Which hands free kit is right for you? Five questions you need to ask

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Talking on a mobile phone in a car is both dangerous and illegal. To avoid the dreaded penalty points and fine whilst chatting safely on the move the only solution is to use a hands free kit.

As with all technology, what’s right for some people isn’t always the best option for others. When talking on a mobile whilst driving first became illegal back in 2001, these devices were very straightforward and were simply used to make and receive calls.

Now, however, these once straightforward devices have got all technical. In-ear headsets and in-car headsets are common features along with a range of features such as voice control and an assortment of apps. So with all that in mind how do you make sure you get the hands free kit that’s right for you? Here are five options available to consider:

1.      Earsets

Earsets are still the most common and least expensive type of hands free kit on the market. As well as their price point they offer many advantages and are the perfect solution for those who want to use their mobile phone whilst out and about. As the speaker is close to your mouth it is easier for the person on the other end to hear you. However if you are using your mobile a lot whilst driving this is perhaps not the best option as the wires can get tangled.

2.      Speakerphones

These are an ideal option for people who do a lot of driving as they’re completely hands free and you don’t have any wires to contend with. Although speakerphones are more expensive than earsets they do offer a safer option for drivers. The main disadvantage of using speakerphones is that the microphone is far away from your mouth which can sometimes make it hard for people to hear you. For the better sound quality it is advisable to invest in a full duplex device.

3.      Fully installed hands free kit with charger

These hands free kits have a holder that acts as a charger while the phone is not in use. These kits also have voice activation which can be heard through the front car speakers, making for a clearer line. Rather cleverly it can also mute the stereo when there’s a call coming through.

4.      Transferable hands free car kit

These kits are normally plugged in through the car cigarette lighter and are easily transferable from one car to another. They provide an ideal solution for anyone who does not always use the same vehicle.

5.      Bluetooth headset                                               

These are suitable for both the car and for around the home or office. They are simple to operate but some people find them uncomfortable to wear. However they are relatively cheap to buy and are a popular choice. 

Small and mighty: Can tweeters really ramp up our in-car music experience?

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Though tweeters may now be more associated with online social networking, they first made their name in the audio world, providing state-of-the-art sound systems and helping to bring music to life.

These days, tweeters can be found in most high-end stereos, and are considered by many to be one of the most important parts of an audio system.

If you spend a lot of time in your car, having great sounding car stereo systems will probably be pretty important, so can tweeters really make a difference to your car audio and how much can they ramp up your mobile music experience?

What is a tweeter?

Tweeters are the parts of your stereo responsible for the very top range of audio, amplifying and enhancing sounds that are right at the limit of human hearing capabilities.

They come in a range of sizes and shapes, each of which adds a different quality to the resulting audio.

Why are they important to a car stereo?

Without the top range of sound, music can sound a little flat and uninspiring. Tweeters bring the entire audio to life, helping to enrich the music and ensure that you hear it the way it was supposed to be heard.

Research has shown that this high frequency sound, even when inaudible to the human ear, make a big contribution to music and is responsible for many of our emotional responses to songs.

Can you buy tweeters separately?

Though some in-car stereo systems do come with built in tweeters, if yours doesn’t then it’s easy to buy a set to enhance your sound.

Have a look online or at your local hardware shop to find the right tweeter for your car’s stereo system. In general, tweeters are small, light and affordable, so it’s easy to buy and install them into your vehicle.

Adding a vital extra layer of sound to your car’s sound system, tweeters may be small, but they are powerful and your car’s stereo simply won’t sound the same without them.

5 things we can expect from in-car entertainment in the future

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Driving used to be about simply getting from A to B, with nothing more than a radio cassette player for company. As consumers become increasingly tech savvy, the car industry is keen to keep up with the trends and offer the same kind of entertainment and communication systems that you find at home or in the office.

With our smartphones providing entertainment and information on the move, the car industry is tasked with keeping one step ahead and satisfying consumer’s ever growing demands for technology, from more advanced car speakers to self drive technology. Here are five things we can expect from in-car entertainment in the future:

1.      In-car Wi-Fi

This would allow numerous devices, such as phones and tablets, to connect to the car’s hotspot and get broadband speed for the whole journey. This is ideal for long journeys with the kids where boredom could become an issue.

2.      3D technology in your car

It is expected that in three years all new cars will come fitted with Wi-Fi as standard, giving consumers the ability to download 3D movies for passengers to enjoy on long journeys. 3D technology would also enhance in-car gaming and 3D satellite navigation and video calling will also make social interaction more appealing.

3.      Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab)

This could completely revolutionise in-car entertainment as well as the entire gaming industry. It presents the user with the use of motion controls, similar to the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect with a variety of rear seat applications. Here’s the really cool bit – it uses holographic displays. In the future it is believed holographics could be used to display satellite navigation systems, dashboard information and audio controls.

