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.
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How to Discharge a Capacitor

Capacitors add stability to any audio system

Car audio capacitors add stability to any audio system by keeping a small reserve of power available for the amplifiers when they need it for quick musical peaks. If you need to remove your capacitor or move it into another vehicle, it is always a good idea to discharge it. Capacitors store energy and can take a long time to dissipate that energy, sometimes a year or more, leaving a disconnected capacitor a disaster waiting to happen. Larger capacitors can store more energy than smaller ones so it takes longer to discharge and they are more dangerous to handle as a result. Always use caution when working with these devices. There are many different ways to discharge a capacitor and it is important that it discharges slowly. Here are a few methods you can use to discharge your capacitor:

Method 1: Remove the capacitor from your vehicle and make sure to handle with care. Take a 12V test light or resistor and touch the positive and negative terminals on the capacitor bridging them together. Make sure to wear safety goggles and heavy duty gloves or hold the light/resistor with insulated pliers. The resistor or light will get very hot and could pop. Once the light goes out the capacitor is discharged. When the resistor becomes cool the capacitor is discharged.

Method 2: Remove the main fuse located on the power wire near the battery of the car that connects to the amplifier and capacitor. This will then make the capacitor act as the battery for your audio system. Turn on your audio system and wait for the amplifier(s) to turn off completely signaling that the capacitor is completely discharged.

Method 3: Remove the capacitor from your vehicle and hook it up to any device that uses 12V DC for power. Connect the positive and negative wires of the device to the positive and negative terminals of the capacitor. The capacitor is essentially the battery and once the device shuts off your capacitor is discharged.

Method 4: Disconnect the negative terminal on your vehicles battery and activate the dome light. Once the light goes out, your capacitor is discharged. Be mindful of other batteries in your electrical system. If the light does not go out within a few minutes your vehicle could be receiving power from add-on batteries.

Once the capacitor has been discharged, check the voltage across the terminals of the capacitor using a multi-meter or voltmeter. If the meter reads zero volts or very close to it, the capacitor has been successfully discharged. Make sure to properly recharge the capacitor before connecting it again, please view our article titled “How to Charge a Capacitor” for assistance.

WARNING: Do NOT connect the positive and negative terminals of the capacitor together with standard wire, screwdrivers or wrenches as this will damage the capacitor and could cause bodily harm to the user.

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How To Charge A Capacitor

charging-car-capacitor

A stiffening or power capacitor is a great addition to any stereo system. Sometimes however the installation instructions for these devices tend to be lacking in description and can cause a bit of confusion. Let’s straighten things out and make “pre-charging” your capacitor as painless as possible. There are often two terminals on a capacitor, one positive and one negative. Unless otherwise specified, the power terminal of the capacitor will be placed in line with the amplifiers power cable. The negative or ground terminal on the capacitor will go to chassis ground, not the amplifiers ground. Try to get the capacitor as close to the amplifier as possible, a few feet is acceptable, this minimizes any performance loss due to the cable distance. To charge your capacitor, simply follow the steps listed below:

Step 1) Remove the fuse for your audio system that connects it to your battery. This fuse is often in-line with the power wire of the amplifier that your capacitor is going to be connected too.

Step 2) Wire up your capacitor by following all the instructions in the installation manual or refer to our “How to Install Car Audio Capacitors” knowledge base. Make sure the power, ground and if applicable the remote turn on wire of the capacitor is connected.

Step 3) To begin charging the capacitor you need either a test light or a resistor. Often times these are included with the purchase of a capacitor but can be purchased separately if necessary.

