Browsing All Posts By Corey Hinkle

Dashboard Camera Buying Guide

09_08_2014_dashcam_main.jpg

Buying a Dash Cam

Chances are, if you’ve been on the Internet in the last 3 years you’ve seen a dash cam video whether it’s a video of a meteor strike in Russia, video from a police incident or someone blatantly jumping in front of a car for a quick payday. With traffic on the rise and driver attention span on the decline (to put it mildly),dashboard cameras are becoming an invaluable addition to your vehicle. In the past, dash cam DVR systems were typically only in police cars and other emergency vehicles, but as with all technology, prices started to drop and popularity soared. A dash cam can more than pay for itself if you’re involved in an accident that was not of your doing. Having video evidence versus the word of the high schooler who was texting as they t-boned you running a red light at 2 a.m. will save you from arguing with the insurance companies about who was at fault.

What is a Dash Cam?

BOYO Vision VTR17LD Drive Assist DVR Camera

A dash cam DVR is simply that, a camera that mounts on the dash or windshield in your vehicle and records while you drive. The cameras are easily attached, generally by a suction cup mount or a direct dash friction mount. Some even come installed in aftermarket rearview cameras. Dash cameras are either battery powered, hardwired into your vehicle’s power system or powered via your cigarette lighter to record everything that goes on around your car. Most dash cam systems power up when you start your car and begin recording immediately.

Many dash cam systems include some type of DVR to save all of your recordings; when you hit the storage limit the system will begin to overwrite the oldest files (loop recording). These recordings are usually in either .AVI or .MOV file formats which are compatible with most common video players (such as Windows Media Player).

More sophisticated systems allow you to geotag your recorded files to allow you to easily locate your recordings and track speed, time and date of the recordings. If your car has shock sensors, higher end dash cams can be set to automatically record whenever an impact is detected (these recordings can also be tagged to ensure they aren’t recorded over).

Why Should You Want One?

Having a dash cam system will, at the very least, give you peace of mind. Knowing your car is at least being monitored constantly should relieve any anxiety about proving fault in any potential incidents.

Accidents

Perhaps the most useful application for a dash cam is in the event of an accident. Accidents happen all the time, and rarely do all parties involved agree on what happened and who was in the wrong. When the cops show up to file a report, you never know who is going to change their story. Having a dash cam recording every moment eliminates any worry about having to defend yourself against the person who was actually at fault.

Fraud Attempts

Unfortunately, fraud is a real danger in today’s world. Sometimes other drivers will intentionally cause an accident and then blame you for it. One of the more common vehicle fraud attempts is when one driver intentionally backs into another driver and then claims they were rear-ended. The best (and really only) way to really disprove that driver, other than having other witnesses to back up your story, is to have a dash cam recording.

Hit & Run

There are few feelings worse than walking out to your parked car to find it has been hit while you were away, and it’s even worse when the person who hit your car didn’t leave a note. If this happens and you don’t have a dash camera, there is very little you can do. However, if you have a dash camera that automatically records when it detects an impact, you can catch the person in the act. Some dash cameras also include a parking mode which records when your car is parked.

Other Uses

Dash cameras can be used for more than just protecting your vehicle, they can also be used for fun. If you spend a lot of time in your car, you’re going to see a lot of cool things that you wouldn’t mind having on camera. From funny vanity plates to exotic cars and even beautiful scenery, chances are you’ll see something in your travels you’ll want to save and share with your friends. Next time you see a meteor hurdling towards the ground, you won’t have to pull out your cellphone to take a picture and then crash into a fire hydrant!

Don't Miss the Next Meteor!
 

What Features to Look for?

With dash cams becoming more common place in vehicles today, there are many different options you have to choose from for your recording options.

Camera Quality

Typically the most important feature you want to look for in a dash camera is the quality of the camera itself. When you’re looking to add one to your vehicle, you should look for one that records in high definition (either 720p or 1080p). Non-HD cameras will miss important details (like license plate numbers) and likely leave you disappointed in your purchase. HD cameras also tend to offer better video at night.

Belva BCMDVR1 Replacement Rear View Mirror w/ Front-facing HD Camera

Size

With dashboard cameras, discretion can be a major factor. You can find dash cameras of all shapes and sizes, from large, obvious cameras to compact cameras intended to blend in with your dash. As with things like wallets, cell phones, purses and any other valuables, you probably don’t want to leave an oversized dash cam sitting out while you have your car parked. On the other hand, if one of the reasons you’re looking for dash camera is parking mode, you might want to get a more discrete camera (such as one installed into an aftermarket rearview mirror).

