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Having a good sound system in your van or RV does not only add more aesthetics to your driving experience but also make your van life trip unforgettable.  A high-quality sound system allows you to have optimal control over the pattern in which the music sounds. You can easily fine-tune your tunes with the beautifully built sound system. There is nothing in having your sound system on and enjoying your favorite jazz songs while you explore the cities in San Diego. Most of the time, the sound system comes with stable Bluetooth that enables you to connect your mobile devices with the stereo. It also allows you to play different types of music directly from your smartphone. 

Apart from the Bluetooth, USB port is another way to connect your mobile devices with the sound system. Likewise, the USB port enables you to power your iPhone or iPod whenever you have a flat battery. There is a slew of sound systems that comes with radio FM as well as AM. With the radio system, you can get updated on whether there will be a massive storm on the road to New York City or a tornado at the capital city of Tennessee. While you relax in your hammock at night, the sound system serves as a perfect way to keep the atmosphere thrilling. Also, the sound system adds elegance to the look of your van or RV. Many van life travelers tend to opt-in for a sleek design stereo to make their RVs attractive and unique. 

There are a plethora of sound systems for vans and RV on the market today, so you can easily choose the model that best suits your taste. However, the major problem with van life travelers or campers is how to put the model in place effortlessly. According to users, installing a sound system can be a bit stressful and time-consuming. This is because the units have complicated installation procedures, and some do not even come with a user manual. For van life travelers who have used the model at one time or the other, putting the system in place will only take them a short period. Campers who are using the stereo for the very first time can have difficulties getting the product ready for the picnic party. As a result of this, many of them prefer to hire an experienced contractor to install the system.

To help you save the money which would have been spent paying a contractor and to get the sound system ready for use, we have come up with this article. This post contains the various steps you need to put the system in place. It also entails how to choose the best sound system for your van as well as how to build a sound system if you need to personalize one for your RV.

How to choose the perfect sound system for your van or RV

Sound systems, regarded as one of the most needed pieces of equipment in the world today are available in a wide range of options. Often, these units are manufactured in the same design, size, shape as well as color. As a result of this, many van life travelers have difficulties choosing the unit that best suits their choice and adds elegance to their van or RV. However, to get the ideal sound system for your RV, let's consider the following factors and features to look out for. 

Sound System Wattage

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a sound system is the watts of the product. Like other electrical units on the market today, audio systems have a certain amount of electrical power they can handle in watts. While some sound systems list the receiver's power output in terms of its Root Mean Square power output, others list it in its peak power output. The average power out of a receiver is the Root Mean Square power output. So, a van lifer needs to check the power output of the sound system carefully. Products with RMS power output over average tend to get distorted or damaged easily. This is because the spike in output can damage the stereo at any point in time. Therefore, van life travelers need to check out for the sound system with the power receiver’s RMS power output in order for the stereo to handle the signal easily. Often, the amplifier's RMS power output is stated in the device's technical documentation so you can quickly figure out the amplifier’s RMS power output before purchasing it.

Sound System Size

Apart from the sound system watts, the size is also another essential factor to put into consideration. There are a slew of sound systems on the market today in varieties of shapes, design, colors as well as sizes. So, you must know if you need a space-saving stereo or one with a large capacity. Most of the time, many van life travelers prefer to opt-in for the extensive sound system as there is enough space in the van to install two or more of the devices. However, others only want to enjoy the beat of reggae music without having it in sight. Likewise, the panel of the door is another feature that shapes the size of the sound system you are purchasing. For instance, the stereo you are purchasing must be able to withstand the thickness of your door panel. The audio system bumps against a lot of items in the van if the door is not thick enough to hold it.

Also, before buying a sound system for your van, make sure you know the size of the hole. Not only does the hole size enable you to put the device in place without any difficulty but also allows you to replace the stereo easily. So, whenever you get a new sound system, it would easily fit into the existing hole. The size of the sound system dramatically affects the installation procedures of the speaker.

Installation

The installation process is another vital factor to consider before buying a sound system. Generally, the installation process of an audio system can be a bit complicated, especially if you are installing it for the very first time. Putting the sound system in place can be time-consuming as well as stressful due to the complications in its installation. According to users, installing the device can take hours for people who have connected it before. Van life travelers using the model from the first time might need a helping hand or probably hire a contractor to do it.

