Car audio and headunits – another step in your Daily Driven Lifestyle

Hey everyone welcome back to another interesting topic here on Daily Driven Lifestyle. Today we will go over car audio and car headunits and accessories on what they can do to make your daily commute so much more enjoyable. Sometimes the oem car stereos are just not what you expect them to be so that’s where the aftermaket car stereo industry comes in. On a personal note i always had cars that never really had a great sound system so to upgrade it with an aftermarket headunit and brand new speakers was very much needed. Sometimes just upgrading for an aftermarket headunit is as huge upgrade even without new speakers but if you want better sound you got to have it all.

What is the importance of the head unit?

The headunit is the main component of every car audio system. They are the starting point of every sound and music coming Pioneer Apple CarPlay Headunitout of your car speakers and subwoofers. Some cars comes equipped with a premium sound systems speaking of which they  don’t necessarily need to be changed unless you are looking for more performance or add aftermarket components to your sound system. In my case the oem headunit just didn’t deliver to my expectations in term of sound quality and I also wanted more options on the headunit such as Apple CarPlay and be able to add an aftermarket subwoofer.

Speakers which ones to choose? – component or coaxial?

In the speakers category they are two types of speakers available on the market and those are the components or the coaxial. Component SpeakersAs far as those types of speakers it all comes down to what systems you already have installed into your car. If your car has components speakers  already installed in your car i would suggest that you get aftermarket components speakers. The components are two separate speakers the midrange speaker, those delivers more bass than the coaxial and the tweeter which delivers the high frequency and have crystal clear sound. The coaxial on the other hand the speaker and the tweeter is combined into one those can have a good sound but they have a tendency to deliver less bass than components but still delivers a crystal clear sound. This choice depends on your preferences and your car setup many websites can help you to find which size fits best in your car.

Unlocking the power – car amplifiers

Car ampliers are necessary if you are looking to install one or more subwoofers. On the other hand for your speakers anSubwoofer and Amplifier amplifier is not required if you have an aftermarket headunit because those are already pre-amplified. If your are looking for more sound and nuances from your headunit an amplifier is highly suggested. Most headunits comes pre-amplified with in general 50 watts peak per channels but car amplifiers can deliver more power for more power hungry speakers so if you are looking for more sound a new aftermarket headunit speakers and amplifier combo is your best bet but it all depends on what your are looking for. Everyone is different so is everybody’s taste.

Peak watts vs RMS watts – what is the difference?

And now the questions everybody is wondering about, what is the difference between peak power vs rms power. I can explain Amplifierthat difference like horsepower in a car. Let’s take peak power and break horsepower, peak power is the ultimate power that can be put out by the amplifier like break horsepower is the ultimate power the engine is putting out. On the other hand rms power is like wheel horsepower, rms power is how much power delivered  to each channels like wheel horsepower is how much power delivered to the wheels of the car. Peak power is a number to look for but rms is more important since it’s that number that will tell you how much power your sound system will deliver. When buying a set of speakers and subwoofers make sure you do not buy an over powered amplifier compared to your speakers you risk damaging your equipment and it goes the same as for the speakers and subwoofers vs the amplifier since an over powered  set of speakers vs an under powered amplifier will make the amplifier clip since it is drawing too much power from the amplifier.

Also another important thing to consider is the wiring that you need to buy that will deliver all that power from you car battery to your amps. You need to choose the right gauge for the amount of power your targeting your amps to be and also the application. In other words the more power you want and further away the amps and battery is from each other the bigger the gauge of the wire needs to be the lower the power and the closest the amps is from the battery smaller the gauge of the wire needs to be. There is also 2 types of amp wiring kit sold on the market there is the OFC oxygen free copper and CCA copper clad aluminum which is 10-15% copper and 85-90%, aluminum wire CCA wire cost less but are less conductive.. Which one is best? OFC wire has the best conductivity since it is 100% pure copper wire but the cost is slightly more.

To recap everything your need to know about car audio

There you have it if you want a better performing sound system in your car you got to start with an aftermarket headunit, it is the first step into achieving better sound quality into your ride. Now if you want more bass you hook up an amp and subwoofers combo which will give you more bass. Then if you want even more you can add aftermarket speakers which will deliver better sound quality and louder compared to the oem system. Then if you want more power you can hookup an additional amp to power your speakers. You should look for the power numbers to make sure you match them as much as possible and be sure to keep that investment you just made to your car stereo system safe. Finally when it comes to buying and amp wiring kit it’s all subjective but if you are looking for reliable power for your amps OFC wire is your best bet.

