Car Audio Mistakes
Choosing a new car audio system can be tricky business. Most people make many mistakes when choosing their car audio system. Below are the most frequent mistakes made my car owners in choosing a new system.
Many people just spend too much and in some cases go into debt. What can make this particular situation worse is that people go into debt for a system they realize they do not even like. First, figure out how much money there is available to spend. Then decide how much of the car audio system needs to be replaced. At this point plan a budget – how much can you afford to spend? Therefore you can locate system components in your price range. Deciding what is most important in the car audio system and plan to spend more on the important items. Going over budget is the first and most common mistake car audio system buyers make.
Another thing to consider is how much of the car is going to need to be modified for your potential choices. For example some speaker installation will require many modifications to be made to the car. Modifications will need to be made by a professional and therefore you will have to budget into the total cost of the car audio system parts as well as labor. Another car audio systems mistake is that the owner of the car does not think about the future. How long are you going to keep the car for? Will you sell the car with the new audio system or will you remove it before sale? Remember audio systems never increase the value of a car enough to balance what was spent on the audio system in the first place. Also, if you plan on remove the system before you sell the car that could be problematic. Having a radio and an audio system are high priorities when people are searching for a new car to buy.
When and for what do you use the car for? If the car sees a lot of use as well as wear and tear then buying higher quality components like speakers is a great idea. Understandably if you are spending more time in your car then at home you want to make sure it is as comfortable and entertaining as possible. However, if the car is only used for weekly shopping, low end parts are more appropriate.
Another car audio system mistake people make is choosing a system which is not appropriate for the type of music they listen too. This is probably the most important factor which should influence the choice of the right car audio system. If the music that you enjoy is strong bass beats then a high end power amplifier is needed. Also, subwoofers would also be a good choice. However, if your music choice is at the opposite end of the music range then you will need a different audio system setup. For example, if you listen to classical music or trendy pop music, you will need to get a car audio that has a strong speaker system that offer even play of the sound spectrum.
Car Stereo Wiring 101
I have come across a lot of car stereo systems over the past 10 years or so. There are so many “techniques” to installing head units. Everyone has their own opinion of what is right and wrong when wiring up a system, but just because it works doesn’t make it right.
I asked Majestic Modifications what their opinion was on the subject. How do they install so many units and always get it right?
First, if applicable, always use the harnesses. The aftermarket wiring harness will usually take the guesswork out of the installation. These harnesses attach to the vehicle’s factory wiring harness and gives you a color coded installation. You just attach red to red, yellow to yellow, etc. But is that all an installer should know?
Starting with your digital multimeter, find the power sources in the harness. One source will be continuous 12 volts, the other will be the ACC (ignition) 12 volts. These two will go with the yellow and red wires from the aftermarket head unit’s harness. They are labeled accordingly. It is usually a good idea to attach the ground wire to the frame of the dash. A lot of head units come with a connector for this already attached to the ground wire. Secure these in place with some solder and shrink tubing. Slip the shrink tubing over one of the wires to be connected and move it out of the way. Connect the wires and dab a little solder on the wires. Let cool and then slide the heat shrink tubing over the connection. Heat with a heat gun/hair dryer to shrink the tubing to fit.
You can try to look on the internet for the wiring colors, but good luck. They will tell you the “typical” wire colors, but chances are it will be different. You can try two techniques to find the right wires. Clip the rest of the wires from the factory harness. You can test the speakers with a good 9 volt battery to see which speakers are which. Two wires connected to the same speaker will make it pop. Note which speaker makes the pop and attach it to that speakers wiring from the head unit. I like to turn the unit on and make sure the wires are the right polarity. A reverse wired speaker will not have as good a sound as a properly wired one. Continue the technique until all the speakers are connected.
The other way you can trace the speakers down is to turn on the head unit, but be VERY careful to not cross any wires. Start with a pair of wires, and attach them one at a time until you get sound. Note which speaker it is and attach it to that speaker’s wires from the wiring harness, taking not of polarity. Continue until all the wires are in place. Zip tie the wire together and neatly tuck them behind the head unit.
Be sure you have a good ground wire connection. Be sure that RCAs or signal wires are running away from any power wires or sources, and are not run parallel to them.
If you want a neat trick, you can attach the 12 volt acc to the illumination wire, and you will be able to turn the unit on with your parking light switch. Take note, that anytime the unit is on, the dash panel lights will be on too, but you won’t notice them in the daytime. The illumination wire is used to turn the factory radio lights on at night.
Not having the wiring harness for your vehicle is not a do or die situation. If you can get the harnesses, save the hassle and time and use it. If you find yourself in a bind, then follow the steps above and get it installed correctly.