Everybody loves music. It’s everywhere! At the gym, in your favorite movies and TV shows, at the store, on the phone while you are waiting on hold, and in your car, truck, van, motorcycle, RV, boat, ATV, UTV, and just about any other vehicle you can think of. But would you love your music more if it sounded better?
At first, you might say, “No… I like my music just fine already.” But think about it… Go to a movie theater with professional surround sound that brings the movie to life by making objects fly right by your head and by rumbling the floor and seating during explosion scenes with bass. Pretty awesome isn’t it?
Now go home and watch that same movie on a flat screen TV that has two 2” built-in speakers, no surround sound, and no bass. You probably won’t enjoy the movie nearly as much.
Audio and your hearing is a key ingredient in what you enjoy. And since everybody likes music, having good audio can help people like their music even more.
Here are a few tips to help you improve the sound quality of music in your vehicle and help you enjoy it even more than you already do.
In this day and age, we listen to music from digital files stored in our phones and mp3 players and via streaming services over WiFi or Bluetooth. Depending on how the file was created, it may be compressed which means you aren’t getting ALL the sound from the file. Sure, you can store more compressed music on your device, but listening to compressed music is like going to the movie theater to watch an action movie with earplugs in. In a compressed file, you will lose some of the top and lower ends of the frequency range.
If you already have an aftermarket sound system, using compressed music files is like buying a Lamborghini and filling it up with regular unleaded gasoline. A good aftermarket audio system is intended to play a much broader frequency range than a factory system but if the audio signal you give it cuts the high and low ends of that range out, you just paid for an aftermarket system to reproduce what your factory system was already doing.
Whether you are at home, in your car, or jogging around your neighborhood, any noise being made around you that isn’t part of what you are trying to listen to is going to ruin your listening experience. At movie theaters, there are materials built into the room that reduce ambient noise. Things like carpeted walls, the big curtain on the stage, and other methods are used to absorb sound. In your car, there’s road noise, rattling door panels, and sounds from outside the vehicle. Sound deadening material such as StreetWires ZeroNoise kits attach to hard surfaces in your vehicle such as the floor and inner door skins to help reduce vibrations and keep exterior sound outside the vehicle. As a result, you hear your music with more detail without having to turn it up as loud, which saves your electrical system.
If you are using full quality, uncompressed music and you have reduced road noise and the vibrations in your vehicle, the next easiest step toward improving your vehicle’s sound system and your music listening experience is to replace the OEM speakers.. I know, I know… Your car has the “premium” sound system and while it is probably better than the standard system it is still not capable of delivering the full music experience..
Some vehicles have oddly shaped radios that are hard to replace without making your dash look funny. Other higher end vehicles are running computer data through the radio, which sometimes requires numerous integration devices and custom programming. Or maybe you have factory navigation or steering wheel controls that you don’t want to lose. If you just want to replace the factory speakers with better speakers that reproduce frequencies that factory speaker can’t, you don’t have to replace your factory radio.
Coaxial speakers are the most basic and easiest to install. They are designed as 1 unit to play the “full range” of the frequencies of your music. They are available in a variety of sizes and generally can be installed in the same hole your factory speakers are in. Simply remove the factory speaker, cut the wires, connect them to your replacement speaker, screw the new speaker into the factory location and you’re good to go.
MTX Audio THUNDER Series coaxial speakers feature a pivoting tweeter design that helps with sound imaging when installing the speakers in off-axis locations such as door panels.
Component speakers are a more specific way to upgrade your factory speakers. They include a dedicated tweeter for high frequencies, mid bass woofer for the low frequencies, and a crossover that accepts the audio signal from the radio and distributes them accordingly to whichever speaker should play those frequencies. Additionally, some crossovers allow for minor sound adjustments that enable the user to tweak their system to accommodate their listening preferences and adjust for any acoustical challenges the vehicle may present.
Component speakers are great when a factory sound system includes a speaker in the door panel and a tweeter in the A-pillar. The tweeter in the A-pillar raises the sound stage by bringing it closer to your ear. Check out the MTX THUNDER component speakers.
If you don’t know what size the factory speakers in your vehicle should be replaced by, you can go to MTX.com and use the “Fit My Car” tool to find all of the speaker options MTX Audio has for your vehicle as well as ThunderForm vehicle specific subwoofer systems.
For help on how to install and mount your aftermarket speakers, see our “MTX Audio Car Speaker Installation and Mounting” article.
Most factory audio systems do not include a subwoofer to reproduce the low frequencies in your music. We’re not talking about rattling the windows of the houses on the street you are driving down. (We can do that too but that’s an article for another time) We’re just talking about a complimentary amount of bass to go along with your improved speakers.
Even the factory systems that do have a subwoofer don’t REALLY have a subwoofer. We talked about how factory speakers are not very good. Well… their subwoofers are worse!
Having a subwoofer doesn’t mean you have to have a huge box in your trunk or cargo area that doesn’t leave any room for all the other stuff you have to drag around. Solutions like our FPR series shallow mount subwoofers are a great option to limit the amount of space needed. Our ThunderForm vehicle specific subwoofer systems utilize the unused space under and behind seats so there is no loss of usable space at all. We also have subwoofers that include built-in amplifiers mounted in an enclosure such as our XTL110P and the RT8PT.
For more help with choosing what subwoofer option is best for you visit our “5 Tips for Choosing the Best Subwoofer Package” article in our Library.
Also, once you choose a subwoofer, our website will offer you a selection of amplifiers that would match up with your subwoofers as well as wiring diagrams to show you how to wire the subwoofer(s) to the amplifier for the correct impedance.
No matter what kind of subwoofer you decide is best for your vehicle and budget, your ears will thank you for the details of the drums and bass guitars that your factory system was missing.
As you can see, improving the audio system in your vehicle is not just about buying speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers. There are some little things you can do to improve your music as well. You spend close to 1,000 hours a year inside your vehicle. If you like listening to music, make sure you are REALLY hearing all that your music has to offer.