Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.
Marine equipment is built with materials that are water, fog, salt, and UV ray resistant. These products guard against rust and overall wear and tear. The outstanding durability of the marine audio line allows you to enjoy your favorite music throughout every outdoor adventure.
Marine receivers are designed with conformal coated circuit boards to guard against rust. Many marine stereos are ready for satellite radio. If you get the proper setup (tuner, antenna, and subscription) you can listen to XM or Sirius while at sea, with the exception of those sailing more than 200 miles off shore or passing through the Bermuda Triangle. A marine speaker is made with water-resistant and weather-resistant materials to ensure long lasting audio playback. Many of our Marine speakers feature plastic cones and rubber surrounds for optimal durability. The marine subwoofers are fashioned with waterproof rubber mounting gaskets, and the bass tubes are water resistant enclosures that use weather resistant mounting straps to help sustain your bass despite stormy conditions. Marine amplifiers protect your audio system’s power from moisture and humidity with gasket-sealed covers for the top-mounted controls and endcaps. The marine amps feature rubber caps to cover the RCA inputs, silicone boots to shield the fuses, and their circuit boards have corrosion-deterring conformal coating. Finally, if you need to save space but want powerful sound, our powered marine subs offer bass and power in one package.
Check out all of our informative marine audio articles for more information on specific product features and install tips.
Did you know that in many states it is illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone? Laws have already been passed in states such as California, New York, and Washington. The laws undoubtedly make the road safer for all, keeping the driver’s eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Bluetooth allows you to safely multi-task on the road, keeping you and others out of danger. To put it plainly, if you’re going to drive and talk, use your head: Bluetooth headsets are the smarter way to communicate.
So what is Bluetooth exactly? Bluetooth technology allows for wireless communication. Bluetooth headsets and hands-free kits use a special noise cancellation technology that allows you to have a conversation with the other party as if they were sitting right next to you. The Bluetooth products use voice activation technology for hands-free dialing, and with a headset and microphone put together in one convenient earpiece, you can chat away while using your hands for driving, typing or any other task at hand.
Check out the Bluetooth stereo section, which includes Bluetooth-ready car stereos and receivers as well as in-dash head units with built-in Bluetooth hands-free capability. The latest in-dash DVD players with built-in monitors feature touchscreen dialing and caller ID functions for most phones.
Another way to get Bluetooth in the car is by installing a sun-visor Bluetooth kit or a rearview mirror with built-in Bluetooth. Plug-and-play sun-visor kits mount on your sun-visor, and include a speaker and a microphone that you can mount on your dash. Sun-visor kits do not interface with the car stereo, making it easy to add or remove the unit from your vehicles. The rear-view mirror devices with built-in Bluetooth use voice activated dialing and audibly announce the name of the incoming caller. The caller ID is displayed on bottom corner of the rearview mirror to keep the driver’s eyes on the road. For further safety, when backing out in reverse, the parking sensors relay a beeping signal to alert the driver of an approaching object.
We also carry Bluetooth hands-free kits which can integrate with factory OEM stereos. With the use of Parrot and EGO by Funkwerk Bluetooth kits and Parrot or PAC factory integration harnesses, you can participate in wireless conversations through your vehicle’s stereo system and auto-mute the music or radio station while the conversation takes place. The caller’s voice is played over your car’s speakers allowing you to communicate as if on a speaker-phone. Using Bluetooth to take part in conversations over the car speakers gives you a factory integrated feel without having to replace or significantly modify the dash.
Sonic Electronix Certified Amplifiers* are thoroughly tested by our in-house experts for accurate power output compared to manufacturer stated ratings, ensuring you know the true power ratings before you purchase your amplifier.
