Mobile Electronics Magazine

Switch to desktop

8-30-2017, Mobile Electronics -- I hope you enjoyed last month’s article looking at the manufacture and design of loudspeakers. I also hope you reviewed the previous article where Andy provided some basics on audio for us. This month we move forward with Andy showing us the basic necessities of tuning. Hold on, though, this ride might be a little shaky. Andy goes after things that I have heard said many times, and things that I have said before. What I suggest is keeping an open mind and be willing to learn from this industry veteran.

Let’s see what Andy is sharing with us this month.

Andy Explains

I’m going to commit heresy right here at the beginning so we can get beyond it as quickly as possible. This is really easy. Understanding why it’s easy isn’t so easy and I’ve provided some of those explanations in a previous article and in countless Facebook and forum posts.
System tuning isn’t really optimizing, it’s troubleshooting. If it was about optimizing, then we’d all be able to provide pretty good performance by just hooking stuff up. Anyone who’s serious about autosound knows this isn’t the case. This isn’t about taking what you have after it’s hooked up and making it a little better in 20 minutes. This is about a realization that once the product is hooked up, the job is only partially completed. Tuning a system isn’t an add-on or an extra service we provide for our favorite customers, just like programming an alarm for a particular car isn’t an option.
I hear the following statement all the time after listening to cars when I visit shops: “Not bad for the twenty minutes I spent,” and it makes me want to drown myself in the bathtub. What if you were demoing a recent security system installation for the guy from the company that makes that system and at the end of the demo in which nothing worked properly and several features weren’t enabled, you said, “Not bad for the five minutes I spent programming it”?
This isn’t about doing a better job. This is about finishing the job.
If you only have 20 minutes to finish a job in which you’ve spent a week making panels, upholstering them, adding lighting and accents, running wires and arranging them for FB photos, you’ve spent two hours shooting, then two things need to change: 1) you need to bill more time to finish the job and 2) you need a more efficient and predictable process for tuning. That’s what this article is about.
Before we go there, I want to talk about a couple of other statements I hear too often. The first is, “sound is subjective”. This is often proffered by people who, in a discussion about audio principles and their application, are suddenly out of their comfort zone and are looking for a quick exit. The idea that some customers prefer more high frequency content or more bass, a well-defined image or more spaciousness at the expense of image definition doesn’t mean there are no rules. A stereo system is, by design, supposed to do specific things and in order for it to work, some stuff just has to be right. Once you get those things right, changing the system performance for your customer’s preference is straightforward.
The second statement is, “I listen to everyone and I use all of those tips and tricks when I tune.” This is dangerous if sound quality, speed and predictability are important. If you’re an enthusiast working on your own car, then experimentation is part of the fun. Experimentation on a customer’s car is just a money pit.
Tips and tricks are tools. Many of them work, but they don’t all work in every situation. Knowing when to deploy them is important. What if you had one of those giant Snap-On tool boxes and all that was inside was a set of screwdrivers? You know how to use screwdrivers so you bought those. You’d have a lot of other drawers to fill. What if a bunch of people from every tool manufacturer and even some DIY guys give you a new tool every time they stop by. Every time someone gives you one and says, “this one is magic, you should try it to see if it works,” you put it in the drawer. Then, when you encounter a situation in which your screwdrivers don’t do the job, you start pulling other “magic” tools you don’t understand  out of the box to try them? Is that a process designed for success? Is success even likely?

Tips and tricks, shortcuts and workarounds are good for experts. You have to know when to use them and what they do or else they’re just a barrel of monkeys likely to make a big mess. The usefulness of tools depends mostly on the user’s understanding of what they’re for and how to use them. If the guy who gives you one can’t explain why it works and when to use it and you don’t know either, then it isn’t a tool. It’s a monkey.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

2-21-2017, Mobile Electronics February Issue -- In the last article I talked briefly about my history with Porsches. We then began to look at a recent build I worked on at Simplicity In Sound. The build was for a Porsche 911 that was going to be in the Arc Audio booth at the 2016 SEMA show. When the car arrived at Simplicity In Sound, it was in fairly stock-looking form. It was evident that quite a bit of time and detail had already gone into the planning and execution of the build so far. The engine was an incredibly beautiful work of art. An appealing mix of carbon fiber and copper plated or painted pieces were used on the rebuilt engine. Taking a peek underneath the car, it looked like the entire underside had been treated with the same level of detail. Everything was completely clean and either painted or in a stock, refurbished form. It was hard to believe the car was 26 years old. 

