Having the finest music in your car is the ultimate way to make your ride comfortable. Distortion is the mortal enemy of quality sound.
It is easy to make some simple mistakes that result in distortion of speakers, both at high and low volumes. Worse, many people install complex sound systems which cost them a ton but still fail to achieve fine and clear output. This may be a result of system issues or maybe even the vehicle itself.
Fear not! We are going to lay out some ways you can solve car speaker distortion at low and high volumes.
Table of Contents
Use High Pass Filters
It is advisable that you include high pass filters on the front and rear speakers when installing a sound system in your car. The filters regulate the bass that goes to the door speakers causing the distortion. Note that most car doors are not designed for bass. This is because the inside of your car door has a small cone shape thus tending to distort faster. Therefore, switching on the high pass filter blocks bass and volume frequencies beyond 80Hz thus minimizing distortion resulting to clear sound output.
Reduce the Bass at High Volume and Increase at Low Volume
If you find that there is distortion despite your minimizing efforts, you can reduce the bass at the controls. +10 bass and around -5 treble offer very clear sound at low volume but distortion will become a problem at high volume. This produces such an unpleasant sound that many people give up and turn off the whole system and settle in for a silent (and boring) drive. You can achieve clear sound quality by reducing the volume at the audio settings. You need to leave the fronts and the rears for pure vocals and install a new subwoofer at the back of your car for the bass. This will allow you to finetune your way to achieving clear sound without distortion.
Avoid Bass Boosted Music
Bass boosted music is out there and cheap. It is usually produced professionally using software and will typically produce distorted sound at both low and high volumes. Imagine if you have an amplifier, this bass boosted music will tend to produce extra bass that causes distortion no matter how good your system is. This music tends to cause frequent distortion thus reducing the strength of the speakers. Solution? Use music from originals CDs.
Use an Equalizer or Signal Processors
The car interior is not made for the perfect sound unless you customize. Plastic and glass surfaces reflect the sound while carpet and seat covers absorb the sound. Add in poorly placed and fitted speakers and this mix results in poor sound quality when at high volume. To rectify the issue, you need to install equalizers (usually with more than 13 bands of equalization) to match maximum voltage.
Usually, common car receivers offer treble, mid-range, and bass controls that address global fixes but not the actual problem. This is why you need an equalizer to zero in and kill the peaks. You can have it mounted on your receiver or on the dashboard. The outboard equalizer enables you to adjust frequency response depending on low or high volume. You can also include a parametric equalizer to vary the center point and the width enabled by each EQ band to completely zero in the distortion. The final touch would be a sound processor to enable you to reduce the frequency response peaks and enable the speakers to increase the bass response.
Using a Car Amplifier
Many people do not realize that there is a huge disparity between the output of a factory car stereo and that of an amplifier. An outboard amplifier provides cleaner power and sound output than any car stereo. Why? Because it is made to produce the finest sound and for the best output. You can adjust the stereo volume to the lowest level and increase the amplifier volume. This should get you to nirvana: your amplifier will release the fine sound output you have been missing and sends distortion to oblivion.
Using a Crossover
Modern receivers include frequency filters that work well with preamp speakers thus minimizing distortion on low and high volume. For the subwoofer, you need to use High Pass Filters which remove the distortion and low bass. This enables your system to gain a clear and clean sound where you can also try lowering the crossover point for the low pass filters that bring the bass up and forward thus achieving the maximum pure sound.
Setting Up Your Amp Gains
People usually think that gain controls adjust the volume level and turn the volume up high only to get much-distorted sounds from the speakers. The truth is that gain controls enable you to adjust the input signal coming into the amplifier. If you tune it too high, then you only encourage nasty distortion. The best method is to set the receiver’s volume to halfway or three quarters and adjust the amp gain until you hear no distortion. The amplifier always offers clear sound at low volume and high volume without distortion from the car speakers.
Always Use High-Quality Music Files
Compressed music usually means loose high and low-frequency music. If you want to store music, then you should make sure you use quality compressors. Your car sound system can detect poor files as you can clearly get the distortion produced in both low and high volume especially if you have an amplifier that amplifies every single detail in the music files. To minimize this distortion, you need to use a high-quality music source.
Replace Your Car Speakers
After using your manufacturer speakers for a long time, you will eventually realize that the frequency of distortion is high even on a new system. If so, that is a clear sign that the speakers are wearing out and losing their power. It’s probably time to replace with aftermarket speakers that have a compatible power range with your amplifier.
I know, we said nine steps, but why have nine when you can go for 10!
One of the best ways to reduce distortion is through the use of sound deadening materials. As the name implies, the addition of these materials (whether mats, a spray-on solution, or what have you) does wonders to eliminate distortion and let your sound shine through.
Our go-to? Damplifier Pro. It’s pretty much the gold standard.
To obtain maximum clear sound output without distortion from your car stereo at low and high volume, you have to understand the basics so that you can be able to adjust the controls. Sometimes the problem is just from the controls and some easy tweaks will save the day. You can also use sound deadening materials to reduce vibration and the noise thus providing a suitable environment for the speakers to output clear sound without distortion.