Car Stereo Buying Guide


Can you even imagine driving around without easing into your favorite playlist these days, especially when you’re in for a long ride? Or you like being enriched by your morning podcast or going through an audiobook. Whatever you prefer (or perhaps you love a mix of all three), the best way to enjoy them is by having a sweet car stereo. 

A good quality car stereo is the cherry on top of any car’s audio system. But there are so many brands and options in the market to choose from! It can be confusing at best. So today’s blog is all about getting a car stereo, and if you read through the end, we’ll help you find an excellent deal on the best car stereo installer in Massachusetts. 

Why do I need a car stereo? 

First, let’s address why you need one even when your car has a basic audio system. The bottom line is better sound and more playback options. 

1. Great audio quality. Getting a high-quality car stereo has all the works to produce crisp, clean, and rich sounds. Today’s car stereos even come with enhanced technologies that give you full control to deliver optimal sounds that suit specific environments and needs. Just ask your trusted car stereo installer in Massachusetts how to tweak them to your preference. 

2. Specialized functions. Installing a proper car stereo opens a world of a wider variety of listening options and functions. Some of these include: 

  • Pandora, Spotify, Android, iPhone, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay support, and other apps
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Bluetooth

What car stereo should I get?

Finally, let’s answer what you came here for: What is the best stereo for your car? There’s no one answer to this because it all depends on your preferences. To filter your car stereo options, ask yourself, “How do I like my music played?” It’s good to lay down your non-negotiables. Observe your music-playing behaviors, and answer these:


  • Are you playing music through USB inputs? Do you like your trusty thumb drive to keep your playlist in one place without needing the internet? Then you will need a car stereo with an auxiliary input feature to plug and play. Auxiliary inputs also allow you to connect non-USB devices. 
  • Do you play music on your phone? If you’re like most listeners who stream their music on their phone, it’s essential to have a car stereo that has Bluetooth steaming capability and allows you to control it from your device.
  • Do you listen to CDs? If you have an impressive stash of CDs, then you will need a car stereo that accepts discs. 
  • Do you prefer listening to the radio? If you like tuning in to a radio, look for one with lower FM sensitivity, so you always get a top-notch signal. The rule of thumb is to get a radio with 8 to 12 dBf FM sensitivity. 
  • Do you listen to satellite radio? If your satellite radio is always on, ask for a car stereo that’s satellite radio-ready. This type gives you a satellite radio tuner. If you do this through your phone, pick one that has either auxiliary input or Bluetooth. 

Non-Music Functions

As for non-music-related needs, here are some of the questions to consider: 

  • Smartphone-centered audio apps. If you need audio instructions for navigation or a direct calling option, get a car stereo with a built-in CarPlay and Android Auto feature. 
  • Hands-free calling, etc. Bluetooth is very capable in the realm of connectivity and gives drivers so much freedom regarding hands-free calling, audio streaming, and more. 
  • Navigation. If you like navigating your route with a GPS, choose a car stereo with a larger screen. Car stereos go hand-in-hand with a built-in GPS navigation system. Choose one that has a bigger display, so it’s easier to follow the route. Smaller phone screens are not as kind to your eyes. 

Sound Quality Features

Now that you’ve answered your listener profile, here are important points to look for in sound quality.

  • Equalizer. An equalizer allows you to tailor-fit your sound system to your personal preferences. 
  • Volume. If you like blasting songs from your car, look for car stereos with a wattage between 50-200. This determines how loud your sounds can get. 
  • Dynamic range. Your car stereo’s dynamic range is the range between the softest and loudest volumes it can reproduce.
  • RMS. RMS or root mean square, is an accurate measurement of an amplifier’s power. Look for something between 15-30 watts in terms of RMS. 
  • DSP. Also known as digital signal processing refines audio signals to help optimize a car stereo’s sound quality. It can effectively remove unwanted noise and generally adds more flourish to your tunes with effects.
  • Signal-to-noise ratio. When we listen to music, the last thing we want is unwanted noise. Watch out for your car stereo’s Signal-to-noise ratio. Higher SNRs would give you less noise. 
  • Crossover. Crossover directs specific frequencies to speakers in your car’s audio system, such as handing over low frequencies to your subwoofer (only) for a better audio experience. 
  • Frequency response. Choosing a wide-frequency response will enable you to hear all the details in your music.


Other things to look for in a car stereo:

  • Effective sound controls. Precision sound control features are perfect for listeners with an ear for quality sound. Pick one with the right level of customizability for your expertise.
  • Displays. Some like having more character in their car stereo, such as animated displays that flash along with your music’s beats. 
  • Layout. Choose a car stereo with a design that fits your dashboard and style. An intuitive display makes your listening and navigation experience better. You may want to consider the trendy floating screen!
  • Touchscreen controls. Large screen for better viewability and an amazing range of touchscreen controls make your listening experience a hundred times better. 
  • Budget. Here’s one thing that would weigh equally with the features you’re looking for–your budget. Set a range or a ceiling so you can be sure your choices do not hurt your wallet. 

Need a car stereo installer in Massachusetts? 

We hope this helps you filter your car stereo needs! If you have further questions, our team at Automotive12v is here to listen to all of your inquiries and concerns. We are located at Wakefield Subaru Detail Dept. 618 North Ave St Wakefield, Massachusetts 01880. You can also contact us at (781) 983-0203 or e-mail your inquiries at

We serve clients all over Massachusetts, including Middlesex County, Suffolk County, Essex County, Salem, MA, Stoneham, MA, Woburn, MA, Burlington, MA, Malden, MA, Medford, MA and Haverhill, MA.