Would you prefer a factory or aftermarket? In general, factory systems have improved in quality and now offer a wide variety of choices when it comes to audio systems. Others may have branded systems tailored to a vehicle’s interior from manufacturers such as Bose, Harman-Kardon, Infinity, and others. Here’s How to Choose a Car Audio System.
Factory system lighting and controls match the rest of the dashboard, too, for a seamless look. A steering wheel control is an option in many systems, and knobs and dials are much larger and easier. A new-car warranty covers them, so service will be easier if you have a problem.
A high-end factory system, however, is likely to cost a lot. Many of the devices don’t allow for easy upgrades with the latest features and technologies or replace the radio with one that offers more features.
It is almost always more cost-effective to upgrade your car with an aftermarket system, and you may be able to add features that aren’t available in the model you purchased.
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Choosing an aftermarket system may take more time and effort. Buying the components individually and taking them to an installer is an option, or speaking to an installer if you want a complete system.
Make sure nothing you intend to do will void your car’s warranty before you buy.
The radio attached to your car is probably fine for most people. Comparing an automaker’s optional premium system with an aftermarket one can help you determine which has the best audio quality or more features.
Aftermarket systems may work better for the same or less money than OEM systems.
Should you go with HD or Satellite radio? HD Radio is a great audio option if you want high sound quality without the monthly subscription fee. Amplifying the sound of AM and FM with the digital signal makes them more similar. In addition, radio stations have many additional channels that you can tune into. If you’re planning to invest in HD Radio equipment, you may want to wait for a little while as more and cheaper gear arrives and more and more stations offer HD Radio coverage.
As far as music, news, sports, and other music go, satellite radio offers a much better selection than local stations. A wide range of music, news, and sports is available on satellite radio. Sirius and XM have similar music channels, but you should carefully check out their channel selection before you subscribe.
When choosing your music on the road, but without having to carry a lot of CDs, choose a system with a USB port, hard drive, or iPod/MP3 player built-in. You don’t have to carry around additional devices, and you can store and sort through a lot of data quickly, whether it’s audio or picture files, with your hard drive. The media does not stay in the car; you have to download it to another device to take it with you. It will take a long to load your MP3 player or iPod with a hard drive music collection, and you may have to wait a lot for playlists to load if you already have one.
If you already carry an iPod or MP3 player around with you and don’t want to recopy your music collection, a device that allows you to connect to an iPod or MP3 player would be a good choice. You can charge your device while you drive if you purchase an adapter or device with a dock. You can also use some aftermarket systems with steering wheel-mounted controls or even radio controls.