Feature Article:

Introduction to Car Audio: Our Project Car

December, 2002

Brian Weatherhead


Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . there was car audio.

Before I became engrossed in home theater, I was a huge fan of car audio. In fact I had a competition level stereo in my car at one point. But I moved on and became more interested in home theater. Since my departure, car audio has come along way. No longer the bastard child of the audio world, car audio now can compete on a quality basis with home theater.

The recent technological advances have brought all the technology of home theater to the car. You may have heard of Dolby Digital, DTS, DVD-A in the home theater world. All are now a staple of car audio too. Not only are the formats available, but so is the supporting technology: Time Delay, Phase Correction, and Level Calibrations.

So by now you are thinking, "Yeah, but your name is Home Theater . . . not Car Theater." We know! Lets be honest, how much time do you spend in your car vs. the time you spend sitting in front of your home theater? If you are like me, I spend at least 30-45 minutes a day in my car. So why shouldn't that be time spent listening to some killer music, played back in a way that makes you not want to cut off the guy in front of you. Stock stereos induce road rage (that's what I told the officer anyway).

Enter Project Car Audio

Now, most cars aren't designed at the factory to be the best sounding, rattle free environment out there. So most of our work here at Secrets will entail upgrading the stock audio system to a level that you and your budget can live with. What better way to learn, than to learn together? We selected a car for Secrets that the car audio world agrees is the most difficult to work on. We will go step by step trying to improve the car's sound, and explaining why we did what.

The goal is to introduce our readers to quality car audio, and educate them and ourselves on the tasks at hand. This is something no one in home theater audio publications has done before, so we will measure the effects of every change, just like we do in home theater. We will take a scientific and non-mysterious approach to good car sound. At the end of each step, we will verify that what we did made a measurable improvement.

This 2000 Corvette C5 convertible will be our project car.

Every car has its challenges. For this project we will be writing multiple articles showing how we faced and conquered (we hope) each challenge. Now admittedly, there are two sects of car audio: (A) Sound Quality, and (B) SPL. Being who we are, we really couldn't care less about trying to achieve 150 dB in a car, because that is easy, but it is not hi-fi. It's hearing damage. Our focus will be on high-performance two-channel and surround sound, not just blowing out the windows with eight 12" woofers. We hope to introduce you to some new manufacturers, as well as some new products from manufacturers you already know and trust.

So . . .

The Corvette C5 Factory Car Audio System Evaluation


- Brian Weatherhead -

Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Selecting Car Audio Equipment

Nature of Equipment Reviews

The Digital Link

What we Hear

High Fidelity

Accuracy, Distortion, and the Audiophile


Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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