If you’ve invested in the best car audio system but you’re getting poor sound quality and weak bass, then you’re probably dealing with an audio tuning problem. In this case, a DSP comes in handy as the best solution to tuning problems, poor sound quality, and weak bass. Basically, DSP is an abbreviation for the term Digital Signal Processor. A DSP is a gadget that processes sound signals to optimize the quality of sound that a speaker reproduces. Thus, if you want to take your car audio system to the next level in terms of quality sound, then you should invest in the best DSP car audio.
Finding the right DSP for your car audio can be a daunting task. There’re several factors to consider and many brands to choose from. Thus, it’s often overwhelming for most car music lovers to make the right choice. This is where this article comes in handy. We’ve shortlisted the best options available in the market. Also, this article discusses the factors you should consider to choose the best car audio DSP.
Quick Comparison Table
Top 7 DSP Car Audio Reviews
To make your search easier, we’ve shortlisted and reviewed the best DSPs for car audio in today’s market. Our reviews cover all budgets and user requirements. Also, we’ve only selected options made of the highest quality and numerous desirable features. Read on for the top 7 reviews on DSP systems for car audio.
1. Taramp’s Pro 2.6
This DSP from Taramp’s is specially designed to enhance your music experience with your car sound system. It comes with 2 input channels and 6 independent output channels. This means that you can use the output channels individually. Also, its commands are highly practical.
- Adjustable limiter- The DSP comes with an adjustable limiter. The limiter features three adjustable options including off, automatic, and active. The limiter also features three selectable settings including release in the range of 1ms to 4000ms, attack in the range of 1ms to 900ms, and threshold in the range of 20 to 0dB.
- Parametric equalizer- It comes with a 3-band parametric equalizer for each output. The equalizer features a central frequency range of between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. It also features an attenuation gain in the range of -12dB to +12dB and a Q factor of 0.4 to 10.
- Scroll button- It features a scroll button that makes it possible to do simultaneous adjustments. For instance, a single quick touch on the round button will take you to the next menu while a long touch (about one second) will take you to the previous menu.
- Crossover routing filters- The DPS has variable high pass filters and variable lower pass filters. It splits the input signal to output respective frequency ranges for balanced and optimized sound quality.
- Memory for adjustments- Its design features memory for adjustments functionality. This feature makes it possible for the DSP to store current adjustments such that once you set it up, the adjustments won’t be lost after powering it off and on.
- Phase inversion
- Delay adjustment
- Mute function
- 3-band equalizer for each output
- Sine wave generator
- Lacks support for Bluetooth
- A first-time DSP user may find it confusing to configure
Looking for a simple to use DSP with real-time adjustments? If so, this Taramp’s Pro 2.6 DSP is your best bet, thanks to its intuitive interface and LCD screen.
2. Dayton Audio DSP-408
The Dayton Audio DSP-408 is packed with versatility, an ergonomic user interface, and superior sound processing. Its ability to enhance the quality of a car or home sound system is just amazing. It has all the features required for a perfect sound system.
- PC control- You can connect the DSP to a PC and access its Windows-based graphical user interface (GUI). Its GUI, developed by Dayton Audio, makes it easier to configure the DSP. The GUI comes with all the tools you need to enhance the sound output of your audio system.
- 10-band equalizer- The DSP comes with 8 output channels. Each channel has a high and low shelf equalizer that lowers or boosts audio signals before or behind the set frequency. The high shelf filter processes high-end tremble while the low shelf filter processes bass bottoms.
- Six presets- It comes with six presets. The name of each preset is customizable to make it easier for you to set up the DSP as per your needs. Also, you can load, save, delete, or recall preset files in the DSP.
- Optional Bluetooth dongle- Another feature that makes it one of the best digital signal processors for car audio is its support for Bluetooth connectivity. You can buy a separate Dayton Audio Bluetooth dongle to connect the DSP to your smartphone and configure it with an Android or iOS mobile application. You can also use your smartphone to stream music to the DSP wirelessly through the Bluetooth dongle.