A) Using a Test Light: A test light is the simplest way to charge a capacitor. All you need to do is take the power and ground of the test light and stick them in-line where your fuse used to be. You can use alligator clips to simplify this process. Hold the test light in place of the fuse until the light bulb turns off meaning the voltage went from 12V to 0V and the capacitor is charged.
B) Using a Resistor: You will need a 1 watt, 30 – 1,000 Ohm (1kohm) resistor for charging your capacitor unless otherwise specified (you capacitor may have a resistor included). Try to use a higher impedance resistor so that the capacitor is charged slowly. This will prevent the capacitor from charging too fast and sustaining damage.  Also, a lower wattage resistor will heat up very quickly and could crack or explode so make sure NEVER to hold a resistor with your bare hands. Put the resistor in line with your fuse holder, as though it were the fuse. Place the voltmeter positive node on the positive terminals of the capacitor and the negative node on the ground terminal of the capacitor and set the meter to Volts DC. Once the volt meter reads 11 or 12 volts you can remove the voltmeter and replace the resistor with the power fuse. The fuse may spark when you reinstall it, this is normal and should end quickly.

Regardless of which charging method you use, the results will end up being the same. Some capacitors come with a charging card that is attached to the posts of the capacitor and acts like a resistor or test light. Follow the instructions provided when using a charging card. Remember when installing any electrical equipment that you need to remove the negative terminal of the battery or the fuse in-line with the power wire connecting to the battery. In this situation, the fuse in-line with your power wire will need to be removed. For information on how to discharge a capacitor, view our article titled “How to Discharge a Capacitor“.

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DJ Headphones

DJ Headphones

One thing every DJ has in common is a pair of headphones which they use to mix beats and cue up songs. The biggest question is, “What are DJ headphones and how are they different from normal headphones?” The honest answer is that other than some convenience features, DJ headphones are still headphones so their primary function is to playback music. In this article I will go over the primary features of DJ headphones which should help you pick out a pair that is right for you.

Closed Ear Design: A closed ear design creates a seal around your ear that helps block out ambient noise which will interfere with your beat mixing. Most DJ headphones are designed in this way, but some take it a step further with larger ear cushions or leather cushions which not only increase comfort but block more noise. The more noise that is blocked the less you have to turn up your headphones to hear cues from the PA system. Larger and better cushioned headphones have a tendency to stay firmly on your head which is important if you move around a lot.

Foldable/Swivel Ear Cups: Headphones with folding ear cups are great for storage because of their space saving design. To step it up a notch, some ear cups can swivel which allows you to listen to your music cue and the dance floor without removing your headphones. Removing one ear cup and placing it around your neck while craning your head to keep the other ear cup on becomes extremely uncomfortable after a while and can cause long term injury. A swivel cup simply rotates one ear cup so you can either hold it up to your ear or move it out of the way.

Lightweight/Durable Design: The club scene can be rough on any DJ and his equipment. It is important that a pair of lightweight yet durable headphones are purchased because it will reduce listening fatigue while being able to withstand some damage. Having unbreakable headphones is great but you won’t want to wear them for very long. The constant wearing, removing, folding and swiveling of your headphones will take its toll so durability is just as important as weight. These two factors go hand in hand so read reviews and see which headphones can stand up to the challenge.

Pioneer HDJ-1000

Frequency Response: It is very important for DJ headphones to have an excellent frequency response and sound quality. At the club there is an emphasis on low frequency music primarily hip hop, rap, electronic and dance songs. Having headphones that can reproduce the notes in your mixes accurately is crucial for any DJ. Music played out on the dance floor should have similar nuances to what you hear in your headphones, if they don’t you might need to upgrade headphones.

Coiled/Detachable Cord: Some headphones come with a coiled cord which helps prevent it from getting tangled on other equipment. This feature is completely a preference as some DJs prefer standard cords. To combat that, some headphones come with detachable cords which allow you to easily switch your cable for any length or style you need. A detachable cord also helps when storing your headphones.

Active Noise Cancellation: To go a step further and push the envelope of technology some DJ headphones feature active noise cancellation technology. When activated, these types of headphones can reduce as much as 20 decibels of ambient sound leaving your music clean and crisp. Active noise cancellation often requires batteries or an alternate power source but it is often more than worth it many DJs say. Read our article on “How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?” for more information on this technology.

These are the primary convenience features found on DJ headphones in any different combination. Some headphones will have all of these features and more so do your research before making the plunge.

 

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What Is HD Radio?