The colors and materials used on the engine carried through to the interior of the Porsche as well. A simple blend of carbon fiber, tan leather and black accents created a timelessly classic look for the interior. The result was a car that had a classic, yet modern and somewhat race-inspired feel. It was hard for me to imagine how the car would change with the RWB conversion, but I was beginning to think that it was going to be pretty special.

Last month, we finished up with the basic enclosure. We are going to start this month by looking at the fabrication of the front trim plate, as well as the remaining pieces to finish the enclosure. Once that is wrapped up, we will move on to building the amplifier mounting frame system and the surfboard holder.   

Trim Plate Prep

I was pretty excited to build the front trim plate of the enclosure. I had a new tool (tool, toys, either one, right?) from Mobile Solutions that I was going to be using. I had seen pictures of people using the new Smart Frame System, the Axis Shape Creator, on Instagram. Now it was my turn to give it a shot and see how it worked. The set consists of a number of straight, arc, corner and connecting pieces. Each of the pieces have either evenly spaced holes, or notched slots. The pieces with the holes are the base pieces. The underside of the holes on the base pieces are chamfered. The chamfer allows a countersunk head bolt to be placed in it, flush. The bolt extends upward and one of the top pieces can be placed on it. The assembly is then secured with a washer and a generously sized threaded knob. The idea of the system is that the pieces can be assembled to create an endless variety of templates. By loosening the knobs, the whole template can be shifted to alter the shape with minimal work required. The knobs also give you something to firmly hold onto when cutting the template out using a router. A nice touch is the included storage tray for the hardware. Each washer, nut and bolt have a specific spot in the acrylic holder.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

7-26-2017, Mobile Electronics -- We are just starting a series on tuning that I am very excited about. First we had Ken Ward show us three simple steps to finding a good signal. I wanted to have him start the series because without a good signal, no amount of tuning can result in a great sounding audio system. Next, we had some fundamental groundwork laid out by Andy Wehmeyer. Andy shared with us some basic information on sound and how we hear it, and how the automotive environment affects that. Moving forward we will hear some more perspectives on tuning from a few other guest writers. The series will wrap up with an overview of multi-channel tuning by Andy Wehmeyer. Before we proceed further in that series, I wanted to take a break and give what you have read so far a chance to really sink in.

As the outside temperature begins to heat up, my mind and body remind me summertime is upon us. I can’t help but think back fondly on an adventure my wife and I went on last year with a wonderful group of people. Every year, Orca Design & Manufacturing sends a group of its dealers to France for a tour of the Focal factory. Last year I was able to go as a representative of Simplicity In Sound. As I do with most trips, I documented it with many photographs. I thought it would be fun to share the experience of the trip and some of the cool tech-related things I learned while there.

Jumping the Pond

The hop across the Atlantic was my second, so I had a general idea of what to expect. Thankfully, our flight was pretty uneventful. We touched down in France and were greeted by the smiling faces of Nalaka Adikari and Carrie Sahotsky of Orca. After a short bus ride, we were at our hotel and sitting down to a wonderful dinner. We were introduced to a few Focal employees and given an agenda for the next day. The first day was going to be a tour of the factory in which our plus-one guests were invited. The second day was to be a more in-depth factory tour and more technically oriented discussion. The plus-one guests were treated to a trip into Lyon for shopping.

The next morning, we had breakfast and took a short bus ride to the Focal factory. The factory is located in the beautiful town of Saint-Étienne. We started the tour by meeting Pierre Pérard. Pierre was our factory liaison for the next two days. I was captivated by Pierre’s passion for speaker manufacturing and the Focal culture. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the history of Focal. After a brief review of Focal, its history and culture, we moved on to the factory tour. 