Our certified amps are professionally tested to determine true amplifier power output using our SMD Amplifier Dyno. We put these amplifiers through both a certified test and a dynamic test to give you the most accurate information about these amplifiers. When in certified mode, the SMD Amp Dyno utilizes the SMD patented DD-1 distortion detection system to determine whether it is measuring clean power or not. This is accomplished by slowly building power input until the system measures greater than 1% harmonic distortion and takes a final power reading and battery voltage rating at that point. The Dynamic Test utilizes industry standard burst signals to capture the power generated by the amp.
The benefits of these tests are to ensure you don’t have to guess as to whether the amplifier you’re purchasing will meet your power needs. Some amplifiers have greatly exaggerated power ratings which are attempting to deceive consumers with huge numbers rather than accurate ratings. With the Sonic Electronix Certified Amplifier rating, you know exactly what you’ll be getting!
Radar detectors are important tools to many drivers. In fact, they’re so heavily relied on by some drivers that many won’t even drive without one! There’s a common misconception that a radar detector is more of a patrol detector, but this isn’t the case. Radar detectors are designed to pick up radar signals in the area and alert you of them. There’s something important to remember though, all radar detectors are required to pick up interference from other radar signals in the area. This means that the radar detectors may go off when there aren’t any “threats” in the area such as from motion detectors in many doors and security systems in stores.
Radar detectors are all designed to detect radar signals, but some detectors can even pick up laser signals and others can be integrated with your smart phone. All radar detectors will pick up X, K, and KA bands but if you want something more specific or the laws in your state have specific restrictions you will want to keep this in mind while shopping. Keep in mind that radar detectors are illegal for all vehicles in the following areas – The District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), Virginia, most areas in Canada, and United States military bases. Remember to double check your state and county’s laws prior to purchasing a radar detector.
Different areas tend to use different radar signals, so it is best to research your current area to see what type of radar or laser is used most commonly. Many enthusiast forums online are great gateways to this type of information.
You may be curious what makes one radar detector better than another when you’re shopping for some and see a larger price gap. Keep in mind that as with most electronics that you usually “get what you pay for” and some of the more budget detectors may not be up to par to alert you quick enough. If you’re going to be traveling a lot, multi-band detection is a feature you’ll definitely want to consider. Some radar detectors are designed specifically for commonly used bands in North America specifically.
Using your Radar Detector Correctly
Now, you may have a radar detector, but this doesn’t make you immune from encounters. You’ll need to understand how your radar detector works in order to use it. Radar detectors tend to work best on line of sight principles – meaning if there’s an obstruction in the road or an upcoming bend, your detector is just as blind as you are. Learning to work with a radar detector takes a bit of practice, but when you’re used to it, driving without one will make you feel naked. Remember – a radar detector does not JAM anything. If you hear a strong alert, SLOW DOWN!
Get protected and get your radar detector from Sonic Electronix!
Eliminating unwanted noise in a vehicle is a multistage process. This is because there are many ways that noise can enter a vehicle. The most common types are road noise, engine noise, panel vibration and rattling. The process and materials that are used to quiet these sources of noise are listed below.
Vibration Damper (CLD or Constrained Layer Damper)
Let’s start with Panel Vibration. This can be caused by the tires reacting to the surface of the road, the engine and drive train or even the sound system of the vehicle. The most effective way to eliminate this type of noise is to stop the vibration. The best way to do this is to add to the rigidity of the panel that is vibrating.
Constrained Layer Damper or CLD is the most common type of Sound Deadening that is used in Car Audio. CLD products are usually constructed with a layer of Butyl Rubber that is attached to a constraining layer such as Aluminum. CLD products are attached directly to the vehicle by a layer of adhesive on the Butyl Rubber side.
CLD products add mass to the panels of the vehicle in order to increase the rigidity of the panel which in turn stops the vibration. In most cases 50% coverage of a panel is enough to eliminate unwanted vibrations.
How To Install CLD Sound Dampening
Sound Barrier (MLV or Mass Loaded Vinyl)
Road noise and engine noise are a completely different issue. CLD products do very little to stop radiated sound from entering a vehicle. This is where you will need to use a sound barrier product such as Mass Loaded Vinyl or MLV.
