Your automotive battery is one of the most important, and most often overlooked, electrical components in your vehicle. If your battery is not in good condition, you can be stranded, and other components in your vehicle may be damaged. This article discusses how batteries work and how to take care of them. What is Inside… Continue reading Automotive Battery Science: How Batteries Work
The adage that someone could write a book about a subject certainly holds true when it comes to a discussion of loudspeakers and their parameters. In fact, there are dozens of great books already available about the subject. This article provides an overview of some of the most commonly discussed speaker parameters. What are Speaker… Continue reading Definitions: Speaker Parameters
Upgrading a factory audio system is not as easy as it used to be. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, connecting an amplifier and a new set of speakers to a factory source unit would yield impressive, if not amazing, results. As automobile manufacturers put more focus on the performance of factory-installed sound systems,… Continue reading OEM Sound System Measurements for Audio System Upgrades
Custom car audio installations have changed a great deal over the years. More often than not, custom installations from years ago often looked like ‘bolted-on’ additions to a vehicle. Modern systems blend seamlessly with your interior. Advances in construction techniques allow your installer to create complex multi-dimensional shapes that look like they came from the… Continue reading Custom Installations – Past and Present
In 1966, 3M developed the first window tinting solution to reflect the heat energy of the sun away and help keep the interior of your vehicle cool. Dozens of companies now manufacture window tint films and each has several different series of films with varied performance offerings. In the last few years, many companies have… Continue reading Is Darker Window Tint Better?
For decades, automobile manufacturers have installed relatively large rear speakers in their vehicles. The stereotype of a set of 6×9 speakers sitting on the parcel shelf of a Monte Carlo is as “car audio” as it gets. As the industry has evolved, the importance of rear speakers has diminished. Are rear speakers necessary? Do they… Continue reading Rear Speakers – A Benefit or a Bad Habit?
For almost as long as there have been car audio enthusiasts, they have been adding amplifiers to their vehicles to increase the power available to drive their speakers. More power means we can turn the volume up higher without distortion. When it came to connecting amplifiers to speakers, the first power boosters connected to the… Continue reading Does Preamp Voltage Matter?
We all know that the performance of different makes and models of speakers and subwoofers has a dramatic difference in how they sound. When it comes to the installation of subwoofers, the choice of enclosure plays a huge role in the sound of the subwoofer system. In this article, we look at some of the… Continue reading Custom Vented Enclosures-More Bang for Your Buck
Awhile ago, a client asked us what you get when you buy a “better” headunit. The usual answer is that you get more features and improved functionality. Those of us with a drive for the ultimate in sound quality and realism from our mobile electronics systems choose products in hopes of them receiving improved sound… Continue reading Bench Battle: Headunit Features vs. Performance
In the 80s and 90s, it seemed like car audio installers were often having to resolve noise issues after installing a system that included an amplifier or signal processor. In many cases, the problem was called a ground loop. However, in some cases, the noise was present because one of the signal cables passed by… Continue reading Differential Inputs are Your Friend
If you spend any time reading car audio discussions on Facebook or in forums, then you will have undoubtedly come across comments involving the supposed drawbacks of using RCA Y-cables. There seems to be a lot of misconception or misunderstanding about how preamp signals works, and this misinformation leads to comments that aren’t always accurate.… Continue reading RCA Y-Cables
Installing mobile electronics in a vehicle is a balance of technical skill and creativity. From the seemingly simple task of connecting wires to the creation of a custom amp rack or subwoofer enclosure, each task requires the car audio installation technician to call upon many different skills. When it comes to installing audio gear in… Continue reading Car Audio Installation – The Good, Better, Best Approach
Installing mobile electronics systems is not as easy as it used to be. In the “good old days,” cars were made from thick metal and didn’t have many electrical components. Modern vehicle construction makes use of the thinnest, lightest materials possible. These body panels are held together with non-conductive adhesives, and it seems that every… Continue reading The Importance of Proper Cables and Wiring
Enclosure, box or cabinet: Whatever you want to call them, where you install your speaker or subwoofer is critically important to their resulting performance. In this article, we focus on the simplest and most forgiving of enclosures to design and construct – the acoustic suspension or sealed enclosure. The Laws of Physics There are a… Continue reading Acoustic Suspension Subwoofer Enclosures Explained
Amplifiers have a very tough job. They have to take a very low voltage signal and increase it in amplitude so it can drive a speaker. In this transformation, we expect the signal to remain pure – no distortion or no noise should be added. We also want significant amounts of power to drive our… Continue reading Amplifier Classes: Making Sense Out of Class AB and Class D Amps
You cannot have talked about audio and computers any time in the last 15 years and not have heard of an MP3 file. MP3 audio files and websites, like the original Napster, started a shift in where, how and when people acquired music. If you are on the older end of the spectrum, like many… Continue reading What Is An MP3 File?
