Since the first successful car radio was released by Motorola in 1930, the market has changed exponentially. In the past 85 years, car audio systems have gone from simple AM frequencies to satellite radio and Bluetooth audio devices, and there are many greater ways that are still to come.
It is almost impossible to ride in a car for any given time without turning on the radio or plugging in a personal music device, and it is always amazing to have a great system to play music.
Multiple parts go into having the best system, and it’s those pieces that are outlined below.
Car speakers function much like other loudspeaker designs but are intended for mobile use. The most basic contain a single speaker and are designed to cover a range of 20 Hz, low bass, to 20,000 Hz, high tenor, but the single speaker method can leave tones in the outer ranges lacking in quality.
Other times, two speakers are built, one mounted on top of the other, to each specialize in a certain range. With this type of speaker, one is used to convey the low frequencies and the other plays the higher notes, giving an overall better sound.
The problem with the second design is that it leaves the midrange notes lacking, so some companies have included a third midbass driver to handle this sounds. These are one of the most important components in any car audio system and have the ability to make or break the overall quality of sound output.
Subwoofers are a specialized form of loudspeaker designed to produce low frequency sounds. The usual range for subwoofers goes from 20 Hz to 200 Hz to produce full bass sounds. They are typically from 8 inches in diameter to 15 inches and are often crafted with wood which is capable of withstanding the increased air pressure put out by the speakers.
Because these units are large, it is not possible to fit them into doors or dashboards like other car speakers and must be placed in the trunk or in the backseat; therefore, they are often more aesthetically pleasing than stationary subwoofers.
Although in some cases, companies have created non-circular shapes so that the system will better fit in the car. Subwoofers are extremely important for the overall sound and quality of a car audio system.
The car stereo is the center of a car audio system; it is alternately known as the radio, receiver, or head unit. This is essentially what controls the use of the output and input and is placed at the front and center of the car.
Standard inputs, or “sources,” include AM/FM frequencies, satellite radio, CDs, iPods, or USBs. In addition to selecting the source, it also regulates sound adjustments and faders ranging from volume control, balance, and tone. Thirdly, the amplifier section boosts the low-voltage audio signal that is sent out to the speakers.
New car stereos are superior to preinstalled stereos because they produce a cleaner, crisper, richer, and more detailed sound. Stereos will give you more features, better aesthetics, and increased customization, and it is a must have for a complete audio system.
Double Din Head Units
The double DIN head unit functions similarly to the single DIN head unit, but the aptly named double DIN is twice as large. The international standard for single head units is 7 x 2 inches, but the double DIN measures 7 x 4 inches giving it more internal space for components such as built-in amplifiers.
While these extra components can be beneficial, the main advantage of a double DIN over a single DIN is that the display has a larger surface area. Most touchscreen head units are designed to work with the double DIN model because of its larger display, therefore can be used more effectively.
The car amplifiers increase the power of the audio signal so that the output is strong enough to vibrate the speakers. Therefore, it is imperative to possess high quality amplifiers to have a good audio system. The preamp, usually in the head unit, primes the input for the amplifiers and makes sure it is compatible with its input format.
While head units include low-power amplifiers that “drive” smaller speakers, they do not offer the best quality, so many higher-quality systems have separate power amps that are not mounted in the head unit. Most amplifiers have the ability to produce twice the normal power, but its sound often highly distorted.
Because the amplifiers are usually not seen, they are often underrated in the performance of audio systems, but a great amplifier will undoubtedly help produce far better sound and is a much needed investment.