Mobile Electronics Magazine November-December 2023

Page 1

November/December 2023




Learn to listen, learn to have empathy—Rudy Bennett of Snap Finance shares strategies applicable to both personal and professional life

This Jeep Rubicon, on display at KnowledgeFest Dallas, shows what’s possible with Wet Sounds’ Jeep packages.



978.645.6466 Chris Cook E D I T O R - AT - L A R G E




12// What’s Happening: For the Next Generation

62 Installs

What’s essential to those starting out? Professionals discuss how the industry can be more welcoming to new technicians and salespeople.

22// Industry Awards: Built to Evolve

Congratulations to the Top 50 Installers, Top 50 Retailers and Top 20 Sales Pros of 2024!


Editor’s Forum



58// Tech Today: A Practical Approach to Aftermarket Audio System Architecture Requires a Plan

Power considerations, speaker location, enclosure designs and decisions about the head unit should all be included in an audio system architecture plan.




mobile electronics association



978.645.6449 Tony Frangiosa CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, MEA


Todd Ramsey—pictured on the cover with his wife, Judy—was born July 25, 1969 and passed away October 6, 2023. His enthusiasm for cars brought him to the 12-volt industry: After owning his own business, he became a teacher, sharing his knowledge internationally and mentoring countless people. Todd also served as editor of Mobile Electronics magazine. This month, we honor his legacy.

2 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023



Richard Basler

With unwavering support and encouragement, Todd Ramsey mentored countless industry professionals. His message? Be there for others and help them to grow.

In the training rooms at KnowledgeFest, industry experts talk customer service, sales strategies and upping the social media game.

Published by


38// Model Mentor: Leading Light

54// Strategy and Tactics: School’s in Session

Contributing Editors Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer

Alpine Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Firstech - DroneMobile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 HKI USA - SounDigital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64, 65 HKI USA - TURY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36, 37 JBL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Kicker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards . . . . . 11 KnowledgeFest Las Vegas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 KnowledgeFest 2024 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 MEA Websites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 MECP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 ME-TV. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Meyer Distributing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Pixel Technologies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 SiriusXM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Snap Finance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Sony. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53






KEY200.4 SMART 4-CH. AMPLIFIER/PROCESSOR Auto-EQ Dials In Audio Realism at Ear Level 200 Watts of Power (50W x 4 ch.)

40-Band Equalizer Auto-Tunes Sound Systematically Time Alignment Auto-Creates Excellent Soundstage

Mic and Selector Switch Initializes DSP and A/B Testing

Gain Adjustment Auto-Creates Balanced Sound from Each Speaker



+ AI-Driven DSP – One-Step, Automatic Calibration that Dramatically Improves Audio Quality + Compatible with Start/Stop Vehicle Technology + FIT2 Technology Allows It to Work with Nearly Any Radio

KEY200.4 Amplifiers are now shipping. For more info, contact us at 405-624-8510, or your KICKER Sales Rep.

#kickeraudio #livinloud @kickeraudio


E D I T O R ’ S



LET’S LIFT EACH OTHER UP How might you touch another person’s life?

I once had a mentor tell me, “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.” I’ve been fortunate to find myself in supportive circles— whether it’s a church or writing community, or the 12-volt industry. It’s inspirational to see someone take time out of his or her day to offer knowledge and friendship to others. On October 6, 2023, the industry lost a great mentor in Todd Ramsey. Todd spent much of his career sharing his experience with others through teaching and writing, as well as in the pages of this magazine when he served as editor. We’ve dedicated this issue to his memory. For me, it’s been an honor to speak with Todd’s friends and his wife, Judy, and learn how he impacted the lives of others. Todd had a willingness to encourage and nurture. He helped lift people up, so they could improve themselves and become better in their chosen field. We all bring something different to the table. Sometimes, we might find ourselves saying, “I don’t have anything to offer.” But this just isn’t true. We all have some experience or some story that can help another person. Consider what you might share. Forget, for the moment, how your experiences and the people around you have impacted your life. Consider, instead, the following: How might you touch another person’s life? While researching this issue, I read a few of Todd’s articles. I found his contributions to this very column inspiring. Not only was it enjoyable to read his work as a fellow writer, but I also noticed the timeliness of the pieces. His words still ring true. To end this month’s Editor’s Forum, I invite you to read the following excerpt from one of Todd’s pieces from the October / November 2010 issue of Mobile Electronics magazine.

