So, your car stereo has seen better days, maybe it’s broken, maybe it has a tape deck and no plug-in for your MP3 player, maybe it just isn’t a very high-quality product and you’re ready to upgrade your tunes for the morning drive. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that it’s time to get a new car stereo.
Where the heck do you start when buying a car stereo? You can take a walk over to Best Buy, check your online defensive driving courses or check out Wal-Mart and grab something off the shelf. But consider that you’re likely to spend way more time listening to music in your car than you do listening to music at home. So, should you really be grabbing the first working stereo you can find, or is it worth investing a little bit of time and effort, and maybe a couple extra bucks, into getting the best stereo you can find?
Any Upgrade Is an Upgrade
The truth is that, nine times out of ten, any upgrade from the factory stereo system is going to sound better than the system it came with. The factory sound system is usually just good enough to pass industry standards. People don’t buy a car based on the quality of the stereo included, so car makers don’t bother really delivering on this front. Even luxury car makers don’t worry about speaker quality too much.
So, any upgrade is an upgrade, but some upgrades are better than others. When deciding what kind of car should I get, take note that the rattling, tinny speakers that usually come with a new car can only be improved upon. Here’s our advice for getting started:
Begin With The Front Speakers
A really solid pair of front speakers can cost you less than forty bucks. Really, if you spend five dollars on each speaker, you’ll have spent a lot more than your car maker did. You can go to aftermarket websites like Crutchfield.com, browse their selection, and do a little research, checking out reviews and so on before making your purchase. There’s no real reason not to shop for speakers online. You can check out Amazon.com or high-ranked sellers on eBay.
Does the Stereo Need Replacing?
The actual stereo plugged into the center console might not be the culprit if you’re listening to weak, tinny sound. Truth is you could plug just about anything into a decent set of speakers and it’ll sound pretty good. If you’re looking to replace the stereo, you’re looking for something with easier controls, an MP3 player, or just anything besides a tape deck and bad FM reception.
Here it may be better to go to stores in person. Check out the nearest Best Buy or any car stereo stores and look at what they have. A great stereo is defined largely by how it feels to push the buttons and turn the dials. Bring your phone, check out some reviews and make sure the model you’re looking at doesn’t have a reputation for tapping out a month after installation, and find a stereo that you like, that feels good, and will look nice in your car.
This is easier than you think. It’s a matter of popping off some panels, plugging things in, and screwing them in place. Even if you really botch the job, you’re not going to do any real damage to your car that you can’t fix with a few dollars’ worth of wiring. You’re not going to make your car undriveable by botching the job.
The entire process, from shopping to installation, is easier, and cheaper, than you might think.