Car Audio Today
Two kinds of people buy car audio; those that hook it all up themselves and those that pay others to do it. The information within our car audio section should appeal to those who want to know about some of the latest technologies in mobile entertainment- there are no DIY install tutorials.
While it's true there have been drastic improvements in factory-supplied car audio, some auto-manufacturers carry exclusive name brand car audio like Infinity or Alpine. More and more car audio manufacturers are carrying satellite radio compatible stock decks. But despite all the glee we're hearing in car magazines about the wonderful factory sound systems, the worthwhile stuff is only found on premium vehicles that fetch a high price. Most of the factory-supplied car audio is suitable only to those who like to hear a bit of music while they drive, not for people who really like to hear the music.
Some manufacturers, like many Honda vehicles and Ford SUV's, include a subwoofer as a premium stock audio option- but these aren't real subs. They're usually just a plastic housing with a shallow, highly efficient driver powered by a ten watt amp connected to the plastic housing. Maybe it passes for a sub in some people's books, but just try getting anything lower than 30Hz from it.
Those name brand decks and car stereos found in certain models are really just a way to get the electronics outsourced- Chrysler has enough on its plate without worrying about electronics. It's easier for them to just sell the contract. Sometimes the dealer is helpless when you want to get parts for your stock equipment. Go to a dealer's parts counter and tell them you want to hook an iPod to your new Mustang's Mach300 deck. Many Ford parts guys don't even know their stock radio is Sirius compatible; most of the sales people aren't even sure what that is.
A real sub includes a driver that can easily digest 100 watts of power to get you thumping tones under 25Hz with a solid box, whether ported or un-ported. To get this level of performance you'll need an aftermarket system. A deck you can hand-pick with options tailored to your needs is the only way to go with all the mobile audio and video options available today. It's really just a matter of knowing what's available.
It comes as a surprise to some how good an aftermarket car stereo can sound. The variety of cheap LCD displays has created a huge bubble in the availability of affordable mobile video systems. There are codec's for your car stereo head unit that will even read video files downloaded from your PC so you can play popular TV shows in a headrest LCD monitor for restless kids in the back seat. Driver's overhead mobile displays are perfect for adding a GPS navigation system for instant directions anywhere. There are even some who have taken mobile video to the extreme and created a complete car theater. It's not hard to exploit the natural four way speaker systems in a car to recreate Dolby Digital or DTS. Take the drive-in on the go!