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Car Audio Basics

by Retired: Senior Social Media Specialist on ‎07-18-2013 01:44 PM - edited on ‎08-07-2015 12:19 PM by (4,215 Views)

Car Speakers


Which speakers are right for me?


The key is to find the best possible speaker setup within your budget. Generally, speakers sound crisper, warmer, more vibrant and offer more powerful bass as you move from two- and three-way speakers to four- and five-way speakers, and finally into the higher-end component speakers. However, the price increases as well. Find the speakers in our assortment that suit you best.


What is the difference between single-voice coil and dual-voice coil subwoofers?


The chief differences between single- and dual-voice coil subwoofers are the wiring options, such as series or parallel, to your amplifier.


What additional parts are needed for interior speaker installation?


Aftermarket speakers may require additional speaker harnesses to adapt to the wiring in your vehicle. Some applications also require additional speaker mounting brackets to properly mount the new speakers.


Car Amplifiers

Do I need an external amplifier?


Technically, no. Every car stereo on the market has a built-in amplifier to drive the speakers in the vehicle. However, if you want to add power to create a louder, clearer sound, adding an external amp to your system is the way to do it.


Which amplifier should I choose?


It all depends on the number of channels (speakers) you need to power. If you want to drive 4 speakers, you'll need a 4-channel amp. For more speakers, you need more channels. Choose from mono amps that power one driver, or multi-channel amps that power up to 5.


What additional parts do I need for amplifier installation?


Aftermarket amplifiers will require a wiring kit to complete the installation. This kit includes a large battery cable to supply power to the amp, and RCA adapters for your subwoofer and speakers.


Car Stereos


Will steering wheel controls still work?


In most vehicles this is possible with some additional parts and labor. Before purchasing a new car stereo, make sure it's "steering wheel control compatible," which will be listed in the stereo features.


What do DIN and double DIN mean?


DIN is the acronym used to define the standard car stereo measurement in vehicles. Double DIN is simply a stereo that is twice the size of standard DIN. DIN units measure 2" x 7", while double DIN units measure 4" x 7". Most newer vehicles can support the larger double DIN size with additional parts to make the stereo fit.


What does the power rating mean?


The "W" refers to watts, the basic unit of power. The number following the wattage designates the number of output channels on the stereo. For example, "4" means there are 4 channels, or speakers. Therefore, 50W x 4 means 50 watts peak power is going to 4 channels, for a total of 200 watts peak power.


Any additional parts for installation?


Most vehicles require additional parts to install a new stereo properly. Typical additional parts include a mounting kit to make the new stereo fit into your dash, and a wiring harness for the new radio to be wired to your existing wiring. Some vehicles also require an antenna adapter to receive AM/FM radio stations.


What does "ready" mean?


Most car stereos have the capability to add more features with extra parts, such as "satellite radio–ready" or "iPod®-ready." This means additional parts and labor are required to make this function work with your car stereo.


Is it legal for me to watch DVDs on my in-dash stereo while driving?


No. It is illegal for the driver of a vehicle to view any video source while the vehicle is in motion. All in-dash DVD stereos will be installed so the video can be viewed when stopped with the parking brake engaged.


How do I play my music device on my car stereo?


When choosing a new car stereo, look for options such as "Aux input" or "USB input" for connecting many music devices. Then, just plug in your device and play. Factory-installed car stereos may require an additional interface such as a plug-and-play adapter or FM modulator.


How can I integrate my smartphone into my vehicle?


Your smartphone can be used in your vehicle for making hands-free calls and for playing stored music using Bluetooth technology. A Bluetooth adapter can be added to most stock stereo systems, but may require a separate device. Before purchasing a new car stereo, make sure it has Bluetooth technology built in.