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Upgrade Your Car's Sound System on a Budget

Car stereo systems are often misunderstood. Most people think they need a luxury model to have the best sound and clarity on the market. With our guide to car audio on a budget, you can dial in your audio without breaking the bank.
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Getting your old stereo system looking and sounding like new doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny! With some new accessories and DIY projects, you can add high-quality sound to your vehicle for a modest price.

Below, we’ll tell you the best budget-friendly ways to update your car stereo. From where to focus and what accessories to buy - these tips can transform your vehicle's audio.

Check Your Settings

This first step will cost you nothing and might make a difference in how music sounds on your current system. Check your equalizer (EQ) settings and try to find the perfect combination for what you typically listen to.

If you listen to bass-heavy tunes, it might help to lower the bass settings on your EQ to produce a clearer sound. Reducing treble can make talk radio easier on the ears. Play around with your settings and find the right balance for your usual playlist.

Speakers are Essential

The speakers are the most critical piece of any stereo system. Unless you’re driving a premium model or newer ride, any speakers you buy will be an upgrade over the factory ones. You can find many aftermarket options for under $75, and spending closer to $150 can give you premium quality audio no matter how old your wheels are.

These Kenwood speakers are a significant upgrade from factory sets and are made from cloth instead of traditional paper. If you have a little more room in your budget, these Boss Audio speakers have great reviews and pack a serious punch. Upgrading your speakers is a no-brainer for anyone who spends serious time behind the wheel.

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Amplifiers and Subwoofers

One of the most common audio upgrades is adding a sub or amp to your vehicle. Amplifiers don’t just make your system louder - they also make your audio more crisp and clear, and many reasonably priced options can be found. Check out this option from Boss Audio and the pricier Autotek for two crystal clear amplifiers.

Subwoofers contain amplifiers within them and will make the bass in your ride a full-body experience. Technology has come a long way over the years, and many subs will now fit neatly underneath seats. Check out the Rockford Fosgate R2 for a powerful woofer from a reliable manufacturer.

Quiet the Road

One of the biggest reasons drivers want to upgrade their sound systems is because they simply can’t compete with road noise. Sound dampening mats can be installed on your vehicle's floor or even in the door panels to help reduce the sounds of traveling down the road. Many styles and brands are available for less than $100. This is an excellent upgrade for those who don’t want to replace factory speakers or get involved with challenging wiring projects and installs.

Update Your Radio

Most factory in-dash radios are as basic as it gets. If you want to add some flair to your ride, consider upgrading to a new receiver. Newer models pick up signals better and will connect to your devices with ease. Head units start around $100, making these some of the most expensive upgrades on our list.

Dual Electronics offers receiver options like their XR4115 with a detachable faceplate for added security. If you want to bring your ride into the future and have a few extra bucks to spend, consider a mounted screen from Pyle Audio. Any upgrade over factory will show results, so don’t break the bank on any specific model.

Getting a quality sound system inside your vehicle is more attainable than you think. With accessories for under $100 and other cheap hacks, you can turn your commute into a concert and never miss a note again.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. Thank you Davis Chevrolet for helping to expand local news coverage in Alberta. Learn more.