When an audio enthusiast goes shopping for an amplifier, the question of “how much power do I need?” comes up almost every time. There are a few factors to take into consideration when answering this question. This article looks at those factors and provides some technical background to help support your decision. Why Do We… Continue reading Why Buy A Bigger Amplifier?
When you head to your local mobile electronics specialist in search of new speakers, there are a few criteria to keep in mind. Choosing a speaker size can go one of two ways: You can pick something that fits a specific mounting location or you can choose based on the characteristics of the speaker relative… Continue reading Why are Speakers Different Sizes?
If you are a mobile electronics enthusiast like we are, then it’s quite possible that you enjoy reading product specifications. You can learn a lot about the design and application of a product from the specs. Amplifier power ratings are probably the most popular specs, but there are a lot more. One product specification that… Continue reading When it Comes to Subwoofer Specifications, Some Numbers Don’t Matter
According to a AAA survey, the average American drives for about 45 minutes each day. If you compare this time to an eight hour work day, that’s 10% of your work day, on top of the hours you are at your desk. This time is not an insignificant number. If your job involves being on… Continue reading Apple CarPlay Explained
Among the most under-appreciated components in any audio system are the speakers. You could be using the best source unit on the planet, an amazing amplifier, and the most esoteric of interconnects and speaker cables – but if you don’t have great speakers, you still won’t have great sound. Your speakers are the only link… Continue reading What You Get When You Spend More Money On Speakers
To optimize the performance capabilities of a speaker, it should operate within the frequency range for which it was designed. A woofer or subwoofer won’t be able to reproduce high frequencies accurately. A tweeter will self-destruct if you ask it to try to play bass frequencies. For this reason, we use three- and four-way speaker… Continue reading Passive Vs Active Crossover Networks
When it comes to bang-for-the-buck upgrades to any audio system, none can beat the dramatic difference of adding a subwoofer. Factory audio systems are getting pretty good at producing a soundstage in front of the listener, and they are EQed well enough not to be painful to enjoy – but one thing they all have… Continue reading Subwoofer Enclosure Locations – Finding Space For Bass
If you have been around the mobile electronics industry for more than a decade, then you may have noticed some significant changes. New technologies make our time behind the wheel safer, more entertaining and more productive. Many products offer better performance and efficiency compared to their originals. Innovations and technological advancements let us do things… Continue reading How Car Audio Has Changed Through The Years
When it comes to listening to music, there seem to be two kinds of listeners in the context of “where the sound comes from.” Some people want to be enveloped by the music. They want to feel like they are in the very middle of the performance, with sound all around them. This style is… Continue reading What Is A Soundstage And Where Can I Buy One?
Listening to music goes back to the dawn of man. From banging a few tree branches together to the latest computer-generated pop hit, music is a universal language that everyone can enjoy. People who put significant effort into the accurate reproduction of the music they enjoy are often called audiophiles. There is a running joke… Continue reading The Reference For Great Sound
The speakers in your mobile entertainment system are one of the most critical components in determining how your system sounds. If you choose poorly designed speakers that have distortion issues from poor cone, suspension or motor design, no amount of signal processing can make your system sound great. The methods used to install your speakers… Continue reading The Importance Of Proper Car Audio Speaker Installation
Developing a speaker requires that the designer and engineer balance many different aspects, such as the application, cost and desired performance level of the end product. For the consumer, navigating the thousands of different speaker offerings on the market can be difficult. Two speakers can measure similarly regarding efficiency, power handling and frequency response, but… Continue reading Choosing Speakers For Your Car: Components Or Coaxials?
