Music to our Ears: How to get the best sound from your car audio system

The music awards season is in full swing, where the biggest and best artists are recognised for their musical achievements. But the likes of Adele didn’t spend years in the studio to have her Brit and Grammy Award winning album ‘25’ played through poor quality car sound systems.

Most people will listen to more music in their cars than in any other place. But for the audiophiles among us, having the right music tech is a crucial aspect of the car buying process.

All cars come with audio systems as standard but they won’t necessarily produce the best quality of sound. So here are some tips for getting the best sound from your car along with the cars that come fitted with the best sound systems and technologies:

1. Know how to test the audio quality from your car

Firstly, the quality of sound emitted from the audio system of a car is largely subjective. It depends on your personal music tastes, how you hear different sounds and the environment of the car itself.

So if you’re extremely particular about the sound from your audio system, play a song you’re very familiar with that contains a wide range of different instruments and sounds.

You want to hear the song as the artist and producer intended, so you need to listen carefully for the low, medium and high frequency sounds. If your speakers aren’t producing some sounds clearly, then you need to consider altering your equaliser settings.

2. Choose speakers with a wide frequency range

If your choice of music often contains sounds that are outside the frequency range of your speakers, then you’ll struggle to hear them. So, for example, if you’re into Drum & Bass and your existing speakers can’t cope with extremely low frequency sounds, then you’re not going to get the most out of the music. You could also consider supplementing your existing speakers with a subwoofer which will handle very low frequency sounds.

3. Match the max power output of your speakers with the max power of your amplifier

For example, if your amplifier has a power output of 1,000-Watts but your speakers have a max power output of 500-Watts, then your speakers won’t be able to handle the levels of sound being transmitted from the amp to the speaker. This can easily result in a blown speaker.

Ensure your speakers can handle the max power of your audio system for the clearest sound at any volume.

​4. Fine-tune your EQ settings

Most audio systems will come with equaliser presets designed for enhancing the sound for different types of music or listening experiences. However you can adjust the equaliser settings yourself to get the best sound in your car.

A lot of people will rush to increase the bass levels to get that thumping sound and feel. But bear in mind that this will overpower the higher frequency sound producing instruments or vocals – and you won’t be hearing the track as the producer intended.

However, sometimes it pays to actually decrease frequencies such as the bass or treble levels - rather than increase them - in order to get a more balanced and crisp playback.

5. Create the right environment in your car

It seems obvious, but no matter how much money you invest in your gear or mess around with the equaliser, you’re never going to get the desired sound if you let it all escape out of an open window. It’s important to optimise the acoustics of your car to avoid sounds escaping or getting heavy reverberation.

Also, consider the quantity and positioning of your speakers throughout the car to ensure you’re getting the best sound regardless of where you sit. If your only speaker is solely located at the back of a large car, then the driver and rear passengers are going to hear very different versions of the track.

​5 cars fitted with the best sound systems

Now that you know what’s required for a better music experience in your car, here are cars you can buy already fitted with some of the best sound systems around:

​Bentley Mulsanne Speed - Naim for Bentley

Regarded as one of the very best in-car audio systems, the Naim audio system used in Bentley models such as the Mulsanne Speed will impress even the most astute audiophiles.

This state-of-the-art sound system features 20 custom-made speakers, a 2,200-Watt amp and 8 DSP (Digital Signal Processor) modes. With the addition of soundproofing and acoustic glazing, it’s like being in the studio first-hand.

BMW 7 Series - Bang & Olufsen high-end Surround Sound System

Bang & Olufsen are regular partners with BMW but the high-end Surround Sound system for the BMW 7 Series is our favourite.

The 16 active loudspeakers driven by 1,200-Watts consist of 7 tweeter speakers – each paired with a mid-range speaker for a clear and balanced sound – and 2 subwoofers attached though the body of the car to cancel out unnecessary vibrations for a crystal clear bass output.

What’s arguably more impressive is the Dynamic Sound Optimisation function, which Bang & Olufsen have expertly engineered to optimise the sound in response to changing conditions inside and outside the car, for a constantly clear audio. Additionally, Studio and Expanded modes can be applied to create very distinct audio experiences like sitting in a recording studio or replicating the feeling of a huge concert hall.

​Land Rover Discovery 5 – Meridian Surround Sound System

Buyers of the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery 5 can opt for the very fine Meridian Surround Sound audio system containing up to 18 surround sound speakers powered by an 825 watt amp system.

What really makes Meridian’s Surround Sound system appealing is its exclusive Trifield technology which combines the sound from the left, right, centre and surround speakers so you won’t miss a single note – no matter how low or high.

Mercedes-Benz S Class Coupé - Burmester High-End 3D-Surround–Sound System

Owners of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class are treated to a sound system engineered by one of Germany’s finest music system designers, Dieter Burmester. His innovation is apparent in this state-of-the-art 3D Surround Sound system which combines analogue and digital amplifier technologies to provide outstanding atmosphere and tonal clarity.

The car’s three-dimensional sound is created by 2 Burmester loudspeakers built into the roof, with another in the overhead control panel. The speakers are then complemented by a 3D sound algorithm - unique to the S-Class – which adds a subtle spatial quality to the sound environment.

Music lovers will love the personalisation functionality of this system. The VIP setting lets you optimise the sound quality for each of the four individual seats.

​Volvo S90 – Bowers & Wilkins

The new Volvo S90 features updated Bowers & Wilkins audio technologies, designed so you hear the tiniest details in the music you play.

The S90 uses the same ‘Tweeter On Top’ feature as the XC90 which is a centre speaker used to minimise the acoustic reflection from the windscreen – resulting in a sound that’s more detailed and lifelike.

Each of the 19 speakers have been positioned for optimum acoustics and has been fine-tuned by expert sound technicians to produce the most realistic immersive sound possible.

So there you have it music fans, time to make the most of those long drives by listening to the music you love in the way that it was intended to be heard. For more interesting car-tech, check out our blog on the very latest car technology features.