Common Car Audio Questions for the Noobies

Q: When will I need to upgrade my electrical system?
A: Most vehicles only have electrical equipment to support  the accessories that are already in the car. Once you pass the 600 watt RMS mark you may want to consider upgrading the battery, the alternator, or the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood. Many work trucks and suburbans will be able to support up to 1000 watts RMS without any issues due to their larger batteries.

Q: I want to upgrade my stock sound system. Where should I start?
A: If a factory look isn’t a concern of yours, start by upgrading the head-unit. Factory receivers will produce a maximum of 10-15 watts, and by upgrading your deck you will be able to deliver more power with less distortion to your door speakers, thus increasing the output significantly.

Q: How can I increase the bass from my subwoofer?
A: You can start by making sure the subs are in an optimal enclosure for their size. If you are using a sealed enclosure, upgrade to a ported enclosure for a 3dB gain. You may also try stuffing lots of polyester fiber (found in stuffed animals, available at fabric stores) into the enclosure to “trick” the subwoofer into thinking it has more air space available.

Q: What should I do about light dimming?
A: The first step is to upgrade the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood of your car. This will decrease resistance on the electrical system and allow more current to pass through at one time. Next you should upgrade your battery to increase the amount of power available to the amplifiers. If you’re still experiencing light dimming, upgrade your alternator to a high output aftermarket alternator.

Q: How can I tell if my sub is blown?
Press on the cone evenly. If it’s stuck in one spot with no movement then it’s probably blown. Another method is to take a multimeter and test the impedance of the voice coils. If it doesn’t read either 2 or 4 ohms per coil and shows no impedance reading then the subwoofer is blown.

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