The car stereo is the centerpiece of any car audio system. They look great in the dash and are full of useful features. Also known as a radio, receiver, or head unit, today’s car stereo performs a variety of complex functions so that we can better enjoy our drive time. To understand these functions, it’s helpful to think of a car stereo as having three different sections:
Source — This is the part that let’s us choose what we want to hear. Sources may include a standard AM/FM tuner, CD or DVD player, satellite radio, iPod® or smartphone, or a USB input.
Preamp — This is where all sound adjustments are made. The preamp section includes controls ranging from simple volume, balance, fader, source selection, and tone adjustments to sophisticated crossovers, equalizers, and time correction.
Amplifier — The amplifier section boosts the small (low-voltage) audio signal coming from the preamp section into a larger (high-voltage) audio signal that’s sent out to the speakers.
Before settling on a new set of speakers, it’s imperative to know what factory speakers actually sound like, as well as their capabilities. There is a fine line between having the perfect level of sound and blowing the system, and many people learn that lesson the hard way when they don’t know what to listen for if a speaker is about to malfunction or blow out entirely.
Louder isn’t always better.
The other tip to keep in mind is that factory speakers are not even close to the sound quality that could be experienced with car speakers of a higher caliber, which will offer better sound and longevity. Even if on a budget, there are improvements that can be made to factory speakers that will improve the sound.
The woofer produces the lower notes in the speaker which are essential to the overall sound. Made to be stiff and also lightweight, the woofer is the main component to any speaker, and will create a sharper sound the stiffer it is.
Most woofers are manufactured using synthetic polypropylene. Other materials that can be used to make a woofer include synthetics coated with metals like titanium or polypropylene mixed with mica. The use of these materials makes the woofer durable and resistant to the elements.
If you want your music to be loud, amplifiers are definitely part of the picture. But whether you run your system wide open or softly enough for conversation, a power amplifier will breathe life into your music, bringing out all of its excitement and detail. Here are a few of the main benefits of adding an amp:
Better sound quality — Adding an amplifier gives you a clean power source that can drive your speakers without straining. Unlike an amplifier built into an in-dash stereo, an external power amp isn’t limited by the space available — it can be designed without compromises. That means your music will sound cleaner and more defined at all volume levels.
Power for upgraded speakers — A factory system or an in-dash receiver may not do justice to your upgraded speakers. If you’re adding high-quality aftermarket speakers or component systems to your vehicle, they may require more power for peak performance than your existing in-dash receiver can provide.
Powering a subwoofer — Subwoofers require significantly more power than a brand-name or factory in-dash receiver can provide. A separate amp is a necessity.
A tweeter’s sound is reliant on the type of material it is made from. There is a diverse use of materials that can be used to make a tweeter, including poly, textile blends, and silk for soft sounds. For high, sharp sounds, tweeters are made with graphite, ceramics, or metal.
Surround is extremely important to the overall sound of a speaker. The material used in the surround aspect of the speaker will also affect the sound it emits. Speakers made from rubber are durable, perform well, and withstand the test of time.
Reverse Cam / Driving Recorder
Clearly, the most obvious benefit of a rear-facing camera is that it helps avert injury-causing and potentially fatal backover accidents by expanding your field of vision, particularly below the rear window or trunk level. Cameras also increase your ability to see beyond the width of a mirror’s image, helping to eliminate blind spots. But in addition to helping protect people and property behind a vehicle, cameras have a number of other benefits as well.
For example, backup cameras can help you park more quickly and safely. Rear-facing cameras give the driver a much clearer and more accurate view of obstacles behind the car, and most backup systems include a warning tone that lets you know when you’re getting too close to an object.
Almost all backup cameras feature on-screen guidelines: two parallel lines that help direct you into or out of parking spaces more easily. Some also feature a middle line that can help you keep the vehicle centered in the space. Modern color displays allow the system to change the color of the guidelines from green to yellow to red as you get closer to an obstruction. And that, combined with an audible warning from rear-facing sensors, can be very useful in preventing backover accidents.
If you tow a trailer, a backup camera can be especially helpful. The camera gives you a close-up view of the trailer as you line it up with your vehicle’s hitch, while line color and audible sensors keep you posted on distance.