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These are good times. There is no end to the cool stuff you can add to your car audio system these days. From the biggest, baddest subwoofers, to computerized navigation systems (some that are even voice controlled). Soon, you’ll even be able to get your hands on complete DVD "car theater" systems. The options are endless. What’s more, there is even some cool stuff that you positively need (as opposed to the cool stuff you just want), like this:

You’ll need RCA cables to carry pre-amp (low line level) signal, usually from your head unit to your amp and processors (crossovers, equalizers, etc.). Get ’em well-built, flexible and shielded, with sturdy connector ends that will withstand the stresses of car audio connections. It pays to buy quality cables.

Amplified signal (especially when it’s going to your subwoofer) is much stronger, and requires a more capable cable. There’s a lot of current zipping out of your amps. That’s why they make speaker cables. Be sure to use cable that is 16 to 8 AWG (gauge) for subs and coaxes. (The lower the number, the thicker the wire the less resistance; thicker is better.) Tweeters and mids can use thinner cables (16-12 AWG).

For battery connections, a power distribution block can make wiring multiple electronics a breeze. Run a 4 to 6 AWG power cable from your battery to a power distribution block and use its multiple outputs for each component. Some power distribution blocks even come with their own fuses to protect your components. You can also find battery terminals that have secondary connectors to let you easily hook up the extra power cables. Told you it was a good time.

To easily integrate a head unit to your car’s factory wiring, use a wire harness. It allows you to do all sorts of alterations without harming your car’s factory wiring. You want to replace your stock head unit, but you don’t want to have to leave your custom unit in the car when you sell it in a year? So you use a wiring harness that’s designed for your car model, and you can remove your stock head unit and attach a new one without cutting the original wiring. The custom unit just plugs right in to the harness!

This article was last modified Jul 29, 2014

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