Whether you’re new to the car audio scene or a seasoned specialist, there’s nothing quite like outfitting your car with new audio equipment. However, your chosen system’s sound might fall short of your expectations and disappoint you.
Don’t go back to the drawing board just yet. You may need to pump up the bass in your car or give your system some tuning. Here are some suggestions on how to do the latter and maximize your car stereo’s potential.
Four Ways to Tune Up Your Car Audio System
Try these tuning tips before turning in the towel and finding a replacement when your car’s new audio system isn’t firing on all cylinders. Chances are, these may be all your system needs.
Check the Speaker Phase
Speakers must be firing in phase, meaning its cones should be protruding and sinking simultaneously. If this isn’t the case, the bass response won’t be as good, and your system will sound like it has no life. Inspect your speakers, even if you had your system professionally installed.
To tell if your speakers are in phase, play a bass-heavy track with the system’s balance control focused on one side. Return the balance control to the middle and see whether or not you hear more bass. If you do, you’re all good; if not, you have out-of-phase speakers.
Adjust the negative and positive leads on one speaker, and try the process again. The moment you start to hear more bass, keep the adjustments as they are. You may do this for the rear and front speakers separately.
Power on your subwoofer. Reverse the connectors that attach to your sub and listen for a shift in bass response. If there’s a boost in bass, leave it be. Another thing to ensure is that multiple subwoofers are in phase with one another.
Set the Equalizer Correctly and Adjust the Subwoofer
It can be tempting to crank up the bass on the receiver, especially when you’ve just introduced a subwoofer to your system. But system tuning has to take place first. When you start touching the equalizer, make sure to adjust where it’s most important.
First, set the equalizer to flat, with tone controls at zero and the EQ curve at no engagement. Play some familiar tracks at a moderate volume level with the subwoofer out of the picture. Then, slowly introduce subwoofer influence until you hit that sweet spot. This would be when the bass kicks in perfectly without overshadowing the rest of the music.
The bass should not sound like it’s coming from behind. If it does, the sub-amplifier crossover point should be lowered to de-localize the bass. In case the crossover point is non-adjustable, try moving the subwoofer
For instance, if the subwoofer is turned towards the rear, reposition it to fire either sideways or forward. Then, recheck the phase once the sub is in its final position.
Create a Soundstage Across the Dash
A “soundstage” is what you should strive to create with your system. That means you hear and feel the instruments as if they were being played in front of you, arranged from right to left when you close your eyes. So, in a rock and roll track, that would be the bass guitar and kick drum on either side and the lead vocals dead center. An adequately set up soundstage should sound like a live band playing on your dashboard.
Get the Right Amount of Bass
Great bass should apply across the board, not only for heavy metal but also for reggae, rap, and other genres the tone is more commonly associated with.
As a jazz or classical music fan, you may even be surprised at what the subwoofer has to bring to the table. Even at low volumes, the device can produce an impact and a richness you wouldn’t have thought was possible at those levels.
Play some bass-featured tracks to see if the bass tones stand out even at moderate volumes. If they drop or boom too much, inspect the phase and try out different crossover points until you hit that sweet spot. Once the sub is tuned correctly, use the receiver’s equalization settings to minor tweaks and achieve the perfect sound delivery.
Contrary to what some believe, cranking up the bass is not the way to boost the system’s impact. You can turn it up a little bit, but make sure to lower the mids and the highs if you want a great-sounding system. The intelligent thing to do is minimize the equalization. In that way, you get just the right amount of bass that’s effective.
Once the tips above have been applied, you’ll know for sure if you’ve chosen the right system. Make sure your purchases are made in anticipation of any future changes. For instance, you may want to expand your system, and it would be so much more convenient if it didn’t need to be overhauled when that time came.