Car Radio (audio systems)

Car audio , also known as ICE (In Car Entertainment) is a term used to describe the sound system fitted in an automobile. A stock car audio system refers to one that was specified by the manufacturer when the car was built. A custom car audio installation can involve anything from the upgrade of the radio to a full-blown customization of a car based around its audio equipment. Events are held where entrants compete for the loudest or most innovative systems.


The most common and familiar piece of audio equipment is the radio/tape player/CD player/DVD Player which is generically described as a Head unit , which also can be called a deck , after older tape decks. It is also the most likely component to be upgraded with an after market item. A recent development in head unit technology has been the addition of CD players with MP3, WMA, AAC, and USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support.

Many cars include at least a CD player some have the option for a CD changer which holds multiple disks either in the head unit itself or in a separate unit usually located in a trunk or console.

Our horizons have been broadened even further-even newer technology is the addition of DVD players and LCD screen s. The position of the LCD screen differs for different DVD players - certain DVD players require the screen to be mounted on the roof of the car (just above the front windscreen), while others require the screen to be attached to the back of the headrests of the front seats and some DVD players have the screens come out of the head unit.

Some equipments includes automotive navigation system (see center console).


Speakers are generally located in doors and rear parcel shelves of a sedan in modern cars. High-end or competition stereo systems often have speakers mounted in "kick panel" enclosures, allowing for larger drivers and better driver placement. Before stereo radio was introduced, the most common speaker location was in the middle of the dashboard pointing through perforations towards the front windshield.

High-end audio systems include Component Speakers that consist of a matched tweeter (small, high frequency), midrange (medium, medium frequency) and woofer (large, low frequency) set. These component pairs are available in two speaker and three speaker combinations, and include an audio crossover which limits the frequency range that each component speaker must handle. This allows each cone to produce its optimal frequency for maximum sound quality and volume. In addition subwoofer(s) are provided for bass and sub bass(ultra low frequency), which is felt, rather than heard. Crossover systems can be active or passive crossover networks. Active electronic crossovers divide the signals before they are sent to the amplifiers giving a dedicated amplifier channel to each individual driver in the component system. Passive crossover networks divide the signal after amplification, making it possible to run multiple speaker component sets using just one channel.

5.1 and even 7.1 channel surround sound systems are now being integrated in to some cars by both aftermarket enthusiasts and car manufacturers themselves. These systems include the full compliment of front left, right and center speakers along with rear right and left surround speakers (7.1 systems include left and right side surround speakers) along with digital surround sound processors. They can allow you turn turn your car in to a virtual rolling theater. This is becoming increasingly popular with the advent of SACD and DVD Audio which contain music encoded in 5.1.


Amplifier s provide the necessary music power, measured in watts to drive the speakers. High Power amplifiers require a large gauge cable to provide adequate voltage and current to the amplifier. The amplifier is a very important component of a loud speaker system. Don't connect too many speakers to the head unit alone. Make sure that the total power handling capacity of the speakers connected to the amplifier or head unit is greater than or equal to the power of the amplifier or head unit.

Sound deadening is often used in the door cavities and boot/trunk area to provide less rattling of the metal in the car, especially the boot/trunk, and to help produce a cleaner sound by absorbing instead of reflecting sound waves. It is a rubber or asphalt-like substance that can be sprayed on or glued on in sheets.

Upgrading the vehicle's current capability

Alternators may be upgraded from the stock unit to increase the current capability of the vehicle's electrical system, often required of high-power audio system components. An additional Deep Cycle battery (or, for very large systems, banks of batteries) can be deployed (often charged via a Split charge relay) to limit voltage drop and allow the system to be played for long periods without the vehicle's engine being run. Installing a capacitor is another option when trying to provide substantial power to the audio system.

a powerful after-market audio system installation in a Toyota.
a powerful after-market audio system installation in a Toyota.


From the earliest days of radio, enthusiasts had adapted domestic equipment to use in their cars but the commercial introduction of the fitted car radio came in the 1930s from the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. Galvin Manufacturing was owned and operated by Paul V. Galvin and his brother Joseph E. Galvin. The Galvin brothers purchased a battery eliminator business in 1928 and the corporation first product was a battery eliminator that allowed battery-powered radios to run on standard household electric current. In 1930, the Galvin Corporation introduced the first commercial car radio, the Motorola model 5T71, which sold for between $110 and $130 and could be installed in most popular automobiles. The name Motorola was created by Paul Galvin combining the term “motorâ€

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