There is nothing wrong with a factory car audio system. As a matter of fact, popular car brands such as Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are doing a commendable job in manufacturing stereos that will keep those long drives exciting. But still, sound production from a factory audio system will always be average. However, you can always get better quality audio from the same system with the help of a DSP.
For the new car owner or one who has never really looked into car audio systems, you are probably wondering – what is a DSP? Known in full as Digital Signal Processors, DSP’s are a microprocessor that is hooked on to an audio system. Its job is to allow you to fine-tune the signal coming from your audio source to the amplifier. The source, in this case, can be the radio, CD player, or smartphone.
Unlike other devices, the DSP integrates the capabilities of equalizers, converters, and crossovers into one device with the aim of improving your music listening experience. In short, with these bad boys installed in your car, you will get higher performance and unrivaled sound quality. So what are you waiting for? Let’s look at the best DSP for car audio systems.
Top 5 Best DSP for car audio systems
On your hunt for the best sound processor car audio, Taramps is a brand worth looking into. Their Pro 2.6 S is one of the best DSP car audios out there. It features both high and low filter passes which give you the freedom to change in between different frequencies.
It is also coupled with a 20 and 10 kHz response which can detect nearly all types of signals. It’s very small in size and weight. Therefore the installation process is going to be a breeze. Additionally, the compact size makes it a universal fit for all cars.
For lovers of loud sound, the Taramp Pro 2.6 S is capable of producing such with its output rating of 10.2 peak to peak voltage. For ease of adjustment, the Pro 2.6 S also comes with a couple of buttons that makes navigation easy.
Overall, the Taramp Pro 2.6 S ranks the highest in terms of ease of use and better performance.
- Scroll button enables simultaneous adjustments
- Has 6 output channels
- 2 input channels
- Ability to choose from English, Spanish and Portuguese languages
- Requires some technical know-how to operate
Another DSP that is a top choice for many car audio enthusiasts is the DQDX Black 6 from Audio Control. This outstanding unit comes with an independent equalization for both rear and front speakers, and the subwoofer as well. It has a crossover with adjustability of 24 dB/octave. The system itself has an equalizer frequency ranging from as high as 125 Hz to 31.5 Hz.
The 6 channels feature creates room for a lot of tone customization. This comes with a remote controller that enables ease of use. To help filter out annoying sounds the DQDX has a built-in pink noise. It also minimizes distortion and signal delay. There are clipping indicators for the input and output level controllers which are very discreet.
If you have the time to look at customer reviews on this product, you will discover that most of them praise this product for how it has a higher level of tuning. It’s also worth every coin.
- Six input and output channels with level controls |…
- ACR-3 Dash Control Remote Included | Discrete Input and…
- Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.01% | Frequency Response:…
- Manufactured by a popular brand
- Offers a higher level of tuning
- Experience perfectly aligned sound
- Time alignment feature that creates clear stereo image
- A short warranty if you install it yourself
Are you looking for a high performing DSP but willing to dig a little deeper into your pockets? Well the Taramps DSP-1600.1 is the ideal DSP for you. Taramps went gun-blazing when manufacturing this device and this is why it is so superior. Out of all the above DSPs, we have to hand it down to this particular one regarding performance.
To show you how powerful Taramps DSP-1600.1 is, let’s look at its two outputs. The first one is 13.8 VDC which offers different RMS wattages. There is also the 12.6 VDC which provides three RMS wattages. As a result, a loud sound is guaranteed when you install this compact signal processor.
Not forgetting the frequency response of this DSP, you should know that it’s completely off the charts. The frequency response comes in two, we have the 18 Hz to 30 kHz at 3dB. And at 1dB, you get a frequency response of 22 Hz to 20 kHz. Thanks to this feature, you can easily detect frequencies and eliminate noise distortion. You can thus be guaranteed of pristine clear sound from this system. The input sensitivity of 250 megavolts also contributes to its low distorted sound.
In its name, Taramps have indicated that it’s a compact DSP. It will, therefore, fit all car types no matter how big or small. It’s also lightweight and will thus be installed easily.
- Max output power @ 13. 8 VDC (2/4/8 ohms): 1976/1304/751W…
- Max output power @ 12. 6 VDC (2/4/8 ohms): 1600/1066/620W…
- Analog digital converter (adc 110Db dynamic range) and…
- Get the least noise distortion level
- Compact size of 22.1x11x3.5 inches
- Loud noise guaranteed
- Easy to install
- Expensive but powerful
In this review of the best DSP for car audios, we decided to only bring you the best of the best. This is why all DSPs listed excel in one way or another compared to other similar products. This particular DSP, the Hertz H8 DSP Processor, is packed with excellent features that guarantee a music experience like no other.
When we talk about the Hertz H8 DSP Processor, the following things should be running through your mind; high connectivity, robust processing, and functionality. Features of the H8 include a 31 band equalizer, Butterworth filters that can be adjusted from 6 to 24 dB. This is a feature that you can’t get with other DSPs. There is also the 68-step crossover.