First Impressions

Before I tell you about the actual factory experience, I wanted to share what I thought it was going to look like. Up to this point, I had never been to any speaker manufacturing facility. My exposure was limited to a few pictures I have seen of workers building speakers in the JL Audio literature. So, my thoughts were that we would be touring hundreds and hundreds of feet of conveyor belts that paused briefly at times for machines to complete their tasks on the belted product. I expected to see a few lab-coated individuals with clipboards walking around, making sure the machines were in proper order. What I found, though, was quite different. We entered the factory to see people. People either holding speakers, or parts of speakers. As we paused before going any further we were told that some of the machinery we would see was manufactured by Focal, specifically for a task unique to some stage in the building process. I was unable to take photographs of these proprietary machines. However, I was able to take photographs of many other machines, which I will share for the amusement of those of you who have never been to a speaker manufacturing factory.  

Read the rest of the story HERE.

6-27-2016, June Issue Tech Feature -- We have covered a number of technical and fabrication related topics so far in this series. Moving from the idea of fitting a subwoofer in a footwell space, we are now going to look at another stealth way to integrate audio equipment: the false floor. I have the privilege of working with a master of false floor building, Bing Xu. Rather than share with you the details of building a false floor that I have learned over the years from Bing, I thought I would have him share it directly. Bing does a masterful job of fitting equipment into the confined space of a spare tire well. He has a lot to share on the subject, so enjoy part one of this two-part article.


I still vividly remember my first ever experience with aftermarket car audio. It was the summer of 1995 and I—along with most of my friends—had just gotten my driver’s license and obtained my first vehicle. One day, a good buddy showed me a catalog. In it were all kinds of gadgets and doodads that I had never seen before. From speakers and subwoofers, to amplifiers and even—gasp! Compact Disc players! My friend proudly pointed out the various products he had ordered, and proclaimed that he was going to install it all himself and make his Nissan Pathfinder sound absolutely heroic. Of course, being a good friend, I naturally told him he was doing nothing but courting disaster. I told him that car audio installation is something that can only be achieved by professionals with years and years of experience, and it was more likely that he would transform his beloved SUV into a roman candle and I would be there to laugh at the ashes. Yet, a couple of weeks later, I found myself sitting in his car, rolling down the street and blasting Bruce Springsteen, no doubt annoying the entire neighborhood with our dual 12-inch Infinity Kappa subwoofers in a pre-fabricated ported enclosure. 

I was hooked instantly and started planning the system in my own vehicle—of course, one that would be a billion times more impressive than his. As I slowly saved up to accomplish my dream, I hung out with my friend a lot and paid attention to the advantages and disadvantages of his design. After a while, it quickly became apparent that by far the biggest hindrance his system caused was the gargantuan sub box eating up about half of his cargo space. Every time we wanted to put our mountain bikes in the back, he had to unplug the damn thing and leave it at home. We also had to be careful what we put in the car for fear of puncturing the woofer cone. After a while, I began to wonder about ways of having a full-blown system in a vehicle without compromising cargo space and daily usability.

Read the rest HERE. 


12-volt expert Joey Knapp discusses the finer points of metal work and how anyone can master an often under-utilized aspect of 12-volt craftsmanship. 

Mobile Electronics, March Issue, 3-30-2016 -- In the last edition of Tech Today, we looked at an amplifier installation. The installation was a little different because the amplifier was installed onto the roll cage of a car. In order to address the parameters of the build, which specified that it needed to be securely mounted, not too heavy, and minimalistic, I chose to make the amplifier-mounting frame out of metal. It is very common to use wood as a substrate to mount amplifiers to. I think everyone who has ever installed, for even a short amount of time, has installed an amplifier on some sort of wood. Wood is not always the best choice. In the case of the amplifier-mounting frame for the roll cage, it wasn’t a possibility. A wooden frame, in that instance, would be either too bulky, or not strong enough. That is why metal was chosen to construct the frame. In that article I mentioned an upcoming article on using metal in installations, and here we are!

Many, many years ago, I remember reading an article about one of the more prominent car audio shops of the time in one of the popular car audio magazines. The article talked about the facility, the sales staff and the fabrication team. The fabrication team consisted of specialists in the areas of fiberglass, plastic, wood and metal. As a teenager just getting his feet wet in the car audio industry, I wondered what area I would end up being a specialist in. Was I going to be a wizard of fiberglass? Would I become a master carpenter? Would fiberglass be the medium that suited me best? Would I become skilled in metalwork? The answer was that I would have to become all these things, and more. During the “car audio heyday” it might have been possible to specialize in one area, but from my experience, those days are far behind us. Now, to be successful, we have to be masters of all of those abilities and many, many more.

