Browsing Archive July, 2013

Essential Battery Accessories: Terminals, Isolators, Chargers

Time for an Upgrade!

The factory battery in your vehicle is more than likely unable to power an aftermarket stereo. When you upgrade your system, it will require a high performance power cell to work properly. When you need the right accessories, whether it’s battery terminals, battery posts, isolators or chargers, we got you covered to complete your installation to achieve a perfectly powered, booming system.

So Many Options, So Little Time

When you’ve chosen the high performance battery that you require to produce the proper amount of power for your stereo, you’ll want to take a look at terminals. Purchasing a higher end terminal with at least three outputs expands your options when running additional equipment such as an amplifier.

As an example, the NVX XBTU positive/negative battery terminal clamp has multiple gauge outputs to allow you a wide array of applications. One of the outputs is connected to your positive battery terminal while the other two can each be used for your amplifiers or you can select the output with the matching gauge for your power wire.

 

Not concerned with gold or platinum? You can choose to go with a more universal option such as the Xscorpion BTRG or XScorpion BTRP battery terminals which accept any gauge cable and easily screw the power cable to the terminal securely for a high power connection.

If you aren’t hooking up additional amplifiers and just want to upgrade your terminals to make under the hood more aesthetically pleasing, you can take the cheaper route and get a simple gold-plated positive terminal such as the MA Audio MBT1 and a gold-plated negative battery terminal such as the MA Audio MBT2.

Isolators

If and when you want to add a secondary battery to your audio system, an isolator such as the NVX BIR500 allows the second battery to fully dedicate itself to the stereo while the main battery focuses on powering the vehicle. This avoids voltage drop and draws less than 1 amp while your vehicle is powered on. Isolating the battery is extremely important to ensure continuous, maximum power handling. The battery relays and isolators are designed for different battery amp ratings from 80 amps to 500 amps and prevent your primary battery from any discharge.

For more info on isolators, check out our YouTube video.

Time for a Charge!

The need for a charge will come when you want to play your stereo while the engine is off. Now, obviously you lose power if your vehicle isn’t running and you’re in accessory mode, but if you have an extremely high powered stereo system, you may want to invest in a remote battery status monitor such as the CTEK Comfort Connect Indicator Panel. This product conveniently monitors the battery level and battery status to avoid damaging or undercharging your battery. One sad day you’ll run your audio system long enough and completely drain your battery.

The CTEK Multi US 3300 de-sulfating charger would be necessary due to its design to charge 12V lead-acid batteries such as Wet, MF, Gel, AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and Calcium. This charger ensures your high performance battery stays at its maximum potential to bring you…yep! You got it.. a high performance audio system!

 

Also, see our Knowledge Base article on Car Audio Capacitors vs Power Cells and Five Steps to Eliminate Headlight Dimming.

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STOP!!! Don’t Trust Your Factory Alarm!!!

Aftermarket Car Alarms

This is what happens when you have a factory alarm.

It all seemed so simple: Get out of the car at the grocery store, lock and arm your vehicle with a factory keyless entry alarm, do your shopping and go home.

Until you find out that your car isn’t in the parking lot when you get back. You got straight up car jacked! How did that happen?

Car manufacturers and alarm manufacturers have added more sophisticated technology so thieves have become more and more clever. Thieves now use handheld devices called Code Grabbers that capture the code sent out from your transmitter so they can use it on your car. Some thieves even have other devices called Code Blockers that simply prevent your signal from reaching the car in the first place, leaving your car unlocked so thieves can do with your vehicle as they please.

And it’s not just fancy new cars that are targeted anymore – Thieves have wisened up and now avoid high end cars because they know there will be extensive security to get past. Instead, the latest reports show that Ford pickup trucks are targeted most frequently.

So what’s the point of all this frightening info?

Aftermarket alarms have managed to stay a step ahead of thieves by using various technology that is far more effective than factory car alarms.

Viper 5902V

Why dont you get yourself something nice? You deserve it.

First off, is Code Hopping.

Just about all of the big names in car alarms—Viper, Python, Autopage, Clifford, Omega etc.—use Code Hopping technology to prevent Code Grabbers from intercepting and retransmitting a code. It works by changing the encryption code that is transmitted from your key fob every time you press a button. The receiver, or “brain,” of your alarm will reject and ignore any code that was previously received. So if a Code Grabber intercepts your signal and that signal is transmitted to your vehicle, your alarm will reject that code since you already used it and it will not unlock your vehicle.

And with 18 QUINTILLION different code combinations, you can pretty much press the buttons on your remote nonstop for the rest of your life and you’ll still have plenty of codes left to go through.

The more difficult device to deal with is the Code Blocker which prevents the code from even reaching your vehicle in the first place and makes Code Hopping ineffective.