GPS

Many newer dash cams have an on-board GPS receiver which allows you to track your location while playing back the video later. GPS dash cams allow you to easily prove your location at any particular time as well as automatically setting the date and time. Dash cams with GPS will either come with an external GPS antenna or have one built-in to the unit itself. Dash cam systems with GPS also usually come with mapping software for your computer.
Other Bells and Whistles

Other things to consider when looking for a dash camera include the available memory you will have, camera components and whether a camera comes with LED lights. Dash cam DVR systems typically record directly to an SD card. While individual cameras will create different amounts of data, as a general rule an 8GB card will record (in HD) 2-3 hours, a 16GB card will record 4-6 hours and a 32GB card will record 8-12 hours. For standard definition recordings, you can expect about twice the recording duration. Important components of the camera itself to be aware of include the processor (CPU) and the quality of the CMOS sensor and camera lens itself. Many dash cams also come with some type of integrated screen, allowing you the option of immediate playback. Some manufacturers will design their dash cameras with LED lights to improve night recording performance. These LED lights often do little-to-nothing to improve said performance, and can often be detrimental to your recordings because they can cause reflections in your windshield. Other dash cam systems include a rear facing camera to simultaneously record the cabin of the vehicle and the road ahead.

 

Ready to Shop for Your Dashboard Camera?

Shop NowCrimestopper DR-520 Deluxe Wi-Fi Mini Driving DVR Recorder

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Headphone Buying Guide

Headphone Buying Guide

Buying a New Pair of Headphones

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphones

So you need a new pair of headphones, simple right? Not so fast. Finding the right pair of headphones to fit your needs, preferences and budget can often be a more time consuming process than anticipated.

There is more to buying a new pair of headphones than just finding a pair that looks decent, you should be considering what your intended uses are (for example, if you’re a heavy traveler, you probably don’t want a pair of open back headphones), what style headphones you want as well as any other features you may be looking for (Bluetooth, in-line controls, etc.). Buying the perfect pair of headphones can completely transform your entire listening experience.

What Style Do You Want?

There are 3 very distinct styles of headphones available that you can purchase: in-ear headphones (earbuds, IEMs, earphones), on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones. Each style provides a very different fit, serves different needs and has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Paradigm SHIFT E3m In-Ear Headphones

In-Ear Headphones

For in-ear headphones, there are 2 main types of in-ear headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors. Earbuds rest in your ears and provide little to no acoustic sealing from outside noise. As a result, earbuds are typically the worst sounding headphones and also rarely offer a secure fit.

In-ear monitors feature soft tips that insert into your ears to offer much improved sound isolation. The seal provided allows for outstanding overall sound quality and bass response. Another advantage of in-ear monitors is that they deliver sound directly into your ear drums. In-ear monitors generally include several sets of ear tips in varying sizes to ensure a comfortable fit for most users. In-ears are great for anyone with small ears or who wants something lightweight and comfortable.
On-Ear Headphones

On-ear (Supra-Aural) headphones feature earpads that rest directly on your ears (creative name, right?). When comparing on-ear headphones with over-ear headphones, the biggest advantage they provide is that they are much more compact. Earpads on on-ear headphones are not overly bulky because they aren’t designed to enclose your ear entirely. Many on-ear headphones are also designed to be folded up which allows for easy storage and makes them great for travelling.

On-ear headphones typically do not offer the same sound quality as their over-ear counterparts because they simply don’t offer the same level of sound isolation. Because of their design, on-ear headphones often struggle to reach the same bass notes as over-ear headphones. If your desire for convenience outweighs everything else when shopping for headphones, on-ear headphones offer an ideal solution for general headphone use.

Over-Ear Headphones

Parrot ZIK Bluetooth Headphones

Over-ear (Circumaural) headphones are the largest type of headphones you can buy. These headphones completely enclose your ear and typically provide excellent sound isolation. Because of their oversized design and sound isolation, over-ear headphones are traditionally better suited for home use rather than on the go. As a general rule, over-ear headphones offer maximum bass and loudness levels because of their oversized earcups which create a larger sound stage.

Over-ear headphones can be overly bulky for some users. The fully enclosed earcup design can also cause overheating of the ears depending on how much the ear cushions breath.

What Do You Plan to Use Your Headphones For?

Headphones are incredibly versatile. They are ideal for anything from working out to travelling and even playing video games. Once you know what style headphone you want, you need to also know what you intend to use your headphones for. If you’re planning on using them at the gym, you probably aren’t going to want a bulky pair over-ears. You also need to know if you want convenience features like in-line microphone and volume controls. No matter what you intend to use your headphones for, you’ll most likely be able to choose between a pair of Bluetooth or wired headphones.
Athletic Headphones are an Athletes Best Friend

Athletic Use:

Active and sport headphones are great for anyone who wants to take their music to the gym or on a run. Most athletic headphones are in-ears, although you can also find on-ear headphones intended for athletic purposes. Many athletic headphones include some type of ear hook integrated into the design to provide a secure fit, ensuring they don’t fall out of your ears or off of your head during use. These headphones also typically feature some type of sweat resistance to provide long lasting use.
Travel:

If you’re a heavy traveler, investing in a nice pair of noise canceling headphones might be the best thing you can do. Noise canceling headphones, whether they are passive or active, are worth every penny when you’re stuck on a cross country flight filled with screaming kids. The best noise canceling headphones are generally over-ear, but you can also find high quality on-ear and in-ear noise canceling headphones.
Studio Headphones:

For the audiophiles and music professionals, studio headphones are designed with you in mind. These headphones are designed specifically for high quality sound and are available in in-ear, on-ear and over-ear styles, although they are most commonly available in over-ear designs.
Other Uses:

No matter what you intend to use your headphones for there is probably an option out there for you. Gaming headsets designed for use with console and PC with integrated microphones are available for serious gamers. These headsets often feature true surround sound technology to ensure you can hear your enemies sneaking up behind you. Home wireless headphone systems are perfect for anyone who doesn’t intend to use their headphones anywhere outside of their home. These systems include a wireless transmitter which is placed at a central location in your home and a compatible pair of headphones. Wireless headphone systems often have ranges well over 100 feet. These wireless headphone systems are great people who want to listen to their music as loud as they want without interrupting their significant others.

Other Features to Know:

Open Back vs. Closed Back:

Open Back Headphones Offer Better Sound Quality

Closed back headphones acoustically isolate your ears from your surroundings while also limiting sound leakage. They are intended listening when you don’t want to disturb others. Open back headphones don’t seal off your ears from the environment; they allow outside noise in and also allow sound out (making them a poor choice for anything other than private listening where there aren’t many people around). The open design typically provides better sound quality than closed back headphones because there is nothing behind the driver to cause resonances or sound colorations. The open sound stage also makes you feel like you are in a room with speakers rather than wearing a pair of headphones.

Semi-open headphones provide the best of both worlds. Semi-open headphones provide a slightly more open sound stage than closed back headphones while also providing more bass and punch than open back headphones.
Driver Type:

The drivers in your headphones are what make the sound you hear. Dynamic drivers are the most common driver type used. A dynamic driver utilizes a permanent magnet attached behind your headphones diaphragm and works with a voice coil to push air at different frequencies, creating your sound. Dynamic drivers provide more coherent sound and better bass response but struggle with overall detail.

A balanced armature driver uses the same general principle and components of a dynamic driver, but a balanced armature driver requires no air to function. Balanced armature drivers can be tuned for specific frequency ranges to provide better sound quality over dynamic drivers, however they can struggle with bass response.

 

Finding that perfect pair of headphones is an incredibly rewarding experience and is something you will reap the benefits of for years to come.

 

Ready to Shop for Your Headphones?

Shop for Headphones at sonicelectronix.com!NVX Audio XPT100 Over-Ear Headphones

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Car Alarm Buying Guide

protectyourcar

Chances are if you own a car, you want to protect it. Most newer cars come with factory car alarms built-in, but if you drive an older car (or any car) without a car alarm, there’s nothing to really stop would-be thieves from breaking in and driving away (or just stealing your stereo/valuables). And while a car alarm can’t guarantee your car won’t be broken into, it is an incredibly effective deterrent. For an added benefit of adding a car alarm to your vehicle, many insurance companies actually offer lower rates on vehicles that have an alarm installed.

Why Add an Aftermarket Car Alarm?

In addition to making your car safer, an alarm can also make it much easier to use. Alarm remotes are often able to lock and unlock your car doors, open your trunk and even start your car before you get in. Some systems even eliminate the additional remote entirely and integrate with your smartphone. With all of this in mind, adding a car alarm system to your vehicle shouldn’t be an ‘if’, it should only be a matter of when.

Car Alarm Features:

For most people, the idea of a car alarm is simply that, an alarm that is there solely to thwart would-be thieves. However, there is much more to your typical car alarm system besides the obvious (the intentionally obnoxious blaring siren anytime something bumps your car). Adding a car alarm to your vehicle can also make your life much simpler. Most car alarms include convenience features like panic mode, which allows you to set off the alarm from your remote, a trunk release function as well as valet mode, which lets you lower the system sensitivity when a valet is parking your car.

Smartphone Integration:

The first step in deciding what kind of car alarm to purchase should be whether or not you want a system that will integrate with your smartphone. If your keychain is already pretty full, or maybe you want to keep it clutter-free, a smartphone integrated system might be the way to go. These systems eliminate the need for that keychain pager and allow you to control your system directly from your phone with a free downloadable app from the manufacturer. These systems are also not limited by the range of a traditional pager, as long as your phone has a signal, you’ll be able to control your alarm from anywhere. Most smartphone compatible systems will work with iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.

Remote Start:

Always Be Prepared with a Remote Start System!

Adding remote start to your vehicle is ideal for anyone living in an area with freezing winters or sweltering summers. The remote start function allows you to start your car with your alarm pager without being in the drivers’ seat. Most car alarm pagers have ranges of at least 500 feet and can reach up to a mile while smartphone integrated systems are often only limited by whether you have reception or not. With a remote start system, you will never have to get into your frozen car in the doldrums of winter or get into a 150 degree car in the summer.

