Does anyone pay the same attention to their car audio?
How many go for the premium audio offered by car companies (& put up with the compromises imposed by all that DSP) & how many go to the trouble of installing their own instead? Or do most throw up their hands & reserve quality listening for home?
I upgraded my F150 audio myself; But trucks have quite a bit of room to work with. Get in touch with Crutchfield; great customer service AND they set you up with all the adapters/Kits. They've got budget upgrades and High-End component systems. I've noticed the newer Cars like Subaru, Volkswagon, etc.. already have excellent audio systems in them. I was thinking of changing out my Kicker 6×9's for some Hertz 6x9's; it can turn into a sickness! Hahaha!
We recently bought a new Honda CR-V. A CD player wasn’t even an available option. Apparently, some car companies believe that everyone has an iPod or MP3 player (they’re wrong). My older car has a CD player, cassette player and even plays DVD Audio discs. I know it’s a sign of the times, but I don’t have to like it. I have had XM Radio for fifteen years and wouldn’t drive without it. Maybe we will look into an aftermarket CD player since we have a houseful of CDs.
I have had a really nice system in my car before and it sounded great. If you like bass, a car subwoofer can pressurize that small space a lot easier than a large listening room and if it's tuned well it isn't all boom boom boom. I'm sure it's also partially responsible for some of my hearing loss. My last 3 Lexus all came with nice sound systems, so I've stayed with the stock systems and rarely play music loud in the car anymore.
I drive a low mileage 2005 Lexus LS 430 sedan that just turned 70,000 miles. Its equipped with the premium Mark Levinson sound system that includes a CD and cassette player. I like to burn some of my favorite LPs onto CD’s via my Teac CD burner and then play them in the car. I also have a Nakamichi cassette deck and record some LPs onto tape and use those in the car as well. All analog and it sounds great. The ride of the Lexus is very quiet so the music can really be enjoyed. Especially true while cruising on the open highway. Nice.
One of the above responses reminds me that my Lexus has the Mark Levinson sound system. In fact, it’s probably one of the reasons I bought the car. I won’t say that it doesn’t sound good but considering my high level of expectation, it’s a little underwhelming.
I will take the audio upgrade every time. And I will not upgrade it myself because I want to be able to resell/trade the car in the future. If I owned or chased restorations, then I would want the stock OEM audio.
The Levinson ssytem is great in the LS430. Used to be into Car Audio before becoming serious about home audio. 97 Rivera, McIntosh MC440M, MCC222 amps, MX406 cdp, Dynaudio speakers, MB Quart sub. 2001 Lexus ES300 McIntosh MC4000M amp, Clarion DRZ9255 cdp, Dali speakers and sub. The 4000 was a monster car amp.
Newer models, especially German cars have very specific wiring needs. Adding additional/different speakers can mess up the electronic balance and end up causing all sorts of warnings popping up.
My Audi TTS has the B&O sound system. It has to be one of the worst ever created. Even the Bose system in my TTS MkII was better. I am lucky that my local sound guy is well versed with European cars and can work his magic. B
The car environment is certainly a challenge to experiencing a high end audio sound, but it can be done. Most good cars have good enough electronics and speaker placement so that is not the primary problem.
The big problems are all those glass windows , road noise, quality of the source of music and electronic noise from the power source.
I treated my car's interior with the family of Synergistic Research HFT products. It now has about 15 of the various HFT's placed using Synergistic Research's diagram for a room in a house. Big improvement.
The windows had already been tinted with a plastic film which makes a small difference. This included the front window that has a clear tint (legal to have on a car) that is there primarily to block the hot infra red rays of sunny New Mexico. The window film decreases that glass window bad affect on reflected sound.
After the noticeable effect of the above two improvements, I looked at the electrical circuit in the car. Using the Perfect Path Technologies Total Contact product, I treated lots of electrical contacts. Just treating the car's battery terminals was a major improvement. All these connections are a poor mixture of different non audio grade metals. Making the car's ground return a metal to metal contact gave an improvement.
I then added a Stein Music Harmonizeer to the car. This generates a very low frequency radio wave that helps to combat all the high frequency cell phone 3G-5G noise that is disturbing our electronics.
Lastly I upgraded the front end source by streaming music (first Pandora and now Qobuz) from my cell phone to the music system. Unlike three years ago, I am no longer having drop outs while driving in the car and streaming music.
My car now has a wonderful 3D soundstage with a relaxed flow to the music. By lowering the noise the emotion and detail of the music can be appreciated. Commuting to work is now much more enjoyable and relaxing.
Both of my primary vehicles have 'nice' OEM systems in them (09 Infiniti G37S Coupe, 2015 Nissan Titan Pro4X). They sound good to me for the environment they are in.
I listen to music pretty much all the time that I'm driving.
Having said that, I have never been in _any_ vehicle, no matter how luxurious or how good the stereo system was, that road, wind and engine noise weren't the primary feature of the sonic environment. With that being the case, I'd never spend extra money trying to create an 'audiophile' environment in a vehicle. Its just a different sort of listening experience.
I just have to say it, and I have no affiliation with this company. I have had XM Radio for fifteen years, and I wouldn't be without it. For what they charge, it's a huge bargain! Try it for a few months and I'm sure you'll agree. Lots of channel choices.