By Brian Casey
Nowadays everybody has music fitted in their cars. Every new car comes with a stock music system. However, it is logical to assume that the manufacturers will concentrate more on the car than on the actual sound system. This results in compromising on the quality of the car audio amplifier provided by the original manufacturer.
Do I need an amp for my car speakers, car audio amplifier? What does a car stereo amplifier do? Do I need a subwoofer in my car? In this article we take a closer look at the difference between the quality of sound that we get from stock car stereos and what we get from customized sound systems with dedicated car audio amplifiers for car speakers and provide you answers to these basic questions.
For more information: How to tell if a speaker is blown
Why should I add an amplifier to my car stereo?
If you enjoy a bit of loud music then an amplifier is definitely going to be required. But in fact, even if you want to keep the volume down, having a good amplifier will definitely add an extra dimension to the music that you hear in the background. Here are a few good reasons why adding an amplifier to your car speakers makes sense:
Better sound quality
The amplifier gives you smooth power which drives your speakers without putting them to much stress. This will result in great sound quality even at reduced volume levels.
If you are using upgraded speakers
If you have recently upgraded your speakers you will probably realize that the sound that is coming out does not do justice to be upgraded version of new speakers that you have installed. The reason is that the factory-installed system is not likely to be matched to your new speakers. The added power of a separate amplifier will drive the speakers in a better way to create improved sound.
If you have a subwoofer
You may have been advised to add a subwoofer for a better bass boost. However, without sufficient power to drive subwoofer you will find that instead of improving the sound on the contrary, it deteriorates it. An external amplifier will provide that extra power boost required for your subwoofer.
Choosing your car amp
There are few basic things that you need to look into while selecting an appropriate amp for your car. For example, number of channels power and system compatibility.
The amplifiers that you get in the market would be configured differently and will have a varying number of channels depending on the kind of a system that you want to use. Thus, you need to consider whether you are going to be using a subwoofer, surround speakers external speakers, and so on.
Ensure that you get sufficient power to drive the speakers. You should select an amplifier that can put out between 75% to 100% of the RMS value of your original factory speakers.
Head unit and car amplifier
If you are building a car audio system from scratch then you’re not only going to need a head unit namely the amplifier but you will need a preamplifier in the circuit as well. This will filter out the sound in an awesome way and give you crisp and clear sound.
Wiring is an aspect about installing car audio systems that often gets neglected and just done in a hashed-up way towards the end of the job. However, poor wiring can degrade a perfectly good audio system. Ensure that you use good quality coaxial cable, branded jacks and connectors and that there are no loose connections or poor soldering. Take care that the audio cables are routed properly and are not exposed to external electromagnetic fields.
See Also: How To Upgrade Car Speakers
A Word about Subwoofers
You can improve the sound on your car stereo by only adding a subwoofer. However, it is worthwhile noting that bass is on one of the difficult parts of the sound spectrum to amplify. You can get a mono or 1 channel amplifier which is specially designed for use with a subwoofer. If you connect such an amplifier to your subwoofer, you will get access to separate tone controls and filters specially designed to handle bass frequencies in the way that a 2-channel or 4-channel amplifier cannot.
Here is a kind of rule-of-thumb guide for blending bass with the rest of the sound in the spectrum:
- 50 watts to 200 watts of RMS power should be sufficient for stock car stereos.
- An aftermarket receiver would probably require about 250 watts to 500 watts to match speakers of 50 watts RMS per channel.
- If you have an audio system of 100 watts RMS, then you would be looking at least 1,000 watts for your subwoofer.
Specification Details of Subwoofers
Here are a few points that you need to consider regarding subwoofer specs:
- Power: If you want a high degree of bass boost like if you are going to be listening to rap, hip-hop or any of those high-bass genres of music, then you need a good power rating. Ensure that your subwoofer is matched properly with your amp.
- Sensitivity: Sensitivity is inversely proportional to the power required for a speaker. The higher the sensitivity, the less power you need to drive the subwoofer.
- Frequency Range: Ensure that the frequency response of the subwoofer is well-matched to low frequencies – the lower the better.
- Enclosure: Pay special attention to the subwoofer enclosure. Sealed boxes deliver the pretty effective results, however, make sure to explore all the options available regarding different types of subwoofer enclosures available to suit your specific requirements.
- Number of Voice Coils: A subwoofer with a dual voice coil will give you the best bass results.
- Size: This is a tricky issue. Although we consider big as good, you can get some pretty good results from smaller subwoofers as well.
If you are looking to upgrade your factory-issued car stereo, you need to use a separate car audio amplifier. Adding a subwoofer is like adding the cherry on the top. By adding these two vital components, you will breathe new life into your car stereo. You can also add a multichannel amplifier to your car stereo – it will drive all the speakers of your car, including the subwoofer.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and will benefit from it. Please leave your valuable feedback and comments and we will be glad to get back to you.