At one point or another, we have all stopped at a red light in our completely quiet cars and then heard a deep, bass-y thumping sound approaching. As it got closer, not only did it get louder, but the loose change in the door-handle pocket started to rattle, you started feeling the beat through the car floor, and when the car stopped directly behind you, your rearview mirror was rattling so hard you ran the light to save it from falling off. Some people enjoy that feeling and go the SPL route; others prefer listening to the kind of music that requires canine-level hearing abilities and an SQ system so complex you need a sound engineer to turn the volume up.
While it's generally true that high-quality car audio equipment is more expensive, new car audio manufacturers are changing this norm and introducing some great equipment at prices that won't require you to take your children out of school. If you are looking to get the best car audio experience in terms of sound quality (SQ), wattage should be a secondary issue. Here are some of the best upgrades you can invest in for SQ.
Consider this the foundation upon which your entire audio setup is based. The right amplifier (amp) will be responsible for getting the right amount of power to the right (correct) speaker at the right time, so you hear everything correctly. Just as important is that the kind of amplifier you choose will significantly impact the sound quality. You also want to keep an eye out for the type of amp you get as some are better suited to subwoofers while others are better at powering speakers; of course, you can get varieties that will do both as well. If pure sound quality is what you are after, dedicated amps for speakers and subs are a better choice if you have space for it. The purpose isn't high wattage. It's to get clean signals to high-quality component speakers and subs.
2. Speakers And Subs
For a light upgrade, just two speakers will do. For a slightly heavier upgrade, four speakers and a sub will do. For a proper makeover, speakers, tweeters, and a pair of subs are the way to go. Anything above this will start taking you in the direction of SPL. The audio team at autoguysland.com/best-12-inch-subwoofer recommends that you get your high fidelity subs installed in a sealed enclosure for best quality. If you want to take subwoofer housing a step further, you can look into more complex box designs that help the woofer generate even better output. If you are short on space, you could go for active subs, which can easily be installed under a seat.
One of the most underrated parts of audio setups is vehicle insulation. Especially if you have an older car with thinner doors and was produced during a time when insulation wasn't a big concern. More than just the audio quality, sound insulation can better the performance of the vehicle. If you are installing car-door speakers and installing wiring throughout the car, you might also insulate it while you have everything apart. Good sound deadening materials can be pricey, but they last a long time and are well worth the money in terms of audio quality.
4. Head Unit
Changing out the factory head unit doesn't mean you can't use your steering controls anymore, and you won't lose your GPS either. After-market head units provide all the functionality that factory ones do while delivering better sound quality. Factory head units are also limited in their connectivity options, and when you are running an advanced audio system, you want a higher number of ports with better connectivity. Also, if you aren't going so far as to install a DSP and other advanced audio equipment, a solid head unit will give you many sound control options. They also allow easy mobile connectivity and are linked to the latest audio streaming services.
Gone are the days when cars had multiple CD changers connections for auxiliary cables. While some people still choose to connect through a cable, it's so much easier if you use Bluetooth and control your device through the headset. While upgrading the audio system will inevitably improve sound quality, it will also give you access to modern features that make driving that much easier and enjoyable. If you enjoy tech and use the internet a lot in your car, you could also consider some of the SQ-oriented Android head units that will let you do everything your smartphone does within the head unit.