When the time comes to upgrade your car stereo system, you'll find there's a lot to get excited about. Car stereo installations offer some of the most fun tech options in consumer electronics. Of course, the availability of more options always leads to more questions, like: what sort of receiver do I need? What are my display options? Which car stereo brand is best?
With these questions in mind, here's a little primer on how to choose a new stereo for your car.
Mind your source
Cassette tape decks may be obsolete, but today's car stereo systems can play just about any other audio format. Many car stereo brands recognize that people tap multiple sources for music and spoken word entertainment. For example, if you still have a large cd collection, you'll want to make sure your new car stereo can actually play cds (a lot of them can't). If you prefer satellite radio, you'll want to make sure the receiver is satellite capable, and if you enjoy local radio you may benefit from a stereo equipped to receive digital fm signals, which may offer multiple channels and improved clarity.
Think about connectivity
A new car stereo installation also presents the opportunity to add external audio sources. Most commonly, people love to play music and podcasts through their phones while driving. Many car stereo systems offer a number of ways to connect to smart devices, beginning with the old school auxiliary audio input, which you plug in like a headphone jack. More advanced receivers feature usb inputs, which interact to phones through their chargers, so you may access the phone's menu through the receiver. These may also support playback of mp3 and other digital media files directly from an external hard drive, allowing you to keep a vast library of audio plugged into your car at all times.
Do you want to go wireless?
Of course, the best car stereo brands have also gone wireless, and the most convenient way to play your smart device through your car's stereo receiver may be Bluetooth. When considering Bluetooth compatible stereo receivers, make sure they work with your brand of phone, and can be updated to adapt to ever changing operating systems. It's also important to consider how the car stereo's Bluetooth works within your car when it comes to hands-free phone use — for example, can it be linked to the steering wheel or in-dash controls? And is there a built-in mic to handle your end of a hands-free phone call?
What are you looking at?
Rear view cameras are becoming standard in all new cars, but a new car stereo installation creates an opportunity for any model year car to add in-dash video to make this feature possible. Touch-screen technology means you may eliminate knobs and buttons from your car stereo, and access everything intuitively on-screen. It's not really safe to play dvd's through an in-dash video screen, but it's possible. Current car stereo systems offer just about audio and video amenity, you simply have to choose the right new stereo for your car.
Can your speakers handle it?
All of the above may guide your decision making on a new car stereo installation, but what goes on behind your dashboard may ultimately prove most important. The quality of your receiver's digital signal processor will impact how mp3 files will sound through your car's speakers. The power of your amplifier definitely will. And if your speakers aren't good enough to reproduce the signal from your amp without distortion, you may be in need of a speaker upgrade, and even a subwoofer.
Car audio city knows what's available in today's car stereo market, and can answer the question which car stereo brand is best for your needs. We carry top car stereo brands including jl audio, kicker, and pioneer, and have the experience to ensure your car stereo installation goes perfectly.