The car audio system consists of 2 main components: a playback device and a head unit. In this case, the head unit is represented by a radio tape recorder, but the so-called acoustic systems are responsible for playing music. We will consider the latter in detail, along the way understanding the key features of car acoustics. You will find selection guides at the end of the material, and at first we will consider the main representatives of the audio systems market. It is worth doing this for a simple reason: the automotive acoustics market is flooded with so many devices that it is very difficult to make a competent choice without first understanding at least the basic structure of multimedia centers, receivers, speakers and other things.
Looking at the manufacturer's specifications for playback and head units, the car enthusiast will be faced with the following concepts:
Let's start with a simple but very important point: the number of lanes. Even professional acoustics do a poor job of reproducing the entire frequency spectrum. For this reason, the acoustics includes several or at least one large speaker that reproduces mid and low frequencies, as well as a small speaker that can reproduce high frequencies believably. And here's the most interesting thing: the manufacturers of car acoustics have divided the full spectrum of frequencies into several bands, also called sections, with which individual speakers "work". Thus, acoustics is divided into the following:
The simplest is considered to be 2-way acoustics. It reproduces low and mid frequencies with one speaker, and the second speaker is needed to work in the high frequency range. Three-way acoustics are much more complicated. The fact is that sounds are reproduced in it by three speakers. The one that works at low frequencies is called a subwoofer. We will talk about him later. In the meantime, let's note one more thing: the combination of two- and three-way acoustics is inherently not four- and five-way, although manufacturers, in order to win the attention of the buyer, say the opposite.
Power is an important parameter around which many misconceptions have arisen. To some extent, the manufacturers themselves are to blame. The fact is that on the packaging with the speakers, they indicated as many as 3 types of power. What to believe? And pay attention only to the nominal power, which describes the capabilities of acoustics at a specific level of distortion. PMPO (in full: Peak Music Power Output) describes the peak musical power, i.e. at maximum signal level. Obviously, there will be large distortions at the “high”, but from the point of view of marketers, the PMPO parameter is the most attractive.
Audio system buyers usually don't pay enough attention to sensitivity. And very in vain, because the amplifier is selected according to the sensitivity. Sensitivity is indicated in decibels. Typically, the system has a sensitivity of 87-93 decibels, and sometimes 89-91 decibels. A high sensitivity parameter indicates how powerful the amplifier is needed to drive the acoustics. For example: speakers with a sensitivity of 89 dB will need a more powerful amplifier than speakers with 91 dB.
The most difficult parameter to understand is the frequency response. It is often presented in the form of a graph. In all cases, the graph is a series of ups and downs - the ability of car acoustics to cope with the reproduction of sounds of one frequency or another. The ideal frequency response is a flat line, i.e. the system works equally well in high, medium and low frequencies. In reality, everything is not so: the graph sags heavily at the edges, and within the reproduced range it is a complex broken line. It is important to understand here that a “naked” speaker will not produce good sound, so it is pointless to judge the capabilities of the speaker system only by the graph. However, a car enthusiast should still look at it and understand what acoustics can do at all: the schedule is usually indicated right on the package.
And finally, a parameter whose importance cannot be overestimated. It is about impedance (nominal resistance). Possible impedance values: 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8, 16 Ohm. You can draw a parallel with the impedance of the same headphones. Those who buy expensive high-impedance headphones should also fork out for a good player. In the case of car acoustics, the principle is the same: the device is selected according to the resistance that the radio amplifier has (otherwise you will have to buy it too). If there is no match between gain and load, the sound will be dull and indistinct, there will be no power match.