicle is optimized for cost and space, especially the sound system, affecting the quality of the sound. Even when you buy a car with a premium sound option, it too can be upgraded.
For most drivers, car sound systems are a sort of black box in which you make an input and you get a result. Long gone is the time when your grandfather turned the radio on, and he searched the dial for his favorite AM radio station. Today’s car sound systems are a complex array of integrated components. Nevertheless, as complicated as they appear, there are three essential components in every car sound system: Head unit, amplifier, and speakers.
The Head Unit
The head unit is the command control of the whole system, the brains, if you will. For instance, you receive a phone call while you are listening to the local news on the radio. Then it interrupts the broadcast for a moment and channels the call, waiting for your response. You put your finger on the screen and accept the request, listening to it, not on your phone, but the car’s speakers.
Besides your radio, the head unit can interact with your phone, your GPS, and all your media via a CD –DVD player, or a USB flash drive. Besides, not only it streams your favorite music wirelessly from your phone via Bluetooth, but it also handles the car’s video system.
A Custom Amplifier
As its name indicates, it is the component that increases the power of the sound signal channeled by the head unit. It establishes the difference between a flat, dull sound, and high quality, differentiated resonance. The amplification process has two stages, managed by a preamp and a power amplifier. The preamp receives the signal from every component and prepares it for reception by the power amplifier. The latter takes the low-level signal of the preamp and increases it, so it moves the speakers to produce sound. Without an amplifier, the wave would be too weak to produce sound in the speakers.
Therefore, many head units have built-in amplifiers to produce a decent sound quality through small speakers. However, it is limited in its power due to the car’s space demands for other vital components. That is the reason for which you need a power amplifier to produce the quality of sound that you want. Some car manufacturers offer them as an add-on package.
So far, so good. You know that you need a better amplifier to produce the sound that you want. Then, you buy it, install it, and turn the volume up, blowing your speakers out, literally. As we said at the beginning, this is an integrated system; hence, those small, low power speakers that your car had, could not handle the power that they received from the high-power amplifier that you acquired. Consequently, it would be best if you had new speakers to control that power.
Custom Speakers and Enclosure
They are the end of the road for the sound signal traveling by wire as electric energy. Now that signal is going to travel by air so you can hear it. The speaker receives the sound signal from the amplifier and turns it into the mechanical movement of a vibrating membrane. That vibration displaces air, which transforms it into the sound waves that we hear.
As a consequence of the little space that the manufacturers assign to the sound system in the vehicle, they equip it with “full range” speakers. For this reason, they are unable to handle the whole frequency spectrum of the sound signal, producing a flat sound. Thus, the bass sound is virtually nonexistent, and higher frequencies are dull.
A good sound system has a set of speakers that receive the sound signal according to their design. In particular, tweeters are the smallest and reproduce the high frequencies, while woofers and subwoofers reproduce the bass sound of the lower frequencies. Some car audio speakers combine a woofer and a tweeter into a single unit. Others have mid-bass drivers to handle the frequencies between middle and bass frequencies.
Some of today’s car sound systems include one or more subwoofers, complemented with mid-basses, midranges, and tweeters. All of them arranged within a cabinet in a particular layout to maximize their effect.
Integrating the System
It is evident that it does not matter whether you upgraded one of the components in the system if the others do not harmonize with it. A top of the line head unit is a bad investment if it does not match with a corresponding external amplifier. Similarly, a high power amplifier that sends the sound signal to a set of “full range” speakers will produce a thunderous, but flat and dull sound.
If you want to upgrade your sound system, you should have a series of factors in mind — for instance, your budget and your expectations of what a high-quality sound means to you. On the one hand, one person might like the resonance and vibrations of a loud beat; on the other, she wants the feeling of a concert hall in her car. Or she is a budget-conscious person that can improve the quality of the sound system significantly just by replacing the OEM speakers. Every project is different. Thus, the time that you take studying the various alternatives at your disposal is going to pay off in the pleasure that you are going to have when listening to your personally optimized sound system. You can find those alternatives here.