Car Audio Manufacturers

What's the best car stereo?

That's one of those eternal questions and there isn't an easy answer.

Car audio manufacturers have a wide range in quality and price in which they compete for your mobile technology dollars. This is great for consumers -- all the more options when it's time to buy means getting more for your money. But all those choices can be a little confusing. Among car stereo manufacturers, there are those that make systems for a slightly higher end use and then those that build for the mass market. The manufacturers listed here are on the mass market end of car audio manufacturers: you won't find some of the more exotic fare like Lanzar, Blitz or In Phase that all make fine amps for a specialized market.

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Among the mass market manufacturers you get names like JVC, Clarion, Pioneer and Alpine. There is a general price and relative market range within this short list of manufacturers, but not a severe gap between them. Within the mainstream manufacturers' own lines of audio equipment is where you'll see a wide range.

JVC has some nice technology going into their mobile displays. JVC's audio is known as a solid mainstream brand, like Clarion. Both JVC and Clarion produce some sophisticated higher end products but JVC might suffer slightly from being into just about every facet of consumer electronics, like Sony. If you had a choice, as in all things, specialization tends to be the key to getting the most from your investment. Clarion makes only car and marine entertainment gear, including mobile navigation systems, and produce decks that are compatible with Sirius satellite radio. This will tend to mean that for the price it's probably the better buy than any company who just makes car audio as a side business.

This is why Alpine has made a name for itself as the slightly higher end in the car stereo department. Make no mistake, Alpine is marketed straight at the mainstream mass market consumer -- hardly an exotic name making only high priced products. But the better quality equipment by Alpine can be stacked up against anything and come out sounding quite nice for the money spent. This is especially true with Alpine where their speakers are concerned. Alpine makes several series of speakers in a variety of price ranges and Alpine's upper line of speakers are quite critically acclaimed.

Most mainstream car stereo manufacturers make their own speakers. Although there are dedicated speaker manufacturers who have a particularly good reputation for making subs they tend to be higher end and likewise carry a price. Again, specialization is usually the key to getting the most of your money and dedicated speaker manufacturers (like Boston Acoustics for instance) will usually make some of the best. But, for the sake of convenience and affordability, it's often easier to get your speaker set from the same manufacturer who made your deck and amp. It should be noted there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching between manufacturers -- you'll find the expert car audio aficionados build their own rigs this way.