To avoid paying extra bucks for installing the unit or spending the whole day putting it in place, van life travelers need to look for the model with a user manual or guide. The guide contains the significant steps required to install the sound system. In some cases, the manual entails how to use and care for the stereo system properly. Likewise, van life travelers need to check for units that include all necessary accessories to put the sound system in place. Such products will save you some money which would have been spent purchasing the tools separately. Some brands offer 24/7 technical support. 

Budget

Like the sound system is a critical item to give you unforgettable memories of your van life trip, so is the budget an essential factor when buying one. Audio systems are available in a wide range of prices. While there are a plethora of affordable sound systems, the luxury ones are available in hundreds of thousands on the market today. Meanwhile, many campers often opt-in for the affordable sound systems as they are not ready to pay more of the unit. Although the price of the product does not determine its durability or efficiency, luxury sound systems last longer than the cheaper ones. The expensive stereo systems are built with superior-quality materials and produce pleasant sounds.

In some cases, the luxury stereo system comes with a warranty or guarantee and technical support from the manufacturer. Affordable sound systems also last for an extended period and at the same time, deliver the best you can ever imagine. Nevertheless, most of the time, these units break down at an unexpected time and to keep your trip amusing, you have to replace it as soon as possible. 

So, it is advisable to see the sound system as a life investment and to be ready to pay more so you can enjoy your favorite hip hop music no matter the city you are in. 

 Easy to Use

In the world today, everyone loves to have a device or item that can be operated effortlessly. This same idea applies to the use of a sound system. An easy-to-use sound system eliminates the chances of accident or collision as you don’t need to always reach out to the system while you drive. Any product worth your time will have an easy using process. It should provide a simple operation that requires little thought to do what you want from this device. 

Making sure your sound system has a touch screen could go a long way in this process. This feature will make using your stereo system a breeze. After all, it will give you complete control over the experience with just a swipe of your finger. Likewise, there are a few sound systems that come with a remote so you can easily switch from one song to another while you drive. 

But more importantly, you should take a long look at each product’s customer reviews to examine this factor honestly. People tend to get slightly mad when a product is more complicated than necessary. This issue causes them to reflect their anger through negative customer reviews. You should take advantage of these resources and use them to your benefit. 

Portability and Compact Design

There are a slew of advantages that comes with having a portable and compact design sound system. Asides the fact that it requires a small space for installation, it also allows you to have other essential van life kits in your van. Likewise, a portable sound system is easy to put in place, unlike the large stereo systems with several parts to fix. You would also have no difficulty replacing the compact sound system when it breaks down or when you've got a new model. 

Compact sound systems are also easy to carry from one place to another. The units are built to fit into trucks and tote bags perfectly. Therefore, portability, as well as compact design, are essential features you must look out for in a sound system. 

CD Compatibility 

Sound systems with CD and DVD compatibilities are becoming less popular in today’s market. This decrease in popularity comes from everyone having access to things like smartphones, Bluetooth, and streaming services.

With these advancements in technology, CDs and DVDs have become rather unwanted. This issue has caused sound system companies to build their products without these features. As a result, you should note whether each product you’re considering has these functions. Sound system with these functions gives you access to any variety of music at any time you want. Also, the units come with a USB port to power your mobile devices.

You can then decide whether their inclusion happens to be necessary. In my case, I’m always going to make sure any stereo I get has these functions. This action will ensure I have a backup plan when my Bluetooth, smartphone, and streaming services don’t feel like working correctly.

Durability and Warranty

Durable sound systems are the choice of many van life travelers. The strength of the stereo system means you will enjoy listening to every album of your favorite artist on your trip. Likewise, the sound system will not break down at an unexpected time. So, you can travel for more than six months with the assurance that the unit will not break down. Therefore, you need to check for a stereo system built with superior-quality materials. Perhaps, luxury sound systems will go a long way. 

Aside from durability, warranty is another vital feature to check for in a sound system. Warranty or guarantee assures you that the model you are purchasing will last for a lifetime. However, the warranty offer varies from one brand to another. Some manufacturers offer a 100% refund policy for units that you found not 100% satisfying. Also, some companies offer 24/7 technical support with experienced contractors. All you need to do is to contact their customer service for assistance. 

