If you have a classic car restomod, you’ve probably invested a lot of money in the restoration and modifications. You’ve researched the best suspension, engine, brakes, and all kinds of stuff but now its time to turn to the car audio system. And, you may have the following questions:
- How do you know what the best head unit is?
- How many subwoofers do you need, and what size?
- Do you need one or multiple amplifiers and how much total power?
- Can or should I install a backup camera?
No worries, after reading this article you’ll be on your way to a world-class audio system in your restomod. And, I’ll answer all these questions in cliff notes fashion. However, for a much deeper dive into car audio please read the following article: The Ultimate Guide To Upgrading The Audio System In Your Restomod.
I’ve compiled this list of 7 trusted car audio gear recommendations that are all personal favorites. These car audio components will combine to give you an incredible system immediately. At the same time, this article can answer a lot of your car audio questions.
Car Audio Gear Recommendations
For the car audio recommendations, we are going to move from the front of the vehicle to the back. Now, in some situations, the subwoofers and amplifiers may not be mounted in the back of the vehicle. But, the idea is to progress in a logical fashion leaving nothing left to chance.
The first step in our process is to look at the wiring primarily for under the hood and also the amplifier(s). Who wants to be looking for cables for power and dealing with connectors on top of all of it? I recommend this wiring kit specifically because it’s all-inclusive. It will cover everything you need. You do not want to redo this so do it right the first time, trust me.
You get a 1/0 gauge power amplification kit (includes the hardware and wire for powering up to two amplifiers) and it’s designed specifically for a system with up to 2,500 watts so you will not outgrow it. The kit has premium power and a ground wire that provides optimal power transfer. Moreover, its made from 100% oxygen-free copper for a pure uninterrupted transfer of power, and the terminals and connections are Nickel-plated for excellent power transfer.
The battery is a misunderstood component of a car audio system. Many people think the battery runs your car audio system. Well, that’s only partially true. The battery starts your car and then the alternator actually runs the electrical system, including your car audio system. However, when the car is turned off, then the battery is running your car audio system.
If you plan on running your car audio system while the car is not running, there is one car battery that is a clear winner. I purchased the Optima Yellow Top Dual Purpose Battery (link to check price on Amazon) because it’s designed for heavy accessory usage vehicles. And, it has a very high level of cranking power and cycling capacity.
Auto professionals and car audio enthusiasts alike trust this battery. It’s truly one of the best in class products at a reasonable price. The battery is 100% spill-proof so it can be installed in a sealed trunk and in a variety of positions.
The head unit is a critical component of the audio system. It sets the tone, literally and figuratively, of what the system can do. Think about two things when making this decision, how big is the factory location for a head unit? And, what features are you looking to use?
We are in the 21st century and mobile audio and video have arrived. State of the art head unit features include but are not limited to built-in GPS navigation, DVD player for watching movies, backup camera integration, satellite radio, and HD Radio.
Double-DIN Head Unit
A double-DIN head unit is about 4 inches tall. So, if your factory location is already that size then you can easily install a double-DIN head unit. After considering more than ten different double-DIN head units, I decided to buy the Pioneer AVIC-W8500NEX (link to check the price on Amazon). For me, its the perfect balance of price and quality. The head unit is not an area to be overly frugal on or you will be replacing it as you learn more about car audio – and that gets expensive quickly.
This model from Pioneer has a really well thought out design. The head unit’s touch screen is very intuitive. The GPS system has maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico and 12.4 million points of interest. It works with SiriusXM radio so it supports tune mix, traffic and weather, and sports flash features. The head unit has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, web-link compatible, and HD radio tuner.
Single-DIN Head Unit
Most factory head unit locations will be single-DIN. If you have a single-DIN factory location, don’t fret. Installing a double-DIN head unit is still probably feasible it may just take a custom install. On the other hand, technology has really advanced so that now, even a single-DIN head unit, can still leverage the double-DIN features.
Single-DIN head units achieve this by “flipping out” which means the head unit flips out or opens up to expose a 7-inch screen when in use. Then, it goes back to a single-DIN position when not in use or when configured that way.
I spent a lot of time looking at single-DIN head units as my factory location was a single-DIN. So, the installation would be have been simpler with a single-DIN head unit. Ultimately, I went with the double-DIN however, if I were going to buy the single-DIN, I would buy the Pioneer AVH-3500NEX (link to check price on Amazon). By way of “flipping out,” the head unit has nearly all of the same features as the head unit I purchased, it just installs easier and costs less.
Five channel amplifiers have the ability to provide amplification for an entire system. After spending hours researching the various technical specifications, and price shopping, I think I finally found the best five-channel amplifier on the market, the JL Audio VX1000/5i (link to check price on Amazon). You’ll struggle to use an amplifier if the sound quality is poor and its technical specifications don’t allow for multiple installation configurations. This amplifier passes those tests with flying colors.
