If you’re on our site, we know you love your music. Having a solid car stereo system is one of the great joys of this hobby. We realize it can be intimidating to get started. Don’t worry; we’re here to help! Read on for our simple steps to build a good sound system for your car. Wait, did we say good sound system? We meant a GREAT sound system.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Figuring Out What You Need To Build A Good Sound System
The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly what you need. This is actually the most difficult part of the whole process.
Great sound is not the loudest, nor is it the most expensive. It should be the one that truly satisfies your personal taste. So, before jumping in, take a bit of time to analyze what your car audio goal is first.
Step 2: Pick Your Speakers
Speakers are the cornerstone of the sound system. Actually, all other components in your system are there to support those speakers. There are many, many kinds and brands of stereo equipment out there and it can be, well, a lot. A good first step is to take an initial survey of brands. You’ll see names like Rockford, Polk, Kenwood, and others.
Do some reading and familiarize yourself with some options. We like reading real users’ reviews, and we also rely on good websites like this one (shameless plug!).
You’re going to have to make lots of choices beyond the brand. Your car’s design plays a large part in determining what type of speakers you can use. The vehicle’s mounting location will determine whether you’ll go for full-range speakers (also referred to as coaxial speakers) or 6×9 or 6.5 units. Usually, 6.5-inch units are preferred for rear deck speakers, while front car door speakers are best suited for 6×9 inch units. You’ll also need to make decisions about how to find the best balance between clarity, performance, sharpness, and sound depth.
The main important things to look for in a speaker include:
- Build materials
- Power handling
- RMS sensitivity
- Frequency range
Remember, we here at Speaker Champion have articles on every element of this process, so no worries!
Step 3: Select Your Receiver
After you’ve found the best speakers for your car audio system, it’s time you go for the head unit. There are different models of aftermarket head units, including digital media receivers, single DIN head units, and double DIN head units.
The head unit is the core of your car’s audio system and therefore, you don’t want to rush this selection.
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Large touchscreen
- Satellite radio availability
- HD radio
- Steering wheel control compatibility
- Auxiliary ports
- USB inputs
- Remote control
- Preamp outputs
Step 4: Select Your Speakers
Component speakers are separate crossovers and tweeters that produce outstanding sound imaging and add more depth to your music. It is recommended that you move full-range speaker units from the first step to the car’s rear deck and then fix the component twitters and crossovers up front. It is important to note that installing component speakers is more complex than installing their full-range counterparts.
Stage 5: Select a Multiple Channel Amplifier
You’ll need an external multiple-channel amplifier that gives you the option to add new components down the road. Multiple channels are more flexible compared to factory units, making them the preferred choice.
Amplifiers are like boosters and they are definitely necessary because even aftermarket head units (receivers) are not usually not powerful enough to drive the entire audio system. Amplifiers come in various channel variations but the more channels, the better.
You might prefer to use two channels to power the front-mounted speakers and bridge the other two channels’ output for powering a subwoofer. Five-channel amps are the most reliable as they allow you to power the whole sound system, subwoofer included. Four channels are usually used for powering the front and rear speakers, while the fifth channel powers an external subwoofer.
Step 6: Select a Subwoofer
After selecting an amplifier, now we drop a subwoofer into the mix. This gives you an opportunity to enjoy that bass that you’ve been missing.
If you selected a 4-channel amp in the previous step, then you’ll require another single-channel amp for driving your sub-woofers. If you opted for the 5-channel amp, you’re better off because you will have the fifth channel for driving the subwoofers. If you are looking for a more professional and robust installation, you might opt for a separate mono-channel amp to power the subs.
When buying a sub-woofers, always consider the following factors:
- Frequency range
- RMS power handling
Step 7: Build a Better Sub Box or Simply Buy One
Once you’ve selected your ideal sub, make sure you install it in the right type and size of enclosure. Otherwise, you’ll compromise the sub’s performance. If you want to be doubly sure your sub will fit, we recommend you build your own box. Whatever you do, don’t destroy your ported box subwoofer by forcing it into a sealed enclosure.