4 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023

We’ve done the same old thing— how’s that working for you?

By Todd Ramsey, Editor • October / November 2010 Retailers are carrying thinner inventories, manufacturers have adjusted their production and sales forecasts, and many people are finding that when business does come their way, it’s not as easy to close as it used to be. One can cite many reasons, but for now a look in the mirror is in order. Plain and simple, we have to ask ourselves if we’re really offering people what they want, or what they find interesting. What do you think? Of course it’s a broad stroke question with lots of detail in the answers. There’s a unique answer for each retailer, as well as for every manufacturer and distributor. What do customers really want in their cars? Do they even know what they CAN do? How much of an effort, expense and learning curve are they willing to go through to get it? Most importantly, how are they identifying that your company is the go-to supplier/installer for that? How do people know you’re the expert and that you’re technology savvy enough to make the products and technology that we offer easy and fun to use? …It’s about turning a corner, and I know many retailers, and hopefully some manufacturers, have felt it and are willing to follow the needs of today’s consumer to keep turning those corners. We’ve done the same old thing, more or less, for a really long time. If that sounds a lot like your present situation, I’ll ask you—how’s that working for you? If it isn’t working or it could be working better, then what will help you turn that corner?

NEXT-GEN TECH Experience incredible music detail with Hi-Res Audio Playback on the Next-Gen Alpine Halo Displays




 feedback


Retailers and salespeople talk making mistakes, learning to prioritize and improving the customer experience.

“I don’t make mistakes—well, except for that one time. And that other time. And the third time. In all seriousness, I make mistakes every single day. Usually small, some not so small. But with each mistake, I learn something new.” - Nick Apicella, Vanguard Automotive Design, Stony Point, NY “I recommend other retailers try dealership work and expand their revenue streams. It helps plan for tougher times.” -Philip Lindsley, Titan Motoring, Nashville, Tenn. “I’ve learned to prioritize and delegate a lot better. It’s one thing to be a sales pro and focus on selling, and then there’s management and that involves completely different expectations. I’m still learning my craft every day, trying to get better, especially on the management side. I’ve gotten a better grasp on my day to day, really focusing on the key things, make sure those are my priority, and then not letting it overwhelm me.” - Robert Kowatch, Perfectionist Auto Sound & Security, Anchorage, Alaska

6 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

Keeping it Clean to Improve Customer Care C.J. Barnhart, Solar Pro Tint n Tunes, Warrensburg, Mo. While cleanliness has always been a top priority at Solar Pro, mainly due to window tinting and how it directly impacts the appearance of an installation, the pandemic brought it even more to the forefront. An additional

emphasis was placed on seat covers. “Even if a customer doesn’t care, we still apply those practices,” he said. “Not only is it safer, but it saves time, and we’ll keep doing that [beyond COVID] just for the protection of the car.”

94 locations serving you nationwide and into Canada. ■

Personalized service

FREE online ordering

Toll free phone lines


Family owned and operated

Spanish bilingual call center Full service IT staff to manage networks, infrastructure, phones, data and security Over 900 product lines Over 3 million sq. ft. of warehouse space Company owned fleet 500+ trucks serve 48 states direct 12 distribution centers


 stats TM

Mobile Electronics


mobile electronics association

The Mobile Electronics Association reports specialty retailer performance for the past three years and its forecast for the fourth quarter and coming year.

2023 Forecast for Q4 and Year

2022 v/s 2023 Quarterly Retail Sales First Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter Forecast

2023 V/S 2022 FORECAST












Second Quarter


% 9 33







f l a t



2023 v/s 2022 Monthly Retail Sales



1 %


3 5 7 % %







*Projected Data owned and provided by the Mobile Electronics Association. © 2023 Mobile Electronics Association 8 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


1 %


13 %

 helpful stuff SERVICE

Room Sketcher WWW.ROOMSKETCHER.COM If you own or manage a business—either in a downtown, strip mall, or standalone location—you may need to address your parking situation at some point so that it’s optimized for your consumers, guests, reps and vendors. may be a quick and cost-effective solution. It offers free software for up to five projects. While it’s primarily intended for interior design, it’s a simple, low-cost option that can be used for a basic parking lot layout. Even better, Room Sketcher is cloud-based so you won’t need to download anything. To get started, create a new project, then edit. Click on “1. Walls” and use the Divider or Wall options for the layout. Dimensions are shown as you extend the lines. You can create each parking stall to your desired dimensions. There is also the option to order floor and parking lot plans from the company’s expert illustrators.


Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with Enough BY MICHAEL EASTER We all have cravings, but are we hardwired to crave more? Why can’t we ever get enough? Michael Easter, a leading expert on behavior change, says the problem isn’t you. It’s the scarcity mindset left over from our ancestors. With our modern ability to fulfill our ancient desire for more, our hardwired “scarcity brain” is backfiring. Scarcity cues can be direct, like a sagging economy, or subtle, like a neighbor buying a new car. After traveling the world to consult with innovators and scientists, Easter discovered simple tactics that can move us towards an abundance mindset. In this book, you’ll learn how to detect hidden scarcity cues to stop cravings before they start, turn alone time into the ultimate happiness hack, reframe how you think about and fix addiction and recognize when you have enough. The fix for scarcity brain isn’t to blindly aim for less. It’s to understand why we crave more in the first place, shake our worst habits and use what we already have. Then, we can experience life in a more fulfilling, satisfying way.

10 Mobile Electronics OCTOBER 2023


Surrounded by Energy Vampires: How to Slay the Time, Joy, and Soul Suckers in Your Life (The Surrounded by Idiots Series) BY THOMAS ERIKSON Swedish behavioral expert Thomas Erikson has traveled all over Europe for the last 20 years, delivering lectures and seminars to executives and managers at a wide range of companies, including IKEA, Coca Cola, Microsoft, and Volvo. The topic couldn’t be timelier: how to maintain your energy in the face of many challenges. Are there people in your life who leave you feeling drained? They demand time, emotional support, attention, or affirmation. Simply said, you might dread interacting with them but don’t know how to change the dynamic. Well, you’ve just encountered a real-life vampire, someone who robs you of time, energy, attention, and emotional capacity without reciprocating. Energy vampires can be people, situations, or even your own mindset, but in this book, you will learn the different types and discover practical tools, self-assessments and relatable stories to help you combat them.


Hard Fork AVAILABLE ON APPLE, SPOTIFY AND AMAZON The world of tech is everchanging, and Hard Fork talks about the future that’s already here. Each week, journalists Kevin Roose and Casey Newton explore and try to make sense of the latest in the rapidly changing technology space. Recent episodes have focused on A.I.—inputting a prompt to create almost anything, a sonnet, an image or a legal brief riddled with lies. Hosts look at three ways that researchers are unlocking this black box in hopes of bringing transparency to A.I. Another recent topic was ChatGPT—how it can hear, see and speak. And what about Meta’s next-generation headset, Quest 3? Is there still hope for the metaverse? Hear discussions on driverless cars, crypto orbs and the escape from the muddy Burning Man gathering. This weekly podcast has been going strong for a year and is worth a listen. Catch new episodes each Friday.


 what’s happening

FOR THE NEXT GENERATION What’s essential to those starting out? Professionals discuss how the industry can be more welcoming to new technicians and salespeople.

12 Mobile Electronics November 2023



n recent years, we’ve seen renewed efforts to draw fresh talent into the industry using trade shows as a platform, networking and country-wide initiatives such as through Skills USA’s Mobile Electronics division. On the retailer level, we’ve heard from business owners who’ve gone to local technical high schools and colleges to raise awareness for the 12-volt industry and seek new employees. In the February 2023 issue of Mobile Electronics magazine, we looked at ways and means that shops find new team members—including by looking outside the industry at other closely-related fields for people who might want to switch their focus. Philip Lindsley of Titan Motoring in Nashville, Tenn. was one such advocate for making connections at local technical schools. However, he noted, many shops might be unprepared to hire someone who’s totally new to the industry. “It sounds like we need to train shops to know how to do that,” he said. “Myself or Dan [Bowman], or any other shop that’s doing that with some success—we can show people how.” Another challenge, according to James Smith of A.C.T. Audio in Vernon, Conn., lies in the fact that the industry is “split.” Smith feels that for every shop that’s dedicated to education and growth, there’s another that doesn’t attend trainings or doesn’t feel they need to. Can the disconnect be resolved? Education is always key, Smith said. “It’s all about continuing that education and trying to get more shops involved in training events,” he explained. “And even get them involved in the social media groups where we’re trying to educate and grow people—so they can expand their horizons.”


