Car Audio Basics

1Written by Costbuys

Car audio has been around a very long time. Unlike home audio systems, car audio has been created around two compromises, size and cost. The size has to fit the standard dashboard of each car. The drive to keep costs down means that car audio systems generally do not sound as good. Before you decide on your next online buy, let’s look at the main three components of a car audio system:

The head unit

This is the heart of a car stereo system and is typically referred to as the head unit. Most head units include radio tuners, cd drives. Newer models have Bluetooth for wireless connectivity from phones and large touchscreens. There are some that have internet and/or satellite radio. Modern versions also come directly connected to the car as an infotainment unit, which displays maps, navigation etc.

The amp

The amplifier is the second unit in the car and takes the audio signal from the head unit and amplifies it for the speakers. Entry level car audio systems only have the head unit and the speakers. The amplification is done by a small amp within the head unit. This is a consequence of keeping costs down.

The speakers

The speakers are the third and final component of a car stereo system. Most cars have at the very least four speakers. The next upgrade on that is to add two more speakers, which are two small tweeters. Getting high-end head units or amps will not have any effect unless the speakers are of sufficient quality.

When buying look for deals that you will find on online discount shopping sites. Rather than buying everything together, look at the best you can get from each category.


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