Usually in life, your second biggest investment after your home is your car. And well, for some the third investment comes in the form of ‘sound systems for car’. Some, who can afford it, buy one to fulfill their passion while most of us look for sheer functionality. A good sound system can really add much more to the experience of driving and is a must for someone who loves both music and cars.
Though most people find factory fitted systems adequate, but if you’re one of those audiophiles with a keen ear for sound and a yearning to be more encapsulated by music, this is a must read for you.
A sound system can be broadly split into three basic parts
This is what we all see. This part plays our media and gives the signal (either raw or amplified) further down the line. Almost all head units come with a built in amplifier, but any sound enthusiast would never recommend. They are extremely limited and will not be clear on loud volumes.
One should judge a head unit by the features they would like but on a technical aspect look for the line out voltage. The higher this voltage the better will be the clarity of the signal delivered to amplifier. Also, more the line out channels, the better you would be able to control the sound.
Amplifiers – The heart
This is possibly the most overlooked part of the system which results in sound that is far from perfect. A car can only go as fast as its engine. The same goes for audio systems. Getting a high end speaker and compromising on amplifier is much worse than going for an average speaker and amplifier.
Though choosing one can be quiet a task and especially with all the technical details, here’s a simple rule you should follow: Match the RMS/nominal value of the speaker with amplifier (per channel) to as close as possible.
Lastly make sure the peak wattage of the amplifier (per channel) is less than that of the speakers.
This is the part of the system that does the most important work, i.e. to produce the sound. There are two main types of speakers, Co-axil and Components. Components can be quiet pricey but if you are keen on clarity, these should be your weapon of choice.
In choosing speakers, people make simplistic assessments which end up being counterproductive to the actual result. DON’T GO FOR PEAK WATTAGE – higher doesn’t mean better. So, a 400w speaker is NOT better that a 200w one if it’s being powered by 200w amplifier. Avoid this dogma of higher peak wattage is better.
Instead take the important factors as:
Shape – example 6”, 6” x9”, this will be the size of the speaker that is mean for your door
Rms/Nominal Wattage – This is an important factor when matching with the amplifier
Peak Wattage – This should be higher that the amplifiers peak wattage (per channel) or the speaker will blow.
As for subwoofer – make sure it’s amped adequately and its box is designed for that particular sub-woofer (you can do this using many online software by entering the Thiele/Small values of the speaker).
Lastly, an over looked part is also the wiring. This aspect can bring down the best of systems if taken for granted. Invest a little in wires and as a thumb rule, the power cable from the battery must not under any circumstance run parallel to a signal/rca or speaker cable. The current in this cable is very high though voltage is only 12v. This causes very high electromagnetic field that can disrupt your sound quality.
With these pointers you should be able to cruise into the sunset to your favorite tunes, but remember your still on the road and safety always takes precedence over pleasure.