Advice

The Team-BHP Guide to ADVANCED Car Audio

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This article expands on the Team-BHP Guide to Basic car audio.

By now you should have mastered the art of matching a head unit (HU) to an amplifier and selecting speakers to suit your taste and needs. In this section we will discuss systems with multiple amplifiers, additional processors and special bass-enhancing loudspeakers.

  • Head Unit: Now that you are considering an advanced system, you should think of buying a head unit that has three sets of preamplifier outlets. These “outs” let your HU control multiple amplifiers and each set of outs includes plugs for the front, rear and subwoofer speakers. This type of HU permits external audio sources like Walkmen, MP3 and DVD players and may even include proprietary cables to control Apple IPods. Most major manufacturers offer HUs with these features at prices starting around Rs.10,000.
  • The advent of CDs has almost eliminated the need for external equalizers and processors. In fact, we don’t recommend them for car audio because we find that they are overused and will deteriorate rather than improve sound quality. Remember, every extra audio component in a car is another possible entry point for electrical noise from the alternator. Modern HUs come equipped with sophisticated tone controls that compensate for most in-car anomalies.
  • Speakers: You will need at least four speakers to reproduce the typical sound range, as discussed in the Team-BHP Guide to basic car audio. For high-end systems we recommend installing a separate speaker called a subwoofer for the lower bass frequency. A subwoofer is a large speaker with a diameter of 10” or more; you can use two speakers for stereo sound but if space is a concern a single unit will do. A subwoofer will reproduce only the bass frequency and is usually placed in the trunk of a car. Some well-known brands include Pioneer, JBL, Boston, Infinity, Image Dynamics, Polk, MTX, Kicker and Focal with prices starting at Rs.4,000.

    Subwoofers produce a lot of energy and this energy can cause door and trunk panels to vibrate. To dampen this vibration you should use foam-based panels from companies like Dynamat. For tighter spots we suggest a spray-on dampening like that offered by Wurth.
  • Amplifiers: Now that you have a subwoofer, you’ll need enough amplification to drive it. The easiest way is to get a four-channel amplifier: bridge two channels to drive the subwoofer and use the other two channels for your front speakers. Your rear speakers can be powered directly from the HU.

    On the other hand, if you prefer to have all your speakers powered by an external amplifier you’ll need five or six amplified channels. You can get this by using a single five- or six-channel amp, a four-channel amp with a two-channel amp, three two-channel amps, six separate mono amps or any other combination. For multiple-amplifier setups you will need not only the wires discussed in the Team-BHP guide to basic car audio, but also a distribution block with fuse holders and power wires of at least four gauge size.

One final note: the choices and scale of car audio equipment at this level is quite varied and the best solution depends entirely on your own personal preferences. You can add CD changers, DVD players, video screens, multi-channel processors for home theater sound and much, much more. Soon we will see the advent of satellite radio – some head units already include tuners for XM, HD radio and Sirius. The sky, as they say, is the limit.

For more information, take a look at the Car Stereo cookbook.

 
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