Monday, January 9, 2012

Duh, It’s A Car Stereo!

Pretty self-explanatory isn’t it? It’s a stereo system in a car, you say. Whoa, hold your horses, it’s not that simple. Although some people like to put home stereos in their cars and vans (out of dire need for some sounds), sometimes it just doesn’t work. Yeah, maybe before it could’ve worked just fine, all you needed was radio and a cassette player (or 8 tracks, for the inner dinosaur in you) so sure, lug those big box speakers into the back seat and you’ll be blaring down the highway. But nowadays there are things like cd players and mp3 players and your popup LCD panels and all that techie knickknack you’d think they’d like to build a home theater system right smack on the console of your van. If you don’t know anything about these things but would like to have some sounds in your car anyway, here are some things to know about a car stereo.

As mentioned above, at first units and speakers from home audio systems and professional markets were just simply installed into vehicles. However, they were not well suited to the extremes of temperature and vibration which are a normal part of the environment of an automobile. Car stereo enthusiasts were not satisfied with the sound quality of regular car sound systems, and with the advent of the CD player, they really had to start modifying some of these home stereos in order to work well in a car environment and voila!, now we have the modern car stereo.   

If you have a new car, first hand bought, say from about 90 to present, chances are you already have a “factory” car stereo in your car. It means the car manufacturer already included a car stereo system in your car, unless specified in the car model but most often this is the case. Some car manufacturers make their own car stereos, like BMW which includes a pretty decent car stereo package head unit and speakers. It is a standard which comes with all their cars (which isn’t surprising considering that BMW is included in the league of “luxury car manufacturers”). Or like Mercedes Benz or Volkswagen, they use car stereo systems from a German audio manufacturer called Blaupunkt.

A standard car stereo (also called a head unit) usually includes an auto-reverse tape deck, a cd player and sometimes the optional changer – a device which automatically changes the cd in play. On newer car models, the car stereo can also play mp3s and other digital audo file types like WMA and AAC, whether on a cd or a memory device which can be hooked up to the head unit.

The car stereo head unit is connected to several speakers. Older car models usually just had one speaker mounted underneath the dashboard, pointing through perforations towards the front windshield. The standard for car stereo nowadays is a pair of “tweeters” (used to bring out high treble) on the driver side/front passenger side dashboard, a pair of normal “mid” speakers on both doors, sometimes even the backseat passenger doors if it’s a large car and larger speakers capable of bringing out low ends at the back protion of the backseats.

Your car stereo is probably ok as it is, as car manufacturers ensure that the audio products that come with their cars can handle most driver’s listening demands. But if you think that what you have isn’t enough, you can always CUSTOMIZE.     

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mobile Multimedia: A New Peak For The Alpine Car Stereo

We all know that brand names matter when purchasing car audio hardware. There are brands that are surely more reputable than others. When you are at the store and they offer choice after choice after choice, suddenly you feel overwhelmed on what really to buy. But you can be assured of one thing, if they offer you an Alpine car stereo you can’t go wrong with it.

Alpine car stereo and electronics, founded in 1978, is a world leader in the industry of high performance mobile electronics. They specialize in mobile multimedia, an integrated system approach incorporating digital entertainment, security and navigation products for the mobile entertainment.

Alpine car stereos are a new breed of units which feature the convergence of high performance audio, video, navigation and telematics in the form of Mobile Multimedia. Navigation systems act as the resource center of the Alpine car stereo Mobile Multimedia lineup. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), DVD players, Dolby Digital systems, satellite digital audio radio, mobile data linking and communication through telematics devices will be fused with navigation systems to create a platform of products. Mobile Multimedia integrates Alpine's innovative audio, video, security and navigation products, as well as its new GUI for Drivers, human interface and information communications technology.

To grasp what the Alpine car stereo Mobile Multimedia is, take a look at the IVA-D901 Alpine car stereo Mobile Multimedia Station/CD/DVD Receiver/Ai-NET Controller.

