Car Audio: How to make my car sound exactly as I want

There are few occasions so good to enjoy the music as car travel. With a bit of interest, time and clear ideas , we can get our car sound better and that the experience of listening to music is closer to a live concert or audition, than they usually offer cars series.

To achieve this , we must make prior planning, installation and some adjustments, which depend on our expectations of how much we are willing to modify the standard equipment of our car and how much money we have in our budget.

The initial approach

I replaced the source?

Serial sound source, Rockford Fosgate
This decision is increasingly difficult, especially today, control consoles are as aesthetically integrated with multimedia standard equipment.

Normally the source does not provide an optimal sound quality, and if we take a big step in quality, it is advisable to replace it with a new certain level . In certain exceptions, such as high - end cars or packs Sound sponsored by certain brands (BOSE, Harman Kardon, etc), the source can give a more than acceptable quality.

I improved only the front speakers, or all speakers in the vehicle?

Two-way front speakers, Rockford Fosgate
If we seek the highest possible quality, we should focus all economic resources available to get the best possible speakers for the front , and the corresponding amplification.

If we are not very demanding and only seek a little more power and sonority in squares 4, we can improve all car speakers. Yes, so the budget will be divided among more components, and therefore cheaper. This option is not the most advisable if we are looking for absolute quality in the front. No more speakers, mean higher quality: the rear speakers produce an indirect sound reflections, which will lose accuracy to the front scene.

Do I put subwoofer?

JL Audio subwoofer in sealed box
The subwoofer is an important option if what you like is dance music, pop, etc ... or just enjoy the sensations that transmit sounds subwoofers in any style. If you do not want to add a subwoofer to your computer, you will have to seriously ask yourself the soundproofing of the doors, so that the front speakers can make up as much as possible this gap (remember that the sound insulation doors, will improve the accuracy and depth of bass reproduction).

The choice of computer components

Rockford Fosgate product sample
Comes the fun part, and to play it safe, it is important to choose brands that are exclusively specialized in car audio products or general audio. Brands such as Clarion, Focal, DLS, Brax, Alpine, Coral, Rockford Fosgate, Audison, Kenwood, Pioneer, JBL and so on ... have a car audio experience in decades, an extensive catalog and a quality that could not brands that offer both dedicated to make radio CDs as refrigerators ...

With respect to the sound source , whether or multimedia CD radio receiver, it is important to have high quality sound, RCA outputs for connecting the amplifier, and it is desirable to allow equalization, time alignment and filtering. Regarding connectivity and multimedia, and will depend on the needs of each (USB, Ipod, browser, bluetooth, etc ...).

The amplifier or amplifiers, have to provide a S / N ratio high, low harmonic distortion, and RMS power or more supporting the speaker, to make its dynamic capabilities.

Two-way speakers Brax Matrix
What is recommended in terms of speakers is that separate paths are at the front, with a good linear frequency response graph. The woofers and tweeters materials can be soft (paper, polypropylene, silk, etc.) if we want a comfortable and detailed sound, or more materials hard (kevlar, aluminum, etc.) if what we like is a more powerful sound.

As for the subwoofer , if our musical taste tends toward styles like jazz, classical music, instrumental, etc ... we can choose to supplement with quality and depth the most serious, frequencies for which will be sufficient subwoofer 10 " 12 "in sealed and amplifier 200 to 500 Wrms box. But if you are someone that you like to feel like the subwoofer shakes your body with a spectacular sound less faithful, in which the serious part overdo, a subwoofer 12 "to 15" Bass Reflex and amplifier 400-1000 Wrms will be a good choice.


Rockford Fosgate wiring set
A good installation to detail is an important part of a good sound. As for the wiring , it is important to consider the following:

Signal cables or RCAs, must be shielded to prevent unwanted interference.
For speakers, we recommend a larger section of 1.0 mm2 to avoid excessive electrical resistance, which hurt the damping factor of the speakers.
The power wiring from the battery and ground, must have an adequate section to the total power of the equipment, to avoid overheating and possible accidents.
At least as important security measure, we will have to install a fuse within 75 cm from the positive terminal of the battery (The instruction manual amplifiers usually explain the details).