Remote start systems either come built in to a security system or can be added on to an alarm with a remote start module. Most newer vehicles (any car with a ‘chipped’ key) also require animmobilizer bypass to be installed. The immobilizer bypass essentially tricks the vehicle into thinking that the key is in the ignition, allowing you to remote start the car. Select remote start systems work with both automatic and manual transmissions.

Some remote start systems also include a feature called Turbo Timer. A turbo timer allows your engine to run for a predefined amount of time after you park. This is an ideal feature for turbo charged vehicles as it prevents the hot oil in your engine from choking up the lines in your engine. Proper engine cool down is an essential piece of keeping your engine and turbo healthy.

Keyless Entry:

Keyless entry allows you to lock and unlock your car doors (assuming your vehicle is equipped with power doors) as well as your trunk with the push of a button. Keyless entry is a great feature to have if you often have your hands full when you are heading to your car as it eliminates the need to use your car key to manually unlock your vehicle.

2-Way Paging:

2-Way Paging provides you with a great way to monitor your vehicle without actually being near it. As long as you are within the range of your pager, you will receive an alert (typically either vibration, audible or visual) when your alarm is triggered. Your pager will also provide responses to commands you send.

Shock Sensors, Motion Detectors and Tilt Sensors:

Car Alarms Also Work as Bear Deterrents, Don't Let Bears Break into Your Car!

A standard feature on many car alarms, a shock sensor is designed to trigger the alarm on light or heavy impacts and vibrations. Basically, if anyone hits, bumps or moves your car in any way, the system will know that it is happening and how intense the movements are. Depending on how strong these shocks are, the system will send out a warning or the full on alarm to deter would-be thieves. The most effective protection against shock/impact is a dual zone shock sensor. A dual zone shock sensor utilizes electromagnetic technology to eliminate mechanical parts and provides 2 outputs, the first of which offers a Warn Away response on light impact and the second instantly triggers the alarm on a hard impact.

Motion detectors do just what their name implies: they detect any motion around your vehicle. Motion detectors are an ideal add-on to convertibles, open jeeps and any other vehicle that isn’t completely enclosed. The most common motion detectors are more or less basic radar systems that send out radio signals to detect movement in the immediate vicinity.

Tilt sensors detect when someone attempts to put your car up on a jack or hook it up to a tow truck. When a tilt sensor detects your car being lifted up on an angle, it sends a signal and your alarm will sound.

Installing a car security system can be a very complex project and it is generally recommended that you seek out a professional installer to ensure the system is integrated properly into your vehicle. It is also important to note that any security system won’t necessarily work with any vehicle, if you have any questions before purchasing our helpful sales and technical support professionals are available 7 days a week.

 

Ready to Shop for Your Car Alarm?

Shop for Car Alarms at sonicelectronix.com!Crimestopper SP-502 2-way Remote Start Keyless Entry Car Alarm Vehicle Security System

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Equalizer Buying Guide

Parametric and Graphic EQ's Are Both Used to Clean Up Your Sound

 

Buying an Equalizer

 

Clarion EQS746 Graphic Equalizer

What Does an Equalizer Do?

If you have ever wanted to have more precise control over the sound in your vehicle’s sound system, you might want to think about investing in an equalizer. The basic definition of an equalizer is that is allows you to fine tune the sound in your car to your liking. These adjustments that an equalizer allows you to make are for specific ranges of sound known as ‘frequency bands’. An equalizer will smooth out the frequency response of your system and help you eliminate unwanted distortion.

Why Add an Equalizer?

Clarity and balance are crucial pieces of your vehicle’s sound system, and just buying a set of speakers with a bigger power rating on them won’t necessarily achieve the perfect sound you’re looking for. If you want to have pinpoint control over your sound, you’re going to need to add an equalizer. To put it simply, adding an equalizer to your sound system will allow you tune your sound to match your preferences, as well as to the acoustics of your specific car. Most aftermarket headunits include a built-in equalizer. Higher end aftermarket stereos have customizable EQs, but many have EQ presets that are preprogrammed for specific music types. If you are planning on using an equalizer with your factory sound system, you can even add an auxiliary input.

An important note about adding an equalizer to your system, it is not designed to make your system louder or make your amplifier produce more power.

Boss EQ1208 Graphic Equalizer

What Kind of Equalizer?

There are several different types of equalizers available for you to install in your audio system. The two most common EQ types are Parametric Equalizers and Graphic Equalizers.

Graphic Equalizer:Graphic Equalizers are the Simplest EQ Format

A graphic equalizer is the simplest (and standard) type of EQ. Graphic EQs are made up of multiple sliders or controls. Each slider or control functions to boost or cut a small section of the audio spectrum at a preset frequency (or band). A typical graphic equalizer will have between 5 and 12 slider controls on its face for you to tweak specific bands of your sound. Your typical 5-band graphic equalizer will have sliders for 5 fixed frequencies: low bass (25-30Hz), mid-bass (80-150Hz), midrange (1kHz), upper midrange (10kHz) and treble or high frequency (20kHz). Unfortunately, the width of each one of these bands is preset and cannot be adjusted.