MLV products are made of a dense but flexible Vinyl that has a very low resonant frequency which makes it ideal as a sound barrier. When used properly this layer of MLV will encompass the entire vehicle from the window line down to create an environment that is isolated from the outside world. You need to make sure that you minimize any cracks or seams in this layer of MLV that would allow radiated sound to penetrate the cabin. This requires that you overlap the seams and use either tape or a vinyl adhesive to complete the seal.
Sound Absorber (CCF or Closed Cell Foam)
Road noise and engine noise can also be minimized by using a sound absorber. It can be very difficult to get MLV to adhere to an inverted surface such as the roof, hood or trunk of a car. The weight required to qualify MLV as a great sound barrier becomes a problem when trying to keep it from peeling away from the surface.
Closed Cell Foam or CCF is a good choice for these surfaces. Due to the size constraints of the vehicle CCF is not as effective as MLV at minimizing lower frequencies but it still does a good job at reducing higher frequencies. For any material to be effective as a sound absorber it needs to be 1/4th the thickness of the frequencies wavelength. You would need to use a sheet of CCF that is 4 feet thick to absorb an 80Hz tone. This is just not feasible in a vehicle. CCF that is 0.25” thick will only be effective at limiting frequencies above 13 KHz. CCF that is 0.5” will lower that to 6.5KHz while 0.75” and 1.0” will be 4.4KHz and 3.4KHz respectively. This will definitely help with high pitched sounds such as wind and tire noise.
Some sound absorbers have an added layer of protection from heat that makes them ideal for under the hood. They can also be used on the transmission tunnel and firewall to repel heat that is radiated by the engine and transmission.
Sound Decoupler (CCF or Closed Cell Foam)
The last type of noise is rattling that occurs when two or more vibrating panels make intermittent contact with each other. CCF can also be used as a vibration decoupler or cushion between two panels to stop the rattling. CCF is a great choice for this because the closed cell structure will not absorb moisture or odor from inside the door panel or liquids that may be spilled inside the vehicle.
Some products that are available in the Car Audio market combine two or more of these products in to a single product.
For example Stinger RKCP12 and Accumat AMT250 are a combination of CCF and MLV in one convenient sheet. These are ideal for installation in areas such as Doors and Quarter panels where rattles can occur.
Do you own a pair of headphones that you want to get the most out of? Are you considering tossing them aside for another, possibly more expensive pair? Before you go spending more money on yet another new pair of headphones, consider an alternate choice: a headphone amplifier. Headphone amplifiers use the same principle as a car amplifier (making your music cleaner and louder), and condenses it to pocket or desktop form for a personal listening experience. Headphone amps come in many different sizes, from the miniscule pocket sized amps for when you’re on the go to the full sized desktop amps for when you want to just kick back and get lost in some music in the comfort of your home.
Let’s start with some basic background information, all headphones require a headphone amplifier to function, and nearly every audio device includes a built-in amplifier (your smartphone, tablet and computer already have one). This will probably lead you to ask why you need to buy another amp to make my sound better. The answer is relatively simple; these built-in amps are small, weak and unable to power your headphones to their full potential like a standalone headphone amp*.
