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Monday, August 10, 2009

Car Audio and Video Buying Guide on (PART 2)

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These days we spend a lot of time in our cars, and most of us do not want to be spotted in the driver's seat alone, conversing with our bored selves. So we like to have some entertainment around, some luxury! And who can blame us? The more time you spend in your car, the more comfortable you want it to be, and what could be more comfortable than relaxing in the cushioned seat and listening to tunes? Turning on a new release video? During those long out of town trips, these are the things that keep us sane.



* Car Receivers: Separate the wanted from the unwanted signals; they also level out sound and convert waves into usable data (i.e. music).
* Car Speakers: Convert your audio signal into sound.
* Car Subwoofers: Used to produce low frequency sounds in your audio system.
* Car Tweeters: Used to produce high frequency sounds in the audio system.
* Car Amplifiers: Used to produce clear sound quality.
* Car Equalisers: Allow listeners to easily adjust the frequency ranges of the stereo sound.
* Satellite Radio: Say goodbye to static and hello to clear and commercial free music stations.


* Car Satellite Radio Receivers : Unless you have a satellite radio receiver, you won't have any luck getting satellite radio.
* Cassette Adapters : Plugs your portable electronic devices into the in-dash cassette player so you can listen to them on the road.
* iPod Car Integrators : Allows you to listen to your iPod music through your radio system.

Popular Receivers

Here are the top five most popular receivers available today:


  • 4 X 50 Watt MOS-FET Amplifier
  • USB Front Input
  • 3.5mm Aux input
  • RDS HS-IV Tuner
  • 24-bit DAC
  • iEQ Equalisation

Pioneer DEH-50UB

  • MOSFET 50W x 4
  • Tuner: AM/FM
  • Front Panel Removable
  • Cellular telephone auto muting
  • iPod Direct control

Kenwood KDC-W5041UG

  • 4 x 50W MOSFET amplifier with System Es Sound Control
  • Front panel mounted USB port
  • Removable front panel and security code
  • Two-way telephone muting
  • Front panel auxiliary cable input (headphone-style jack)


  • 50W x 4 Amplifier
  • 24-bit resolution DAC
  • MP3 & WMA Compatible
  • ID3 Tag Display
  • CD/CD-R/CD-RW Compatible
  • Line Output Terminals
  • Front Aux Input

Panasonic CQ C1465N

  • 4 x 50W amplifier
  • MP3 playback
  • CD text display
  • Detachable faceplate
  • Front aux input

What Else Should I Consider?

Stereo bracket for an Audi
Stereo bracket for an Audi
  • Vehicle Compatibility
    • Will the receiver fit into the slot where your old car stereo was?
      • Although many people have their new receiver professionally installed, be sure to make sure parts are available for your vehicle before purchasing a receiver.
    • Check to see if you need a stereo fitting kit to accommodate for extra room your new receiver might need.
    • Many receivers do not come with a wiring harness adapter. You will need one of these to install your receiver.
  • Audio Formats
    • Determine what audio format(s) the receiver that interests you supports.
    • Check to see if you can only play burned CDs containing these formats, or you can load these file types directly on to the receiver via a USB memory stick.
      • CD- CD Audio (not burned)
      • MP3- .MP3
      • WMA- .WMA (Windows Audio)
      • AAC- .AAC (Common with iTunes)
  • Power
    • Watts per channel
      • The two most common power options for receivers are 50W x 4 channels and 45W x 4 channels
        • Purchasing a receiver with lower wattage than these will affect sound quality.
    • Speakers
      • Do you have the original or after market speakers in your car?
      • Check the wattage and ohms (found in your owners manual). Compare these numbers with the receiver to see if the power is balanced.
  • Accessory Compatibility
    • Aux inputs
      • USB inputs will allow you to control your iPod from the receiver.
      • Headphone style inputs require you to play music from your iPod.
      • Does the receiver support satelite radio, or do you need an adapter?

Car Speakers

Newly purchased cars rarely contain quality speakers, so most people like to upgrade their original auto-audio systems. This type of upgrade has become so popular that shopping for car speakers is incredibly easy--or at least it should be. The fact that it is so incredibly easy is precisely the reason people screw it up--as is the case with most ridiculously simple tasks. Speaker seekers always overlook the minute--yet important--details and some of the major ones too. Try to get the best quality products by knowing a bit about them before you make your purchase.

The Basics

There are two basic car replacement speakers: the coaxial and the component speakers.


A coaxial speaker has the tweeter (which produces high range frequencies) suspended over the woofer (which produces low bass frequencies).


A component speaker system is a more expensive system that consists of a separate woofer and a tweeter, and the benefit of this separation is that these components can be positioned for a more accurate high-end response and a wider stereo image. And although it is usually considered a separate upgrade, you can also add a subwoofer.

