teach me about car stereos

I have a 99 ford ranger, the stock radio is pretty good. I think there are 16 levels to the sound (1 lowest, 16 highest), i can take it up to 10 and that is pretty good however i dont take it higher because i’m afraid of blowing the speakers.

What exactly do i need to know about speakers to figure out how many decibels they can put out w/o damaging them?

i am thinking that the stock radio i have is good so i dont need to replace that, but i want something louder. Since taking it to volume 10 is pretty good and it goes to 16 i am assuming that is enough, i just want to replace the speakers. Maybe i might want an amp too.

How much do a new set of speakers for a car cost? if i did need an amplifier, how much would that cost? would any rewiring (aside from installing the new speakers) be necessary?

I dont know if this made sense, im doing 3 things at once right now as i write this.

Synopsis: my stock stereo is good, and i think it can play alot louder than i currently do but i don’t play it that loud for fear of damaging the speakers. what rating system is used to determine how many decibels a speaker can put out? How much do good speakers cost? if i do need an amplifier for extra sound how much would one of those cost? do i need to do any extra rewiring if all i do is replace the speakers aside from putting the new ones where the old ones were (tear up the floorboards, stuff like that).


Im looking up speakers right now. They say stuff like the speakers 300 watts, but the amps are all 1600 watts over 4 directions. What does this mean (i know what watts means but how does it translate into function)?

Let me say this… if it’s a '99, you probably have a decent enough sound system. What I do with stock sound systems… adjust the fader front to back so it’s pretty even. Then turn up the bass full blast. Then adjust the fader til the BOOM BOOM comes from the back, while the voice/cymbals comes from the front. Turn it up til you can FEEL the music, I mean til you can literally feel vibrations in you chest. Last step, ENJOY!

OK, basically, the more watts the better - within reason, of course. Doesn’t mean you HAVE to play it loud, just that it will give you more headroom.

Look at it this way. Say your current amp in the stock radio is capable of 25 watts. When you turn it up, you may be putting out average 15 watts, but you might be peaking at 28 watts. In other words, a spike in the sound level may require your amp to put out 28 watts.

But you only have a 25 watt amp! So the circuitry does a little trick called clipping or flattopping. The name derives from looking at the signal on an ocilloscope, and the wave doesn’t show the normal rounded peaks, but flat peaks where the amp clips. We hear that as distortion, and it really doesn’t sound nice at all.

But say you put that 1600 watt amp on your stereo. Let’s be realistic here - they say 1600 watts in 4 directions, so it is really only a 400 watt amp - into each speaker. 400 x 4 = 1600. Now you’re playing at that same level that only requires 15 watts, but when the peak comes at 28 watts, your amp doesn’t even break a sweat and handles it with no problem. That’s the headroom I spoke of earlier.

Speakers are rated by the amount of watts they can handle. That wattage rating is peak wattage, not average. So if you peak 350 watts into a 300 watt speaker, chances are you’ll blow the thing. Also make sure you match the recommended resistance of the speakers, expressed in ohms.

Too much information? I hope not - and I’m not really an expert in this field. Hope this helped.

The wattage of speakers should always exceed the output of the stereo by a margin of comfort to protect the speakers.

Wattage of output is also to be factored by %THD. A low output stereo driven hard will have higher distortion than a strong amplifier driven at a lesser level.

If you’re successful with your upgrade, don’t sit next to me at a traffic light and override my music with yours while inviting your own hearing damage. Injure yourself, but don’t be rude. :smiley:

thanks Rico. Is 25 watts really normal? all the info i keep coming across is 250 watt speakers, 1600 watt amps, etc.

I want to find out what wattage my speakers are but i don’t know how to check that. Its a stock stereo from a 1999 ranger splash XLT so maybe i should email ford and ask them to help me.

I always keep the windows rolled up when i blast the stereo out of common courtesy. I dont like the idea of riding around with the windows down, strikes me as trying to show off. With the windows up it is audible from outside the vehicle but only as loud as a semi loud conversation.