Are you rolling around in a car that’s a few years old? If so, I’m sure you will have realized that your car’s sound system is pretty basic and not up to the job these days.

Some of your passengers might have a tendency to crank up the volume when their favorite tunes play on the radio. With basic car audio systems, loud volumes can result in distortion through your speakers. The technical term to describe this problem is “audio clipping.”

And what if you want to listen to crystal-clear DAB digital radio? North American readers won’t have to worry about this. But readers from other parts of the world can use DAB digital radio instead of tuning into analog FM transmissions.


Image Source: Charles Williams from Flickr

Are you fed up with the lacklustre performance of your car’s sound setup? The good news is that you can upgrade it to a better system! Interested? Keep reading to find out what you need to do!

Determine what head unit you have

All modern cars have a sound system that we call a “head unit.” The job of your car’s head unit is to play radio transmissions and audio from other sources like CDs. The more-advanced units can also work as handsfree systems with your cell phone.

And some can even work with DVD players so that your passengers can watch a movie while you drive them! But before you go out and buy a new head unit for your car, you first need to find out what type you have.

Most cars have single-DIN head units, like the one shown in the picture at the top of this page. Some can have double-DIN head units. Newer Volkswagen Group cars often these. Once you know what size head unit your car uses, you can then find the best-fitting replacement for it.

Manufacturer or aftermarket?

Both options have their pros and cons. Upgraded models from car manufacturers are often just a straight swap. For instance, you could buy an upgraded version that includes a touchscreen display.

Aftermarket models don’t usually need any drastic changes to your car’s wiring system. That’s because most modern cars use ISO wiring harnesses. They are often better in specification that manufacturer models.

The downside to aftermarket ones is that you sometimes have to buy a facia so that your new head unit blends in with your car’s dashboard. Otherwise, you might get left with a big hole in the dash where your old head unit was!

If you’re not sure, check with your local in-car entertainment expert. You can also ask Motorpoint or whatever dealer you bought your car from.


All head units have a built-in amplifier. They are rated in watts per channel, and your car’s original one might be 5w. Aftermarket ones are often 45w or 50w.

If you plan on upgrading your speakers, you should also buy a separate amplifier rated to the power of your speakers. That way, your passengers (or you) can crank up the volume without worrying about distortion.

Good luck!


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