- Wide operating voltage- With this DSP for car and home audio, you won’t have to worry about voltage issues. Its operating voltage is wide. For instance, the power adapter supports an input voltage in the range of 100 to 240 volts AC and outputs 12 volts DC. The DSP can work in a DC voltage ranging from 9 to 17 volts. Besides, it has voltage protection for maximum voltage, minimum voltage, and reverse voltage.
- I/O mixing
- Time alignment
- Optional wired remote
- Real-time signal processing
- Mounting hardware is provided
- The Bluetooth connection isn’t very strong
- Produces a slight hissing sound at high volume
The best thing about the Dayton Audio DSP-408 is that you can use it either in your car or home audio system. Thus, you won’t be limited on where you can use it.
3. EXPERT 6 CH
You can control almost all audio equalization elements of your car sound system, thanks to the innovativeness behind the design of this car audio DSP. It’s highly versatile and packed with numerous functionalities that make it possible to customize and enhance your car sound system.
- Easy to operate- One of the most outstanding features of this DSP is its ease of use. For instance, you can customize the output channel you want by easily selecting it and using the rotary encoder to actualize the settings you want.
- Digital LED display- The DSP features a digital LED display. It displays details in two lines, making it possible to view most of the controls you’re applying. This makes it even easier to know the current settings and the new settings you’re applying for enhanced control.
- Digital crossover- It comes with a digital crossover featuring 8 mono outputs and 4 stereo outputs. The crossover utilizes a high pass filter in the range of 20 to 22 kHz, a low pass filter in the range of 20 to 22 kHz, and an attenuation filter comprising 12dB, 24dB, and 48dB by 8th.
- 6 output channels- It accepts 2 input channels and 6 output channels. It’s capable of equalizing 28 graphic bands and 18 parametric bands. This gives you a total of 46 bands. The equalization frequencies supported range from 40 Hz to 16 kHz.
- Connect function- The Connect function in this DSP makes it possible to control it remotely. All you need to do is to connect it with a mobile application via Bluetooth. Thus, you can control it effortlessly without using the onboard controls.
- Simplified commands
- Phase and delay control
- 24-bit resolution LED display
- Supports Bluetooth connectivity
- Gain control
- Not the best packaging during delivery
- The graphical user interface on the app looks too basic
Want maximum freedom to customize your car audio? The EXPERT 6 CH car audio DSP stands out for its multiple customization options in terms of sound equalization.
4. Stetsom STX 2448
The Stetsom STX 2448 Digital Audio Processor is among the best DSP car audio. Its design brings innovativeness and technology to the car audio market. The Stetsom STX 2448 DSP can make several adjustments for enhanced customization.
- Intuitive interface- The DSP features an intuitive interface that tells you how to use it, even if you’ve never used it before. This interface, combined with an LCD screen, makes it possible to make real-time adjustments to your car audio.
- Independent outputs- It features 2 audio inputs labeled A & B. It also features 4 independent inputs. You can select the audio source you want for each input such as A, B, or A+B. The independent outputs allow for enhanced customization.
- Integrated equalizer- Another notable feature is its integrated equalizer featuring a 15-band graphic EQ. You can either control it through manual tuning for enhanced customization or take advantage of the 12 presets for simpler equalization. It also has 5 parametric equalizer settings for professional equalization comprising gain control, equalizer bandwidth, and gain control. This allows for finer adjustments.
- Crossover function- You can also utilize its crossover function to further control the kind of sound output you’ll get from your car music system. The crossover makes it possible to define the topology of the high and low pass filters, attenuation rate, and cut frequencies.
- Audio limiter- This digital signal processor comes with an audio limiter that uses a dynamic processing mechanism to control attack and release parameters, thereby protecting the car amplifier and car speakers. This also allows for sound accuracy.
