How to Make Old Car Speakers Sound Better?


Listening to music or any other kind of audio from your old car stereo speakers can lead to ear fatigue if the sound is of continuous low quality. Even though the sound is coming from old speakers, many people wonder what to do to make speakers sound better without purchasing new ones. 

You can make old car speakers sound better by using gasket tape, checking the speaker polarity, setting balance and fade, and using the correct speaker wire. Quality can also be improved by using an amplifier, optimizing EQ settings, using a crossover, using better quality audio files, using a capacitor, and bypassing your stereos DAC.

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This article will look into your old car speakers and offer you insight into whether to keep them or get new ones. Then it will detail all factors you can consider both inexpensive (some even free) and more expensive in fixing the quality of your speakers.

These elements will relate physically to producing better directional sound from your speakers and then your sound quality as a whole, looking at other aspects that indirectly relate to speakers. 

Do I need to replace old speakers in my car?

Well, that depends on your speaker’s quality and condition. Speakers are still built from the same technology from when they were incepted. They use a magnet, voice coil, and speaker cone along with additional components, so at the end of the day, we can say speakers are speakers, but…

make old car speakers sound better

If you have a good quality set of speakers, there should be no need to get new ones. The best thing you can do is follow some tips to improve speaker quality that we have listed below. These include things such as using speaker gasket tape, using an amplifier, and more to get the best possible sound from your speakers.

You can also do other things to improve your audio’s overall sound quality (which we have also listed in this article). Only after trying all these options within reason should you consider replacing your old speakers with new ones. 

The only time you should consider replacing your old speakers is if they are not of good sound quality or if they are damaged. For each of these reasons, it would be recommended that you purchase a new set of speakers.

Will changing old car speakers improve the sound?

If you have installed factory speakers, then yes, sound quality will definitely improve after replacing speakers with aftermarket ones. But what if you already have aftermarket speakers in your car? Well, the improvement level depends on the following factors:

  • Are you purchasing better speakers?

  • What type of speakers are you buying?

  • What is the rest of your car audio system setup I terms of equipment, additional speakers, and wiring?

All of these questions have to be considered if you change your old car speakers. 

For the most part, if you have a newer model car with an average OEM 

factory stereo, purchasing new speakers would significantly improve your sound. However, it would help if you first considered other factors that are easy to do and possibly even free that will improve your sound before you try and purchase new speakers. 

Components speakers

Based solely on changing speakers to improve your sound, these types of speakers would benefit you greatly. Component speakers are built to have separate drivers (separate tweeter and separate woofer). You will notice these speakers because the tweeter usually sits on the dashboard or in the door’s upper part.

Component speakers are better at accurately separating the different frequencies across the sound spectrum. They also offer better sound imaging (this is because the tweeters are on the dash, and the sound emanates from in front of you). 

How can I improve the quality of my car speakers?

This section relates specifically to speakers themselves and what will benefit your sound experience by getting better quality speakers. 

Use foam speaker gasket tape.

Most people overlook this simple step, but it is a cheap and effective way to increase your speakers’ quality with almost no effort at all.

You can use speaker gasket tape and place it between your speaker and the bracket that it is mounted to effectively sealing the hole that it sits in. Gasket tape will not only work great with the speakers, you can even use it to seal up your subwoofer enclosure.

Using gasket tape effectively seals the hole, not letting any air escape past the speaker. Remember that a speaker forces air both ways, and the pressure behind your speaker is used in conjunction with it to make it work more efficiently.

Check the polarity of the speakers.

You need to check that all your speakers are wired correctly. This means that all positive wired connections are on the positive terminals for your speakers and stereo (or amplifier). All the negative wired connections are wired to the negative terminals of your stereo. 

If they are not, the speakers will still play; however, it is essential to have speakers wired correctly because of their polarity. Suppose an individual speaker or set is wired with reverse polarity (reverse wiring). In that case, they will be out of phase with each other, which means that they will effectively fight against each other, causing cancellation in sound, distortion, and clipping. 

Create sound dampening to improve audio quality.

As in a recording studio that uses sound absorbers and diffusers, you can apply the same to your car stereo speakers. You can purchase sound isolators and place them in the door panels of your car.