This article is intended to help those of you who aren’t familiar with metal work to get a cursory look at metal, what it's like to work with it, and the practical applications for it in the field of mobile electronics. It is very important to note that I am not a “metal master”. I am a guy who has learned what he needs to know about metalworking to get him to the point that it can be successfully used to make things. Many of you might have seen the welding meme floating around the Internet with the little boy. It reads, “My dad says using a grinder to make a weld look good makes you a ‘grinder,’ not a welder”. That could be an accurate description for me. I have some welds that look great, and some that aren’t as attractive. I make sure all of them are suitable for the project’s needs, though. It seems that the majority of the things that are welded in our field have something attached to them, so even pretty welds would need to be ground down, most of the time.

If you are a fabricator who has yet to begin his or her journey with metal fabrication, hopefully you are anxiously reading for more information. If you are a shop owner, you might possibly be thinking: “I hope my guys don’t read this and start bugging me for money to buy metal-working tools.” Hopefully not, but if so, let me share a story with you that could change your view. A few articles back, I wrote about some iPad dash overlay pieces I had been building for a credit card company. We have built a number of them, and it turned into a welcomed, yet unexpected, source of income. The opportunity to build those all came from a job that required welding. Another large corporation had contacted us about building a freestanding display, which would require a very sturdy frame to support the weight of the display. The scheduled time for the project was very short, which would dictate all of the work would need to be done in-house. Had I not had the tools and ability to weld, we would not have been able to take that job. In turn, we would have not gotten the additional iPad overlay jobs either. So, I encourage both owner and fabricator to make the move to add this very valuable skill to your arsenal.

Let’s look at some of the benefits that metal fabrication can bring to the realm of mobile electronics. I am going to share some of the different projects which I have incorporated metalworking into. These are just a few examples to let you see how beneficial metalworking can be. 

To read the rest of the article, visit the digital issue HERE.

Summer Fun: Side-by-Side Vehicle Installations

Great ready for summer with tips and tricks for the upcoming outdoor season.

Words by David MacKinnon

5-25-2018, Mobile Electronics -- When your friend and coworker calls for help, the answer is always yes! Joey Knapp is tied up in California building amazing audio systems in Acura NSX and Lamborghinis. He asked me to help out with this latest Tech Today article. He is starting a new series entitled “Summer Fun” in which we will be looking at installations in various summertime vehicles. In this issue we are going to look at a few of the options available to add sounds systems to a side-by-side vehicle. As always, we’ll take into account the importance of thoughtfully planned and executed installations as we work through each area of the upgrade.

We would both like to thank Mike Bartells and his team at Extreme Audio in Midlothian and Mechanicsville, Va. for providing supporting images for this article.

What is a side-by-side?

Depending on which part of the country you are in, side-by-side vehicles may be something you see every day on the way to work—or, for us city folk, something our friends with cottages talk about. A side-by-side is also called an SxS, or UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle). It is a combination of a golf cart, a John Deere Gator and a UTV. Most UTVs are less than 65 inches wide and feature a seating position like a car with a steering wheel on the left and foot pedals for braking and acceleration.

The SxS is typically quite tall to allow for excellent ground clearance. This added height makes... Read the rest of the article HERE


Mobile Electronics May Issue, May 10, 2016 -- In the previous article we discussed adding bass to an audio system and the challenges that go along with that. We zeroed in on the footwell enclosure, an often overlooked option for adding bass to a car with limited space. Now let’s look at construction of a footwell enclosure. We are going to look at a build from start to finish in a BMW 135i Convertible. As we discussed in the last article, convertibles can be excellent candidates for footwell enclosures. This car was a perfect example.

We had the client’s permission to cut the carpet in this car, so it was time to do a little reconnaissance. I took apart the necessary trim pieces so I could pull back the carpet in the footwell area. Typically, removing the passenger kick panel trim and a fastener or a clip or two will let you pull the carpet back. If the carpet is very difficult to pull back, and you know you have all of the fasteners removed, there is a possibility that it has a large piece of foam attached to the back of it. That was the case in this car. While it is more of a headache initially, the space the foam takes up ends up paying dividends in available airspace. Once the carpet is pulled back, make sure there is nothing in the area that would hinder you from using that location. I haven’t run across anything yet, but always look. You never know what you might find. At this point I usually decide how the carpet will need to be cut. In the case of one of the NSX enclosures, I was able to cut two lines in the carpet and have it lay flat. In the event that the enclosure was ever removed, the carpet could be repaired. I don’t think it would look perfect, but both cuts were in molded corner seams, so it wouldn’t be too bad. For this car I cut out a conservative area of carpet and foam. The foam ended up being even thicker than I initially thought!