 what’s happening

14 Mobile Electronics November 2023


ENSURE A SUPPORT SYSTEM IS IN PLACE FOR EMPLOYEES When Smith first opened A.C.T. Audio, he said, “My shop was a hole in the wall. I didn’t know any better. I thought it was what it was.” Customers will walk out, he said, if they notice the store isn’t presentable. “Maybe it’s cluttered or dirty. When it comes to selling, it’s not always about money, price or budget. It’s about being able to trust you. If you’re not relatable, or your store doesn’t look good, customers may not trust you with their investment.” Prior to owning his own shop, Smith worked at Best Buy where he had benefits. “Then I became a business owner. I made a lot of money and it didn’t seem to matter

as much. We hired entry-level, and our employee retention was low.” Low retention, he said, is often a result of a lack of positive company culture, low pay, or no benefits. Smith said he sees a lot of shops that still struggle with these issues. “I feel there are more low-paying shops that don’t offer benefits, and when people come into the industry, it’s because they love it, but they have family and they need more money or insurance, and they don’t get that,” he said. “When I went to KnowledgeFest, I saw a whole world I didn’t know about, which led me to level up and grow my business.” Creating Retailer of the Year videos, he noted, helped him to grow and see where he needed to improve. “When I recorded 15

 what’s happening

myself walking through the store, things I was used to seeing stuck out at me. I come in every day and don’t see some things because it’s routine. When I watched the video, I saw little things throughout the store that I needed to fix,” he explained. Smith advised having a good friend or a good customer walk around the store, “and tell you what they like, what they don’t like—what sticks out to them. Have them be honest with you.” He feels some businesses don’t have a good support system in place for their employees. Such issues may cause otherwise passionate technicians and salespeople to leave the industry entirely. Business owners should therefore work on cultivating an environment with a positive store culture and ample growth opportunities. He noted that forging more connections with distributors and manufacturers reps and at trade shows, including smaller shows, might be one way of reaching additional retailers to encourage them to attend trainings. “If you can get into distributors that are putting on shows, and get to their salespeople, you might have a larger impact,” he said.

STILL LEARNING? TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME Rookie of the Year Jeremy “Taco” Peterson of Speakerbox Autosound & Accessories in Huntsville, Ala. said that store culture and work environment will always be top priorities in any field. In relation to the 12-volt industry, he said, “the sheer amount of information to learn” is a challenge. To keep from getting overwhelmed, Peterson focuses on sections or “phases” of information, trying not to do too much at once. “Two short years ago, I didn’t know the difference between a data harness and a DSP,” he said. “I started learning to cross-reference dash kits and wiring harnesses for radio upgrades. That took several weeks to get the hang of, and then we added speaker sizes and

16 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

 what’s happening


locations. All of these things are easy enough to find now, but on day one, I had no idea where to start.” Today, he said he has basic information “pretty well in-hand,” and “I’ve started dabbling in more advanced integration and DSP-based systems.” However, sometimes, he added, “Even the basic stuff will still throw me a curveball. I try to stay on my toes and always do all of the research necessary to avoid any ‘rookie’ mistakes.” Another difficult thing to master, he said, was building value for the customer. “While there are some low-cost DSP options, typically a DSP system—DSP and amplifier or amplifier with onboard

18 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

DSP, and full speaker upgrade—ends up north of $2,500, which is far more than most of OUR customers plan to spend. I know many stores have customers who drop $2,500 very easily. With full-tilt, top-of-the-line equipment these systems often breach five-figure totals. Over the last couple of years, with guidance from my team as well as industry peers like Dan Bowman and Robert Kowatch, I have learned some talking points and techniques to help customers see that value, which leads to closing more sales of these types of systems.” When selling the idea becomes easier, he said, the challenge becomes more


• Available in 20” and 35” • 20” 150 W • 35” 300 W • RB/RBXL - Party Light

• Flexible Mounting • Bluetooth Broadcast • Dome Light • IPX Rated

To Learn More Visit: Or Contact: Shawn Spedding 816-385-1944 or © 2018 HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Infinity is a trademark of HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated, registered in the United States and/or other countries. Feature, specifications and appearance are subject to change without notice. 19

 what’s happening

refined: “Finding the best way to maximize value for each individual customer and their goals, which is much more fun than just trying to make it make sense to the client to begin with.” As he moves forward in his career, Peterson said he’s enjoying learning about DSP systems. “I’m actually preparing to learn to tune them myself,” he added. “I’m going to start with my own car and the Audison bit Drive software, in order to help me fully grasp all of the capabilities of a DSP and how to make every customer who walks through the door want one in their car.” Additionally, his vehicle will serve well for demonstrations, he added. “We can talk about this stuff for days on end, or we can let the customer listen for two minutes and close the sale.” Smith echoed this approach, and said that when it comes to qualifying the customer, he seeks common ground and leans on demonstration. “Use a demo. Ask if they have a home theater.