Things to Consider

  • Speaker Size: The speakers that most manufacturers install in their cars are too small, and speaker size determines the volume and ranges of frequencies it will be able to produce. However, a speaker that is too large might distort the sound, so before you go on to buy the biggest one you can fit in your back-seat, check the measurements of your car and buy accordingly. If--after you buy the speakers--they sound wrong, they probably are wrong, and you should exchange them for something more compatible with your car.
  • Type of Music You Will Be Playing: Yes, this is important! The type of music you listen to will have a big influence on the type of car audio system that you buy. If you like to listen to bass-heavy music, you should get powerful amplifiers and subwoofers. If you like to listen to classical or pop music, you want a speaker system which can reproduce the entire audio spectrum evenly.
  • Sensitivity Rating: The sensitivity rating indicates how efficiently the speaker handles the power that is supplied by your amplifier or head unit. Also called an efficiency rating, the higher the number, the louder your speakers can play given the same amount of amplification.
  • Budget: Plan your budget. If you are replacing your entire audio system, you need to gather the appropriate amount of money to adequately refurbish each part. If you are just changing the speakers, decide how much money you want to spend on them before seeing what is available. This will allow you to keep costs within a reasonable range.
  • For what do you use your car? If you constantly find yourself in the car, you should treat yourself to the best quality speakers you can afford. When you spend a lot of time in the car it can get pretty bad, and you may as well do your best to keep things comfortable. If you are comfortable, you will be more productive, your mood will improve, and your performance will be enhanced. On the other hand, if your car doesn't get too much road time, it is not worth it to get high-end car speakers.
  • How long do you plan on keeping your car? If you plan on using the same car for two years or more, it makes sense to buy good-quality speakers. If you're going to sell the car soon, keep your car speaker budget to a minimum.

Bluetooth Headsets Buying Guide

Now that using your mobile while driving without a hands-free device can land you up to two years behind bars, it might be a good time to consider purchasing a Bluetooth headset. Although choosing and learning how to use one can be a daunting process, logic should dictate this is better than visits with a probation officer. Use this guide to get the scoop on Bluetooth headsets and pick out one that works best for you before your next phone call is to a barrister.

Top-Rated Bluetooth Headsets

Here are the best headsets as chosen by CNET's editors:

  • Award-winning design and sound quality.
  • Patented NoiseAssassin technology cancels all irrelevant sounds.
  • All buttons covered, no accidental phone calls.
  • Award-winning design and sound quality.
  • Exclusive Voice Isolation Technology eliminates background noise.
  • Multipoint capability; connects up to 3 devices at once; uses a master switch to toggle sources.
  • Active noise reduction, Intelligent volume equalization, Acoustic shock protection.
  • Multipoint capability; connects up to 8 devices at once.
  • Digital Signal Processing technology addresses interference noise.
  • Designed for music-enabled phones; Seamlessly switch between calls and music with the same headset.
  • AudioIQ two-way noise reduction technology digitally enhances sound to improve call quality.
  • Detachable cable lets user easily convert mono headset for stereo listening.
  • Award-winning PowerFlip folding microphone.
  • Noise-reduction/cancellation technology.
  • Multi-function button to control 3-way calling, call start and end, hold and mute.

The Pairing Process

Follow these steps to easily pair your new Bluetooth headset with your cell phone:

  • Ensure your phone supports Bluetooth and your Bluetooth headsets is fully charged.
  • Turn on your phone's Bluetooth feature.
    • These controls can usually be found under the settings menu on your phone.
  • Put your headset in discovery mode.
    • This is done differently depending on which headset you have.
      • Check your headset owner's manual, and look for pairing or discovery mode.
  • Let your phone locate the headset.
    • Go back to the Bluetooth menu on your phone and look for an option that says add device or similar.
    • After selecting 'add' you should receive a pairing confirmation of some sort.
  • Enter the Bluetooth pass code to finalize pairing.
    • Some devices require a Bluetooth pass code when pairing.
    • The default code is: 0000
      • Consult your owner's manual to see if your headset uses a different pass code.

Radar Detectors Buying Guide

A radar detector is a device for your car which alerts you of nearby radar. In other words, its a piece of equipment that warns you of nearby police, so you can push the speed limit a bit. However, the detector doesn't just beep for radar guns. Other things on the road (electronic roadside signs, "Your Speed Is.." signs, construction equipment) and even buildings can set off the mechanism. That being said, you can pretty much assume most alerts are for actual radar - it's more likely you'll run into a traffic officer than a radar-omitting office building.

Not everyone needs to have (or should have) a radar detector. If you travel frequently, drive long distances, or find yourself on long empty roads often, one of these may be a good idea. However, young drivers, reckless drivers, and urban drivers shouldn't purchase one. The safety of you and your fellow drivers is paramount - even excellent drivers should exercise extreme caution when using a radar detector.