- It’s very affordable
- Compactly built
- Independent gain control
- Phase inversion
- Frequency sweep and tone generation
- Doesn’t support remote control
- Lacks English instructions
Looking for a functional but affordable DSP for your car sound system? If so, the Stetsom STX 2448 DSP is your best bet, thanks to its affordable price range.
5. AudioControl DM-608
This DSP from AudioControl comes with 6 input channels and 8 output channels for more accurate tuning. It also features remote out, remote in, and remote level control.
- USB port- The DSP comes with a USB port that makes it possible to connect it to a personal computer. That way, you can access it from your Windows PC or Mac PC for more adjustments and controls using the included AudioControl software.
- Variable crossover- It features a variable crossover with a bandpass filter, high-pass filter, and low-pass filter. It’s able to filter frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz at 12 dB per octave or 24 dB per octave.
- Signal summing- Another unique feature of this DSP is its signal summing function. This function makes it possible to combine multiple input signals into the desired output channel. This is especially important when dealing with a factory car audio system that only outputs highs and mids such that the DSP will sum them and output full-range sound.
- Multiple inputs and output channels- In total, the DSP features 6 input channels and 8 output channels. The input channels comprise speaker level inputs, live level inputs, and maximized inputs. The output channels comprise line outputs and maximized outputs.
- Patented AccuBASS technology- Its patented AccuBASS technology is yet another incredible feature of this DSP. The feature makes it possible to restore bass frequencies on factory audio systems that roll of bass when increasing the volume.
- LED optimization
- Clip indicators
- 30-band equalizer
- GTO signal sensing and signal delay
- Easy to install and user-friendly software
- It’s quite pricey
- Lacks a display screen
If you’re looking for a DSP with a high number of inputs and outputs, then you won’t go wrong by choosing this AudioControl DM-608 digital signal processor.
6. Rockford Fosgate DSR1
Rockford Fosgate is rarely left behind when it comes to the manufacture of high-end sound devices. Its DSR1 signal processor is designed to replace factory amps and speakers in any Chrysler and Ford vehicles. Replacing them with an aftermarket DSP is a sure way of enhancing the sound output of your car music system.
- Interactive app- To start with, this DSP supports control from an interactive mobile application. The app is easy to use even for a first-time user. The app is available for both Android and iOS operating systems. You can access all controls from the app for easier control.
- Bluetooth 4.0- The DSP eliminates the need to use cables when connecting it to a smartphone. You can simply connect it wirelessly via Bluetooth. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology for faster, more stable, and stronger wireless connectivity.
- 4 channel inputs- It comes with 4 channel inputs categorized as 4 channel high-level inputs, 4 channel differential units, SPDIF coaxial inputs, and Auxiliary RCA inputs. The high-level inputs come with a signal sense turn-on functionality.
- Precise equalizer- Another reason that makes it one of the best digital signal processors for car audio is its precise 245 band equalizer. The supported frequency bands are extremely wide such that you can tune the sound precisely.
- Flashable module- The DSP comes with a flashable module. You can either use it out of the box with a low-level input or high-level input or flash it to install a vehicle-specific firmware to make it work with the factory features.
- Uses a power processor
- Micro USB port
- Adjustable crossover featuring selectable slope
- Time alignment
- 8 output channels
- Only suitable for use in Chrysler and Ford vehicles
- The provided harness is relatively short
If you’re looking for a reliable DSP for your Chrysler or Ford, look no further than this Rockford Fosgate DSR1 since it’s specifically designed for use in these two car models.
7. Sony XM-GS6DSP
Sony is among the oldest manufacturers of audio and video equipment. The Sony XM-GS6DSP is designed as an amplifier and DSP, all in one compact device. Its design and quality stand out, making it one of the best digital signal processors available today.