Parametric Equalizer:

A Parametric Equalizer allows you to take the functions of a graphic equalizer a step further by allowing you to adjust the width of each frequency band you adjust. A parametric equalizer is capable of controlling 3 aspects of each frequency: the level, the center (primary frequency), and the bandwidth (range of each frequency). This gives you even finer control over the sound adjustments you make to your sound system.

 

What Else to Look For?

Adding an EQ to Your System Allows You to Fine Tune Your Sound

It is important to be aware of just how precise you plan on getting with your sound adjustments. The most common equalizers come with 7 adjustable bands, and while there is theoretically no real limit on how many bands an EQ can have, they typically max out at around 30 bands. The more bands your equalizer has, the more you can tune your sound. The potential downside to equalizers with more bands is that they are more difficult to tune and do not offer much benefit unless you have access to specialized sound testing equipment that can precisely identify any technical issues in your sound settings.

Depending on how serious you plan on getting, you may want to think about purchasing an equalizer with more bands whereas if you just want something basic that will still make your system sound good you are probably safe with sticking with something around the 7 band norm.

 

Ready to Shop for Your Equalizer?

Shop for Equalizers at sonicelectronix.com!NVX XEQ7 Graphic Equalizer

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Subwoofer Enclosure Buying Guide

Belva BBLE212 Dual 12" Loaded Enclosure

 

Buying a Subwoofer Enclosure

Find the Perfect Enclosure for Your Subwoofer

Building your perfect car audio setup requires more than just the components; you also are going to need the right mounting hardware to have your system meet its potential. Your subwoofer is no exception when it comes to a subwoofer enclosure. A subwoofer without an enclosure isn’t capable of functioning to it’s full potential. If you want to really make your subwoofer bump, this means finding the right enclosure not only to meet the requirements of your sub, but also the space limitations for your car. You can also build an enclosure yourself to meet your subwoofers requirements, however it is not recommended unless you are an experienced craftsman and have a complete understanding of the various specifications.


 

 

What Size Subwoofer Do You Have?

Your first step in purchasing a subwoofer box should be obvious, what size is your subwoofer? You can’t buy a box designed for an 8” subwoofer and use it with a 12” sub, it simply won’t fit. The cut out dimensions need to match your subwoofer exactly for the box to function properly. It is also imperative for you to know the mounting depth of your subwoofer, if you purchase a box that is too shallow for your woofer, you’re also going to be in trouble. You also need to know how many subs you plan on installing. If you’re only going to be putting one subwoofer in your car, you’ll need to get a single sub enclosure. However, if you plan on installing 2 subwoofers, dual sub boxes are also available (however they can take up a significant amount of space).

 

 

What are Your Subwoofers Airspace Requirements?

Once you have determined what size enclosure you need for your subwoofer, it’s time to get into some of the finer details to get your bass to really hit hard. Matching your subwoofer to the proper enclosure is no simple task as you need to know the precise Thiele/Small (T/S) Electromechanical Parameters as well as the air space requirements of your specific sub. The T/S parameters as well as the air space requirements of your subwoofer should be provided by the manufacturer.

 

 

What Kind of Box Do You Need?

There are 3 types of subwoofer enclosures: sealed boxes, ported boxes and bandpass boxes. Subwoofer enclosures are most commonly (but not exclusively) constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF). Each box type has its own merits and features, but not every subwoofer is designed to work with any box type.

Sealed Enclosures are More Compact than Other Types of Enclosures

Sealed Boxes are airtight enclosures to house your subwoofer. A sealed box provides deep, precise bass and is ideal for any music that demands tight and accurate bass. Sealed enclosures are not overly boomy, provide outstanding power handling as well as incredibly deep bass extension. Sealed enclosures also typically more compact and can fit in more places in your car easier. As a general rule, sealed enclosures require more power than a ported box and use of an amplifier is usually recommended.

 

Ported enclosures (or vented enclosures) feature an additional port for air flow in and out of the box. The added air flow of ported boxesallows the box to play louder with less power required. Ported boxes are best used for rock, heavy metal or any other genre of bass heavy music.

Bandpass enclosures are more specialized enclosures which place the sub between a sealed and ported box. These enclosures are designed to provide the hardest hitting bass performance. They produce much more bass than their sealed and ported counterparts, however it is over a much more narrow frequency range. These enclosures are ideal for rap, R&B, hard rock, metal and other bass heavy music. Bandpass boxes are often the largest enclosure type.

 

 

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Among other considerations you need to make when purchasing a subwoofer enclosure is the amount of space you have in your car. Subwoofer enclosures can take up a large amount of space and depending on what kind of car you have, any type of enclosure may not work. Not all vehicles have the room of an SUV, van or even a hatchback to accommodate the larger sub enclosures and you’ll need to know how much open space you have (and are willing to sacrifice) to add an enclosure.

