Purchase Off-Road Lights: Discover the Reasons Why You Should!

Off road lights

What makes driving on muddy, rocky, and rough paths thrilling? Well, it’s the excitement that comes with beating the odds and completing journeys others deem as terrifying. With the right equipment, you can come out victorious and ready to try out tougher expeditions.

Your offroading experience gets better if you have reliable off-road lights. They produce extra illumination aside from the on-road lights your car comes with. They give you the advantage of covering difficult paths safely since they are bright, and do not put a strain on your vehicle’s power. They are installed in various positions of the car to customize your preferences regarding the places you’ll be visiting.

These Lights come in many designs with a construction from aluminum, steel, or ABS (plastic). They are more attractive to off-road drivers since they produce different colors in their lighting systems. You’ll also notice that they are not just mounted anywhere. Most people prefer installing them on the upper parts of the vehicle to provide a far-reaching light.

Off road lights

Types of Off-Road Lights

As we delve further, you are probably asking yourself; which are the types of off-road lights available? Now, you’ll encounter two main designs in either individual lamps or light bars. These lights shine in a particular beam pattern to serve the specific purpose the driver intends.

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    Flood Beam Pattern

    Floodlights illuminate a wide section of the road which includes the sides. The driver can see what’s happening on the road but not too far beyond. These lights are mostly preferred as fog lights or in wide workspaces where you need to guide other workers. You’ll find them on towing vehicles.

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    Spot Beam Pattern

    This type of beam reaches further into the distance so that you can see another car approaching much sooner. It is best in avoiding accidents with oncoming vehicles especially in mountainous areas or where the roads wind too much.

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    Combination Beam Pattern

    If you want a customized approach to the beam pattern you choose, then the combination beam makes a great choice. It offers both wide and a far-reaching light. This way, you can see oncoming vehicles from far and also have a full area of view during foul weather.

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    Diffused Beam Lights

    This beam is created from either of the two but with a small twitch. Honeycomb light covers are introduced into the design to split the illumination coming from each bulb. The result is a soft light devoid of any reflections and shadows.

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    Driving Lights

    These are much like combination lights since they shine all-around the vehicle. The main drawback is they are not as bright as spot beams.

Major Off-Road Lighting Options

In 2017, LEDs are making it big, and this is for a good reason. Light emitting diodes are more energy efficient as they do not produce as much heat as their HID (High-Intensity Discharge) and halogen cousins. LEDs rely on the movement of electrons which create magnetic radiation, thereby lighting the bulb. They are effective while covering rough trails and rugged terrain out in the backcountry.

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    LEDs: These lights top the list of the lights that last longest while using the least amount of energy. They are preferred as the more eco-friendly design since they don’t generate lots of heat. They are bright, and they also produce light in different colors. Red and blue colors capture people’s attention even when you pass through a quiet neighborhood.

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    HIDs: This is another popular choice loved for its very bright white light. These lights do not consume energy like halogen lights hence they are a viable choice for most off-roaders. Since these lights use xenon gas, they are a contemporary choice for the new car models on the market today.

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    Halogen Lights: You’ll identify this kind of off-road light by the budget-friendly price tag. They use a filament contained in a vacuum to generate an extremely bright white light. They also produce more heat than the other types. As such, halogen lights tend to have a shorter lifespan than their other counterparts.

Which Mounting Position Makes The Most Sense?

Off road lights

After identifying the ideal choice for your vehicle, the next step will be the installing process. There are three favorite places; that is the bumper, roof, or windshield pillars. There’s no better place than the other since each poses its advantages and disadvantages.

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    Bumper : Floodlights are effective when installed on the bumper. For one, they produce a direct wide light in front of the vehicle. It is a simple location for most SUVs since some come with the mounting wires already in place so you’ll only need some equipment to install the light.

    Flood bars are long enough to boost your vehicle’s current driving lights to offer an extraordinary amount of illumination.

    Spot beams installed on the bumper offer concentrated light on the path.  You’ll like them if you are covering long stretches of curving roads.

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    Roof: To maximize your visibility, installing your lights on the roof also makes for great visibility. Choose flood beams or a combination of both the spot beam and the flood beam when mounting in this position. This is because when you install on the roof, there’s an increase in your jeep’s height hence losing some light clearance.

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    Windshield Pillars: When mounting in this position, it’s important to choose lights with small widths. The main motivation for this area is when illuminating the sides of the road. Spotlights are ideal for this position to prevent any glare which may affect your overall night-time visibility. Also, do not go for very large lights as they may inhibit vision to the sides.

    Another popular place is the grille as it offers visibility closer to the ground. Small rectangular or circular fog lights are an incredible accessory if you want to add on the road illumination.

Off-Road Lights: Buyers Guide

Buying off-road lights may seem like quite a simple process. But when it comes to comparing the models on the market, it becomes confusing and a bit of a headache.

Quality: A high-quality off-road light is water resistant, and it takes the road tortures to a whole new level. Remember that the light is going to undertake trips amongst thickets, bushes, mud, and rocky paths. If you were to be caught in a storm, ensure your light does not seep into the water. Also, look for lights with a construction from aluminum or steel materials which are resistant to damage.

Lumens: The lumens gauge how bright the light is. Knowing the lumens output will give you a pretty good idea on how well your model will illuminate the path.

Long Warranties: The warranty of a product indicates how long the manufacturer expects it to last before asking for repairs and replacements. If a company is not willing to offer an extended warranty period, then you should lose your confidence in purchasing such a light. Also, look at what the warranty covers. Will it guarantee the replacement or repairs alone? And do they ship it for free when conducting the repairs?

Know about the Voltage: The essence here is to know how bright you want the light to be. A high voltage indicates that it is brighter than its counterparts with a lower voltage.

Size: The bigger the light, the brighter it will be. If you want to have tons of bright light, then you’ll want to consider LEDs with a high number of bulbs.

When looking to purchase an off-road light, size is most likely the first thing that pops up. You’ll find them in sizes from 4 inches all the way to 50 inches. More so, they come bearing a different number of bulbs. These bulbs are engineered to produce a spot or a flood beam. Other lights have a combination of the two beams which we recommended above.

Tips when Purchasing Off-Road Lights

Get two small Lights: When choosing off-road lights, you may be tempted to get the large light on the assumption that it offers better illumination. But the opposite is true. With a huge light, you can only install it to face one direction. With two small lights, you can angle them slightly to the side you want to illuminate. Hence you have a bright vision on a focused direction.

Prefer Flood Lights and Combination Lights: When driving in the backcountry, you’ll want to see the sides of the road as you should be prepared for animals crossing the road. That’s where the flood light comes in, but you also need to see the road ahead. A combination light will give you ample illumination as well as far-reaching visibility.

Durability and Reputation: The company that makes the light you’ll be installing must have some reputation. You’ll want to read about them in buyers’ reviews so that you can have an idea of what you’ll be buying into. If the company has not taken their lights through vigorous off-road testing, you cannot expect it to live up to its standards.

What is the Lights Amps Draw? There’s no humor in a dead battery in the middle of nowhere. That’s why you should check how much energy the light is drawing. Picking off-road lights with a high amp draw puts you at risk of a battery drain. As such, if you want peace of mind, choose bars with a small amp draw so you can have multiple functions on the battery.

Bottom Line!

Off-road lights are great accessories which will help you be safe on rugged terrain. They are not only an addition to the aesthetics, but they also provide tremendous advantages. They’ll help you offset some of the challenges that come with driving back trails. From escaping potholes to running over a deer, they increase the thrill of night-time driving.

How to set up the best component speakers for optimum car system?

If you are someone that cares about high-end car audio then you know that a component system is the only way to go. It will be time-consuming, expensive and require you to know what you are doing but the end result is absolutely worth it. Component speakers ensure that the drivers for the tweeter and woofer are separate and also introduces a crossover to help the speakers do their job optimally. This means that the tweeter and the woofers are only handling frequencies that they were designed to do so thus limiting distortion and extracting every last bit of performance from these speakers.

1. What does a component speaker system consist of?

A component speaker system breaks down the frequencies and then channels them to dedicated drivers for the tweeter and the woofers. This is the complete opposite of most factory installed systems that try and do entire job with a shared driver.

A component speaker system could consist of just one tweeter and a woofer or a higher-end setup could include a midrange speaker as well. One of the most important parts of a component speaker system is the crossover.

A crossover is nothing but a traffic cop for the frequencies coming through from the radio or the amplifier. It makes sure that frequencies above a certain range are directed towards the tweeter while frequencies below a certain range are directed towards the woofer. This results in a sound stage that is super realistic, tonal clarity like the musician intended and a more accurate imaging experience than any other kind of speaker system you can install in the car.

Having a number of separate components means that there will be some additional work that will be required during installation. Also, the expertise required to install these component speakers is much greater than for other systems.

component speakers

2. Essential factors of an optimum audio system

#1 Buying high quality aftermarket product

There are three cardinal rules that you should adhere to when buying and installing a high-quality audio system for your car. The first is to buy a high-quality aftermarket product because even the best cars come with some terrible kits fitted in them from the factory.

The speakers that come with the car are always the co-axial kinds where all the drivers, tweeter and woofer are rolled into one package so that the system takes the least amount of space and is easy to install. No amount of fancy branding and promises can bring it close to a component speaker system.

