Home Technology Car Audio Systems 101: Your Short Guide To Car Audio

Car Audio Systems 101: Your Short Guide To Car Audio

by Rae Castillon

If you’ve ever decided to tinker with your vehicle, one of the easiest to notice upgrades is the audio system. In a day, you can go from the pedestrian sound your stock speakers have to the BOOM BOOM BOOM you have always desired.

Even if it’s always been your goal to feel your music while driving around, it can be difficult to decide where to start. There are plenty of fantastic speakers out there, sometimes overwhelming you with various options. Plus, “speaker” can be a pretty broad term and may not help you figure out exactly what you want.

You everything you can to make sure your car stays on the road, so why not give it an upgrade?

Below, we’re going to run over the utmost basic parts of car audio and what you need to be focusing on when looking to make a purchase.

Car Audio System Components

Generally speaking, there are three components that go into a full car audio system. It’s worth noting that you don’t need them all when upgrading your system, but having all of them is going to go a long way.

The Speakers

Well, that was obvious, right? You need speakers for sound. It’s the most significant part of any audio system.

There is no “set” amount of speakers you need for a vehicle. Some people choose to upgrade the subwoofer only while others make entire switches throughout the vehicle.

If you’re a novice when it comes to car audio, you’re probably familiar with the woofer. This is the speaker that is going to pump out your bass. It’s made for low frequencies and is a must if you like listening to hip-hop, rock, or rap.

Mid-range speakers are for all of your mid frequencies and tend to be the least “popular” of all speakers involved.

Tweeters are smaller speakers that are going to make sure your system is playing all the high-frequency sounds.

There are two different types of speaker systems: coaxial and component. Coaxial is where all the different types of speakers are contained together in one unit. They’re easier to install and generally cost less. But, you’ll be sacrificing audio quality with these.

Component, on the other hand, has all the individual speakers in their own separate state. They are more expensive, more difficult to install but provide you with top-notch sound quality. They also take up a lot of space in your vehicle, not leaving you much room in your trunk.

Some people install a subwoofer only in order to provide that deep bass. There are different kinds of subwoofers depending on the type of car you drive and where you want to place it in your vehicle.


In order to get the most out of the sound system, many people install amplifiers either internally or externally. Amplifiers, often written as amps, are going to do exactly what they say: amplify your sound.

Amps help boost the signal from your head unit to your speakers for better sound quality and clarity. Many subwoofers or speaker systems require (with an asterisk) you to have an amp.

Internal amps are small and don’t boost your audio quality too much, enough to satisfy those who are not huge audiophiles. They are usually mounted on the dash.

External amps are mounted somewhere else in the vehicle and do wonders for your car’s audio system. Some are put under seats while others are installed in the trunk. They tend to be more expensive but are well worth it for the listening pleasure.

The Head Unit

You can have the best speakers in the world but having a run of the mill head unit means you’re not going to be maximizing your sound system.

In order to get the best sound, you need a great head unit to distribute audio throughout your vehicle. Head units are also where you will get to fine-tune your audio and many newer models have more advanced options who want their music to be perfect.

Your head unit can also a number of different benefits, such as GPS navigation, video playing, phone connection, and much more.

Two Things To Consider

There are many things you need to look at when making audio system purchases, but the two most important in our opinion are size and power.

If you have a compact car, chances are you’re going to have to make some sacrifices when it comes to sound quality. That doesn’t mean you won’t notice a huge difference, but you may have to opt for a shallow mount subwoofer instead of a traditional one.

Power is also a huge obstacle for many, as these speakers are going to require more power in order to unleash their full potential. Make sure you’re buying an amp if you just installed some speakers that are aimed to blow people away. You don’t want to install everything and then not be able to take advantage of your new toys.

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