• Tips for Putting Together The Best Stereo System

    If you aren’t an expert in car audio equipment, researching and purchasing a car stereo system can seem like a challenging process. But you don’t have to be an expert to find yourself a great car stereo. When putting together a new car stereo system, there are a number of different things that you are going to want to consider in order to get the best out of your audio set up.

    Here are some helpful tips to get you started:


    Make sure to find out what size car speakers will fit in your car. Since every car is built differently, you are going to want to find out the specific size and depth of the speakers that your vehicle will support. Use Crutchfield’s handy car audio selector to find out what size speakers your car supports.

    Don’t buy more than you need. If you have a smaller car, you don’t need a gigantic subwoofer and tons of power to get good sound. In this case, a simpler set up will provide the same level of sound quality and will cost you much less. Don’t worry about impressing anyone but yourself.

    Before you buy a car stereo system, it helps to have a clear understanding of the various issues involved in making a purchasing decision. And although you may not be an expert, if you follow the advice listed above, you will have a much better chance of getting an audio system that meets your needs and doesn’t break you budget.

    Speaker size and Location

    It’s obvious, but needs pointing out, that the first thing to consider when buying a new set of car speakers is whether or not they will fit in your car. You can often check the appropriate size in your automobile’s user manual, but if you can’t find the information there, most shops that sell car audio equipment will have a catalog or some other resource to help guide you. Remember that you have to consider both the width of the speaker (i.e., 5.25″, 6.5″, 6×9), and its mounting depth.

    Speaker location is also important. In order to get have a complete sound system, you are going to want to have speakers located in the front, center and rear of your car to achieve optimal balance.

    Sound quality

    It may seem obvious, but you get what you pay for. While you may be tempted to purchase a cheap car stereo system in order to save money, you will usually end up with lower sound quality and potentially paying more in the long run with repair. Check out Autos.com’s list of the 5 best car stereo manufacturers

    This is somewhat subjective, but your goal should be to hear every instrument and voice in your musical source. Having the loudest sound means nothing if the sound quality is not what you want. For these reasons, listen to the brands and sets that you are interested in while you’re still in the store. Usually, car audio departments have demo units in the display area that you can test.

    As with any audio system, speakers are the most important ingredient in quality sound reproduction. If you’re on a budget, focus on finding the highest quality speakers possible. While a nice sub-woofer or high powered amplifier may seem like a good use of your money, they aren’t nearly as important as a good set of speakers.

    Frequency response

    If rock and rap are your preferences, then you want to make sure that the speakers you purchase can deliver the lowest lows. This is 20 hertz in the recording studio, but 60-70 hertz will still give you a real “thump.” At the same time, music has high frequencies and harmonics that go up to 20,000 hertz. This is why you should listen to the audible frequency ranges that each speaker delivers.

    Power output

    This is better termed “efficiency,” how much sound a given speaker produces per watt of energy. Car stereo speakers list both peak and RMS output. If your car stereo (aka “head unit”) produces 50 watts then it is at peak power output. This is not your average listening level. Make sure your speakers have a high decibel rating, as this is one of the most important considerations in power output.


    People often pay minor attention to details during installation but this may be the most important step. Speakers generally produce sound both forward and backward, so dampening is advantageous as it significantly improves the performance of any set of car stereo speakers. Dynamat is one such example of sound dampening material and comes in sheets that can be cut and molded to door frames and speakers. Damping with material such as this reduces vibration, resonance, door rattles and more, and maximizes speaker efficiency. Careful and expert car stereo installation can make a decent set of speakers sound great.

    Get your system professionally installed. While some people may have the expertise to do their own car stereo installation, it can be a tricky process. Unless you are a car audio expert, it is wise to have your new system installed by a professional. Speakers and amplifiers that are installed incorrectly can cause serious damage to sound quality and may even damage the equipment itself. Since most installation shops offer guarantees, it’s a good idea to spend the extra money to have it installed correctly.

    Even installed systems that come standard in vehicles are quite good now but there is always some sonic improvement that can come from a small investment in upgrades. From merely replacing the door coaxial speakers to choosing a full blown system of separates from individual tweeters to subwoofers, here’s how to do it.