Tag: Car Amplifier

JBL MS-8 Sound Processor Overview

THE BEGINNING:

2008+ Mitsubishi Lancer Rockford Fosgate Amplified Sound System Diagram

When someone says to me, “Come check out my awesome sound system!” Deep down I sigh to myself knowing that they will have two subwoofers in the trunk powered by a no name amplifier as well as a cheap head unit. Sure enough, it’s just bass… sloppy and inaccurate but loud bass. If only they knew what amazing sound lay just on the horizon. They can have loud, deep bass but obtain quality with their current setup. Where are the mids and highs? How about accurate, punchy bass? Does no one want that live concert, movie theater type sound? I bought a new 2008+ Mitsubishi Lancer and wanted to get the best possible sound from my factory amplified sound system, I had decided to hold off on an entire system until the vehicle was paid off. The JBL MS-8 was rumored to rock socks off, so I pulled the trigger and purchased one. It would integrate with my factory amplified navigation and sound system nicely. The system is made up of the following:

  • Navigation Headunit
  • 8-Channel DSP Amplifier
  • Front 6.5″ Component Speakers
  • Rear Coaxial Speakers
  • Trunk Mounted 10″ Subwoofer

INSTALLATION:

I had to do quite a bit of research before the installation of the MS-8 because I wanted to be absolutely sure I was cutting into the correct wires of my factory amplified sound system, which looked like rainbow spaghetti. If I had a basic, non-amplified or aftermarket sound system, the installation would have been very easy and straightforward. I used the hi-level input and output of the MS-8, which were two wiring harnesses. The clearly labeled harnesses made it easy to crimp all of the wires together once I had the colors figured out. I connected the MS-8 to the output side of the factory amplifier between the amp and speakers themselves, it would utilize it’s own high quality built-in amplifier from now on. Installation was slightly more difficult than a regular amplifier, but only because of the factory wiring.

CALIBRATION:

The included LCD display and bi-aural microphone are used for setup, calibration, and tuning of the MS-8. It can be mounted anywhere within the vehicle or simply used once and then unplugged and stored. I opted to store the display once I finished using it, however I connect it often to make adjustments to the 31-band EQ or the listening position. You must tell the MS-8 what speakers are connected to each channel, so make sure to write them down ahead of time. I then had to set the crossover points for each speaker and was delighted that I had this kind of control of my system. However, I had no idea what crossover points the factory system’s speakers were set at and Rockford Fosgate wouldn’t reveal that information to me, trust me I asked. This was a big pain in my side, but crucial to getting the best sound. The first x-over points I selected made the MS-8 sound awful and muddy, so keep that in mind if you are un-happy with the outcome, just re-calibrate with new x-over points. Finally, I donned the bi-aural microphone headset like a champion and started the sound calibrations. The measurements will take about 5 minutes to complete at which point the unit will calculate the frequency response, level and arrival time for each of the 8 output channels. Finally, it auto-tunes the car using 48 measurements per seat, up to 4 seats total (driver, passenger, two rear seats). Impressive isn’t it? Just make sure no one sees you during calibration. Looking in all directions with the headset on and the car making tons of awkward beeping noises will leave people wondering.

THE DEFINING MOMENT:
When completed, the MS-8 was ready to output the optimized tune from all of its calibrations. I was immediately impressed. I could no longer pinpoint the individual speakers in my car, all I knew was that the sound was coming from the front dashboard and all around me. More than just raising the center stage, the MS-8’s quality amplifier brought out the little nuances in my music that I was never able to hear before from the stock amplifier. Cymbals sounded like they were crashing, the bass drum was punchy and even vocals were more human and sibilant. I turned the calibrations off to revert back to the factory sound output and felt disgusted that I had ever thought it was good, at which point I immediately turned the MS-8 back on. Had I spent the same amount of money on just upgrading my speakers and radio, I would have better quality sound from the individual speakers but without time alignment and staging, it’s almost pointless. Now that I have the MS-8, adding upgraded components will be a breeze and they will sound significantly better with the additional calibrations.

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Add Sound to Any Vehicle with the Kicker PXi50.2

PXi50.2
At Sonic Electronix we are commonly approached with the task of installing audio systems into vehicles that are very small, and not very accommodating of a full system. It’s one thing adding a system to a Chevrolet Tahoe, but when it comes to a vehicle such as a motorcycle, a lawn mower, a personal watercraft, or snowmobile it can be much more difficult to find a way to get your tunes playing. The introduction of the Kicker PXi50.2 from the Kicker Powersports Line is one surefire solution to add audio to literally anything with a charging system.