When it comes to buying subwoofers, a lot of people have questions or make assumptions about the benefits and drawbacks of single voice coil and dual voice coil versions. Understanding the differences between them requires a slightly enhanced understanding of how an amplifier works. We cover both topics in this article. How an Amplifier Works… Continue reading Are Single or Dual Voice Coil Subwoofers Better?
For decades, there has been discussion after discussion about which of the different subwoofer enclosures are “the best” and why. Let’s take a look at why we need a subwoofer enclosure at all, and how the three popular styles – sealed, vented and bandpass – differ in their design and performance. Back-Wave Management If you… Continue reading Subwoofer Enclosures, More Than Just a Box
When we talk about any signal, be it audio, video or data, there is an accompanied reality for alterations and errors made to that signal as it passes through different electronic components, conductors or magnetic fields. While we get concerned when we hear that a component introduces distortion or when we read distortion specifications, distortion… Continue reading Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Audio Distortion – Part 1
If you were able to grasp the concepts outlined in the first article about audio distortion, then this one will be a piece of cake. If not, head back and have another read. It can be a bit complicated the first time around. Undistorted Audio Analysis When looking at the specifications for an audio component… Continue reading Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Audio Distortion – Part 2
If you have purchased a set of premium car audio speakers from a respected mobile electronics retailer in the past few years, then you should be familiar with the concept of sound deadening. If you aren’t familiar with this, or want to know more, then read on! We think you will find sound deadening is… Continue reading Sound Deadening: A Great Upgrade For Any Vehicle
When people are looking at purchasing a car audio amplifier, the specification they check most often is how much power it can produce. Power is rated in watts – a universal unit of measurement of power. In this article, we explain what a watt is, and how it is measured – both the correct and… Continue reading Watts Are Watts, Or Are They? A Detailed Explanation for Car Audio Guys
Adjusting or modifying audio signals is nothing new. Analog signal processors have been around recording studios and live performances for decades. Everything from equalizers to crossovers and compressors were conceived back when vacuum tubes were popular. As technology advanced, the size, cost and complexity of signal processors decreased. Now, many car audio source units contain… Continue reading Digital Signal Processors Take Your Audio System To The Next Level
One of the most critical components in a high-quality vehicle entertainment system is your car audio amplifier. While the concept of increasing the power of an audio signal is simple, it can be somewhat complex to execute elegantly the process. Amplifier design is as much as science as it is an art form. In this… Continue reading Car Audio Amplifier Buying Guide
Adding a subwoofer to a car audio system is the best bang for the buck regarding audio performance upgrades. You can instantly hear the difference, and it dramatically improves the realism and enjoyment of your system. Let’s look at how to pick a car audio subwoofer for your vehicle. Factory Audio System Limitations Before we… Continue reading How To Buy A Car Audio Subwoofer System
There is no component more important to the sonic performance of your vehicle’s sound system than the car audio speakers you chose to install. You may own the best radio and amplifier in the world, but without great speakers, none of that great sound can get to your ears. Let’s look at why speakers are… Continue reading Guide to Choosing Car Audio Speakers
Several aspects of the automotive industry have always been embraced by hobbyists and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Being able to say that you created something with your own bare hands would make anyone feel proud. In the mobile electronics industry, carmakers have been rapidly advancing the technology used in new cars. From computer data networks and advanced… Continue reading The Importance Of Professional Mobile Electronics Installation
For decades, car audio enthusiasts have been fiddling around with the gain control on their amplifiers in hopes of “getting more out of them.” Many professional installers have scientific, repeatable processes in place to ensure these controls are set to provide the maximum performance and reliability from your audio system. Let’s look at the most… Continue reading Your Amplifier’s Gain Control Is Not A Volume Control
When it comes to high-current wiring in a vehicle, there are two types of stranded power wire available: solid copper and copper-clad aluminum. This article looks at the differences between each kind of wire, and explain the challenges of ensuring your high-current device gets the power it needs to do the job you want done.… Continue reading Power Wire: OFC versus CCA