Determining Factors

With the carpet addressed, it was time to bring the subwoofer in the car. Now I had a good idea of what I was dealing with. The main goal at this point is to determine how far out the enclosure will have to be molded to fit the subwoofer. Check with the client to see what their expectations are when it comes to subwoofer orientation. I had a client that wanted the baffle for the subwoofer to be completely perpendicular to the floor. I was not very excited about this, as angling the baffle gives the enclosure more of a factory look. We always have to keep in mind that it is the client’s car and not ours, and sometimes what they want isn’t what we would want! This BMW was really a best case scenario. The subwoofer fit almost completely in the cutout area. The enclosure only had to extend the footwell area about an inch and a quarter. Now that I had determined roughly how far out the subwoofer would have to be, it was time to get to work.

Read the rest of the story in the May issue of Mobile Electronics, HERE:

11-21-2016, Mobile Electronics -- In the last issue, Joey Knapp provided a detailed look at the composition portion of the photography presentation that he, (2016 Installer of the Year) Matt Schaffer and I presented at KnowledgeFest 2016 in Dallas, Texas. In this article, we are going to take a look at how a camera works and provide some insight into balancing shutter speed and aperture to create amazing images and different image effects.

The Digital SLR Camera

We are going to focus on an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera for this article. While you can certainly use a point-and-shoot or phone/tablet camera to take great photographs, there are occasions when you want more control over the image you are taking. A quick note on ‘what to buy’ if you are camera shopping. Once you take a picture, in most cases, you can never go back and capture that exact moment in time again. So capture the most resolution and detail you can. Shoot your photos in Raw format (if available) to capture more dynamic range (dark and light portions of the image). You can always throw away unnecessary information and resolution in Lightroom, but you can’t create it from nothing if you didn’t capture it. So, go big. You won’t be disappointed.

Taking a Photograph

A DSLR camera has an image sensor at the back of the body. The (interchangeable) lens focuses light coming from the object you want to photograph onto this sensor. When you look through the viewfinder to compose the image, light from the object is reflected upwards by a mirror into a five-sided glass prism that outputs the image to your eye.

When you press the shutter release, the mirror flips up and allows the light from the object to be passed to the image sensor. The pixels on the image sensor record the amount of red, green and blue light. That information is processed by the camera’s computer and stored on the memory card. If you are thinking to yourself “wow, that’s really simple,” then you are right. Taking a picture is simple.

Controlling Light

To capture an image, we need to ensure the image sensor on our camera stores the right amount of light information to accurately reproduce the image. Think of this like setting the gains on your amplifiers—you want to get loud, but not distort. We control the amount of light the sensor captures in two ways—by adjusting how long the mirror is held up, and by adjusting an opening in the lens.

How long the mirror is held up is called the exposure. This is measured in seconds. New cameras have exposure times that are adjustable from as fast as 1/8000 of a second up to ‘as long as you hold the shutter release’. Each step is a doubling or halving of the previous—so 1/4000, 1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500 and so on.

Controlling how much light passes through the lens is called adjusting the aperture. The aperture is controlled by a multi-element iris in the lens. The adjustment is called the f-stop. Each stop is a doubling or halving of area from one step to another. The stop number itself does not directly describe the amount of light coming through the lens. A large opening is a low number—some high quality lenses can open up as wide as f1.4 and close down as small as f22 or more. How wide the lens will open is often directly correlated to the cost of the lens.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

10-18-2017, Mobile Electronics -- By now everyone has heard about the winners for the Mobile Electronics Magazine Industry Awards. If you haven’t by chance, they are in this edition! This year’s candidates were all great and all well deserving. I was excited to hear that Chris Pate had won the Installer of the Year award. I recently wrote about my trip to France last summer and the tour of the Focal factory. On that trip were many other dealers. One that I had the pleasure of spending time with was Chris Pate.

