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How to Upgrade Your Stereo on a Budget

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Improving Your Car Audio Without Breaking the Bank

“How do I upgrade my car stereo without going broke doing it?”

This question (or some variation of it) is one that we get all the time here at San Diego Car Stereo. If it's one thing that we're really good at, it's figuring out how to set people up with the latest in car audio aftermarket products while remaining conscious of their budgets. After all, just because you can spend thousands of dollars upgrading your car audio equipment doesn't mean that you should.

So, let's say for instance that you only have about $300 to $500 to play with on your upgrade. What we can tell you from experience is that there are priority car audio items that you'll want to start with if you’re still using factory equipment.

Another piece of helpful advice that we give our customers is that upgrading shouldn't cost an arm and a leg unless you're going super high-end with your product choices. For instance, a Morel Supremo 602 car speaker system will easily run you $5,500, which is an insane amount to spend when you can get a pair of Kenwood speakers for less than $100.

Let's delve a little bit deeper on how to upgrade your stereo on a budget.

Tip #1 – Always Start with the Car Stereo (Head Unit)

Most people who are upgrading their car audio simply want their sound to be louder and clearer. That's not so much to ask, right? The issue is that people think this is accomplished by upgrading their car speaker system first, which is actually not the case.

What you want to do is upgrade your car stereo (aka head unit) first. Think about it for a second. The source of your audio signal comes from your car stereo – not your speakers. To deliver a louder, stronger signal, you'll need to replace your factory car stereo with an aftermarket product.

Fortunately, there are several aftermarket car stereos that you can get for right around $100. Some of them are going to be by names that you don't recognize, but there are some heavy hitters in there like JVC, Kenwood, and Pioneer.

Although these cheap aftermarket car stereos aren't going to be as powerful as their top performing models, they are certainly more powerful than your current factory stereo. This is especially true for anyone that is driving an older model car.

Tip #2 – Next, Move to a Nice Set of Coaxial Speakers

So, let's say that you have spent around $100 so far on an aftermarket car stereo. Your next step is to invest a little bit more in aftermarket car speakers. Once again, you can get a really nice set of aftermarket car speakers without totally depleting your budget.

Our recommendation is to look at aftermarket coaxial speakers (all-in-one speakers) that are in the $100 to $200 range. Again, these speakers won't be as powerful or as loud as the top performers, but they will definitely perform better than your current factory speakers.

Tip #3 – Elevate Your Sound a Couple Notches with an Amp

By this point, you have an aftermarket car stereo and car speakers, but you could still use one additional piece of equipment that will take your sound up a couple notches. Although not a requirement, an amplifier is going to help your car stereo system realize the full potential of its power.

You will notice that your sound is louder, crisper, and more powerful than ever before. An amplifier is a great thing to have if you didn't invest too much on the stereo and speakers. It provides a little extra boost, and you can find several of them for less than $100.

Elevate Your Car Audio at San Diego Car Stereo

Now that you know it's possible to upgrade your car audio on a budget, the next step is for you to visit San Diego Car Stereo so that you can see some of these products in person and try them out for yourself. We carry a wide array of aftermarket car audio products, marine audio, and boat stereo systems meant to accommodate any budget.

Additionally, we offer several different financing options for those who want to purchase today and pay later. This allows you to get the exact car audio or marine audio products that you want while spreading out your payments.

Our shop is located at 4220 Convoy St. in San Diego. Call us at (858) 682-0032 to speak with a member of our team. You can also email us directly using the contact form on our website for questions or to make an appointment.

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