Install Your Enclosure Under the Seat to Save Space

Trucks are often the most difficult vehicle to install a sub enclosure in simply because there is very little free space in the cab. Enclosures in pickup trucks can generally only be installed behind the driver and passenger seats. These types of enclosures feature an angled design to fit snuggly up against the seatback. Another potential location for the installation of your subwoofer enclosure is under the seats in your car. These enclosures are perfect if you’re trying to keep your sound system inconspicuous as they will be hidden from view. The most common type of enclosure is the trunk mount enclosure. These ‘big box’ enclosures fit in the trunks of sedans and in the cargo area of hatchbacks, vans and SUVs. Trunk mount enclosures can vary quite a bit in size and take up a significant chunk of your storage space.

Many Vehicle Specific Enclosures Install in Out of the Way Places

Vehicle specific enclosures are also available for select vehicles. These enclosures are designed to fit precisely into specific vehicles and will often fit in out of the way places. These types of enclosures can be constructed out of MDF like most common enclosures as well as fiberglass. Fiberglass is an ideal material for vehicle specific enclosures because it can be molded to fit in virtually any space.

Preloaded enclosures are also available to purchase; these enclosures eliminate the guesswork of selecting a box to match your subwoofer as they come with the subwoofer built-in. A preloaded enclosure can also include an amplifier, making your installation process even simpler.

Once you have your enclosure installed in your vehicle and subwoofer mounted in it, you’re ready to enjoy your new sound. At Sonic Electronix, we have everything you need to get your bass up to par.

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OFC vs. CCA Wire: The Rundown

A factor that is commonly overlooked in choosing any type of wiring kit is the material that the wire is made from. Copper and aluminum are the most commonly used wire materials and there is a significant difference in quality, power handling and signal transfer between these materials. The least costly between these 2 options is Copper-Clad Aluminum (CCA) wire. CCA wire utilizes an aluminum core that is clad or dipped in copper. It is a suitable choice for lower powered systems or restricted budget applications, although the power transfer is not on the same level as the far superior Oxygen Free Copper (100% OFC) wiring. OFC wiring is refined to remove virtually all oxygen and other corrosive elements.

 

Oxygen Free Copper wiring provides a superior electrical conductor to aluminum because it does not expand or contract with heat and can carry a higher current load. The improved efficiency of OFC wiring will also reduce the strain on your vehicle tremendously and allows your sound system to run at its maximum efficiency. While OFC wiring is more costly upfront, it provides much improved corrosion resistanceand greatly reduces your long term maintenance costs. CCA wiring often times will degrade to the point that it needs replacing much sooner than OFC wiring.

OFC Advantages

  • Increased Conductivity to Carry More Current to Your Amplifier
  • Reduced the Strain on Your Vehicle’s Electrical System
  • Increased Corrosion Resistance
  • Decreased Maintenance Costs
  • Improved Heat Absorption

Shop OFC Amplifier Wiring Kits at sonicelectronix.com!

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2013-14 Honda Accord: How to Remove the Front Door Panel

Removing a vehicle’s door panel can seem like a difficult, time consuming and potentially costly endevour for many. Luckily, these types of projects are often times fairly simple, straight forward undertakings. This guide provides a simple step-by-step process to removing the front door panel in your 2013 or 2014 Honda Accord for your aftermarket sound system installations.

Tools Used

Want to install an aftermarket system into your Honda Accord? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Steering Wheel Control Interface
    • PAC ControlPRO Android and iOS Programable Universal Steering Wheel Control Interface
    • Axxess ASWC-1 Universal Steering Wheel Control Interface
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E46 BMW M3 Component Speaker System Installation

Have you ever listened to your BMW M3 and thought you needed a sound upgrade? Of course you have! This installation guide is for that exact purpose. It covers the installation process for a front door component speaker system upgrade on your BMW E46 M3 Coupe (2000-2006). This particular installation was for an Alpine Type-R Component System in a 2004 BMW M3 which already had an aftermarket headunit, amplifier and subwoofer installed. It is important to note when you look for speakers for your M3, be sure to find speakers with a relatively shallow mounting depth because the available space is extremely limited. Below is everything you need to perform this upgrade yourself!
Alpine SPR-60C

Products Used

Tools Used

The installation process for this BMW required your typical car audio installation tools like wire crimpers/cutters, pry tools and wire connectors as well as some more specialty tools such as an air grinder to create new speaker brackets and mounts.

Want to install an aftermarket system into your BMW E46 M3? Here’s what you’ll need:

The 4th generation E4 BMW M3 has a non-standard dash opening that can accommodate a full size, double DIN stereo or a smaller single DIN stereo with the proper dash kit. It has speaker locations in the front door panels for tweeters and midrange speakers as well as speaker locations in the rear and rear deck.

Shop for Your BMW at sonicelectronix.com!

