A car can be a great place to enjoy music, but many commuters still put up with marginal sound quality that they'd never tolerate at home. Others assemble sophisticated sound systems for their cars, then make common installation mistakes that keep the system from reaching its full potential.
Here are some suggestions on how to improve the sound in your vehicle, with tips for both simple factory systems and more sophisticated setups. You don't have to live with bad sound in your car. Even the simplest improvements to your system can yield noticeable results.
Tip #1: Replace your car's speakers In most cases, the speakers are just about the last thing a manufacturer thinks about when designing and building your car. Factory systems have gotten better over the last few years, but many so-called "premium" systems still use relatively inexpensive amps and speakers that don't deliver top-notch sound.
You can make a big difference in your system's sound quality by installing a nice set of aftermarket speakers. You'll hear tighter bass and more overall clarity, and you'll most likely notice details you've never heard before in songs you've known for years.
Replacement speakers give you maximum bang for your buck, so they're a terrific first step on the road to better sound.
Tip #2: Select a lower level of compression for your music files Yes, you can store more music files in your music player if you use greater compression, and they'll sound okay when you're listening through earbuds. But you lose some high- and low-frequency information when you compress your music, along with some of the details that make your music interesting. And, on a good car audio system, you can really tell that something's missing.
Don't settle for the default setting when creating your files. If you want to use your iPod, smartphone, or MP3 player in your car, try using as little compression as possible. The higher the bit rate, the better your music will sound through your car's system.
Tip #3: Bypass your music player's built-in digital-to-analog converter A digital-to-analog converter, or DAC, has the job of converting digital information — 0's and 1's — into analog music signals. Your music player's built-in DAC usually does a good enough job for casual listening with earbuds, but it doesn't deliver the same level of performance you can get from the more advanced DACs found in many of today's better car stereos. Fortunately, if you can connect your iPod or phone to your aftermarket stereo via a USB cable, you might be able to bypass your device's DAC. It depends on the individual stereo, so be sure to check the stereo's "Hands-on Research" info on the Crutchfield website for confirmation.
Tip #4: Use Dynamat or another sound deadening material By reducing vibration and road noise, Dynamat does two things to make your system sound better.
First off, a door panel isn't the best place for a speaker — the thin metal vibrates as your music plays, which affects the accuracy of the sound. When you attach Dynamat to your door panel, it deadens those vibrations and creates a more stable platform for your speaker, more like the wooden baffle on a home speaker.
Second, have you ever noticed how your system sounds really good at 25 mph, but gets a little harsh when you hit 60? Road noise tends to mask the lower frequencies first, so your system sounds overly bright when you turn it up at highway speeds. Dynamat lowers interior noise levels in your car, so you don't have to turn your music up as loud when you're driving. You'll hear more musical detail, and your amps won't have to work as hard. And that's all good.
Tip #5: Add an amplifier You may be saying "My factory stereo puts out 200 watts, and that's plenty of power." But there's a huge difference between 50 watts peak power per channel produced by your car stereo and 50 watts RMS from an outboard amplifier. A separate amplifier will provide more clean power than any car stereo, and that'll make a night-and-day difference in sound quality. Your system will sound better, whether you listen to Mahler at a conversational level or Megadeth turned up to 11. An amplifier is essential to getting great sound in your car.
Tip #6: Add a signal processor or an equalizer The interior of a car presents some serious problems when it comes to sound quality. Glass and plastic surfaces reflect sound like crazy, while carpet, seat covers, and other absorbent materials soak it up. Add poorly-placed speakers to the mix, and you wind up with significant frequency response peaks in most car interiors. These peaks make your music boomy in the bass or shrill in the upper frequencies, causing "ear fatigue."Most car receivers give you treble, midrange, and bass controls — useful for global fixes but not for zeroing in on problem areas. You'll need an equalizer to kill these peaks, whether it's built into your receiver or in a processor mounted in your dash or near your amplifiers.
An outboard equalizer gives you multiple points for adjusting frequency response, so you can iron out those peaks in your system. A parametric equalizer allows you to vary the centerpoint and width of each EQ band, so you can really zero in on a problem area. Sound processors help you eliminate frequency response peaks and increase bass response, and some even include a microphone for analyzing your car's acoustics.