How To Install A Sound System in your RV or Van 

Like other devices for a van life trip, the sound system has different levels of step for installation. Since you have more room to work in a van, installing it is pretty easier than car installation. You don’t have to hire contractors as a new van sound system can be easy enough to fix yourself. This post gives you a comprehensive guide on how to put the system in place.

Meanwhile, it is essential to know that installation procedures can vary from one RV to another. Some vans are more complicated than others. So, you have to go through a different installation for such RVs.  Before attempting to mount the sound system, make sure you have adequate knowledge about any instructions that come with the sound system. Let's consider this step-by-step guide of installing a sound system in your RV or Van. 

For van life travelers who are using the sound system for the very first time, you don’t have to go through the same processes with campers who are replacing the old stereo system with a new one. So, if you are installing a new sound system, the first thing to do is to get the old system out of your van. To do that, you need to disconnect the negative cable from your RV battery. Meanwhile, you need to be careful of short-circuiting the system as it could cause physical harm or fire. After that, you remove all screws holding the trim in place. You need to be careful doing this as most of the trims are not sturdy and may break easily. Then, you remove the trim from the van. Unlike cars, RVs, as well as Vans, do not come with several trims so you won’t have any difficulty doing this. It is essential to know that trims with drawers or knobs need to be detached first before you pry off. 

With the trim off, you can have easy access to the old stereo. However, there might still be some components hindering you from doing so. Then, you need to remove all the parts blocking you from accessing the old sound system. After removing the components blocking the sound system, you lose the stereo from the RV. However, the devices holding the radio to the van varies from the truck to RV. Screwdrivers or nut drivers are the ideal accessories to lose sound systems held to the car by nuts or screws.

On the other hand, a radio-removal key which is also known as the radio-removal tool is the perfect tool to remove stereo systems that are held to the van without nuts or screws. The radio-removal key is a less common auto accessory. However, it is available in some auto-part shops. The tool is available either in a circular shape at one end or in an elongated horseshoe shape. To use the radio-removal tool, you need to put the tools into the small double slots on the surface of the sound system. After doing this for some time, you remove the radio-removal keys to check if the stereo system is loose.  If not, you insert the keys again into the two slots. The radio-removal keys allow you to put out the sound system effortlessly. 

The sound system should be pulled out with ease, so it doesn’t break. However, if you still encounter difficulties removing the stereo, you should double-check if any part of the van blocking the sound system is still intact. If nothing is hindering the radio, you should reinsert the radio-removal keys into the slots. The last step in uninstalling an old sound system is disconnecting the stereo system from the van. You can do this but don't unplug the variety of wires connected to the back of the sound system. Unlike other cables connected to the stereo, the antenna wire is one of the thickest. The antenna wire often holds the sound system firmly than other wires. Therefore, when unplugged, you can freely move the sound system around. After unplugging the antenna wires, you then remove other wires one after the other carefully. 

With the old stereo system out of the van, it is high time you installed the new sound system. To install the new stereo system, match the wires of the van's harnesses to the sound system. You would have no difficulties doing this as the cables are made unique so you can quickly identify them. Connecting different wires can cause physical harm or fire. So, you need to be careful while matching these wires together. For RV with no wire harness, the installation process is done manually. Since the color-coded wires in the van might not match with the cables on an after-match sound system, you need to carefully study the wiring guide that is included with the sound system. While the soldering system of matching wires is reliable and at the same time secures connection better than the crimping method, the ceiling system is more straightforward and quicker. Nevertheless, both systems work perfectly for matching stereo system wires with RVs or vans. 

The next step is to assemble the mounting kit that comes with the stereo system. Although the mounting is hardly found in some sound systems, it is often included in new stereo systems. So, you need to follow the instructions in the user manual to assemble the mounting kit successfully. The metal sleeve on the speaker must be well secured in place while you join the mounting kit. To do this, use a nut driver to push down the tabs situated around the metal sleeve. Having assembled the mounting kit, you then connect the sound system with the power source. For vans with wiring harnesses, you only need to connect the new sound system to the harness in the RV. However, for campers without a wiring harness, the connection has to be done manually. But more importantly, you need to be sure if your van has a yellow wire which labels as a constant power source or a red cable which marks as a switched power source. You can choose between the two based on the one that best suits your taste. Meanwhile, there is a slew of vans with both the red wire and the yellow wire. 

