The term Car Audio is often used to describe all of the various components that make up a car's sound system. While most new cars sold today come with pre-installed stock car audio systems, many car owners will choose to customize and enhance their vehicle's audio capabilities with a wide variety of aftermarket parts and accessories. Due to the large amount of car audio options and configurations currently on the market, it is important to understand the purpose of each of the components and how they can affect the overall sound.
The central component of any car audio system is the Head Unit. The head unit is the interface that is used to control the various adjustable aspects of the audio system, from volume control and equalization, to the operation of the radio or CD/Cassette player. Head Units come in many different styles and layouts (some even containing graphic displays for DVD playback) and can vary widely in price depending on the capabilities they offer. As you look into various Head Units, it's important to consider what type of media devices you are going to use to playback your music. Different Head Units can support the use of CD's, cassette tapes, DVDs, mini-discs and USB flash memory drives, as well as various combinations of them.
Another important component of any car audio system is the Speakers. While most car audio systems come with speakers already installed, they often don't provide the same level of clarity and bass that high end speakers can provide. Aftermarket speakers can come in many different sizes, from 3 inch speakers used primarily on dashboards, to 8 inch speakers. When deciding on what speakers to buy, it is important to find out what sized speakers will fit in your specific vehicle. Subwoofers are a type of audio speaker that help improve the reproduction of lower frequencies and are often used to enhance the Bass end of the audio spectrum.
While most head units will have an Amplifier already built into them, they often don't produce the amount of wattage necessary to power additional audio components such as subwoofers. In order to achieve this extra power output, many car owners will choose to purchase an external amplification source. Before you buy a car audio amplifier, it is important to make sure that the unit you purchase has the true power output necessary to power the various components of your car audio system.
While these are the most common car audio components, they are by no means all of them. As you start to research the various car audio options that are available to you, try to identify exactly what it is you want in a car stereo system. Once you have a better idea of what you are going for, you will have an easier time choosing the right components for your needs. Check out our extensive database of articles for more in-depth information and advice on a wide range of car audio topics.