Tip #7: Build a better sub box. Or buy one.If you're building a sealed subwoofer box, make sure it's sealed properly. Air leaks can really hurt your sub's performance. If you're using a ported box, make sure you've got the right sub in there. You can destroy a sub that's designed for sealed box use by driving it hard in a ported enclosure. Also, it's important to build a box with the correct interior volume for the sub you've picked out. A mismatch can result in poor performance or a sub fatality.
You can also avoid all of these issues by buying a premade enclosure that'll work with your subwoofer.
Tip #8: Your crossover can really improve the sound of your systemMany in-dash receivers now include frequency filters that'll work with your preamp and speaker outputs. If you have a sub, use the high-pass filter to remove the low bass from your car's full-range speakers. You'll get more clean volume out of them, particularly if you're driving them with the receiver's built-in power. Or maybe your sub sounds really strong, but the bass sounds like it's coming from behind you. Experiment with raising or lowering the crossover point on your low-pass filter, and you'll be able to bring the bass up forward with the rest of the music.
Many amplifiers feature subsonic filters that remove super-low bass below the range of human hearing. Go ahead and turn it on — your amp and sub will run cleaner without that subsonic sludge. Also, the compression you use to create your music files can cause a low-frequency sputtering sound in your subs. Your subsonic filter can remove or minimize this noise.
Tip #9: Set your amp gains properly Our Tech Support people field calls every day from customers who can't understand why their new car audio system sounds so bad. The #1 problem? Most people think the gain control on their new amplifier controls the volume level. Naturally, they turn it all the way up, which causes bad things to happen. The gain control actually adjusts the amount of input signal coming into the amplifier. When you crank it up too high, you'll hear some seriously nasty distortion.
The general idea is to turn your receiver's volume control roughly 3/4 of the way up to maximum volume, then turn up your amp gain until you hear distortion. Back it off a little, and you're all set. Every amp manufacturer will have specific suggestions, so you'll want to check out your manual for the best way to set the gain on your new amplifier.
Tip #10: Don't max out your tone controls Boosting your factory radio's tone controls up to 11 might make your system sound better in your driveway, but it just creates distortion when you turn it up on the highway. A heavy low-frequency boost, in particular, will put a big strain on your factory system. If you want to fatten up your sound, try using a smaller boost in the bass, lower the highs and mids a touch, and then turn up your overall level a little more.
But maybe you've replaced your factory radio with an aftermarket stereo that features a multi-band equalizer. The same rule still holds true — avoid excessive tone boosts or cuts if possible. A bad EQ setting can make a good system sound terrible, while an intelligent tone curve can make a good system sound great.
For a number of very good reasons, it's never a good idea to fool with your EQ on the road. If you can, program a few different EQ presets into your receiver, so you can see what works best in your car without having to adjust settings while you're driving. Or cycle through your receiver's preset curves to see if one of them sounds particularly good at highway speed, then customize that setting in your driveway.
Tip #11: Add a sub and hear what you've been missing We've installed a lot of car audio systems, and I still love to see that "Wow" moment when somebody hears a sub in their car for the first time. A good subwoofer will bring the bottom octave of your music back into proper balance, so you'll hear familiar tunes in a whole new light. A subwoofer will take a load off your full-range speakers too, since you'll be playing your tunes with the bass control set at "0" instead of "+5".
Some people develop a negative opinion of subwoofers when they sit next to a thumping, vibrating car at a traffic light. But subs aren't just about the boom — you can adjust any subwoofer to fit your musical tastes and your vehicle. And once you drive with a subwoofer, you can never go back to living without one. Or two.
Tip #12: Use a capacitor if you're going to push your subs hard The people who designed your car probably didn't have subwoofers in mind when they built your vehicle. Big bass sucks up a lot of power, and most car electrical systems aren't equipped to deal with it. A capacitor acts as a buffer between your amps and your car's battery. You connect the cap inline on the power cable from your battery, as close to the amp location as possible. It stores up power from your battery, then releases it instantly to satisfy your amp's demand for the power needed to reproduce a big bass hit.
