A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE MAJOR COMPONENTS THAT ANY CAR AUDIO/MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM SHOULD HAVE;
When you have a car there are certain things that are must-have items. You need an engine that runs well, brakes that work good and a properly working cooling system. After that comes the creature comforts for your car that are nice to have such as air conditioning, a good looking interior design and a car stereo system that sounds good.
It is the latter that gives most people the hardest time choosing because there is so much variety in the marketplace and so much misinformation out there too. That is why we have decided to take the time to go over with you some of the major components found on car stereo systems and the role they play in the function of that system.
THE 3 MAJOR COMPONENTS OF CAR AUDIO/MEDIA SYSTEMS
Car audio systems have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Gone are the days when these systems only included basic AM and FM radio and maybe an additional cassette or CD player. Modern audio systems for vehicles now can do such things as stream music and even display DVD videos on built-in screens. Despite being vastly improved versions the core pieces of equipment in a car stereo system remain basically the same.
What are the three major components that any good car stereo or media system must have? These include:
- Head Unit (HU)
Let’s take a little closer look at the key roles that each of these components plays in your car’s audio/multimedia system.
THE BRAINS OF YOUR CAR AUDIO SYSTEM: THE HEAD UNIT
It does not matter how good the rest of the components are in your car audio system are if you do not have a good head unit to distribute good quality sound and video waves to those other components. That is what makes getting this portion of your car audio purchasing decision right very important.
Although we choose to call this key component a ‘head unit’ you may know it as one of many other names it is referred to also. Some people refer to it as a base unit, deck, or stereo receiver too. It is of the utmost importance to choose your head unit wisely so you can get the type of sound and media experience you want out of your vehicle’s audio/multimedia system.
IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS TO CONSIDER WHEN SHOPPING FOR A CAR AUDIO/MULTIMEDIA HEAD UNIT
You will most likely be amazed at all the different price ranges there is on car audio/multimedia head units. That is why we always recommend setting a shopping budget for your stereo head unit purchase. It will save you hours and hours of looking at products you are never going to buy in the first place.
No two front panels on any vehicle are ever designed exactly the same. That is why factoring in the size of the new stereo system you will put in your car is so hugely important. No matter how much you want a particular model system it may simply not fit in the space you have to work with. So make sure you know your minimum and maximum space requirements for the new vehicle audio/multimedia system you want to install.
Car audio systems are usually not their powerful in their own right as far as the volume of sound they can produce (often referred to as ‘Watts per Channel’). That is why most users prefer to add an amplifier into the system but that does not mean you have to do this. If you prefer to let just the head unit power your speakers, then make sure it has enough watts per channel to satisfy you. This information will be listed on the stereo head unit package and online under the unit’s specifications.
Audio and video sources to be played on it
We mentioned that the days of car audio/multimedia systems only consisting of the ability to play FM, AM and CD music is over. Nowadays manufacturers design their head units so they can do such things as play streaming audio and video, play DVDs and more. So make sure the vehicle audio/multimedia system that you are thinking about buying has the ability to play your preferred choice of media.
Smart device integration
If you store your favorite music, videos and photos on a multimedia device such as an iPhone or another smart device you may want to have the ability to play or display these things on your stereo head unit. It makes keeping track and playing your favorite multimedia very convenient. It makes it even more convenient if you can play these on your car audio/multimedia system without going to much trouble. That is where features such as Bluetooth integration are very nice to have on your vehicle’s head unit.
Check out which Bluetooth Car Kits are best?
Many people like to have GPS navigation at their disposal when they drive their vehicle. It is a great hands-free tool for getting you where you need to go in an unfamiliar area as you drive. You will find as you are shopping for a new car audio/multimedia system that many models are built to include this handy feature.
The more you familiarize yourself with these head unit characteristics and apply them to your needs and wants, the better chance you have at finding a car stereo head unit that meets your requirements perfectly.
CAR AMPLIFIERS ADD HEART AND SOUL TO YOUR VEHICLES SOUND SYSTEM
Unless you are the type of person that likes to listen to soft stereo music on your vehicles sound system you will most likely find it to be underpowered. That is why most people choose to add some means of sound amplification to their vehicle’s audio/multimedia system. This can make a huge difference in your listening and viewing pleasure.
