If you are not satisfied with your current car stereo and would like an upgrade, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Naturally, some options cost more than others and you might easily get carried away and spend much more than necessary. That’s why it’s important you know exactly what kind of car stereo you need and can afford. Here’s a list with the most important elements to consider when it comes to choosing the right one.
You need to start by analysing what audio sources you use most often. CDs are a thing of the past for most people, but you may wish to have that option, too. In that case, you should opt for a traditional CD-receiver with a slot for the discs. Also, make sure your new car stereo has a USB port for playing music from a flash storage device, because you might want to allow your fellow passengers to play some of their music.
New car stereos allow you to connect your smartphone seamlessly, but you need to make sure you choose the one that allows you to use your current smartphone. It’s also important to choose the right apps for this, especially if you wish to stream music through the phone. So, if you love using Pandora or iHeart Radio, make sure your receiver features controls for those apps.
Car audio receivers are no longer just music-playing devices. They can now help you get to your destination as quickly and safely as possible. Just look for flash memory-based maps that can be updated through a removable SD or microSD card. You can also enjoy the free service of traffic reporting if you have an option to use the RDS-TMC band or through the HD Radio tuner. To be honest, chances are that your smartphone navigation app is more reliable, which is why the best idea is to get the best of both worlds with an in-dash unit’s large screen and the superior software of a smartphone app by choosing a receiver with some sort of app mirroring functionality. Another option is to mount the phone to the dashboard and output the audio to your receiver’s Bluetooth or AUX input, which are features of famous Pioneer car audio from Strathfield car radios.
Local and satellite radio
Some people are simply satisfied with the choice of AM or FM radio stations and don’t want to listen to anything else but local radio stations. Even the very old stereos support that, but if you wish to venture beyond the realm of local, you should consider a receiver with built-in HD radio decoding, which will both improve the audio quality of local stations and allow you to access digital subprograms for stations that support multicasting. This is a great idea for those who travel long distances, since they can listen to their favorite radio stations from almost any point.
Once you’ve decided what kind of device you need and can afford, it’s time to look at the shortlisted options and apply new criteria. One of them is the power. Take a look at the list of specs for the RMS power rating, i.e. the amount of power that the amplifier consistently produces. You’ll also see the number of channels that the amp can output (usually four: front right and left, and rear right and left). Of course, the quality of sound is determined by many factors, not just RMS power, but if you don’t know much about it, you’d better consult an expert.
This could be the trickiest part of getting a new car stereo, since every make and model of car is different. It’s best to leave the installation to professionals, although the more skillful among you can probably do it without any help. Still, if you want your warranty to be valid and to be able to enjoy the best your new device has to offer, leave it to a certified installer.
Your new car stereo can not only provide better audio quality, but it can also allow you to use some features for the first time. That’s why it’s important to choose the new device wisely.