#2 Correct position, correct installation

The second rule is to have your component speaker system installed. Making sure that the tweeter, the speaker, and the crossover are in the optimum position is something of an art form. It is much easier to mess up this part and end up with distortion, noise or sound that arrives at different times to the listener.

We recommend making the use of the services of a professional for this part and why this will add to your expense in the short term, it will ensure that you get optimum performance out of your car audio system in the long term.

#3 Crossover or DSP included

The third rule for making sure that you have a component system that is truly high end and working to the best of its capacities is to ensure it includes a crossover or a digital sound processor. A crossover will help direct the right frequencies to the speaker and woofer respectively while the digital sound processor will help transform the source signal and undo any equalizations or filters that may be applied to it.

This is particularly useful if you are working with a factory installed unit that is often designed to compress sound and make the tiny included speakers sound better.

3. How to Install Tweeters?

Tweeters are the tiny speakers that will deal with high frequencies, the likes of which are often beyond the capabilities of coaxial speakers. They are an absolute necessity to develop a proper soundstage and ensure that the sound being heard is balanced on all fronts.

Since tweeters are designed to handle high frequencies, they depend on a crossover to help direct only the correct frequencies to them and keep them functioning without any distortion.

So what is the best place to install tweeters?

There are a couple of rules that need to be kept in mind when installing the tweeters. It is highly recommended to keep the tweeter above the levels of the woofers and preferably close to the driver so that a stereo soundstage can be set up.

Tweeters can be installed with an angled mount, flush mounting or a surface mount depending upon the car and the space available. The easiest is probably the surface mount since it does not need any alteration to the car’s interior but it will leave you with a visible speaker. If that does not bother you then it is an excellent option.

The most common places where tweeters are installed include the sail panel, dashboard edges, the A-pillar and the upper part of the door. As you can note, all of these places are deliberately chosen to be high up.

tweeters car audio

Going with any one of these locations is a good option but care should be taken to ensure that the tweeters are kept within 12 inches of the speaker otherwise there is a risk of the sound arriving at slightly different times to the listener and thus causing distortion.

The basic procedure involved in installing tweeters goes something like this. The first part is to gain access to the installed audio system. All the wires connecting the head unit to the old speakers need to be removed (in some cases the head unit may be replaced as well). Be sure to cut off the power source of your car so that there is no chance of a short circuit.

Once the old stuff is out, add in the crossover by soldering its cable input to the main power source. The high-frequency wire has to go to the tweeter while the low-frequency wire will go to the woofer.

The tweeters have to be installed in their mounted location and depending on the exact location as well as the mounting method, some panels may need to be removed, holes need to be drilled or mounts need to be secured. 

4. How to install Midrange speakers?

Midrange speakers are not always a part of a component speaker setup but if truly want the best audio system in your car then they must be. Think of the music you listen to and a large majority of that will lie in the midrange frequency. Adding a midrange speaker to the conventional tweeter and woofer setup also helps create a much deeper soundstage and a better imaging experience.

 Since the most critical audio information lies in the midrange, we cannot recommend including a dedicated midrange speaker as a part of your setup highly enough.

Let’s come to the best location for these midrange speakers. 

The most critical part about the placement of your midrange speaker is its distance from the tweeter. Ideally, the tweeter and the midrange speaker must be placed as close together as possible with a maximum of 2 feet between them being acceptable.

Both the tweeter and the midrange speaker should have a direct path to the listener for maximum effect. Also, wherever possible the midrange speaker and the tweeter should ideally be placed in a vertical line to each other as this will help increase the imaging capability of the audio system.

There may be certain situations where it is not possible to place the midrange speaker and the tweeter within 2 feet of each other. Here, we recommend increasing the distance to 7 feet or more. It is not ideal but it will prevent any distortion from occurring that is often seen within the 2-7 feet placement range.  

The most common and the best locations for the placement of the midrange speakers include the sail or kick panels, the dash or the doors. These speakers should be placed high up next to the tweeters.

mid range speakers

The process for installing them is a little more complicated than just installing the tweeters alone. More amount of space will be required so you have to think about surface mounting the tweeter to try and conserve as much space as possible.

The first step is to again remove the old speakers from the car, disconnecting the wiring and soldering in the crossover correctly. You may also need to remove the side panels from the door in case that is the position you have decided on. This also involves removal of the window crank or the armrest. Once you have access to the underlying space measure twice before cutting once because it can be difficult to recover from serious mistakes at this point.

5. How to install a subwoofer

A subwoofer is a specialized speaker that produces low-frequency sounds. It is extremely popular because of the rich, high-quality bass it adds to a system. Adding a subwoofer also helps improve the functioning of the audio system as a whole because it takes care of the low-frequency sounds that speakers generally struggle to produce.

There are a number of types of subwoofers which also come in various sizes. Choose the right size of subwoofer that you can put in your car depending upon the amount of space that you have available.

The most common type of subwoofer is one that is unpowered and so requires to be hooked up to an external amplifier to draw power. Deciding on the best place to position the subwoofer in the car can be quite tricky since it usually requires a lot of space.

How about the ideal position for subwoofers?

The best options include the trunk of the car, underneath the rear seat or underneath the front seat. A lot of people have started to prefer the placement of the subwoofer underneath the seats so that they do not have to compromise on any boot space that they may have.

The first part of the installation process is to mount the subwoofer into an enclosure. This is pretty straightforward and can be done in a couple of minutes. A lot of subwoofers also come installed in enclosures as well which is something that will add to your cost but save you some installation headache.

An unpowered subwoofer now has to be wired to the amplifier from where it will draw the power needed to pump out that bass. Wiring can be done in parallel for maximum output or in a series for higher impedance.

Depending on how handy you are with your tools you may even want to build your own subwoofer enclosure to customize the size to your needs and match the aesthetics of your car. For the large majority of the population though subwoofers which come in prefabricated enclosures are the way to go.

You may have to cut out some space for them in the trunk. Make sure that you do not block access to your spare tire during this process otherwise it will end up being a long-term hassle. Also, if you end up having to drill holes for the mounting brackets make sure that you away from any brake lines, fuel tanks or other essential lines running through that area.

car subwoofer

6. How to install a DSP

A Digital Signal Processor is designed to do one thing and one thing only: to enhance the source signal so that it can be transformed into the highest quality audio possible. Think about it. If the source signal itself does not have the necessary information or has the information masked because of the presence of equalization filters then no amount of money spent on component speakers, amplifiers or subwoofers will end up doing any good.

signal processing


Even people that just want to give their factory installed system a boost or are finding that their aftermarket system does not have the zing they are looking for should install a DSP in their car.

A DSP also allows you to have tremendous control over the music setting, going far beyond just the bass, treble and mid-range adjustment. You can even boost certain frequencies or cut out others allowing you to fine-tune the car audio setup in intricate detail and to absolute perfection.

A lot of people often mistake equalizers and digital signal processors as being the same thing. They do have certain overlapping functions but it is only the DSP which will be able to improve the quality of the source signal.

Where to install DPS?

The best location to place a DSP is usually between the head unit and the amplifier. The reason for that is that this position allows the DSP to undo any external modifications or equalizations that the factory unit does to the source signal. Why would a factory unit do such a thing you may ask? The answer is to compensate for the terrible speakers these cars have installed in them.

The process of installation of a digital signal processor is not too complicated. A lot of people just end up placing it in the same location as the amplifier. There are certain sound processor units that can be added to compatible existing head units without much fuss at all.

Make sure that you check if that option is available for your car. The wiring involved in installing the DSP is not too dissimilar from that required to wire the amp. Use certain common-sense precautions like unplugging the battery terminal of your car before starting these electrical modifications since the risk of a short circuit occurring is always present.

If you are unsure about the electrical circuits in your car then we recommend taking the help of professionals because improperly wired component audio systems are the most common reason for a high-quality aftermarket system underperforming.

7. Common mistakes

There are certain common mistakes that we have noticed people tend to make while attempting to install their own component speaker system. Here are some that you should try and avoid.

Incorrect wiring

Running the wires to the various parts of the car audio system located in different parts of the car can be quite challenging. It is also by far the least ‘fun’ part of the job and one which people tend to gloss over. Simple mistakes like wiring the speakers in the wrong polarity are most commonly encountered.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to use a polarity test tool during the installation process.

Problem with phase

If the quality of the sound coming through from your source is compressed or has undergone equalization then it will affect the performance of the entire speaker system. Adding a DSP will help take care of this problem once and for all. Another problem could be that the bass sounds weaker on one side of the car than the other. This can throw the bass speakers out of phase with each other.

The problem can be corrected most commonly by reversing the terminal attachments on the weak speaker.

Incompatible system

The amount of power being supplied by the amplifier and the speaker system should be in sync otherwise it can result in distortion. You need to check the RMS rating of the amplifier and the speakers to make sure they are close to each other. If the power supplied from the amp is beyond what the speakers can handle then there will be distortion. In some cases, extremely powerful speakers may not be getting the necessary power from the amp and underperforming.

If you find an incompatibility issue then you have to change out the components to bring them in sync.

