Taking some time to listen to the quality of your current car stereo system before you buy a new one will help you decide the kind of upgrade you want to make, said Lauren Littlefield at My Audio Sports in Kingston, Mass.

Taking some time to listen to the quality of your current car stereo system before you buy a new one will help you decide the kind of upgrade you want to make, said Lauren Littlefield at My Audio Sports in Kingston, Mass.


Also, personal taste is a big factor. While younger car-stereo enthusiasts are often looking to add a lot of bass to their speaker systems, getting a high-powered subwoofer and amplifier may be unnecessary if you listen to talk radio most of the time.


Getting a new radio with speakers, an amplifier and subwoofer, plus the installation, can cost up to $1,000. But Littlefield says sometimes it makes sense to start small, with just a new radio.


Complete car stereo systems usually consist of four speakers, one or two subwoofers and an amplifier for each. You can also add an amp to your speakers if you want them to play as loud as the subwoofer.


Sometimes, being able to accommodate a portable music player will motivate a consumer to invest in a new car stereo.


“A lot of people have an iPod and a lot of the cars have no way to play it, so a lot of people will change their radios so you can plug right into it,'' said Don Moore, owner of Extreme Car Audio Inc. in Weymouth, Mass. 


Upgrading to stereo systems that include navigation and touch screen displays with Bluetooth capability is desirable, but Moore said it isn't an affordable option for many drivers.


He has noticed a lot of manufactures trying to reduce the prices to keep people buying.


Getting a quote on what the entire system will cost is a good idea; many audio stores are able to wrap the cost of installation into their total price.  


Whether upgrading or replacing a system in an old car, Moore said, brand names can make a difference.  


“I tell everybody to rely on the names that have been around a long time like Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine or Sony,'' he said. 


Shaunna Gately may be reached at sgately@ledger.com.