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Car Audio Basics - Accessories
There are many accessories that are available for your car
stereo. Some of them are necessary such as RCA cables and others are optional
like wiring harnesses.
Things to look for:
RCA Cables: These are the cables used to transfer pre-amp (line level) signals.
Usually, you use this type of cable for unamplified signals such as the
connection between your head unit and amp or crossovers/eqs. Look for
appropriate thickness and shielding. The end connectors should be sturdy to
prevent breakage from stress. Some claim that very expensive cable makes a
difference in sound quality. I do not think so, do not spend more than $1/foot.
You may need to spend more to get cables that are more immune to noise if you
have that problem in your car.
Speaker Cables: When the line level
signal from the head unit is amplified it becomes much stronger and requires
thicker cable to carry it. This is even more dramatic for subwoofer wiring. Use
something between 8 gauge and 14 gauge wiring for subwoofers, nothing
smaller. A lot of current has to flow through those wires. For tweeters
and midranges thickness is less critical but still important because appropriate
shielding is still necessary to prevent leakage and contamination from outside
Power Distribution Blocks:
make wiring up multiple components easy. You can run one thick power cable from
the battery to the distribution block and from there you can use its multiple
outputs for each component. Some of them come with fuses which is an added
bonus. A related item is a new battery terminal which allows easy connection of
your extra power wire on the battery for the car stereo.
Capacitors: Because music is
dynamic, sometimes the power requirements of your system may be very high for
brief periods of time. If you have a small alternator or battery your car's
electrical system may not be able to keep up with demand. A "stiffening"
capacitor can help this problem by providing extra storage capacity for those
high power transients. Only buy one if you have problems, like head light
dimming with the bass line in music!
Wiring Harnesses: Are you planning
on replacing your factory head unit but want to be able to put it back in
easily? If so, a wiring harness is for you. These are specially designed for
each car and allow you to disconnect your stock radio and connect a new head
unit without cutting your original wiring. The wiring harness plugs into your
existing wiring and allows you to connect a new head unit to the harness.
A typical wiring harness
Head Units | Amplifiers | Speakers | Equalizers/Crossovers | Accessories | Planning
Tech Articles: Power Amp Specs | Ohms | Power Ratings | My System