Browsing Archive July, 2012

How Many Decibels? Ways To Measure SPL

Why Measure SPL?

Scosche SPL1000F

Scosche SPL1000F SPL Meter

One of the best ways to brag about your car audio system is by knowing exactly how loud it can get.  Typically, a car sound system is anywhere between 90 to 130 dB.  To put that into perspective, 90 dB is equivalent to heavy street traffic 5 feet away whereas  130 dB is considered the threshold for pain.   A few other things to note is that an increase of +3dB is barely perceived by the human ear but +10dB nearly doubles the loudness to the human ear. At about 190 dB your ear drums will rupture and the pure sound vibration will be agonizing.  So if someone says their system is pushing 200+ dB, then you should declare shenanigans and tell them to go rethink their entire life.


Term-LAB used in Sonic install bay

SPL, which stands for sound pressure level, is measured in decibels by an SPL meter.  There are a couple different variations of an SPL meter depending on how accurate you need the reading to be. The first and most convenient way is via a handheld SPL meter.  These are relatively inexpensive and are very simple to operate.  They use calibrated microphones and amplification to measure the SPL level and display it on a digital display.  You might not want to use this method for competitions or sound-offs seeing as it only goes up to 130 dB.

Smartphones offer applications that can measure SPL as well.  If you have an Android phone check the app called “Noise Meter” and if you own an iPhone check out “UE SPL”. These applications use the phones built-in vocal microphone to measure the sound pressure level around you. Most cell phone microphones cut off at 90db however, so these apps are best used for measuring ambient sound levels. Most of these apps offer calibration so you can increase their accuracy if you have a more trusted device to compare it to.

Another variant that is far less practical and expensive but very accurate is Term-Lab.  This is a precision system that utilizes hardware and software in order to measure the SPL level in the vehicle.  It requires a computer or laptop and features precision SPL Sensors that attach to the inside of the windshield.  It is used by numerous SPL organizations and even NASA uses it!  If NASA says it’s good enough then there’s no way we can argue right? We decided to get one for our Sonic installation bay so I took a picture of it that can be seen on the right.  We plan on using this for videos and events in the near future so stay tuned!

If you think you truly think you have the loudest system, then claim your bragging rights and comment below with your SPL level and equipment being used!




You’ve got your subwoofer, now what about the box?

There are three different types of subwoofer boxes that you should be looking to consider, depending on what type of subwoofer you get.

Sealed Subwoofer Enclosure

Sealed Subwoofer Enclosure

The sealed subwoofer enclosure is described by great transient response, excellent low frequency power handling, and a smaller box size. When a speaker is attached in a box, the air in the box turns to shape a spiral. Yet, sealed systems incline to hurt from complex limit points and lower sensitivity than the other low rate systems. They are usually the subwoofer of choice due to their great response.

Ported Subwoofer Enclosures

Ported Subwoofer Enclosures

ported enclosure system contains of a driver fixed on a side of a box that has an open area that lets the air in and out of the box. The port is there to tune the closed off space so that the rear wave of the speaker boosts the front wave of the speaker. This tends to results in a subwoofer with higher effectiveness. At lower frequencies, the opening adds greatly to the output of the system. The box design itself is made to perform as a filter to cutting off lower frequencies.


Bandpass Subwoofer Boxes

Bandpass Subwoofer Boxes

Bandpass boxes will produce more bass than either of the previous boxes mentioned, but over a thinner range of frequency. Working as a filter, the box blocks lower and higher frequencies, and in most cases a crossover is not needed.  These boxes are typically big and provide very accurate volumes.  Bandpass boxes also usually cover distortion which at times leads to damaged subs. Bandpass enclosures are very efficient in the band of frequencies that they are tuned to or pass.

Make sure to check out all the subwoofer boxes we have right here at


Sonic Electronix Announces Partnership with TechBargains


If you’re reading this blog, you’re no doubt familiar with the wide selection and unbeatable prices offered by Sonic Electronix. However, there are still people who haven’t heard of us, and the amazing deals we offer!  We are pleased to have partnered with to increase the visibility of our sales and promotions.

Deals and Coupon Codes

Thousands of online shoppers regularly use TechBargains to find the best available price on a specific item, to find insane specials and discounts, and to check out the unbiased product recommendations. We are pleased to be a part of TechBargains’ expansive and distinguished list of vendors committed to providing low prices.

So the next time you’re scouring TechBargains, don’t be surprised to see the Sonic Electronix name! We look forward to a great partnership that will benefit us, TechBargains, and most importantly, our customers!