For van life travelers with harness wiring in their vans, the connection is established immediately when you connect the harness pieces with the sound system. For RVs without a wiring harness, the first step you need to take to get the connection ready is locating where the screw, wire or bolt is situated in the van. After finding the bolt, you connect the van's bare metal chassis with the wire. You then slip the sound system's ground wire and loosen the cord underneath and then tighten both wires together firmly. Even though this step in installing an audio system is optional, it often shapes the performance of the sound system. Stereo with securely tightened wires produces beautiful sounds compared with ones which are softly tightened. So, you need to be sure that the ground wire is connected to the bare metal to enable the stereo system to work effectively. To ensure a good connection, sand down the area with sandpaper. After the harness wire, as well as the ground wire, have been connected, then you can connect other cables with the sound system. You need to join the van's wire harness to the audio system's wiring adapter as well as a plugin for the antenna cable. 

To make the van's audio system work perfectly with the new sound system, you need to connect the output converter to the sound system. While carrying out all these connections, make sure that not a single wire is left hanging unattended to, and that all the necessary wires to be connected with their appropriate wires. There are little chances of getting harmed or fire outbreak with a good connection. Having connected all the required wires to make the sound system work, then you need to test the sound system to make sure it is working effectively. The first components to be checked include the power, ON and OFF. With the power on, you can test the CD components, FM as well as the AM. After reviewing the FM, AM and the CD components, you need to check the balance settings and the fade. Doing this allows you to know if the speakers are working to your satisfaction. When you are done with testing these essential components, you can turn the power back off. 

Since you are done with the significant installation steps, this last step includes the finishing up installation processes. You can now mount the sound system in its right place. Having done this, make sure you hear it click to be sure it is into position. Then, you reconnect every component that has been disconnected while uninstalling the old sound system. All you need to do is to tighten the bolts that are important in holding the sound system in the right place. Every knob removed from the van needs to be replaced while the sound system is in place. Likewise, you need to reconnect any wired components to get the sound system working. Then, you return all the pieces of the trip into place over the sound system. You also need to recheck every wiring and connection you have made to be sure that the screws, and trim pieces, are securely in place. 

Lastly, you should turn the power on to check the sound system. You can play any music, check the Bluetooth as well as the USB port connection to be sure that every part works to your satisfaction. Likewise, you should try out the settings to avoid fixing any problem with the sound system. Your stereo system is ready to play your favorite music and to make your van life trip a memorable one. 

Steps to build a good sound system for your van or RV

There are a plethora of van life travelers who would love to create a personal sound system which delivers the best sound effect. Whereas, there are campers who would like to build a stereo system to avoid purchasing ones at a higher price. Unlike cars or vehicles, building a sound system for vans or RVs is fast and straightforward. This is because a trailer has enough space to fit every essential component of getting the sound system working. To satisfy your need, here is a comprehensive guide that entails the necessary steps to build a stereo system for your van. 

Knowing what you want

The first step in building a sound stereo system is knowing every essential component, tool and instruction needed to excite the task. According to users, this step is one of the most challenging stages in building the sound system. This is because there is a wide range of expectations from van life travelers as well as campers. While some van life travelers want a stereo system that produces a sound that makes a picnic party at the beach one of its kind, others are looking for a system that gives the best driving feeling or the one that creates a pleasant atmosphere while you relax in the hammock. Some van life travelers prefer to have a sound system with big bass. Whereas, others are satisfied with the medium or probably the small one. Therefore knowing what you want in a stereo system goes a long way in building a sound system. Likewise, it also prevents you from purchasing the unit that doesn’t meet your needs.

It is every van life traveler's joy to have a sound system that delivers nice, clear as well as natural sound. Meanwhile, it is essential to know that neither the sound system that produces the loudest nor the expensive one determines what great music is. A great sound is one that provides the sound that is pleasant to your hearing. Therefore, van life travelers need to know the functions they want the sound system to perform. Likewise, campers need to know the essential component they wish to have in the stereo system.