 

If you have any questions concerning this posts comment down below and i will answer your questions.

 

Yanick

Founder of Daily Driven Lifestyle

 

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Car audio and headunits – another step in your Daily Driven Lifestyle

  1. James Reply

    Its been a while since I swapped out a car stereo.  Last time I did it, I wanted to put a tape deck in my car!

    I’ve been thinking about putting new speakers in my 2017 Subaru Forester, and TBH I was thinking about an amplifier too. I’m not going to put a subwoofer in, so do you think I should just put in a new pre amp’d head unit and some after market speakers? That would probably be way easier.

    • Yanick Boucher Post authorReply

      to be honest I own a 2011 Subaru wrx base model and the factory headunit that came in it was pretty basic it had Bluetooth but I wanted more and it was underpowered for me and the sound quality when listening to the regular fm radio wasn’t not even close to what I was expecting. It was a clarion headunit that came from factory I don’t know about your Subaru forester’s trim level because some models comes with premium audio system. But if your sound system doesn’t perform the way you want it the first step is the headunit in my car only that has awaken the speakers crisper sound more bass and clearer sound and nowadays they make wiring kits that’s makes the aftermarket headunits almost plug and play. If you have steering control which i’m pretty sure you have you will probably need a controller to make it work with the new headunit. If you’re still not satisfied with the sound adding speakers will sure make a difference with the new headunit. If you decide to change your radio and speakers make sure to buy everything you need wiring harness to plug into the factory harness so you don’t have to splice any factory wires and steering wheel controller and a mounting kit for the dash. I hope that helps you.

      Yanick

      Founder of Daily Driven Lifestyle

  2. Chris Reply

    Unfortunately my car did not come  equipped with a premium sound system so I’m looking into my options to upgrade from the ‘freeware’ I have in there are the moment! 

    I’m a little confused about the speaker system setup I should be looking at – do I need to purchase a car amplifier first to give me more of a solid idea on what speakers to go for?

    • Yanick Boucher Post authorReply

      It all depend on what kind of setup you are looking for. But if you are thinking of upgrading your sound system i suggest you start with changing the factory headunit for an aftermarket one first just because most factory headunits are underpowered and you will see a difference right away. Then the second step is the speakers, most aftermarket headunits can power aftermarket speakers since most of them deliver 50 watts peak per channel but if you get power hungry speakers like 300 watts peak each you will need an amplifier to power those speakers. Like i said it all depends on what you are looking for. I suggest you go step by step and see if you are satified with the results if not upgrade more. If you are looking at an amplifier i suggest you choose your speakers before going for the amplifier because depending on what power the speakers will be you will know how much power your amplifier needs to be. I hope this has helped you a little bit more. If you have more questions feel free to ask and i will help you the best i can.

      Yanick

      Founder of Daily Driven Lifestyle

  3. Holly Knudson Reply

    I have to admit I’m not familiar with car audio and head units, and terms like subwoofers, coaxial, and amps, but I learned a lot reading your article. I do love quality sound when I’m driving. My son is restoring an old car and looking for a sound system so I’ll be passing this article along. Thank you!

  4. Albert Reply

    For me, music is one of the most essential aspects of my life and since I spend at least 2 hours in my car every day, I really need to upgrade my car’s audio system. The speaker and the amplifier have higher priorities on my list. 

    My main challenge is that the market is really big and diverse. For example, there is a huge variety of speakers with different prices that I don’t know which one is the best considering both price and quality. Do you know which brands have better quality within a fair pricing range? Thanks.

    • Yanick Boucher Post authorReply

      It depends on what you are looking for and the speaker size you need and also there is a wide variety of model within brands. Pretty much every brands has budget priced speakers. Pioneer has affortable good quality speaker there is also Kicker that has good quality affortable speakers. A little bit more pricey there is the type s speakers from alpine they are good quality speakers. As far as pricing goes it depends on size and models. I hope this helped you.

      Yanick

      Founder of Daily Driven Lifestyle

  5. Renton Reply

    Great Post! I grew up with everyone around me installing sub woofers as soon as they got a new car. It was like engine, good, tires good, sub woofer, good! The easiest way to tell someone was nearly home was the sub woofer. It may sound like just noise in the beginning to some people, but the setup you choose to use in your car can produce aa very distinctive sound.

    I think that the base was the best part, it didn’t really hurt your ears but you could feel it from quite a distance.

    • Yanick Boucher Post authorReply

      It makes a difference for sure. Everyone has their preference back then i used to look for the most bang bass i could get now im looking more for better acoustics. But subwoofers can enhance the music experience if setup properly and makes the commute a bit more enjoyable.

