A Guide to the 6 Top Car Stereo Brands

March 29, 2012

A detailed look at some of the best car stereo brands available, including JVC, Clarion and Blaupunkt.

The top car stereo brands offer great quality and excellent sound. Although choice is a very personal thing, there are some brands that truly stand out.

  • Becker. Not as well known as other brands, Becker is one of the top car stereo brands, most famous for its CD changers, which have been exceptionally well received.
  • Blaupunkt. Blaupunkt is a German company that's been around since 1970 and provides car stereo systems to many high end makes. Their models tend to be named after cities, and they generally score highly when people look for the top-rated audio system.
  • Clarion. Although a newcomer, at least compared to the other brands, Clarion has established itself among the top car stereo brands. Although all the models have been favorably reviewed, one standout for Clarion is its digital audio system for cars.
  • JVC. JVC has a reputation both in home audio and also as one of the top car stereo brands. Based in Japan, the company has established a reputation for high quality equipment even if it's not one of the biggest brands. Its products offer extremely good value for money.
  • Kenwood. Kenwood covers the whole range of car entertainment. That means not just car stereo, but also multimedia units that offer DVD and GPS, as well as speakers. They cover the entire gamut of car entertainment. Particularly popular are Kenwood CD changers.
  • Sony. Sony is one of the very top and most visible car stereo brands. It's always at the cutting edge of technology and coming out with new products that score well on consumer reviews.

Blaupunkt Car Stereo Speakers and Receivers

A Blaupunkt car stereo is made by Bose in Germany. The stereo equipment is quite sleek and all of the controls are fun, though not necessarily logical. It may be necessary to search through the manual to find all the control functions. The speakers can easily handle all different frequencies, though the front speakers tend to lack in the bass department. The mid and high tones are very natural and make for excellent listening.

Bose Factory Brand

Factory brands tend to be much higher quality stereo systems than manufacturer or aftermarket systems. However, along with the better quality they tend to be much more expensive. If you want top of the line, Blaupunkt is an excellent stereo manufacturer. This brand does not cut corners or sacrifice quality.

High Quality

High quality is necessary because the acoustics of a car are not even close to ideal. It is rare for the speakers to actually face the passengers and most of the components are shrunken to fit into the dashboard. Sound reflects off of the different panels and interior and it is very difficult to predict how this works. There are also issues with external sound. High quality stereo components ensure that the best audio possible will come from your speakers. Having a subwoofer and amplifier that matches the speakers is very important. By purchasing a complete Blaupunkt stereo you can be sure that each component works perfectly with the rest of the stereo.

Installation

When purchasing such a top end stereo it is best to have it installed by a recognized installer. Make sure that you know the individual that is installing the stereo into the car, should any problems occur in the future. Additionally ensure that the fitter has all of the tools necessary to fit the Blaupunkt stereos. Most factory brand stereos have special wire harnessing, adapters and fittings in order to work in your vehicle.

The Look and Buttons

The look of the Blaupunkt stereo is quite sleek with a slick finish. This is perfect for those individuals that like plenty of buttons. It can take a little while to get used to the buttons and functions of them, as they are not necessarily all logical. There is a great fade in function when a cassette or CD is inserted. This prevents a very strong and jarring sound increase depending on the audio. The only main issue is at very high volumes, the clarity does decrease. Blaupunkt offers several different stereo systems. All are top of the line and offer the best audio experience for the car.

Delco Car Stereo Performance

A Delco car stereo can provide you with the quality sound you want in your vehicle at a price you can afford. Delco has been a trusted name for years for OEM stereos, as car manufacturers seek out the sound and stability of the units they have to offer.

The Start of Delco

Delco electronics have actually been around since 1929, and they were among the first stereos ever issued in automobiles. General Motors used one of the stereos in the 1929 LaSalle, and from that point on Delco has remained a staple in many of the cars that come off the line. Improvements to the 1929 model were made in 1931, and they were continually made to keep up with the needs of consumers.

Modern Delco Models

While there have been many changes since the birth of these stereos, the need for quality and affordability has remained throughout the years. Modern units are still simple to use, and they fit well with the electrical abilities of the cars they're in. They may have better sound and more advanced features, but they remain as classic as ever. Delco models can be installed by professionals, or you can tackle the installation on your own. Delco has never wavered in its commitment to its customers, and you can bet the company will be around for years to come.

JBL Car Stereo Subwoofers

JBL car stereo subwoofers are an ideal addition to any budget oriented car audio set up. A JBL subwoofer is a popular upgrade among audiophiles who wish to improve the sound output of any existing in-car audio system.

Adding JBL subwoofers to your car will add emphasis to low frequency signals and give your sound system the added boost it deserves.

