Q: When will I need to upgrade my electrical system?
A: Most vehicles only have electrical equipment to support  the accessories that are already in the car. Once you pass the 600 watt RMS mark you may want to consider upgrading the battery, the alternator, or the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood. Many work trucks and suburbans will be able to support up to 1000 watts RMS without any issues due to their larger batteries.

Q: I want to upgrade my stock sound system. Where should I start?
A: If a factory look isn’t a concern of yours, start by upgrading the head-unit. Factory receivers will produce a maximum of 10-15 watts, and by upgrading your deck you will be able to deliver more power with less distortion to your door speakers, thus increasing the output significantly.

Q: How can I increase the bass from my subwoofer?
A: You can start by making sure the subs are in an optimal enclosure for their size. If you are using a sealed enclosure, upgrade to a ported enclosure for a 3dB gain. You may also try stuffing lots of polyester fiber (found in stuffed animals, available at fabric stores) into the enclosure to “trick” the subwoofer into thinking it has more air space available.

Q: What should I do about light dimming?
A: The first step is to upgrade the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood of your car. This will decrease resistance on the electrical system and allow more current to pass through at one time. Next you should upgrade your battery to increase the amount of power available to the amplifiers. If you’re still experiencing light dimming, upgrade your alternator to a high output aftermarket alternator.

Q: How can I tell if my sub is blown?
Press on the cone evenly. If it’s stuck in one spot with no movement then it’s probably blown. Another method is to take a multimeter and test the impedance of the voice coils. If it doesn’t read either 2 or 4 ohms per coil and shows no impedance reading then the subwoofer is blown.

Don’t you hate it when you’ve got a nice new set of subs and an amp, and all of a sudden you find your ears have adjusted to the bass? You can’t help but wish for more. There are a few tricks to increasing the bass in your car without taking any extreme measures.

Go Ported or Go Home

If you don’t have one already, try upgrading to a ported enclosure. By doing a simple enclosure swap, which will usually run you $40-50 bucks for a prefabricated one, you can gain up to an additional 6dB of volume. That’s a pretty big increase for those with smaller subwoofer applications.

PolyFill – You’re New Best Friend

Polyester fiber is the same stuff you will find in stuffed animals. Staple some of this to the inside of your enclosure and remount your subwoofer(s). What happens is the polyfill will slow down the frequency waves, thus increasing the amplitude of each note. Its science, folks.

Double the Power, Double the Fun

A general rule of thumb, you can gain an additional 3dB by giving your subwoofer a little extra power. Now let’s not overdo it and clip your sub, but if you have a subwoofer and amplifier that have their power matched (example 300w and 300w RMS), chances are you could have gone with a slightly bigger amp and the sub would have handles the additional power just fine. If it turns out to be too much power, back the gain down a bit and you’ve got yourself some nice headroom, which never hurts.

Don’t Let Air Leaks Get You Down

If you designed and built your own box, that’s fantastic! But be very cautious, as any air leak will completely destroy your SPL. Turn on a 35-40Hz test tone (you can download a tone generator app), and listen to your enclosure at all angles. If notice any air leaks, seal those suckers up with some calking or wood glue.

Enclosure Specifications

Most subwoofer companies will include specifications in the manual as to what the optimal enclosure dimensions are. If you abide by these specs, you’re in the gold. Whether or not your enclosure is well-built will determine how well your subwoofer will perform. The better your sub performs, the louder it gets.

Upgrade Your Amplifiers Ground

I see many cases where people will buy a cheap wiring kit, screw the ground to some metal in the car and call it a day. Bad! The better your wires, the less resistance your electrical system has. The lower the resistance in your cables, the more efficient your equipment will run. Your amp can produce a little more power by simply creating a better ground connection. Brush off any paint in the way, and use either a bolt or multiple screws to secure it tight. Nothing says “I’m a noob” like using crappy power/ground cables.

When it comes to the quality of your installation, it’s not the best decision to take any shortcuts. When you are installing your own equipment, there are many things to consider. I’m going to list some things that are essential in my opinion to use, or at least have around when doing an installation. I, myself keep all of these items in my installation bag at all times.

Sound Deadening Material

Known to many as dampening material, this stuff is the equivalent of jumping out of an airplane and landing on a cloud. A cloud made of Butyl rubber, that is. Buy a bunch of deadening material and load your car up. You’ll feel like you’re in a Lexus in no time.

Bass Blockers

For when your speakers can’t take a beating, there are bass blockers. Throw these in line with your positive connection to each speaker or tweeter, and never again will you need to worry about nasty distortion blaring through your beautiful jazz.

Heat Shrink Material

Guaranteed to make you look like a pro. Next time you’re wiring your friend’s stereo up, slap a piece of this over each connection and torch it with a lighter. Next, watch in awe as people start blowing your phone up with phone calls from your friend’s friends.