HD Radio

HD Radio is a new way of broadcasting the AM and FM radio stations you love. Standard AM/FM radio broadcasts have been sent through the airwaves as analog signals for the past 50 plus years. An analog signal is an audio or video signal, in this case the human voice, which is translated into electronic pulses to be read by other devices and played back. New HD Radio is transmitted using a digital signal which is represented by a series of “1”s and “0”s known as binary code, the same code used in most electronics today, especially computers. This digital technology knows what the signal is supposed to look like at the end of the transmission, so it corrects any errors that occur during data transfer.  This means any AM/FM stations that broadcast a digital signal now come through special HD receivers with CD like quality. There is more to offer though besides clarity.

Here is a list of the primary benefits to going HD:
1. FM stations broadcasted in the digital format will have near CD like quality while AM stations will sound like current FM stations. Digital signals are less vulnerable to reception problems and interference. This means clear sound without static, hiss, pops or fades.
2. If an HD Radio receiver loses its HD signal it will transition seamlessly back to FM until the HD signal returns.
3. Multicasting (HD2 Stations): The digital signals that HD Radio uses have larger bandwidth than analog signals so they can carry one extra music channel and three addition talk channels. This means you can tune in to one station and then select any alternate channels on that station.
4. HD Radio receivers can display text data (artist and song information) or even show updates on the weather, stocks, sports scores and more.
5. iTunes Tagging: HD Radio receivers can “tag” a song which will later show up in your iTunes for purchase. This only works if your iPod can be directly connected to the HD Radio receiver and that HD station has tagging enabled. A “tagged” song will load up in your iPod and then transfer to your iTunes when your iPod syncs up again. iTunes then gives you the option to purchase that song.

Radio stations will continue to broadcast regular analog signals along with HD signals. This will allow older radios to continue to receive AM/ FM signals. There are no current plans to shut down analog radio stations or to stop analog broadcasts, even in the near future. The biggest advantage of HD Radio is, besides the higher quality, that it is free to any listener with an HD radio. Additional features such as surround sound and other multicasting options will be made available as time progresses and the full realization of extra bandwidth usage is made clear.

How does it work specifically?

1.  Radio stations send out a bundled signal comprising both analog and digital. The digital signal is comprised of textual data such as stocks, sports scores, song information and traffic.
2.  This signal is compressed by a computer and digitized into “1”s and “0”s, similar to how MP3 files are a compressed version of WAV files.
3. The combined analog and digital signals are transmitted via specially equipped transmission towers capable of handling both signals.
4. Radio signals bounce off of object such as buildings which is a big contributor to static in conventional radios. HD Digital radio receivers sort through and repair the reflected signals getting rid of artifacts such as hiss, pop and fades.
5. Both analog and digital signals reach their destination and remain free to the listener. HD Receivers decode the information for a clear listening experience.

More and more aftermarket car receivers come with HD Radio preinstalled or as an add-on module giving you high quality radio with a bunch of added features. You can add HD radio to your factory car stereo or aftermarket car stereo using an HD radio add-on kit. These types of kits allow you to add HD radio to your factory or after market stereo using a 3.5 mm headphone jack, RCA connectors or a wired FM modulator. HD Radio can also be found built-in to aftermarket car stereos or as add on modules to these radios. An aftermarket radio with HD radio capability can also come with additional features such as bluetooth, navigation, iPod integration and more.

With no additional costs, an added HD radio is a great investment, especially because most stations will be broadcasting a digital signal in the foreseeable future.  With so many ways to add HD Radio to your life there is no reason you can’t take advantage of this high quality, crisp, clear and FREE radio.

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How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Noise cancellation was first patented by Paul Lueg in the early 1930’s. Lueg had recognized that the technical merits of sound cancellation would require creating an identical but opposite sound wave to cancel out ambient noise. By the 1980’s electronic noise cancellation technology was being implemented in aircraft headphones to protect pilots from hearing damage. The most common type of noise cancellation is “Passive” while “Active” noise cancellation technology is now preferred. Below is a brief description of the two types of cancellation technologies.