Bargain JBL Sub Woofers

The JBL 8-inch GTO804 Grand Touring Series sub woofers give powerful bass for a reasonable price. Another factor worth considering is the subwoofer enclosure to ensure a rich, deep reproduction of sound. The GT5-2402BR speaker enclosure from JBL includes dual preloaded enclosures for 12-inch subwoofers for competition quality sound. The GT5-10D 10-inch subwoofer has dual 4-Ohm voice coils that faithfully reproduce bass levels with a friendly price. JBL subwoofers are available in a wide array of sizes and configurations designed to cater to the most discriminating in car audio and video set up.

Other Accessories

It would be important to remember that subwoofers alone will not give you the power and clarity you expect from your audio set up. The amplifier should also be given attention, and should match with the overall power output of your subs and speakers. Visit the JBL online store to know more.

JVC Car Stereo Receivers: Cheap and Easy to Install

JVC car stereo receivers are among the most popular brands on the market. There's a good reason for this. They give very high quality at a reasonable price as an aftermarket car stereo.

Price

Price is always going to be a factor for buyers, and JVC car stereos are extremely competitive here. JVC is one of the best-known brands and one of the biggest brands in the aftermarket car stereo market. They tend to have lower prices, and be a trusted, reputable brand. People know they're buying a good product.

Installation

The installation of a JVC car stereo is very straightforward. In most cases, you only have to insert the unit in the dashboard with an appropriate face plate and connect the harness and the speakers. The stereo manual will give you all the details for the installation of the JVC car stereo, but it's generally so simple that those without any experience can do it. It's one of the extra selling points for the brand. This saves money, as there's no need to take the car to a professional for installation. The work done at home can look just as good in most cases, so the savings come from all sides.

Metra Car Stereo Custom Installation Kits

A Metra car stereo system can allow you to put in the intense sound of an aftermarket stereo where you want it most in your car. This will allow you to put whatever stereo you want in your vehicle with a housing designed to fit right into the dash.

Metra Kits

Metra kits are made to work with most aftermarket stereos. They are made of a high quality plastic that will not break easily. The kits allow for different positioning on your dash for the stereo, and they often provide storage in the gaps that remain. All Metra kits come with instruction manuals for you to put them in on your own.

Picking the Right Kit for Your Car

Even though you are looking into a custom kit, you need to get the kit that will fit your vehicle specifically. The kit will come with all the Metra accessories you need to hook up your stereo, but the wires may vary based on the car you have. If you look for your specific year, make and model of vehicle when you start selecting an installation kit, you'll have a lot easier time when it comes to putting the stereo in. You may also want to think about stereo selection so you know if you have enough room on the face of the kit or not. If you don't, there should be another option through Metra that will work for both the car and the stereo you want.

Pioneer Car Stereo Audio and Video

Pioneer stereo is a hallmark of good engineering and good sound. They have a wide range of in-dash CD players and A/V receivers, with something for every budget, their lowest price model is just $89.

CD Players

With a wide range of CD/radio units that fit in the dash, Pioneer has something for all areas of the market. Their most expensive unit is a reference CD player that retails for $1,350. It includes a USB port, so you can play music from your MP3 player.

A/V Receivers

For the car, Pioneer's focus is on multimedia. They have a large range of audio receivers that work not only with MP3 players, but also with DVDs. They see what was once the car stereo as an onboard entertainment center.

There are units that provide the traditional radio and CD opportunities as well as working with MP3 players. As you go up the price scale, units also play DVDs, transmitting them to screens elsewhere in the vehicle. Also offering receivers for digital radio in your car, Pioneer stereo is staying at the forefront of the game, with Bluetooth technology available. For those who need more, the company also has CD and DVD changers, which can store up to 12 discs for playing as you drive.

Many of the A/V receivers have built in screens. These are small, but ample for a front seat passenger. Other screens for those in the rear seats can be added.

In-Dash Receivers

The in-dash receiver is the main control of the stereo system. This is where volume is controlled, as is the music source, and all other settings of the different components. The in dash receivers are all digital and can include GPS navigation and a CD player. Several of the different receivers available include the AVH-P5200BT, AVH-P4200DVD, MVH-PH8200Bt and more. The AVH products all can use iPod, DVDs, USB input, sound receiver, built-in Bluetooth, touch screen display and comes ready for HD radio and SAT radio. The MVH series has a sound receiver, USB input, iPod playback, built in Bluetooth, and several RCA Pre-outs.