The IVA-D901 has 400% more pixels than a conventional in-vehicle display, meaning that it has 1.15 million pixel elements. It has 50W x 4 built-in power and 3 PreOuts (4 volt), SAT Radio ready, a Hard Disc Drive (HDD), and Alpine car stereo Navigation. Key features include:

- 7" Fully Motorized Wide Screen Monitor
- 18W x 4 MOSFET Amplifier
- Built-in Dolby Digital/DTS Decoder
- Bass Engine® Plus
- Subwoofer Level Control
- Bass Center Frequency Control
- Bass Band Width Adjustment
- Treble Center Frequency Control
- Subwoofer Phase Selector
- Bass Type Control
- 4-Ch Digital Time Correction
- 3 Position 12 dB/Oct Crossover
- MediaXpander™
- SAT Radio Ready
- MP3 Text Information Display
- Quick Search Function
- CD/CD-R Playback
- CD Text, Text Display, Text Scroll
- MaxTune SQ Tuner
- 3 Auxilliary A/V Inputs with Remote Control Input
- Dedicated Navigation Input
- Dedicated Camera Input
- 2 Auxilliary Monitor A/V Outputs
- Navigation Audio Mix
- 3 PreOuts (4 volt)
- MM Driver (Hard Disc Drive) Ready
- MobileHub Ready
- Ai-NET Control Center DVD/CD/MP3 Changer Controller
- "Digital Art" Spectrum Analyzer Display
- RUE-4190 Universal Wireless Remote Control Included

If these all seems too much for you, Alpine car stereos also have more conventional head units to offer. The CDA-9835 Alpine car stereo In-Dash CD Player/Ai-Changer Controller lets you fully customize both illumination and sound, with a range of 512 colors and super-versatile Bass Engine functions like digital time correction and parametric EQ. You can download audio parameter settings and connect and control as many as eight amps. The BioLite display, Menu key and rotary knob make operation extremely easy.

Like most Alpine car stereo units, it is also SAT Radio Ready, giving you a much greater choice of listening options than ordinary local AM/FM radio. You can select from among a wide range of music genres, news, sports, and talk programs with digital quality anywhere.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How to: A Car Stereo Installation Guide

Want to save some money? Ever wonder if you could do a car stereo installation yourself? Yes, you can do it yourself! Go ahead, spend that money on your hardware! Don’t spend it on labor. Besides, doing a car stereo installation yourself can be a very rewarding experience, not to mention you can learn a lot from it too. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing your “creation” in action, running smoothly and perfectly.

But be very careful, you really won’t want to damage your expensive hardware. Well, most car audio hardware are no-brainers to install, you’d find that most of the time the parts have specially shaped sockets and slots etc. and would only fit where it’s supposed to be installed. Still, it’s best to proceed methodically.

In a car stereo installation, you have to determine what kind of rig you’re going to put into your vehicle. If you’re a beginner, it’s best you do a car stereo installation if it’s just a simple system. You may want to leave the complicated stuff to the professionals, like installing delicate equipment like LCD panels, motorized parts etc. especially if it requires the creation of custom panels and such.

Head units are one of the easiest to do in a car stereo installation. Fortunately, most units follow the same size standards (DIN). In many cars, once the factory radio is removed the aftermarket radio will fit in the hole. In many other cars, a kit is needed if the factory hole is too big, or not deep enough. In some cases the dash has to be cut.  Any car stereo store should have kits required for installation.

There are two types of mounting in a car stereo installation. ISO mounting is when the radio can be screwed to existing factory radio brackets, such as in most Japanese cars. Ring mounting is when an aftermarket radio comes with a metal ring that gets mounted to the factory radio hole or aftermarket kit via bendable tabs. In many cars, dash and trim rings have to be filed to enlarge the radio hole. Once the ring is installed, the radio slides in and is held by snaps. In most cases, special tools are required to remove the radio.

Speakers are very critical in a car stereo installation. No matter how expensive your speakers are, if they are not properly installed, the sound will not be up to par.