  6. Felix Reply

    Thanks Yanik for this insight on how to pimp my car’s audio system. I’m a music lover and so the sound experience is important to me. Great how you metaphorically explained the difference between peak power and rsm power. I didn’t really know, there is a difference. I’ll check out my audio system to find out, what standard it delivers and take a closer look at the speakers and amplifier. It would be awesome, if you could make some brand recommendations with a good price/value ratio.

    • Yanick Boucher Post authorReply

      It’s hard to give price on those things just because there is so much of a range in the speakers quality. Every brands has different models of the same size speakers and also different power so to give a price it is pretty hard it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want good brand speakers i tried in the past pioneer good quality speakers they are reasonnably priced i tried also Kicker speakers they were pretty good and affortable. I know some people who installed Soundstream speakers and were very satified with them although a bit more expensive. Alpine type-s speakers are also very good although priced a bit more over average. Keep in mind some people swears only by one name brand and also the big name brands but sometime you would be surprised at some little less known brand speakers quality and sound. I hope this has helped you a little bit if you have more question feel free to ask.

      Yanick

      Founder of Daily Driven Lifestyle

  7. Evald Reply

    Hey there, 

    thanks for this informative and helpful article, I have learned a lot of new things today! I am very passionate about music and I love clean, high quality sound with deep bass, especially inside the cars. It was very interesting and exciting to discover different types of speakers (component and coaxella) and learn how they operate and perform, their compatibility, pros and cons as well as how to properly setup them and maximise their pottential. This article provides lots of great details with every little nuances, thanks a lot and keep up the good work!

    • Yanick Post authorReply

      no problem I used to do my own sound system install even though I changed what kind of sound I want now than what I used to. Used to go for big fat bass now i’m looking for a more calibrated sound haha but I still love having fat bass from time to time haha

  8. Nadia Reply

    Hey Yanik thanks a million! The sound system in our car is sooo bad and I have absolutely zero experience with any of this. I can’t stand the distortion the minute we turn the volume up just a little bit. Your article helped outline exactly what I need to be aware of when I attempt to take on the upgrade. (Well, I’ll be making my brother do it lol, but at least I can grill him if I think he’s messing up). Have a great weekend!

    • admin Reply

      Always a pleasure to help. I myself don’t like distortion and like to listen to music while driving so if i can help people along the way it’s even better. Have a good weekend too!

  9. Taylor Reply

    Wow! I really learned a lot from this. I’ve never swapped out a car radio before. I have been lucky enough to have cars with systems that I deem acceptable (although, I’m no expert so they may have been terrible). This is really helpful for those who are looking to swap out their systems though!

    • Yanick Post authorReply

      In my car i just had to change my headunit because the factory one was that bad but only the headunit did a huge difference for me when i will upgrade it will just be even better. But most of the time just changing the radio (headunit) does just the trick because they have more power than the factory unit. But for sure if you have a car with a premium sound system they don’t really need to be changed unles you want more sound and more options

  10. Nadia Reply

    Hey Yanik thanks a million! The sound system in our car is sooo bad and I have absolutely zero experience with any of this. I can’t stand the distortion the minute we turn the volume up just a little bit. Your article helped outline exactly what I need to be aware of when I attempt to take on the upgrade. (Well, I’ll be making my brother do it lol, but at least I can grill him if I think he’s messing up). Have a great weekend!

    • Yanick Post authorReply

      No problem haha yeah the factory sound systems in cars are not always the best they are mostly underpowered but sometimes just changing the radio (headunit) does just the trick since they have a bit more power

  11. casey Reply

    I can definitely agree that if you get a new stereo you should get the speakers too I recently bought a truck and whoever owned it before installed a high power stereo but left the speakers stock and I ended up blowing the speakers and later on installed some Memphis speakers to replace them and awesome post btw thanks for sharing have a good night.

  12. Doc Reply

    Great pick of niche I know a lot of people that know everything there is to know about hooking up a car with a system but it seems there is less information online about how to do it if you just wanted to try it without the help of a friend.

    • admin Reply

      that’s absolutly true infos about how to change the factory sound system are pretty rare. But with the right stuff a few tools and a little patience changing a factory sound system is almost plug and play when you get the harness from factory harness to aftermarket. When i did mine the first time i learned the hard way by cutting and splicing the factory wires not that i know that there is harness that plugs in the factory harness it is way easier you plug it in and the match the colors from the the harness and the radio harness it is pretty straight forward

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