People were considered lucky when they used to have a radio in the dashboard and two speakers in the front doors. Thanks to the latest car stereo technology, car stereos now can compete with even home audio systems. Analog has long been transformed into digital format. Some of the latest car stereo technologies are surround sound, Dolby Pro-Logic, Digital Signal Processing, MP3 technology etc. Similar to the home stereo system, improvements in technology has resulted in improved sound performance and clarity.
The composition of a car stereo system is based on four basic components. These are amplifiers, speakers, head units and input devices like graphic equalizer, CD changer etc.
The head unit, as the name suggests, is the core of any stereo system. The head unit or radio is called the central processing equipment of the device. It controls all the functions of the application like turning the volume up and down, adding more bass etc. Every manual sound adjustment is made by the driver through this head unit or radio. Behind the dash of the head unit, there are dozens of wires connected to power, speakers, antennae, and so on.
In addition to volume and bass control, this head unit may have other features as well like fade, 3D sound, bass boost, etc. Unlike the home stereo system, where one can avail a huge space, car stereo systems are required to operate efficiently in the small space of the interior of a car. Thus, when installing a new system, one must take full consideration of availability of space, heat, cosmetic design, power requirements and aesthetics.
Amplifiers are the high power devices that convert sound signals into high power speaker driving current. With some modern systems, the amplifiers are hidden well away from view, perhaps in the trunk of the car. Amplifiers can get hot, so they are often equipped with heat sinks, fans and should be installed in a somewhat ventilated location.
The function of speakers are to receive the signals from the power amp and convert it into audible sound vibrations for the listener. The sound vibrations are created by causing the speaker cone to vibrate. The speaker consists of three components i.e. woofer, tweeter and midrange driver. In car stereos, these components are positioned strategically, usually with the woofer in the back and tweeters in the front.
In the future, even smaller speakers and higher power amplifiers may become available. Just don't blow your eardrums!