7 Terms You Must Know when Installing an Aftermarket Stereo - Carr Subaru Service in Beaverton, OR

7 Terms You Must Know when Installing an Aftermarket Stereo | Carr Subaru Pro Audio Information in Portland, OR

Who among us doesn't want better sound and improved convenience for our daily commute? Upgrading your car's stereo system is a popular way to do just that. But with so many terms and so much jargon to sort through, it can be tough to get started. Do I need to buy a massive subwoofer? What about a new amplifier? Can I use the same receiver, but upgrade my speakers? Can I add Bluetooth? We'll help you answer these questions and more. Here are seven terms you should familiarize yourself with before shopping for you car stereo upgrade.

7. Head Unit/Receiver | The Brains of the Operation

When you picture a car stereo, it's the head unit that you likely are thinking about. That's where the volume knobs and input selectors live, as well as the CD player or touchscreen if your head unit is so equipped.

When most people say they want a new car stereo, they mean a new head unit. Also known as the receiver, the head unit usually contains all the circuitry necessary to drive the speakers. It also contains its own amplifier and preamp. Upgrading the head unit is a great way to get clearer, more powerful sound and more advanced infotainment features like Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto®.

6. Amplifier | More Power To You

As we said above, most car stereos feature a built-in amplifier. However, for truly audiophile-grade sound, you may want a dedicated amplifier in your aftermarket audio system. A separate amplifier will allow you to drive your speakers more effectively for superior clarity, especially at high volumes.

However, If your vehicle's existing speakers are poor quality, merely adding an aftermarket amplifier might not get you the results you were hoping for.

What to know installing a aftermarket stereo in your Subaru
Subaru aftermarket stereo installation options

5. Speakers | Home on the Full-Range

In a sophisticated home audio system, three different types of speakers are used: Tweeters, to reproduce high tones, subwoofers, to reproduce bass notes, and mid-range speakers to create the mids.

Most factory car audio systems use "full range" speakers instead. These speakers are designed to replicate the (you guessed it) full range of the audio spectrum, including the highest highs and the lowest lows. While such speakers sound pretty good, they're limited in how well they can truly replicate the bass and high notes in your favorite tunes. When you want to upgrade your car's speakers, you may want to consider adding tweeters and a subwoofer for the ultimate sonic experience.

4. DIN | Funny Name, Serious Standard

DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung, a German standards organization that set the standard size for almost all in-car head units. A single DIN stereo is roughly 7 inches wide by 2 inches tall - or, in the metric units preferred by Europeans, exactly 180mm x 50mm.

Most cars are equipped from the factory with a double DIN head unit that's two DINs stacked on top of one another. You can replace that stereo with an aftermarket double DIN unit, or a single DIN unit - in which case a spacer or extra storage shelf will be installed in the other DIN.

3. Speaker Sensitivity | Quality over Volume

When upgrading a car's audio system, upgrading the speakers is the only way to truly get studio quality sound. Most modern cars today are factory equipped with high-sensitivity speakers. That's because the built-in amplifiers in factory audio systems aren't especially powerful. When you upgrade the head unit, or add an external amplifier, you may also want to switch to low-sensitivity speakers. They'll do a better job of expressing a well-amplified signal with volume and clarity.

2. Power Handling | Can You Handle it?

Whenever you upgrade your speakers, it's important to make sure that it can handle the power coming from your amplifier. If you're going to keep the stock amplifier, or you're using a head unit with a built-in amplifier, lower power speakers will work better. However, if you install a powerful aftermarket amplifier, you'll want to install speakers rated to handle all that amplification.

Speaker makers use a variety of terms to express a speaker's power handling. We think the most reliable one is called its "RMS power rating." Be sure the RMS power rating of your speakers matches the power output of your amplifier.

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1. Audio Source | What's Your Roadtrip Weapon of Choice?

Sometimes, the best reason to upgrade your car's stereo head unit is simply convenience! Today's modern head units can accept audio inputs wirelessly or through USB, Aux, Bluetooth or even from an SD card.

If you're stuck listening to scratched-up CDs and FM radio, you can improve the quality of your sound just by upgrading to a more sophisticated head unit. You can listen to your favorite podcasting or music streaming service from your phone, add SiriusXM Satellite Radio for high quality broadcast sound and so much more. Because sometimes the thing that matters more than how you're listening is what it is you're listening to!

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Carr Subaru

11635 SW Canyon Rd
Directions Beaverton, OR 97005

  • Sales: (503) 672-3370
  • Service: (866) 460-0188
  • Parts: (888) 627-4707
  1. Carr Subaru

    11635 SW Canyon Rd
    Beaverton, OR 97005

    • Sales: (877) 271-4560

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