4.      Robot car technology

Google has recently revealed that it has been secretly developing and testing self drive cars. Ok so this isn’t in-car entertainment as such, but it is pretty impressive nonetheless. Imagine the ability to sit in your car and play video games or watch a movie while you are taken safely to your destination. This is no longer the stuff of sci-fi fantasy – in a few short years it could be a reality

5.      Software apps

The most popular concept in technology since smartphones became common place, software apps have finally made it into the car. These can be powered from smartphones but displayed in car screens. Manufacturers however are keen to ensure that these apps are fully integrated and offer endless possibilities for the driver. From voice control to arranging meeting points with other drivers, these apps are limited only by the developer’s limitations and safety rules.

The essential guide to in-car subwoofers

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Choosing what subwoofers to outfit your car with is a decision with more moving parts than you would think – figuratively and literally. Here is a brief guide to hopefully tell you what you need to know the most when choosing a subwoofer kit for your vehicle.

What type of sub

Subwoofers don’t just come in ‘loud’. There is a vast array of different types of sub to consider. If you want a small bass boost without the status that comes with having big subs on display, you can purchase component subwoofers that come without an enclosure. If you have the money, you have one designed to your own parameters. There are types of power subwoofers that hold the components in an enclosed space, handy to sneak into a corner, but they won’t produce a big sound.

What specs are important to you

If massive bass is your thing, you want a powerful sub with a lot of room in the case. If you want to play low frequency tracks, you will need to invest in a speaker with a high frequency range. It’s usually a better idea to put dual voice coils in your system, to offer more choice when putting the system together.

Product reviews online

Learn to read product reviews extensively before making a decision on any product. You don’t want to invest time and money only for the system you choose to fail to meet your expectations.

Plan where to put it

Some enthusiasts are happier with a discreet system that will upgrade your bass without unduly changing the look of the car, or even want to install outrageously designed subs just for the sake of it. Purpose designed speakers often fit into your door, for example. These kinds of subwoofer often sacrifice sound quality for aesthetics.

Sellers of aftermarket parts and audio specialists are always happy to advise you on the best system for you. Don’t be shy to make an inquiry – after all, this is what we do.

How to turn your car into a cinema on wheels

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Tired of the classic radio? Was it the repetitive pop music, the auto-tuned vocals, the endless adverts or the DJ you want to punch? Have you finally exhausted your Aerosmith greatest hits? If your car journeys, particularly the longer ones, are starting to drag, you might want to invest in some more substantial in-car entertainment. Equipping your car with the hardware that qualifies it to be a cinema on wheels might sound like excess– but you definitely deserve it.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is acquire an upgraded sound system. Premium surround sound systems are a costly endeavour for motorists – a high end system such as a Bang & Olufsen will nearly always set you back at least £5,000. But once installed, when your car has the acoustic quality of the Royal Albert Hall’s interior, you might feel like it was worth it. More affordable sound systems are available for the budget spender.

Now consider the archetypal cinema experience. One of the main words to come to mind is comfort. You pay extra for premium seats, with legroom and space to relax. The seats you put in your mobile cinema are integral to that feeling of luxury. Obviously, we aren’t talking about the cinema seat that folds into itself when you stand up: rather, the type of seat where merely sitting in it is an experience in itself. Luxury leather and heated car seats are a must for a driver coveting the cinematic feel.

You can’t have a cinema without a screen. The best screens aren’t cheap, and the smartest systems are the ones that come with a mechanism that unfolds the screen at the press of a button. In-car TV systems vary in price from model to model and car to car so it’s important to know where you want to situate the screens, also.

Above all else, be safe out there, particularly when driving a cinema on wheels.

Cinema-Like Surround Sound System

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Everything now is about connecting and socialising – digitally.LG Surround Sound

But, I think we’ve slightly lost our way in the real world.

I’ve seen it too much. Faces buried deep into mobile phone interfaces, tap, and tap, clicking away – like fingers in ballerina shoes.

We’re very mobile – literally.

We’re always on the go, always on our phones,  iPad’s, tablets or anything else that keeps us from looking up, away from our devices.

That’s when I had an idea.

I proposed a movie night at mine.

I called all the friends round and the first thing I did, was to confiscate their phones! To be honest, I really just wanted to show off my new home cinema system! My dad has always been a big fan of surround sound; he says it adds value, quality, excitement and a ‘real-life’ feel to the movie.

I couldn’t agree more.

The surround sound system I had set up in my living room had really set a captivating atmosphere as we, at various points, reluctantly watched the horror movie, The Conjuring. We were clasping tightly onto each other as the sound from the system felt so surreal. The sound was equally distributed around the room, and we could really capture and experience every action and emotion in the movie.

The surround sound felt like a cinema at home. I had forgotten that I was supposed to be watching a movie ‘from the comfort of my home’; the features were so great that I felt like I was in the movie itself!

