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How to Buy a Good Quality Stereo


The term “car stereo” actually refers to the receiver – also known as the head unit or the deck – the receiver is the central processor for your vehicle audio system. Once you’ve chosen the receiver, you need to know that you’ve also locked in how upgradeable the system is and the general features at the same time, so it’s important to make all of these decisions upfront – including how much you will want to upgrade your system in the future.

Consider where your audio will be coming from: do you have a CD player? DVD player? MP3 input? Depending on which direction you want to go, you’ll need to choose an audio receiver that will handle all the various inputs that you want to utilize. You may want to go with a color A/V screen, or with a very basic receiver that only gives you the bare basics – which would include at least one USB port for MP3 files or a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input which will allow your connectivity to be universal.

Here are some useful tips regarding the purchase of a stereo:

  • Satellite radio: Keep in mind that you will need specialized options if you decide to go with satellite radio – not all base radios come with that functionality. This may require a Sirius Connect module as well, so be prepared for that additional purchase if you want to go the satellite route.

  • HD audio quality: A receiver with built-in HD Radio decoding dramatically improves overall audio quality, and is likely a good purchase.

  • Built in navigation: In-dash navigation is also a great option to consider, but you may want to remember that the GPS in your smartphone likely provides all the free navigation you will ever need – and most in-dash navigation units require some sort of (paid) ongoing subscription to get map updates.

  • Available space: While it may not seem like the most important or sexiest consideration, your interface must physically fit in the area that you have available for it in your dash. Don’t get carried away on a 6” color touchscreen when you only have room for a small interface and no screen.

  • Peak power: Power is another important consideration. The peak power, in terms of RMS, is what you want to pay attention to. In general, more RMS is better – meaning you’ll get more output which is important if you’re listening to the radio loud at high speeds.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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Related questions

Q: How do I adjust the volume of the stereo system?

When the stereo is on, you can adjust the volume by locating the ON/VOLUME knob on the center console. Turn the knob clockwise to increase the volume, and counter-clockwise to decrease the volume.

Q: How do I skip songs on an iPod?

When you are playing an iPod through the sound system, you can use the audio controls to control the iPod. To skip a song while using an iPod, press the seek buttons on the audio system.

Q: How do I change the audio mode with the steering wheel?

You can control your sound system using the steering wheel. To select the audio mode, press the Media button until the desired mode begins playing.