Browsing Archive March, 2012

Understanding Car Batteries

Battery Up

XS Power D680

XS Power 12-Volt Deep Cycle AGM Power Cell

Ah, yes batteries.  To most a mystery and to some an essential car audio component.  To know exactly what sets a standard battery apart from a performance battery can mean the difference between a light dimming, inefficient system and a head turning, top-notch system.  Follow us as we explore batteries and find out exactly what you should look for in a good battery for your sound system.  Who knows, you might actually learn something too!

Cranking Amps: This specification is absolutely important when looking at batteries.  Basically, the cranking amps tells you how much current a battery can produce for 30 seconds at a temperature of 32° F and not have the voltage of any of the individual cells drop below 1.2 volts. This may also be known as MCA or marine cranking amps.

Kinetik HC800

Kinetik HC800 Power Cell

Cold Cranking Amps: This is similar to cranking amps but is tested at 0° F instead of 32° F.  This is particularly important for vehicles that must preform and operate in very cold climates.  Since the chemical reaction which produces electrical current in a battery decreases as the temperature drops, the battery will produce less current at colder temperatures (below freezing, especially).  When comparing the current of two batteries, make sure there are standards to qualify the current ratings.  If there is no CA or CCA, you do not know how the battery was tested and the current rating will be fundamentally useless.

Reserve Capacity: The reserve capacity will tell you the time it takes a battery to produce 25 amps at 80° F before the individual cell voltage drops below 1.75 volts.

Stinger SPV44

Stinger SPV44 660 Amp Power Series Dry Cell Battery

Deep Cycle vs Standard Battery: A normal lead-acid battery will be damaged if it is completely drained even one time.  A deep cycled battery is designed to withstand draining multiple times. Deep cycle batteries have more reserve capacity but less cranking amps for a given size.  This makes them ideal for seasonal vehicles such as boats.

Amp Hours: This is a rating usually found on deep cycle batteries.  This is a unit of measurement for battery capacity.  It is obtained by multiplying a current flow in amperes by the time of discharge in hours.

Remember that a battery is like a piggy bank: If you keep withdrawing and never depositing, you will eventually have nothing.  Not only will a battery be a great compliment to your sound system, but will charge more efficiently allowing you to have more reserve capacity. These high performance batteries will not leak or corrode.  Which means you can go as far as park your car upside down and still be thumping!

 

 

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Roland’s Lucina AX-09: Last Chance to Save $100!

That’s right! Right now, Roland is offering $100 cash back on the Lucina AX-09 and the Lucina AX-09B! But not for much longer…

We at Sonic Electronix consistently strive to give the best prices to our customers, and with the addition of this special manufacturer promotion, there’s never been a better time to pick up one of these fantastic Roland synthesizers.

Available in both white and black, the Lucina sets keyboard players free of the restrictions of keyboard stands and AC adapters. The Lucina is essentially a “keytar.” It’s designed for one hand to play the keys and the other to work the modulation bar, pitch bend touch strip, D-Beam controller or anything else they so desire.

With its 37 velocity-sensitive keys, 150 high-quality sounds, built-in USB audio player and its battery-powered functionality, it’s no wonder that professional keyboard players who perform with stars like Usher, Ke$ha, Kanye West and Lady Gaga use and love the Lucina AX-09.
Roland also has a series of lesson videos & mp3 backing tracks to help get you performing at your full potential.

If you’re thinking of integrating video into your performances, you’re in luck! Both Lucina AX-09 models come with V-Link MIDI outputs; simply hook up a standard 5-pin MIDI cable from your Lucina into a compatible video mixer or presenter unit, and you’re ready to go! The more elaborate details of that process are well outside the scope of this blog, but the possibility is there. What you do with it, dear readers, is up to you. Whatever you do though, you should do it sooner rather than later, because the aforementioned manufacturer promotion ends after March 31st, 2012!

Don’t forget to pick up the LUCINA BAG,
the only carrying bag specifically designed for your new Lucina synthesizer!