With the H8 on your hands, the number of ways on how you can reproduce sound is limitless. It also has a better frequency response than most DSPs which provide remarkable sound and frequency. The unit is also compatible with both mac and windows devices.
Therefore other than its great sound, you can conveniently enjoy playing music from your Apple or Android smartphone with so much inconvenience. It’s also very lightweight and compact in size.
- Input Stage High Level (Speaker) Low Level (Pre): FL – FR -…
- Output stage Low Level Pre (default): Front TW L/R, Front WF…
- Connections From / To Personal Computer: 1 x USB / B DRC HE:…
- Compatible with mac and windows
- Offers high connectivity
- Efficient processing
- An off the charts frequency response
- A lengthy installation process
#5. Rockford Fosgate DSR1 8-Channel Interactive Signal Processor w/Integrated iDatalink Maestro Module
Don’t be mistaken to think that because the Rockford is last on our list that it’s also the least. It is practically the real first solution for replacing factor car audio amps in Chryslers and Ford cars. This is not your average DSP. The Fosgate offers better performance and premium sound.
We have talked about 6 channels, the Rockford Fosgate has 8 interactive channels. What does this mean for your music experience? For starters, you will be able to process a higher amount of data in real-time. Secondly, the system is quite intuitive and will connect easily with Android and IOS devices.
There is an additional Bluetooth connectivity feature that allows the system to connect with any device easily. The equalizer boasts of an impressive 245 band which offers next level precision and improved sound.
The Rockford Fosgate DSR1 8-Channel Signal Processor is lightly built. This makes DIY installation easy, fast, and effortless. It’s also very small in size and will fit all cars. And with all these great features that the Rockford has, it goes for a relatively reasonable price. Therefore making it a DSP worth buying.
- The DSR1 is the first real solution for replacing the…
- Utilizes the powerful processor found in our Rockford…
- An amazing 245 bands of equalization for absolutely precise…
- A perfect balance of highs and lows
- Modify sound in 10 Ms
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Intuitive interface
- The app requires some improvements
DSP Car Audio Buying Guide
Now that you have known what the best 5 DSPs for car audio are, it is easier for you to make a choice on which is best for you and your car. To help you make a more informed decision and purchase, in the buyer’s guide below, I am going to catch you up to speed on the factors you should keep in mind when looking for the best car audio digital sound processor.
The more number of channels a DSP has, the more data and signals it will be able to process. As a result, improving performance.
Because most of our music is stored or streamed via our smartphones, you need to choose a DSP that is compatible with your OS. Another factor to look out for is Bluetooth connectivity. This will make it easy for you to fine-tune sound and much more.
- Total Harmonic Distortion
Abbreviated as THD, this is the rate of distortion available in a signal. You should get a DSP with the smallest THD percentage. When buying on Amazon, look for the THD rating on the product specification.
- Frequency Response
This refers to the audible range that a loudspeaker of any audio system can produce. A higher frequency response means that you can play louder music in your car. When considering frequency response, it is advisable that you stick with a DSP that offers a mid-range response. If it’s too high then you might observe high levels of unwanted distortion. Another thing that you need to check concerning frequency response is compatibility with your vehicle.
- Size and Weight
There are two options when it comes to size and weight. If you choose a heavier system then you are likely to face some challenges during installation. Fortunately for you, we are aware of this factor and all the above DSPs reviewed are of compact size and lightweight.
With the above DSPs, you will be able to easily install in your car. But before you buy one, always counter check the dimensions and determine if it will or won’t fit in your vehicle. This will help the need to modify your car so that you can create room for the new DSP.
- Price and Warranty
Having a budget is always a wise idea when buying anything and not just DSPs. According to the nature of this product, DSPs tend to be very expensive and it’s very easy to go over your budget.
Before you settle on a DSP, it is recommended that you look at others in its level. This will give you a clue on the price range for a certain DSP with specific features. It is also worth noting that the more costly a DSP, the more advanced features it has. If you are on a strict budget, you should look for a DSP with moderate features and average sound quality.
The other thing that is crucial to consider is the warranty. Reputable brands are often the best when it comes to warranties because most of them have confidence in their products and will give a longer warranty. It is essential to buy a product with a good warranty because many are the times’ people ran into problems even with new products.
How We Picked the Best DSP for Car Audio?
In coming up with the above list of best signal processors for car audios, we considered the following features;
- Time Alignment
Allow us to take you back to high school physics. Remember when you learned how light travels faster than sound? Well, in the case of car audio systems, there is always a time difference between the driver and different speaker positions. If you have speakers at the back, it will take a couple of milliseconds for it to reach you. When listing the best DSP for car audio, we considered those with the best time alignment and better capabilities of reducing the echo effect.
In our review, we heavily focused on DSPs with a crossover that ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The reason behind this particular feature is that thanks to crossovers in this range, theses DSPs can remove the distortion from woofers and tweeters.