8. Tips and tricks

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    Start by checking out the condition of the factory unit installed in your car. In 90% of the cars, you will have to replace everything including the head unit but there may be something salvageable that you can find and integrate into your new system.

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    If you are just adding speakers to the existing head unit then make sure you check out the RMS values of the amps and the speakers as well as the peak power levels. You want them to be somewhere in the region of each other otherwise the system will not function to its optimum level.

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    Determine the size of the new speakers. These may be bigger or smaller in size (bigger does not always mean better quality) depending on what you choose. Ideally, you want something where you can use the existing mounting plate for the new speakers so try and stick to something close to the dimensions of the original speakers.
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    Adding a component car audio system will require some modification to the side panels or other locations where you want the speakers. Make a tool list and go through the entire planning stage on paper before you actually start to do it. This way you will be sure that you have everything you need and a clear plan in your head on how to go about it.

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    Read the wiring instructions for your speakers carefully. There are some speakers that need to be wired in a series with woofers and tweeters while others that will be wired in parallel so that you can get the maximum output from them.

This is something that may sound trivial but do your research and read trusted reviews before buying your aftermarket system. We recommend speaking to your car audio shop and getting some recommendations to start with after which you can narrow down the search according to your needs and budget. There are too many people that spend way too much money on poor quality speakers.

Setting up a component speaker system so that it works to its optimum level requires some know-how otherwise it is very easy to mess things up. That being said, once you have done the proper groundwork and know the mistakes to steer clear of, it is definitely something that you can do on your own as well. For someone who is an audiophile and truly appreciates music, a component speaker system is the only way to truly scratch that itch. Learning how to install it and actually accomplishing that yourself is an added way to make the system truly unique to you.

Do you really need to add a digital sound processor to your car audio system?

signal processing

Chances are that you are someone who has just bought a new car with an expensive audio system built-in or have just had an aftermarket premium audio system installed in your car but are still not satisfied with the sound quality you are getting. The likely solution to your problem is a sound processor.

1. What is a digital sound processor?

A digital sound processor is a microprocessor that is dedicated to receiving the signal from the source and then routing it to your amplifier. This device plays a very important role in removing any equalization or enhancements that the vehicle manufacturers have built into their systems to try and make up for their deficiencies.

A digital sound processor is an absolute must if you want to listen to music as the musicians intended for it to be heard. For a true fan of music or just someone who appreciated high-end audio, this is often non-negotiable.

signal processing

2. What does a DSP consist of?

There are different kinds of digital sound processors each of which performs different functions. They consist of the following:

Equalizer - These help in fine-tuning the music of your car to your specific taste as well as the acoustics profile of your car. The purpose of equalizers is to remove any distortion that can hamper the listening experience and smoothen out the frequency response of the audio system.

Crossover - The job of a crossover is to divide the different frequencies into high, medium and low. These frequencies are then channeled into the correct speakers to get the best out of the system. Electronic crossovers allow a greater degree of control over the sound quality and help in the elevating the entire experience.

Line Output Converter - A line output converter is excellent to enhance the sound coming from any factory unit receiver or an aftermarket one for that matter. The volume output is increased without straining the amplifier and this also helps reduce the level of noise from the audio system.

Bass restoration processors expanders - These are installed in cars that have at least one sub-woofer installed as a part of the audio system.  They help increase the level of bass that is produced while making it more accurate at the same time. Bass restoration processors expanders are perfect for someone who listens to low-frequency music or wants to increase the bass output.

3. Why is installing a DSP necessary?

This is a question that we often get and the answer to that is simple. Music is often heard through equalization filters and optimized for average speakers at best because that is what the majority of people are going to listen to. A DSP helps to strip away all of these filters which affect the quality of the sound and make it worthy of the premium audio setup that you have got going in your car.

Time alignment

Time lag is something that can be a big problem is not accounted for during the setup. Since sound travels at the same speed from speakers placed at different distances from the driver, they will end up reaching at different times and appear to make the sound skewed. A DSP can ensure that each speaker is calibrated such that their sound reaches the driver position at the same time.

The end result is a sound stage that just has to be heard to be believed. People who thought they were listening to a high-end audio system before installing a DSP and making the appropriate changes were absolutely blown away by the realistic nature of the sound stage. It honestly feels like the bad is playing inside your car!  

Control the crossover

The crossover can also be tweaked to control which kind of frequency gets sent the subwoofer, which gets sent to the tweeter and so on. This way there is almost no chance of a blowout even as you keep on increasing the volume.

Take up Equalizer's role

Once the DSP has converted the source signal into a high-resolution signal representative of the original track, there is an almost endless amount of fine tuning that can be done. Every speaker in your car can be given a dedicated amplifier channel and fine-tuned individually.

This means that speakers of different sizes, different outputs and from different locations will be able to serve up music within their optimum range. Depending upon the kind of crossover that has been installed, appropriate tweaks can be made through the DSP to ensure that there is lag from any speaker and that the sound reaches your ears at perfectly the right time.

Get rid of "beaming"

There is also something called as the ‘beaming phenomenon’ which has to be avoided when you are dealing with music at higher frequencies. In this situation, music coming from different directions actually starts to interfere with each other and can cause an increased amount of distortion and noise.

With a DSP, there is enough individual control over every speaker that the frequency output can be controlled from every speaker and this phenomenon can be prevented.

All of this may sound technical and it can be overwhelming but if your goal is just to listen to incredibly realistic music at the highest quality possible then it is essential to install a DSP to go with your system.

noisy


4. Do you really need a DSP?

This question can be difficult to answer because it involves knowing what you want from your high-end car audio system. Here are some questions that you should answer that will help you. Do you have a high-end car audio system? If the answer is yes then you are someone who wants to get the max out of your investment and a DSP will certainly go a long way in helping you out there.

Of course, ‘high-end’ can mean different things to different people so let's break that down a little further. Are you someone who has had a component speaker system installed in your car? Go for the DSP. It will give it a boost that you can barely imagine.

If your car audio setup is one where there are more than one amplifier systems in place then you absolutely must install a DSP. It can be tricky controlling a complex audio setup and a DSP will help you do that with relative ease.

Another important thing to consider is your budget. Not all of us are born with limitless resources so ask yourself if you have the money to invest in a DSP for your car audio system? If the answer is a no, then we recommend holding off till you can save enough money otherwise you are not getting the best out of all the money you have put in it until now as well. The last question may actually the most important one of all. How much do you care about sound quality? Not everyone needs to get the best possible music from their speakers, not even everyone who splurges on a high-end car audio system. If you are one of these people then give the DSP a miss.

If you are, however, someone who cares deeply about music and believes that a good tune can uplift your mood then you owe it to yourself to hear music the right way. It's something you are never going to go back from.

Conclusion

As someone who does not have much knowledge of what goes into making a high-end car audio system tick, the various number of components you need can seem excessive and that’s understandable. Once you dive down this rabbit hole, however, there is no point in going half-hearted because the end result is not going to be as good as it should be. A DSP may just be the final piece of the puzzle that your car audio system needs.

Car audio capacitor or second battery: Which one to go for?

car battery , car audio capacitor

A common query that we receive after the installation of a high-end aftermarket car audio system is about a lack of power affecting performance. People may find that their headlights are dimming or that their audio system is not performing as it should. Ideally, this is something that would have been discussed and anticipated when the car audio system was being planned but that is often not the case. The answer to this problem lies in choosing either a capacitor or an additional battery for your car, with both options having some pros and cons that need to be understood. 

1. Do you really need to add an extra power source to your system?

For people that are not too familiar with demanding car audio systems, it can seem counter-intuitive to them that their car battery is not powerful enough to provide the necessary juice to their system. There are a couple of factors to be considered here.

The first and foremost is the fact that factory installed car batteries have only enough power to the basic functions of the car with a little bit of leeway left over. It is simply not in the car maker’s benefit to sell cars with high-performance batteries that will be left unutilized by a large percentage of their customers. 

Now, in general, close to 40-50% of the amperage of your battery goes towards powering the electronic systems in your car and making sure that there is enough juice to start the engines at all times. The remaining 50% of the factory installed battery is just not enough to power a high-end aftermarket car audio system.

The amplifier is particularly power hungry and will demand an extra source of power to function at its optimum performance.

So how do you know that you don’t have enough power? The car will start to experience some electrical issues where the windows may not get rolled up at the same speed they used to or the headlights of the car start to dim when the car-audio system is booming.

Most often, though, it will lead to a reduction in the performance of the car audio system. This is the worst case scenario because it does not matter how much you spent on getting the best quality audio components installed in your car if they just don’t have enough juice to be able to do their job to the best level.

So, yes, if you are adding a high-end car audio system, be prepared to add another power source as well.

car battery , car audio capacitor

2. What are car audio capacitors and second battery?

Capacitor

 At the most basic level, a capacitor and a battery are not that dissimilar because both of them are used to store energy. The difference, though, is that capacitors have the ability to discharge this stored battery very quickly if the need arises.  In a car where a high-end audio system has been installed, this ability of the capacitor is very useful since the sudden burst of energy can used to feed the power-hungry amplifier. This helps reduce the problem of dimming headlights when the bass really hits but may not actually solve it completely.

