The Car audio reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Car audio

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Most people using the term car audio to describe the sound system in an automobile, though the term also refers more broadly to the field of mobile entertainment. 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.

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.

Speakers are generally located in doors and rear parcel shelves of sedan in modern cars. Before stereo radio was introduced, the most common speaker location was in the middle of the dashboard pointing through perforations towards the front windshield.

A recent development in mobile audio has been the addition of MP3 players incorporated into headunits.

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

Common modifications in high end car audio installations:

Table of contents
1 History
2 Notable car audio installers
3 Notable Installations
4 Notable Manufacturers and Brands
5 Forums and Message Boards


The movement to add more than just a basic radio to a car largely originated on the west coast of the United States in the late 1970s. Several early manufacturers and enthusiasts began building audio amplifiers to run on twelve volts (the standard voltage in automotive electrical systems). 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 from the home audio and professional markets were simply installed into vehicles, however, they were not well suited to the extremes of temperature and vibration which are a normal part of the environment of an automobile. Modified drivers were developed to cope with these factors.

Subwoofers were introduced in ___. Believing that "louder is better", there were some extremes of installation of multiple over-sized speakers. In 1985, Wayne Harris' famously modified a 1960 Cadillac Hearse 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 started 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. In the early 1990s, several organizations, including IASCA, began car audio competitions focusing on sound quality. The two styles - SPL vs. sound quality - have become almost mutually exclusive.

Notable car audio installers

Notable Installations

Notable Manufacturers and Brands

Forums and Message Boards