How to build a car audio system powerful enough to blow your hair back

Your stock care speakers don't do your tunes justice—it's time for an upgrade.

car stereos
Temple of boom. Sam Kaplan

An aggressively powerful car stereo can literally blow your hair back if you feed it a tune with enough thumping bass. But cranking the volume on a cheap set of Craigslist subwoofers risks ­eardrum-​­assaulting distortion. A custom setup based on these components will shake the ground under your tires while preserving the essence of the new Post Malone (or the old Public Enemy).

1. Subwoofer

To push out bone-rattling bass, the cone on the front of the 12-inch ­Alpine X-W12D4 subwoofer moves as much as 2 inches back and forth, displacing enough air to blow out a candle.

2. Receiver

Audio from MP3s will never sound incredible because compression sacrifices some data to keep files small. The Kenwood DNX695S receiver supports high-​­res formats such as DSD.

3. Absorption

Apply some thin ­Dynamat ­Xtreme matting in key places in your ride, like under the door panels. Its ­aluminum-​­alloy skin and rubber base will reduce noises from the road and tamp down vibrations.

4. Speakers

Handmade in France, the Focal Utopia M 6.5-inch woofers and 1-inch tweeters ­handle the mids and highs. Weighted rings around each speaker hold edges firmly in place and fight ­buzzing distortion.

5. Amplifier

Subwoofers need more oomph than the receiver can produce solo, so install an amp. The ­Rockford Fosgate Power T2500 unit can pump thousands of watts to a pair of synchronized subs.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 Transportation issue of Popular Science.

Stan Horaczek
Stan Horaczek

is the senior gear editor at Popular Science and Popular Photography. His past bylines include Rolling Stone, Engadget, Men's Journal, GQ, and just about any other publication that has ever written about gadgets. For a short time, he even wrote the gadget page for Every Day With Rachel Ray magazine. He collects vintage cameras, eats pizza, and hopes you won't go looking at his Tweets even though the link is down there.