Car Stereo installation tips
DIY Car audio work is not difficult if you follow a few simple guidelines and use the correct tools. There is quite a good guide at this website. And further reading on good practice and electrical knowledge can be found here.
Car Stereo Removal tools can be purchased here.
The main thing to be aware of is that the car battery will discharge over time and if you are working on the car with the doors open with other ancillary electrical equipment using current, after a short time the battery level may drop to the point where you may think the equipment you are fitting appears not to be operating properly, especially Amplifier and Subwoofer installs. Look after the battery! If you have a grasp of Ohm’s law you will understand, see here.
Most installation guides and user instructions will advise that you disconnect the battery before installation. BEWARE: Modern cars may have code protected equipment on board that will need to be re-coded when the battery is reconnected. Sometimes it is better not to disconnect the battery. If in doubt your best course of action might be to visit your local Car Audio specialist and let him do the job for you, it could work out less expensive in the long run
Head unit installation
All the parts you need for car audio head unit installation including, single and double Din facia adaptor panels, fixing cages harness adaptors, aerial plugs, right down to fuses and connectors, you can find here.
If you are confident removing and replacing your door panels, then there are a few tips about speaker installation I can pass on. Number one is: Phasing. Making sure all the speaker cones travel out and in simultaneously is important. If one cone is on its outwards excursion while the opposite speaker is on the inwards excursion, then the sound waves will cancel each other out and a thin tinny sound will be heard. Simply making sure that the speaker wires are all colour coded the same will ensure correct phasing and result in a much richer sound.
Killing unwanted resonances in the car body metal will not only pay dividends with your sound quality but in the case of Rainbow and Hertz speakers will gain you extra couple of years warranty on the products if you use “Skinz” Sound deadening system. This system has three parts. Sound deadening, Wave diffuser and water resisting. Check it out here.
Too little power
Most people think that too much power kills speakers and while this is true it is often overlooked or not understood by customers who have damaged an expensive set of high quality speakers by connecting them to a low powered head unit that too little power is just as bad. What happens when you turn up the volume on a small amplifier is distortion or square wave clipping. The speaker coils struggle to respond quickly enough to this unnatural waveform and overheats damaging the speaker coils. Always match the speakers to the power of your amplifiers.
Subsonic sound in a car should be unobtrusive and subtle right? Well if you are my age probably Yes, but if you like your hair green and wear your cap on backwards probably No, so fitting a subwoofer to your system depends on many things. What kind of music you listen to; The bottom note on a church organ will need a couple of fifteen inch subs in a box bigger than the average car while a Madonna beat would be great on a twin ten inch tight ported box. Study box design here.
The one thing they all have in common is they are very greedy; they need tons of power which means big amplifiers with big power supplies. The power supply is more important that the amp.
Back to Ohm’s law, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting this right; at best your car will rock and be heard six blocks away at worst your pride and joy will be smouldering at the roadside after the fire engines are finished with it if you don’t get the power supply bit right.
More info on this here:
Common sense should tell you that a non branded Chinese Car Amplifier with a zillion watts printed on it for £39.99 must be rubbish but you figure that it must be true cos it said it on the box and the man at Halfarts said it was good right? Wrong. A beat up old Mini could do 180 MPH if you drop it off a cliff but what use is it then? These amps might be loud for five minutes but what is the distortion level like and how long will they last?
When buying an amplifier Look at the small print and ignore the wattage numbers. Look for the THD “Total Harmonic Distortion” figure. A Mission 20watt Car amplifier on a decent speaker system will blow you away with its presence and dynamism.
Nothing good in this world is cheap. If you want a quality sound system don’t skimp on any part. The speakers, subs, amps, wiring and installation are all equally important.