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Getting Your Head Around Car Stereo Terminology

Whether upgrading your system or buying a new car, car stereo maintenance is just one of the many ways you can enhance your driving experience.

We all enjoy the best sound quality possible when driving, and with so many extra add-ons, wireless applications and diverse mediums to pick from, it’s no wonder that there’s now such a large glossary of terms and phrases to navigate.


To enjoy your car stereo installation to the full and make the best decisions when it comes to the upgrades you choose, it’s well worth getting to know these terms and phrases.

Here are seven words you should get to know.


Subwoofer speakers are one of the most popular accessories in a UK car stereo set up.

Designed to play the lowest frequencies possible, a subwoofer speaker adds depth to your music listening experience with a large woofer or speaker which has its own built-in amplifier and ensures that you pick up the intricacies and toe-tapping low notes on all your favourite songs.

Head Unit

The head unit is the name given to the control deck of your car’s speaker system. The head unit lets you interact with the various functions of your music, allowing you to switch between radio and Bluetooth, as well as being the main point of focus for the design embellishments of the system.

Head units are often kitted out with alluring colours and lighting, and the best pride themselves on their intuitive functionality. Needless to say, these are one of the main features of a top-notch UK car stereo.

Signal to Noise Ratio

Abbreviated to SNR or sometimes S/N, the Signal to Noise ratio measures the level of background noise compared to the desired signal your system is putting out. Any signal to noise ratio which measures over 1:1 shows that you have more signal than background noise, which is the desired effect.

The larger the ratio difference in favour of signal, the clearer the overall sound is.

Satellite Radio

Satellite radio is defined by the fact that the radio signals are broadcast over a much larger surface area than a terrestrial radio station. Bounced down from satellites (hence the name!), these signals provide clear and crisp sound from a wider range of stations.


A preamp is responsible for controlling the volume, bass or treble of a speaker system. The preamplifier works by transferring a weak signal into a more robust one and can come with up to 4 different output channels. These can help to bolster the signal and keep them equal through multiple speakers in your installation.


The antithesis to the subwoofer speaker, the tweeter is used to create higher frequency ranges, and like the subwoofer, works through the driver moving a cone or diaphragm back and forth at incredibly high speeds. This helps to create soundwaves with which to tweeter, are focused on high frequencies.


Many modern car audio installations come equipped with GPS systems. These help you to navigate roads through an on-screen map function, helping you find the quickest route to your destination. If your head unit isn’t installed with a GPS navigation system, then you can use your Bluetooth capabilities to link up your phone-based route finder through the Apple Carplay system.

There you have it! Knowing these terms, you’ll be in a great position to organise and oversee your own car stereo installation.

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