3 Things for Students in Mechanic Certification Programs to Know About Car Audio Systems
Vehicle audio systems have been around since 1930 when Motorola introduced the very first car radio. At the time, the technology was extremely expensive. In fact, Motorola’s radio cost $130 USD per unit, which in today’s dollars equals almost $1,800 USD! Fortunately, the average audio system on today’s market is much more affordable than that.
Over the past 85 years, sound system technology has come a long way from AM radio to the introduction of FM radio, cassettes, CDs, Bluetooth, and beyond. Nowadays, some audio systems might be better described as “infotainment” systems with their modern features like GPS mapping and music streaming.
Every vehicle audio system is comprised of three basic components. What are they? Read on to discover three things you need to know about if you’re considering a career as an audio and visual installation technician.
1. Audio Systems Are Controlled by a Head Unit
The head unit is what most people think of when they picture a car stereo. It’s what’s installed on the vehicle’s dashboard, and is one of the most visible components of a car’s audio system. Essentially, it functions as a control panel for all the audio system’s features.
Professionals with careers in the auto industry know space is limited for audio systems in vehicles. As a result, the head unit is crammed with technology and has several different functions. Its two main features are controlling audio volume and audio sources like a CD, radio, or an auxiliary input from an iPod. Some head units include controls that can alter the system’s sound to make deep bass notes louder or alter high pitched treble notes to make them stand out even more.
2. Students in Mechanic Certification Programs Know Audio Systems Have an Amplifier
As professionals who have graduated from a mechanic certification program may know, the amplifier works as a middle man between the head unit and the speakers. It increases the strength of the audio signal sent out by the head unit to make it readable for the speakers.
The amplification process involves two steps. The first is handled by the preamp. The preamp takes data from the head unit and prepares it for the power amplifier. The preamp does this by boosting the audio signal to make it compatible for the power amplifier to read. In the next step the power amplifier boosts the preamp’s low-level signal even more in order to make the electric signal readable for the speakers.
3. Students in Mechanic Certification Programs Know that Speakers Are the Final Touch
Speakers are the last major component of an automotive audio system. When a car’s speakers receive the amplified electrical signal from the amplifier, they convert it into mechanical energy that moves the cone of the speaker back and forth. This process creates noise. The noise is made when the speakers move and create vibration waves that reach the car passengers’ ears as sound (or, more accurately, as their favourite tune!).
There are many different speaker options on the aftermarket. If you become an audio and visual installation technician, you will likely work with all different types and calibres of speakers. For example, you could work with tweeter speakers that are solely responsible for producing high frequency sound. Or you could find yourself working on woofers, which are responsible for mid-range and low-range sounds. A great set of speakers can make a big difference to the quality of the sound emitted by a sound system.
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