Explain how this allows us to do that in a vehicle,” he said. “Or, if it’s a car guy, you could say it’s like doing a dyno after tuning your car to maximize tuning. Or, if they aren’t a car person and don’t have home theater, I tell them the DSP allows us to control the final outcome of the speaker to maximize its performance for the vehicle.” Smith also utilizes his own demo vehicle, which allows him to switch between DSP and a basic setting. “I can show the difference between the two. That’s the power of the demo. Then you need to simplify it into terms your customer understands.” For those who are car audio aficionados, he said, there can be the tendency to get into the “nitty gritty” tech side of things. “Then, the customer’s eyes glaze over. They don’t care what it is. They care about the end result,” he said, adding, “Understand the customer and find a relatable common ground.”

20 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


 Industry Awards


Congratulations to the Top 50 Installers, Top 50 Retailers and Top 20 Sales Pros of 2024!

22 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


Alan Lindgren SPEED OF SOUND LLC Summerville, SC

Andrew Buchok AUDIOCRAFT Lubbock, Texas

Andrew Woodward ELEVATED AUDIO, INC. Denver, Colo.

Angel Rivera LAKETOWN SPEED AND SOUND Draper, Utah

Archie Speaks SAVANNAH CUSTOM CAR AUDIO Savannah, Ga.

Arturo Ceballos AUDIO BY ART

San Antonio, Texas

Austin Duprey NET AUDIO


Wichita Falls, Texas

Temecula, Calif.



Austin Thorne TUNES-N-TINT





Colton Wadley PRO AUDIO 4×4

Bryan Turvaville 806 AUTOWORKS


Nashville, Tenn.

Lakeland, Fla.

Buford, Ga.

Greenwich, Conn.

San Diego, Calif.

Houston, Texas

New Orleans, LA

Provo, Utah

Amarillo, Texas

Val Caron, Ontario

Callum Martin AV-DC PTY LTD

Cory Vaillancourt DC CAR AUDIO

Panorama, S. Australia

Sarni, Ontario 23

 Industry Awards Dalton Trainer CAR-TUNES, INC.

Justin Hosek HI-PRO AUDIO

Paul Morgan NET AUDIO

Greenville, Miss.

Victoria, Texas

Wichita Falls, Texas


Leon Winchester VERNON’S SIGNATURE AUDIO Lubbock, Texas


College Station, Texas



Ryan Oxenhorn OX AUDIO



St. Louis, Mo.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Reynoldsburg, Ohio


Lakeland, Fla.

Westminster, Md.

Boyne Falls, MI

Nashville, Tenn.

Greenville, SC


Melinton Benavides SPEED OF SOUND TECHNOLOGIES Milford, Conn.


Michael Bischoff TRAFFIC JAMS MOTORSPORTS Buford, Ga.


Michael Hungerford KARTELE MOBILE ELECTRONICS Waterbury, Conn.

John Hernandez CARTOYS


Fort Worth, Texas

Joshua Thaxton DES OF WILMINGTON, INC. Wilmington, NC

Buford, Ga.




Cheltenham, Pa.

Nashville, Tenn.

Nicholas Frazier INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS Wilbraham, Mass.

*There are 51 in the Top 50 list as two installers tied in their scoring.

24 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

Nashville, Tenn.

Steve Ledford CARTUNES OF ATLANTA Atlanta, Ga.

Terry Dawson CARTRONICS Madison, Tenn.

Tyler Brown SOUND CONNECTION INC. Brainerd, MN

William Pearsall DES OF WILMINGTON, INC. Wilmington, NC

Javier ‘Jr’ Gutierrez AUDIO SYSTEMS Montclair, Calif.

360 Automotive Designs Dagsboro, Del.

806 Autoworks Amarillo, Texas

Audio Source

New Braunfels, Texas

Blvd Customs of Lakeland Lakeland, Fla.

