How to Buy and Test A New Audio System for your Car

Audio System

Just a decade or so ago, automotive sound systems used to be very simple having few speakers, a radio receiver and that’s it; whereas only advanced stereos have a CD player which were considered a luxury. These sound systems were more or less similar in luxury cars and trucks. Now fast forward to the 21st century and the car audio systems now are more like highly developed recording studios which are equipped with powerful amplifiers and subwoofers.

While the basic car stereo systems remain relatively the same over years, aftermarket sound systems have revolutionized in recent years and are now equipped with plenty of modern audio features. Numerous features and endless stereo options make it extremely difficult to pick the one which is right for your car and has all the features and audio components you’ve been looking for.

Buying New Sound System:

Every sound system claims to be the best in the market, but naturally, you can’t buy all, neither all of them are the best. So, consider the following parameters while selecting the stereo system; these will help you in taking the right decision:

As much as it’s essential to get the right imaging, it is equally difficult to get one. The sound coming from the lower side of the door, below your thighs, is not a pleasing experience. Pay attention to the details like; does the music sound coming from each speaker naturally blends into each other and provides a coherent sound or no? Does every instrument and voice in the music have obvious separation? These specs are crucial to consider for making the right decision because the quality sound doesn’t depend entirely upon the volume and there are several other features that contribute to it.

Yes, size matters especially of aftermarket speakers. A broad range of best car speakers are available in the marketplace which comes with varying specifications and sizes; look out for the speakers which aren’t only up to the mark in the performance but their size and depth also matches the OEM hole of your car. Otherwise, it’ll be really difficult to install them.

Clarity and Distortion:
Premium aftermarket car sound systems are now equipped with plenty of powerful and complicated features, but the downside is that playing music clearly on such a powerful system is easier said than done. You put on loud music, and the heavy power causes every component of the car to rattle and nothing can be more annoying than the rattling plastic sound.

While you are test-checking your premium audio system, play some modern pop-rock music tracks; these numbers which have high bass and mids quickly bring forward any such problem in the audio system.


A well-tuned sound system breathes new life into your favorite track and makes you forget that you’re listening to music on the car’s stereo system. The sign of a well-tonal balanced stereo system is that despite slipping in all the bass and treble, it doesn’t change the nature of the sound, pay attention to this factor.

Frequency Range:
Audible frequency ranges of the car speakers differ a lot and therefore should be keenly observed. Listen to the frequency response of the speakers you want to buy. For rock and rap music lowest frequency range from 50-70 Hertz will be required, while harmonics of some can touch up to 20,000 Hertz, therefore it’s essential to select speakers that offer a wide frequency range.

Features To Look Out For In The New Stereo:

Besides the above-mentioned parameters, pay attention to the following features and list out your expectations from the new stereo; these will assist you in selecting the best speakers and serve you with the most satisfying music experience in your car.

  • Android Smartphones besides performing several amazing functions are our go-to-devices to play music along with MP3 players; to connect them with your car’s audio system you should look for the following options:
    • Auxiliary audio jacks for easy connectivity
    • USB inputs
    • Bluetooth capability, in case you want to play wireless music or receive a call as using Bluetooth headsets while driving can be risky.
  • CD & DVD
    • Although all sound systems now come with CD/DVD players, it’s preferable to look for the DVD player for video playbacks
  • Radio and Apps
    • Look out for satellite radio receivers; they’ll enhance standard FM/AM radio experience and you’ll be able to play music via SIRIUS or XM satellite radio; though you’ll have to pay for them separately.
    • If you’re an app kind of person who streams music through apps like Pandora, Soundcloud, etc; then make sure their compatibility option in the new sound system.
  • Built-in GPS for easy navigation
  • Touch screen for convenient operation and control; opt for steering wheel controls for using the car’s factory controls.

Let your ears be the judge:

Last but not the least; the best judge of any sound system will definitely be your ears, let them do their work. In light of the above parameters and your shortlisted features, pick out your car sound systems, and then test them. Bring your own music and spend sufficient time listening to your favorite tracks. Play a variety of songs to check the sound quality of the stereo. A dynamic, loud track will aid you to determine its imaging, while podcasts and audiobooks can be played to check the clarity of the system.

Find out the complexity level of operating the sound system; it should be easy to control and handle while driving. Once you are happy with all the aspects and functionality of the car audio system, you are good to go to make a sound decision for the sake of an amazing sound experience.

This is a guest contribution by Kostas Chiotis, a technology enthusiast, obsessive tinkerer and constant blogger. You can see his blog at and if you like this article follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more articles like this one.

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