Since I was 14 I have had a strong love for car audio. Through the years that passion has remained and grown. There are times in my life when I cross paths with others that share that same passion, and meeting Chris was one of them. I enjoyed spending time with Chris and learning more about his facility and the advanced tools he used. I personally wear many hats, but the one I probably most enjoy is that of fabricator. Over the period of a few days I learned from Chris how my life would not be complete without a laser cutter and sheet-sized CNC. Chris shared with me how he incorporates both of these into every day life at his facility.   
A short period of time before the France trip I attended KnowledgeFest in Dallas. It was at that event that I first met Chris.  I had the pleasure of listening to his incredible single seat car.  We then talked a bit about sonics and tuning. I thought it would be fitting to have Chris, the 2017-2018 Installer of the Year walk us through basic tuning in a real-world setting. Follow along as Chris shares his procedures on a car recently completed at his facility, Mobile Toys, Inc.

Chris' Part

So you just finished up that amazing install in your customer’s car.  You have spent hours drawing, designing, fabricating and installing the bevy of audio equipment your salesman sold. All the hours building and constructing this automotive masterpiece will be for naught if you cannot make it sound amazing. Point blank, any installer can build an audio system and dress it up. But for you to take the next step as an installer you need to be able to tune that ride. That doesn’t mean you must have a pair of golden ears or a pile of IASCA sound quality championships to make your customer’s ride sound great.  All you need is a tape measure, an oscilloscope, an RTA (real time analyzer) and a test disc with a pink noise, test tracks, and sine waves. 

Let’s start off by describing the car and system that has been installed and is in need of tuning. The car we will be tuning is a 2014 Subaru Forrester with a front three-way speaker system as well as a rear sub.  All speakers are run to independent amplifier channels allowing for an active crossover design. The midrange and high frequencies are handled by a pair of Illusion Audio C3CX coincidence drivers that have been installed in the left and right sail panel windows. The mid bass frequencies are being reproduced by a pair of Illusion Audio C8 eight inch drivers installed in the factory door locations on a pair of custom built PVC, mounted into the factory mounting holes. The sub frequencies are being reproduced by a single Illusion Audio Carbon 12-inch sub in a sealed enclosure with 1.25 cubic feet of air space. Amplification is being produced by a pair of Mosconi Zero4 four-channel amplifiers. For our source unit we have a Sony RSX-G9 high resolution media player. Last but certainly not least is our processor, a Mosconi 8-12 Aerospace DSP. 

As installers, we don’t have days to tune a car. We generally only have a few hours to test, make adjustments and then deliver the sound system to our customer. So let’s begin by pulling out our oscilloscope and setting the gains on our source unit, processor, and amplifiers. The key to laying a solid foundation for any tune is correct gain adjustments. We will be using sine wave test tones from the Focal Tools disc. The sine waves we will be using are 60hz for subs, 200hz for mid bass, 2khz for our midrange, and 8Khz for the tweeters. Each of these tones creates a reference level sine wave that can easily be seen on your oscilloscope.

When the signal is clean, you get a nice smooth curve from valley to peak, and when your amplifier clips it sends out distortion which can be seen as flat plateau at the top of each wave. The first step is to connect the positive and negative probes of your scope to your receiver's RCA connections on the back of the receiver. Once connected, make sure all equalizer settings are set to flat, the bass boost and loudness functions are off.  We start off by playing the 60hz tone on our source unit. We turn the volume up until we see the wave peak and plateau. Make note of the level the source unit is at.

Now we repeat the process on each of the next three frequencies making note of the volume level at which the source unit clips. In our case, the 200hz tone clipped at the lowest volume setting. This was level 40 on our Sony RSX-G9. We now know the highest level we can play our source unit cleanly is 39.  This process can now be repeated on our processor inputs, and our amplifier channels.

The process is very similar when setting the DSP input gains, but a little different on the amplifier side.  In the case of the amplifiers you will want to use the corresponding sine wave frequency that is directly related to what that set of channels will be driving. The sine waves we will be using are 60hz for subs, 200hz for mid bass, 2khz for our midrange and 8khz for the tweeters. We start by connecting the leads to the sub amp output channels. Make sure again that the gain is set to zero. While playing the 60hz tone at level 39 on the Sony source unit, begin turning the amp gain up until you see the scope’s wave form plateau, indicating the output of distortion.

