Digital Sound Processing – Where to begin?

    DSP, where to begin? We have been asked this question numerous times via email, blog comments, and private messages.  I think this is a matter of your application…let me explain further.  Some people think it’s a matter of the manufacturer’s product.  For example, we are a JL Audio dealer, so we use their products. I wish it were that simple.  Here is a list of questions to ask yourself before starting your installations:


  • How many inputs do I need for the installation? (speaker, RCA, Aux-in (3.5mm) or digital inputs)
  • How many outputs do I need? (speaker, RCA, Aux-in (3.5mm) or digital outs)
  • Mounting location? (plan out mounting and wire management)
  • If you are using speakers or “high-level in,” does the factory head-unit have equalization, cross-overs, or processing? This is an essential step; most people do NOT research enough.
  • Is there an OEM “T Harness” available for your installation? (a wiring harness that allows me to hook up a processor without cutting wires)?
  • Can I can expand my installation/processor? (can it grow with my/customer’s needs)
  • How do I control the processor or make adjustments? For example, remote control wired or non-wired, an App, a PC or Mac or a touch screen, or a knob with buttons.
  • And lastly, budget…if you or your customer’s budget is $2000.00 for a complete system, does it make sense to use a $1000.00 processor? Or if you need a $1000.00 processor, you budget for it or plan it into the system.


This seems like a lot of planning, but it is.  DSP really isn’t something you pick up at a Canadian Tire, Target, or Walmart.  DSPs can be incredible when installed properly, and OEM manufacturers are spending millions of dollars on development to make their OEM systems sound better and make the equipment last longer.  So is it worth it, yes it is, but every aftermarket manufacturer has some DSP product? Are you prepared to install the product to its maximum potential?

Leave a Comment