Second Battery

 A second battery to double the amount of power that you have stored can help solve the problem of headlights dimming or the car audio system not performing to its optimum. The reasoning is pretty simple here.  Adding a second battery provides plenty of reserve amperage to the system and can also be placed very close to the amplifier. It is slightly more complicated than just replacing your factory installed battery for something that is powerful enough for your needs but it is definitely the less expensive option in this case.

3. What's the Difference Between Batteries and Capacitors?

There are plenty of differences between the manner in which batteries and capacitors in the manner that they are designed and function. Both of them are designed to store electric energy, yes, but the differences in how they perform this task are very important.

The potential energy or charge inside a capacitor is stored in an electric field whereas the potential energy in a battery is stored in a chemical form. This chemical form of storage allows much greater densities and thus batteries capable of holding the same amount of electrical energy as a capacitor will be much smaller in size.

This storage method also dictates the speed with which the electric energy can be released. In the case of capacitors, this is much more rapid than batteries and can be a big advantage when it comes to powering car audio.

The cost is also a major consideration in this case. People may want to save money since they would have already spent quite a lot on the high-end car audio system as well. An additional  battery is going to be much more reasonable than a capacitor even with the installation costs being taken into consideration.

4. Pros and Cons of car audio capacitor

Pros

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    The biggest pro of using a capacitor in the car is the availability of instant high-power when you need it

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    A capacitor will reduce the problem of dimming headlights

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    They charge faster than batteries
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    Significantly less amount of voltage drops since they are usually installed next to the amplifiers.

Cons

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    Capacitors are much more expensive when compared to batteries while in essence they do the same job

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    Since capacitors are a much lower-density energy storage option, they are often quite large in size. This can be a problem in a car where the space available is at a premium.

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    A capacitor is just another thing that the alternator needs to charge and so puts additional strain on the system

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    The capacitors compete with the amplifiers for power until it is fully charged and this can actually affect the functioning of the car audio system in certain situations

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    The capacitor can also drain some power away from the subwoofer.

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    Installing a capacitor requires much more technical know-how than installing a battery in the car and thus there is that much more chance of something going wrong.

5. Pros and Cons of second car audio battery

Pros

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    Installing a second battery is the most common option used by people looking to power their car audio system in a large part because of the cost involved. A car battery is significantly less expensive than a capacitor.

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    Since batteries are a high-density energy storing solution, they require much less space than a capacitor would to provide the same amount of electricity storage.
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    Adding an additional car battery will not only reduce the problem of dimming headlights and other electrical components but eliminate it altogether.

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    Batteries are easily available at many locations and come in a wide variety of different sizes.

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    Adding a secondary battery is a much more permanent solution to the lack of power problem.

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    It adds permanent power storage to the car that can be used for other purposes as well if so required.

Cons

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    Installing a second battery is the most common option used by people looking to power their car audio system in a large part because of the cost involved. A car battery is significantly less expensive than a capacitor.
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    The low-cost car batteries run the risk of corrosion and leakage of their chemical components.

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    The need to charge an additional car battery is also a strain on the engine.

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    Adding a secondary battery may be less expensive than replacing the older one for a high capacity one but requires more technical expertise.

6. Identify the right capacitor or battery for your car

Buying the right capacitor or additional battery for your car means knowing a bit about the battery you have installed and the amount of power your car audio demands. The first thing to do is to find out the amperage of your factory installed battery. As mentioned earlier, deduct about 50% of that for the running of your car electronics and cranking the engine up. The remaining is what you have available to you for the car audio.

Choose capacitor is your electrical problems are minor but your amplifier is not getting enough power at all times. A capacitor is perfectly suited to solve this problem because it can be installed close to the amp and supply with a boost of power when it needs it most.

Since the amp can function at an optimum level for most of the time, it helps improve the quality of sound that you have been getting from the system. Generally, 1 farad of capacitance is added for every 1000 watts RMS of system power, but people may choose to up this to 2 or even 3 farads as per their liking.

If you are struggling with electronic problems, dimming of headlights and other issues then choose a secondary car battery that adds significant electrical storage unit and allows everything to run smoothly. This option sets you back a lesser amount of money but does bring with it the headache of battery replacements and maintenance, depending upon the kind of battery you install.

A secondary battery requires lesser space and also come in different shapes and sizes so that affords you a bit more flexibility.

Deciding what kind of secondary power unit you want to install in your car may seem like a complicated decision at first but assessing the pros and cons of each option will help you make that decision. It is, however, something that is a must-do if you want to get the most out of your expensive, high-end, car audio system.

A Comprehensive Guide to LED Daytime Running Lamps for Your Car

LED DRL

Noticed how all Volvos have their lights on even during the day? Well, now that technology is catching on in today’s modern vehicles. They say we need to protect human lives on the road as the traffic becomes crazy each day. What better way than to use the most efficient technology? LEDs are the perfect Daytime running lights we have seen in recent times.

What are LED Daytime Running Lights?

After going through years of research, LEDs have come to use low power in their bulbs through special wiring. They don’t flicker or cause error messages on the dashboard since they are designed to produce excellent visibility during the day as well as increase illumination at dusk and dawn.

Benefits of LEDs in Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

LED DRL

Although daytime running lights have been around for a while now, we were yet to see the benefits that LEDs brought along. Now we can see it has paid off to use LEDs instead of Halogen or High-Intensity Discharge bulbs in DRLs. Why, you ask?

The power to run DRLs is drawn from the engine. LEDs use about 5watts to 20watts, unlike others which use upwards of 200w, so they are energy efficient. They do not increase the amount of fuel the car burns. As such, they limit the carbon emission by that particular car.

LEDs produce dazzling lights which provide great visibility in low light conditions. Mostly in winter, pedestrians need to see oncoming cars as the visibility is reduced to near zero in some countries. Not to mention, they prevent head-on collisions when traveling on two-lane roads. On the other hand, HIDs need some time to reach very bright intensities since they need to light up the xenon and then draw power from the car’s battery. 

For those with black cars, they are especially hard to see on a misty morning. All it takes is one second for you to bump into an oncoming car if their headlights are not on. Since LEDs use focused rays, the moment you have them on, you can see the way ahead on the road, and as such you have a safe driving experience.

The other main advantage is their lifetime. LEDs are deemed to last up to 3000 hours over Halogens which have 1000 hours of life and 2000 hours of HIDs.

Choosing LED Daytime Running Lights: Factors to Consider

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    Light Intensity: Because you are majorly purchasing the LED DRL for daytime use, the stronger the light intensity, the better it will be for increasing visibility. The number of lumens indicates how bright the particular light will be. If the LED says it produces 3000 lumens, you’ll have to know how many of the 3000 lumens does it actually use. This is because you’ll want LEDs where you can see and be seen.

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    Color: In daytime running lights colors may be somewhat of a limit to only cool white and warm colors. When choosing your LED DRL, it’s crucial to look at the temperature of the bulb since it dictates the color of the light. Warm white LEDs run from 2500 Kelvin to 4000 Kelvin while cool whites run from 5000 K to 8000 Kelvin.

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    Style: If you want to add some character to your car, you have the chance to choose from a variety of different bulbs which are installed in various patterns. This is because the sizes of the bulbs are in a series of small units.

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    Power of the Lights: The power and beam size are an important entity of the LED daytime running light you choose. In most countries, the regulations dictate a maximum of 800 lumens on any particular DRL. However, you have the chance to choose LEDs with lower intensities. Most drivers are advised to choose LEDs with 5W running with 600 lumens. At 200 lumens the LEDs are dim during the day, and at 800 they can be blinding to oncoming traffic. Make sure you consider the outside conditions of your area as you match the power and beam size of your LED DRL.

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    LED Lifespan: Check to see that the kit indicates the LEDs can last up to 3000 hours. Most manufacturers miscalculate on how long the LED daytime running lights will last, but they come close to the number indicated.

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    LED Quantity: LEDs offer just the right versatility for your car. When looking at the number of LEDs, it’s important to consider the viewing area. With a bar that has 28 LEDs, you can have a 360-degree viewing angle. Let’s just say, the number of LEDs should be in line with the viewing area you want.

Where should you install the LED Daytime Running Light 

LED daytime running lights are installed anywhere on the front of the car. There are four popular locations for LED daytime running lights.

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    Bumper grille

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    Mid-center grille

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    Center hood grille

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    Lower bumper

How do you Install the LED Daytime Running Lights?

LED daytime running lights are not exactly complicated when it comes to the installation process, but you should first know about the car’s electronic circuitry.

What you’ll need:

Standard or long nose pliers

Screwdrivers

Multimeter/ 12V tester

Power drill plus drill bits

Tape measure

Stiff wire like one bent from a coat hanger

The installation manual: it’s always important to read the mounting instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Mounting the LED Daytime Running Lights

Select the correct height of the LEDs based on your chosen location. For regular use, select at least 25 centimeters from the road and for parking purposes at least 35 centimeters.

Slip the wire into the bracket.

Drill and bolt the bracket into the selected location. Ensure that the bracket fits seamlessly with your car’s bumper or grille.

Now latch the LEDs into the bracket using the screwdriver

Now it’s time to wire up. The lamps connecting the LEDs have wires which you route to the source of power. In this case; near your car’s battery is the perfect control location.