Remember that a door is not the best place for speakers to sit, and when they are housed in the door, the sound hits the rear metal part of the door, reflecting, creating additional sound waves that affect and distort the speaker’s cone and therefore the sound you are hearing. 

Using dampening materials to absorb the sound of your speakers will also contribute to canceling out road noise. This is especially apparent in older cars when they tend to increase in speed. Noise from parts of your vehicle will tend to reverberate and echo through every inch of your car because it is made from metal. Sound dampening materials can help alleviate that, in turn, making your listening experience more pleasant.

Use a car amplifier to improve speakers’ sound.

Using an amplifier will significantly increase the quality of your speakers, even if they are old.

An amplifier boosts the audio so that it overcomes road noise. In addition to that, it will also increase the audio system’s headroom. This gives it the ability to play audio more suddenly without clipping or distorting. 

Make sure your amplifier is set correctly.

If you are using an aftermarket amplifier, make sure that your amplifier’s setting is set correctly (make sure it’s tuned). This could be EQ settings, sub-bass settings, gain, threshold, and level settings. More settings could include a filter for high and low frequencies and more. 

If you have an aftermarket amplifier, check the user manual to see the best possible settings or the recommended settings for specific audio steups. Just tunning your amplifier to the correct settings can improve the sound of your speakers dramatically. 

Use the balance and fade correctly on the stereo.

Without too much effort, you can get your speakers to sound better in a matter of seconds by adjusting the balance and fade settings. But these are not the Equalizer settings.

Balance and fade determine the proper position in the sound spectrum inside the cabin. Most modern stereos and digital head units will allow you to set the appropriate position (left/right and forward/backward).

Use this function to apply a setting where it sounds like the music is played in front of you, not from the car’s center.

How to adjust stereo settings for the best sound (Equalization)

Balance and fade could be considered stereo settings; however, that deals with panning the sound in your car, which is a different aspect of adjusting frequencies that we will discuss now. 

Adjust the equalizer correctly for the best possible sound

Most, if not all, stereos will come with an equalizer. This will be shown either as physical nobs on the stereo that you can adjust (like old Hi-Fi systems) or, more likely nowadays, will be a digital display. 

The frequency range that is audible to the human ear is from about 20hz to 20khz. You EQ display should allow you to adjust this range of setting either with saved pre-sets or by physically mapping which frequencies you would like to boost or cut. 

Please take note that it is usually always better to cut frequencies rather than boost them. The low frequencies are for the bass, the middle frequencies are the mid-range frequencies, and then towards the 20khz are the high frequencies. 

Adjust all settings according to your ears’ best and most comfortable experience. However, there are some guidelines that you can consider.

  • The high frequencies should be crisp, airy, and bright.
  • The mid-range frequencies should be smooth and precise.
  • The bass frequencies should be full but not boomy.

Adjust the crossover correctly for the best possible sound

To improve speaker quality, if you have a subwoofer, the best possible thing you can do is wire it to a dedicated subchannel and then adjust the crossover frequencies allowing it only to produce low-frequency sounds. 

Some modern car stereos will have this available on the stereo itself, and if this is the case, you should take advantage of this. It usually comes in the form of a low-pass filter (that means that it cuts out the high frequencies).

Adjust the filter so it cuts out the mid and high frequencies according to your taste. 

Other ways to make your car speakers sound better.

Besides replacing your old speakers and correcting certain factors that could make your speakers sound better, these helpful tips will also make your overall audio system sound superior. 

Use the correct audio cables for your equipment to improve the sound.

Car audio enthusiasts shell out a ton of cash for audio equipment like amplifiers, subwoofers, and so on. However, in many cases, they tend to disregard the use of proper wires opting to use aluminum wire instead of copper wire (OFC, which is oxygen-free). 

It will help if you use professional-grade cables to connect your car audio system, including RCA cables, speaker wire, remote wire, etc. 

Using the incorrect wires can send the wrong amount of power to your amplifier. Poor RCA connections could cause a loss of signal. Additionally, poorly grounded wires can cause shorts in your audio system.

Furthermore, you need to check that the speaker gauge you are using to connect each section of your car audio system is the correct gauge. 

