The Best in Car Audio


Some of the most common questions in car audio are, "What's the best way to..." or "What's the best brand of...". These seem like relatively straight forward questions but they're impossible to answer correctly. It's like asking "What's the best car?". The answer depends on several criteria that are specific to the person asking the question and not the person answering it. For example, if you were asked what the best car was what would you say? Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce maybe? Whatever the answer it would only be your opinion based on what you consider to be important. You would need to know what the questioner considers important to answer the question properly. Here's a couple of car audio examples that you may find yourself on either side of.


What's the Best Way to...

Let's say someone (you perhaps) wants to know what the best way to hook up two subwoofers. Here's some of the things that need to be known to answer the question.

  1. How many voice coils does each woofer have?
  2. What is the impedance (ohms) of each voice coil?
  3. How much RMS power can the subwoofers handle?
  4. How many channels does the amplifier have?
  5. If the amplifier has more than one channel, is it bridgeable?
  6. What is the minimum impedance the amplifier can handle?
  7. What is the power output of the amp into the impedances it can handle?

Why so many questions? Well, you need to know the number of voice coils and their impedance to determine how you can wire the coils to get various impedances. You need to know the power handling so you can see if your subwoofers can handle the power output of the amplifier at that wired impedance. You need to know if the amplifier is bridgeable, again for wiring flexibility. The lowest stable impedance load the amplifier can handle is very important so you don't go below this number and possibly damage the amp. And again, you want to know the power output of the amplifier to see if it is at or below the maximum power handling of the subwoofers.


What's the Best Brand of...

Other common questions are "What's the best brand of X equipment?" or "What's the best CD player?". Again these are questions that can't be answered (without more information) or are entirely a matter of opinion. Let's use the car analogy again. What's the best brand of car? Is it Chevy? Is it Ford? That debate's been raging for decades. Back to car audio, let's say you want to know what the best CD player is. If you asked me I might be inclined to say the Alpine 7909. But then that would only be my opinion and a biased one at that since I've personally used that model while there are hundreds that I haven't. But what you really want to know is what's the best CD player for you. Let's say your criteria is a removable faceplate with blue lighting, iPod control, built in crossover, HD radio capability, remote control and four channel high power output with a cost less than $300. In that case the 7909 would be a terrible choice because it meets none of those criteria.


Bottom Line

Wrong or "partially correct" answers are easy to get and give. If you want a more correct answer to the question you need to ask better questions. Be wary of those who will gladly and quickly answer questions like these. Car audio salespeople can be the biggest offenders of the quick answer. A salesperson that doesn't ask the detailed questions is more interested in making the sale then serving their customer. And then there are some people that just like to run their mouth. Ask a question, get an answer. As long as their lips are flapping they're happy. Make sure you know which type of person, and question, you're asking.

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