Basics of Car Audio

Aug 10, 2008

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: What is car audio? Car audio is how we describe the sound system fitted in an car.

A regular car audio system refers to a manufacturer installed system. A custom car installation can involve anything from the upgrade of the radio to a total custom fit-out. Events are held where people compete for the loudest or most innovative systems.

The most common pieces of equipment are the radio/tape player/CD player/DVD Player called a Head unit, or a head deck. These components are likely to be upgraded with an after market product. Head unit technology has developed to include CD players with MP3, Ogg, WMA, AAC, and USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support. Car audio systems can have line-in jacks and other equipment features like tape adaptors, and video touch screen that controlling; navigation, dvd movies, mp3 players, back up cameras, and other accessories......

Most modern cars have a CD player/ CD recorder, and and optional CD changer, which holds several CD's. Now the manufactures are offering DVD players and LCD screens. LCD screens are located and integrated into things that slide out and folds up, or the instrument panel and the DVD head unit. The screen might show video output for a navigation system, 3G cell phone or parking cameras.

Speakers are located in doors and rear shelves of a cars. High-end stereo systems often have speakers mounted in kick panels, to accommodate larger drivers and better controller placement. Before stereo radio was introduced, the most common speaker location was in the middle of the dashboard. High-end systems will have Component Speakers that have balanced tweeter, mid-range, and woofer settings. They are available in two speaker and three speaker combinations, and include an audio crossover to limit frequency ranges that the speakers must handle. This allows each cone to produce optimal frequency for maximum sound quality and volume. In addition subwoofers are provided for bass and sub bass, the lower the frequency the less the ear picks it up, but the vibration is more pronounced. Sub bass is omni-directional, meaning that the ear can't figure out where the sound is coming from.


Amplifiers make power to drive the speakers. The amplifier is a very important component of a speaker system. It makes sure that the total power handling capacity of the speakers is adhered to. Amplifiers commonly come in two,four or six channels. Subwoofer amplifiers are mostly Mono Amplifiers. It is common that multiple channels are marked for the exclusive use in allowing for more than one channel to be used.


Capacitors are used to store energy for the amplifier. Capacitors are useful because they can reduce voltage loss to other components in a car. Large capacitors sometimes offset headlight and/or interior light dimming because of too little amp draw from the alternator. A capacitor is only good for an audio system trying to get too many amps from the electrical system. A capacitor doesn't provide more power, it just stores it. The alternator must have more than 20% amp power than the entire vehicle and sound system combined for a capacitor to be of benefit. About 0.5 farad of capacitance is needed for every 500 watts of power. A capacitor does not affect sound in any way. It is strictly for power conditioning.

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Basics of Car Audio