For those looking to spend a little more money to get better quality sound in their cars, it is important to understand what all can be done to fine tune the sound in the car. It’s not just about buying the right receiver or the amplifier. It’s also about ensuring that the car environment stays as quiet as possible by using damping or an appropriate liner to keep road and outside noise at bay. Then there are your cables, interconnects and speaker wires. Using big names for these, such as Monster Cable or Scosche which are available in India would help since they design cables with high performance in mind. So even though you may pay a premium when you buy, you gain in performance and longevity. So to understand how you can improve your in car audio, take a read of the points we’ve put down. It will go a long way in helping tune your tunes!
These are the cables used to transfer pre-amp signals. Usually, you use this type of cable for unamplified signals such as the connection between your head unit and amp or crossovers or equalizer unit. Look for appropriate thickness and shielding. The end connectors should be sturdy to prevent breakage from stress. Some expensive cables come with gold plated connectors which improve the connection quality and last longer since they don’t wear out as quickly as unplated connectors.
When the signal from the head unit is amplified it becomes much stronger and requires thicker cable to carry it. This is even more dramatic for subwoofer wiring. Use something between 8 gauge and 14 gauge wiring for subwoofers since a lot of current has to flow through those wires. For tweeters and midranges thickness is less critical but still important because appropriate shielding is still necessary to prevent leakage and contamination from outside sources.
Power Distribution Blocks
These make wiring up multiple components easy. You can run one thick power cable from the battery to the distribution block and from there you can use its multiple outputs for each component. Some of them come with fuses, which is an added bonus. A related item is a new battery terminal which allows easy connection of your extra power wire on the battery for the car stereo.
Because music is dynamic, sometimes the power requirements of your system may be very high for brief periods of time especially when you have a large subwoofer in your car. If you have a small alternator or battery your car's electrical system may not be able to keep up with demand. A "stiffening" capacitor can help this problem by providing extra storage capacity for those high power transients. Only buy one if you have problems, like head light dimming with the bass line in music or flickering interior lights. Even worse is a flickering receiver display that thumps with the bass!
If you are planning on replacing your factory head unit but want to be able to put it back in easily, like if you sell your car later on, a wiring harness adapter kit will be needed. These are specially designed for each car and allow you to disconnect your stock radio and connect a new head unit without cutting your original wiring. The wiring harness plugs into your existing wiring and allows you to connect a new head unit to the harness.
When we listen to a home stereo, we have somewhat better conditions - a quieter environment, speakers pointing to the "sweet spot", better staging and imaging and we’ve less harsh environments that that home system has to deal with. But the one major thing that is different between a car and a home stereo listening experience is the background noise. There are all kinds of exterior noise. There’s road noise, rain hitting the windshield, honking, engine noise from other large commercial vehicles and buses, interior (rattles) noises that draw attention away from the music in a car. Normally, to make up for all this road noise, we simply turn the stereo up louder.
Even though it is virtually impossible to eliminate the noise completely in a car, there are products that will decrease the noise floor a great deal, particularly on non-luxury cars. Reducing the noise in a car will make a big difference in the audio system's performance and overall ride comfort. Don’t we all like a refined car, even if it’s a hatchback!
The easiest is to install ‘Liners’ which are essentially Tar mats or similar products such as Dynamat which reduce resonances in metal panels. A car lined with a mat will have a much lower road noise. To add a liner to a car you’d have to remove the seats, carpet, door panels and other interior trim bits for a proper install. Since some branded liners like Dynamat can be expensive, people have tried using a fiberglass layer as a liner topped with thicker and better padded carpeting. It’s cheaper too!
There are also sprays such as Rockford Fosgate’s Noise Killer Blue which are sprayed to the panels. They are used in places where a liner can’t be applied such as inside doors, trunks, etc. Most of those products are applied in the same way as paint: Either sprayed or with a brush. Some sprays need an air compressor and a spray nozzle and hence a professional installer’s hand and some of the others already come in a spray bottle such as Stinger's RoadKill which are DIY products.