Typical mistakes of a beginner in car audio: choosing the right audio components

Car music system. For some, this means only a radio and two speakers, while others put their whole soul (and a significant share of the savings) into the sound of a “mobile boombox”. Often, owners want to fix the sound of the factory system or install all components from scratch , hoping to get the sound “like a neighbor”. This seemingly ordinary activity can become a real headache. Unless, of course, you do not know and do not take into account the basics of choosing components. We will tell about them now.

What can go wrong?
Today, almost every car is equipped with at least a primitive audio system with two to four speakers. This is enough to listen to the radio, as well as receive calls via Bluetooth or use navigation. It’s a completely different matter when it comes to playing quality music. Even the most inexperienced listener will notice how primitive and mediocre regular audio systems are. Of course, if we are talking about folk “classics”, and not about some exclusive equipment with high-quality components from Harman.

In this case, a fix idea is born: improve the system with your own hands by installing loud speakers and a radio with RGB backlight. Make it easy. But then the last bolt is tightened, the last clip snaps into place, the audio system turns on … And it turns out that the sound has practically not changed (or even worsened). Here and there, wheezing, crackling, ringing and other vile overtones that were not there before are heard.

This can happen with the wrong selection of components or an irrational approach to building a car sound system. Let’s sort it out in order, which sound pests can sit in the system and how to get rid of them. And even better, how to avoid their appearance during configuration.

When the body “sounds” to the beat of the music
In the theory of sound extraction there are laws that are the basis of the correct sound. For example, everyone knows that speakers made of wood sound better than plastic computer “soap dishes”. It’s all about resonating materials. The more “flimsy” the speaker materials are, the louder and more actively they sing along to the beat of the dynamics. This is harmful to the sound, and in the case of a car, also to the body, which risks falling apart in places of poor quality welding.

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how to avoid it? Before installing and setting up the correct audio system, it is necessary to tidy up our “column” – the car body. Most often, the speakers in the car are the doors and trunk. In these places you need to provide good sound insulation.

However, noise isolation is a generalized concept. In fact, it is a combined process. First, the body parts are stiffened with an anti-vibration material. Then the level of noise penetration from the wheels and the road through the door card is reduced. At the same time, all large openings are closed in the door, which turns it into a closed box. This is a sure way to soft bass and rich punch.

Only after high-quality sound insulation, you can proceed with the installation of other components. However, after the work done, try to play your favorite track on standard speakers – you will be pleasantly surprised and, perhaps, even change your mind about changing something.

Conclusion #1. When building sound in a car, sound insulation and vibration isolation cannot be ignored. Not only the speakers, but also the body are responsible for playing music in the car. He, being a kind of huge membrane, just plays to the beat of the speakers because of the high resonant ability. This point needs to be addressed.

Why is a stage needed?
Don’t rely on professional advice from a car audio store. Being engaged in marketing, sellers forget what and how it works here (and even more often they don’t know). Usually they are guided by the people’s “mood”: they say, buy these speakers, everyone takes them and does not complain. At the same time, no one specifies the purpose for which speakers are purchased, what different owners require from them.

However, the problem exists. So-called “pop” speakers are usually bought. They are often installed complete with a conventional radio. Or, even worse, with a regular system. In any case, it turns out a creepy cadavers. Most likely, you will get a sound of mediocre volume without good “tops” and with a complete absence of bass.

The fact is that the “stage” is a special segment of the speakers, designed for loud reproduction of medium and high frequencies. The missing thresholds are reached with the help of a subwoofer and high-frequency tweeters . “Swing” such speakers will not. They have a high level of sensitivity, but have virtually no membrane travel. This limits the range of reproducible frequencies. And for the normal “buildup” of such a radiator, an external amplifier and fine tuning of the frequency cuts are required.

Whether it’s the sound in an ordinary car that does not claim to be SPL or SQ championships. For civilian tasks such as “listening to songs on the road”, good component or even coaxial acoustics will suffice. Just ask the store to include several sets and choose the one you like best.

Conclusion #2. For an ordinary car with a standard “head”, good component speakers or coaxial models will suffice. The former are sold as a “midrange speaker and tweeter”, the latter are an all-in-one hybrid. With a new good quality radio, the speakers will play even cooler.

Bluetooth and backlight – more to come
Modern car radios support Bluetooth connection, and can also read files from flash drives and memory cards. At the same time, they glow beautifully and have bright screens – earlier this was considered chic and was found only in flagships. However, many still believe that these characteristics are the main ones.

However, building the right sound on a radio without a processor is no longer comme il faut. Yes, it makes adjustments to the budget, and quite strong ones. For example, a conventional radio can be purchased even for 1500 rubles.

It will play via Bluetooth and even allow you to output sound through the line outputs. But don’t expect miracles from her. An amplifier connected to such a “balalaika” will not work like that, with a high-quality processor “head” . Many factors play a role here, including the component base. For example, the presence of high-quality preamplifiers in the radio and an intelligent equalizer with the ability to adjust cutoffs and frequencies.

If you have enough radio and MP3 in a compressed format, you can stop at a standard device. But we are talking about a competent approach to car audio. In this case, the processor radio or, at least, a high-quality classic will set the tone for the entire assembly. There are not only the correct sound settings here, but also channel-by-channel separation of signal strength, delay adjustment and other “goodies” .

Conclusion number 3. We do not save on the head unit. Even without external amplifiers and replacement of speakers, the sound from the processor radio will be much more voluminous and richer. And, of course, it will be easier to customize it to your taste.