In a simple car stereo installation, you’ll probably be using speakers that fit into a factory location. Just make sure there are no gaps or holes. Sometimes building a wood or fiberglass baffle helps reduce holes and gives you much better sound. But always be careful when using power tools around speakers. Car stereo installation warranties usually don't cover holes in speakers.

For unconventional speaker locations, sometimes metal has to be cut. You might want to leave this to the professionals, tools like plasma cutters and pneumatics drills are required. But if you’re going to insist, a pair of metal snips (left and right cut) will do.

A car stereo installation has to put up with vibrations and other noise sources in its environment. Even though it is impossible to eliminate these completely, there are products that will greatly decrease the noise and rattling, particularly on non-luxury cars. Liners, sprays and adhesive strips and even carpeting applied onto the panels can make a world of difference.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Car Stereo Speaker: Let Your Car Stereo Speak For Itself

Even if you’re not a car audio connoisseur, it’s easy to be impressed with a car stereo speaker while looking around in an expo or convention. They’re the first thing you’ll probably notice, they come in different colors, shapes and sizes. Those big throbbing concaves blaring incredibly low bass lines or cool little tweeters whistling out seething treble sounds.   

Car stereo speakers are interesting and very tempting to buy, especially the big loud ones. But big is not always the best. Each speaker has its own unique quality, intended use and price range. Some may also be better than others at certain things so it pays to investigate your type of car stereo amplifier or head unit before you finally decide on a car stereo speaker for your system. Here are some features to consider:

Car stereo speakers are not all the same size and wattage, and this can cause a problem once you try to hook it up in your car. Know the specs of your system. Sort this out ahead of time, it will save you a lot of hassle. You will be happier with your new acquisition if you can get to see it in action as soon as possible. 

There are also a lot of car stereo amplifiers on the market, it pays to be aware of how the car stereo speaker you are considering compares to the others, and how compatible it is to your amplifier or the amplifier you’re planning to buy. Car stereo speakers and amplifiers go hand in hand. You’ll want the car stereo speakers you buy to be suitable for your automotive entertainment needs and not strain the system.

Style can be an important factor when choosing your special car stereo speakers. You’ll want the one you choose to fit in perfectly with your other all sorts of stereo speakers. If you’re planning to install something different, you have to take into consideration the modifications your going to have to make in order to accommodate your new car stereo speakers.

One of the biggest issues in buying a new type of car stereo speaker is suitability. How suitable your car stereo speakers are is probably the biggest issue. Don't forget the reason you’re buying the type of car stereo amplifier in the first place, and ensure that the all sorts of stereo speakers you are looking at will do the job you need no matter what other fancy features they may offer.

Brand is an important consideration when you are shopping for a car stereo speaker. The fact is, one brand of type of car stereo amplifier may have a much better reputation than another, and for good reason. You be the judge. Do your research. Ask car audio enthusiasts. Read magazines and reviews. Do you want to take a chance on just any car stereo speakers, or go for the proven name brand?

Lastly, price is important even if you think it's not. After all, would you want to pay more for your car stereo speakers only to find it cheaper the next day at a different store? Nobody likes that. When shopping for better car stereo speakers, it pays to check at least a couple of different stores, just to make sure you're getting your car stereo speakers at the best price.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shoe Sale For The Big Boys: The Car Stereo Sale.

Announce a shoe sale, and the women come a’running. Announce a car stereo sale and the men, or more appropriately, the Big Boys come thundering with their checkbooks and wallets waving in the air.

The car stereo sale. This is every car audio, or even the regular audio enthusiasts’ Mecca. Only intense prayer is replaced by intense spending. 

Car stereo sales happen at audio stores regularly. When a car audio manufacturer launches a new product, the prices of prior models drop drastically which may prompt the store or the brand name to initiate a car stereo sale. Most especially when a new technology comes out, a good example would be like the introduction of the Compact Disc technology, suddenly all cassette player car stereos became dirt cheap, no matter how cool that LED display might be.  