Knowing Your Needs
Now, when looking into buying a headphone amplifier, the most important thing to know is what you are going to be using it for. If you’re someone who likes listening to music when you’re out and about, travelling or just moving around the house, you’re probably going to want to pick up a portable headphone amp. Portable Headphone Amplifiers
Portable headphone amps are just what you would expect; compact, lightweight and easy to carry around with you. Portable headphone amps are typically powered by an internal rechargeable battery or USB connection and have at least one 3.5mm or 1/4” input jack. Intended mostly for use with smartphones, MP3 players, tablets and other portable music players, these amps will also often come with integrated controls for volume, EQ settings for bass, treble, gain and balance and some can even remotely control songs from your device. Select portable amps can also keep your device charged during use so you never have to worry about running out of juice. Desktop Headphone Amplifiers
On the other hand, if you love nothing more than coming home after a long day and relaxing in your favorite chair with your music, a desktop headphone amplifier is the way to go. Desktop amps can be much larger than their portable counterparts and are designed primarily for use with your PC, music server or laptop. Many desktop amplifiers come with a built-in Digital Analog Converter (DAC) which converts the digital signal coming from your device to an analog signal into your headphones to provide an even more clean, crisp sound (some portable headphones also have a built-in DAC, but it is primarily a desktop feature). Desktop amplifiers can also come with integrated full EQ settings and sound controls. Other Important Information
Other things to take into consideration when looking for a headphone amp include the specs of your headphones themselves. The efficiency (sensitivity) of your headphones indicates how loudly they will play given a specific amount of power. This rating is typically stated as a certain decibel level (dB) reached with 1 milliwatt (mW) of power. The more efficient your headphones the higher the number, with anything over 100dB considered incredibly efficient. The output impedance of the amplifier is another key piece of information to be aware of; the overall sound quality improves the lower the amplifier’s impedance.
Headphone amps can also function as splitters with multiple headphone inputs which are great for listening parties. Headphone amplifiers can also come with 3.5mm or 1/4” input jacks to support even the highest quality of headphones. High end audiophile-grade headphone amplifiers come with optical inputs to provide the cleanest sound possible.
Polyfill, also known as polyester fiberfill, is one of the best types of materials used for enclosures. This material is found and sold almost anywhere and is extremely affordable. The material is easy to apply to the inside of your subwoofer enclosure and allows you to add the perfect amount of fill so your box appears bigger to the subs which will then produce better audio quality.
When Poyfill is added to your enclosure, the airspring within the box begins an isothermal process. When the air passes through the Polyfill it is scattered and dissipated by the fibers, causing the air to be less dense. The speaker then interacts with the enclosure as if it is larger than it really is, changing the sound.
Often times you’ll either build or buy an enclosure for your equipment and it will be just a tad too small. In these cases you can easily add some Polyfill to the box to increase the effectiveness of your subwoofer. As long as you are within the manufacturers suggested box volume specs, a larger enclosure is more efficient than a smaller one no matter what size the driver is. Having a large enclosure gives you more options; if your subwoofer enclosure is too small, there isn’t much you can do except build or buy a new one.
On a more negative note, too much Polyfill can prevent your speakers or sub woofers from producing audio at their full potential. Obviously overstuffing the enclosure will restrict the linear movement of the sub and make the quality of the audio sound extremely muffled. Too much also decreases the effective dampening of the speaker which would allow it to bottom out. Polyfill is also not appropriate for every application – if your enclosure is already bigger than the manufacturer suggests, polyfill isn’t needed and could actually negatively impact the sound.
The effects of Polyfill vary for each enclosure, but all will follow the same general rules. The correct amount can help bring out the full potential of your speakers and sub woofers, but too much will make them sound horrible. So do yourself a favor and research the proper amounts of Polyfill to add to your subwoofer enclosures to ensure you have the best stereo system out of all your friends.
See more information on airspace and Polyfill on our blog page.
Buying an amplifier for a car audio system can be a daunting task. It can be a challenge for someone new to the industry to select the perfect amplifier for their application, so we’ve put together this guide to help you find out what type of amplifier you need for your new system. Remember – you should either choose an amplifier first and build your system around it, or you choose the other components first and choose an amplifier (or amplifiers) to power the components. This guide assumes you have an idea of what type of system you want without any idea about the amplifier.
Let’s get started!