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Why Should I Consider a Remote Start System?

Avital 5103L
When it comes to aftermarket convenience options for your car, there is nothing more popular than the addition of remote start. Remote start systems allow you to start your vehicle from a distance with just the press of a button. These systems can come in handy for a variety of reasons and help benefit your vehicle as well as yourself. Sonic Electronix has a huge selection on Remote Car Starters, and there isn’t a better time to have one installed than before the upcoming hot summer.

Responder 350

Systems like the Viper Responder 350 include LCD screens to confirm remote starts, and also provide optional alerts

A great reason for remote start is simply comfort. Who doesn’t want to jump into an A/C cooled vehicle during the upcoming summer months? Remote start has always been a prominent option for making your vehicle the ultimate comfort zone before you even jump in. During the winter months your vehicle can be a safe haven from the cold temperatures, and during the hot summer months there’s nothing better than an air conditioned vehicle at a nice 72 degrees (or whatever your personal preference is, I won’t judge). Keep in mind that when adding a remote start system to your vehicle, there are options that also have alarms built in. If you’re also interested in security, you may want to consider the Car Alarms with Remote Start.

 

 

 

You should also consider that, when your vehicle starts up, it needs a short amount of ‘warming up’ before it’s optimal to drive. About 90% of the time, I find myself ignoring any warm up for my engine and jetting off within 5 seconds of my vehicle being started with keys. When I sit down, I’m ready to go. When these are the circumstances, you are making your vehicle work much harder than it needs to. If you give your vehicle some time to warm up before accelerating away, you’re allowing all of the fluids to run through your vehicles engine and other components, reaching a uniform temperature which makes the engine much more efficient and ready for travel. This is especially true in climates that are colder, and some climates that are very hot. Adding a remote start system means when you’re ready to go, so is your vehicle.

 

Crimestopper SP101

Remote Start Systems and Car Alarms are tough to install! All systems, even this simple Crimestopper SP-101, are recommended for professional installation only

Keep in mind with Remote Start Systems there are a few features implemented to allow for security on your vehicle as well. When you press the button to start your car, the vehicle won’t just be sitting there with an engine running ready to be stolen. The car is automatically locked when the remote start feature is activated to prevent any curious bystanders. Not only is the vehicle locked, but the car will automatically shut off if the brake is pressed without the key already in the ignition. This means the moment a potential thief attempts to switch the vehicle out of gear it will shut off. It’s fairly easy to test this fail-safe on your own, and you probably will when it slips your mind to insert the keys before driving off. Like I said before, when I sit down I’m ready to go.

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PreSonus Audio Box Studio Comes With A Lot For A Little

PreSonus Audio Box Studio

If you’ve ever wanted to get into audio recording, but were intimidated by the vast variety (not to mention the often high cost) of gear and software, your solution has arrived! With the Audio Box Studio by PreSonus, you get a high-quality selection of gear and software from a brand that’s trusted by audio professionals around the globe that doesn’t weigh too heavily on your wallet.

The Interface:

AudioBox USB

First up is the AudioBox USB interface. This impressive little guy has two XLR/TRS combo jack inputs for both microphones and guitars and MIDI I/O for, well, any instrument that utilizes MIDI. MIDI‘s not just for keyboards, you know! Anyway, its Main and Headphone outputs are 1/4″ TRS, and it hooks up to your computer via USB. Honestly, with this interface, you’re pretty well set in just about any recording situation.

The Microphone:

M7 High Definition Condenser Microphone

It also has +48V phantom power for use with condenser microphones, which is certainly good news considering that the included M7 high-definition, large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone requires it! This package includes a 9 foot cable, and a protective cloth carry bag for the microphone, making it nicely portable and perfect for recording on the road. To read more on condenser microphones and the cardioid polar pattern, check out these two previous blogs of ours: Demystifying Microphones & Polar Patterns (Demystifying Microphones, Part 2).