- Adjustable crossovers- The front channel/tweeter crossover can be adjustable within the range of 500 Hz to 4 kHz with a high-pass filter. The subwoofer/woofer channels feature a low pass filter with the ability to adjust frequencies in the range of 50 Hz to 500 Hz. The rear/mid channels feature two crossovers, one with a high-pass filter and another with a low pass filter.
- Function selection switch- You can take advantage of the function selection switch featured on the rear/mid channels to decide whether those channels should operate with high-pass filters only or as a bandpass configuration with both low and high-pass filters activated. You can also use the bass boos control in the subwoofer/woofer channel, which is adjustable in the range of 0 to 10dB.
- Control from a smartphone- The DSP supports control from a smartphone or tablet with a dedicated app with support for both iOS and Android. The app allows for more configuration options and ease of control.
- Signal delay- Also, you can control signal delay from the app. The signal delay is adjustable in the range of 1-centimeter steps for the left, right, front, and rear channels while delay for the subwoofer/woofer channels is adjustable in the range of 30 – 300 centimeters. The signal delay also has presents including custom, all, front, right, and left listening positions.
- Graphic equalizer- You can access the graphic equalizer with the app. The equalizer offers 10 equalization bands. It also has 9 preset curves and a karaoke setting for all your singing needs.
- Class D amplifier
- Line in and speaker level inputs
- Gold plated connectors
- Secure Bluetooth pairing
- Higher price range
- Bluetooth has to be paired manually in iOS devices as it doesn’t pair automatically
Want to boost the audio quality of your car audio without altering the look of the dashboard? The compact design behind this Sony XM-GS6DSP amp with DSP will be your best bet.
How to Choose the Best DSP Car Audio
There’re many digital signal processors available today. They differ in design and features. While they all have attractive features, some may not be the best for your needs. Thus, you should know the most important considerations to make when making your choice. Here’re some factors you can consider to stand better chances of choosing the right DSP for your car audio.
It’s important to ensure that the DSP you’re choosing has an equalizer. An equalizer will allow you to control different sound frequencies from the source and output the kind of sound you want. The number of bands the equalizer has will determine the level of control you can have over the frequencies. The more the bands, the more the ability to fine-tune the frequencies.
2. Bluetooth connectivity
A DSP that supports Bluetooth connectivity can be very useful. Bluetooth connectivity will allow you to connect the DSP to a smartphone and configure it wirelessly with the supported application. This eliminates the need to use cables. Also, Bluetooth connectivity can allow for wireless music streaming such that you can use your smartphone as a sound source.
3. Time alignment
Since sound waves move a bit slowly through the atmosphere, there’s a slight delay in milliseconds between the time the sound leaves the speaker and the time it reaches the listener on their listening position. A DSP with time alignment functionality can delay the sound being reproduced by the nearest speaker such that it’ll reach the listener at the same time as the sound coming from the farthest speaker. This eliminates subtle echo, thereby allowing a listener to hear higher quality sound.
A crossover comes with filters including low pass and high pass filters, which eliminate unwanted upper and lower frequencies that cause distortion. That way, a tweeter will only reproduce highs while a woofer will only reproduce lows. Ensure the crossover covers a wide frequency range. For instance, a crossover that can cover a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz would be the best since this is the hearing range of a human ear.
5. Number of output channels
The number of output channels will determine the number of speakers you can connect. A single speaker is connected to one channel. For instance, if your car has 4 speakers, that is two front speakers and two rear speakers, then ensure the DSP has a minimum of 4 output channels. If you also want to add a subwoofer, ensure it has an extra channel to add a subwoofer. Thus, more channels will allow you to add more speakers for fuller sound.
The best DSP car audio should come with a good level of customization combined with all the features you want. At least, ensure it has functionalities such as a crossover, time alignment, and equalizer. It should also have several output channels to connect more speakers for fuller sound. Also, ensure it has all other desirable features you want. By choosing the best DSP, you’ll enjoy a better listening experience in your car.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.