DSPs that have a higher band of equalization gives you more ability to fine-tune the controls. All the above DSPs have an equalizer that enables you to control the frequencies from different sound sources.
Though not all the above DSPs have Bluetooth, we have highlighted some of them such as the Rockford Fosgate DSR1. Although this may seem like a minor feature but Bluetooth connectivity goes a long way in making it easy for you to control the DSP.
- Real-Time Analyzer
The other thing that helped us choose the best DSP for audio car systems was the analyzer. To allow you to modify equalization controls instantly, the above DSPs incorporate a real-time analyzer.
All You Need to Know about the Best DSP Car Audio
How to Install a DSP?
The process of installing a DSP is a whole lot similar to that of installing an amplifier or crossover. Nonetheless, the process is slightly more technical. To properly install the DSP, you will need to connect the sound processor to the stereo via the wires. As a result, the processor will minimize the sound-shaping issues from the factory speaker to give you a clearer signal that is sent to the amplifier. The amp will then power up your subwoofer, rear, and front speakers to give you quality sound.
DSP Installation Tips
To get the most out of your DSP, you must install it correctly. Of course, you can always hire a professional to help you out, but if it’s something you know how to do, the following are tips to help you in the installation process.
- First Replace Your Factory Car Speakers
Ideally, DSPs are considered a piece of equipment for advanced car audio systems. If connected with factory car speakers, you may not notice any significant changes in sound quality. To avoid this altogether, invest in premium car speakers that can accommodate a DSP.
- Disconnect Your Battery
It is advisable to always disconnect your car battery when doing any form of wiring. Therefore, when installing your DSP, ensure that you unhook the ground from the battery. This will prevent short wiring.
- Use the Right Cables and Wires
When installing a DSP for the first time, make sure that you buy the right cables and wires. Large cables are always better in the long run and provide enough power to your system. Don’t leave behind loose wires, always use proper installation.
- Remember that Every Radio is Different
Because the DSP will be hooked on the radio, you have to remove it from the compartment. As you do this, you should remember that all radios are different. There are those that easily pop up whereas there are others that you have to unscrew them.
- Hook Your DSP Away from Rattling
Though all the above DSPs have enough headroom to prevent rattling, it’s always safer to keep it away from any part of your car that shakes. Failure to adhere to this, the sound quality produced will be low.
- Why Do I Need a Digital Sound Processor?
There are plenty of ways on how you can get better sound from a car audio system. Good examples include buying a better speaker, a subwoofer, and in this case a DSP. However, out of all these things, why should you consider installing a digital sound processor instead of other car sound equipment.
If you have noticed low sound production from your factory car speakers, adding amplifiers and subwoofers only worsens the problems. This is because it amplifies all deficits in the sound produced. This is where the function of a digital sound processor comes in. it is designed to improve sound quality when used with aftermarket speakers and amplifiers.
The purpose of a digital sound processor is to undo the substandard work that is done by factory car audio systems and upgrading the signal to a cleaner and more quality output. Features of the DSP such as the crossover and equalization tools are there to reduce acoustical issues, distortion and improve fine-tuning capabilities of your car sound system.
How to Choose a Good Sound Processor?
Similar to other equipment, there is a DSP for every car owner. Whether you are a huge fan of car music entertainment or you are the occasional sound audiophile, you can find a DSP that meets your expectations.
The commonly available DSPs will get the job done for the seasoned music lover. There are also highly configurable alternatives for serious audiophiles that will give you more control and advanced fine-tuning capabilities. Such DSPs can also be upgraded to offer better sound quality and advanced performance.
Good examples of advanced DSPs are those listed above which boast of features such as equalization, real-time analysis, EQ bands, and varieties of channels. Others also come with mobile apps that give you a more convenient way of adjusting the music.
Important Q/A about DSP Car Audio
Q1: Is it a good idea to opt for a DSP with higher channels?
A: Definitely! The more channels a DSP has, the faster the signal will be transmitted and you can expect better performance.
Q2: What is the maximum power output for a DSP?
A: The power output for DSPs ranges from 50 to 200 RMS, the maximum being 200 RMS. Regarding DSPs, there is always no need for high power because, in the long run, it may end up damaging the electric circuit of your car.
Q3: What is the best type of THD and frequency response rating for a DSP?
A: All you need to know is that the higher the frequency, the louder the sound. You must be keen on the sound however to limit to a point that it’s not a nuisance. In any case, the lower the THD the better sound you will get with minimal distortion.
Whether you are a sound enthusiast or just want to make your car more sophisticated, a DSP can do wonders for your car audio system. With any of the above premium DSPs, you can be assured of minimal distortion, better performance, precision, and much more. The days of keeping up with a lousy stereo or average sound quality from a factory car speaker are gone. Take control of your car audio system with the best DSP and enjoy the impressive sound quality.