I could have paid those very high prices for a cinema ticket, to feel the same sort of experience but we were all surprised because we didn’t have to! So I guess I saved some money, and will continue to do so, not just for myself but all my friends too!

Even though everyone left, shook out of their skeletons,  I know we will definitely be spending more movie nights together and spending some quality time, without technological distraction. It was such an enjoyable experience!

I’ve asked my movie fanatic friend to put some movies on a USB or media device for next time because the surround sound allows you to watch movies stored on a digital media device via USB in 5.1 channel surround sound.

I can’t wait!

To view Car Audio Centres Surround Sound Sale, click here.

What to Look For When Choosing Car Speakers

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Car SpeakerThe quality of your speakers determines the ultimate quality of sound your system will produce. There are many types of speakers that you can choose from so it is good to know which one will be best suited to you and your requirements.

Single Speaker: Can reproduce the full range of sound but is probably not the best choice because if the speaker is too big it will fail to reproduce high frequencies and if it is too small it will struggle to reproduce low frequencies.

Multiple Speakers: These speakers will be individually designed specific to the sound frequency they are built to output. A tweeter is the speaker that will reproduce the high frequencies (usually above 2kHz).  They respond quickly because of their size and weight, they are small and lightweight – this also means that very little power is needed to make it function.

Woofers: Produce sound at frequencies below 250 Hz and in subwoofers below 100 Hz, because so much sound is being created the woofers require a lot of power to move air. The size of a woofer can range from 10” to 18” because of the large amounts of air they need to move.

The two main specifications that you should look out for when picking your speakers is sensitivity and power handling.


The sensitivity is a very important specification for a speaker, it measures the amount of sound a speaker yields when power is applied to it. It gives you a good indication of how loud a speaker will play with accordance to the input power. Most factory car stereo systems are low-powered so a high sensitivity rated speaker would fit best, whereas with high-powered systems, you should be looking for lower sensitivity speakers. Note also, if you are planning to run the speakers off the head unit you will need to find speakers with higher input sensitivities as head units don’t usually have much power.


Power handling is measured in watts and determines how much power a speaker can handle. This is mostly needed with systems that have powerful external amps and will require the power handling to be close to the output of the amps. For tweeters and midranges power handling is not as important because it doesn’t require much power for them to be played loudly. The key specification is the maximum RMS power handling, not the peak. The RMS will measure how much power the speaker can handle on a continuous basis and not just for a short period of time. Many manufacturers claim high power handling figures but this is based on short peaks.

You can always get in touch with Car Audio Centre for further advice, explaining what sort of outcome you want from your speakers.

Simply the BEST!! DB Audio TRex component System installed into a MG ZR

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Simply the BEST!! DB Audio TRex component System installed into a MG ZR

Some people wont settle for second best, so we installed the DB Audio Trex 6.1C competition speaker system. The never let us down with the un rivaled build quality and superior sound production, the are truely the best you can get and with the added bonus of In Phase Dead quiet sound deadening they sound superb,

DB Audio Trex6.2C fitted into a MG ZR at Car Audio Centre Tooting  

£4.99 Delivery all September!

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Skoda Octavia Dynaudio + heavy bass system

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Alex is a long time customer and recently bought a new Skoda Octavia VRS so we transferred his Dynaudio components and In Phase amplifiers/box from his old BMW 3er compact to the Octavia.

The Dynaudio components are run actively (without passive crossovers) to take benefit of the full processing power of his Pioneer DEH-P88RSII stereo, which offers auto EQ and Time Alignment for the ultimate in sound quality.

He’s running two IPX1200 amplifiers, one for mids and the other for his tweeters so the stereo can actively manage the crossover frequency/slope, phase and Time alignment for each driver individually-making it possible to alter the firing of each speaker so the sound from each driver arrives at the listener’s ears at the same time. The stereo’s 16 band (L/R independant) EQ allows for very fine adjustment to truely tailor the sound and can do this automatically or be adjusted to taste.

Alex originally started out with 1x In Phase PR210 enclosure, but as he is a bit of a “bass head” he decided he wanted more so up-graded from the IPX2400 amp he had been using for bass duties to the IPA2001D-200wrms of grunt and added another PR210!

The install went smoothly, but unfortunately I was busy and unable to document it all on camera, retaining the factory look by fitting the drivers in the stock locations. The midbass are in a very poor location-just by your behind (I’ve never found one with ears!) but fortunately the DEH-P88RSII’s processor manage to make the best of the drivers in even this awful location.

Here’s a pic of the boot install, we created a false floor to house the amplifiers under and mounted the subs ontop of this:

2x PR210, false floor, IPC2.4N

2x PR210, false floor, IPC2.4N

This system really surpassed our expectations, due to the poor location of the midbass drivers I really thought Alex would have to go back to a passive installation and add the Dynaudio MD142 and crossovers, but this install has put a huge smile on Alex’s face and I’m sure it will continue to do so for years to come!