Selecting a Channel Configuration
All amplifiers are designed to output power into different “channels”. This helps pair the amplifier to the application it’s being used in. The most common amplifiers are 2-channel, 4-channel, and monoblock. Now, just because an amplifier is branded as “2-channel” doesn’t mean it’s only capable of powering 2 speakers. In theory, it’s possible to have as many speakers as you want paired with a 2-channel amp, it will just change the impedance (ohms) and change how the power is distributed between the speakers. Even though it’s possible to wire many additional speakers, it’s most common to use a 4-channel amplifier for 4 speakers, a 2-channel for 2 speakers, and so on.
Here’s a list that helps identify each different amplifier channel configuration and more information about each one.
Can be used to power one set of speakers (2 total speakers)
Most commonly used to power a subwoofer, or multiple subwoofers
Usually has Class A/B Circuitry, but can also have full-range Class D as well
Perhaps one of the most popular selections, 2-channel amplifiers are great for multiple purposes. Two channel amplifiers output dedicated power to two separate channels, great for powering one set of car speakers (2 total speakers). The two channels can also be combined, or bridged together to provide more output to one dedicated channel, and is commonly done to power a subwoofer or subwoofers. 2-Channel amplifiers are stereo, meaning they have a Left and Right output. This is important for staging, and tuning. These amplifiers are capable of playing what is considered the full spectrum of sound that humans can hear, usually around 20-20,000 Hz.
Bridgeable (most of the time)
Usually used to power two sets of speakers (4 total speakers)
Also able to be used in other configurations, however this is not as common
Usually has Class A/B Circuitry, but can also have full-range Class D as well
Another popular option, 4-channels, are commonly used to power an entire set of door speakers (4 total speakers). 4-Channel amplifiers are also bridgeable, allowing for a ton of configurations, but the most popular application we find these amplifiers in is powering door speakers.
Mono (one channel, no Left/Right differentiation)
High-powered car amplifier
Not full-range since subwoofers do not play higher frequencies
Usually used to power one or more subwoofer
Commonly has Class D circuitry, however can also have Class A/B as well
Monoblock amplifiers are designed primarily for subwoofers. Subwoofers require a lot more power than standard speakers, and the signal does not need to be as clean as the signal going to a full-range amplifier. Bass doesn’t need to be processed as much for high quality sound, like a really nice full-range amplifier does. Monoblocks are also not usually full-range capable, because higher frequencies are not played by subwoofers. Having these amplifiers capable of playing high frequencies would be a huge waste in efficiency. Because subwoofers require much more power than smaller tweeters or door speakers, monoblock amps are designed for maximum efficiency and power output first.
Front 4-channels are stereo/1 channel is mono
Basically a 4-channel amp and a monoblock amp combined
Allows an entire system to be powered from one amplifier (4 speakers, 1 or more subwoofer)
Good for those who don’t want multiple amplifiers powering their entire system
5-Channel amplifiers are basically a mixture of a 4-channel amplifier and a monoblock amplifier, built into the same chassis. This helps eliminate the need for multiple amplifiers and elaborate wiring scenarios. These amplifiers are a great, simple solution for those looking to power 4 speakers and a subwoofer. They’re a bit more difficult to use for high powered audio applications, since 5-channels are usually only capable of running around 600-1000W RMS. This amount of power is perfect for mid-tier audio systems though.
Front 2-channels are stereo/1 channel is mono
Basically a 2-channel amp and a monoblock amp combined
Most commonly allows an entire truck system to be powered from one amplifier (2 speakers, 1 or more subwofer)
3-Channel amplifiers are a smaller version of a 5-channel. They’re basically a 2-channel amplifier and a monoblock combined. They’re most commonly used to power an entire audio system in 2-door truck, or other small vehicles similar to this. You’ll also find 3-channel amps used to power just the front speakers and a subwoofer in a budget system.
Similar to a 4-channel amplifier, but with 2-extra channels
Allows powering of a center channel, or two additional sets of speakers
Usually for specific audiophile applications
6-Channel amplifiers are usually reserved for audio enthusiasts or those with specific audio applications in mind. These amplifiers are most commonly used in vans, SUVs, and boats where you may require more than the traditional 4-speaker setup. They can be used in a lot of installations, but usually they’re bought with a certain application in mind.