Police still don’t know too much about this new device but it’s safe to assume that it somehow blocks the certain radio band frequencies that car alarm transmitters use. Until car alarm manufacturers develop transmitters that operate on a frequency that Code Blockers cannot intercept, there are still some technologies that aftermarket car alarms use to prevent thieves from stealing your vehicle.

Starter Kill is a simple switch that comes with most alarms that gets connected between the battery and starter. When arming your car this switch is activated, so if a thief gets into your vehicle they will still be unable to start it.

A Failsafe Starter Kill is a digital keypad that completely prevents the starter from cranking when the system is armed. This way, even if a thief has your own key they will be unable to start the car if the alarm is armed.

Directed 513T Piezo SirenPiezo Sirens can be added to just about aftermarket car alarm system and, boy does it pack a wallop. Your normal siren is mounted under the hood so that can heard from the outside. A piezo siren, on the other hand, is mounted inside the vehicle. A fun place to install them is right behind the stereo so when the thief gets into your car, they’ll be blasted with an ear-shattering 118dB high pitched tone straight to the dome. I have one in my own car and trust me, it’s truly painful to sit in the car for more than a second with that thing going (and this is coming from someone who blasts heavy metal through his headphones everyday).

Now for the icing on the cake…

One of the most simple things listed here, the backup battery. An entire alarm system can be rendered useless if the thief cuts the power to the vehicle. A backup battery is usually installed inside the vehicle behind the stereo like the piezo siren and will keep your alarm system juiced even if your power is cut.

 

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What The HELLA is Going On?

hella lighting

You talked me into it, I’ll take all the HELLA stuff you got.

If you’ve never heard of HELLA (pronounced Hee-la) you might be wondering who the Hella they are and what the Hella they make. So let me explain why HELLA is so Hella awesome (OK I’m done with the Hella puns). HELLA is a German company which kind of automatically means they make great stuff. Think of all the other great German companies like Mercedes, BMW, Philips, Adidas, Audi, Hugo Boss (I should buy myself a new suit… I look pretty snazzy in a suit) etc., etc…

Anyways, HELLA was founded way back in 1899, when things were much much older, and today is one of the top 50 global automotive suppliers. Currently, we sell their lighting and automotive accessory products. These include: Daytime Running Lights, Fog Lights, Driving Lights, Headlamp Kits and more. We also sell their air horns and if you don’t think you need an air horn, you should read my other blog which tells you why you’re wrong in thinking that. They’re seriously awesome.

LEDay Flex Daytime Running LightsMost of the high end HELLA products are designed and precision manufactured in Germany with high quality materials for a product that is built to last. Take the LEDay Flex 8 for example which uses a magnesium bulb housing. Not only is Magnesium a cool word because it reminds me of Magneto from the X-men, it’s also lightweight, highly durable and a good conductor of heat—much like Aluminium. This will keep your lights cool because the heat is being conducted away from the components.

HELLA lighting is even used by OEM car manufacturers—such as the aforementioned Mercedes, and also Cadillac—in their high end luxury vehicles. If you were to take the bulb out of the headlamp on these vehicles, you’d find a sweet little HELLA light bulb. A regular Joe junk product doesn’t get to run with those big boys. When it comes to lighting, HELLA knows what they’re doing.

So, when you come to Sonic Electronix, be sure to check all the different product offerings we have now. We’re not just car audio anymore, we’re everything car related. And don’t forget to check out all of our top notch HELLA products for all of your lighting and air horn needs. Yes, air horns are needs. Seriously, check em out.

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3 Great Stereos On a Budget – Under $150

When shopping to replace your factory car stereo there are many variations to choose from. Let’s start off and say you’re on a budget. A tight budget, we all have bills to pay. Whether you want Bluetooth, Pandora, Backup Camera or Navigation capabilities, first and foremost decide on the size that not only fits in your vehicle, but also accommodates the options you want.

Most popular selection of car stereo head units are Single DIN and Double DIN. There is also the not so popular single DIN with flip out screen or a single DIN with oversized face, but we can discuss those another time if necessary.

So back to being on a budget! You have around $150 to spend on a head unit. Let’s say you are going for Single DIN and you want MP3 capabilities, Bluetooth, maybe even the ability to stream Pandora. If this is the case, the Pioneer DEH-X6500BT would be the ideal head unit for you! Featuring an AM/FM, CD, MP3, USB Receiver with included remote, this unit is steering wheel remote ready and also works with iPhones and iPods. The Pandora app is a big feature for this particular stereo and easily launches on your smartphone device which then connects to your car stereo to stream music through your car speakers. You can stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth or through an additional auxiliary cable that connects to the front of the head unit.