Passive Noise Cancelling:

All headphones have some form of passive noise cancellation (also referred to as noise isolation) due to the materials used in their construction. Over-ear headphones enclose the wearer’s ear completely and provide passive noise cancelling due to their design. Passive noise cancelling headphones take it a step further and are packed with super dense foam or sound-absorbing material and are made with thick plastics or metal alloys to block high-frequency ambient noise. The downside of this thick material is added weight which can induce strain and fatigue on the wearer over long periods of time. In-ear headphones are small and have little room for added noise dampening material so their tips are designed to block ambient noise. Earbuds can work like earplugs and sometimes rival the noise cancelling capabilities of active noise cancelling systems.

Sennheiser Momentum Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sennheiser Momentum Noise Cancelling Headphones

Active Noise Cancelling:

Advancements in sound electronics technology have lead to active noise cancelling which utilizes a 4-step system to erase lower frequency ambient noise. These headphones create their own sound waves that are identical to the incoming sound waves with one exception: they produce waves that are 180 degrees out of phase or reversed from the incoming sound. This is known as destructive interference and causes the two waves to cancel out resulting in silence, if we lived in a perfect world of course.

To accomplish this destructive interference, microphones placed in the ear cups “listen” to external sounds that cannot be blocked passively and send that information to noise-canceling circuitry. The electronics, usually placed in the ear cup or in line with the signal cable, duplicates the frequency and amplitude of the incoming wave and inverts it 180 degrees. Then the speaker produces this new frequency along with normal sound waves to effectively erase noise. A downfall of active noise cancelling circuitry is that they require a battery to energize the system which can decrease convenience.

This active cancelling technology works well for continuous sounds such as the humming of a jet engine, train or a refrigerator. This technology is still in the early stages so it does not completely omit all sounds. On average, active noise cancelling headphones provide an additional reduction in noise of about 20 decibels, which is 70 percent of ambient noise. Because these systems are battery powered they often induce noise into the headphones in the form of a high-frequency hum. This noise is often unheard when actually listening to music but might become annoying to some who use active noise cancelling headphones just to get some peace and quiet.  Regardless of any drawbacks, most people will never steer away from noise cancelling headphones back to normal headphones again.

Noise Cancelling Headphones at Sonic Electronix

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Damping Factor

The Damping Factor of Your Amplifier Tells You How Well it Controls The Movement of Your Speakers

When you look at an amplifier’s specifications you may come across one that says “Damping Factor”. The damping factor describes the ability of the amplifier to control the movement of a speaker, more specifically, unwanted movement. This is especially important for lower frequency speakers such as car subwoofers.  Damping factor can be looked at from many different angles and several factors affect the overall damping factor in a system.

In a simple sense, the damping factor tells you how well an amplifier can control a speaker system. The larger the number associated with damping factor the better an amplifier is at controlling speakers. Anything above 100 tends to be very good while below 30 is poor. Most aftermarket car audio amplifiers to date won’t have such poor damping factor specifications to the point where it would become a concern for the average listener if they follow specs. This means that if you’re trying to get the best sound possible you need to look for a higher damping factor, assuming everything else is equal.  Below I will get slightly more technical, so the above information is very simplified.

Most manufactures do not specify damping factor accurately in their specification charts. An accurate damping factor will look something like this: Damping Factor = 100 at 4 Ohms. Rarely is the impedance (ohms) listed. Damping factor is the speaker systems final impedance (load impedance) divided by the amplifiers output impedance. So if you have one speaker at a perfect 4 ohms impedance and divide it by the amplifiers output impedance, let’s say 0.4, you get a damping factor of 100 (4.0 / 0.04 = 100). If your final impedance is 1.0 ohms and the amplifiers output impedance is 0.04 your damping factor becomes 25 (1.0 / 0.04 = 25). Using this formula, as long as you know the amplifiers output impedance and your speaker systems final impedance, you can calculate the damping factor. This is why it is important for the manufacture to list what impedance they list their damping factor at for the most accurate number. However, using the formula you can find out if you have most of the other information.

