You're reading:

Acoustics 101


 

automotive acoustic sound 101


Regardless of what kind of car you drive, there definitely is a science to finding and purchasing a good car stereo. Good quality vehicle stereos will enhance the sound and also help you to get rid of any type of distortion in the actual sound.

These days a good sound system in a car is almost as important as the car itself. Satellite radios as well as iPod capabilities are fast becoming a lot more popular in the luxury cars. People want a car with an excellent sound system, one that is not only top quality but also user friendly. Why? Because they expect more out their car's audio features.

Whenever you think about purchasing an audio sound system for your vehicle, you should always think about the high-class as well as the good quality in your system. No matter what type of car you drive and on whatever the terrain, you want to be comfortable with the actual sounds coming out of that car stereo.

There are specific things you need to look for within a car's audio system. First of all, a good mix between your bass and treble is an essential quality. You want a good audio system that will produce a good clear, crisp sound that isn't over powering. Many cheap sound systems will frequently produce a combination that just isn't desirable.

You want speakers that create a sound that isn't overwhelming, but easy to hear. A good quality system also needs to have quality loudspeakers. You don't want speakers that will produce a sound that is full of static as well as a rough unpleasant sound. Many times, you might get a really great car stereo system but end up with poor or cheap speakers, and unfortunately they come standard with the system.

Receivers, equalizers, and amplifiers can be considered the "grand daddy" of the car audio program components. Without these three components working together to keep the harmony tight, there wouldn't be a car sound system. Years ago, it was true that the speakers transmitted the sound within our vehicles, but because technology has evolved so much over the past few years, now even small speakers can create a mind-blowing sound. Subwoofers are found in the loudspeakers and they are designed only to reproduce the lowest of audible frequencies. They permit the listener to not just hear a noisy sound, but a definite one too.

It's safe to say that when it comes to your car's audio sound system, it is best not to choose the cheaper types. This is since the cheaper ones may have poor sound quality as well as perhaps they would additionally not last a long time. If you like your car, you shouldn't try out these the cheaper types, instead make an investment which is worth its worth.

People were considered lucky when they used to have a radio in the dashboard and two speakers in the front doors. Thanks to the latest car stereo technology, car stereos now can compete with even home audio systems. Analog has long been transformed into digital format. Some of the latest car stereo technologies are surround sound, Dolby Pro-Logic, Digital Signal Processing, MP3 technology etc. Similar to the home stereo system, improvements in technology has resulted in improved sound performance and clarity.

The composition of a car stereo system is based on four basic components. These are amplifiers, speakers, head units and input devices like graphic equalizer, CD changer etc.

The head unit, as the name suggests, is the core of any stereo system. The head unit or radio is called the central processing equipment of the device. It controls all the functions of the application like turning the volume up and down, adding more bass etc. Every manual sound adjustment is made by the driver through this head unit or radio. Behind the dash of the head unit, there are dozens of wires connected to power, speakers, antennae, and so on.

In addition to volume and bass control, this head unit may have other features as well like fade, 3D sound, bass boost, etc. Unlike the home stereo system, where one can avail a huge space, car stereo systems are required to operate efficiently in the small space of the interior of a car. Thus, when installing a new system, one must take full consideration of availability of space, heat, cosmetic design, power requirements and aesthetics.

Amplifiers are the high power devices that convert sound signals into high power speaker driving current. With some modern systems, the amplifiers are hidden well away from view, perhaps in the trunk of the car. Amplifiers can get hot, so they are often equipped with heat sinks, fans and should be installed in a somewhat ventilated location.

The function of speakers are to receive the signals from the power amp and convert it into audible sound vibrations for the listener. The sound vibrations are created by causing the speaker cone to vibrate. The speaker consists of three components i.e. woofer, tweeter and midrange driver. In car stereos, these components are positioned strategically, usually with the woofer in the back and tweeters in the front.

In-car entertainment has come a long way since 1930, when Motorola introduced the first commercially successful car radio, the Model 5T71. Over the past 80-plus years, car audio has evolved from the basic AM radio receiver with a single speaker to complex electronic systems reproducing music and other entertainment from both over-the-air signals and recorded formats. Many systems today can play music from a staggering array of audio sources: radio, CD, portable music players like the iPod, USB flash drives, SD cards, Bluetooth audio and hard-disk drives. In years past, even the best audio offerings from automakers provided a lackluster experience for discerning listeners. It was pretty much a given that you'd replace the factory stereo system with superior aftermarket components if you wanted the latest features and best sound possible, as well as the most value for the dollar.

That's not the case today, since a good premium OEM (original equipment manufacturer) system can rival an equivalent aftermarket setup in almost every respect and sometimes even surpass it. The head unit in many vehicles is also integrated into the dash in such a way that it can be expensive to replace (and the end result might look unattractive besides). And systems such as navigation and Bluetooth and stock steering-wheel controls are also often tied into the factory head unit.

In the future, even smaller speakers and higher power amplifiers may become available. Just don't blow your eardrums! In upcoming editions we will delve deeper into the science that is "Automotive Acoustic Sound."