Use the cable ties provided on the kit to secure the leads along the bumper

To tap the power supply, you can go directly to the batteries terminals and not on the ignition. This makes sense since the LEDs can get information whether the battery is running or not.

Tap the red wire on the ACC. The ACC is located on the fuse box. You can find it by using a tester meter on the empty places in the fuse box. First, connect the black wire to the negative then find the ACC spot by inserting the tester in the fuse box. Touch the different locations until one spot lights up. That is the ACC where you’ll connect the red wire.

With the black wire on the negative, insert the red wire in the ACC’s blade. Turn on the engine to see the LEDs at work. These daytime running lights should work when you fire up the engine and turn off when the engine is not running.

Conclusion 

LED Daytime running lights last longer than standard bulbs. They are energy efficient and thus growing in popularity. They enable you to see much clearly as opposed to other forms of daytime lights. However, there are important considerations that you need to take before you go the LED way. Some rules and regulations dictate their usage, so you check with your country’s legalities first. But they are practical, much more sophisticated, and stylish for any car.

Effects of Automotive Lamp Color on Driver Vision

headlights

Automotive lamps are used in cars as the source of lighting. It usually requires the different combination of sources including brightness, small size and the efficiency of the energy. Automotive lights need to have particular specifications in order to complement the car as well as do not distract the driver. There are different factors on which the automotive lamp is dependent. The two major factors however are, lighting technology and effects of colors.  Let us have a look at them in detail:

Lighting Technology

Automotive lamps are made using different technologies such as Halogen, Neon, and LEDs, etc. Automotive lights need to be lightning yet, not so sharp. These new technologies become great options for the interior and exterior automotive lighting, roadway lighting and traffic signals.
Halogen, Neon, and LED are the contemporary sources which produce the effects on the mode of lighting in the automotive lamp as on the views of the drivers. Light emitting diodes are one of the long sources that have been used for the indicator of the lights. This tiny, small state but the bright source of the light is long-living and has efficient energy. Therefore, for this reason, it is being popular in many of the automotive cars and as well as in the traffic signals. Besides, those halogen lamps provide highlight by utilizing less energy than other lamps and are used for roadway lighting installation too, while Neon and fiber optic are used mostly by the drivers inside the cars for the dashboard.
LEDs and Neon are slightly sharper and can be dangerous sometimes.

headlights

Halogen provides maximum light and doesn’t turn out too sharp either for both drivers and other cars on the road. Hence, most of the people prefer Halogen lights on the exterior. In interior automotive lamps, fiber optic is the best choice considering its light and low voltage consumption. Fiber optic isn’t very sharp either hence, it doesn’t distract driver’s concentration from the road. According to research fiber optic doesn’t damage eyesight as much as other lighting technologies while lighting closely to eyes.

Effect of Colors on Driver Visions

carlights

The use of different colors is used very carefully and purposely on the roads to provide the indication as well as the visual acuity to the drivers. People with different color vision defect are unable to see the colors accurately and clearly. A good driver must understand the indication of these colors.
For example, white color gives bright contour to the driver while driving. It generally shows the positive response for the driver to be visualizing the white color. It makes their vision clear. However, on darker roads, white lights can be sharp and might not be a good option for headlights or any exterior lamps.
Red color creates an effect of stop and sometimes for the danger signs. It is important for the driver to recognize it properly. The Red color is mostly used in exterior indicators.
The other signal color which has also been most commonly seen on the roads is yellow color. Yellow lamps are drivers’ first and safest choice. Yellow automotive lamps give out the maximum light, while they are mild to the eyes of other drivers as well. Many drivers prefer having a warm white or yellow automotive lamp in the interior and exterior of the car. Darker shades of yellow also give out the feel of readiness. Hence, they are mostly used in indicators as well.
Moreover, it will create difficulty for the driver if any of these colors are not distinguished properly. Hence, while selecting an automotive light, we need to be extra careful. It might ultimately block all the traffic related issues which have to be faced by the people as well as the drivers.

Instructions

It is necessary to follow certain tips related to colors while driving. Each of the traffic color and any other color used on the roads should be carefully observed by the general public as well as the drivers. Apart from having their effect on the driver’s vision, some of these colors have symbolic importance as well. The driver should have proper knowledge about the impact and significance of each color while driving on the road. For example, red usually depicts stop or danger while yellow depicts readiness. Similarly, green represents flow and white represents sharpness or sometimes speed.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, different colors and technologies have different implications and effects on the driver’s vision. It is really important for the drivers to have an unobstructed vision while they drive. Automotive lights, thus, play a great role in ensuring the safety and security on the road.

When and Where Can You Use Hazard Lights To Avoid Risky Situations?

Hazard lights

Hazard warning lights are irregular flashing light indicators that flash together to warn other drivers of the temporary obstruction of the vehicle. These lights are also known as hazard lights or flashers. Hazard warning lights are when all the indicators of a vehicle flash on a continuous and simultaneous basis. When these lights are on, it means that the vehicle is not moving and that other vehicles should know about it.

Generally, hazard lights are used in cases where your vehicle becomes a hazard for other drivers on the road or to increase your visibility in a potentially dangerous situation as break down or need to change a tire or in case of a medical emergency. However, many motorists inappropriately use these hazard warnings.  

Different countries use hazard warning lights in different ways. In fact, even different states in the US have different laws for the use of Hazard lights. Thus, it becomes extremely important for you to know the laws in your area.

Hazard lights

When Is It Recommended To Use Hazard Warning Lights While Driving?

It is very important for the drivers to know when to use hazard lights appropriately as using the hazard lights inappropriately can become a hazard not only for the driver but for others too on the road. Below are some of the probable situations where the use of Hazard lights is valid:

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    When you’re parked in a loading or unloading zone.

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    When you’re experiencing vehicle problems in which you can’t safely move.

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    When you are driving slowly.

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    To let other drivers know of an upcoming road hazard.

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    Emergency situations that prevent you from safely exiting traffic (chest pains, dizziness, heart attack, labor, etc.)

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    During a funeral procession (even for states like Louisiana when mobile hazards are otherwise prohibited)

While hazard lights can cause problems in low light or can even confuse other drivers if there aren’t specific road hazards, they are very useful to warn others of the risk ahead. But before you decide to use hazard lights, it is important to know all driving laws in your area.

What Driving Laws Say - Where can the Hazard Lights be used?

Oddly enough, the rules for using hazard light vary greatly from one state to another. Let us have a look at the state-by-state breakdown provided by the AAA:

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    The District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri: New Jersey, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, do not permit Hazard light use while driving.

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    The states of Alabama, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, permit the use of hazard lights while driving unless otherwise posted.

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    The States of Arizona, Indiana, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, do not permit use of Hazard light while driving except in case of an emergency.

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    The states of Arkansas, California, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Minnesota, Washington, do not permit Hazard light use while driving except to point out a traffic hazard.

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    The states of Alaska, Colorado (unless under 25 mph) Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, do not permit Hazard light use while driving.

When Should You Not Use Hazard Warning Lights?

Hazard Lights

If you are driving slowly, you may find it tempting and courteous to use hazard warning lights, but this is not something you should go for. Since all the 4 lights will flash in the hazard lights, you ought to face problems in changing lanes, junctions and indicating a turn. This inability will not only be highly dangerous for yourself but other drivers too since they have no way of identifying which direction you want to move onto.                                                                          

Another case when it might feel suitable to you to use hazard warning lights is when you are moving slower than other traffic due to being lost or trying to locate an address, etc. But again, using hazard lights is not recommended in this case because it will render your indicators ineffective and will confuse other drivers on the road. If you land in such a situation, don’t panic. Instead, find an appropriate place to stop and wait, or wait for the traffic to subside.

Hazard Lights & Weather: Should you use your hazard warning lights in bad weather?

Did you ever land in a situation when you had to drive down the highway during a bad storm? You probably have seen some drivers putting on their hazard lights, perhaps even you too would have had done it yourself but is that what one should follow? Is it legal? Well, that’s a question to understand.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), it’s actually illegal to put on hazard lights while you drive in certain states and the reasons are valid too.

People who put on hazard lights during bad weather advocate that they do so to increase the visibility but in reality, the opposite happens. Let us tell you why:

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    When you turn on your hazard lights, all the four turn signals flash at the same time. Thus, this restricts your ability to use turn signals in case you need. Even if they work, it becomes hard to distinguish between hazard lights and a turn signal.

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    Your hazard light turned on sends a signal to others on the road that you have stalled or stopped, creating confusion for other drivers on the road.

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    A hazard light on sends on a warning signal of a traffic hazard or problem ahead.

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    Your hazard lights may make you more visible in the rain and alert other drivers that you are travelling below the speed limit, which may put you at risk.

As per police, if the weather is too bad that you are not able to properly see while driving, pull over to a safe place until the weather stabilizes. Use your hazard lights only when you’ve stopped the car or it has been disabled.

Dangers of Using Hazard Lights

Hazard Lights not only cause significant amount of confusion for other drivers, but also distract them when they see your hazards and start looking for potential dangers. In the process, they may miss something by taking their eyes off the road, which will eventually result in traffic slowdowns and disruption to the normal traffic flow.

