It might sound good, but it is far from great!
I’ve been involved in car audio since 1992 and I have to say, factory systems have definitely improved. Long gone are the days of the 3.5″ dash speakers in the GM or Dodge. Many systems are “amplified” and some even have iPod capabilities. Today’s factory radios sound pretty good, but I have never heard one that I felt couldn’t sound a whole lot better.
I think that many customers also realize that their systems could sound better. Problem is, the car manufacturers are making it very difficult to replace the factory radio. Integrated diagnostics, data connectivity, and the actual fit of the radio are big hurdles to overcome. Believe it or not, adapters, dash kits and harnesses are available to allow radio replacement in most newer vehicles. I will leave that to a future post. Today I want to talk about improving your vehicles overall sound and flexibility while maintaining the factory radio.
Keeping the factory radio
Shops like mine are selling a lot fewer in-dash radios than they used to. That has probably hurt many of the shops that did not learn how to “adapt.” By “adapt,” I mean to use their customer’s factory radios as a source for high performance sound.
At Mobile Edge, we are lucky to have many excellent vendors that make specialized integration products. Many of today’s radios require special handling if you are going to add external amplifiers, speakers and subs. We use high quality devices called “line level converters” to act as an interface between the factory radio and the aftermarket system. Perhaps one of the best is the 6ix for Memphis car audio. This device takes a 4 channel output from nearly any factory radio and converts it into a front, rear, and subwoofer outputs suitable for connection to a quality afttermarket amp. This device has special level matching to allow us to truly fine tune your new system.
Adding a good dose of power
Not long ago, good amplifier were generally BIG. This made for a lot of mounting issues. Many customers were not comfortable mounting an amplifier to a back seat or having it stick out a bit if we did an under seat mounting. Unfortunately, they had to make a choice between not doing the system, or dealing with some space issues. Not anymore! Companies like Memphis and Arc Audio have really stepped to the plate with smaller, high performance amplifiers.
The SC series from Memphis consists of three amplifiers: a 2 channel, 4channel and a monoblock sub amplifier. They all are exactly the same size: 10.5″ x 2″ x 8.5″. These amps are solid performers. They are made to exacting standards and will fit nearly anywhere. Designed with all of the wire connection on one side, they are an installer’s dream. Mount the 4 channel under the driver’s seat and the monoblock under the passenger seat and you have the powerehouse for a killer system.
Arc KS125.2 Mini Amplifier
But what if the Memphis SC series is still to big? We have the solution… The Arc Audio KS125.2 Mini. This amplifier puts out 250 watts of pure power and is just 8.5″ x 1.75″ x 4.75″!! It can be mounted under just about any seat imaginable! You need to see this amplifier to really understand how small it is. The Arc Mini eliminates the problem of not enough space.
Better speakers = Better sound
Speakers are a no-brainer. Upgrading your factory speakers and adding sound deadening to your doors will always make an improvement in sound quality. At Mobile Edge, we recommend that you go with a component speaker system for the very best sound. They start out in price at only a little more than a typical coax. Their on display at our shop so stop in an take a listen.
Good bass is important in any system
The only part of the system that might cause you to lose some interior space is the subwoofer. But, here again, this is not nearly as bad as it was years ago.
Customer subwoofer enclosure
There are tons of custom enclosures available that blend in with the cosmetics of your hatch, trunk, or the cab of your pickup. In many cases, you will never even know it is there. We have access to hundreds of custom enclosures covering most newer vehicles on the road today. And we have the best woofers to go in them. Yes, they are on display also!
Lets not forget about all of the other cool things that we can add: iPod integration, HD radio, satellite radio, bass restoration, standard mp3 player support, etc. If you want it, chances are, we can do it.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that your car can sound a LOT better than it does today and you do not have to sacrifice cosmetics, space, or the integrity of your vehicles electronics. Mobile Edge is the areas leading expert on aftermarket integration of sound systems. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We would love to have you as a customer! To learn more about this topic, here is a simple buyer’s guide to car audio in general. Happy reading.