Buying an audio system for your car

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One of my friends is in the market for a decent sound system for his Honda City. (He owns the regular one, not the new Honda City – not yet :) ).

He did what any Internet savvy person would do, he searched online. Not surprisingly, he found Pakwheels.com, one of the largest online forum about Pakistani cars.

Knowing that a lot of people search for information regarding car audio system, I thought that here at Car Adivce, there should be a basic criteria for purchasing a car audio system. The following is to help you decide the type of system you want, based on very important factors apart from just the price (Price is a constraint, never to be mistaken for a feature). So I present to you the progressive guide to buying a car audio system:

Here are basic questions that you need to ask yourself to get to the right type of sound system you want for your car:

  • Do you rock or do you roll?
    A lot of people focus entirely on the power output of their woofers, and regardless they listen to hard rock music, would play sounds just to get the windscreen vibratin’! This is where you, being the oh-so-sensible shopper, decide if you’d be listening to a lot of say, Rock music or are you more of an instrumentals person? How can your music listening styles affect your music system? Well, if you are more into Rock, then yes, a woofer would be a wise investment, but if you are into instrumentals then sacrificing raw wattage for sharper sound quality will help you enjoy each note of any symphony! Enhance your driving pleasure by choosing the sounds wisely, friends!
  • Compatibility with home recorded CDs and MP3s
    This is an often overlooked ‘feature’ of your car audio system. I own a Honda Accord CF3 2002, and the CD player that comes built in always gives me problems while playing burned audio CDs (.wav format) and does not play MP3s at all! Make sure that your system plays all sorts of CDs because sooner than later, most of the music you will be listening to will be burned from your computer to a CD. Then that music will not play on your car and your woofer, your tweeters, amp and pre will just sit there and look pretty.
  • Can the system connect to different devices?
    Also called ‘Preouts‘, does your system have extra connectors for devices such as an external CD changer that you plan to put in the boot/trunk/dikki(!!) of your car? But be careful, you might forego a great pre only becuase it does not have preouts, whereas you yourself may not need them that bad. Better look into that.
  • Two-way, Three-way?
    The speakers in your car depend largely on your car manufacturer, but you probably will either be getting rid of the car speakers totally or combining them with the new speakers that you will buy. I recommend not wasting a probably good pair of speakers altogther and combining them with your new ones. Speakers are either two- or three-way. Two way speakers have a tweeter (for high frequency sounds) and a woofer (for low frequency sounds). Three way speakers have an additional ‘channel’ for mid-range frequencies. Basically, Three way speakers give more ‘depth’ to the sound and are usually a better choice than two-way speakers.

Remember, a good sound system is the one that lets you enhance your driving pleasure. If you think that an investment in to a high quality sound system is going to make that commute in your car all the more pleasureable, then that might as well be money well spent.

Happy driving.

3 thoughts on “Buying an audio system for your car

  1. Aslamo Alaikum, and thanks for ur tips, well i want to buy a sond system that has a cd player and an aux or usb or both,
    now i dont have a huge budget, so my budget is around 5500 at max.
    now my preference is good sound quality not huge rock kind, just smooth but excellent sound quality,
    secondly recommend the company , pioneer, kenwood or sony???
    and thirdly what is Sound to Noise Ratio, and how much sound quality depend on it or any other featuree which is important for sond quality????
    pls do reply i will be greatful to u thanks.

  2. @Faheem: well, one of the most important feature for good sound quality is the ‘sound’ itself :P … i.e. not who sang what, but how is it recorded. Sometimes the sound is recorded at a lower level (MP3′s can have a lower bit rate which gives them a poorer sound quality, for example).

    Signal-to-noise ratio (also called SNR)is – in layman’s terms – a comparison between the music itself (the sound that you ‘want’ to hear) and background noise (things like static, hiss etc that comes usually when the sound quality itself is not that good). A higher SNR (or S/R) will mean that you have more music than background sound which is good. If you want to get more technical on your audio system, I recommend checking this link for details on audio sound measurements.

    A decent sound system that can let you enjoy your sound to the full — and that in PKR 5500 — is a bit harder to find. A new Sony ‘pre’ could set you back 6,000 easy, thats without speakers and amps etc.

    Hope you get a good deal,
    God bless & peace.

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