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car audio system

There are too many products, brands and system of audio out there for you to upgrade your car audio system easily with not so much cost. Several important components in car audio systems are going to be described in this post to give you rough idea what is the most important parts, the function and effects.


Head Unit

A head unit, combining radio, CD and MP3. The most common and familiar piece of audio equipment is the radio/tape player/CD player/DVD Player which is generally described as a Head unit, which also can be called a head deck. It is also the most likely component to be upgraded with an after market item. A recent development in head unit technology has been the addition of CD players with MP3, Ogg, WMA, AAC, and USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support.

car head unit sound system

Head units are mainly found in two sizes, Single and Double DIN. Some single DIN units are Alpine’s(Alpine car audio) CDA-9887, Kenwood’s(Kenwood Electronics) KDC-X991, and Pioneer’s(Pioneer Corporation) DEH-880mp.


International standard ISO 7736 defines a standard size for car audio head units. The standard was originally established by the German standards body Deutsches Institut für Normung as DIN 75490, and is therefore commonly referred to as the “DIN car radio size“. It was adopted as an international standard in 1984.

Head units generally come in either single DIN (180 x 50 mm panel) or double DIN (180 x 100 mm panel) size. The depth is not standardized.

Why do you want to replace the head unit?

You may want to replace your head unit for several reasons:

-it may not have all the features you want, for example it may not be able to play MP3s
-it may be low quality, for example CDs may skip, or the sound clarity may be low
-it may not be able to provide enough power to the speakers
-The aesthetic features may not be ample


Factory speakers are usually of very poor quality and replacing them with aftermarket ones will result in an enormous improvement in sound quality.

subwoofer sound system

Most vehicles have four speakers, but some have six, eight, or even twelve. In this author’s opinion, more speakers does not necessarily amount to greater sound quality and manufacturers only put more speakers in cars so that car buyers will think “Wow, this car has 8 speakers, it must be a lot better than a car with only 4!”. Four high quality speakers will produce superior sound to twelve poor ones.

A set of speaker drivers removed from a passenger vehicle. Car speakers are generally located in doors and rear parcel shelves of a sedan in modern cars. High-end or competition stereo systems often have speakers mounted in “kick panel” enclosures, allowing for larger drivers and better driver placement. Before stereo radio was introduced, the most common speaker location was in the middle of the dashboard pointing through perforations towards the front windshield.

High-end audio systems include Component Speakers that consist of a matched tweeter (high frequency), midrange (medium frequency) and woofer (low frequency) set. These component pairs are available in two speaker and three speaker combinations, and include an audio crossover which limits the frequency range that each component speaker must handle.

5.1 and even 7.1 channel surround sound systems, as well as THX II Certified, are now being integrated into some cars by both aftermarket enthusiasts and car manufacturers themselves. These systems include the full complement of front left, right and center speakers along with rear right and left surround speakers (7.1 systems include left and right side surround speakers) along with digital surround sound processors. They can allow you to turn your car into a virtual rolling theater. This is becoming increasingly popular with the advent of SACD and DVD Audio which contain music encoded in 5.1.

Amplifiers – A car audio amplifier

An amplifier is a device which provides more power to your speakers. In some cases, replacing only the head unit and speakers will provide a sufficient improvement in sound quality to satisfy you. But other times the head unit will not provide enough power to the speakers, and an amplifier is necessary. Amplifiers range greatly in price depending on how much power they can provide. An amplifier can be found to produce from as little as 50 watts up to 4000 watts, they can often be split into more than one ‘channel‘.

auto car amplifier subwoofer system

Amplifiers are classified by how they make the power. There are Class D, Class A, Class A/B, Class B,Class H and many variations on the Class D such as Class X, Class TX, etc. The internal components of an amplifier are generally referred to as “Amp Guts” and by how stout the amp looks on the inside you can get a VERY general idea on the power output.


Subwoofer brands are just as vast as everything else in car audio. There are literally thousands of brands to choose from. The most common sizes range anywhere from 8″ to 18″ but can go as high as 21″(Incriminator Audio’s 21″ Death Penalty Sub) and 34″(Audiobahn’s 34″ Sub). Subwoofers have single, dual, or quad voice coils and have resistance in ohms, most commonly seen in the voice coils are 0.7, 1, 1.4, 2, 2.4, and 4 ohm loads.

So we hope this articles will give you clearer view of what car audio system consists of.

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