Category Archives: Audio Video

Tips On Choosing A Car Audio System

Car audio has moved a long way from the old standard AM/FM Radio/Tape Deck combo. Today, in-vehicle multimedia systems include DVD video, television and navigation systems with local hotspot news. Common to all systems is the sound quality.

The quality of sound in a car audio system depends upon a number of factors – the type and quality of the media player system, the type of speakers used, the acoustics of the vehicle and interference from other devices.

Type and Quality of Media Player System

Before we look at the different types of in-vehicle media players it pays to have a basic understanding of audio quality. When deciding what type of audio system to install, and also when comparing one make and model to another, there are two key specifications to consider:

Signal-to-noise ratio [SNR] – a measure of signal strength compared to background noise in the signal or equipment. Measured in decibels. The higher the dB, the better. A car CD player has an SNR of 90 or 100 dB.

Frequency response [FR] – a measure of how much of the audio spectrum, from bass to treble, gets reproduced. It’s measured as a range in Hertz, and the wider the range, the better. Look for a CD player with a range of at least 10-20k Hz.

An FM radio, cassette player, and CD player all have different measurements for these specs. To help understand these two specifications, let’s compare a car tape cassette player and a car CD player.

Cassette player has an SNR of 50-70 dB. This is much lower than a CD player, so the sound quality degrades at each end of the spectrum. The FR is around 30-18k Hz for a cassette player, so does not contribute as much to sound quality as the SNR.

That’s why overall, a car CD player gives a much better sound than a cassette tape player.

Media players in vehicles today are either radio tuner, CD player/changer, or Digital Audio player.

CD Players & Changers

There are a number of options when it comes to playing CD’s in a vehicle:

  • An in-dash CD Player – often combined with radio tuner, WMA/MP3 player
  • An in-dash CD Receiver – with a multiple CD cassette / changer located elsewhere in the vehicle
  • Connect a portable CD player to an existing in-dash audio unit using either a cable and adapter or a bluetooth wireless connection.

When choosing a car CD player the first two things to consider are:

  1. Will it physically fit into the vehicle?
  2. Will it integrate cosmetically with the dash and other electronics?

Most decks have standardized form factors; so fit most cars, but there are exceptions, so make sure that the deck is suited for your car. You are usually pretty safe is the car stereo is made for the same market as the source of your car:

Cosmetic integration is a little more complex, but in many cases easily resolved through customization features. For instance, many decks allow you to change the faceplates and color of the display.

Digital Audio Car Systems

With most home audio systems and portable players giving crisp quality sound using digital audio, we are no longer satisfied with the flat, bland analog sound from older car audio systems.

If you normally store your digital music files on CD, a compatible stereo or changer is a good option. Up to 10 hours of music [250 songs] can be stored on a single disc and allows use of random shuffling and repeat options. This disadvantage is ease of use, having to load and unload from cassettes located in the boot or under seats, and the limited file formats that your stereo can play back.

So now you have the media player selected, what about the speaker system.

Car Speaker System

The speaker system can be thought of in two parts: the channel amplifier and the physical speaker units.

Car amplifiers power the speakers in your car stereo system to provide crisp sound quality at high volumes. Each speaker requires one channel of amplification. This means a 4-channel amplifier, will support four speakers.

And choice of speakers is not limited either. With a range of options for your basic stereo speakers [2-channel], you can supplement the high note quality using a tweeter and the low bass notes with a sub-woofer. This gives you a standard 4-channel sound system that will rival your home audio system.

Adding to a basic car stereo option typically involves adding subwoofers, amplifiers and crossovers to tailor the output sound to personal tastes.

This does not mean the result is the boorish, obnoxious bass boom boxing that invades the entire neighborhood. A subwoofer adds quality and purity to music.

For details of specifications on each part of your system, see Go-Reviews.com – Car Electronics Section

The main factors in selecting car speakers are:

  • Design or Speaker Type
  • Technical Specifications
  • Fitting & Mounting

Speaker design is about the combination of sound drivers for midrange, subwoofer and tweeter. Depending upon the combination, the set is known as a two-way, three-way or four-way speaker system.

Car speaker specifications are similar to home audio speakers; the main difference in technical specification to compensate for the lower power outputs of car stereo receivers.

The speaker technical specifications include sensitivity, frequency response, signal to noise ratio, power handling and impedance. We will look at these specification in more detail in subsequent articles.

The fittings and mountings are selected depending upon where you choose to position the speakers. Car audio speakers are either: top mounted or bottom mounted. Clearance depth is most important when installing new speakers in a non-factory speaker location. So check all of your components carefully before purchase.

Assemble Your Car Audio System

For passionate car lovers who have an ear for music, getting a good car audio system for the vehicle of their choice is like the best thing under the sun. They can soothe their senses while on the drive and forget the rest of the word. While modern cars nowadays come with sophisticated in-built car stereo systems, most car owners still prefer to go their own way and get the car music systems fitted separately once they have the vehicle with them.

Building or assembling a car stereo system can be quite a challenging job if you are not too much into gadgets and technicalities. This is because audio speakers and stereo system components are designed specifically for a certain type of vehicle. The space constraint inside a car also makes things difficult for anyone at work. So, what you can do is, assemble the entire audio system in stages. Start with the speakers, the most important part of the music system, and then proceed to assemble other parts. Here are some tips on how to go about the whole process:

– Type of speaker, its shape and size, location- where it is to be mounted and power requirements are the topmost considerations for building a car audio system. First, find out which audio system speakers fit best in your car. Consider speakers for all the sides- front, center and rear for a complete stereo system. Then, match the power output of the system amplifiers or head units to the power handling capacity of the audio system speakers.