Determining Power Requirements
Trying to match up your system’s power requirements with an amplifier can look confusing, but really it’s easier than it seems. The first thing to always remember is to only look at RMS power. Looking at peak or max power without a deeper understanding of it, will only confuse you. Secondly, impedance (or ohms) is a way to measure resistance. All speakers have an ohm rating, or impedance that tells the amplifier how much power to output. Lower impedance means more wattage from the amplifier. At 4 ohms an amplifier will output less power than at 2 ohms; however, an amplifier is more comfortable running at higher impedance and will tend to run cooler. For example, an amplifier at 4 ohms may put out 75 watts RMS, and at 2 ohms this same amplifier will output 100 watts RMS. Finally, you’re going to want to match up the impedance and RMS wattage of the speaker and amplifier. For example, if the manufacturer specifies that each speaker will require 100 watts RMS at 4 ohms, you will want to find an amp which pushes between 70-130 watts RMS at 4 ohms.
For more information regarding impedance, check out this video on matching subwoofers and amplifiers:
Although you will get sound from a speaker even if you’re powering it with less than 70% of the rated RMS power, it’s usually not advised. When underpowering a speaker or subwoofer there’s a problem you’ll run into called “clipping”. This occurs when the amplifier tries to push more power to the subwoofer or speaker than the amplifier is safely capable of reproducing. For more on clipping, check out this video.
Determine if Auxiliary Battery is Required
Batteries are underused in car audio, when in reality they should be overestimated and overused. It’s understandable, considering that adding an additional battery is a bit of an investment to an already expensive complete system build, however the investment can be put to exceptional use in moderate and higher powered systems. Personally, I agree with the rule of thumb that systems running over 1000 watts of total RMS power should ALWAYS have at least an upgraded starting battery. An auxiliary battery should also be highly considered in these types of systems. The reason for this is, car audio systems are very demanding when it comes to using power. Your vehicle has a battery used to start your car, but also power things like your head unit, air conditioner, power windows, illumination on the dash, and, perhaps most importantly, headlights.
A common symptom you’ll see when adding a higher powered car audio system (600W RMS and up) is that when the bass hits, you’ll see your headlights dimming. This is because bass is very demanding, and every time it’s hitting it’s pulling a ton of voltage from your battery. In order to combat this, I’d personally recommend any system over 600 watts of RMS power (or fuses that add up to 60 amps or more) should highly consider either upgrading their starting battery to one more capable of keeping up with their system, or adding an auxiliary battery.
Determining Wire Gauge
Now, you’ve picked out your amplifier, you’ve picked out the speakers and subwoofer(s). You’re reading to get this system ordered and installed. Hold up. One last final thing to mention is wiring. Now, we’ve stressed before the differences between Copper Clad Aluminum(CCA) and Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) wiring before in some of our videos and blogs. This is important to consider, but mainly we’re going to assume you went with OFC and are curious about the gauge of wire to choose.
The fuses on your amplifier (if your amplifier has them, lately more manufacturers have been opting out of external MIDI fuses and relying on your main fuse near the battery to protect your amplifier) are a good place to start to determine what wire gauge to choose. The reason for looking at fuses instead of rated power, is because power ratings with amplifiers can be very misleading. Reliable manufacturers in the industry who follow CEA compliant power ratings are much easier to determine wire gauge for than manufacturers who just list peak power or over-inflate their RMS power ratings.
Looking at total RMS power for your amplifier(s) is the way to determine the main run from your battery to your amplifier area. Another factor to consider is the length of the wire run. If you have your amplifiers under your front seat, you may be able to get away with a small gauge then if you’re running it to a trunk. Consider the RMS power, the length of the run, and the quality of wire that you’re choosing to find out if you’re using large enough wire to allow for proper system requirements.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the main points to consider when purchasing your next car audio system, get to building out that system! If this seems like a bit too much info for you, and you just want that sound in your car, give us a call! We have experts on the line who are complete car audio enthusiasts who will be happy to help you get exactly what you’re looking for!