Another avenue of car stereo sales are at expos and conventions. Most of the time, the good stuff come out at expos’, whether it be a car expo, audio system expo, but usually the largest car stereo sale happens at a gathering of car audio manufacturers. Well, at these kinds of expos’ and conventions, it’s not usually a sale because the manufacturers usually try to get buyers for their newest product. If you have the money and you’re out there to buy some serious hardware, then by all means, SPLURGE AWAY!        

But first you have to know what it is you want to buy. Don’t go running off to a car stereo sale without knowing what it is your system needs. There are a lot of items in a car stereo sale, shiny, glittery and LOUD items that might get your attention but don’t let it tempt you to whip out your wallet just yet. Although most car audio enthusiasts need not be reminded of this (because they know their stuff well, it’s probably all they think about all day) any car stereo sale newbie might get the itch to impulse buy, especially when the item displays high wattage. Or even if it just looks spacy and high-tech.

When planning to go to a car stereo sale, you have to prepare, prepare, PREPARE. Take a good look at your audio system. What does it need? Do you need a complete overhaul of your stereo system? If it doesn’t really need anything but you just want to take it up a notch and upgrade it, make sure what you’re planning to buy is compatible with your existing system. Don’t but a high watt bazooka speaker if your amplifier can’t handle it. Although audio parts like these have very high resale value, save yourself some trouble and buy the right parts. You don’t want to end up buying a very expensive paperweight.

Also, do what other enthusiasts’ are doing. READ MAGAZINES! These car audio magazines contain reviews and price listings of the items you may be looking for. You’ll also get acquainted with products you might have never heard before, it will surely open up your choices and options.

Going to a car stereo sales is also a good way to meet other car audio enthusiasts’ like yourself. Who knows, you might meet someone who might be willing to just trade items. It will save you the money and gain you some new friends.   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pimp Up Yo’ Ride! Why You Need A Good Car Stereo System.

You’ve got a nice pearled paint job. You’ve got your 18’ sized chrome mags. You’ve got an interior job that looks like a dream. But all of that would be superficial if you don’t have a good car stereo system in your ride.   

A good car stereo system is a marvel to experience, just like a poorly constructed car stereo system is such a pity to look at. The price is a big factor, but not all expensive hardware perform well if installed haphazardly, or if hooked up with incompatible hardware. It is also subjective, just as some of us find black cars more appealing than other color cars. If you like your car stereo system more than any other in the same vehicle, then you have the best.

If you like some other car stereo system more than yours in the same vehicle, then that one is better. Only you can decide which is best for you. For a car stereo system to be a good or great, it must first meet or exceed the user's expectations.

The type of vehicle also plays a major part in what kind car stereo system you should build. For some people, after only being in a few vehicles their ears recognize the inherent characteristics of this unique environment. Most of what we hear in a vehicle is a recording of the original artist in a given environment, usually in two channel stereo which can be playing in a totally different environment with the listeners placed in awkward listening positions relative to the placement of speakers. A great car stereo system is created with the understanding of acoustics, basic electronics, and the different products that are to be used.

A good idea is to gain references to compare to your auto audio system or any other and experience it live in as many different environments as possible. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to go to expos’ and conventions. As you hop from exhibit to exhibit you'll immediately notice the difference in sound characteristics of each setup. You will find some car stereo systems that you prefer over others, if not a favorite and that is the way to choose a cheap car stereo system that you like. Also ask for specs, they’ll gladly give it to you.  

The benefits of aftermarket speakers are: they have a larger frequency response (more music coming through the car stereo speakers), more power handling capabilities, they will brighten your highs and increase your auto audio system bass. There are two types of CAR speakers available: the dual cone and the two way. A dual cone has a small paper cone built into a larger paper cone.

