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Here are some simple tips on how you can upgrade your car's sound system to provide you with the best musical experience while driving.

Category: Car Technical Advice

Before we start though, there are several “types “of setups available. Some setups emphasise more on Sound Pressure Level (SPL), which gives you vibrating seats and deep, strong bass. On the other end of the spectrum are setups that emphasise more on Sound Quality (SQ), which gives you an atmosphere of rich, dynamic and clear sound. Some have a little bit of both and are known as Sound Quality Loud (SQL). It’s good to know what you’re aiming for so that you don’t waste your time and money on a setup that you don’t enjoy.

To help you on that journey to reach musical nirvana (or something close to it), here’s a list of several components that can help you get there.

Amplifiers


First on the list are amplifiers. Amplifiers take signals from the head unit, and amplify those signals before they reach the speakers. The result of this is better, and clearer sound. Amplifiers also allow you to increase the volume of your car audio higher without getting crackling noises, and provide sufficient power for you to add subwoofers to your car. Sometimes just upgrading the amplifier is enough to make a world of difference to your car audio.

In general, you should look for a 4-channel amp that has enough power to support your speakers and subwoofers.

The Head Unit (HU)


The Head Unit or HU is the second thing you should consider changing if you think that your car’s audio still isn’t giving you that ‘oomph’ factor.

Usually located smack in the middle of the dashboard, the HU allows you to control how loud you want your music, what you want to listen to, and provides a graphical interface for users to see what they’re listening to.

The reason why you should think of upgrading your HU is because most aftermarket HUs provide more tuning options such as a 5 or 10 band equaliser; which gives you more freedom to tune how your audio sounds. Also, think of the HU as the brain of your car audio. Better brains send out better quality signals to the speakers, thus the sound that is produced will also be better. Some HUs also comes with RCA outputs that allow easier installation of amplifiers. Without RCA outputs, one would have to do a little bit more work to set up the wiring needed for an amplifier.

Well-known HU brands include Nakamichi, Kenwood, Eclipse, Alpine, Pioneer and last but not least, McIntosh.
Speakers


Finally on the list we have the speakers. Compare speakers to our vocals. No matter how much you try, you’ll never sound like the late great Louis Armstrong or in the case of females; Whitney Houston. That’s because our vocal range is fairly limited, unless you’ve had vocal training.

Similar to the stock speakers in your car, tuning can only achieve so much before the maximum performance of the speakers is reached. You might not get that crystal clear voice or that thumping bass that you’ve been longing for all this while.

This is where aftermarket speakers come in. You can find loads of different types of speakers on the market, so take your time to choose one that sounds good to you. A general thing to look out for would be the ‘projection’ capabilities of the speaker.

Speakers can feature 2-way, 3-way or 4-way sound projection.  Sometimes, it helps to put a 4-way speaker at the rear of the car so that a surround effect can be achieved. However, this effect can also be achieved by proper tuning, so more doesn’t necessarily mean better.

In general, there are several types of speakers; co-axial, component, and subwoofers.


Co-axial speakers are a ‘woofer’ and a ‘tweeter’ combined into one speaker unit. The woofer handles the lower to mid range frequencies (the bass) whilst the tweeter handles the higher range notes (the treble).

Usually sold as a set, component speakers merely separate the tweeters and the woofer. A crossover is also included to separate the signals- again the higher notes to the tweeter and the lower to mid range to the woofer. This allows the speakers to operate better within their limits, so as to avoid crackling and to some extent, prevents damage.

For those of you looking to tune your car audio toward SPL, you most definitely need a subwoofer. Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes, but usually they range from 8 inches all the way up to 21 inches. Subwoofers are speakers that are dedicated to produce low frequency tones (bass) and they do that very well.

For user reviews and product information on in-car entertainment in Singapore, you can visit our car accessories product guide.

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