Once the peak level has been reached, back the gain down until the wave form becomes smooth again.  This process will need to be repeated on each of the other three pairs of channels using the correct frequencies. By taking the time to correctly set the system’s gain you will maximize its output and limit its distortions. This process is actually very quick and easy to do once you get it down.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Mobile Electronics October Issue, 10-26-2016 -- KnowledgeFest 2016 Dallas has come and gone. This year’s event was great! KnowledgeFest has always been a time for me to learn some things, reconnect with old friends and network with new friends. In all of these areas, this year did not disappoint. The classes I attended were all very informative. It seems that each year the classes get better and better. I went to classes on the owner, management and installer tracks. As usual for me, one of the biggest challenges is deciding what classes to attend. There are only so many training hours available, and it always seems like there is an overlapping of interesting classes. I am thankful we have an event with so many training options that picking which to attend is a challenge! 

This year held a little more excitement for me. With the exception of sitting in on a training with Ken Ward once, I have never presented at KnowledgeFest. Earlier this year, I was approached by David MacKinnon about presenting a session on photography. In addition to my job at Simplicity In Sound, I also work for 1sixty8 media. At 1sixty8 media, one of our premium products is the build post. One of my duties is to select the photos that the clients supply for use in their build posts. As a result, I see hundreds of build photos per month. The majority of the photos I see could look much better, with just a little bit of work. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some tips on making car-related photographs better. As David and I worked on how to split up the session, Matt Schaeffer and I were also having a discussion about some photography-related topics. In the discussion, KnowledgeFest came up. I told Matt that David and I had submitted to teach a session this year on photography. Surprisingly, Matt was planning a photography session, too. We decided to combine our sessions.

As we talked more about our presentation, it seemed that each person had their own strengths. I wanted to discuss composition, David wanted to outline the basic fundamentals of photography, and Matt wanted provide an introduction to Lightroom for post-production work. The three parts together would make a very useful class, so we proceeded forward with this plan. Due to travel issues, our class was moved to the last day, at the end of the day. In addition to the scheduling changes, Matt left early so he wouldn’t miss the birth of his child. Our session was taught in a different order than we planned. I thought covering some of the key points would be beneficial as a reference for those who attended. For those who were at other trainings, this will give you the opportunity to see what you missed. To add to the realism and immerse yourself in the experience, please note that I speak in a slight southern accent, so I encourage your inner dialogue to use the same when reading this!

This article will be broken into two parts.  The first part, which I am writing, will cover composition and some of the theories on good picture-taking. The second part will be split between David and Matt, and they will cover photography fundamentals as well as using Lightroom. Hopefully, these articles will serve as a great tool to help you take better pictures and make more money with them!

Read the rest of the story HERE.

9-28-2017, Mobile Electronics -- In the last segment on this topic, I suggested a process to be used in the installation bay for tuning cars that’s effective and efficient. For some readers, this process may differ greatly from what you’ve been told by numerous enthusiasts, sound quality judges and other accomplished tuners. So, before we get started here, I’d like to explain why.
There’s a big difference between tuning cars as a profession and tuning cars as a hobby. For the hobbyist, the tuning is often the end rather than the means. The tuner likes to spend hours experimenting, listening and retuning. For the professional, these extra hours spent on listening and retuning eat into our profits and our ability to move on to the next car.