The Headphones:

HD 7 Headphones

Plus, it’s hard to go wrong with a quality set of headphones like these. With high-resolution neodymium drivers, precision-tuned acoustic chambers and an extended bass response, you’ll hear everything you need to hear with the clarity that professionals require. These babies are lightweight, comfortable and have a single-sided 8 foot cable, giving you plenty of room to move around if necessary.

The Software:

HD 7 Headphones

Finally, we come to the software; which, in my opinion, is the highlight of this package. Many other DAWs have finite amounts of tracks you can make, but not Studio One Artist! You can have unlimited audio, MIDI, virtual instruments, buses and FX channel tracks. Studio One Artist boasts the “most intuitive MIDI-mapping system available,” real-time audio timestretching and resampling, not to mention automatic delay compensation which is fantastic for sessions that have a lot of effects in them. If all that wasn’t enough, the Studio One Artist DVD-ROM comes with 4+ GB of third-party software, loops and virtual instruments. How’s that for value, hmm?! So, what are you waiting for? A top secret jambalaya recipe or something?!

The Jambalaya:

Jambalaya

Well, hilariously enough, PreSonus actually does include a jambalaya recipe on page 81 (all the way at the bottom) of their quickstart guide for the AudioBox Studio. I think they’ve become my new favorite manufacturer. Frankly, I’ll be picking one of these AudioBox Studio packages up myself soon, because bundles as great and affordable as this one don’t come around very often. Hurry before they’re all gone! What are you doing wasting time still reading these last sentences?! Go! Go! Go! And make jambalaya!

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Multi-Channel & Mono-Channel Differences

If your car audio sound system is not meeting your expectations then maybe your specifications are to blame.  When examining mono and multi-channel amplifiers, there a few specifications that you should pay closer attention to than others.

Multi-Channel Amplifiers

Pioneer GMD9500F

Pioneer GMD9500F 4-Channel Amplifier

2, 3, 4, 5 or more channel amplifiers are usually Class A/B.  The class is determined by the configuration of the circuitry.  Class A/B circuitry leans towards being more inefficient but provides higher sound quality.  This makes them ideal for mid to high frequencies but are sometimes used for subwoofers as well.  They will also run at much cooler temperatures considering the lower wattage applications they are required to be operated in.  If you are considering purchasing a multi-channel amplifier, then the following specifications should be kept in mind to sway your decision:

 

  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: This figure refers to the strength of the signal vs. the level of back ground noise.  A high value will indicate a lower background noise and as a result, a better signal.
  • THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): This is the measurement of the harmonic distortion that is present.  It can be explained as the change in the signal as it is being amplified and exactly how much it is changed.  A lower value is desirable and a THD value of less than .10% is inaudible.
  • Channel Separation:  Sometimes referred to as “cross talk” this value indicates the level of interference between channels.  This value is measured in decibels and the higher the value, the greater and more effective the channel separation will be.

Mono-Channel Amplifiers

Rockford Fosgate PBR300X1

Rockford Fosgate PBR300X1 Monoblock Amplifier

Mono-Channel Amplifiers usually are Class D.  These amplifiers are going to be able to obtain lower ohm loads and higher output which makes them ideal for subwoofers. They are more efficient then their class A/B counterparts. In recent years, monoblock amplifiers have become more efficient and with smaller chassis. Features such as signal-to-noise ratio and THD will often be negatively effected. However, these specifications are not as important as others in regards to mono-channel amps. When examining mono amplifiers there a few different specs you should pay a bit more attention to:

 

  • Damping Factor: Having a high damping factor means there is a high ratio between the nominal load impedance (typically 8W ) and the source impedance of the amplifier.  It is said that the higher this value is, the more cone control is present which results in a better system response and more accurate bass.
  •  Pre-Amp Outputs: Most Mono amps have pre-amp outputs to daisy chain multiple amplifiers together without splitting the pre-outs from your head-unit.
  • Subsonic Filter:Only on mono amplifiers, this filter allows you to block frequencies that are not able to be reproduced by your subwoofer.  This filter is usally variable between 15-50 Hz.

Using an amplifier in the wrong application is bad, mkay.

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