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Car audio

Car Audio refers to a broad field probably better described as mobile entertainment. Although in the majority of cases people would be referring to a sound system in a car. A stock car audio system refers to exactly what was specified by the manufacturer when the car was built. A custom car audio installation could mean anything from the upgrade of the radio to a full blown customisation of a car based around delivering exceptional sound quality or volume from audio equipment.

The most common and familiar piece of audio equipment is the radio/tape player[?]/CD player which is generically described as a headunit[?]. It is also the most likely component to be upgraded with an after market item. Speakers generally located in doors and rear parcel shelves of sedans in modern cars. However in the past before stereo radio was common location was in the middle of the dashboard[?] pointing through perforations towards the front windshield.

In the late 1970s a movement to add more than just a basic radio to a car largely originated from the west coast of the United States. There was a a couple of early manufacturers or enthusiasts building audio amplifiers that would run on the twelve volts provided by a cars battery. Jim Fosgate, later to become the founder of Rockford Fosgate[?] was one such pioneer. The company a/d/s[?] also brought an amplifier to market in 1978.

At first speakers derived from the home audio[?] and professional markets were simply installed into vehicles but it was soon realised that cars were a very harsh and unique environment for these and therefore modified drivers were developed to cope with these factors.

Subwoofers were an exciting development in custom car audio installations. The "bigger is better" approach to volume, in some peoples minds, meant that multiples of crazy sized speakers were being used in vehicles. In 1985 Wayne Harris' famously modified a 1960 Cadillac Hearse which featured several 24 inch diameter subwoofers.

Today advances in acoustic technology mean that even two 10s (inches) in a well designed efficient enclosure can produce more than 130 decibels SPL[?] (sound pressure level) within the cabin.

Car audio competitions developed in the early 1980s in a quest to find the loudest and or most outrageous installations. Early on little credence was given to sound quality as afterall a moving vehicle has many unforgiving acoustic properities. Still, two almost mutually exclusive styles grew from this - SPL or sound quality. In the early 1990s IASCA[?] was one such organsition that focused on sound quality above all else.

A recent developement in mobile audio has been the addition of MP3 players incorported into headunits.

Many luxury cars on the market in 2002 will include at least a CD player source and a moderately sized subwoofer with enough amplification to more than please most people.

Other components that make up high end car audio installations may include:

Common modifications in high end car audio installations:

Notable car audio installers

Notable Manufacturers and Brands



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