If speakers are connected with the wrong wire gauge, this could cause resistance along the wire, affecting and inhibiting sound quality from heat and clipping. 

Bypass your stereos DAC (Digital To Analog Converter) to improve sound

If you are still using a cable that plugs into your stereo’s auxiliary input, you should consider purchasing and using a USB cable if your stereo allows it. Your stereos DAC is not of superb quality, and depending on the bitrate it converts at and other factors, you could be losing audio quality.

Upgrade your head unit 

Suppose your car stereo does not have a USB connection point. In that case, you could consider purchasing one or, instead, purchasing a superior DAC headphone amplifier if you prefer to listen to the music coming from headphones.

Don’t use Bluetooth.

If you use Bluetooth instead of a USB, sound quality can be lower than from the direct wire connection. Bluetooth is a great and comfortable feature, but the downside is that it sends codecs to your stereo in formats that are not lossless (this means audio quality is lost).

You can do a test yourself and find out. Audio from Bluetooth is significantly softer in one regard, and not to mention it will shop off the very high and very low frequencies.

Eliminate rattles in your car to improve sound

If you have any spare change or trinkets in your cars, for example, in the glove box or cupholders, then be sure to remove them.

When the volume is high, and especially if you have a subwoofer, the soundwaves’ pressure will cause these objects to move and rattle, interfering with your listening. 

Use a subwoofer to improve your sound.

It is best to improve your audio quality by separating the frequencies letting specific drivers handle them. The easiest way to do that is to use tweeters for the high frequencies, woofers for the mid-range, and subs for the low and sub-low frequencies.

When you have this setup, each speaker, especially the subwoofer, will cater specifically to its designed function, improving your sound tenfold. 

Use a capacitor for your subwoofer to improve the sound.

Large car audio systems can use a lot of power, and sometimes your car cannot produce such power nonstop. A capacitor is a device that sits between your amplifier and a car battery. It stores up energy from your alternator and releases it instantly, providing enough power to your amplifier.

You will notice the effect of not having a capacitor when driving your sound system for a while and your headlights dim, or you hear a drop in performance from your subs (they get softer and muddled).

Use a sub bin to improve the sound.

If you have a subwoofer, it is better to put it in an enclosure (box) and seal it correctly. Enclosing your subwoofer in a box that meets its specification will result in a better performing and better sounding subwoofer. 

One thing to note is that if the incorrect box size is used, you are more than capable of blowing your subwoofer due to incorrect pressure of soundwaves that will push back onto the subwoofer itself. 

Use better quality audio files to improve the sound.

Audio files come in various formats, and depending on which one you use, the audio will be compressed and saved at a specific bitrate.

These compressed files will be lossy if the bitrate is too small or the format permits it. Always play audio of a high bitrate (at least cd quality, which is 1,411 Kbps).

Use a DSP (Digital Signaling Processor)

If possible, try to use a DSP. This is a fancy term for a type of equalizer. You do get varying types that can be used for specific equipment like bass boost processors and such.

However, in a typical car audio system, a standard equalizer will be enough. I already mentioned this in the section on making your speakers sound better, but it is relevant to note that other factors influence the sound of the audio in your car, and using an external DSP will help iron out all those little irritable nuances that cause ear fatigue.

Don’t boost all levels on your equalizer.

Boosting your EQ settings and driving your system hard is a sure way to distort, clip, and blow your speakers. Not to mention producing a horrible sound. It is always better to cut frequencies than to boost them too much. 

If you feel like there are not enough mids, cut the lows and highs and vice versa.

Conclusion

In general, you should consider replacing your old speakers in your car if they are of low quality and if they are damaged or blown. 

For the most part, if you have a decent set of old speakers, there are many things you can do that can drastically change the audio quality of your stereo system for the better without replacing the speakers. 

There are inexpensive fixes like speaker gasket tape, and then there are more expensive fixes like purchasing an amplifier. It is up to you to decide which would be more beneficial and suit your situation best. 

If you consider buying new speakers, then your best bet for speakers’ pure performance would be to opt for high-end component speakers where the drivers are built separately. 

Martin

Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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