Tips n Tricks August 18, 2005
WANNA juice up your ride with the latest and brightest ICE gear? Well, here are some things you should know:
Choice items: Lots to choose from – CD receiver head units, amplifiers, component speakers, subwoofers, crossovers and cabling. Start by identifying what it is you’re looking for – a whole system revamp, or partial upgrade? Most stock head units are pretty good these days, so there’s no harm keeping it lowest on the change priority.
Plan ahead: Do some research on potential purchases, and buy with the future in mind. For head units, it may be worth paying a bit more for a unit with MP3/WMA capability. A line input is important if you’re thinking of adding a CD changer or a MP3 portable. Some brands offer iPod connectability – you’ll need to get a dedicated connector for the job, but this offers ID3 tag track display up on the receiver.
If the dealer has a sound booth display, get him to hook up the head unit you’re eyeing. Nothing like working it yourself to see if the unit’s interface and features are to your liking.
Choose wisely: Most importantly, don't rush into purchases. If you’re on a tight budget, and torn between getting a decent set of separate component speakers or an amp and integrated speaker combi on the cheap for the same price, opt for the former. You can always add on an amp later. The sonic results will be well worth the wait.
Powered up: At a pinch, most CD receivers do a decent job powering the speakers, but they’ll only go so far. If you like you music served loud, and insist on driving more than one set of speakers, the sound may start distorting badly. An amp provides clean, efficient juice, and you don’t have to play it loud to hear the difference.
Subbing it: Component speakers (separate midbass and tweeter) offer better sound quality, but having these and an amp may not be enough if you’re into loads of bass. A subwoofer does the trick, but remember, size isn’t that important – a well thought out medium driver/box (and ancillaries) configuration can outdo a poorly put together huge, booming box.
Cable guy: It pays to invest in some decent speaker cables and interconnects. Oh, and remember to fuse the system up!