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Keep It Simple – Don’t Make This Mistake in Your Sound System

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple is a lesson I have broken many times. Depending on the perspective, that could be a blessing or a curse. If you don’t know it, I’ll give a quick retelling of my story.

I got started with car audio by entering the family business at age 14, and everything about it was new. This was 1995 and car audio was pretty simple. I remember watching my uncle David joining wires together to install a new radio. Even that routine task was a lot to take in. 

Once I moved away from home for good I also started backing off from car audio. I was still listening to music obsessively, but it was a time of transition in my 20s(sound familiar?) and cars took on a different meaning. When I got back into car audio on a professional level, nearly a decade later, I went to the Internet to catch up. Things had progressed massively in terms of the volume of information to find for free, and I also quickly realized car audio had gone through a couple of paradigm shifts (huge SPL subwoofers? What the heck? Time alignment??). 


Car audio had gone through a couple of paradigm shifts.

Unchecked growth can get you in trouble. Don’t fall victim to the appeal of starting with a huge sound system in mind, or taking a small system and growing it with every neat or trendy concept you see.

Keep It Simple

Over several years of testing and experimenting with different sound system configurations I have some highlights to indicate how far from simple this became. Not all of the parts listed here were in the system at the same time.

  • Touch screen head unit with smartphone connectivity
  • 8 channel digital signal processor with 8 channel amplifier inside
  • Two 6-channel amplifiers
  • A separate bass amplifier
  • Three passive crossovers
  • Two pairs of tweeters in the front
  • Two pairs of 2″ mid-tweeter wide range pods on the dash 
  • Two woofers in the front doors
  • Two 2-way coaxial speakers in the rear deck
  • Two speakers added to the front doors, for a total of 3 speakers per door.
  • Up to two subwoofers at one time

The biggest number of speakers at one time was 11, using 8 DSP channels, in a 5.1 multichannel configuration. I write this not to brag, but because I have to tell this so you can understand

I’ve Been There – It Is Awesome If It’s Done Right, But It Can Burn You

Car Audio System Diagram dated 11-16-2014
Car Audio System Diagram dated 11-16-2014


Potential Causes of Pain

  • Planning a complicated system can get overwhelming. 
  • Time management. If you’re doing something in a way you’ve never done before this can be hard to predict in all arenas of life. What do you do when it’s 1 a.m., the vehicle is still torn apart, and you MUST drive it to work in the morning? When is your next opportunity to work on this project?
  • More parts = more chances to damage something. One more pair of speakers could mean one more set of panels to remove, which is another set of panel clips that might get broken or bent, which is…Maybe you get the point. It can really compound in ways that are costly. 

Have you reached out for guidance or counsel in some other part of your life? Did that experience save you some money and pain? 

If you’re in need of help with your car audio system I invite you to book your call with me right now. Let’s keep it simple. 

Barry Schanz

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