Most drivers need some form of entertainment to keep them focused while driving, and music just happens to be one of the most conventional means. Now, we all know what our in-car radios are capable of, but we often neglect the fact that the car’s stereo is the most crucial component in the radio. The sole purpose of this article is to provide insight and clarity concerning the topic of the importance of your car stereo, highlighting its basic functions and potential.
What exactly is the car stereo?
First of all, there’s an awful lot of synonyms regarding the car tech parts, but one of the most important pair is the Car stereo & head unit. Basically, some people refer to the car stereo as the audio system in a whole while some people claim that head units and stereos are the same.
That’s true for as long as we take the following fact into consideration – the stereo refers to the main unit which is more often than not located within your car’s dashboard. This “unit” receives and transmits sound waves through “filters” and, lastly, through the speakers.
Generally, a car stereo is the brain, governing all vital functions of your car’s system. The “power and speed” of this unit will determine how well the other parts will function, whereas its versatility will provide additional options (referring to sound customization, mostly).
What are the basic functions of a car stereo?
The majority of high-quality car stereo units come supplied with a manifold of electronic components, such as the radio tuner, a CD player, the preamp, and the amplification device. All of them are tightly entwined with small cables into a neat, organized system. Lower-end stereos are outfitted with some of these features, if not all (with lower performance rating).
Control over audio sources
This leads us to the first basic function of any car stereo – the control over these audio sources. It’s not hard to imagine a car which comes outfitted with all these parts standalone – it would not only be huge, but exceptionally difficult for drivers to use, given that the interior would resemble a spaceship more than a conventional vehicle.
Since that’s not the issue, it falls down to the car stereo to control what each part does, when it will be used, and how. Certain parts are triggered on their own whenever you want to use your car stereo (such as amps and pre-amp devices) while others have to be operated manually (CD player, for example).
Even with all these audio sources pre-built within your car’s stereo, some head units are supplied with the option of external connectivity – such is the case with iPod inputs, and such. Since drivers need to be focused on driving, dabbling with external connections (volume, songs, and such) would be extremely inconvenient, which is the reason why the car’s stereo offers an easier way to use these settings.
The importance of this function was minimal looking back a couple of decades, as there was a single audio source supplied to each head unit – AM radio. As technology moved onward, the number of sources has increased dramatically, further accentuating the importance of this car tech part.
The importance of volume control might not seem too high to the majority of people, and there’s a good reason for it – this function is all too convenient at this very moment. With as much as a simple push of button (or a slide of the knob), you can neatly control the volume of your songs, playbacks, and such.
Imagine if you had to tweak the settings of each piece standalone? The volume control is every bit as important as the control over audio sources, as it eliminates the problem you probably never had experienced – beeps, buzzing, screeching, scratching, overly loud or weak signal or sound, and such.
Just like our brain helps us determine the optimal loudness of our voice and the optimal tone throughout our conversations, the car stereo helps keep the music sound gentle and pleasant to our ears.
High-end systems are different, but play an ever greater role
Certain high-end systems have improved efficiency and are considered to be “user-friendly” – the third most important aspect of a good car stereo. We’re talking about the “interface”. High-end car stereos are outfitted with an “easy-to-use” interface, which significantly reduce the effort a driver needs to invest to actually use the stereo.
If we’re to take a budget, outdated car stereo as an example, you’ll notice that the buttons and functions appear too small, requiring extra care if you want to hit it right. On the other hand, “user-friendly” stereos with a simple interface are remarkably plain, and not only eliminate the dull process of choosing proper functions, it will keep your drives “safe and sound”.
Most modern head units are outfitted with "audio tuning features" which allow you to customize how your sound will turn out to be in the end. We're talking about features such as the "Bass boost", which significantly sharpens the lowest sound frequencies, the "Band-EQ" which controls the overall soundstage, the "time alignment" for cases when the music goes out of sync, and such.
Pioneer's head units are usually outfitted with all the audio tuning features you'll need to customize your sound in the best way possible, so it might be a good idea to check some of them out.
Factory stereos & upgrades
It's safe to assume that most people are content with what they get from their car's stereo at the moment they buy the car, but, the truth is – there's always room for improvement. Namely, factory stereos are supposed to "work" and sound "decently good", but that's about it. If you want better sound, you ought to consider upgrading your stereo.
The reason why your stereo will sound pretty ordinary is because factory stereos have low wattage, so the output is pretty mediocre, to say the least. Upgrading is not only easy, but pretty great moneywise – most upgrades don't cost a fortune, and you can customize every little bit of your car's stereo with aftermarket upgrades.
Car stereos & speakers
Even in the best-case scenario where your car stereo is absolutely perfect, there's still a chance that the sound might not be. The reason for that could be any number of things, but, more often than not, it's the speakers.
Plainly put, the speakers are the "voice" of your car's stereo, and regardless of how good the stereo is, you just won't be able to get the most of it without a proper set of speakers.
Surely enough, mediocre speakers won't lower the overall quality of how your car stereo sounds – you just won't get to experience how it could sound.
The main reason why people pay so little heed to their car stereos is quite simple – these contraptions are made in such a way that they offer a great level of convenience, and that’s easily taken for granted in most cases. Nevertheless, these “head units” are, by far, the most important component in any stereo system, and you ought to consider improving them first if you’re unsatisfied with how your in-car music system sounds.
I’m Alex Frank who has worked sound technology industry for 10 years now. Today, I am an affiliate blogger who likes to educate my audience more about sound technology. Visit https://www.musicinstrumentscenter.com/ to find all information about music that you need.