Let’s throw a monkey wrench into the mix. In the real world, a speaker’s impedance is affected by everything in the system. A  car audio speaker will fluctuate anywhere from 1 ohm to even 30 or 40 ohms while it is operating. So if damping factor is based off of the speaker’s impedance but it’s always jumping up and down then that means the damping factor can’t be a single number. Damping factor is a major simplification of what is actually going on but it is still important! If everything is relatively equal you would be able to notice the difference between a damping factor of 100 and 25. While this should not be your go-to to find the best quality in an amplifier, if all the other specs are closely matched you can look at it to help make a final decision. Knowing all the specifications and what they mean can really help put everything into perspective when selecting an amplifier and speaker combination. Remember, it all comes down to what sounds best to YOUR ears.

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HID Color Temperature

hid-color-temperatures

If only everyone could have a fancy new luxury car with those blue-ish white lights that put normal Halogen bulbs to shame. Alas we are not created equal, so what is one to do when they put the hammer down and decide to upgrade to High-Intensity Discharge Headlamps(HIDs)? The first step is to decide what color temperature you wish to purchase. Read our other article, “What Are HID Lights”, for basic information about this amazing technology.

VIP 9006 6000K

High Intensity Discharge HID Kit 

The visible light spectrum is divided up by a characteristic called Color Temperature. Color temp is defined by the temperature of an ideal black body radiator that radiates light equal to its surface temperature. A black body is an object that absorbs all light and emits light dependent on its surface temperature. To boil it down into simple terms, Color Temperature is the color code given to a particular light source based on how we perceive it with human eyes. This code is stated in units of absolute temperature, Kelvin (K). For example, the suns color temperature at midday is listed as 5780K (bright white), however this is not precise. You will see the suns color rated anywhere from 4300K to 6500K depending on the sources used and how much light the black body radiator could absorb during testing.

Many people believe that color temperature of an HID light is based on how bright it is (higher the K rating, brighter it gets), this is false. The higher the Kelvin temperature rating, the more blue/violet the light becomes and the less useable light output there is. Higher color temperatures are known as cool colors (5000K and up) and produce bluish white to violet light while lower color temperatures (5000K and down) are called warm colors and produce yellowish white to red. Below is a chart depicting most of the color temperatures available for HID lights.

Color Temp Color Description
3000K Yellow Emits a yellow light. Often used in place of halogen fog lamps.
5000K Pure White Emits a pure white light. This is the color of choice for most car manufactures and can be found equipped on a wide range of vehicles. Used if you want the most light output and the best performance.
6000K Crystal White Emits a pure white light with a very subtle hint of blue, this is the most popular color choice for aftermarket HID installs.
8000K Light Blue Emits a more blue light than 6000K but is not defined as true blue because it has a hint of white.
10,000K Blue Emits a dark blue light output that is close to violet in the color spectrum. Visibility is significantly decreased.
12,000K Violet Emits a violet/purple light. This color has the least light output and should not be used for nighttime driving.

 

The color of your HID light is also dependent on the type of lamp housing your vehicle has, be it reflector housing or projector housing. A reflector housing is the most common housing at this time and is designed for use with Halogen bulbs. Reflectors do not create a color shift of the HID light and will be uniformly the same color throughout. Installing HID lights in a reflector housing is not advised because they are not designed to handle the significantly brighter output of an HID bulb and will blind other drivers. The newer projector housings focus the light precisely and reduce glare for oncoming traffic. A 4300K white bulb appears blue or purple at certain angles because the projector lens bends the light around the cutoff points but leaves the road white.

This may seem like a lot to swallow but it is relatively simple. Factory HID systems use 4300K bulbs while most aftermarket systems use 6000K or 8000K bulbs. Going above 8000K or below 4300K decreases light output significantly and should only be used in show cars. Choose your color wisely and know that the higher the Kelvin color temperature the lower the light output and the more blue/purple the light will become.

Although Aftermarket HIDs greatly improve visibily they are only intended for OFF ROAD USE. They are not DOT approved and you can be ticketed for using them on public roads. Make sure to check local laws for further information.