Usage Tips when using Hazard Lights

Here are the few tips that can help you know about the hazard lights:

When the hazard lights are on, the signal Lights don’t work.

You should pay great attention to the prevailing laws regarding the use of hazard lights in your area. Pay proper attention to when you can or cannot use the hazard lights so as to avoid any traffic law violation.

When you drive on highway and foresee any potential hazard, you should use hazard lights to warn other drivers about the risk ahead.

When your vehicle is stopped due to some technical problem in the vehicle or due to some emergency or medical issue with you, use hazard lights.

In case you want to turn on hazard lights while static, ensure that there is no object behind your car blocking the view to your car’s taillights.

Conclusion

In all, turning on the hazard lights flash all the 4 lights of your vehicle, making it unclear for the other drivers to anticipate which lane or direction you want to move, even if you give an indicator. Such unclear communication confuses other drivers on road and can pose you to a great danger than good. Same is the case where you turn on your hazard lights because you were driving slower than the prevailing traffic on the road. Most importantly, take proper knowledge on the use of the hazard lights in your area beforehand. After all, violating the law and illegally using the hazard lights would be last thing on your mind to do Isn’t it?

Building the perfect car audio system for all needs

The love of driving is intrinsically linked to having access to great music and this is why upgrading your car audio system is probably the easiest way to upgrade your entire driving experience. Without exception, factory installed speakers are low quality, tend to blow out and aimed to serve a basic minimum function. Of course, choosing the right audio gear for your car is not the easiest task. Car audio systems can range from a few hundred dollars to basically as much money as you can afford. Here are some of the things that you need to know and keep in mind before you part with your hard earned cash.

1. How do car speakers differ from home speakers?

Home speakers system

Home speakers system

Impedance: The term impedance refers to the opposition electric current faces while passing through a conductive object. Car speakers function in low voltage-high ampere environments making 4ohm speakers perfectly suited while home speakers may be closer to 8 ohms.

Design: Home speakers are completely encased in a single cabinet or box while car speakers are sold separately as drivers, woofers, and tweeters.

Size: There is a much stricter size constraint on car speakers and thus every component is smaller than home speakers.

Optimization: Car speakers are optimized for small spaces with what is typically called as ‘near-field’ design while home speakers can function in much larger rooms.

2. What features should a good quality car audio speaker have?

There are certain fundamental qualities that every good quality car speaker will definitely have and ones you should never compromise on. The first is to be able to pump out music without any distortion within a reasonable volume range. You want to listen to the music as the people who made it wanted you to hear it, so this is not too much to ask in our opinion.

The speakers should be able to play a wide range of music making it versatile and allowing you to hear any kind of music that you prefer.

The last feature that we are looking for is the ability to pump out some bass because that is how most of the music nowadays is being geared. Bass makes you feel good!

3. How many types of car speakers are there?  

The types of car speakers include: Component speakers, Coaxial speakers and full range speakers. There is also a common misconception that full range speakers and co-axial speakers are always the same, however, that may not be true.

Full Range Speaker

Full range speakers are those that try and reproduce the entire gamut of audio frequencies but frequently fall short in the bass reproduction.

How does it work?

A full range speaker will usually include a woofer and a tweeter placed over it. This set up will attempt to handle the low-mid frequency sounds through the woofer and route the mid-high frequencies through the tweeter.

One driver is handling this entire setup and thus every sound of every frequency ultimately originated from the same place.

Pros:

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    Full range speakers are less expensive
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    They are easier to fit into cars
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    Contain less number of components and thus require a lesser amount of expertise to install
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    Available much more easily

Cons:

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    The name ‘full range’ is a misnomer since they cannot compete at the lower end of the frequencies
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    Common drivers are unable to do the same job that dedicated ones can provide
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     The truly high-quality full range speakers can be very expensive

Coaxial speaker

Coaxial speakers

Coaxial speakers

A coaxial speaker is one that has multiple drivers on a common central axis with the tweeter mounted in front of the woofer.

How Does it Work?

The speaker system works by employing individual driver units radiate sound from the same axis. For the purposes of car audio systems, two or three speaker drivers are the ones that are generally preferred while professional audio systems utilize a two-way design.

Pros:

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    Versatile design that can include 2 speaker drivers, 3 speaker drivers or more as per the requirement.

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    The inherent design of coaxial speakers makes them compact and perfect for use in car audio systems

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    Extremely high-quality sound can be reproduced from these speaker systems

Cons:

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    Can be more expensive than single driver full range speakers
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    The tweeter and midrange driver can be mounted in front of the woofer and thus obscure it partially
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    A misalignment may occur in the time that takes the sound from the tweeter to arrive as compared to the sound from the woofer, however, it is generally not perceptible or pertinent for non-professional uses.

The most common types of co-axial systems that are used in cars in high-quality systems are the 3-way set up that has three drivers for the woofer, midrange driver, and the tweeter. A 2-way speaker will have two drivers for the woofer and the tweeter but will compromise on the sound quality somewhat. It will help you save some money though.

Component speakers

These are the best kind of speakers that you can get for your car. These speakers separate their drivers and thus allow a great amount of versatility in the setting up of the sound stage.

How do they work?

Component speakers separate the woofer and the tweeter and have dedicated speakers for each that means that the sound produced is of the highest quality. Normally, the tweeters are placed higher than the woofers so that delicacies of extreme sound frequencies at both the ranges remain undistorted.

There is also a crossover that is introduced into the mix which basically ensures that right frequencies are being channeled to the right drivers. Experts, in fact, believe it is the addition of this dedicated crossover that provides the massive jump in sound quality and experience along with the other high-quality components, of course.

How many different kinds of component speakers are there?

There really is no limit to the number of speakers that you can have installed in your car, however, typically a high-end car audio system will include a sub-woofer, a woofer, a mid range speaker, a tweeter and a super tweeter to be able to reproduce the complete range of audio frequencies.

tweeters on car

Old car audio tweeter speaker, isolated on white background

Pros

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    Sound quality. There is no other type of speaker that can come close to a high-performance set of component speakers.

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    The presence of a cross over allows the dedicated drivers to do the job that they were optimized for and nothing else.
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    The sound stage created by a correctly installed set of component speakers is something that has to be experienced to be truly believed.

Cons

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    Expensive
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    Require technical know-how and experience to install correctly
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    The time required as well as the space required for the installation of all the components can be much more than the other speakers

4. Do car audio system really need upgrading 

There is one simple reason why people want to upgrade their car audio system: The ones included from the factory suck.

Most of the cars come with full range speakers that do a terrible job of reproducing music and audio in general while even the high-end cars come with co-axial speakers at best. For people that enjoy driving and consider listening to music a large part of that experience, upgrading their car audio system is a no-brainer.

Even people that may not consider themselves experts on the technicalities behind sound production or transmission are able to notice the lack of bass in factory installed speakers and thus want to rip them out and replace them with something better.

5. Are aftermarket car speakers compatible to your car?

This is something that you need to be very sure about before making your purchase. A lot of the speaker systems will come with guidance as to the cars in which they can be installed or the amount of space that will be required.

The simplest way to is to measure the size of your factory installed speakers and the space that you have available before looking for aftermarket speakers. Our suggestion is to involve a professional at this point in time because there are a lot of small things that can go wrong during the installation of these speakers.

Choose someone with experience and be sure that the speakers you order are compatible with your car and can be installed in it without any problem.

6. How should you upgrade your car audio system?

Different people have different needs and this is why it is important to identify what kind of a system you want. Start with identifying your favorite kind of music and then tailor your search according to that. If you listen to bass heavy music then the low-end range become very important in your system, something that single driver full range car audio systems will not be able to fulfill.

A high quality co-axial system or a component speakers car audio system will be good for your need. A point to be noted here should be that just a large amount of bass does not equate to a great music system. A lot of the speakers, particularly those that fall in the mid-range, have started to amplify the bass much beyond what was originally intended by the speakers because that is what is being dictated by the market.

If that is something you want then go for it, otherwise do your research before investing a considerable amount of money.

Similarly, if you are someone who listens to pop music, classical music or orchestras then you want to invest in a component speaker system that allows you to hear the individual instruments clearly and set a high quality sound stage. The sound imaging that is possible with this kind of system is simply unmatched.

If you are someone who listens to a bit of everything and not really limited to a particular general then we recommend a high quality co-axial system which will cover most needs and easy to install as well. If you are someone that listens to podcasts and the occasional bit of music then stick to something simple like a full range car audio system.

Of course, the amount of money that you can spend on a car audio system is a very important consideration as well. If you are an audiophile with no restrictions on budget then we recommend you build the dream component speaker car audio system, however, if you do have a tighter budget than a co-axial or a full range speaker system may be more suited for you.

Even those people that do not want to spend too much on their car audio system can just have a subwoofer system installed in addition the audio system that cam installed from the factory and notice a huge quality bump immediately.

If you are an audiophile but does not have the budget to be able to splurge on a top of the line car audio system right now then we recommend you save some money and wait. Do not go for the best that you can afford right now because that will not satisfy your needs and end up being a waste of money. It will also push your eventual goal away because you would have spent the money you had right now instead of saving for what you actually want.