If you’re trying to get into the grove of starting a fitness regimen, then you’re most likely going to use headphones. Active and sport style headphones are ideal for vigorous physical activity and making any exercise-based activity much more enjoyable. Headphones are a great way to compliment your workout and can keep you focused during your routine. Many manufacturers specialize in headphones that are ideal for vigorous physical activity and there are a few things to look for when finding the perfect active headphones:
Things To Look For:
Cord management is one of the most important things to consider is the fitment of the headphones. You don’t want them to fall out during use as this will disrupt your music and your workout. In-ear headphones are usually preferred due to the snug fit they are able to provide inside of the ear canal. There are wrap-around styles as well as ear tips that are ergonomically designed to stay in your ear. A good pair will be made with sweat resistant materials and durable construction to withstand harsh conditions. Just don’t be the guy that wears beats by dre over-ear when sprinting on a treadmill.
Cord management is an overlooked part of headphones when you’re trying to work out with your favorite tunes. Getting your headphones caught on a machine during a workout could be potentially hazardous to you and/or your headphones. You need to make sure the headphones have managment clips in order to tie off the excess cord length. Alternatively, you can get rid of the cord altogether and go with a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The wireless technology allows you to connect to your smartphone and create a seamless workout.
In-line controls for your headphones are the final puzzle piece to completing a good pair of active headphones. You don’t want to spend half of your workout fumbling to play and pause your music or answer a phone call. Having these in-line controls adds further convenience to your routine and makes your workout more efficient.
Keeping all of these features in mind when looking to purchase a set of active or sport headphones. Just remember that you could be doing yourself and your ears an injustices if you aren’t properly equipped with the right headphones.
By far one of the most practical add-ons you can get for your vehicle, backup cameras are rapidly becoming more and more common on high end luxury vehicles. Yes, you can look over your shoulder or at your mirrors, but you can’t see everything behind you. Over 50 children every week are injured by someone backing up out of their driveway — Out of those 50 injured, 2 of them are fatalities.* Clearly, looking over your shoulder doesn’t always cut it. Using them to back into parking spaces easier is a convenience aspect of a backup camera–safety however, is the primary function.
So what do you look for before buying a backup camera? Let us guide you through the features—what they do and why you need them. If you know what some fo them do, feel free to use the jump links below to skip around. Or read all the way through!
Click the links below to view a specific section or scroll through and read it all!
There are lots of different ways to mount a backup camera onto your vehicle, so how do you choose? It mostly comes down to cosmetics, but your install will be affected by the style you choose as well. Keep reading!
What To Look For When Buying
Remote Mount-Remote mount backup cameras are the most versatile in terms of installation options. Most remote mount cameras are what’s called a ‘bullet style’ which means they are a cylindrical shape and meant to be mounted into the vehicle—typically into the bumper. This of course will require you to drill a hole into your vehicle so be careful when installing. This makes installation a little more complicated but it also gives you a nice, stealthy install. Some cameras even have a paintable surface so you can match your factory color. Other remote cameras sit in a bracket and can be mounted in any convenient location on the vehicle.
Top of License Plate Frame- One of the more popular camera styles, a top of license plate frame camera does exactly what it sounds like—it mounts on the top of your license plate frame. This style is very popular because it’s relatively discreet and very easy to install since you don’t need to drill a hole into your vehicle as well as being an inexpensive route to take.
Full License Plate Frame- A full license plate camera will replace the license plate frame you currently have so if you have a witty phrase or heart-warming sentimental quote on yours, you’re kind of out of luck. But what you lose in customization, you gain in durability. The full license plate camera easily beats the other styles in durability and as long as you use all four screw mounts, it’s less likely to be damaged from bouncing around—great for vehicles that frequently travel rough terrain.