Columbus Car Audio & Accessories Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Custom Audio Reimagined Rossville, Ind.

DES of Wilmington Wilmington, NC

Devine Concepts Automotive Designs

Gregs Custom Audio & Video Pikeville, KY

Hi-Pro Audio Victoria, Texas

iNNovative Concepts Wilbraham, Mass.

J’s Tint and Audio Dallas, Texas

Naples, Fla.


Madison, Tenn.

JC Audio

Elevated Audio, Inc

Jackson, Tenn.

Denver, Colo.

Cartunes of Atlanta Atlanta, Ga.

JML Audio of St. Louis Extreme Car Audio LLC

Fenton, MO

Marrero, LA

Clear Vibrations Inc. Quakertown, Pa.

Kartele Mobile Electronics Freeman’s Car Stereo

Waterbury, Conn.

Cornelius, NC 25

 Industry Awards

Laketown Speed and Sound

Pure Energy Audio

Sudbury Car Audio

Mad Marks

Real Audio LLC

Titan Motoring

Mobile Music Unlimited

Sanford Sound

Traffic Jams Motorsports

Mobileworks Tintworks

Solar Pro Tint n Tunes


Draper, Utah

Bradenton, Fla.

Lufkin, Texas

Erie, Pa.

Burlington, Wash.

Santa Maria, Calif.

Sanford, Maine

Warrensburg, Mo

Val Caron, Ontario

Nashville, Tenn.

Buford, Ga.

Lakeland, Fla.

NET Audio

Ultimate Innovations

Next Level Car Audio, Inc.

Laketown Speed and Sound

Wichita Falls, Texas

Seaside, Calif.

Orlando, Fla.

Kemah, Texas

Sound Connection Inc Brainerd, Minn.

NVS Audio LLC Roselle, NJ

Unexpected Creations Edison, NJ

Sound Evolution LLC Houston, Texas

Ocala Car Audio Ocala, Fla.

Vernon’s Signature Audio Lubbock, Texas

Sound Master Owensboro, Ky

Platinum Motorwerks Pittsburgh, Pa.

Volunteer Audio

Oliver Springs, Tenn.

Sound of Tristate Wilmington, Del.

Precision Audio Bainbridge, Ga.

Speakerbox Autosound & Accessories Huntsville, Ala.

26 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

Westminster Speed and Sound Westminster, Md.



Michael ‘Ace’ Truong EXTREME CAR AUDIO LLC

Brandon Gasmund TUNES-N-TINT







Josh Landau JML AUDIO


Quakertown, Pa.

Lakeland, Fla.

Buford, Ga.

Rockville, Md.

Corbin May ECHO AUDIO VIDEO UNLIMITED Grande Prairie, Alberta

Jeremy ‘Taco’ Patterson SPEAKERBOX AUTOSOUND & ACCESSORIES Huntsville, Ala.

John Brettle PRO AUDIO 4×4 Provo, Utah

Plano, Texas

Lakeland, Fla.

Hickory, NC

Fenton, Mo.

Junior Rivera LAKETOWN SPEED & SOUND Draper, Utah

Kimberly Trainer CAR-TUNES, INC. Greenville, Miss.

Marrero, LA

N. Canton, Ohio

Toledo, Ohio

Huntsville, Ala.

Te’Vonn Bailey EXOTIC SOUND & TINT Salisbury, Md.


Kristen Bouldin DES OF WILMINGTON, INC Wilmington, NC 27

 On The Show Floor

IN SEARCH OF PERFECT SOUND Coverage continues with audio and marine solutions from KnowledgeFest Dallas this past August.

SIRIUSXM 360L AUDIO PLATFORM The new 360L audio platform from SiriusXM, available through Alpine Electronics, adds features to satellite radio, allowing the user to build a set of personalized preferences. Through the user’s selections, the platform will suggest more related products. The user can also create their own Pandora channel. This platform combines archived materials with a standard radio and added features for a nicer setup, according to the company.

28 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023

JL AUDIO CUSTOM SHOP DISPLAY FOR MX LINE On display at KnowledgeFest was a new custom shop display from JL Audio which retailers can use in their businesses to sell product. The display shows off the MX line of marine coaxial speakers and subwoofers.

