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Car Audio City
2907 Highland Ave.
National City, CA 91950


2097 Highland Avenue
National City, CA, 91950
United States

(619) 474-8551

Car Audio City in National City is San Diego's best auto shop for audio and video systems, Lambo doors installation, car security/alarms, window tinting and more.

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Learn more about Lambo doors, stereo systems, car alarms/security, marine audio and more on Car Audio City's San Diego auto blog.

The Difference Between a Good and Cheap Car Stereo System

Car Audio City

Custom car stereo installation at Car Audio City.

Car audio technology has taken amazing strides, and the best stereo systems make listening to music a joy. Even some affordable car stereos. Cheap car stereos, on the other hand, may look modern and high tech, but due to poor components, only sound marginally better than the proverbial cup on a string.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for San Diego car stereo shoppers to tell the difference between cheap car stereos and the best stereo systems, and one of the biggest overlooked advantages of a professional car stereo installation is having an experienced car audio technician who understands the difference between affordable and cheap car stereos, and can help define what makes a good vs. a cheap car stereo system.  

A good stereo head unit

The car audio component most people notice first, with good reason, is the receiver, or head unit. That used to be where you’d find all the radio buttons, cassette deck, or CD player — depending on how far back you go. These days, thanks to leading car audio companies such as Pioneer car audio, it’s usually a touch screen playing video as well as audio. Even a few cheap car stereos will feature touchscreen technology, but that alone does not make the best stereo system.


The second most visible component of a car audio system is its speakers, and just about everybody understands that better sound comes out of superior speakers, which is why speaker upgrades are one of the most common requests for car stereo installations in San Diego. Exceptional speakers will produce clean, powerful sound, even at high volumes, and today’s car audio speaker components may include noise reduction technology to counter some of that road noise.


The speaker you don’t see may be the one having the biggest impact on elevating mediocre car audio to a good car stereo system. A subwoofer may be placed in a trunk or under a seat, but it rounds out the bottom end of your car audio, ensuring you hear those bass notes loud and clear, to keep your car audio system from sounding tinny.


When you have quality speakers, you get quality sound, right? Not always. Whenever you have a speaker capable of producing high fidelity sound at high volumes, you need an amplifier potent enough to power them properly. Regardless how loud you intend to play them, it takes a quality amplifier to wring optimal sound from a good set of speakers, and cheap stereo systems often hide a low-quality amp behind shiny exteriors, limited the quality of car audio you get no matter the components that go with it.

Professional installation

Beyond the major electronic components, the difference in a cheap car stereo system and a good one may boil down to the quality of installation. Connecting wires between a receiver, amplifier, and speakers are only part of what goes into a quality car stereo installation. The quality of cables and power capacitors can be a factor in a system achieving peak performance, and sound dampening techniques may be used to create optimal acoustics.

Custom Car Stereo Installation in San Diego

For expert installation of car stereos in San Diego, look no further than Car Audio City. Give us a call at (619) 474-8551.