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Types of Car Speakers

Speaker Design

Traditionally there are only two styles of car speakers: coaxial and component. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Coaxial speakers are designed to so that all the individual speaker drivers play sound from the same location (or axis). This is the most common type of speakers found in cars because it is easier and cheaper for a car manufacturer to make. They are also easier to replace because the installer only has to worry about removing the speaker from a single location.

Component speakers have separated drivers that mount separately. The best example of this is a car that has a mid-range speaker in the door panel and a tweeter in the A-pillar. Component systems use a external crossover to filter the audio frequencies to the mid-range and tweeter. Component speaker systems are becoming more popular as they can offer better sound quality and a more realistic sound stage.

Speaker Size

Speakers come in many sizes from a smaller 4″ driver to a larger 6″ x 9″. The first step in replacing your car’s speakers is to determine what size speakers fit in the factory locations of your car. This is best done by using a speaker fit guide found on the internet (such as the Sonic Electronix Speaker Fit Guide) or looking up a local shop and giving them a call. Sometimes talking to a professional is the best route because they can help answer other questions you might have.

The most common size in cars are 6.5″ speakers, 6″ x 9″ speakers, and 5″ by 7″ speakers.

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How to Install Car Speakers

How to install a car speaker

Replacing the speakers in your car yourself can be a fun and rewarding project that can bring a great smile to your face. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, it can be a difficult and frustrating process. Learn how to install car speakers with these basic fundamentals of replacing a coaxial speaker in your car.

1. Remove Panels

Begin by removing all the panels around the speaker you want to replace. Look for brackets, screws, and bolts that are holding the panel in place. Doors panels typcially have panel clips around the edges that can be carefully removed with door panel removal tools.

2. Remove Speaker

Once all the panels around the speaker have been removed and the speaker is exposed, go ahead and remove the speaker. Some cars will have the speaker mounted to a bracket and other cars will have the speaker bolted directly to the vehicles frame. Look for bolts or clips that hold the speaker in place and remove them. When you pull the speaker out, disconnect the speaker wire. Hopefully this can be done by undoing a mylar clip, otherwise you might have to use a wire cutter to cut the wire. Be sure to save all the parts/hardware.

3. Attach Mounting Bracket to New Speaker

With the speaker now removed, its time to prepare the new speaker to be installed. Pull the new speakers from the box and attach it to the mounting bracket (if your vehicle required one). This will allow the speaker to fit snugly in the same location as the old speaker. Use screws to attach the speaker basket to the mounting bracket. Be careful not to damage the speaker while using the screwdriver.

4. Connect Speaker Wire

Before the new speaker is mounted to the car, be sure to plug it in. If you are using a speaker install harness then this step is as simple as plugging in the ends of two harnesses. If you had to cut the speaker wires, then you will need to use butt connectors (or solder) and make sure that the positive and negative wires are properly connected. Remember… positive to positive, negative to negative.

5. Mount the New Speaker

Once the speaker is connected, mount the speaker to the vehicle in the same manner that you removed it. You should be able to use all the same hardware that you saved when you removed the speaker.

6. Put the Panels Back on

Simply put the panels back on the car in the same fashion that you removed them.

 

That’s it! Now just test your system to make sure that the speaker is playing music and is in phase. If everything is working properly, then you just learned how to install car speakers.


Disclaimer: Not all cars are the same, especially all these new cars that are coming out each year. Always consult a professional if you are unsure of what you are doing or feel that you might break something.

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Types of Car Stereos

Car Stereo Sizes

Single DIN

The most common size for a car stereo is a single DIN. These stereos are approximately 7″W x 2″H in size and will fit in just about every vehicle.

Double DIN

At twice the height of single DIN stereo, double DIN stereos measure in at about 7″W x 4″H. THe extra height adds more real estate to the front face of the stereo which is often filled with a large touchscreen.

OEM Replacement

Some vehicles do not easily allow a single or double DIN stereo to replace the OEM stereo and require an aftermarket stereo that is molded to the same size and dash as the OEM stereo. These stereos are referred to as OEM replacement.


Car Stereo Features

Bluetooth

Stereos that have Bluetooth technology are designed for hands-free talking. This means a user can pair their Bluetooth enabled phone (like a smartphone) to the car stereo to make and receive calls. The stereos feature an external microphone (mounted during installation) and play the audio through the car speakers. This is the most convenient way to talk while driving. Some Bluetooth stereos also feature A2DP audio streaming to allow an audio signal from a Bluetooth device (like the Pandora app on an iPhone) to play through the car speakers.

CD/DVD Playback

Just about every aftermarket car stereo has a CD player (with the exception of digital media receivers). Other stereos feature DVD playback which can be used for watching movies or playing back music if the DVD is burned with MP3 files. Typically, only double DIN touchscreen receivers have DVD playback because they have a display that will actually accommodate the DVD playback.

USB Inputs

Newer stereos have USB ports on them to allow a better connection to digital devices. This enables a user to plug in a USB flash drive, a smartphone, or in some cases a portable hard drive. These digital devices have more music storage than most CDs so a listener can have more music with them on the go. It is excellent for long road trips or when you want to quickly share some music with a friend.