Your car amplifiers sole purpose is to boost the signal form your head unit as it travels to the speakers. This helps to create a higher sound level and make better use of your speakers. There are usually installed in one of two different ways:
CAR AMPLIFIER MOUNTING
Unfortunately, most front panels on a vehicle do not have the room to add much in the way of an amplifier to your car’s audio/multimedia system. That means that internally installed amps are small and most likely can only boost your sound signal a little bit. Many of these will only boost your audio signal 10 – 20 watts per channel which is not enough to satisfy hardcore music listeners as they drive.
Those that demand extreme power from their car amplifier often purchase ones that mount elsewhere in their vehicle. These include models that can conveniently be placed under a seat or in the trunk space of your car. Externally mounted amplifiers are typically more expensive than internally mounted ones but they can seriously boost the audio signal from your head unit.
CAR AMPLIFIER TYPES
You cannot just go out and purchase the first car amplifier unit you come across and expect it to do the job for you properly. Car amplifiers come in many different configurations to match the speakers you have in your car audio system. It would take an article 5 times the size of this one to cover all that is necessary but we will briefly describe how an amplifier type matches up with the speakers you have installed in your vehicle.
Car audio amplifiers come in several different configurations. These configurations are based on both the power they supply and the number of speakers that can be attached to them. They are often described as being a mono-channel amp that will power just a single speaker all the way up to a 6 channel amp that can easily power up to 6 different types of speakers. Amplifiers found in cars typically do not go higher than 6 channels. You must know the number of speakers you want to set up and the power to run those speakers before you can begin your search for your car audio amplifier.
Without a doubt, if you add a car audio amplifier to your vehicle sound system it will greatly enhance your listening pleasure.
YOUR VEHICLES ALL-IMPORTANT SPEAKER SYSTEM
The speakers in your car act as the arms and legs that deliver quality sound throughout your vehicle. Just like all amplifiers are not all the same, speakers have different characteristics too. It is the different components and drivers (the part of a speaker that changes electrical energy into sound waves) in a speaker that determines what type of speaker it is. The speakers in your vehicle do not all have to be the same type as long as you have the right base unit or amplifier to make them work.
Here are the most commonly found speaker types that are used in building car audio systems:
Coaxial (full range) Speakers
These are very popular type speakers to install in a car, truck or SUV. They are popular because they are lower in cost than component type speakers and they usually take up less space too. They include both a tweeter (for reproducing treble based sounds) and a woofer (capable of reproducing bass based sounds) in the exact same unit.
The drawback to these type of speakers is their sound quality is not as good as speaker system that uses individual components. They are unique in the fact that it takes only one driver to work both the speaker parts found in them.
These are speaker systems in a vehicle that incorporate many different individual speakers into them. They usually consist of combinations of speakers that include woofer, tweeter and mid-range speakers. For those who prefer ultra-high quality bass and treble, they may also include subwoofers and super tweeters respectively. Component systems also require individual drivers for each speaker in the setup which means they will require a bigger amplifier too.
Component systems offer the highest quality sound reproduction that can be found in a vehicle. You can easily tell the difference between a car that has a coaxial speaker system and a car that has a component speaker system in most instances. The sound quality in a component system is really that good.
The big drawbacks with component systems are the amount of mounting room they take up inside your vehicle and the cost of them. These prime considerations force many vehicle owners to use coaxial based speaker systems.
Sometimes people choose to mount a dedicated subwoofer type speaker in their vehicle too. If you choose to do this you will most likely be a person who is probably into music that demands you have a lot of high-quality, low-frequency bass handling capability in one or more of your speakers. When a car passes by you and it is vibrating because the music inside it is so loud, then chances are that car has a separate subwoofer installed in its speaker system.
If you match the right speakers with the right head unit and amplifier it can really make for an incredible listening experience as you drive around in your vehicle.
You may also like: Double Din Head Units and Touch Screen Car Stereos
WE ARE HERE TO HELP WITH YOUR CAR AUDIO/MULTIMEDIA SHOPPING NEEDS
Most people do not even realize what they are getting themselves into when they start looking for a new car audio/multimedia system. With all the different choices you will have in styles and price ranges it can even be a bit overwhelming at times. This website was designed to help simplify the car audio/multimedia buying process by helping you make an informed buying decision. We even include some handy links to some of the best deals on car audio and multimedia equipment you will find. So refer back to us often as you attempt to find a car audio/multimedia system that nicely fits your needs and fits into your budget.