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Amplifier Wiring Kit Buying Guide

An Amplifier Installation Kit is Required to Install an Amplifier

When looking to get the most out of your car’s sound system, an amplifier is often times the way to go. However, installing an amp into your system isn’t as simple as buying one and plugging it in, you also will need to purchase an amplifier wiring kit that meets the power and wiring needs of the amplifier you already purchased.

Step 1: What Type of Kit Do You Need?

It is crucial to your sound system to understand what exactly you need when looking for an amp kit. When purchasing your amp kit, you have two options to choose from: a complete amplifier kit or a power kit.

Complete Amplifier Kit

A complete amplifier kit comes with everything you need to seamlessly integrate your amplifier into your sound system; the proper speaker wire, power and ground wire, RCA cables, remote turn-on wire*, fuse holders, grommets and terminals.

*See our wiring type guide for more detailed information on the wiring types you need to install an amplifier.

Power Kit

A power kit comes with everything you need to power your amplifier but will not come with any speaker wire or RCA connection cables. This includes power and ground cables, turn-on lead wires, fuse and fuse holder as well as an assortment of wiring hardware and cable ties (grommets, wring terminals, connectors etc.)

In case you already have a few of the necessary installation parts or need to replace anything from your kit these parts are also all sold individually.

Step 2: What Wire Size Do You Need?

It is important to note that any amp kit won’t necessarily work with any amplifier; the kit needs to be matched up to the amp (or vice-versa) to ensure the wires will fit properly. The cables and wires you use to install your amplifier are just as, if not more important than the amplifier itself. Using the proper wire gauge ensures your amp receives the amount of power it is designed for. The most common wire sizes for powering a car amplifier are 1/0 gauge, 4 gauge and 8 gauge. Due to the high current demands, a car amplifier needs large power and ground wires to get the energy it needs from the battery to operate to its peak efficiency.

As a general recommendation, Sonic Electronix follows the guidelines below as a quick reference in determining the appropriate wire gauge.

Wire Gauge Size Total Amplifier RMS Wattage
0/1 AWG 1000+ Watts
4 AWG 400-1000 Watts
8 AWG 200-400 Watts
10 AWG 100-200 Watts

Step 3: Do You Have Multiple Amplifiers in Your System?

For more complex sound systems, you may need to install multiple amps. The simplest, most efficient way to do this is to get a dual amp wiring kit that includes dual fuses and distribution blocks. A power distribution block allows you to have multiple amplifiers in your system while only running a single power wire from your battery. Multiple outputs then allow you to run power wiring to your amplifiers. To protect your system from any power spikes, it is necessary to match the fuse and fuse holder size to your amplifier. It is important that the fuse rating of your amp kit matches or slightly exceeds that of your amplifier. When you have multiple amps wired together in your system, just add the amperages of each amplifier together to determine the necessary amperage of your fuses.

Step 4: Tips and Tricks to the Best Sounding System

 

  • When possible, always buy 100% Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) wiring. While more costly up front, OFC wiring offers a huge performance advantage over Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) wiring and greater corrosion resistance. CCA wire is a suitable choice for lower powered systems or restricted budget applications, but it’s performance is much lower quality.
  • Whenever possible, to ensure your system receives the proper amount of power always use true gauge wire. For more information on the importance of wire gauge, see our Wire Gauge Sizes and the American Wire Gauge (AWG) article.

 

Building out your sound system can be a complex, time consuming process, but it is also an incredibly rewarding experience when you turn it on for the first time.

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Marine Stereo Buying Guide

Marine Audio

Adding a head unit to your boat is a great way to have an even better time out on the lake. However, finding and purchasing a marine head unit can be a much more complicated task than buying a stereo for your car. Marine stereos have to withstand incredible amounts of abuse compared to the stereo you put in your car simply because of where they are located. Marine head units have to be able to withstand the elements, from the beating rays of the sun to water and salt that can all cause extreme damage to your boat’s electronic devices. If you buy a head unit that isn’t up to par it won’t last the season, let alone the long winter in storage.

 

What to Look For

A marine head unit takes the same features of the head unit in your car and moves it to your boat. You’ll be able to add anything from AM/FM radio and CD player (although CDs will often times have skipping problems in rough water) to an MP3/USB digital media player with satellite radio.

Most marine head units come in single DIN designs, however there are receivers that are custom DIN designs. Custom DIN head units come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many newer boats will come with stock stereos which makes upgrading to an aftermarket receiver a simple task. However, if you want to add a head unit to an older boat that doesn’t have any sound system in it, you are probably going to need to cut open some paneling and run wiring for the components. There isn’t really one perfect spot to install a head unit in your boat because of the different boat designs and sizes, but as a general rule try to keep your head unit in an out of the way location where it will get some protection from sunlight and water.

There are many features and specifications you will want to look for when purchasing a head unit for your boat, but there are 3 that you really need to pay attention to: water resistance, UV resistance and anti-corrosion protection.