7. Our advice for you to get better sound quality without breaking the bank!

We have seen too often people with the nest intentions make some of the silliest mistakes. They end up buying the best speakers that they can afford and then skimp on the installation cost which negates a lot of what they intended in the first place: Great sound quality.

Excellent sound is just not about the kind of speakers but also where they are placed. There are a lot of technical considerations that go into the placement of the tweeters, the subwoofers, the woofers and the crossover. It is not just about hooking them up to the power and switching them on. Done incorrectly, you may notice a lot of interference and noise that will ruin the experience you should be getting from top notch speakers.

Make sure that you get an experienced professional to install your speakers for you so that the job is done right without too much fuss. It is also a smart thing to take advice from a professional about the size of the speakers you are ordering before you actually do so to avoid any incidental costs of returning them or creating more space than you have easily available.

Getting speakers installed professionally is much cheaper than having incorrect speakers and wiring ripped out and then replaced correctly!

8. What are the right positions to place your speakers?

The most convenient position to place your new speakers are in place of the factory installed ones but to get the best experience some amount of custom work may need to be done.

Added Subwoofer: The enclosure for the added subwoofer can be a little bulky and take up a lot of space so the best placement position for it is in the trunk. Not all cars have trunks or enough place in them or you just may not want to compromise that sort of space in your trunk.

In such situations, the area under the rear seat works perfectly as well.

Coaxial speaker: These speakers come with a tweeter and/or a mid-range driver partially obscuring the speaker and thus the tweeter direction should always be kept upwards. The best place for them is under the car’s dashboard directed towards the driver.

Component Speaker: The ideal placement position for the tweeter is a high up level as close to ear of the driver as possible but not too far away from the woofer otherwise the sound will reach at different times. The woofer should be kept low in the car while the crossover is hidden in the middle.

Subwoofers placed in the trunk

Subwoofers placed in the trunk

Tweeters should ideally be placed on the dashboard with a slant spacer or on the A Pilller of the car. 

9. Common problems with car speakers and solutions

No sound comes from your speakers

Having a complicated and intricate set of speakers in the car means that it can be slightly harder for you to figure out what the problem is when something goes wrong. The most common problem that people face is when the sound stops coming from the speakers.

The first thing that you should do is to check all the connections in the car and see if everything is connected. If everything is still connected then have the amplifier checked out because that is generally where the problem lies.

Car speakers suddenly stop working

If your car speakers suddenly stop working then check out the head unit or the amplifier for the root of the problem.  Occasionally, the wiring itself may be the problem and may need to be changed out.

Unwanted noise comes from speaker

Unwanted noise or interference from the speakers does not mean that there is something wrong with the speakers but it almost certainly indicated that the speakers are not installed correctly. The problem could be with their placement or with their wiring or may be even both. This would require you to go back to the professional who fit the speakers in or to get the problems rectified that may have been created when you attempted the installation yourself.

10. How to maintain car speakers?

The best way to maintain your car speakers is to take care of them like you would anything else that is precious to you. Use them for listening to music but avoid blaring out music at the top of the volume because that will just blow them out.

Make sure the power connections to your speakers are secure and that they provide consistent and reliable energy to them. Also, avoid any physical damage to the speakers of a car, something that can happen quite often.

There is not too much else that you need to do but if you do end up with some trouble then always go back to a trusted professional to rectify the problem rather than trying to tinker yourself and end up worsening it.

11. How to choose the best car speaker?

Type of speaker

The type of speaker you buy will be determined by the kind of music you listen to. A person that really does not care about music and just wants something better than the factory fitted speakers that came in the car will be benefited by a simple full range speaker system or even just the addition of a subwoofer.

On the other hand, if you are a true audiophile then spend time on buying and having a high quality component speaker system installed in your car because the result will be worth every penny.

Sound quality

The sound quality will be dictated by the kind of speakers that you buy as well as their placement in the car. Money always does not equate to sound quality in this case and so we recommend that you take the advice of a professional to help narrow down the choices for your needs.

Built-in material

The speakers that you buy should be made with high quality materials, come with a warranty and preferably be manufactured by a brand that has a rich history in audio. Too many fly by night operators that do not do original research or even in-house design have started to fill up store shelves. Most of these car audio systems are mass manufactured without adequate quality controls and so should be avoided.

Speaker’s sensitivity

The sensitivity of a speaker must be taken into account when making your choice. Most factory installed car stereos are low powered (15 watts per channel or lesser) and thus you will need speakers with a high sensitivity rating (more than 90dB) to be able to get the best out of them.  

Head Unit and Amplifier Compatibility

Upgrading the stock amplifier with a high quality external unit will do wonders for the sound quality but system compatibility with the head unit needs to be kept in mind. The ideal situation would be to have a head unit with preamp outputs and an amplifier with line level inputs.

12. Conclusion

Upgrading the car audio system from a factory installed one to a custom one that fits your needs can be a hugely rewarding and satisfying experience. It is also something that helps makes the car unique to you without doing any structural changes or modifications to it.

If you are someone who enjoys music, enjoys driving or is in the car for a long time then take the plunge to upgrade your car audio system right now. Once you upgrade, you will wonder how you ever listened to music in your car any other way.

Are Daytime Running Lights Really Important? Keep Scrolling Down!

daytime running lights

Daylight running lights, also known as DRLs, are the new standard of lights that must be fitted on every new car within Europe. While not every car, especially those older than 2011, has or needs them, you are bound to see them on the road.

But what are DRLs? What makes them important enough to have a law passed making them the standard? That’s what we’ll be covering today.

What Are Daytime Running Lights?

Daytime running lights are lights that are made to help make your car more visible during the day when it is sunny outside. They come on when you usually start your car and turn off with your car as well.

daytime running lights

They are sometimes, but not always, separate lights from the side lights on your vehicle. If they are combined, however, the DRLs will become dimmer while the headlights are on. They also turn off entirely while your indicators are flashing so your indicator lights are visible.

The LEDs of the lights shine white in the front and red in the back of the vehicle. These colors, as well as their brightness, help make your car more visible to others on the road. This may sound like an issue, especially if you’ve ever driven in front of someone who had their brights on and the glare reflected in your review mirror. Which leads to the next question:

What’s Good About Them?

DRLs have actually been proven to reduce head-on collisions, deaths, and serious injuries from car crashes. A 1997 Canadian study, as well as a 2000 American study, have shown that there is at least a 5% reduction rate in the number of serious accidents that occur when people are driving with DRLs.
These LED lights are also good at preventing head-on and front-corner collisions the most because the brighter lights make the car more obvious and eye-catching so you have time to move if need be and see the other vehicle.
They’re also safer than driving with low beams on while also having an expanded lifespan in comparison. Supposedly, they last over 15,000 hours more than the low beam lights do. And with all the technology that needs illumination inside the car, it can be hard to tell at times if the headlights are on or not. With the DRLs, this is not a problem.
An additional bonus is that they use a fraction of the electricity a typical headlight uses within a day. The dedicated daytime running lights are also better than driving with your headlights on because your tail lights and instrument lights won’t be on during the day, using more electricity from your car.
This low-cost method is a great way to easily reduce crashes as it will make it easier for drivers to see other cars from a distance before they end up crashing into one another. It is also useful for areas that experience long dusk and dawn hours. This is because the DRLs help provide a visual contrast in between vehicles and brightness or glare of the rising or setting the sun.
In case you are interested in reading a few more studies done about daytime running lights:
There was a Danish study that reported a 7% reduction in crashes with DRL lights within the first 15 months DRLs were used as well as a 37% reduction in any left-turn crashes.
A UK study found that you could advance the visibility of your cars with DRLs in dim light, but it won’t reduce the visibility of any motorcyclists.
A 1994 Transport Canada study had compared vehicles made in 1990 with DRLs in them to 1989 models without DRLs installed. This study found that the relevant daytime multi-vehicle crashes had reduced by about 11%.

What Are Some Disadvantages of DRLs?

Everything has a good and a bad side to it, and DRLs are no exception to this rule. Here are a few disadvantages of DRLs:
The daytime driving lights can increase fuel consumption. While they may not use as much electricity typically as your standard headlight does, they are on all day long, slowly taking more and more of your car’s energy. This increases fuel consumption because the actuator has to do more work.
It can decrease the bulb life of your lights as well, which is due to how long they stay on. While the bulbs themselves may last longer than low beam lights, these will be on for many more hours than low beams would typically be.
In some cases, the DRLs can make other lights. If your system is not working properly, it can cover up your turn signal lights, brakes lights, and so on.
If your DRLs are too bright, it can create a dazzling effect on other drivers. This means that it takes their attention away from the road because they can’t as easily look at it with something bright flashing at them.
Finally, they are not bright enough to use in the dark because they are meant to be used in the daylight when you don’t need to see the road in front of you, you simply need to be more visible.

Do All Cars Have Them? Are DRLs Required Now?

Daytime running lights

While it is more common to see cars with DRLs, not all cars will have them. This is especially true for cars in the United States or those made before 2010. Many cars do have them because it has been proven to be safer to have them installed then. However, no laws have been made that every car must have them; rather, the law impacting Europe says that cars made after 2011 must have them.