First a monoblock, then an amplifier: what the savings lead to
The more advanced and better the component in car audio, the more expensive it is. This applies to any node – radio, speakers, vibration isolation materials and even copper wiring. The rule also works in the case of external amplifiers .

The price of the amplifier is influenced by factors such as the number of channels, maximum output power, the presence of built-in sound filters, the level of protection against overheating, overload or short circuit. Buyers often ignore them for the sake of savings. The fact that a terrible mistake occurred during the purchase, the owners understand later.

However, most often the problem is not even in the characteristics. When buying a monoblock (amplifier with a single channel to work with a subwoofer), the owner expects to “shake” the car with low frequencies so that the doors and roof tremble. But after listening to a couple of tracks, it becomes clear: it is impossible to isolate the music itself from this vibrating porridge. The front speakers (front) simply do not have enough radio power to sound on par with the subwoofer.

As a result, you will have to go for a new amplifier for the front speakers. This is another waste of money: two amplifiers cost more than one four-channel with high power. To this will be added a new set of wiring, another dismantling of the cabin for pulling wires and finding a place to mount the amplifier.

A popular solution for high-quality sound, and not low-frequency massage, is to buy an amplifier with four channels, two of which will be used for front speakers. The remaining channels (rear), in bridged mode, are connected to the subwoofer. As a result, each component receives sufficient power, and the owner receives a loud and high-quality sound with minimal investment and modifications.

Conclusion number 4. We do not save on the amplifier. To build a balanced sound system, you need to power all components from an external amplifier. In this case, the rear speakers can be excluded and a subwoofer can be connected instead. This is enough to win back the volume and fill the “scene”. In this case, you can stop at one four-channel medium power amplifier.

Does wire color affect sound?
Inexperienced users mistakenly believe that ready-made kits must be used to connect the amplifier. As a rule, they include power wires in beautiful insulation. As well as the factory AGU fuse in a transparent flask and a set of “tulips” for connecting to the linear outputs of the radio. Do not rush to spend the entire amount on a kit – there is a better solution.

Power wire
Use the highest quality power cord. This can be found in stores that specialize in electrical goods. In powering a powerful amplifier, the main thing is not the appearance of the conductor, but its ability to carry kilowatts of power without heating and large losses. The required characteristics are possessed by ordinary “welding” wires of the KG series made of pure copper. Copper-plated aluminum, which the manufacturers of the finished kit carefully serve under the guise of “musical copper” is not our choice.

In the case of KG, only one rule works – the thicker, the more powerful. Do not get carried away with the squaring of the wire: its thickness affects the flexibility and agility. This is very disturbing when laying the cable in the cabin. However, “shrinking” is also not recommended, so we choose a cable with a margin. Suddenly, a four-channel monster will drive up to the monoblock?

Typically, for a standard system with a 350-400W rated power amplifier, 10mm2 wire will suffice. For a reserve, you can take 16 mm². This is all that is needed to supply power to the amplifier – the color and material of the shell do not affect the sound quality.

Complete with a “beautiful” power wire, an AGU type fuse is required. This is a fuse-flask that works on the principle of clamping. Often such systems fly out and melt. In some situations, they can cause a fire due to poor contact. In a car audio system, it is better to use ANL or mini-ANL fuses. They are also supplied in a transparent flask, but are connected to the power line with bolts. This improves contact and reduces the chance of oxidation.

The funds saved on the “beautiful” wire can be spent on high-quality interconnect wires. These are the so-called “tulips”, which deliver a linear signal from the radio to the amplifier. Poor quality RCA wires can tint – suffer from pickups and external noise. In this case, you should pay attention to the sets of famous manufacturers. In addition, with proper dexterity, the wires can be made independently.

Many owners additionally install a drive – a capacitor that smooths out power drops during power surges. However, the battery and alternator in the car have enough power to power a medium power sound system. Even more powerful installations do not need fake drives – owners of extreme builds simply install additional batteries and generators.

Conclusion number 5. We use high-quality wires and do not install “extra”. It is better if these are nondescript but reliable KG than Chinese aluminum cables. The latter are subject to accelerated corrosion and oxidation. We pay special attention to the quality of the fuse, as well as signal cables.

A subwoofer is not “just to boom”
When choosing speakers for the front, we are guided by their “singing” characteristics. Moreover, the amount of bass here plays the last role – this task is taken over by the speaker of the lower or subwoofer level.

Even more errors are made at this point than at all the others. The reason is simple: not all amateurs understand the specifics of sound propagation. For example, owners of sedans always lose in the amount of bass due to the structure of the body. Since the subwoofer is in the trunk, low-frequency waves need to break through the layer of seats and the metal reinforcement frame under the shelf. In station wagons and hatchbacks, there are no such obstacles, so almost all sound pressure enters the cabin. This allows owners to use a subwoofer with less power and volume while maintaining the same bass intensity.

Before chasing woofer power, be sure to prepare your car. The most “non-collective farm” method is to cut holes in the rear shelf to fit the “pancake” or “oval” type speakers, then cover them with decorative nets or “grills”. In this case, it will be easier for low frequencies
Conclusion number 6 . The subwoofer should play in the cabin, not in the trunk. This rule works not only with low-power emitters, but also with monstrous “kilowatts”.

Of course, the above points are just the highlights. In addition, there are a ton of nuances and little things that will haunt the DIYer throughout the entire process of working with sound.

For example, these are problems when installing speakers of a non-standard size, which can touch the glass with magnets when fully lowered. This also includes a common problem with pickups in the speakers when the car is running. In this case, you need to look for a problem in the quality of the linear wires, as well as the place where they are laid – perhaps there is a power line nearby that creates a magnetic field.