Speakers

Pioneer offers three series for car speakers: the D-series, A-series, and G-series. They also have special application speakers. The least expensive speakers are the D-series, though these are still excellent, high quality speakers. The cone in the D-series speakers is made of volcanic rock which provides crisp, accurate and smooth sound. A-series speakers are perfect for those interested in boosting bass and the low frequencies. These speakers outperform all factory speakers and provide plenty of power. The cone is bigger and better, which makes it possible to boost the output. It also comes with an extra sensitive tweeter for higher frequencies.

Subwoofers

The shallow mount, Champion series and Champion series Pro are subwoofers available from Pioneer. The shallow mount is a very thin subwoofer that uses ib-Flat. The "i" stands for the intelligent design and the b-Flat refers to the fact that the subwoofer can easily play the lowest note on the piano keyboard. The Champion series allows for easy installation and greater flexibility. It is the perfect way to create that custom sound you desire from the car stereo. The PRO series uses patented air suspension technology, which provides the maximum sound in a small space.

Amplifiers

Pioneer offers the GM series amplifiers and GM digital. The GM series are built strong and can support multiple power channels. Compared to other amplifiers, you get more watts per dollar from Pioneer. The amplifiers are all bridgeable, so it is possible to add more as your listening needs change. The digital series uses digital amplification. Currently, Pioneer offers a full digital stereo line, so it is possible to go completely digital.

Sirius Car Stereo

A Sirius car stereo system is a satellite radio for your car. Sirius is a subscription radio product, meaning that you have to pay to get it. It usually costs between $11 and $20 dollars a month. Many cars come with a three-month free trial. Here are some benefits and downsides of Sirius.

Advantages

There is a very large variety of stations available on Sirius satellite radio. They have a great mix of music stations, sports stations and political talk. There are fewer commercials on Sirius, which you should expect since you are paying for the use. The sports packages are great and you can get games from all over the country, and from a wide range of sports. Many people primarily get Sirius due to its ability to provide political and talk radio in high quality.

Disadvantages

Even with the variety, there are still some problems. Some of the stations are so specialized, that they are too specific for your own needs. Many people want a variety in the genre of music, but some are too specific. Another con is the price, since you can turn on the radio or your iPod for free. The monthly fees do not cover the start up costs, which include activation, the system itself and other things. There are reception problems as well in certain situations, like being inside, under a tree or bridge, or living in rural areas.

Sony Car Stereo Audio and Video

A Sony car stereo will provide a reliable entertainment system in your car.

Product Types

Decide what medium you intend to use. For example, a Bluetooth audio system will work differently with a CD head unit. You will find that multimedia stereos can be useful to allow you to choose a variety of different mediums.

Cost

The wide range of Sony equipment on the market means that you will be able to find a satisfactory Sony car stereo even if you're on a budget. You will find that the cost of the latest stereos will be higher than older models.

Maintenance

When deciding on the model of Sony car stereo to choose, take into account the cost of any maintenance that might be required. Find out whether any replacement Sony stereo parts that might be needed are readily available on the market.

Upgrades

If you want to ensure that you always have the latest Sony car stereo model, check how easy it is to upgrade the system. Newer models have more advanced technology than older varieties, meaning that more work will be necessary when making a large change.

Related Questions and Answers

Can You Find Your Blaupunkt Car Stereo Code Online?

Yes, you can find your Blaupunkt car stereo code online. All it costs is $3 for an account to register at online-unlock.com and the serial number of your radio receiver. You will find the serial number is located on a small piece of paper on the bottom or back of your receiver. You will still have to slide the radio receiver out of its holder to turn it upside-down, and you will find the serial number there. Or you may have to remove the radio completely from the instrument panel itself and look on the piece of paper on the rear that has the initials S/N. Once you have those, you fill out the form at online-unlock.com and you are good to go.

Who Makes Car Stereo Receivers with the Most Functions?

Although it is a toss-up, you will find that Bose probably makes car stereo receivers with the most features. They are made to work not only with a specially designed set of speakers/filters, but with specialized amplifier circuits that interface with the speaker/filters for the great sound the system delivers. Remember that Bose designs its systems around the cars they are building them for, so it takes a lot of electronic work and interface to make this system operate correctly. The runner-up (some could argue is the leader), is Sony, which makes a variety of complicated systems for vehicles. Then there's the specialized audio versions offered by Mercury.

Can You Add an MP3 Input to a Car Stereo, or Only Get a Car Stereo with the Input Built in Already?

Yes, you can add a car stereo MP3 input to a car stereo. An MP3 input is nothing more than a standard three-way car stereo input jack. In other words, if you were to look at an MP3 input, you would see the long outer shaft is for ground, the second or middle shaft is for one set of speakers, and the first shaft is for the other set of speakers. For some reason, once it was reintroduced some years ago as an MP3 player, the name stuck. Although it is nothing more than a standard stereo input device.

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