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Car Stereos: Stock vs Aftermarket
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Car Stereos: Stock vs Aftermarket

Comparing Original Equipment to Your Future Upgrade

Your car stereo is the centerpiece of your sound system. Every track, podcast, and radio show goes through it, so it behooves most people to get the very best stereo money can buy. This is especially true for those that have long commutes or spend a good chunk of time in the car on a daily basis. If you still are using the factory model stereo that came with your vehicle, you’ve probably wondered what exactly is so different from what you currently have compared to the aftermarket stereos out there. Can it really make that much of a difference? Absolutely, it can. The following will provide a quick breakdown of stock stereo systems versus aftermarket. In the event that you ever decide to upgrade with a new car stereo installation, you’ll know exactly what to look forward to.

What Is A Stock Stereo?

A stock stereo – or factory stereo, it’s often referred to as – is the stereo that comes with the car that was installed by the manufacturer. At the very least, you’re going to get a radio and a CD player with the stereo. Many modern cars these days have Bluetooth connectivity as a standard feature as well.

What you’re going to notice with a stock stereo is that the sound quality isn’t the best. It’ll get you by, but since a stock stereo only puts out about 10 watts RMS of maximum output power, it falls noticeably short compared to a higher end aftermarket stereo. The sound won’t be as clean, powerful, or booming when those heavy bass notes hit. If you’re familiar with car audio, then you already know factory stereos leave much to be desired.

The other drawback of stock stereos is that manufacturers are catching on to the fact that car owners are swapping out their stereo system for aftermarket equipment. In an effort to deter that, they’ve taken to making their stereos and dash configurations highly unique and difficult to replace from a size and features perspective. Taking out your car stereo could very well mean losing other features such as in-dash navigation, vehicle controls, and other premium features that came with the car and exclusively operate through that specific stereo.

What Is an Aftermarket Stereo?

An aftermarket stereo is going to be a replacement for your stock stereo made by a different manufacturer that specializes in car audio. Some of the big names include Pioneer, JVC, and Kenwood. You can count on these brands not only producing the latest and greatest in car stereos, but also speakers, amps, woofers, and other car audio products.

The main benefit that you’re going to get with an aftermarket car stereo is more power and more control over your sound. Not only do aftermarket car stereos offer more by way of watts RMS produced, but you’ll be able to control the EQ with far more precision than a factory stereo. An upgraded system is going to allow for you to hear music at its full potential without the buzzing and distortion you’d get from a factory stereo.

You can also count on smartphone-compatible features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being included. These features seamlessly pair your car stereo with your smartphone device, allowing you to talk and text hands-free in addition to streaming your music via Pandora or Spotify. Not only do the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto features increase convenience, but they make driving safer as well.

An aftermarket stereo is overall going to provide a better listening and user experience. In fact, the layout on most of them is akin to a large cell phone screen with easily identifiable tiles.

Upgrade Your Stock Stereo Today!

If you’re currently limited in your car audio experience due to a stock stereo, the good news is that car stereo installation in San Diego is easy to get done, even if you’re on a tight budget.

Even with vehicle manufacturers making their stock stereos uniquely shaped, many aftermarket manufacturers are able to adapt their stereos to a wide variety of vehicles. Regardless of whether your car is American-made or an import, there should be at least a few options for upgrading your stereo to one of the industry’s top brands.

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