Moving on! Double DIN head units. Still keep your focus on your budget of about $150. We have a larger head unit, the Kenwood DPX300U. This unit fits into a compatible vehicle that has a double DIN size dash (check for your specific vehicle before checkout). This unit also has CD, MP3, WMA format capabilities and Pandora, but unfortunately no Bluetooth. An upside to no hands-free calling is that this stereo has the ability to add on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Of course with the purchase of an additional radio package (sold separately) or if you’re in luck and already have a subscription, you’re set and good to go!

If built-in Bluetooth is a must have and you have the space to fill, you can still get a Double DIN head unit, simply browse our selection of units with that specific feature. You can always resort back to the Single DIN, just be sure you get the required pocket accessory to fill the space if your vehicle is equipped with a Double DIN dash. There’s always a way!

Our final suggestion of an excellent replacement for your factory stereo while staying on a budget is the Sony WX-GT80UI. This unit is a Double DIN as well, still supports all the MP3 and CD formats but has a front USB which is definitely a neat feature. The USB allows you to connect, control and charge your Walkman, iPod, iPhone, Android or Blackberry which becomes extremely handy rather than fussing with the controls on the head unit itself. This specific receiver also has Pandora and supports iPhones and Androids.

So keep your wallet full and shop our huge selection of head units! Small, big, wide, narrow, touchscreen, Bluetooth, navigation… we have it all!

So browse away…

No seriously, stop reading and check out Sonic Electronix.com.

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My Favorite Subwoofer Under $100

Here in the Sonic Electronix copywriting department we have a lot of subwoofers coming through. My main job is to describe and write content about these woofers – so it’s common that you’ll find a stack of subwoofers near my desk. I get a bit of time with each of these woofers, and in this series I’ll help tell you some of my favorite subwoofer choices in different price ranges. This entry level series is going to include three different price ranges, and I’ll tell you which one is my overall favorite. I decided to only look at 12” subwoofers, because they’re the most popular subwoofer size.

Pioneer TS-W309D2

First and foremost I elected the Pioneer TS-W309D2 Champion Series subwoofer. This subwoofer is one of our more popular sellers, due to its lower price point and relatively high RMS power ratings. This isn’t the only place where this subwoofer shines, however. The reason I elected this subwoofer into the running is because of the build quality at its price point. Spring loaded push terminals weren’t sacrificed for budget reasons, and that’s a huge plus. The basket on this subwoofer is also constructed very well, and also has double stacked magnets. The Pioneer Champions subwoofers have a polypropylene composite cone, and a polymer surround. In my opinion these woofers are an excellent value for their overall build quality.

NVX N-Series Subwoofer

NVX NSW124

Second up is the NVX N-Series Subwoofers. The NSW124 is a perfect example of these value driven woofers. These subwoofers are a great option for those looking for more of a sound quality geared setup, but don’t want to sacrifice any overall output. These N-Series woofers feature a 2” KSV Voice coil, an impressively high roll rubber surround, and a polypropylene cone. These woofers are all housed in a stamped steel basket with push pin terminals, and have a very solid overall build. The NVX NSW124 is a great subwoofer contestant under $100, and I’d highly recommend them.

Sony GS 12" Subwoofer

Sony XS-GS120L

Finally up is the Sony XS-GS120L. This subwoofer almost exceeds our limit here, but stays under the bar. Although it’s the priciest woofer in this contest, it holds its own without a problem. The Sony XS-GS120L subwoofer is designed with very high components generally not found on entry level subwoofers in this price range. A very high quality mica reinforced cellular glass fiber cone is featured on these woofers with a rubber surround. A cast aluminum basket is used on these particular woofers, and it’s vented to allow for voice coil cooling; the basket also includes push pin spring loaded terminals as well. Sony went above and beyond getting these woofers a CEA-2031 RMS power rating of 500 watts. It’s very tough to find woofers that are honestly rated – and these Sony woofers took an extra hit on R&D to make sure that the consumer was getting the most accurate ratings, which is highly appreciated.

NVX Specs

A breakdown of the features found on the NVX N-Series

It’s hard to pick just one to top the competition. The Pioneer Champion woofer is an excellent woofer with impressive features such as the double stacked magnet. The NVX N-Series woofer has an extremely high roll surround, which is incredibly appealing to me. The Sony’s honest ratings and high quality cone make it a hard to deviate from as a candidate. If I had to choose one, regardless of price, to install into my personal vehicle – I would personally choose the NVX NSW124. I’m a sucker for that menacing surround and classic cone style. Also the 2” KSV voice coil and unique venting system gives me more flexibility with my amplifier.

Thanks for joining me with this segment of Best Subwoofer under $100. Next week I’ll be coming with a new segment featuring subwoofers in a higher price range. Let us know in the comments what YOUR favorite subwoofer at Sonic Electronix under $100 is!

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