What is a car stereo?
When talking about vehicle’s audio equipment, things get a little too complicated. Especially because so many terms are being simultaneously used and you have no idea what term refers to what audio system? At times, a lot of people would also come across a word, ‘car stereo’ and we are sure some of you are still clueless regarding what it actually means. So, to cut it short for you, we will first identify what is a car stereo and then move towards further steps.
Basically, car stereo can be referred to the centerpiece of any car’s audio system. This car stereo deserves so many mentions because not only do they look really stylish in the dash, but they are also full of useful features. These car stereos can also be referred to by making use of different terms, such as ‘head units’, ‘receivers’ or ‘radios’.
This adds up to the fact that car stereo is a term used as a whole for both head units and car audio systems. While it is used to refer to a number of car audio systems, including amp, equalizers, crossovers, speakers, but the main term ‘Head Unit’ is mainly used as a synonym for car stereo systems. The Head Unit can easily be said to be the heart as well as the brain of a car audio system. And it can include the variety of things, mainly CD players, amplifiers, radio systems, and equalizers.
With Wireless technology, simply connect the iPhone with the car stereo and you can enjoy all the features of iPhone with Apple Carplay.
Car stereo enables a listening experience that we can better enjoy and relax in. Its functions can be pretty complex, but the major ones include three different sections, and these sections are stated as follows for better understanding;
- Preamp: This section is mainly known for making all the sound adjustments. It is having controls that range widely from simple tone adjustments and source selection to technical crossovers and time corrections.
- Source: This section aids us in identifying what we want to hear. It may include CD or DVD players, a radio, a USB port, FM or AM tune or a standard iPod or smartphone input.
- Amplifier: This section does the tricky yet significant part of the process, it boosts into high voltage audio, the signals sent to the speakers, the low voltage signals that are coming from the preamp section.
So, this was pretty much all the basic and necessary details that one needs to know in order to understand a car stereo system. Because until we don’t know what a product is, how can we then know the specifications needed to identify when buying that very product? We know what you are thinking, ‘Why on the earth do I need a new car stereo system?’. Well, we are ready to answer that! Just keep reading so you don’t miss out.
Why do you need to buy a new car stereo system for your car?
While there can be many reasons convincing enough to make you get your car a new car stereo system, some of the reasons are just too real to avoid. For example, anew stereo system will facilitate you with better sound and enhanced playback options, as compared to the old and typical factory stereo system installed in your car. Some other reasons that are valid enough to change and enhance our decision of not buying a new car stereo system are as follows;
- It enables better sound quality. With a new car stereo system, you get to hear a sound that is not just clearer but is crisper and has a deeper and enhanced bass. This richly detailed sound is enabled through the genuine built-in power and better circuit design than the old and typical factory installed stereo system in your car. You can fine-tune your music by making use of the enhanced tone controls in the preamp section.
- It helps you find new sources for music and adds functions. It is a very common reason to get a new stereo system installed, that you can expand your system’s music playback along with other capabilities. These capabilities can be termed as;
- MP3/WMA/AAC playback
- Support for iPod and iPhone
- Android support
- Satellite radio system
- DVD playback
- Bluetooth connectivity
- GPS navigation
- Support for Pandora Internet radio and other app-related sources
To cut the long story short, to enable the use of smartphone apps in the car is a reason huge enough to get a new car stereo system installed in your car. I recommend selecting a Bluetooth Car Stereo, if you have an old car, then read this guide about adding Bluetooth to Car.
Car Head Units (Car Stereo)
Now, when talking about Car Stereo/ Head Units, and if you may be considering to buy these, it is a major necessity to know the exact type of car stereo that you should have installed in your car. We all know that the market is filled with piles and piles of head units, with new crops being released each year.
So, does that also make you find yourself in a state of choice paralysis? Don’t worry! We are here for you. We will guide you through the whole process, leaving your mind with all the information it needs to make the right choice. But, for that, you first need to be able to identify the answers to some questions.
These questions include interrogative statements as follows;
What is the head unit that will actually fit my car?
What should I focus more on; budget or quality?
Identify your overall plans, including your needs and wishes for your car stereo system.
How would I like my head unit to be used as?
We know very well that some of these questions you might find difficult identifying by your own self. So, we bring you enough knowledge about the facts that are important and might prove to be helpful. But we promise, once you get to know your needs and identify them well, you will know how much fun shopping for a new head unit can get!
Let’s start with the basic thing we need to identify, ‘what stereo will fit my car?’. For this question, you need to know the types of head units that are present in the market. This will aid in helping you find out what car stereos will actually work in your vehicle.
Types of Head Units
The two main types of head units are:
Single DIN head units:
These are approximately one inch tall. If you have a car which already has a single DIN head unit, then you are left with limited choices. You can only replace this type of head unit with another single DIN car stereo. There might be a few cases where the factory installed set of the single head unit might be able to fit a double DIN stereo but to get really sure one must always disassemble the already existing car stereo to see if it can really fit a double DIN car stereo.
Double DIN head units: Double Din Stereo
These are approximately two inches tall. If your car has a double DIN head unit, then you are inclined to have multiple options. For example, you can replace this unit with an aftermarket double DIN stereo. Or even better, you can install a single din unit using bracket kit.
