The easiest and best way to get more from your audio system is to upgrade the speakers. You may get more entertainment from a new multimedia source unit but if you don't have the speakers you aren't going to get the right sound. And unless you're a complete bass head who thinks panel resonance and trunk rattling are really cool, adding aftermarket subwoofers but using the cheap factory speakers is like having a girlfriend that you can't--nevermind, bad analogy. Anyway, the point is that you need to get products of similar quality to have a well-rounded audio system. That doesn't mean you need to buy a bunch of expensive gear. Sometimes, you can find high-quality products for less, especially these days. Manufacturers of performance use better technology for entry-level to mid-range products. So this month we look at some new coax and component speaker offerings; and we also show you some space-conserving bass solutions for your car.
Memphis Car Audio Sclass Woofers
Sometimes it seems like the Consumer Electronics Association bestows their Innovations Award on manufacturers like it's going out of style. But in this Memphis Car Audio actually did innovate something. They created a new method of attaching some inner parts of a woofer, that is, the spider to the voice coil in such a way as to improve durability and sound quality. Patents are pending on voice coil heatsink and aluminum heatsink mounting systems. The new configuration pulls heat away from the voice coil to help prevent damage under extreme conditions. The reinforced spider controls movement for accurate sound performance and reliability. But the best part is that the woofer is a mere 3" deep. Small enough for even the most compact car.
Orion Car Audio XTR-series Coaxial Speakers
Any consumer product that is around for 25 years, or is at least remembered for as long, probably has a good reason for existence, which is more than I can say for a lot of other things. Cynicism aside, fans of the Orion brand of speakers should be celebrating the re-launching of the XTR and XTRPRO lines. Not only do they bring back the popular Orion products, but they also serve to fit within the multiple brands as a mid-range offering, positioned between the Cobalt and the high-end HCCA lines. Basically more quality for only a little more money for enthusiasts ready to get beyond the entry-level products. Featuring universal fit baskets, UV-coated fiber blended cones, and adjustable silk soft dome tweeters for optimal positioning, Orion XTR coaxials offer high power performance without breaking the bank.
Rockford Fosgate IBeam
You can get bass in a lot of ways: a growling exhaust (not so good for music), a bunch of subwoofers that use a lot of your trunk space or some type of signal processing product. Another option, especially if you have no desire to lose cargo area or add weight to your vehicle, is to install Rockford Fosgate's iBeam. I had the chance to experience what the product does. Install it under your car seat (or your home theater chair) and the IB-200 brings the sound to life. It's a tactile transducer that serves as a substitute bass solution or a complement to your subwoofer system. With a power handling of 250 watts RMS it can be a moving experience, literally. It's a little expensive at $449 but it does provide the full body shaking bass effect.
JL Audio C2 Coaxial and Component Speakers
It's just not fair to the competition when a higher end company takes its best technology and employs it in their entry level lines. That's supposed to be the sales domain of the cheap and inferior. JL Audio took the best from their woofer and tweeter designs from the C5 component systems and put it into the more affordable C2 series of speakers. The C2-690tx: 6x9-inch, 3-way seen here has an MSRP of $299.95/pr. What you get is symmetrical, linear behavior from the speaker and mechanical systems engineered for excellent motor function, thereby reducing distortion and improving bass impact and definition. The silk dome tweeters excel on or off axis and offer clean, flat frequency response to well beyond 20 kHz.
If you have as many devices as I do and you use all of them in the car while driving (definitely NOT recommended!), then you need this simple yet effective mounting device from Soundgate. I have an iPhone, a few iPods and a Zune so the M2 was particularly useful for me. They're calling it a universal holder that will hold practically any electronic device. It's universal because all you need is the included adhesives to connect the parts together. A special 3M tape provides incredibly strong fixation to a dashboard, and it can be removed with no trace or damage to the dash itself or the device. At $29.95 it's a small price to pay to use and view your devices properly.