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#58988 - 1st Dec 2003 8:04pm FAQ - come out of
aceritz Offline
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Registered: 11th Nov 2003
Posts: 2056
Loc: birkenhead
What's the best way to spend my money?
The biggest improvement you can make to a standard head unit and speaker system is adding a subwoofer. This could be a pre-built item that has its own amplifier included, and takes the audio signal from the head unit's speaker outputs. These are known as active subwoofers and come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit just about anyone. Subwoofers are important in a car because of the large amount of background or road noise in the lower bass frequencies.

Why should I bother with an additional amplifier when my head unit is rated at 4 x 50W?
The way that amplifiers are rated can vary from one manufacturer to another, so it's impossible to directly compare watts unless you know that they were both measured in exactly the same way. Head units are usually measured as peak power or maximum output, whereas stand-alone amplifiers are usually measured in a far more meaningful RMS output into 4 ohms and a fixed level of distortion. As an example, a specific head unit with a 45W maximum output is also rated at only 17W per channel into 4 ohms with 0.8 per cent distortion.

How do I get more bass out of my system?
A quick answer to this one is adding more or bigger speakers. Generating bass is all about moving large volumes of air. Think of a speaker like a car's engine. The bigger the engine the more power it produces. To move more air you need to have a piston or speaker cone that has more area. To make the cone move back and forth even more means increasing the power supplied to it, but any speaker can only be pushed so far before it distorts or gets damaged.

Can I add a sub without extra amps or wires in the car?
Yes. There are some head units on the market that can be configured to run a subwoofer off their rear channels using a built-in crossover. Admittedly you are restricted by the power output, but it will get you started when building a system and gives the option of adding an amplifier later.

Can I fit a regular head unit in place of the weird-shaped old one?
In all but a very small number of cases, you can remove the standard unit and install specially designed fascia adaptors that surround a standard DIN-shaped model and make it fit in with the car's dash. You can get these adaptors for a whole host of vehicles from specialist car audio retailers and places like Halfords. You can also get adaptor harnesses to fit in between the original wiring loom and the new head unit, so that you don't have to cut into the standard loom. Some manufacturers even make aftermarket units that link in with dashboard remote displays.

If I am going to upgrade my speakers, should I start with the front or rear pairs?
It is often easier to change the rear speakers because of access, especially if you are trying to fit larger units to improve bass response. But just about all of the positional information or stereo image is derived from the front speakers, and it is this stereo image that helps to achieve a sense of realism in the sound. We'd recommend upgrading the front speakers before the rears and keep the head unit faded towards the front, with the rear channels only loud enough to give an ambient feeling.

Do I need speakers with a separate tweeter to get good sound?
Although component speaker systems with separate tweeters can give greater flexibility for installation, you can still buy decent coaxial speakers that have the tweeter mounted in front of the bass cone. These are also available with high-spec crossovers and can be driven by multi-channel amps. The build quality can be just as good as component systems, but all the drivers are fitted to the one chassis. You only really need the individual drivers where the installation position requires it, such as when the main driver is really low in the door.

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#58989 - 2nd Dec 2003 7:36pm Re: FAQ - come out of
aceritz Offline
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Registered: 11th Nov 2003
Posts: 2056
Loc: birkenhead

Most cars have 4 speakers. You will find that manufacturers such as Kenwood and Pioneer do direct replacement speakers, that fit into the factory standard holes. These will better the sound quite a bit, make sure you go for 'Co-Axial' speakers, these are sectioned into 2 parts of the speaker for better sound.

2.) 6 X 9's

There was a fashion at one time to fit 6 X 9's into the rear shelf of your car. The 6 x 9's are able to offer more 'mid-bass' sound (as well as higher frequencies provided by other speakers in the car). The fashion was to cut dirty great holes out of your parcel shelf to fit them in. Not only does this get expensive if you want to by a new shelf when you sell the car (or build one out of MDF - handy andy's fave) but it only really adds to the rear fill sound in the car. Use 6 x 9's if you want a loud system, for quality use:


These are 2 seperate speakers, normally fitted in the front of the vehicle to produce mid range and high range (through the 'TWEETER') sound. It might be necessary to make some room in your front doors for the speakers to go. Fitting Components will give you an excellent front sound stage. If fitted correctly (angled slightly towards the drivers ears) the sound stage should be like it is filling the car up from dashboard level.


Sub Woofers are the larger speakers which produce Bass. There are 2 main types:

a. Free Air - can be fitted to parcel shelf or ported sub-box
b. Boxed - require an enclosure (sealed or ported depending on manufacturers spec)

For the reasons of size, Subs are normally fitted into the boot of the car. Most require a box in which to fit them, if yours does not have one, check with the manufacturer as to what size box your sub requires. Box sizes are very specific to each sub, a wrong size box could make your expensive sub sound pants.

Many people choose to use multiple subs so that when they are at the traffic lights their car vibrates (normally Ford Orion drivers - or Novas). This is all a matter of choice.

WARNING: Using multiple sub set ups seriously encroach on your boot space!!!


If you try to run all your speakers off of your head unit, there will

a. not be enough power
b. Sound quality will suffer

Most people tend to fit Amplifiers which run straight off the battery and are linked to your head unit to increase the power signal of the sound. Most Amp's require RCA leads, check that these connections are available at the back of your head unit. If they are not, you can patch the sound to SOME amps by using the ordinary wire speaker outs (the AMP will require the ability for 'HI-LEVEL INPUTS' make sure you remember this!!)

Amps come in all shapes and sizes. Most people start by amping up their sub for more bass. It is important to match the power figures up.


When looking at power figures, look at the RMS figure, not the peak power figure. The peak figures are often over exaggerated and mismatching can result in a blown AMP/Speaker or just poor quailty sound.


What a cross over basically does is seperate the different levels of sound (I mentioned high end, mid range and Sub bass) and sends the RIGHT SOUND to the RIGHT SPEAKER.

Amps often have built in X-Overs to send bass signals to your sub. This can help keep the best sound and prevent the wrong ones going to the Sub and damaging it.

Passive cross overs are connected just before the speakers and are often used with the component sets mentioned.

Active X-Overs are used before the Signal is Amplified and seperate the sound to the correct amp. These are especially useful for multiple-amp set-ups.


If you are like me and love a gadget, you can fit some more advanced parts to your I.C.E system.

Sat Nav is a like an on-board route and traffic planner.

You can get T.V tuners and screens for either video, DVD, games consoles or even your lap top if you want!


There is really no limit to what you can do to your I.C.E. You can spend as little or as much as you want.


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