GPS Navigation

If you are traveling a lot and want to make sure you know how to get to your destination, be sure to consider an in-dash GPS receiver. These receivers come with a GPS antenna and all the software needed to navigate from one destination to another. Several of the name brand stereo manufacturers have partnered with the industry leaders in GPS technology (such as Garmin™) to provide the most up to date map information.These stereos are typically a double DIN or single DIN flip out because the larger diaply makes it much easier to see the maps.

iPhone/Android Compatibility

Many of the newest car stereos are compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones via a USB connection. That means a user can simply plug in their phone to the car stereo with the same cable that the phone came with. Once the phone is connected, many new features become available depending on the car stereo. Some of these features might include audio playback of music on the phone, video playback, Pandora app control, Siri control, Apple CarPlay compatible, MirrorLink compatible, and many other innovative features. These stereos are perfect for those that use their phones for music streaming.

MirrorLink Car Stereos

Perhaps the latest trend for car stereos is a technology called MirrorLink, which allows the display of a connected Android smartphone to be mirrored on the display of the car stereo. Depending on the unit, the user may or may not be able to control the phone using the stereo controls. The benefit to this is accessing smartphone apps (such as Waze, Spotify, etc) from the touchscreen of the car stereo. The most common use for MirrorLink right now is being able to connect a compatible Android smartphone via USB and setting the phone in the glove box. The user can still access of the apps they want without the distraction of text messages, emails, or other potentially dangerous distractions that the phone might cause.

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How to Install a Car Stereo

how to install a car stereo

Replacing the stereo in your car will enhance the sound quality, make your ride more enjoyable, and offer more features than the OEM stereo. Since every car is different, replacing the stereo can be very simple or quite difficult. If you are not completely comfortable replacing your car stereo, it is recommended that you seek out a professional installer. For those that want to learn how to install a car stereo on their own, follow the steps below:

1. Purchase the Right Gear

Before you can install your new car stereo, make sure you purchase one that will fit in your car. The two most standard sizes are Single DIN or Double DIN. Use an online retailer (like Sonic Electronix) or an manufacturer (such as Metra) to find out what size stereo you need for your car. Most stores include free installation accessories with purchase of a car stereo. These accessories are very important.

2. Remove the car stereo

The first step in the installation should be to disconnect the negative battery terminal to prevent any electrical issues. Then follow the instructions provided in the car stereo installation dash kit to learn how to remove the OEM car stereo. These instructions include removing panels, unbolting screws, and any other information that is necessary to gain access to the current car stereo. Once exposed, there are typically a few screws holding the stereo in place. Simply unscrew the screws, remove the stereo, and unplug all the wires.

3. Prepare the wiring harness

The wiring harness will be the main connection between your new car stereo and the vehicle. You will need to connect the vehicle specific harness to the harness that came with the aftermarket stereo. Since these two harnesses are aftermarket, they should follow the same color pattern. Simply connect each of the wires using one of 3 different methods: crimp caps, butt connectors, or soldering. The butt connector method is the most common. Soldering the wires together is the best method, but also the most time consuming. I highly recommend watching the video below for this step.

Video: How to properly connect a wire harness

4. Install any accessories

Depending on your car stereo and the features that you want, you may have to install a few other accessories before you put the new stereo in the dash. This might include accessories like Satellite radio (such as Sirius or XM), GPS navigation, bluetooth microphone or a back up camera. For a detailed walkthrough on installing each of these accessories, watch the videos below that are relevant to your installation.

5. Put in the new stereo

Once you have the harness prepared and all the accessory cables ran through the car, the stereo is ready to be placed in the car. To do this, first mount the stereo to the dash kit by following the instruction included with the dash kit. Usually this is done by attaching a side bracket to the car stereo and then mounting that to the dash kit. Once the dash kit is mounted to the car stereo, plug in the wire harnesses and any other accessory cables. Then mount the new car stereo in the vehicle’s dash. At this point, you should be ready to reconnect the battery and test the stereo.

6. Put everything back together

If everything is functioning properly, then carefully put back all the dash panels in the reverse order that they were pulled off. Once everything is put back together in the car, simply clean up all your tools and you are done. Enjoy the new stereo.

It is important to note that the information on this page is merely a generic guideline, not a strict how to guide. If you are not comfortable installing a car stereo, you should contact a professional car audio installation shop. It is better to be safe than sorry. An improper installation could potentially damage your vehicle and/or its electrical system.

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Pioneer NEX In-Dash Receivers (The new AVIC series)


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At CES 2014, Pioneer Electronix launched a new line of premium car stereos that will be replacing the popular AVIC series. These receivers are called the NEX series, where NEX stands for Network Entertainment Experience…. a little stretch on the “Xperience”, but i guess that NEX is better than NEE. At first glance these new stereos offer a brand new interface that is the most beautiful unit from Pioneer to date.

In the video below, Harry at Pioneer give a step by step walk through of the unit and its sources, settings, and features.

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