Hitch Mount-A less commonly used option, these cameras are designed to mount directly into the hitch of a vehicle. This way, it tucks in nicely and isn’t very noticeable and also increases your field of vision on the ground level.
Tailgate Handle Mount-The tailgate handle mount style is pretty new but it looks great installed on trucks. This does require a more complicated install but the results are worth it!
Some backup cameras use LED lights or Infrared LED’s so you can see even at nighttime. A standard LED light will create a beam of light that you can see to light the way while an Infrared LED emits a light that cannot be seen by the human eye but will be picked up by the backup camera lens. They both have their advantages and drawbacks: standard LED lights will display a color image so it might be easier to see small obstructions on the ground behind you like bottles, or nails. The drawback however, is that the range of the light will not be as far an Infrared light. Infrared lights will display a high contrast black and white image with a farther range than a standard LED. Even though the image is black and white, the sharp contrast makes it easy to pick out objects from the pavement. We made it easy for you look for cameras that have these lights with our guided browsing tool. Simply click one of the links under the “Night Vision” section to filter out the cameras that do not have the Night Vision feature you want.
What to Look For When Buying
We sell 3 different types of backup cameras as far as night vision is concerned: No night vision cameras which do not have any sort of lighting, Infrared LED’s, and standard LED lights. Once you have your filters set, the next thing to look for is the LUX rating which can be found in the description of the product or under the “Features and Specifications” tab on the product. The LUX rating determines how sensitive the lens is to light. The lower the LUX rating, the more sensitive the camera is to low light. In other words, the LOWER the LUX rating, the BETTER it is in low light conditions. A .1 LUX rated camera is much better in low light conditions than a 1 LUX rated camera.
Reverse image will horizontally flip an image so that the image you see would be the same as if you were looking in your rearview mirror. Obviously it can be very confusing if the image you saw from your camera was the opposite—the stuff you saw on the right would really be on the left and vice versa. Cameras without the reverse image feature are meant to be used on the front of your vehicle, not the rear.
What To Look For Before Buying
We have 3 different options to choose from: Reverse Image, No Reverse Image, and Adjustable. Reverse Image and No Reverse Image are fixed and set to have or not have the feature. Adjustable means you can program the camera either with the connection of a specific wire or with a setting on the menu. These cameras can be used for either the front OR rear of your vehicle.
The parking guidelines feature will display lines or a grid, with distance markers to assist with backing into tight spaces and to give you an idea how far away you are from whatever is behind you. This feature is very convenient for any vehicle but especially useful with larger vehicles since it can be harder to judge your distance.
What To Look For Before Buying
We have 3 different options to choose from in our Guided Browsing tool: Parking Guidelines, No Parking Guidelines, and Adjustable. Parking Guidelines and No Parking Guidelines are fixed and set to have or not have the feature. Adjustable means you can program the camera either with the connection of a specific wire or with a setting on the menu. If you like the feature you can leave it on, or, if you’re fine without them then simply turn them off. The next thing to look for is whether or not the guidelines are a grid or lines. Not all manufacturers list this information for us, but if we have it we’ll list it. Both the grid and the lines will work just as well as one another so it’s really a matter of personal preference.
Backup cameras are no longer just for backing up: They’re for surveillance too. A built-in microphone can be useful to hear what’s going on outside your vehicle when it’s a little too loud inside your vehicle, like if you have kids, or the music is too loud. With a built-in microphone you can still hear if an ambulance or cop car is coming up behind you. You can also use this feature in conjunction with an in-car DVR system along with a motion detector and have a video surveillance system in your car.
What To Look For When Buying
We only have 2 options when it comes to a built-in microphone—it’s either there or it isn’t. Just use the handy Guided Browsing tool to filter out backup cameras with or without a built-in microphone.