Have you ever noticed a big drop-off in performance after running your subs loud and hard for a minute or two? Or watched your headlights dim in time to the music while you're driving at night? A capacitor cures these problems by taking the brunt of those demand peaks away from your amp, so your amp sees a more consistent supply of power.
Bonus Tip: Use high-quality cables for your amplifiers Electricity is like running water. You wouldn't run a garden hose from your well to your house, because not enough water would get through to keep up with demand. That's why you don't want to use cheap, undersized power cable to get power to your amplifiers — the amp will be starved for power when you start pushing up the volume control. A good power cable allows current to flow freely so your amp gets the juice it needs during peak demand.
High-quality patch cables promote better signal flow from your receiver to your amps, so you hear a more focused, detailed sound. And good patch cables will also reject noise caused by your car's electrical system. Don't believe it? Ask any guitar player about the importance of good cables.
LAS VEGAS, NV (01.13.2016) – Rockford Fosgate made a splash during its during its annual Product Showcase, held at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Artist Ballroom) in Las Vegas, NV from Jan. 6-8, 2016. The company featured its new Punch marine wake tower cans. With 359 degree rotation and scheduled to ship in Q1 2016 with an MSRP of $599.99, the loaded 85/170 Watt (RMS/Peak), 4-ohm PM2652W is available in both white and black (PM2652W-B). Rocking the waves never sounded so good.
PM2652W (Click to visit product page)
“Our PM marine grade standard takes into account the devastating effects of the outdoor environment and takes extreme measures to ensure optimum performance,” said Jake Braaten, Rockford’s V.P. of Product Development & Engineering. “The 6.5-inch PM2652 true marine grade speaker is loaded into a sealed, UV inhibitor infused, high density polyethylene enclosure which features an automotive grade paint and clear coat finish. Both surface and tubular clamp mounting configurations allow the speaker to rotate up to 359 degrees, letting you blast your tunes wherever you want it to go.”
PM2652W-B (Click to visit product page)
The PM2652W features a 6.5-inch woofer and one-inch bridge mounted tweeter in its own high density polyethylene enclosure, protected by a stainless steel grill. The speaker system comes with a surface mount bracket that is also compatible with most Malibu wing-style tower assemblies and all hardware is chrome plated or stainless steel. Security Torx hardware prevents theft while an included safety lanyard protects from loss or damage in the event the set screw assembly loosens over time. An optional tubular style mounting clamp assembly is also available, the PM-CL1 (white) or PM-CL1B (black) and can accommodate tube sizes from 1.5 in. – 2.75 in.
Visit www.rockfordfosgate.com for more.
A Factory Look, No Matter the Model
There will be three 9-inch Restyle dash systems for the Jeep Wrangler in 2016: the new i109-WRA with Apple CarPlay, the currently available X009-WRA, and the new X109-WRA with system expansion capabilities. All three models are Alpine engineered for 2011-up Jeep Wranglers. Each comes with a dash bezel that replaces the OEM radio for a factory look and vehicle specific wiring harnesses for plug and play installation.
i109-WRA 9-Inch Restyle Dash System with Apple CarPlay
The i109-WRA is Alpine’s first model to offer Apple CarPlay compatibility in a 9-inch screen platform and is the largest system in the aftermarket to feature Apple CarPlay support. Apple CarPlay is the smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. You can make and receive calls, access text messages, play music and get directions optimized for traffic conditions, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road. Apple CarPlay features Siri voice control in addition to working with touchscreen controls. Corresponding audio, driving directions and phone calls are played through the vehicle’s speaker system. Apple CarPlay uses a Lightning connector and is compatible with iPhone 5 and later, including iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the latest version of iOS. To further appeal to the Jeep Wrangler driver, the 1109-WRA has an opening screen and graphical user interface (GUI) with Wrangler-inspired styling.
