If you’re obsessed with music but your car stereo just isn’t providing the sound quality that does your favorite tunes justice, then obviously you’ll want to invest in a new car audio system. Before you begin shopping and comparing (and stressing), take a look below at the answers to some of our frequently asked questions. They’ll help get you started in the right direction.
Q: Do I have to replace my entire car stock stereo system to get great sound?
A: Not necessarily. It’s true that the receivers in many new vehicles are integrated into the car’s network, so replacing them can be a complicated—and expensive—undertaking. If your budget is limited, you can upgrade your system piece-by-piece. Many stock in-dash receivers are decent enough to hang onto while you gradually improve the sound quality of your system with an amplifier, subwoofer, and quality speakers.
Q: Are all car amplifiers basically the same?
A: As with every car stereo product (and everything, really), you get what you pay for. Carefully designed amplifiers made with the best materials will result in longer product life, better sound, and higher output. If you want to hear the difference for yourself, the car audio experts at Stereo Depot can give you an ear-opening demonstration.
Q: If I upgrade my car stereo speakers, do I need sound dampening?
A: It’s not a necessity, but even a little sound dampening goes a long way toward improved sound quality. Comprehensive sound treatments can greatly reduce vibrations, road noise, and tire hum when applied.
Q: How does car speaker size related to bass quality?
A: At a basic level, sound is really just air on the move—and the low frequencies of bass require more air to be moved. Larger speakers mean more surface area, which means more air transporting sweet beats to your ears. So if bass is important, you’ll need to shop for speakers accordingly.
Q: What does a car speaker’s “sensitivity rating” mean?
A: A sensitivity rating indicates how effectively a speaker converts power into sound. Higher rating numbers mean higher efficiency and louder volume at the same input power. However, sensitivity is not an accurate indicator of a subwoofer’s output capability. A subwoofer with a high rating number will not necessarily be louder than one with a lower number.
Q: What does “clipping” mean in terms of car amplifiers?
A: Clipping is the distortion produced by an amplifier that lacks sufficient power. Pushing an amplifier beyond its maximum capability can even fry it, so when you’re shopping for a new car audio system, be sure to explain your needs to one of our experts so we can help you select the proper equipment.
Q: How does wattage relate to car speakers and subwoofers?
A: Wattage numbers indicate how much power—thermal and mechanical—that speakers and subs can handle. The number varies depending on enclosure type and frequency, but there is an unfortunate trend in the industry that overestimates the power handling capabilities of subwoofers. That’s why it’s important to get professional advice when shopping for a new system.
Q: Why do some car amplifiers make the car lights dim when the stereo is played loud?
A: Short answer: the amplifier is probably not installed correctly, or it’s not able to draw the power it needs from the car’s electrical system. Fixing the problem might require something as simple as upgrading the battery and alternator wires or something more complex like adding a capacitor or second battery. Upgrading the alternator itself could possibly do the trick, too. Problems such as these would be detected during a professional installation, so why not let the experts handle it?
Q: When adding a second car subwoofer, does it have to be the same size as the first?
A: Different subwoofer sizes have different parameters, and each has its own unique frequency response, so mixing sizes usually leads to poor sound quality. Volume is also negatively affected due to a cancellation effect, so you should purchase a “twin” of your existing equipment if you want to double your subwoofer action.
Q: Why does the exact same car stereo equipment sound different depending on the car?
A: Vehicle acoustics are one of the most overlooked aspects of car audio systems. Some vehicles amplify certain frequencies more than others—large SUVs amplify low bass, for example, while extended cab trucks don’t have as much acoustical gain. Since figuring out which systems sound best in which cars is a matter of trial and error, it’s best to consult stereo professionals who have experience installing systems in nearly every type of vehicle imaginable.
Ready to shop for a car stereo and car audio system?
At Stereo Depot in San Diego, we’re serious about sound. If you want more information on upgrading your car stereo system, give us a call or drop by. Our car audio experts would be happy to get into more detail with you. It’s kind of our thing.
Whether you’re looking for a complete system overhaul or an upgrade of key equipment, we have the best brands and the most experienced team of experts ready to help. So call or drop by one of our locations in San Diego or El Cajon today!