It is Important to Know the IPX Rating of Your Marine Head Unit

Marine grade audio equipment should absolutely be designed to withstand water. When you see a product labeled as ‘Water Resistant’, it will stand up to splashes and light rain, but won’t be able to survive submersion. A ‘Water Proof’ product is built to survive complete submersion. Even if you plan on installing your marine head unit in an area of your boat unlikely to ever see water a water proof designed unit will last longer. No matter where you install your unit the dampness of any marine environment will take its toll. When looking for water resistance ratings be sure to look for IPX ratings. IPX ratings range from IPX-0, which offers no protection whatsoever against water, to IPX-7, which provides protection from complete submersion up to 1 meter for at least 30 minutes. An IPX-8 rating also exists which provides protection from complete submersion better than IPX-7 in any way the manufacturer states.

Chances are your head unit is going to be installed in an area where it will be exposed to UV rays from the sun. This can be potentially problematic because extended exposure to the sun can lead to bleached out, cracked or overheated equipment. High quality marine audio equipment is designed to withstand damaging UV. However, there is no such thing as ‘UV-Proof’, so try and install your head unit in an area where it won’t see much direct sun light.

The third primary enemy which faces marine audio equipment is corrosion. Marine environments are not friendly places for electronics. Rust and corrosion are common in marine environments, especially if your boat is out on the ocean. Marine grade gear is designed to resist rust and corrosion with conformal coated circuit boards, plated connections and rust resistant chassis components. However, as with harmful UV rays, your head unit should be placed in an area with as little exposure as possible.

Bluetooth

Sony MEX-M70BT Marine Stereo Receiver w/ Built-In Bluetooth

Bluetooth enabled head units are compatible with most Bluetooth devices and allow for wireless streaming and hands free talk. Most Bluetooth units include either an external wired or built-in microphone for distortion free phone calls. In many states it is illegal to talk on your phone without a Bluetooth device. They also come with a text to speech feature so that you can receive and respond to your texts without pulling over.

MP3 Player/Smartphone Integration

Keep Your Mobile Devices Protected from the Harmful Marine Elements

Marine receivers also come with integrated USB ports. These can be used for iPod integration and playing music from other audio sources such as thumb drives, MP3 players and other smartphones. Select marine head units open up to accept and store your MP3 player or smartphone. These receivers are best because they protect your device from the harmful marine elements. This also eliminates the need for having any type of input jack on the outside of the receiver which can be susceptible to rust and corrosion. Receivers with Pandora compatibility are able to stream music from your Pandora account.

AM/FM Radio

Other receivers have integrated supertuners for boosted AM/FM reception. Supertuners combine the best of digital and analog tuner technology to greatly reduce distortion and improve stereo separation and sensitivity. Supertuners are ideal for low reception areas and also improve reception in downtown areas where tall buildings can add interference.

Satellite Radio

SiriusXM Ready Kenwood KMR-M308BT

Select in-dash receivers come HD and Satellite radio-ready or with the HD/Satellite radio tuner built-in. Satellite radio receivers require a Sirius/XM subscription (and it will work up to 200 miles off shore depending on your location). Some of the advantages of HD and satellite radio are dramatically improved signal quality and that they each come with stations that aren’t found on AM/FM radio. HD radio provides a CD level sound quality to FM stations and makes AM stations FM quality.

EQ

Graphic and parametric Equalizer bands, or EQ bands, allow you to tweak your music settings. The more EQ bands your receiver has, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune the sound. Graphic EQ bands are the simplest type and consist of multiple sliders or controls for adjusting bands or sound frequencies. Parametric equalizers offer a greater degree of control over your sound. Parametric EQ can control three aspects of each frequency: the level, the center frequency and the range of each frequency.

To further clean up sound, head units can come with Digital Time Alignment, or DTA. This synchronizes the timing of sounds coming from each of your speakers to optimize the sound stage and provide the ultimate listening experience.

Higher end head units come with built-in sound processors to provide even better sound quality. Sound processors better filter audio signals to your speakers for the cleanest sound possible. The top of the line head units will come with Digital 5.1 Surround Sound capabilities to transform your boat into a truly immersive sound stage.

Preamp RCA Outputs

Preamp Outputs Make it Easy to Connect Your Entire System

These outputs are necessary to connect external amplifiers for your speakers and subwoofers to your marine receiver. A receiver typically comes with one, two or three sets of RCA outputs. One pair of outputs will generally provide a full range signal which can be used with most subwoofers and amplifiers. Two RCA outputs can be configured for connecting a 2-channel amp or one pair of stereo speakers. Three sets of RCA outputs are typically used for two sets ofstereo speakers and a subwoofer amp.

It is important to know what the preamp voltage of your head unit is. Higher voltages result in stronger signals which clean up distortion and unwanted sound.

Compatibility

For boats with steering wheel mounted controls there are receivers with steering wheel integration to give you total control of your stereo without ever having to take your hands off the wheel. Most receivers do not come with steering wheel integration built-in and require an additional adapter.

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