Within Europe, as I have already mentioned, they are now required by any new cars that are manufactured. In Canada, they require not only that you have the daytime running lights, but that you fit them to any car that does not currently have them. In the United States, there is still a bit of debate as to whether they are truly effective. This is because they can reduce fuel efficiency even though they have been shown to reduce car crashes by a fairly significant amount.

As you can tell by the Canadian law, you can also fit DRLs into your car if you wanted to have them. You will have to go and hire an auto technician to ensure that they are properly installed, however.

Are They Effective in The US?

As of right now, it is difficult to tell whether or not they will be as effective across America in the same way they are effective in Canada or Scandinavia, for example.

This is because DRLs are best used in areas that have low ambient light levels in the winter or places that have long dusk or dawn periods. While they have, in general, proven to be useful in North America, it is hard to tell if it will be useful everywhere in America.

American DRLs also tend to be brighter than the European DRLs, which increase the visual contrast between the vehicles and the bright background behind them, showing this could still be useful despite the area you may live in. Although, for now, this is only a theory.

Will other motorists on the road be bothered by the glare?

So far, in many countries, glare from DRLs has not been an issue. But in America, they can sometimes be too bright.

As mentioned just in the section above, the American DRLs are brighter than those available in other countries. This can cause them to be far too bright, even if it does help distinguish the car from the bright surroundings.

The maximum light intensity that was allowed in America had been 7000 candelas. It has been reduced to 1500 candelas as proposed by the NHTSA since then, which is much closer to the European standard of DRLs.

What are some safety concerns I should be aware of? Do you have any tips?

There are a few main things you should keep in mind as you install, buy a car, or own a car that has DRLs.

The first is that the bright lights of the DRLs could blind other drivers. In general, they should be dimmer than your headlights. If you notice that they are brighter than your headlights, see if you can trade them out or have them on a reduced setting.

On larger vehicles, like trucks and other transport vehicles, the DRLs will be placed in a higher position than on other cars. This could potentially lead to the lights shining directly in the eyes of other drivers. Angling them down would be a way to fix this problem, although this is based on how the manufacturer has designed your car.

In geographical areas that experience a lot of bright or bright ambient lighting, this is not the best place to use a car with DRLs. If you don’t live in an area that often experiences these types of conditions, do not panic about getting a car immediately that has DRLs installed.

Final Thoughts!

Overall, DRLs are important depending on your geographical area. They do pretty significantly reduce the rate of serious car crashes, so they are great to have anyways.

The significance and importance of daytime running lights vary from country to country, so check out research done within your own country or even for your own geographic area to see how much they help.

Hopefully, you have now learned much more about DRLs and are prepared to use them or buy a car that has them installed already!

How to troubleshoot 6 common problems with car audio system

car audio system

Audio systems are one very important feature of cars. They are needed to improve the quality of a ride. When a car audio system develops problems, they often tend to be difficult to solve since they are related to the electrical systems of the car. There are lots of problems which can occur in a car audio system and below we have extensively discussed some of the common problems.

Q: Why does music sound not good?

Reason

Low quality factory speakers

Most of the OEM system contain full-range speaker that is designed to handle all range of audio frequency but cannot achieve a smooth, extended, and articulate bottom end or high frequency.

Solutions 

Replace full range speaker with a component speaker which provides a better quality of sound than the full range speakers.

Add a separate subwoofer to your system. This is important if you wish to get the best of your music since subwoofers are great for low-frequency sounds. It is also a good addition for getting better high notes.

A rule of thumb: Before deciding to replace the whole system or just add a subwoofer, let’s consider your needs and your favorite music.

If you listen to a lot of rock music, you should consider a system or a subwoofer that is capable of playing frequencies between 60Hz to 8,000Hz.

For Organ music; it should be for frequencies as low as 16Hz.

Most of the general music which is played uses frequency range from 110Hz to 3,500Hz. This includes the sounds produced by violins and cellos.

For a classical music loving car owner, the system should be rated for 40Hz to 12,000Hz.

Q: I replaced OEM system with aftermarket product but why it can not produce better sound quality?

Reasons

Incorrect installation 

Sound quality from a car speaker often depends on its position in the car. Installing an aftermarket speaker without considering the position you put it can have an effect on the quality of sound you will be getting. If you also install the speakers using wrong techniques, you might have issues with the speakers. 

Incompatible aftermarket products

Most OEM systems are produced so all the parts are compatible with the other. This means that if you are installing an aftermarket head unit, it may not be compatible with the OEM speakers available in the car.

The replaced speakers are cheaply made

There will also be problems if the parts you buy are cheaply built parts. The quality on such speakers is not so good.

Solutions 

If all you did was add a subwoofer to the car audio system, did you do your research on the best subwoofer and the right positions to install it? If not, you should do your research and determine the best position for your car. The position for a subwoofer will differ for a microcar, SUV, or a sedan.

If you changed all the speakers in the audio system, then you need to check that there is no interference between them. If there is no proper order followed in arranging the speakers, there is a possibility that the sound waves of a speaker are being disturbed by another. You may need to call an expert to have it properly set up.

Q: Why does my head unit has no power?

car radio

Reasons

Problem with alternator

As the alternator of the car gets older, it slowly becomes unable to meet up to its original capacity. In such a case, the car audio system may be running on the battery power. If the power in the battery is drained completely, the head unit loses its power. This is one of the causes of this problem.

Blown Fuse; if the Fuse is Blown 

The head unit will not get any power. To determine the condition of the fuse, you should make use of a multimeter. By checking the fuse with a multimeter, it is easy to determine if there is a problem. You can also check the fuse simply by looking at it, but this method is not very reliable.

Solutions 

You should switch off the car radio for a while when the car is running since it places a strain on the power output of the car. If the alternator picks up and starts to function, it may also show that there is no problem with the audio system. In such a situation, the alternator needs to be replaced.

The fuse should be checked and changed if there is any problem. Sometimes the fuse may be around the dashboard area while in other cases it may be located behind the radio.

Q: Why my head unit has power but there is no sound from the speakers?

Reasons

Bad connection or wiring

If the connection to the speakers is wrong or the wires used in the connection are damaged, this may be the cause of the speakers being unable to produce sound.

Head unit setting 

The settings that may cause this include balance, fade, pan, and even the volume level. The settings may have been tampered with unknowingly and cause this problem.

Solutions

Check the wiring

If you check the wiring and you do not see any damage to the wires, then check the connections. If you are not sure of how the connections are supposed to be made, you can call an expert to have them checked.

Change setting

Before you do anything expensive to get your speakers working, ensure you check the settings. If they are properly set up, you can find other solutions.

You should also check the 12V connector to the amplifier which is required if the amplifier is to work. If it is not getting the required input, the amplifier may not turn on.

Q: Why does the amplifier shut off when volume up? 

Reasons

The amp is being overdriven at high volumes. This may be as a result of too much power being drawn from the amplifier. It may also occur if the amplifier is overheating.

Solutions

Testing the output of the amplifier can be a good way to determine if the amplifier needs to be changed.

Q: Why do I hear unexpected noise while running the system?

noise on car

Reasons 

Problem with head unit

A head unit with power cables running close to the RCA cable can cause noise when using the car stereo.

Low-quality power cables may also cause noise in the system.

Problem with amplifier

If you hear a clipping noise when using the radio, this indicates a problem with the amplifier. Clipping usually occurs when the amplifier is unable to provide enough power to the speakers. If the wires connecting the amplifier is burnt or damaged, it may also cause the clipping sound.

Ground Loops

A ground loop refers to a situation where the components of a system, in this case, the car audio system, is grounded at two different points. A different current flow is introduced if the potentials at the two points are different which causes interference. This will result in noise in the audio system.

Other sources

Alternator wine; this is noticed when the rpm of the car goes up and down. The higher the rpm, the greater the noise, and the lower the rpm, the lower the noise.

Crackling of speakers; this may be as a result of low-quality inputs such as the auxiliary and CD. It may also occur when the speaker is getting old

Solutions

Step 1: Tracking down the source of noise

The first step in solving the problems, in this case, is to identify the source of the noise in the car. Once you are able to clearly define the source of the noise, solving the problem is quite easy.

Step 2: Solve the Problem for each Source

Head Unit

Power cables should be about 18 inches apart from the RCA cables.

You should also use shielded cables so that the wires are protected from induced noise.

Amplifier

After checking the rating of the amplifier and the speakers, it will be easy to solve this problem. A clipping sound indicates that the amplifier cannot produce the power required by the speakers.

You can solve this problem by changing the amplifier to one with a higher power rating or by buying a new set of speakers which can be effectively powered by the amplifier in the car.

Ground loop

This is solved by eliminating one of the grounding paths so that there is only one grounding location for the car audio system.

Alternator wine 

This may be as a result of the poor grounding. Check this to be sure. You may have also installed a new audio unit which cannot be effectively powered by the alternator as it pulls too much power. Changing the alternator can solve this problem.

Crackling of speakers 

If you change the connection of the auxiliary and the CD without any improvement. It means the speakers need to be changed.  

Conclusion

If you try all these quick fixes and you are unable to find a solution to your problem, then it may be time to get a new audio system installed in your car. To get the best out of your installation, calling an expert should give you this benefit.

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