Butt Connectors

The next best thing to soldering. When you’ve run out of electricity and you just can’t seem to find the blowtorch Dad stashed somewhere short after Christmas, save some time and just use butt connectors. They’re quick and they hold a wire connection for a lifetime.

Zip Ties

Use these often. Tie your wires in bundles and run them parallel to one another for a clean installation that won’t be a mess if you need to get back into it later. Nothing is worse than becoming unorganized during your install and wasting precious beer drinking time.

Self-Tapping Screws

You may not need these for every install, but I swear they come in handy more often than you would think. Mounting an amp? Mounting some speakers? Attaching a double DIN cage to your new receiver? You’ll probably need some of these screws.

Relays

Single pole double throw relays. My longtime friends. I use these in every installation that requires more than one accessory to be triggered off a head-unit. Your decks remote wire will only put out a few volts, which isn’t enough when trying to run multiple amps, processors, etc. Throw a relay in the mix and shoot a wire straight to the battery connection, and you’ve got one strong signal.

Be Prepared for Any Install

Low and behold, there it is. The 7 essential accessories that you mustn’t find yourself without. You can find almost all of this stuff at your local hardware store. Your installation will be of much better quality and build if you use these key ingredients.

Don’t you love the freedom Pandora gives you of not having to choose music? It’s great for exercising, while you’re working, and best of all while driving around. There are many ways to stream Pandora into your car. All you need is a smart phone, and one of these five methods.

Tape Deck

Probably my least favorite way, but still effective nonetheless, a tape deck adapter will slide into your radios tape player and allow for an auxiliary connection. This is by far the lowest quality method available, but it is very inexpensive to do. They have these adapters available at Walmart, Radio Shack, and just about every other well-known electronics business.

FM Transmitter

These work very well when you are in areas with few radio stations. You plug the device into a cigarette lighter and select the radio station you want to use. Dial in your AM/FM radio on the head-unit, and connect your smart phone that’s compatible with Pandora and you’re good to go! Some transmitters come with an auxiliary connection and some come with a 30-pin Apple dock connection.

FM Modulator

This method of transferring audio is one of the better quality methods, offering very few radio wave interruptions and a direct connection into your factory head-unit. You throw a small box behind your radio, connect the power, ground, and antenna connection, and rout an auxiliary cable to your glove box or center console. Again, turn on the radio and you’ve got sound.

USB Connection

This is the best type of connection you will find in the car audio industry for Pandora. You will need (likely) an aftermarket head-unit that had a USB connection and supports Pandora. There are many receivers that are iPhone compatible that are affordable and can replace your stock stereo. This connection is very simple because you can usually make all of your station commands from the receiver itself.

Bluetooth

Wireless music streaming has become quite popular in the last few years due to its simplicity and convenience. Many people now can hop into their car, turn the ignition on and their phone will automatically start streaming music. There aren’t very many issues that could occur with this type of connection accept maybe the initial connection to your Bluetooth smart phone.

Easier Than You Thought?

There are many affordable solutions to stream Pandora Internet Radio into your vehicle. You just need to do a little researching to find the best method for you. These are five of the most common ways to connect a smart phone into your car, and I hope you found them helpful. Happy listening!

Recently, I received a fortune from a local restaurant that forced me to ponder. The fortune reads “be alert for new opportunities in business and pleasure.” Here are my experiences that relate to this loaded little fortune.

Example One: Pleasure

A friend of mine had purchased a membership to LA Fitness and talked me into going with him until a free trial he had given me was over. I had never once been to the gym or even cared to get into shape, but when the opportunity arrived I thought about it and eventually accepted, telling him I would commit to going frequently. Since this opportunity, I have been to the gym for multiple times every week, and I have even purchased a gym membership. I consider going to the gym an opportunity of pleasure, because of how great you feel about yourself after a good workout. The opportunity presented itself, and I was a yes man.

Example Two: Business

In the business aspect, I have very recently taken an opportunity to better my roll for the company I work for. I am a copywriter for a website and write descriptions for a variety of products. The company has recognized my work ethic and has given me the opportunity to get more involved with projects that require a good amount of responsibility. I am now moving away from many monotonous tasks I used to do, and now am in a roll that allows me to plan out my whole work week being micromanaged. Similar to the gym membership, an opportunity presented itself and I was smart enough to realize that the new rolls being offered were not only beneficial to the company, but to myself as well.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Looking at the fortune, I believe the main focus is in being alert and aware of the things that are offered to me. You should never feel stuck where you’re at and you should always keep your eyes open for other chances to improve yourself or your lifestyle. Keep your eyes peeled for chances to improve yourself and never overlook a circumstance that could potentially be favorable to you.

You’re interested in upgrading the factory stereo in your car to something that sounds better. The problem is, you don’t know how to install it! It’s actually a lot simpler than you may think. With a few tools and an hour or two of your time, you will have a new car receiver in your dash in no time.