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Remote Car Starters

Have Your Car Ready for You with a Remote Start System

It is 7am and a brisk 9° F outside in the middle of winter with the wind blowing angrily about. A warm cup of coffee would only last a few seconds outside during the short trip to your car. Once inside you have to sit and wait for the engine to warm up all the while shivering underneath your many layers of clothing. Spend a minute to thank modern technology because you can now start your vehicle from the comfort of your own home, whether it is 9° F or 109° F. Keep reading to find out if a Immobilizers and Immobilizer Bypasses for more information about these theft deterrent devices

How is it made safe?

For most, the idea of their vehicle starting without an occupant inside is a scary thought for countless reasons. Is it going to roll away? Is someone going to break in and steal it while it’s on? If there is an emergency, who will turn it off? For those with manual transmissions, what prevents it from activating when in gear? All of these are normal concerns that many have. Luckily manufactures are a step ahead.

Most remote start systems still require a key in the ignition before the vehicle will shift into gear. Tied to the brake pedal, an engine cut off switch can be wired so if a thief tries to put the vehicle in gear the engine will turn off. Hood pin switches can be installed as well so that if the vehicles hood is up, the car will not start. A neutral safety switch input wire connects to the shifter of most vehicles preventing the vehicle from starting if it is in any gear other than Park (P). Some remote starters even have emergency brake connectors that prevent the vehicle from starting if the emergency brake is not engaged.  In the event that you are unable to get to your vehicle, remote start systems have automatic shut down timers that will turn the engine off automatically after a set time limit has expired, usually 5 minutes. The more advanced a remote start unit is, the more safety features it will have.

Why do you need one?

A remote starter unit has many benefits for the user. The primary benefit is the ability to turn your vehicle on from the comfort of your home or office allowing it to heat up or cool down before you get inside. While this is a novelty feature, there is more to it than that. To increase the longevity of your engine, it is always recommended to leave it idling for a few minutes so the engine reaches operational temperatures, especially when it’s cold. Your vehicles fluids need to heat up and circulate, especially the oil in the crank case which lubricates important moving parts. Driving your vehicle immediately after turning it on does not give your engine time to reach equilibrium which could decrease its overall life span. Being able to remotely start your vehicle wastes none of your time and lets your vehicle reach its optimum operational levels before being driven.

What is the installation like?

Installing a remote start system is extremely difficult and technical. We recommend only professional installers install one into your vehicle. Cutting the wrong wires or incorrect soldering can disable your vehicle, fry the electronics or blow fuses. A remote starter unit cuts into some of the most important wiring in your vehicle and is not a do-it-yourself project. Some vehicles require specialty immobilizer bypass units or other components not found in remote start kits that can be equally as difficult to install.

What variations are there?

Remote start systems come in a variety of combinations with many additional options. Remote start systems can be combined with keyless entry and alarm systems for an all-in-one protection and convenience package. There are stand alone remote start systems with one button remotes for easy on/off no hassle remote starting.

What additional features are available?

As you climb the chain of remote start units and the features they have, the higher you go the more features they have. As you progress, remote start systems show up with 2-way paging systems and remotes with LCD screens that confirm vehicle status and commands. Other systems integrate with a vehicles dome and parking lights to provide illumination queues. For those vehicles with turbo chargers, built-in turbo timer functions will keep the engine running for a short duration to let the turbo system cool down. Some two-way paging systems can have a remote range of up to one mile! With the explosion of smart phones, some remote start/car alarm makers have applications that allow you to start your vehicle from you phone and check on the status of it from anywhere you get cell phone reception. For alarm systems, dual stage shock sensors can be added for more precise protection. There are many more features available than what is listed here.

A remote start system is a great way to add a huge amount of convenience, safety and longevity to your vehicle. These devices are often paired with keyless entry and alarm systems for an all-in-one package. Be it winter or summer, a remote start system can get your vehicle prepped and ready for any temperature or weather condition and much more.

Remote Car Starters

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What Are HID Lights?

