Car Audio 101: What’s in a Name?
You might have noticed that automobile manufacturers have been “paying more attention” to the calls for better sounding factory audio systems in their vehicles. Manufacturers are touting systems with components from brands including Alpine, Bose, Infinity, JBL, Pioneer and others- which might lead you to think that there isn’t a reason to look at aftermarket equipment as a logical upgrade.
Nothing could be further from the truth here!
Let me start by saying that auto manufacturers do indeed use systems from the aforementioned brands, but there is a difference compared to their aftermarket counterparts here. Take a look at the speakers- generally the most crucial part of any audio system- and you’ll find that these companies actually provide components that are usually of lesser quality than the aftermarket models. Factors including foam speaker surrounds versus rubber surrounds and hard dome versus soft dome tweeters are just some of the areas where factory gear falls short of aftermarket, regardless of the brand name. Other areas where you can see and hear the difference include the system power amplifiers and of course, head units.
No Contest… Example of a factory (Toyota/Lexus) 5 Channel amp and the JL Audio 5 Channel HD Amplifier
Comparing a factory “brand name” speaker to an aftermarket Morel car speaker.
Here’s a general “roadmap” that shows what brands certain car manufacturers use. If your goal is to improve the sound quality of your car’s audio system, always look to aftermarket options as they offer the best sound quality and durability.
|Premium In-Car "Name Brand" Audio||Automaker|
|Alpine||Chrysler, Dodge, Land Rover, Scion|
|Bang & Olufsen||Audi, Mercedes-Benz|
|Bose||Acura, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Infiniti, Maserati, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche, Saab|
|Boston Acoustics||Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge|
|Bowers and Wilkins||Jaguar|
|Harman/Kardon||BMW, Buick, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Saab, Subaru|
|Infinity||Dodge, Hyundai, Kia|
|Rockford Fosgate||Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki|