7 Things You Should Consider While Buying a Car Stereo

Things to know while buying car stereo

Posted on 09 May, 2020, by Pioneer India

Upgrading your car stereo is fantastic way to incorporate additional features and get a better looking car interface – not to mention, you’ll get a better sound quality and a more enjoyable driving experience. This decision isn’t as simple as you think, because there are so many options to choose from. Let us simplify the process then so that you’ll be a lot more confident when making your car stereo purchase.

1. Audio Sources

The first thing you should take notice of before investing in a car stereo is to ensure that it supports all sorts of playback formats. These days there are different types of formats into which audio files are encoded. The type of format decides the quality of audio file. While formats like MP3 and AAC offer conventional quality, other formats like ALAC, WAV and FLAC, etc. offer high-resolution, better sound quality. Therefore, make sure that the car stereo you choose supports all the playback formats. Also, make sure your car stereo accommodates all the different types of audio sources, be it CD/DVD, Radio, USB, AUX, Bluetooth, SD card, or Smartphone.

2. App and Smartphone Integration

Nowadays, every customer looks for a unit that can be integrated with their smartphone and can function in tandem with it. So it is important to make sure that the aftermarket stereo that you purchase has that feature. One of the biggest things lately is smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android auto. This simplifies driving a great deal and allows you to manage your smartphone via the head unit easily for a seamless and safer driving experience. Pioneer was the first brand to launch this revolutionary technology in India and is now focusing on Wireless Apple CarPlay and Wireless Android Mirroring to take things to the next level.

3. Local Satellite and Radio

Many people love to listen to the radio while they drive. Radio is also a great source for getting quick news bites and staying up to date with the current affairs. Nowadays, the traditional radios are being fast replaced by digital radios. Not only do these radios offer a crisper sound quality but they also provide some pretty useful functions like the ability to play songs directly from your Spotify digital library, so that you can enjoy the music that is tailored to your taste without having to shift your focus from driving.

4. GPS Navigation

A GPS system allows you to focus on the road whenever you’re in a new area and you can navigate to your destination without having to stop at every street corner and asking a local for directions. Many aftermarket stereos come with integrated GPS systems but you don’t necessarily have to spend extra bucks for that. With the smartphone integration trend catching on, you can use GPS navigation on your car stereo via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

5. Physical Dimensions and Controls

Market radios usually come in two standardized sizes – known as single din (2”x7”) and double din (4”x7”). Traditionally, the single din radios have buttons and a simplistic look and feel. Still, they can be packed full of features in terms of functionality and add-on capability. A double din, on the other hand, usually has the touch screenfeature and supports functions like GPS, DVD playback and more.

In some cases, a single din or a double din radio may be a direct replacement for your vehicle, while in other cases you may require a vehicle specific dash kit to allow seamless installation.

Nowadays, there has been an emergence of head units that double as detachable Android tablets . These can be used not only inside the car for making driving a seamless experience but they can also be used outside it like a regular smart tablet. Pioneer’s SDA-835TAB+SPH-T20BT easily detachable multi-purpose 8-inch Android tablet is one such example.

The tablet is loaded with Genuine AndroidTM OS and has a 13-band equalizer that allows you to fine tune your music. It is also resistant to severe temperature and vibrations and its detachability feature also serves as an anti-theft feature. The tablet can also connect with car’s rear camera automatically upon shifting to reverse gear and can also connect with the optional parking sensor. It also supports streaming apps like YoutubeTM , SpotifyTM and more. You can also enjoy your favourite music & movies with Pioneer Sound Quality. If your kids are getting bored, you can detach the tab and hand it over to them so that they can enjoy their favourite content as well.

Whether you have business needs that require tending to or you just want to kick back and enjoy a movie or a TV series, or whether you want to facilitate easy online learning for your kids – all the tasks can be accomplished with one, simple device.

6. Power

While taking inputs from your audio sources is one function of the head unit; its another important function is to output the audio to your car’s speakers via its internal amplifier. This amplifier has two power ratings – peak power and RMS. Peak power is the maximum amount of power that your amplifier is capable of producing whereas RMS power is the amount of power that the amplifier will consistently produce with regular usage. Unless you’re someone who likes to blast their speaker at full volume all the time, you’d want to focus more on the RMS rating.

Generally, having high RMS power is good as it gives you more leeway in terms of volume without reaching the limit of the amplifier’s ability – which might lead to distortion. More wattage doesn’t always mean better audio quality though. It’s determined by many factors like the quality of your audio source, digital signal processing, digital-analog converter, equalization, and finally, your car’s speakers.

These parameters, however, aren’t set in stone. Most modern head units have audio tuning features, which give you the option to alter the texture and quality of output as per your needs. For example, the “Bass Boost” feature can be used to sharpen the lowest sound frequencies, “Band-equalizer” can be used to control the overall soundstage, and the “Time Alignment” feature can be used for course correction in case the music goes out of sync.

Furthermore, if you are looking to upgrade your car’s sound system by adding extra amplifiers , subwoofers or other accessories, you should make sure that the car stereo you’re investing in has the option for upgradability. This can be determined by checking the number of preamp outputs on the rear end of the stereo. So make sure you have adequate number of preamp outputs before you buy the stereo. Those preamp outputs also have a certain line voltage labels (2V, 4V, and even 8V and 16V in some models) - greater the line voltage, lesser the noise in the output from your speaker. This is why you should consider a stereo with high voltage RCA preouts.

7. Budget

It’s like they say, everything comes at a price. You need to find a balance between what you want and how much you’re willing to spend on it. There are some pretty decent car stereos out there that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket, but you might have to loosen the purse strings a little if you really want to take things to the next level. Therefore, before you begin to decide what you do and don’t want, you should decide on a budget.

This way, you’ll get a clearer picture and then you’ll be able to weigh your options. Once you eliminate the stereos that cannot fit into your budget, you can then start working on finding the best stereo within your budget .