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Car Audio Quality Specifications


The quality of sound in a car audio system depends upon a number of factor; the quality of the system, the type of speakers used, the acoustics of the vehicle, interference from other devices etc. Not least are the technical specifications of the audio system.

When deciding what type of audio system to install, and also when comparing one make and model to another, there are two key specifications to consider.

  1. Signal-to-noise ratio [SNR] - a measure of signal strength compared to background noise in the signal or equipment. Measured in decibels. The higher the dB, the better. A car CD player has an SNR of 90 or 100 dB.
  2. Frequency response [FR] - a measure of how much of the audio spectrum, from bass to treble, gets reproduced. It's measured as a range in Hertz, and the wider the range, the better. Look for a CD player with a range of at least 10-20k Hz.

An FM radio, cassette player, and CD player all have different measurements for these specs. To help understand these two specifications, let’s compare a car tape cassette player and a car CD player.

Cassette player has an SNR of 50-70 dB. This is much lower than a CD player, so the sound quality degrades at each end of the spectrum.

The FR is around 30-18k Hz for a cassette player, so does not contribute as much to sound quality as the SNR.

That's why overall, a car CD player gives a much better sound than a cassette tape player.


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