If not the speakers, or the head unit, what can cause distortion?

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Hi guys,

Just signed up to see if anyone had any ideas on an issue I am facing with my partners Nissan Tiida (also known as rogue).

I am getting distortion out of all four speakers in the car when volume is above 16 (just over 50% volume) she tells me that this is a new problem, and that previously there was no issue with cranking the volume in the car all the way (I think 28 is max setting). I am an audio engineer, I don't usually work with car systems, but it sounds like clipping to me, EQ is set to 0 across the board.

Being all speakers, I assumed an issue with the head unit, so I ordered a second hand head unit of the same model, however after switching them out - the problem remains (sure, it is possible this head unit suffers the same issues being second hand, can't rule that out).

Being all stock speakers, I thought, maybe the speakers that came with the car are just not that great, I had some spare aftermarket 3 way speakers "dominators" from my old car handy that can take up to 180 watts, the head unit puts out 40 watts, I replaced one of the speakers with that, and it was distorting at the same volumes as the other speakers. I repeated this test again with a 'fusion' car speaker I had in storage that should have been able to handle a decent volume, the problem was evident here also.

As far as my knowledge goes, if it is not the speaker, and not the head unit, that only leaves the power supply (which is a simple 12v battery and would cause different issues) or the speaker wire (doubtful all wires to all speakers would degrade at once), there isn't really anything else that could go wrong....

So I am at a bit of a loss, my only conclusion is that the stock head unit is simply not good enough to be run at above 50% volume (which is an OK volume but not great with road noise) and my partner was imagining that it worked better previously (not going down well with the missus), or there is something I have overlooked...

Is anyone able to suggest anything before I invest in a whole new aftermarket stereo system to keep the lady happy?

Is it the “premium’ sound system? Maybe it has an amp somewhere that is causing your lady’s problem.
I don't think so, it is the standard radio/speaker combo that comes from factory, but I will do some research to make sure there isn't one hidden somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion
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