Selecting the Speakers

When you are sure of the essential component you want in your sound system, the functions of your audio system as well as the tools needed, selecting the speakers is another step in building a good sound system. Speakers are not only one of the vital elements of a sound system, but they are also the bedrock of the sound system. Since other parts of an audio system receive support from the speakers, the speakers serve as the CPU of the stereo system.  With a plethora of speakers on the market today, you might have difficulties getting the model that best suits your taste. Therefore, you need to take your time searching for the speaker that produces naturally as well as clear sound. One of the best ways to get a good speaker is checking for reliability as well as popular Brad’s. Some of these brands include Kenwood, JBL, Polk Audio and many others.

Likewise, customer reviews, as well as testimonies, can help you pick the model of your choice. Even though there is a slew of reviews that do not portray the basic features of the speaker, these reviews have helped a lot of users choose the model and still enjoy its performance today. Besides, the size, as well as the design of the van, also affects the factor to consider in choosing speakers. It is inappropriate to purchase small size speakers or two pieces of speakers for a minivan with ample space. Likewise, it is time wasting to get lots of speakers or enormous speakers for a van with small space. Choosing the perfect speakers for your RV is also affected by the mounting location.  While 6×9 units are ideal speakers for the front van doors, 6.5-inch speakers are suitable for rear doors. However, you might have difficulties finding the speakers with excellent sound depth, sharpness, performance as well as clarity. So to get the best unit, features such as the impedance, frequency range, RMS Sensitivity, Power handling and build materials should be checked.

Picking the Receiver

Having found the ideal speakers for your RV, the next vital step to take is to select the receiver. Like the speakers, receivers are also units available in hundreds of thousands. While we have the double din head units, single din head units we also have the digital media receivers. Many of these receivers come with satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port among others. Receivers are also essential components of a sound system, and they should be given adequate attention.

In many cases, van life travelers prefer to opt-in for a head unit with a large touchscreen. Apart from the fact that the large touchscreen allows you to operate the sound system effortlessly, it also adds more elegance to the look of the sound system. Therefore, to purchase the head unit that delivers the best outputs, features such as HD radio and Pandora internet radio, steering wheel control compatibility, AUX, USB inputs remote control, Bluetooth compatibility as well as satellite radio availability, needs to be checked.

Choosing the component speakers

Component speakers do not only add more elegance to the look of your van but also adds more realism to your music. These units are separate tweeters as well as crossovers that give outstanding sound imaging. Component speakers add more aesthetics to the sounds produced by the main speakers. 

Even though little or no attention is often given to purchasing component speakers, these products make a big difference when it comes to the quality of the sound. Many users prefer to have the component speakers in the front doors of their vehicles. So, you must be careful in choosing the component speakers for your sound system. 

Meanwhile, it is essential to know that component speakers have complicated installation procedures, unlike the full-range speakers, which are easy to put in place. 

Picking a multiple channel amplifier

Amplifiers are also an essential component necessary for building a good sound system. Unlike the factory units, multiple channels of amplifiers are flexible and versatile. These units allow you to add new music to as well as new components to your sound system. Even though speakers are available in different channel variations, speakers with more channels are more reliable and efficient. For four channel amplifiers, you can have two of the channels' output to power a subwoofer and the other two to Power Bridge as well as front-mounted speakers. Meanwhile, five channels amplifier delivers quality output than the four channels counterpart. Five channels amplifiers are ideal for powering an external subwoofer while four channels amplifiers are perfect for powering rear as well as front speakers. 

Choose a Subwoofer

The subwoofer is the component of a sound system that gives music, good bass. Most of the time, this component requires an extra channel amplifier to perform effectively. Likewise, these units are available in many numbers on the market today and choosing the ideal product can look a bit difficult. Features such as load, impedance, rating, sensitivity, type, size, RMS Power handling and frequency range should be checked before buying a subwoofer. Also, a subwoofer has complicated installation processes. 

Select a sub box 

A sub box is as essential as any other component for building a good sound system. Meanwhile, you can choose to buy a sub box or make one. The sub box serves as the protecting place for the subwoofer. Likewise, the sub box enhances the performance of a subwoofer. Therefore, you need to be sure of the dimension of the subwoofer before buying a sub box. 

Conclusion

Either installing a new sound system or replacing the old stereo system, putting the device in place can be tasking. However, vans, as well as RVs, allow you to install the stereo system easily and fast. But this does not mean you would not go through the necessary steps. These steps have been comprehensively explained so you would find no problem getting the system ready to play your favorite music. Likewise, there is a post that helps you build a good sound system.   

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