If you’re a fan of a little “wind therapy,” then having some great music to listen to while you you’re riding your motorcycle starts with a great audio system. Sure, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki and Honda include radios and speakers with their touring bikes, but so do Toyota and Hyundai cars and SUVs. All of them could use an upgrade or two to put a smile on your face when a great song comes on. Let’s take a look at five great upgrade options that will make your motorcycle audio system sound better.
Upgrade 1 – Upgrade Existing Speakers
If you’re a regular reader of BestCarAudio.com, then you know how important speakers are to the performance of any audio system. Imagine a high-end home audio system with an amplifier, preamp, CD transport and stand-alone digital-to-analog converter. It isn’t hard to spend $10,000 on this equipment, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to spend more than $500,000. When it comes time to choose speakers, you need something amazing to accurately convert those electrical signals into sound.
High-quality speakers transform electrical signals into sound more accurately than poorly designed solutions. Better speakers offer a smoother frequency response so your music will sound more realistic. Finally, great speakers can handle more power and play much more loudly than an inexpensive solution. All of these criteria are important for motorcycle audio upgrade.
Another important factor in choosing new speakers for your motorcycle is whether they’re designed to be specifically suitable for the application. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage some car audio speakers and cause the cones and surrounds to fail very quickly. Likewise, if there’s even the slimmest chance the speakers will get wet, choosing a solution with integrated weatherproofing and water-resistant materials is mandatory to ensure reliability.
Upgrade 2 – Add High-Power Amplifiers
When it comes to playing music loudly, your speakers will need lots of power. Upgrading your motorcycle with a high-power, high-efficiency amplifier is the only way to make your music loud enough to drown out wind and exhaust noise.
Size is a top priority when it comes to choosing an amplifier for your motorcycle. You want something that will fit inside the front fairing or not take up too much space in a saddlebag. Many companies make compact powersports amplifiers that will fit nicely above the factory radio in a Harley.
You also want an amplifier that is efficient. Efficiency refers to how much of the power that is drawn from the battery and alternator or stator is converted into energy to drive the speakers. More efficiency means the amp will run cooler and your audio system can play louder without overloading the bike’s electrical system. The best motorcycle and powersports amplifiers on the market are over 93% efficient. That’s about 10% better than the typical car audio amplifier.
Upgrade 3 – Add More Speakers
Aside from using great speakers and providing them with lots of clean power from an amplifier, another great upgrade you can make to your motorcycle audio system is to add more speakers. Sure, the task isn’t as easy as cutting a panel in a car door, but it can be done. Many companies offer handlebar speakers, motorcycle-specific speaker pods that attach to the lower front fairing, and saddlebag lids with options for 6.5-, 8- or 6×9-inch speakers.
Upgrade 4 – Source Unit Upgrades
Every great audio system starts with a great source unit. If there’s distortion in the original audio signal, no amount of processing or tuning can remove it. Companies like Rockford Fosgate and Aquatic AV have created motorcycle-specific source units for 1998 through 2013 Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Another option is the cool Sony XAV-AX7000 multimedia receiver. Several motorcycle enthusiasts have integrated this double-DIN radio into the fairing of their bikes. The radio has a weather-resistant front panel and buttons. It’s not water-proof, but it can handle the occasional light sprinkle. If you want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on your bike, then this radio is a perfect choice.
Upgrade 5 – Proper System Configuration
The perfect speaker, if it were to exist, would offer flat frequency response across the entire audio spectrum. The reality is, no speaker can deliver that. Likewise, where we install speakers can have a huge effect on how they sound. To get the most out of your motorcycle audio system upgrade, it needs to be configured to optimize the output of each speaker for the environment. You aren’t going to hear a bass drum or synthesizer riff at 65 mph on the interstate, so crossovers and equalization will let your speakers focus on the frequency ranges where they work best.
Just as in a car audio system, a concert venue or a theater, using an equalizer to optimize the response of a motorcycle sound system is important. Compact digital signal processors include multiband equalizers that can be configured with a calibrated microphone to deliver smooth sound, so your music sounds realistic.
Upgrade Your Motorcycle Audio System Today
The options for making the stereo system on your motorcycle sound better are nearly endless. Drop by your local specialty mobile enhancement retailer today to find out about the audio upgrades that are available for your bike. As always, remember that proper installation and excellent craftsmanship are as important as the products you choose. Be sure to work with a retailer that has the skills to execute your upgrade reliably.