Jun 7, 2008

3 Expert Sound Improvements for Your Road Trip

Sound Improvement #1: Add a Powered Subwoofer
Why: Bass is the Achilles' heel of any sound system—whether at home or in the car. It's typically either nonexistent or too loud and muddied. A subwoofer is designed specifically to reproduce low frequencies (under 200 Hz) so that the “boom” is musical, punchy and clean. It takes the burden of reproducing bass off smaller front and rear speakers, making them sound cleaner and louder. Recommendation: Infinity's 200-watt, 10-in. Basslink thumps and only takes up about 1 cu. ft. of trunk space. Ease of installation: Simple. Comes with speaker level inputs, so all you have to do is splice into the existing speaker wire. Cost: $349;

Sound Improvement #2: Replace the Speakers
Why: Unless you're riding around in, say, a Jaguar with a high-end audio system engineered by Bowers & Wilkins, the factory-installed speakers in your car probably aren't very good. Automakers care more about the size and weight of electronic components than about how they sound. Upgrading the speakers immediately makes instruments and vocals sound more realistic. Recommendation: Polk Audio's db6501 6 1/2-in. component speakers offer flexible mounting options and can handle 100 watts (continuous). Ease of installation: Moderate. The size and shape of your car's stock-speaker locations determine the kind of replacements you can use. Measure before you buy. Cost: $239;

Sound Improvement #3: Install an Amplifier
Why: Factory systems simply don't have the gusto to rock the beats, so the sound falls apart (read: distorts horribly) when you pump up the volume. An amplifier boosts the audio signal so you can play your music louder, bringing out musical details and enhancing clarity. Recommendation: Total Mobile Audio's four-channel T320.4 offers plenty of power (60 watts continuous) as well as a built-in crossover. Ease of installation: Moderate to difficult. Most factory head units don't have preamp-level RCA outputs, so you'll have to use an OEM interface such as JL Audio's CleanSweep CL441-dsp to tap into the factory wiring harness. Cost: $239;
By PM Staff

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