Dynamat sound insulation pack
Soundproofing by sheets of roofing felt for car audio, it is a distinguishing between serious of a good sound, and a mediocre one. The most important thing is to apply it to the inside of the front door , as this is where the speakers are. Thus drastically reduce resonances and inaccuracies, and the grave will be more detailed and thorough especially at high volumes. Finally, if we do not see enough to make us the equipment installation experience, it is advisable to leave it to a professional installer.

Settings and Adjustments

Amplifier gains

Gain control amplifier JL Audio
The gain is a knob that include all amplifiers, and serves to adjust the voltage of the amplifier output signal of the RCA source. There are very technical methods to adjust, we'll see in an upcoming entry. But it is usual to do so approximately, as follows :

We set the amplifier gain to a minimum
We put a music track in the source, 3/4 of the maximum volume (must be a recorded track at high volume, as is usually the most commercial music, including pop, rock, etc).

With the track playing, we gain control rising gradually. We perceive that music that sounds from the speakers volume up. As we note a minimum sound distortion, we stopped to climb over, and down "a whisker", so that the crisp, clear sound is restored.

In this way, we will have maximized the transmitted power of the amplifier to the speakers , maintaining a good signal / noise ratio. Of course, if we want to keep our speakers as the first day, a golden rule is never to turn up the volume so that the sound distorted.

Filtered out

Filtering from car audio source Pioneer DEH-80PRS
All CD radio or multimedia source of a certain quality, includes the option of high - pass filtering to the speaker, and low pass filter for the subwoofer. The aim is to eliminate reproduction of sub - bass sounds through the speakers of the doors, avoiding doors so cause unnecessary resonances and getting speakers work more at ease; and stop playback of the subwoofer frequencies entrusted only to the subwoofer. The overall result is a clearer sound and can achieve greater overall power without distortion. If we keep the power series, we can make this filter from the filter amplifier.


Equalizing radio CD Pioneer deh p88rsii
Equalization is give or take power at different frequency bands individually to get the frequency response of the equipment is more linear , ie, do not be exaggerated peaks or resonances. caused by the acoustics of our cabin. If you have a good ear, you can let yourself be guided by intuition, and in "trial and error", try to reduce some dBs on those points where you perceive exaggerated resonances , or increase a few dBs in areas of the frequency spectrum where you perceive one missing "presence" sound . The game is fun, but beware false subjectivity and feelings !, the best results are obtained with measurement instrumentation, as we shall see in a future post.

Aligning times

Aligning times in car audio, Alpine
In a car we are not sitting at the same distance from the speakers left and right, contrary to what happens when a team listening to home audio quality. This makes for a few milliseconds, reaches our ear before issuing the closest speaker, as shown in Fig. This causes slight gaps between speakers, which sound slightly distorted image and small interference that slightly alter the frequency response displayed.

Applying a delay of a few milliseconds from the source to the closest speaker, and a little less to other speakers in proportion to the distance they are from us, we will make the sound impinges on our ears just as well, consistently as if we were sitting right in the center . Once achieved this setting, no one who plays with the possibility of delays vary slightly, to search deep and displacement effects of what would be the perception of the scene and depth of sound space.

For the more experienced ...

separate three-way speakers Brax Matrix
If you are someone who already has experience, and like to get you very thoroughly in the technical subject, you may be interested in other less common options, such as riding a system with active filtering (individual speakers without filters included, and make yourself cuts frequency from a source with this option); or mounting systems speakers three separate ways (woofer, mid and tweeter). These options complicate installation and adjustments, so, if we are not experts, will not guarantee us better results than the choice of two separate pathways and passive filters, we have discussed here.

Already there is no excuse!

With the Guide for newcomers and seen today, we can no longer say that we would not know you need to ask elevate our sound equipment to a new level. In the next posts, we will see some interesting options offered by the market for car audio today, in different price ranges.