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Video: Tuning a High-end Car Stereo System

Getting pristine sound with the top down

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

In this video, Crutchfield Web Editor, Charlie Pastorfield tells us how he got his high-caliber sound system sounding just right. Not everyone goes to the extremes that he did, but then, not everyone chooses to fine-tune their sound with the DQXS digital equalizer from AudioControl.

Be sure to watch the first part of this video, "High-quality Sound in a Convertible," where Charlie tells us about why he chose these products.

You can see the full list of the gear he picked in his entry in our Customer Car Showroom, and read the full story in his blog posts, "Top-down sound."

Read video transcript

Robert: Hi. I'm Robert.

Charlie: And I'm Charlie.

Robert: And in the first part of this video Charlie told us all about this killer new sound system he has in his car. Well in this part of the video he's going to tell about his experience with tuning the system and getting it to sound just right.

Charlie: Well Robert, when they finished installing all this stuff they handed me the keys to the car back and said "Drive around for a couple of weeks and break the speakers in before we do anything else." And the system didn't sound that great. I spent a little time every night tweaking the system, fooling with the equalizers, fooling with the crossovers, and after a couple weeks I had it sounding great. It was beautiful. Jeff, my buddy Jeff, came out to take a look. He said "Man you've got a great system here and it's time to really tweak and calibrate this system properly."

Robert: And take advantage of that digital equalizer back there.

Charlie: Exactly. Here's a couple of tricks that he had that I was very impressed by. The first thing that he did that I would never have thought of was he cranked the system up to crisis level. All the speakers were distorting, the subs were bottoming out. And he went back in the trunk and he started trimming out frequencies until all the speakers were running cleanly at that volume level. And then when you drop it back down the system's just coasting.

Robert: And that was just working with the crossovers right? No EQ?

Charlie: Just the crossovers. Exactly. And then the second thing he did was he flattened out the frequency response in the car. And he does that by taking a box called a rea-time analyzer that's got a graph on it, putting it in the trunk, running a microphone up here and then running pink noise through the system and the real time analyzer checks out the frequency response and the idea is you adjust the equalizers until you get a nice smooth sort of waterfall curve on the real time analyzer. And when he got done, the system sounded beautiful.

Robert: Wow. Well after talking about it all day I really want to hear it now.

Charlie: Let's go for a ride.

Robert: Okay. So if you want to find out more about the gear Charlie has in the car just go to our customer car showroom at, and if you want to find out what you can put in your car go to or just give us a call at 1-800-555-9408.