It wasn’t until the 1930’s they started putting radios in cars. At the time, this was exciting. But as music started becoming more ramped up, so did the need for sound. In the 60’s, a solution opened up for better sound. In these days, now we have electric cars. Can you install a sound system in an electric car?
A high-quality sound system is arguably the last factor considered by car manufacturers while designing a new car model. This is the reason why even some high-end cars will give you a lackluster music experience with the factory-installed sound system.
This wasn’t a big issue not so long ago as car owners would simply replace those factory components with their aftermarket counterparts. But now the landscape of the auto industry is shifting at a rapid pace as more electric/hybrid cars are coming into the market with each passing year. Instead of being powered by gasoline, these cars run on a big Lithium-Ion battery.
This fundamental change has led many car owners to wonder if they’ll be able to upgrade their car audio system as seamlessly as they do in a regular gasoline-powered vehicle.
Limitation of Factory Stereo System
But before going into our main topic, let’s talk about the limitations of a factory stereo system. Most factory head units feature a very basic set of connectivity options, such as FM, aux port, Bluetooth, etc. Aftermarket head units offer all these options but you also get a lot of extra goodies in the form of a USB port, HD radio, and touchscreen display.
Some high-end aftermarket head units offer Apple Carplay/Android Auto functionality that allows them to mirror your iPhone/Android smartphone on their screen. The same is the case with speakers. Most cars have mediocre factory speakers installed which are incapable of producing rich and lively music. These speakers come with cheaper surrounds made out of foam and paper that deteriorate quickly over time, reducing their overall lifespan.
They also struggle to produce low-end frequencies. This is the reason why you get dull and muddy bass with these speakers. This is also the same with a sound system in an electric car.
What Components You Should Upgrade
Now that we’ve discussed why it’s so critical to upgrade your car stereo, let’s talk about which components you should or should not upgrade in an electric vehicle.
Replacing the head unit in newer cars is getting difficult with every passing year.
Because these days high-end vehicles come with ‘infotainment‘ systems. Basically, these systems have head units combined with other functions of your vehicle, such as navigation system, climate control, and backup camera.
Sometimes replacing the head unit makes the stereo wheel buttons stop working. Therefore, if your electric vehicle’s head unit already has those features, it’s better to keep it untouched and focus on upgrading other factory components.
Speakers are the first component you should upgrade on the sound system in an electric car. It’s because factory speakers are not well-engineered and their build quality is mostly average. While ideally, you should go for a 6×9-inch/6.5-inch component speakers set, you can also go for something like Rockford Fosgate P1462 if the budget is tight.
It’s a full-range 4×6 speakers pair that has a rich sound, a tough build quality, and doesn’t cost a lot. It has a butyl rubber surround which helps it in generating deep and clear bass. On top of that, it’ll consume less power than its 6×9 or 6.5-inch counterparts.
The same goes for subwoofers. While some companies like NVX have made custom subwoofers for cars like Tesla Model S and Model 3, you can have other subs installed depending on your vehicle. I would recommend you only go for shallow-mount subs as they’re compact and require less power to operate.
The amplifier is the device that amplifies the audio signal and sends it to the speaker. While you can run regular speakers on a factory amp (you’ll get less volume though), a subwoofer will need an external amp for powerful bass production.
The type of amplifier you choose will depend on how many speakers/subs you want in your vehicle.
If you’re only going to power a subwoofer, then a monoblock amplifier would be fine. On the other hand, if you have to upgrade only the speakers, then you should go for a 2-channel or 4-channel amp (depending on the number of speakers).
But if you have decided to upgrade speakers as well as a dedicated sub, then a 5-channel amp would suit you better.
Due to the limited amount of space in EVs, you should go for only ‘compact’ amplifiers. These amps are smaller in size and also draw less amount of current which will be good for the battery.
While EVs don’t offer as much car audio customization as regular cars do, you can certainly improve your music experience by upgrading speakers and the amplifier. Since EVs are fundamentally different from regular cars, I won’t suggest you install any of these audio components by yourself. Instead, you should consult a certified professional and then decide whether you want to replace your factory components or not. If you decide to take on the task, ensure you use the correct wire sizes.