Finding Balance
First, my objective in all of the tech tips I write—whether those tips are on the Audiofrog web forum, on Facebook or in articles like this one—is to provide an appropriate balance between speed, predictability and performance. In the interest of speed and predictability, I favor objective processes that don’t require us to use our ears and make a thousand subjective analyses and an endless series of adjustments. There’s a place for subjective analysis, but that’s after all objective measures have been exhausted.
There’s a temptation among many of us to see the speedy and objective process as worse than the lengthy “artisan” process of tuning primarily by ear. This is a fallacious argument if the quality of the performance that the two processes provide is the same or even similar.
Here’s an example: Every subwoofer box built for a round subwoofer needs a hole in the baffle that fits the subwoofer. What’s the appropriate tool? Most of us would immediately say it’s a router with a circle template or a circle cutting jig. For some, the answer is a CNC router. We don’t bash these processes as lacking the necessary opportunity to include our “art” or our skill in the process, even though cutting the circle freehand and with no line to follow using a jigsaw would better demonstrate our circle cutting skills.
What are the chances that we’d cut a circle with a jigsaw and no guide to follow as accurately as our CNC machine? Not good. Eventually, with a series of files and sandpaper, we might get close and after a much longer process, we could demonstrate that the outcomes are similar. What’s the difference? Cost. If we’re charging the customer $30 to cut a round hole, then it behooves us to use the most efficient method that provides an appropriate outcome.
In our circle cutting example, the objective process is not only speedier, it’s more accurate, too. Determining if the circle is correct is a simple matter; either the speaker fits or it doesn’t fit.
“Hey, there’s a difference. Sound is subjective but a circle isn’t!”
Yes, that’s true. Sound is somewhat subjective. Some customers prefer more bass. Some prefer less high frequency content. That doesn’t change what stereo systems and a stereo recordings are designed to do. That design dictates what’s correct. The system is correct when the left and right frequency responses match and the signals arrive at the listener in phase. After it is correct, we can make some adjustments for personal preference.
When we are tuning cars, our objective tools and the information they display allow us to see how far from correct we are in each step of the process. Because of the way our brains work in processing what we hear, it’s helpful for us to use analysis methods that correlate well with what we hear. Some measurement processes are better than others.
We’re all probably familiar with the situation in which the RTA curve appears to be correct, but the car sounds terrible. In some cases, tuners use this as a reason to reject the tool, rather than look deeper into the reason that what appears to be correct is not. The first question to ask in that situation is, “Does this measurement make sense?” The second question is, “What am I really measuring?” The RTA doesn’t lie, but it also doesn’t completely characterize the performance of the system. It shows us one aspect of performance.
Do tools exist that allow us to completely characterize the performance of the system? Sure. Do we all know how to use them? No. Is it necessary to completely characterize and correct everything? No.
Our next consideration should be, “Which deviations from correct are inaudible?” We don’t need to focus on those. If we don’t need to focus on them, then we don’t need to spend money and time analyzing them during a production tuning process. As a skills-building exercise to be conducted on our own time, learning those processes and how to use those tools may make us better able to identify problems and solutions, but those activities should be extracurricular. When we’ve improved those skills to the point at which we can deploy them to increase accuracy, predictability or efficiency, we should introduce them into our process.
The objective of this article is to clear up a few misunderstandings about what we measure, what it means and what’s sufficient based on audibility. 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

North Andover, MA – September 17 , 2020 – Mobile Electronics Magazine features great information for Selling Vehicle Safety Systems for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) brought to you from the Vision Zero Automotive Network.

Vision Zero is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of safety equipment in vehicles. Join us as we highlight these technologies and discuss sales strategies retailers can implement today.
Selling Vehicle Safety Systems

Words by Dave MacKinnon

Successful mobile electronics retailers need to be a jack-of-all-trades—and yes, dare I say it, masters. While many of us love creating bespoke audio systems that combine creativity and unique fabrication techniques, just as many retailers excel at remote starter installations or lighting upgrades. One category which deserves more exposure and emphasis is... Read the rest of the article HERE


North Andover, MA – April 20 , 2021 – Mobile Electronics Magazine features great information for Selling Vehicle Safety Systems for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) brought to you from the Vision Zero Automotive Network.
Vision Zero is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of safety equipment in vehicles. Join us as we highlight these technologies and discuss sales strategies retailers can implement today.

Educate your clients on how they can protect themselves and their vehicles with dashcam and DVR systems.

Words by Dave MacKinnon

Equipping a car or truck with a dashcam or Digital Video Recording (DVR) system goes a long way toward improving how that vehicle is operated. Whether it’s for a personal application or in a corporate environment, if the driver knows everything he or she does is being recorded, the chances of aggressive or dangerous driving will be dramatically reduced. Better driving behavior directly translates into reduced accidents.

What is a Dashcam?

A dashcam is a compact digital video recording system designed to be mounted to the front windshield of a vehicle. These compact all-in-one systems have... Read the rest of the article HERE

Copyright - Mobile Electronics Association 2020

Top Desktop version