PXi50.2 Control Panel

The volume and some other controls are featured on a separate Control Panel that can be remotely mounted

The PXi50.2 is an extremely compact 2-channel amplifier with a built in controller for an iPod or iPhone. Using this inclusive system means that you won’t need to bother with a radio. This system can also work with any MP3 player or smart phone using the auxiliary input, but the benefit to using an iPod or iPhone is you also will charge up on the go. The volume and other controls that a radio would usually have are all located on a separate control panel.

The way the system is installed and works is very simple and ingenious. First you connect your source to the auxiliary or dock connector. This will lead to the brain of the unit which is also the amplifier. You can connect this brain to either 2 speakers, 4 speakers, or even a subwoofer. Kicker manufactures the Powersports PS5250 5-1/4″ speakers to go along with this system. Since the unit is so compact, it’s very easy to fit this system practically anywhere. The DIY possibilities using this product are practically endless! Kicker has developed an awesome product, answering the wishes of DIYers who love sound everywhere. Let us know your coolest idea for a portable sound system using the PXi50.2!

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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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Marine Vs Car Audio

Marine AudioEnjoy The Water

2012 offers an abundance of new audio equipment for your aquatic satisfaction.  It’s not quite summer, but now is the perfect time to start thinking of upgrading your watercraft’s audio components!  Marine audio can be installed on the likes of boats, sea-doos, jet skis, motorcycles, ATV’s, ect.  As opposed to car audio, marine audio is usually more durable and weather proof to allow for excessive wear and tear.  Getting the gear you need now will ensure an audio-inducing summer.

                                              The Difference

Kicker 10ZXM7005

5-Channel ZXM Series Marine Amplifier

Marine audio differentiates from car audio in a few major ways. Marine amplifiers and subwoofers are water resistant due to their increased exposure to salt or fresh water. They have special manufacturing designs such as watertight seals, coated circuit boards, and waterproof wired remote controllers. Another thing to take into consideration is sunlight exposure.  Usually, audio components are going to be exposed to long hours in the summer sun.  To compensate for this, manufacturers will coat parts with ultraviolet resistant materials.

 

JL Audio Marine M10W5-CG-WH

10" Single 4 ohms Marine Subwoofer Driver

When your audio components are wet or dampened, they are susceptible to corrosion.  Marine speaker wire is designed to reduce the risk of corrosion with stranded copper wire.  This wire also makes it flexible which is great for absorbing shock damage caused by the movement of the harsh marine environment. Due to the openness of a marine environment, marine speakers will always have hard dome tweeters to create the loudest sound projection obtainable. Marine head units will have rubberized buttons and splash guards to protect the internal parts from being wet. Today, there are an abundance of manufacturers who offer multiple lines of marine audio products to fit your specific needs.

 

We have a huge selection,  check it out!:

Marine Audio

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Amplifier Crossovers

Cross It Over

You might be wondering why amplifiers have features such as low-pass, high-pass, and subsonic filters.  A lot of people will install an amplifier without properly setting these controls which can result in poor audio quality.  We are here to make sure this does not happpen to you!  Crossovers are filters which means they use capacitors and inductors to block or pass different ranges of frequencies.  There are two types of crossovers: active and passive.  Passive are not adjustable and require no work on your part as it is already installed and preset depending on the capacitor or inductor that is already installed inside the device or crossover.  Active are usually adjustable in that you can select the crossover points.  There are a few important terms to consider when refering to crossovers:

Hifonics GLX18001D

Low-Pass Filter- This allows the low frequencies to pass or be allowed to play.  This feature is used mainly for subwoofers.  The low frequency spectrum will contain any frequency of about 100 Hz or lower.

High-Pass Filter- This allows the high frequencies to pass or be allowed to play.  Mainly used for Mid-bass drivers and tweeters.  The high pass will usually be for frequencies of 100 HZ and up.

Subsonic Filter- This filter prevents any frequencies that are not audible to be blocked.  This filter is usually set around 20 Hz.  It is essentially a safe guard to keep you from damaging your subwoofer.

Phase- This feature ensures that the sound from your subwoofer reaches you at the same time as your speakers.  For example, if you are hearing an echo, your should set your phase to 0.  This feature is adjustable from 0-180 degrees.

Bass EQ- Also known as a bass boost, this feature is designed to boost select frequencies, usually around 40 or 45 Hz.

Gain or Level- This function is used to match the voltage that is coming from your headunit in order to prevent clipping.

Rolloff or Slope- This concept is the most difficult to comprehend.  This describes the rate in which the audio level will increase or decrease per octave as the frequency rises or falls.  Most commonly, amplifiers will have a 12dB octave slope.  Basically what this means is that once you have changed the frequency of the signal by a factor of 2 or 1 octave, the signal will change by 12 dB.

 

Rolloff

Crossover Rolloff

 

 

 

 

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