I purchased the JL Audio VX1000/5i because its an all in one powerhouse of an amplifier. I like to run a minimum of 75 watts each to my front speakers and a quarter of that to my rear speakers. In addition, I like to have no less than 300 watts to my subwoofers. This amplifier is extremely configurable but when at 4 ohms (my preferred impedance) the system delivers 75 watts x 4 channels (front left/right and rear left/right) and a whopping 400 watts x 1 to the subwoofer. (More on how I use to subwoofers in a 4ohm x 1 configuration below)
Note: Digital Signal Processing and Equalization are pretty weight topics. For the sake of this article please know, the JL Audio amplifier has a world-class digital sound processor built into it. This is one of the reasons I chose it. While you can tune the system yourself, its something that can be done by a professional in a few hours. It’s a solid investment and highly recommended.
The best speakers for the front stage I’ve ever heard or owned are the Morel Elate component speakers. The only challenge with them, besides their extremely high price point, is it’s hard to install them in a stealth manner. A stealth install basically means you install the speakers and they appear to be hidden. Hiding the speakers is hard to do with the 8-inch woofer. None the less, if money and installation preference weren’t an issue, I’d buy the Morel Elate Titanium 903 (link to check price on Amazon).
As I mentioned previously, my preferred way to install speakers is to make it look like the factory installed them. That said, after lots of researching and testing the best 6.5 inch, coaxial speakers, I finally have a recommendation. The coaxials that are able to be stealth mounted, assuming you have a 6.5-inch opening and the ones I purchased are the JL Audio C5-650x (link to check price on Amazon).
What I like about these speakers is they are premium full-range speakers and reproduce music with impressive fidelity and power. The soundstage quality is unheard of in a coaxial set of speakers.
Note: Component speakers are widely accepted as the best for sound stage and imaging. I ruled them out as a result of my system goals. However, coaxial speakers are much better than they used to be. And, with the right angle, and digital timing adjustments, they are fine for a car I drive about four months out of the year.
Subwoofers are an integral part of the listening experience, and I love the transient response of sealed subwoofer enclosures. I spent a lot of time researching and listening to subwoofers before discovering the game-changer subwoofer. The game-changing subwoofer, and what I purchased, are two of the JL Audio 13TW5v2-2 (link to check price at Amazon) 13.5-inch subwoofers. These are 2-ohm speakers which, when wired in series, combine to produce a 4-ohm load – on one channel.
Buying two of these subwoofers is unnecessary. I did so because, among my many issues, I like things symmetrical. If your a more reasonable person, then one 4-ohm version JL Audio 13TW5V2-4 (link to check price on Amazon) of the subwoofer will be more than fine. Regardless, what I like about this subwoofer is it has an industry-leading shallow mounting depth making it easy to install in almost any vehicle. And, it can handle up to 600 watts which makes it able to be used in a solo capacity.
Note: If budget or space is an issue, the JL Audio 10TW3-D4 (link to check Amazon price) is a great option. And, I strongly considered buying this 10-inch subwoofer. However, the subwoofers are going into a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro restomod and its a convertible. So, adding the extra subwoofer not only keeps the installation symmetrical but also adds a 3db (decibel gain).
First, there is nothing worse than hearing a car pull up and it’s vibrating like crazy due to a poorly installed car audio system. And, there are all kinds of noise when traveling in a car as follows:
- Tire hum
- Engine whine
- Body rattles
From a very practical perspective, outside noises generate vibration which in turn creates noise in your car that competes with your listening pleasure. A way to stop that noise is to apply sound deadening material. The idea is for the sound deadening material to absorb sound-causing vibrations, eliminate speaker resonance, and baffle out the excessive sound.
I’ve used Dynamat for thirty years and its the best there is, period. This Dynamat Extreme Kit is what I recommend and it even includes a roller for applying it. This is one sound-deadening product that can be used on virtually any body panel. Extreme Dynamat provides four times the sound-deadening effect, but half the weight, of Original Dynamat. And, it cuts interior temperatures up to 50%. The bulk pack includes 9 sheets, each 18″ x 32″ x 0.060″ thick, to cover about 36 square feet total.
I hope you enjoyed this list of my favorite car audio components. These products are all best in class and will instantly give you a world-class car audio system in your restomod.
Without a doubt, every vehicle is different as are user preferences. And, that’s understood but for many restomod owners, this list of products can be purchased and installed in about a week. So, if your upgrading your car audio system, purchase some of these trusted products. You’ll be glad you did.
Related Car Audio Gear Questions
Our pick. Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX. Versatile and easy to use. …
Budget pick. Sony XAV-AX100. Lower price, fewer features. …
Upgrade pick. Pioneer AVIC-W8500NEX. Like our pick, plus built-in navigation. Also great. Pioneer AVH-3500NEX. If you have a single-DIN stereo.
Pioneer gets the nod. They are less expensive and have more features. . You just get a better bang for your buck. (Probably why you also see Pioneer single DINs having 5-6 times the reviews their Alpine counterparts have.)
Our Top 11 Car Audio Brands are Morel, JL Audio, Audison, Audio Control, Dynamat, Rockford, Pioneer, Alpine,Kicker, and Focal.