Generally, I listen to the sound of the V8 engine while driving twisty mountain roads. But seriously, a car is a poor place to put a high dollar system unless you are sitting still with the engine turned off.. Too much noise and too many cars on the road which demand attention.. So listening in the car is a casual thing. My listening chair at home has no such demands. Cars now have decent systems. Wife's Avalon has a pretty good sounding JBL system. The older cars didn't have very good ones so I always changed out the stereo. Many people did the same.
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a sports car should have its own soundtrack - i have gone so far as removing all stereo head units, amps and speakers from my air cooled porsches to reduce weight (as well as some sound deadening), i never turn it on anyways
a cruiser/grand tourer should be quiet enough to have a decent stereo - meaning it doesn’t make playing driving music sound harsh, tinny or otherwise offensive - you can’t hold a car stereo to any standard similar to a proper home system - the key is the car being quiet enough so the sound system runs at moderate volumes and isn’t blaring and making harsh noises
I listen to sirius xm, which has poor sound quality. My oem stereo is not good and neither is the road noise. The setbacks of upgrading the stereo like removing panels is not worth it to me. The other problem is integrating a better stereo with the stock "infotainment" systems. In the heyday of car audio there were only like three options for a really good head unit. I would be surprised if that kind of sound is available today, but I do not know for sure.
Yes the stock stereo sound and features have some bearing on the purchase. Both of my cars sound good enough with the top line trim.
I had a ’95 Ford that benefitted immensely from changing out the door speakers. Those days are long gone.
In a moving vehicle you will get far more SQ improvement from
instead of better playback equip.
If you wanna blow dough go Crutchfield.
1-sports-radio, local or Sirius XM.
2-Sirius XM music---channels on my preset = Beatles, Classic Vinyl, Classic Rewind, the Bridge, Blend, Tom Petty, Sinatra (classical and jazz don’t work well in cars to my ears).
my 25-30 minutes drive to work and home is my time to get my brain good, and not looking for stress-points. when i get to work or home i’m ready for it. in car with my wife it’s her call.....XM Fox News, The Bridge or Sinatra mostly.
i’m in the car business and drive demo Honda products with stock systems. these days they are quite good. never really warmed up to throwing money at in-car systems but can respect those who do. when i had my 2016 Porsche CS2 for 2 years i listened to the motor mostly; it did have Sirius XM so listened to that too.
nothing is going to compete on any level with my home system anyway......so i don’t even think about it.
and then there is my professional experience......
when we repair cars, appraise cars and recondition trade-ins we see lots of butchering of car’s systems by aftermarket and DIY’rs. it’s a mess. the sanctity of your wire harness is quite important. and the cost of pieces to replace is daunting. these bad installs can actually total a car in some cases. so i’m not a fan.
the ultra serious in-car stereo crowd is a whole separate culture and that is another subject entirely. i do understand that passion and don’t mean to disrespect that.
I leave my audiophile brain home and just listen mindlessly like I’m listening to Alexa. We all preach how important the room is in getting good sound — the car’s interior is an audio nightmare, and to make matters even worse we sit on one side of it. Game over IMO. I focus mainly on driving anyway and wish more people did the same.
Couple times a year love to take out highly modified (just as my home stereo equipment) 2011 Mustang GT vert, top down listening to streams through Ifi IDSD signature and highly modded car system. This in no way approaches home listening, noise floor with top down ridiculously high, this for kicking it out with music I rarely listen to at home. Forget about dynamic range, all loud works in this environment.
When I’m alone I listen to myself yell and cuss.
i use to have a 45-50 minute commute, with about an extra 10-15 minutes a day from congestion.
since COVID i have zero traffic congestion during my 30 minute commute. i get on the freeway in 5-6 minutes from my home, and set the cruise for 75mph and get off 20 minutes later at the exit near work. reverse back home. the silver lining to all this chaos. unfortunately in the car biz when people are not driving they don’t need you.
in the Seattle area all the techies and academics are not going to work; Amazon and Microsoft (and the majority of other tech) are still closed working from home. they mostly all live east of Seattle and commute to the west. so east<->west freeways are empty. blue collar are back to work, they commute north and south, and those freeways are worse than ever now.
the new normal.