HID Lights Greatly Improve Your Vision at Night

You’re driving down the street at night with your headlamps on, their glorious golden light breaking through the darkness ahead. From behind a vehicle passes you at breakneck speed and you glimpse the aura of light ahead of it. It’s not golden light that illuminates the road, its white light with a bluish tint from the vehicles headlamps. What is producing that strange color? And why is the light so much brighter than the average halogen bulb that produces a yellow/golden light?

High Intensity Discharge Kit- HID Kits & Accessories

The newest light technology on the road today is High-Intensity Discharge headlamps, known as HIDs. These lamps produce more light for a given level of power consumption than ordinary tungsten and halogen bulbs. HIDs are commonly referred to as “xenon headlamps” because they contain xenon gas which is ionized by a spark, similar to how spark plugs work. The light output from HIDs is 2,800-3,500 lumens at 35-38 watts while halogen bulbs produce 700-2,100 lumens at 40-72 watts. Not only are HIDs brighter than standard bulbs they are also more energy efficient.

High-Intensity Discharge headlamps require ballasts which stabilize and restrict the electric current that reaches the bulbs. Lastly an ignitor is used which is either integrated into the bulb or the ballast that triggers the xenon gas to react, thus producing light. The greatest advantage of HID headlamps is that they offer substantially greater light output than halogen bulbs which contribute to safer driving. The average service life of a xenon bulb is 2000 hours of operation compared to the 500-1000 hours of a halogen lamp. Most luxury vehicles come with HID lamps preinstalled in special housings that direct the light with pinpoint accuracy. Kits have been created to install these High-Intensity Discharge headlamps into vehicles that run halogen bulbs. However it is advised that projector headlamp housings be purchased to reduce glare for oncoming traffic.

**Although Aftermarket HIDs greatly improve visibily they are only intended for OFF ROAD USE. They are not DOT approved and you can be ticketed for using them on public roads. Make sure to check local laws for further information.**

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Marine Receivers

prv250

Water is known as the most dangerous and destructive force in the world. It is responsible for overflowing rivers, flooding cities, ruining foundations to buildings and eroding land masses. Let’s not mention what water will do to electronic devices. When it comes to music humans go to great lengths to enjoy it wherever they find themselves, like on a boat for example. This article will explain why we should use marine receivers in a boat and what makes them worthy to traverse the seas.

Kenwood Marine KMR-700U

Marine Digital Media Receiver Kenwood Marine KMR-700U
Your cars internal environment is relatively stable so most electronic devices are protected within the confines of its doors. The environment on a boat however is battered by the sun, rain, saltwater, UV rays and humidity. This is not ideal for electronics so the marine certified receiver was fashioned to save the day.  For starters, most if not all marine receivers have a special coating on the circuit board that protects it from moisture and provides resistance to corrosion. Wait one minute, this does not mean you can soak your radio in water; it simply means it resists moisture. Marine receivers are rated on a scale based on the IP (Ingress Protection) rating chart, which measures the degree of protection/resistance the unit has from water. An IPX-1 rating means your unit is protected against falling water equivalent to 3-5mm of rainfall per minute. Not all radios have a listed IP rating, but for those that do you can accurately gauge how it will handle in the environment you plan to put it in. IP ratings are not just for marine headunits, they are also found on speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers and all sorts of electronic devices and parts.
Below is a chart with all the ratings and their standards:

Test Level Definitions:
IPX-0: No special protection
IPX-1: Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.
IPX-2: Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical.
IPX-3: Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60o from the vertical.
IPX-4: Protection against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.
IPX-5: Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress.
IPX-6: Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g. for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.
IPX-7: Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m.
IPX-8: Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure.

Hold up, there is more to offer! If it does not have an IPX rating look for other forms of protection from the environment. For example,  UV rays not only ruin your boat and its interior but they also crack plastics…a.k.a. your radios faceplate. UV protection (ASTM G154/D4329) coatings are offered for some radio faceplates that will increase the longevity of the units’ outer components. Receivers that meet the ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) B 117 standard are resistant to salt spray and fog as tested in a salt spray apparatus. Whether you use your receiver all year round or only in the summer, it is important that you purchase a marine receiver that fits your boating environment.

 

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