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Last Updated on October 19, 2023 by Rifthy
Having loud, clear audio in your car can make driving much more enjoyable. But often the factory installed speakers lack volume and sound quality. The manufacturer’s standard audio system is designed to just provide basic functionality, not incredible fidelity.
Thankfully there are several straightforward ways to make your existing car speakers louder and improve the overall sound, all without needing an amplifier. This guide will cover simple wiring tweaks, audio source upgrades, speaker positioning, and sound damping materials to help your car’s sound system truly come alive.
Check Speaker Wiring Polarity and Connections
One of the easiest first things to check is the polarity of the speaker wires. Each speaker wire has a positive (+) and negative (-) terminal that need to be connected properly for the speaker to be “in phase” and output sound correctly.
- If the positive and negative wires are reversed, it can cause the speakers to be “out of phase”, resulting in weak bass response, lack of stereo imaging, and an overall thin sound.
- Use a multimeter to test the polarity of the wires coming from the head unit or amplifier to ensure proper phase.
- While you have the wires disconnected, also inspect the ends for any corrosion and clean if needed. Corrosion increases resistance which reduces power transfer to the speakers.
- Check that all connections are tight and secure. Loose wire connections can introduce noise and distortion.
- Be sure you are using high quality copper speaker wire of an appropriate gauge. Thinner wires with higher resistance will impair performance.
- For optimal power transfer, use speaker wires with the shortest run from the amplifier directly to the speakers.
Maintaining proper polarity and good wiring with solid connections are two easy first steps to improve sound quality coming from your existing speakers. It ensures you are getting the most power to the speakers for maximum loudness.
Additional Speaker Wiring Tips
- Use heavier 16 or 14 gauge wire for speakers over 50 watts.
- Solder connections for best results but high quality crimp connectors are acceptable.
- Consider routing power and signal wires separately to prevent interference.
- Use grommets when running wires through metal barriers.
- Split wires going to 2 speakers to maintain appropriate load on amplifier.
Properly installed speaker wire provides the foundation for your car audio system to play loud and sound great. Investing in quality wire and connections is highly recommended.
Upgrade Audio Source Quality
The source audio signal going to your speakers also plays a big role in sound quality. Low bitrate streaming audio or poor quality head units can degrade the signal before it even reaches the speakers.
- Use high bitrate MP3, FLAC, or lossless audio files rather than lower quality streaming sources. This provides fuller range sound to your speakers.
- Consider upgrading the car’s head unit if it is low quality. Look for a unit with hi-res audio support, custom EQ settings, and robust amplifier output.
- A poor quality factory head unit is often the weakest link. Replacing it with an aftermarket stereo can provide a big improvement.
- If keeping the factory head unit, use a digital output like SPDIF coaxial to an outboard DAC if available. This bypasses the internal DAC for better fidelity.
Providing speakers with a clean, high-resolution stereo signal allows them to play at their full potential and enhances the volume and dynamics.
Add a Powered Subwoofer
Adding a powered subwoofer is a popular upgrade that can give you loud, powerful bass without needing an external amplifier. Look for subwoofers with a built-in amplifier that provide at least 100 watts RMS power handling.
- Match the subwoofer size to your car’s interior space. 10″ – 12″ subs work well for most sedans and small SUVs.
- Proper subwoofer enclosure design is crucial. Sealed boxes provide tight, accurate bass while ported boxes offer booming bass. Work with an expert for enclosure building.
- Set the crossover to 80 – 120 Hz to send only deep bass tones to the subwoofer. This removes strain from the main speakers.
- Adjust the subwoofer phase to align with your main speakers for unified bass response. This prevents boomy or thin sounding bass.
Adding a powered sub is a straightforward way to add volume, fill out the low end, and make your car’s audio really come to life. Quality subs start around $200 but provide big benefits.
Use Sound Damping Materials
One issue with car audio are all the rattles, echoes, and exterior noises that interfere with clean sound. Applying sound damping materials in your car can help absorb these issues.
Popular options include:
- Closed cell foam – Dense foam sheets that block noise transmission when applied to doors, trunk, floor.
- MLV (mass loaded vinyl) – Heavier vinyl layer that reflects noise and adds mass damping.
- Spray deadeners – Liquid applied coatings that can reach into small crevices. Effective but messy.
When installing, focus on the doors first as they cause the most rattles and leaks. Seal all holes and gaps with butyl adhesive for an air-tight barrier. Adding damping materials will “tighten” and improve the clarity of your car’s interior audio.
Adjust Car Audio Settings
Don’t overlook the basic car audio settings adjustments that can boost your speaker’s output. Your car stereo and/or head unit likely has:
- Volume – Turn it up! Lower default volumes can limit sound quality. You won’t damage speakers by pushing to 80% or more.
- Equalizer – Boosting midrange (500hz – 2000hz) and highs(5khz+) can add clarity and “presence” to music.
- Fader – Fading more sound to the front can make vocals clearer for the driver.
- Speed adjusted volume – This safety feature lowers volume with speed. Turn it off for max loudness.
Take time to tweak these settings for the best blend for your car and preferences. It makes a big difference.
Upgrade Your Car Speakers
One direct way to get louder volume is to upgrade the car’s factory speakers. Typical OEM speakers are basic paper cone drivers rated for just 10-30 watts.
Switching to aftermarket speakers with 50 watts RMS or more power handling gives you louder output while also improving sound quality. When upgrading speakers:
- Look for reputable brands like Alpine, JBL, Infinity, Rockford Fosgate. Check reviews.
- Aim to spend at least $50 per speaker for significantly better sound. $100+ per speaker is ideal if your budget allows.
- Install both new tweeters and full-range speakers for balanced sound.
- Consider your amplification power needs. High power handling speakers demand amp power.
In particular, upgrading the front speakers to louder models makes a very noticeable difference in sound volume and quality when driving.
Position Car Speakers Strategically
Proper placement and aiming of car speakers also improves their performance. Follow these tips:
- Angle woofers and tweeters inward to focus on the driver’s position.
- Avoid speaker obstruction by objects that block the output.
- Place tweeters at ear level for better high frequency response.
- Separate woofers and tweeters as much as possible for better stereo imaging.
Taking the time to position your speakers correctly ensures the sound is projected towards you rather than lost in the cabin. Angling them up towards your ears makes a big difference.
Summary of Ways to Make Car Speakers Louder
To recap, here are effective ways to increase your car speaker volume and improve sound quality:
- Verify speaker wire polarity connections
- Upgrade source audio quality
- Add a powered subwoofer
- Use sound damping materials
- Adjust car stereo settings
- Install higher quality aftermarket speakers
- Position speakers strategically
Many of these techniques are simple, inexpensive DIY projects that make a very audible difference in loudness and sound fidelity. Combining several methods provides maximum benefit.
While adding an amplifier provides another volume boost, this guide shows there are many steps you can take to make your car speakers significantly louder without needing extra amp power. Just a few upgrades result in much more enjoyable audio.
Now you can pump up the volume on those road trips! Let us know in the comments if you have any other tips for making car speakers louder.