This nifty gadget is a little bigger than a deck of cards, and adheres to your windshield via suction cups. You simply plug it into your car's power source (or cigarette lighter) and it's ready to go! When you aren't on the road, you probably want to put our radar detector under your seat or in the glove compartment. These can be a bit pricey, and like a portable GPS, easily swiped from your vehicle.

Please note that radar detectors are not legal everywhere; you should check the laws of your area regarding radar detector possession and use before purchasing one.

Choosing a Radar Detector

Radar detectors come in a range of prices for every budget with a variety of features to choose from. For just $30 you can purchase a simple radar detector with multiple modes for city and highway use that scans a 360° radius. While results are not always the most dependable, this might suit the average user. For more reliable quality, opt for a slightly advanced model that will cost at least $70.

If you're a true road warrior, you may be interested in going with one of the high-end models with myriad features, such as multiple modes, band detection and range, and alert types that will help make you virtually invisible while on the road. Mid-range and high-end models will cost around $150 and up, but you can be certain that your detector will have your back covered.


Detection Bands: the more bands the radar measures, the more protection you have.

  • Laser - protects you against the ultra-precise laser guns.
  • K Band - the most frequent detection type.X Band
  • Ka Band - models with a POP alert track this type of band.
  • Ka Super Wideband
  • Ku Band - for European travel.

Detection Area: The space and angles that are scanned for radar.

  • Front - most detect radars coming from the front.
  • Front/Rear - this offers more protection.
  • 360 degree detection - the ultimate range.

Alert Type: What kind of warning you'll get when radar is nearby.

  • Visual - such as flashing lights, bars, or scrolling screen. It's not always easy to see during the daytime unless you accustom yourself to checking every so often. At night, it's usually pretty decent, unless you are distracted by other things while driving (such as passengers, traffic, music, etc.).
  • Audio - usually in the form of beeps or series of different pitched beeps. Slightly obnoxious when the radar detector is of poor quality because it will go off all the time. However, this is usually the least distracting and more dependable alert method.
  • Voice mode - some of the more expensive models offer voice alerts. It's as good as any audio alert. The only problem is that in some cases drivers become bothered by the style of voice.

Muting: Can you turn off the sound without turning off the device?

  • Make sure to get a radar with volume control and a mute button.
  • Beeping and voice alerts can get annoying if the radar is picking up false signals.
  • Another preventative measure of obnoxious noise is having a mode switch.

Modes: These can be really helpful in eliminating erroneous warnings and annoying false alarms.

  • Switchable mode for city and highway keeps from setting of false alarms.
  • Emergency vehicle detection is a nice feature that eliminates false alarms of this type.

Wireless Versions: Not necessary if you're always in the same car, but a great idea if you aren't.

  • If you change cars often, or are frequently using rental cars, then these battery operated detectors may be the right choice for you.

Recommended Features

Hand-held GPS Systems

  • Weight: If you hike or backpack, every ounce counts.
  • Durability is also important so the device can stand up to harsh environments.
  • 12 Channel Parallel Receiver: For hiking and off-road travel, these receivers give the best service.
  • Map Screen: Certain devices only display relative longitude and latitude lines. Be sure your model is map-ready.
  • Waterproof : You don't want your GPS to short out when it rains or if you fall in a stream.
  • Long Battery Life: Carrying multiple batteries around can certainly be a pain.
  • Way points: Most sites recommend a GPS unit with storage for at least 500 way points.
  • Compass: Help you get to the next way point.
  • Screen Characteristics
    • Colour vs. B&W; : Some colour screens are hard to read in sunlight. The exception is transreflective colour screens.
    • Size may also be a factor. Consider how small a screen you can read comfortably.
  • Route Capacity: Most devices can hold at least 20 routes, while some may hold as many as 50. The more, the better.
  • Topographic Maps: If you plan to do a lot of back country hiking, elevation and small stream data will definitely come in handy.


  • Address to Address Routing: Essential for car navigation.
  • Verbal Directions: The best (and safest) way to use your GPS device is to have it take instructions from you and then talk back to you. Some units will also tell you when to make a turn.
  • Mounting: Make sure to get a unit that can be easily mounted to your dashboard.
  • Automatic Routing: Most models have this feature.
  • Waypoints: Some units have just the basics (points of interest, petrol stations, etc.). Others will allow you to mark your own points of interest as well.
  • 12 Channel Parallel Receiver: This type of receiver will give you the best reception so that you don't lose the signal in a strange city.
  • Europe/Ireland Maps: Find out the extent to which the system already covers areas outside the UK so you won't have to purchase extra software when going on holiday.
  • Screen: You want a decently large screen since you might need to glance at it while driving.
    • If you get a colour screen, consider a Transreflective Colour screen.
  • MP3 Player: Some GPS devices can double as MP3 players if you're bored with the radio and tired of lugging your CD collection.
  • Audio Book Playback: Many of Garmin's models and some of TomTom's have the ability to play audio books, which can make that longer trip that much less taxing.

1 komentar:

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