Sound Essentials Part 1

Sometimes, it is good to go back to basics

Sound Essentials Part 1.


Let’s Start At The Very Beginning


It is genuinely difficult to understand car audio from a standing start even if you have a background in sound. Here we attempt to set you off on the right track!


Audio at home is often arranged around the furniture and the key sitting positions. Many who understand music and enjoy it will take on other family members to ensure that they are able to sit in the sweet spot between a pair of speakers. Most importantly, the speakers in question will be mounted in properly designed enclosures and will be positioned at ear height pointing toward the listener. This is the best way to enjoy music. When you go to hear a live ensemble or band, you tend to position yourself as centrally as possible and facing the musicians. It makes perfect sense when trying to replicate that experience, to do the same with your home listening.


Car manufacturers have a more difficult job on their hands. For a start, the listening environment is built from thin metal panels lined with cardboard and plastic trim panels. A good installer will always take steps to minimise the effects of these physical limitations - read our article on Skinz sound treatment on page 20.


Space is at an absolute premium in a car and there are many functions and controls for manufacturers to fit in. Many head units are designed with, let’s face it, far too many features that will never be used, however the head unit is often integral to the aesthetics of the car and is in any case, not the place to start when upgrading your sound.


Due to the many positional compromises introduced with regards speaker placement, it makes far more sense to begin your upgrade path here. Car manufacturers do not spend any more money than they have to on speakers. Their view is if it makes a noise, it is good enough. Similarly, they pay scant regard to where the speakers are mounted beyond the basic rule of thumb that high frequencies come from tweeters mounted high up and other sounds from down below. In order to cope with these major obstacles, dedicated car speaker designers have gone to a great deal of trouble to produce speakers that have a wide dispersion characteristic rather than transmitting sound in a narrow beam. One such manufacturer we like very much is Audison and the pinnacle of their design expertise when it comes to addressing positional issues with wide dispersion speakers, is its highly popular Prima range of speakers.


We hear from many people how a pair of Prima speakers and a modicum of sound treatment has completely transformed their in-car listening without compromising the look and feel of their vehicle or costing a couple of limbs. What these people say is that they enjoy the clarity (lack of distortion) and width of the new sound (sound stage). They also tend to talk about depth and power (bass).  For a first-hand report why not jump over to page 44 and read about James’ “Fun-Filled Fiesta”.


Whatever your genre preference, the improvements offered by a simple speaker upgrade are immense and will set you to thinking about the music you listen to rather than wanting to turn it down or listen to a talk radio show on AM!

There are many more things that can be added to lift your in-car tunes even higher, but as a bare-minimum, a speaker upgrade is a fantastic place to start. You will notice things in the music you have never heard in your car before.


In part two of this beginner’s guide (page 50) we look at how to add other products that will take your upgraded speakers to even greater heights. See you there!


Car Audio Upgrades Made Easy

In association with our partners The FOUR MASTER Network, we are able to provide you with a no obligation custom quote on a system for your car.

Not ready for that yet? Why not book a demonstration at your home, place of work or with your local FOUR MASTER?