A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that Americans spend an average of 17,600 minutes in their car per year. Translated, that’s 12 days’ worth of their year spent in their car. The most mind-boggling part of this statistic is that it only accounts for the average, meaning that a significant portion of the nation spends significantly more time in their car than 12 days a year. With so much of their lives spent in one place, it would make sense that the radio would be the focal point of the car to make daily transportation that much more interesting.
But not all car stereos are made alike, and for those who do spend a significant amount of time tied to their car (or for those who crave a little extra motivation on the drive to work), finding the best car audio means putting the time and effort into research. While you should speak with a local mechanic or car audio installation expert, like the ones at Mobile One Auto Sound, here are some tips to get you started on your path to better car audio quality.
To get yourself started, consider the size of your car. Smaller cars do not need sound systems designed for large trucks or SUVs, so this can narrow down your search process. Next, consider what your ultimate media goal is for your car. Do you have children and are looking for an upgraded car audio for their backseat video enjoyment? Are you a podcast subscriber that needs crisper audio that can carry over the sounds of 5-O’clock traffic? Do you have a bunch of CD-mixes from high school that you still love to jam out to on a road trip? These considerations will help you narrow down exactly what you need when it comes to your car audio upgrade.
In older cars, audio systems served only a few purposes, like to tell the time or turn the radio on. In modern cars, which come standard with more advanced audio systems, this is a hub for all your driving activity. When the CDC announced last year that the majority of U.S homes were mobile, it brought to light an interesting development – that how we communicate and how we are entertained are completely different than when many cars on the road were made.
Current car audio systems usually include a USB port, auxiliary cable port, and distraction-free tuning for the radio. More recent car models might also include a screen set in the center console that has the option for satellite radio and navigation system.
If you are going to upgrade your audio system, you should consider getting a car audio that is suitable for smartphone connection, and ultimately should include the basics that factory-made cars of today offer. That allows drivers, especially younger drivers who are often more reliant on technology for navigation, to drive more safely by letting them hook their smartphone up to the audio system for directional feedback. However, some drivers are still tempted to look at their phone for directional input even if it is plugged into the car. For this, consider upgrading to an audio system that includes standard navigation.
There are two main types of stereos that are put into cars aftermarket. The first kind is the single DIN, which is the most popular model because of its size. Single DIN models are about 2 ½ inches by 7 inches. For most standard cars, trucks, and SUVs, this size will fit nicely. For people with larger cars, the double DIN provides a larger screen with touch-screen capabilities for elements like navigational tools. Unfortunately, double DINs do not work with many smaller car dashboards but are a popular choice among larger car owners. Other than the aesthetic differences, double DINs and single DINs provide similar stereo output, so choosing the best option for your car can be easily narrowed down by considering the size of your car.
One of the most obvious things that these different car audio systems do is amplify the sound. Sound control isn’t limited to turning the volume up or down on these systems. Modern stereos offer sound equalizers that amplify different elements of a song, making it possible for the same song to sound completely different in different settings. Additionally, advanced car audio focuses on creating a more wholesome listening experience based on four different audio elements: clarity, dynamic range, frequency response, and tonal balance.
Clarity involves the ability for car audio to recreate the sound of an original recording or source without any sort of distortion. If you are a big fan of podcasts or talk radio, clarity might not be your top priority. However, for music listeners, a car audio with excellent quality is a must.
Remember the THX advertisement before movies in the 1990’s? A poor television system could send you scrambling for the remote after listening to softer video advertisements that came before. That loudness is an example of dynamic range or the ability for an audio system to equalize two elements of a song or recording without breaking your eardrums. This is especially important in small cars.
Frequency response refers to the number of sound waves heard per minute. Being able to incorporate higher frequencies in a car audio system means more of the original recording sound is there. Again, something that might only make a difference to music lovers, but it does make a big difference.
Finally, tonal balance is the great equalizer within the audio system. This is what balances out the different tones within a recording or broadcast, which makes listening more pleasant.
If you do no other research into the purchase of an improved audio system for your car, keep this in mind: the best audio systems come from those who are reputable car audio installation businesses. Places like Mobile One Auto Sound will ensure that your top choice is right for your car, will help you install it, and will help you care for it afterward.
If you live in Metairie, Gretna, or Covington, and are considering a new sound system, stop by a Mobile One Auto Sound location to get started on your search for the next addition to your car.