If you replace it a single DIN head unit, then you are free and have enough space to attach additional components with your head unit, for instance, a graphic equalizer, or even a storage compartment. Read here about, How to Clean Car Touch Screen?
Most car stereos fall under the category of single or double DIN, but there are other forms and sizes too, which are seldom found in cars. You might run into a radio which is 1.5 DIN, and you can replace this unit with a single head unit a direct-fit unit. Read this guide about adjusting double din stereo for best sound and also about connecting Bluetooth to Car.
If you are planning for a long drive, these super cool headrest monitors will keep you entertained all the way.
Read this detailed article about single din vs double din. I have added charts to explain how they differ and what makes one superior to other.
Components of Car Stereo:
There are three major components of a car stereo system, these components are not only operated by the head unit, but these are also somehow dependent in terms of proper and adequate functioning on the head unit. These components are as follows;
This is a step by step guide on Installing Tweeters to car Head Unit. with tweeters added to your stereo, you will have an awesome listening experience while you drive with your loved ones.
Let us talk about the speakers first. Speakers are devices that produce sound and compose your listening experience in your car. You can listen to any music you want with the help of these speakers. Various points are to be considered when finding the perfect speakers i.e. their bass, their impedance, their power handling, for some people also how these speakers look.
An ideal set of speakers should have powerful magnets installed in them, and these speakers themselves should be easy to install in your cars. Good quality speakers always better deliver top quality sound with powerful bass for better user experience. I have just finished an article on Car Speaker Sizes, that is specifically made for beginners. Car door speakers come in a variety of sizes.
Car speakers are divided into two categories;
Component Speakers – there are multiple drivers included in this type of speakers that perform the function to operate within a given range of frequencies. These speakers are placed in different parts of the whole car, hence enabling a fuller sound and better clarity. Read here, if you are looking for a guide on Installing Component Speakers in the Car.
Full Range (coaxial) – present mostly in factory audio systems, these types of speakers are common and are usually a typically single driver or 2 drivers that mounted together and emanate sound from 1 center point. Their quality is less dignified as compared to component speakers.
Types of car speakers:
- 3 1/2 inchCar Speakers
- 5 inch Car Speakers
- 5 1/4 inch Car Speakers
- 6.5 inch Speakers
- 6 3/4 inch Car Speakers
- 6×8 inch speakers
- 5×7 inch Speakers,
- 6×9 inch Speakers – These Best 6×9 Car Speakers are most famous when talking about audio systems. They are widely used around the globe to update or replace factory audio systems. They are oval shaped, stylish looking, and provide a deep bass with the crisp and clear sound that enhances your listening experience while being in your car.
I have added dedicated charts for various car models along with their speaker’s configuration. This guide will explain in detail car speakers wire colors and their codes.
This special type of speaker is designed to produce frequencies under the range of 30Hz level that results in cleaner and crisper sound. Subwoofers work together with other audio speakers and provide a wide range of sound frequencies. This way, you can not only hear guitar solos just fine, but deep bass licks and drum beats will also allow an amazing listening experience.
Read about if you want more bass out of your subwoofer.
Subwoofers produce sound by making use of the movement of air. These are designed in such a way that they enable enhanced cone movement required for low bass frequencies. Learn here about properly mounting the subwoofer box in the trunk.
Subwoofers Can be divided into the following categories according to their sizes
Different types of box designs for different sub-woofers will, in turn, produce different types of bass:
These air-tight boxes provide you with deep, precise bass. You can enhance performance by adding an amplifier having ample wattage.
Ported boxes: For forceful and powerful bass
These boxes work well with re-inforcing of low bass response. They are best used by metal-heads who love rock music.
Bandpass Subwoofer boxes
These boxes produce the aggressive and powerful sound that is suitable for music genres such as rap, reggae, and hard rock.
These sub-woofers enable flat frequency response. They are the most convenient ones to install but lack power handling abilities.
An amplifier receives small electrical signals and enhances them. It receives an input signal from its source and transforms it into an enlarged replica of the original smaller signal. The amplifier acquires the power to do this through a 110-volt wall receptacle. Read this Amplifiers Buyers Guide for detailed information.
Car Amplifiers can be divided into the following categories:
- Mono Channel Amplifier
- Dual Channel Amplifier
- Three Channel Amplifier
- Four Channel Amplifier
- 5 Channel Amplifier
- Six Channel Amplifier
Types Of Car Amplifiers:
- Class A Car Amplifiers :
- Class B Car Amplifiers :
- Class AB Car Amplifiers :
- Class D Car Amplifiers :
- Beyond A, B and D :
Here is the detailed guide for Class ab amplifier vs class d.
Amplifiers can also be categorized as follows;
- Weak signal amplifier
- Power Amplifier
A weak signal amplifier is most commonly used in wireless receivers. It is engineered in a way that it can only deal with small input signals that measure only a few nanovolts. You can find such amplifiers in acoustic pickups, audio tape players, and compact disc players.
A power amplifier is most commonly used in wireless transmitters and hifi equipment. They have major power output and massive power efficiency.
Team- Stereo Authority- Car Stereo