X009-WRA and X109-WRA 9-Inch Restyle Dash Systems
The X009-WRA and X109-WRA are 9-inch Restyle dash systems with audio, video and navigation feature sets. Audio sources include a built-in HD Radio receiver, iPhone and iPod music control through the “Made for iPod and iPhone” compatibility, audio streaming, and Pandora control from iPhone and Android smartphones. Both new models are SiriusXM-Ready and connect to the SiriusXM SXV300 Connect Vehicle Tuner Kit (sold separately, subscription required). The X109-WRA also has FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) music playback via USB. Video features include a high-resolution screen and HDMI input for connectivity to HDMI-enabled devices. The X109-WRA also has an HDMI output for digital connection to a rear seat entertainment system (KCX-630HD HDMI switcher required). Navigation benefits include pre-loaded maps of the United States, Canada, more than seven million Points of Interest (POIs) and free lifetime HERE Traffic RDS service.
Both models have Alpine’s advanced Bluetooth wireless technology and MediaXpander technology for better playback of compressed media, improved audio streaming and enhanced phone call sound quality. The models also come with an iDatalink Maestro module to retain select factory vehicle controls and features like the voice activated Uconnect media player, steering wheel controls and visual parking guides when used with a rear view camera. Customized vehicle information such as tire pressure, battery voltage and user selectable gauges can also be viewed on the screen. The “My Favorites” feature lets users customize a quick-access screen with shortcuts to their most-used features like audio sources, navigation commands and phone settings.
System Expansion and Additional Features for the X109-WRA
A new feature is the ability for the X109-WRA to control other Jeep Wrangler accessories for system expansion. When used with the optional KAC-001 External Accessory Control Module (sold separately), the X109-WRA becomes a hub for touch screen control of up to eight add-on accessories like a light bar, winch, headlights, etc. A graphical icon and custom text label can be assigned to each accessory for quick on-screen identification. Each accessory can be configured as pulsed, latched or momentary outputs. Jeep Wrangler drivers who use multiple camera systems to navigate off road adventures will find the KCX-C250MC Multi-Camera Controller (sold separately) helpful. This optional module can control up to three camera systems from the X109-WRA’s touch screen. The name of each camera system appears on the touch screen, so a simple press of the desired system brings up the available viewing options from that camera.
The X109-WRA uses a capacitive touch screen accompanied by the new GUI (graphical user interface) with 4-way swipe action control (left, right, up, down). The user is always one swipe away from the most commonly accessed functions. A left swipe accesses the navigation commands, a right swipe accesses audio and video commands, a swipe down accesses adjustments to the audio system or rear seat entertainment system (sold separately) and a swipe up accesses Bluetooth and source selection. Within the audio and video page, the user can swipe across to access the entertainment sources connected to the system.
Smartphone connectivity powered by Airbiquity for iPhone and Android based smartphones will feature a portfolio of useful and popular infotainment content. The companion Alpine Connect smartphone app will provide simple content selection and user personalization. The content features will integrate into Alpine user and navigation interfaces for enhanced user convenience. Alpine Connect content for April 2016 retail availability will include Spotify for streaming music and playlists; iHeartRadio for streaming live radio stations from across the country, custom music stations, 24/7 news, on-demand podcasts, and the best in sports, talk and comedy programming; Yelp for finding local places to eat, drink, and shop; and Glympse for sharing locations with friends and family. Additional content will be added to the Alpine Connect portfolio at later dates.
Visit www.alpine-usa.com for more.
The new RM112D4 has many features designed to weather the elements:
- True Marine Grade compliance
- 100% UV stable ASA injection molded plastic parts
- Injection molded mineral filled polypropylene cone body with UV inhibitors
- UV and salt fog resistant Santoprene surround
- Ultra-flexible fully insulated silicone lead wire
- Proprietary corrosion resistant spring loaded push terminals
- Moisture, tear and fatigue resistant Aramid fiber spider
- Removable trim ring/grille
- Available in black or white
Conyers, GA – The Conyers Main Street Program is inviting everyone with an appetite to Olde Town Conyers for the annual Taste of Conyers and Conyers Car Show on Saturday, May 2, 2015, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Taste of Conyers features local restaurants offering small samples, or tastes, of their specialties. One dollar tickets will be available for purchase in any quantity. Restaurants price their samples ranging from $1.00-$4.00 per sample.