Want to hook up your own subwoofer?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on car audio (being that I am one of the newest team members here at Sonic Electronix) and even though I highly recommend you get this done by a trained professional, there is always an opportunity to learn something new and try it yourself. Stereo systems are at least as simple as most other single accessory electrical systems, but they are still electrical systems. Physically wiring the system is the easiest part of installation. The rest of it is knowing what you’re working with and figuring out what to connect to what and in what way. But once you know what all those numbers and ratings on the amps and speakers mean, the process pretty much explains itself.

First and foremost you need to determine your amplifier’s minimum stable impedance  in ohms of resistance. You’ll typically find the stable impedance rating between 1 ohm for a powerful amp and 5 to 10 ohms for a less powerful one. The lower the amp’s stable ohm rating, the more power it can transmit through a single channel without frying. For this blog, I’m going to explain this if I were using an amplifier with a 2-ohm minimum staple impedance.

Now go ahead and check your subwoofer’s ohms of impedance. This works the same way as the amp does; a massive, powerful subwoofer has large coil windings that provide little resistance to power flow and a smaller speaker provides more resistance. This will determine whether you need to wire the subs in parallel or in series. Compare your amplifier’s ohm rating to the speakers. If the speaker ohm reading is lower than the amp’s, then connecting that single speaker directly to the amp output will fry your amp. You’ll need another speaker and you’ll need to connect the speakers in a series circuit instead of a parallel circuit.

Connect a parallel circuit in just the way you’d think ( positive to positive and negative to negative). As long as none of the speakers in your system have a lower ohm rating than the amp, then you’ll want to connect them directly to the amp terminals. This will give you the best chance at nailing down the ground pounding power you are looking for.

Connect the first part a series circuit by wiring the positive lead of one speaker to the positive terminal on your amp. Connect the negative terminal on that speaker to the positive terminal on the next in your series. If you only need two speakers to meet your amp’s minimum impedance, then connect the negative terminal on the second speaker to the negative terminal on your amp.

Wire as many speakers into the series as you need to meet your amp’s minimum amp impedance. Connect them all positive to negative with the positive and negative terminals on the speakers on the ends of your series connected to the appropriate terminals on your amp.

Now do remember that every car is different, so if you have any questions feel free to contact us here and Sonic Electronix and we’d love to help you out. Of course it’s going to be a little intimidating, but please make sure that you never work on your cars electrical system unless you are absolutely comfortable with it.

Make sure to check out all of our subwoofers here at Sonic Electronix, our Subwoofer Olympics Event, and look into starting your next project now!


The Future of Car Audio

What Does the Future Hold?

Car logos

Vehicle manufacturers are becoming more adaptive at implementing the latest technologies into their vehicles

Car audio is a constantly changing animal.  We have come a long way from the early days of car audio in which people thought it was an expensive luxury to enjoy sweet melodies while you drive.  Nowadays, people not only expect to have audio in their car, but expect other features such as navigation, bluetooth, smartphone integration, video playback, and many other convenient features.  So what does the future of car audio hold for you?  How will newly developing technology affect your future purchases of not only car audio but for cars in general?  These things don’t only affect you but they affect us as well!

As modern vehicles become more advanced, they are becoming more integrated as well. Vehicle manufacturers are starting to realize the importance and popularity of car audio and video and are taking measures to give the consumer that all-in-one experience they are looking for.  The demand for watching movies on the go has had explosive growth with the decreasing cost of LCD monitors and DVD players.  As a result, OEM audio systems are going to be more surround sound oriented.


App integration is rapidly increasing in popularity

Smartphones are another thing that are starting to change the car audio world as we know it.  We have started to see the emergence of smartphone integration with the likes of Pandora and Aha radio apps being integrated into aftermarket receivers and even in some new OEM systems.  Even more integration is starting to be present with the Pioneer AppRadio2 which can utilize other apps and functionality such as navigation directly from your iPhone.  The future will definetly see more app integration in vehicles.  Apple is even hinting at Siri integration in the near future!

All of this talk about vehicle integration might raise the question as to why anyone would need to buy aftermarket car audio equipment.  Even though vehicles have become more integrated, they still usually have cheap, stock speakers, limited bass output, limited  music equalization, and restricted sound quality all together.  It will be a very long time until you can say that your stock sound system could over glorify that of a well-tuned, aftermarket sound system.  This can apply to other realms as well such as Keyless entry alarm and remote start systems.   The future of car audio is not entirely clear, but one thing is for certain and that is that people will always look to aftermarket when their stock system is not enough.