Years ago, I had the Honda/Bose system and later the Mark Levinson system in a Lexus. I don’t recall the sound being anything special. These days, Honda and others probably, don’t even offer a CD player. For my money, I believe the best spend is for Sirius/XM radio. Favorite channels: Beatles; 60's; 70's; the Bridge.
I have a Ford E350 with AM/FM , 5" full range door speaker.... my Vette is rocking the Delco / Bose.... doesn't get any worse, does it? Makes me appreciate my home system after driving 5 hours a day in my van. I actually have a Altec Lansing Blutooth speaker in the van , also crappy but I can stream...
I think car stereos have actually evolved to where most people are content with them, thats if you get the premium sound / entertainment package
I like mine after 100 sf of deadening stickum', a million watts of little Class D amps, a 200 watt alternator, a cap pack, isolator, 1 10" sub and swap the stock speakers out for comp speakers. The wife just loves it, so do I.
Factory head set with CD and Cassette (rare) special order, all leather too.
We drive to pick up my grandson 3 times a week at his 1st grade class.
35 mph on good roads.. Its pretty good actually. As good as a BMW as far as road noise maybe a little quieter. It's extremely quiet for a car, NOW. Toyota Camry.
I have a EB F150 with an Alpine/JBL comp system in it..
LOL it's fine, parked with the bed tipped and the doors open.. A little Carlos. :-)
Everything was done by me, I'm picky.. Mead's set up tools are really nice to tune in everything correctly..
Silence is golden now as I mostly just enjoy the drive, even on marathon road trips which are common in my Malone tuned 2015 VW TDI SEL.
Its system is NoFi HiFi. If I listen in the car at all it’s very brief amounts of Radio Paradise via iPhone Bluetooth - my car’s sonic preference, go figure! A Volkswagen / Panasonic badged “Fender” system. Use of the sunroof shade door as a treble control with everything set works wonders - just open for exposed glass surface if more brilliance is required.
It was a different story though 40 years ago when cassettes ruled.
For all you old-timers it was Concord head units with matched azimuth & speed to my home Nakamichi 480 before graduating to a Nak CR5/TD700 combo that was my game over source. Typically paired with ADS power & main spkrs 👍
I used to spend money on upgrading the stereo system. After market when I was younger then buying the premium audio.
I stopped doing that as my home system go better because it just couldn't hold a candle to it. I've had factory Burmister's, Harman Karmon, B&O but the last 3 cars I didn't make decisions based on the audio.
Unless of course you counting then engine. Then that was the first criteria and option.
I have an Acura 2009 which came with a Elliot Schiener/Panasonic 5.1 DVD Audio player. When I got the car in 2009, DVD-Audio's were already out of print. However, I was able to buy around 30 oop DVD-Audio discs from Ebay, Amazon and other music sites - as well as burn a ton of 5.1 discs.
The better discs like Hotel California, Rumors were recorded at194 khz/24 bit even back then. To this day, I feel that the sound in my Acura is better than the analog sound from the system I have at home, which is not too shabby. For the first few years, I was really into my car stereo and the 5.1 sound. But like everything else, it got old. I'm more into 2-channel now, but I still have all my 5.1 discs (< 100) and will occasionally listen to it in the car, especially during longer trips.
XM Radio with whatever the best "optional radio with *** speakers is available. I think the Pacifica has Harmon Kardon 20 speakers and a sub, and my Corvettes always had a Bose system. And I must have the "optional biggest wheels and tires on whatever I buy. My wife has grown to accept that I will absolutely not buy a car without a Sunroof, great radio and nice wheels and tire package.. Always runs the price up on my automobiles, but why make payments on something I don’t want ..
Have an Infiniti with one of those run-of-the-mill Bose systems with cardboard speakers and a horrible sub. Kept the stock head unit, speakers upgraded where easily accessible (to match the amp had to find 2ohm high sensitivity speakers). Replaced spare-tire sub with better spare-tire sub. Dynamatted all the doors and floors. Maybe $1,000 and some of my time for the work? Marked improvement, but as others have said, hardly a controlled listening environment.