– Car stereo sub-woofers are more power consuming than other audio speakers and require an enclosure unlike other speakers when installed in a car. So, you can get an enclosure custom made for your car to serve the purpose.

– Most car stereo system head units come with built-in amplifiers, but it is the external amplifiers with more power, that make a better car stereo system accessory, because you can easily adjust the bass level, mid-range and higher frequencies in them- all separately for a balanced stereo system.

– For system head units and car stereo receivers, use your existing in-dash head unit. You can also replace the existing one with a new component for a revamped car music system.

Patience is the most important thing that you need to build a car stereo system. If you have it, go for it, otherwise, opt for a professional to do up your car with a ravishing car audio system.

Perfect Car Audio Installation Tips

There are different ways to install a car audio system. The safest way is to let a professional car parts installer do it for you. However, if you have enough knowledge about car mechanics and whatnot, you can take the risk and install the car audio yourself. An amateur can do this, but he or she needs a lot of help.

Installation is systematic. And with car parts installation, you are not just twisting screws. You are also dealing with wires, and they can real tricky. Still, knowing that you have other options helps boost morale. You can go all the way in preparing yourself to do the job. However, if you lose confidence at the last-minute, you can always call out for help.

Via DIY

Okay, this is the first option when you have a plan to have a new car audio installation. If you feel brave and confident enough that you can do this kind of mechanical work, then go on and do it. But first, you have to prep yourself. As other people often say, you do not go to a battle unarmed. Do not trust yourself with only a manual. Read up about car audio installation and the problems you might meet. The Internet is full of them. Better yet, grab some tutorial videos online. As much as there are hundreds of guidelines, the Internet is also full of video tutorials giving step-by-step advice to people planning on doing DIY installation.

Via a friend or acquaintance

If you can’t do it or maybe you don’t want to do it, you can ask a friend or acquaintance for a favor. If you have friends who are savvy with these kinds of things, take advantage of your friendship and use their ability to your advantage. The great thing is you can convince them that you don’t have to pay them because you are friends. The closest thing you can give as payment is a free dinner-and that’s still a lot cheaper than getting your car fixed in a shop.

Via a professional

If you are so unfortunate that you do not have a friend who is a mechanical genius (or something close to it), then you don’t have any choice. You just have to drive your car to a professional who can install the car audio system for you. Either these people work solo or have a company somewhere. You can easily find them through (surprise!) the Internet. Isn’t the online world the most convenient thing ever invented? Yea, I think so too.

Via a car shop

Car shops can do everything these days: sell brand new cars, get second-hand cars, sell second-hand cars, give car repair services, and even offer car parts installation services. If there happens to a car shop like this near or within your neighborhood, you can also take advantage of that. Who knows? Maybe you can avail of the other car services the shop has to offer. You can even ask for a bargain or a discount.

Why You Need a Car Audio Expert to Handle Your Car Audio Video System

Car Audio Video SystemI’m going to give you a heads up. Improving qualities of your audio are an investment you should not underestimate. As a car owner, you only want nothing but the best for your car in quality and aesthetics. Assuming you intend to do a D-I-Y audio installation project, you would still need a car expert’s help – not exactly there with you while you install new stereo equipment, but to give you professional advice after assessing the current condition of your in-car music system and to give you a go signal for the installation plans you have in mind. But if you don’t trust your technical and mechanical skills that well, a car audio expert in your area is just a call away.

Compatibility

Compatibility isn’t an issue if all your car systems manufactures and installs at the same time. I’m practically referring to built-in audio systems that perfectly match the requirements of a car. But what if only one part of your stereo needs some fixing? Will you be able to pull it off? Wouldn’t it look odd beside the other parts of your infotainment equipment? Now, you are having doubts. With an expert to start the repair, replacement or audio installation, you are secure of compatibility. Sizes, colors, textures, themes – they all have to become considered, and you haven’t even thought about it.

Quality

A touch of an amateur practically differs from a touch of an expert. Visually, aspects can become subject to comparison. Car audio installations done by experts are pretty many sleek and neat. In some ways, however, those that done by amateurs look a little undone. Well, some could get lucky though. But quality is something you need to base on luck. It’s aesthetic value must become certain. A car audio expert can give you that assurance. Are you willing to take the leap? Car audio installers are everywhere in the region. Choose the best.

Security

Oh, yes! I almost forgot why I placed security in this list. But it’s crystal clear now! Getting an expert to do an audio installation for your car gives you a kind of security for when the stereo system does not function the way it expects to. When you hire the services of a car audio shop, you are given a certain period of warranty. You’ll be given a couple of days to go back to the shop for free fixing and adjustment for the dysfunctional features you might experience. And again, it’s for free! What a great advantage!

Variety

Last but not the least is variety. This is most applicable if you want to change the theme of your stereo system – from hardcore masculine to full-time fatal. That’s a very hard task! Car audio experts can help you choose stereo equipment that will perfectly suit the motif you have in mind. In the same way, he or she will be able to find which stereo parts you can keep. Efficient!