1. Out With the Old

Let’s begin by disconnecting the negative ground wire from your battery to eliminate the chance of a short circuit during the installation. Depending on your car or truck, you may need to remove a trim piece or two that surrounds the stereo using a panel removal tool; I suggest you research the best way to do so for your vehicle. If your factory receiver has small holes on the left and right sides, you will use stereo removal keys to unlatch the stereo from its chassis and pull the receiver out. If your factory stereo does not utilize these removal keys, you may gently angle a flat head screwdriver behind the deck and force it in an outward direction. Disconnect any harnesses or plugs on the back of the unit.

2. Wire It Up

This is the fun part. You will need the stereo wiring harness that came with your receiver, along with a vehicle wiring harness that is compatible with your car or truck. Each wire is color coordinated and has a purpose. Find wires of the same color on each harness and use a wire stripper to remove an eighth inch of wire insulation from the end. Use a butt connector to connect the two wires together and crimp each end tightly. Proceed with each wire on the harnesses, then use either electrical tape or zip ties to bundle the wires together to strengthen the connections.

3. In With the New

Now that your harness is all set to go, it’s time to hook everything up. Find the male plug that was originally connected to your old stereo and plug it into the female end of your new harness. Use the remaining available side of the harness to plug into the new receiver. If you did everything correctly it should power right up! If everything is in working order use a dash kit to fit the new stereo and secure it into the stereo housing. The dash kit should come with instructions on how to do so.

Give It a Shot

You can find most of the tools and connectors you need at your local hardware store, and vehicle specific dash kits and wiring harnesses are available at very reasonable prices online or through popular audio stores. It’s really quite simple to get a new stereo in your car, you just need to clear up a day and dedicate some time to the project. If you’ve enjoyed this guide and found it helpful, or if you have some tips of your own, please leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you.

When I have absolutely nothing to do, I like to run a list of options through my head and pick out the best choice. I know you may feel like it’s the end of the world because of how lonely and boring you feel, but bro… there’s plenty of things to do. Make your own list of stuff to do. Be real and actually revisit it when you’re feeling low or have nothing to do. Here’s a few out of my list.

  1. Play Poker - Sounds weird, right? Hell no! A group of four and your set; get ready for the game of your life. Grab a deck of cards and figure out a good poker game to play. It may seem like a challenge at first, but learning the sport of poker is half the fun.
  2. Drink – What more is there to say? Grab yourself a couple of allies and enjoy a couple of cocktails or brews. Drinking takes the edge off and helps you open up as a person. You’ll be more social and make more friends, just like in the movies.
  3. Computer Time – Love binging on excessive amounts of information? Whip out your inner nerd and spend a few hours on your computer. Games, music, Wikipedia? I don’t care, just spend some time. You’ll feel great about yourself no matter what your spending your time doing.
  4. Mobbing – No, I don’t mean threatening people for money. I’m talking about cruising the streets with your closest friends. Get in the car, fill up every seat with a body and go drive somewhere. My friends and I have spent days worth of time aimlessly driving and enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. Think of it as your new stress outlet.
  5. Do a Lil’ Research – Nobody loves an idiot, so why not learn something new and have some fun at the same time. I am a huge fan of how-to articles, personal development blogs, and occasionally the sappy biography of a formerly great and now dead celebrity. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the reward?” Well, Tom, maybe you can use all of this new info to strike up a conversation with someone super special.

What a great list of things to do! Gather up a friend or two and let them in on the festivities. Show them you aren’t a boring person. Clear your mind of thoughts of boredom and find yourself something fun to do. Quit being that guy (or gal). There’s plenty of things to do, you just need to open your eyes and sing. Or just blog like me. End!

It’s freaking crazy to think about one day starting up a business. There can be a lot of risk, and there is usually tons of fear associated with thoughts of actually getting up and doing it. There are thousands of reasons to start a business, but I like to focus on the important reason. Everyone has their own reasons why they someday hope to venture fourth into a profit churning adventure, and here’s my reason.

Time Is Money

How crappy is the idea that so many people willingly trade their own time for a set amount of money? I hate the idea that each hour is valued at a certain dollar amount. No matter how hard a person works during their work shift, the money they make for that day will not change. Owning your own business eliminates the cap that employers put on your wages. If you can get a project up and going and commit yourself to working at it and dedicating time, there is not a being on this planet that can put a roof over your business and finance goals.

Freedom of Time

There are 168 hours each week, and they are all yours. Make your own schedule. Plan out each week with set blocks of time dedicated to your small business or project. Working a 9-5 job will take hours and hours from your life that you will regret wasting. Owning your own business will give you the flexibility to plan the rest of your life and do what matters to you.

Your Time is Valuable

See a pattern here? Start working toward your ideal career with you as your own boss, and your life will quickly change. With your own ability to plan out every hour of every day, you will successfully have more free time then you’ve ever had before. Don’t let employers continue to tell you what you’re worth. Start slow, make something happen, and take control of the time that is given to you.