The Taste of Conyers will feature a number of local restaurants showcasing samples of their specialties and also features live entertainment and children’s activities. Restaurants scheduled to participate include: Beasley Drug Company, Cakes and Desserts, Celtic Tavern, Sugar Bakers, Rio’s Italian Ice, Gigi’s Place, House of Fine Foods, Atlanta Pizza and Gyro, Olde Town Bistro and Grill, Creamberry’s, Amici, The Chocolate Box, Sweet Row Cakes, Whistle Post Tavern, Mellow Mushroom, Frontera Mex-Mex Grill, Papa John’s, Dairy Queen, Awake Coffee Community, Milk and Brookies, Café Milano, Just Loaf’N Poboys and My Life Style Smoothies.
The Conyers Main Street Program has once again partnered with the Conyers Car Show, presented by Redline Events, to offer event participants a look at vintage cars parked along Railroad Street while enjoying their sweet and savory treats from the Taste of Conyers. Live entertainment will be featured on the Conyers Depot stage on Railroad Street. Genres of music include country, southern rock, blues and soul. Performers include Robby Parker, Karin Johnson, and Don Cole. The Woodys Unplugged and the band ArenA will also be playing great music all day.
“The Taste of Conyers is always a popular event in which the public can come out and enjoy samples from a variety of local restaurants all in one setting, in historic Olde Town Conyers,” said Main Street Manager Brittany Evans. “The food vendors paired with our local merchants, car show and children’s activities makes a great Saturday outing for the entire family.”
There is no fee for restaurants to participate in the Taste of Conyers. Admission to the Taste of Conyers and the Conyers Car Show is free.
For more information on the event or for restaurants to register to participate, contact the Conyers Welcome Center at 770-602-2606 or visit www.conyersmainstreet.com.
AUTOMAKERS WANT TO OUTLAW GEARHEADS FROM WORKING ON THEIR OWN CARS Car companies seek copyright restrictions to stop car enthusiasts, home mechanics
by KIT DANIELS | INFOWARS.COM | APRIL 20, 2015
Claiming that modern vehicles are “too complex” for home mechanics to fix, automakers are seeking copyright restrictions to prevent gearheads from working on their own cars.The Association of Global Automakers, a lobbying firm for 12 manufacturers, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to prevent car owners from accessing “computer programs that control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle, including personal automobiles, commercial motor vehicles, and agricultural machinery, for purposes of lawful diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement.”
“In order to modify automotive software for the purpose of ‘diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement,’ the modifier must use a substantial amount of the copyrighted software – copying the software is at issue after all, not wholly replacing it,” the AGA claimed. “Because the ‘heart,’ if not the entirety, of the copyrighted work will remain in the modified copy, the amount and substantiality of the portion copied strongly indicates that the proposed uses are not fair.”
Auto Alliance, which also represents 12 automobile manufacturers, is also asking the agency to scrap exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow car enthusiasts to modify and tune their rides.
“Allowing vehicle owners to add and remove [electronic control] programs at whim is highly likely to take vehicles out of compliance with [federal] requirements, rendering the operation or re-sale of the vehicle legally problematic,” Auto Alliance claimed in a statement. “The decision to employ access controls to hinder unauthorized ‘tinkering’ with these vital computer programs is necessary in order to protect the safety and security of drivers and passengers and to reduce the level of non-compliance with regulatory standards.”
But people have been working on their own cars since cars were invented.
“It’s not a new thing to be able to repair and modify cars,” a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kit Walsh, said. “It’s actually a new thing to keep people from doing it.”
Interestingly, this attack on the do-it-yourself auto hobby coincides with the current push towards self-driving cars, and who do you think will resist autonomous cars the most?
Auto hobbyists, such as hot rodders, drag racers and home tuners.
“The biggest threat to our hobby is those people in powerful situations who’s idea of a great day out in their car is to spend it riding in the back seat while someone else handles the driving ‘chore’ for them,” a hot rodder said on the subject. “These are the same people who will ban ‘old junk’ from the roads, enforce ’50 miles per gallon’ standards on new, and then older vehicles, and eventually force everyone to drive ‘standardized’ cars that will fit precisely in parking spaces, take up the minimum space on public roads, and follow all the ‘environmentally friendly’ buzz words while boring real car drivers like us to death.”
And the first step to keep people from behind the steering wheel is to keep them from opening the hood.