Amplifiers are the backbone of your car stereo system. Weak amplifiers damage good car stereo speakers, not the other way around. Amplifiers provides musical power and contributes greatly to the elimination of distortion and the upgrade of sound clarity. The size of the amplifiers will be proportionate to the level of power you want. You can tell a good power amp by turning the auto stereo system above half volume and still hearing clear amplification. Bear in mind that the more power you have the better control you have over your system.
A good car stereo system is something to show for. It can bring satisfaction to you, the owner, and to those who will witness it. It will also raise the quality and value of your car in case you wish to resell it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kenwood Car Stereo Lets You Listen To The Future Of Car Audio.

This brand is a household name for every car audio enthusiast. Mention the name Kenwood car stereo and they will know what you’re talking about.

Kenwood car stereos have produced high quality consumer electronics, test equipment and communication equipment since 1946. Kenwood car stereos primarily specialize in the design, engineering and manufacture of wireless communication infrastructure but are also renowned in the production consumer mobile and home entertainment systems. Kenwood car stereos are also committed to creating the finest quality components with state of the art technologies that has earned them a huge following in the audio products scene.

At present, Kenwood car stereos have a very impressive product lineup that would make anyone drool over, whether he is an audio enthusiast or not. For the regular Joe who isn’t really into technical stuff, and is just looking for something nice to put into his ride, Kenwood car stereos offer sleek designs that will surely satisfy anyone’s craving for aesthetic. Tech-freaks and geeks will also be impressed with the specs a Kenwood car stereo has. 

A lot of Kenwood car stereo units nowadays include popup LCD panels for watching VCD/DVD movies. The Kenwood KVT-717DVD 7.0” Wide, Fully Motorized In-dash Monitor DVD/WMA/MP3 Receiver is a good candidate for any situation.

• 7.0 inch Wide Color TFT Active Matrix Display
• Full-automatic Open/Close with slide and angle adjustments
• Interactive Touchscreen Control with OSD
• Audio Easy Control Mode while Playing Visual Source
• Selectable Wall Paper (6 Patterns)
• Installer/Backup Memory of Audio/Video Setup
• Maximum Output Power : 50W x 4 (MOSFET Power IC)
• 3 Preouts with 5V Pre-out Level
• 2 RCA AV Inputs / 1 RCA AV Output
• Video Input for Rear View Camera
• RGB Input for Navigation System
• System Q/ System E's+
• DVD Menu Direct Touch screen Control
• MPEG 1/2 Video files (.mpg) and JPEG files (.jpg) Playback
• Dual Zone Source & Volume Control
• DVD±R/RW Compatible
• External Media Control — iPod Ready
• Optional TV Tuner

For those who might not get what the hell all of these means, just imagine this: a really thin monitor panel that smoothly retracts and extends at the push of a remote, crystal clear movie and picture playback, all encased in a beautiful black matte finish polymer casing done with a space age design.

If all you want is a just a regular car stereo for playing CDs’, listening to mp3s or the radio, Kenwood car stereo have a lot to choose from. A good head unit would be the KDC-MP928 AAC/WMA/MP3/ CD Receiver with External Media Control.

• Auto-Slide Detachable Faceplate
• Rotary Encoder & Jog Control Knob for Easy Operation
• 4096 Color OEL Display
• Display Customize Function
• Maximum Output Power : 50W x 4 (MOSFET Power IC)
• ACDrive (Advanced Codec Drive)
• AAC/WMA/MP3 Playback
• G-Analyzer (Graphic Motion Analyzer)
• Built-in DSP : DTA/System Q(4band P-EQ)/Digital E's/SRS
WOW Digital Effect
• O.D.D. (Offset Dual Differential) D/A System for Sound Quality
• Installer/User/Backup Memory of Audio Setup
• SIRIUS Satellite Radio Ready
• HD Radio Ready
• External Media Control — iPod Ready
• Dual Zone Source & Volume Control
• AUX Input
• Gold Plated 3 Preouts with 5V Pre-output Level

The Kenwood car stereo auto slide detachable faceplate allows you to take the faceplate (one which has all the buttons) in order to prevent theft by taking away the functionality of the unit left in the car.