JBL CLUB 64 COAXIAL AND COMPONENT SPEAKERS These speakers from JBL are a compact, easy-to-install design which fits well into many spaces. They feature polypropylene cones and silk dome tweeters, meant to deliver broader and smoother high frequency response. Available in a range of standard sizes. 29

 On The Show Floor

JBL ARENA 10 SUBWOOFER The 10-inch JBL Arena subwoofer uses 2.5-inch voice coils in magnetic gap to provide linear control of cone excursion. Designed for low distortion at any output level. It features 2,100 watts of peak power handling and 700 watts RMS. The proprietary motor design is surrounded by a cast-aluminum frame, concave cone, a nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) one-piece surround, gold-plated speaker-terminal binding posts, progressive spider and vented pole piece.

JBL BASSPRO GO IN-VEHICLE POWERED SUBWOOFER AND FULL-RANGE PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER The BassPro Go has an easy, graband-go design that allows the user to bring music wherever they go. It employs a 4-1/2-inch active subwoofer and a pair of ¾-inch tweeters for a full range of sound, plus a pair of passive radiators to reinforce the bass. The BassPro Go charges while docked. It also has an IPX5 waterproof rating and up to eight hours of battery life.

30 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023

 On The Show Floor

AUDIOMOBILE ENCORE 4415 15-INCH SUBWOOFER The Audiomobile Encore 4415 15-inch subwoofer is part of the company’s high-performance, lowprofile 4K HD series. It is designed to fit compact enclosures without compromising output. Intended for bass enthusiasts and audiophiles.

DB DRIVE G7 SERIES OF AMPLIFIERS AND SUBWOOFERS The new G7 line of amplifiers and subwoofers offers various sizes. The subwoofers come in 8-, 12-, 15- and 18-inch. The line features four different mono-block amplifiers and four fourchannel amplifiers.

32 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023

Motorcycle Kit

The SXMKR97 is the smallest and most compact SiriusXM® Satellite Radio motorcycle kit on the market. The Commander Touch system features a beautiful full-color touch screen display controller that allows you to pause and rewind capability SiriusXM® programming. The display controller dimensions are 4.1" W x 1.7" H x .5" D. Perfect for a discrete and clean installation into any motorcycle dash or console.

Touch Screen Display

Water Resistant Case

Hide-away Tuner

3 Mounting Options

Universal Audio Adapters

Advanced SiriusXM®

T E C H N O LO G I E S (800) 595-0845

 On The Show Floor

34 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023 35

 On The Show Floor


The NEW FAST MAX has lots of new safety and performance features!


Automatically locks pedal when ignition is turned off. TRACKER INPUT

Applies a progressive block on the car through our new communication input for GPS trackers.


Allows you to program a fixed throttle level to set a specific RPM. REVERSE MODE

New input to remove the FAST performance when reverse gear is engaged. ECO MODE

New map to reduce fuel consumption. MAGIC KEY

Optional Bluetooth proximity key for Auto Lock Safety Mode (sold separately).

36 Mobile Electronics November/December 2023

OTHER FEATURES • 5 Acceleration Maps each with 9 levels • Plug and Play Installation • Compatible with more than 800 different vehicles • Valet Mode • Manual Lock Mode • Also available for PowerSports applications (waterproof) • 5.2 Bluetooth Technology • Optional Dash Panel available (safety backup) • Optional Magic Key Multi-Pack for fleet or lot control


/turyusa 37

Model Mentor

LEADING LIGHT 38 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


With unwavering support and encouragement, Todd Ramsey mentored countless industry professionals. His message? Be there for others and help them to grow. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA


n automotive enthusiast from a young age, Todd Ramsey was drawn into 12-volt, opening Competition Autosound with a partner in Oxnard, Calif. early in his career. He later worked to promote MECP with the Consumer Electronics Association. Through his work with MEA and Mobile Electronics magazine, SEMA, Mobile Solutions and MasterTech Expo, Ramsey made an indelible impact on the mobile electronics industry. His wife, Judy, recounted his evolution from shop owner to educator. The couple met in 1996 and moved from California to Phoenix, Ariz. in 1999 where Ramsey began teaching at Mobile Dynamics. “Along the way, he made a lot of contacts with people who are kings of the industry now,” she said. “He could recognize potential easily.” His artistic side always played out in drawings and diagrams of car electronics, which Judy remembered seeing on everything from scraps of paper to cocktail napkins. “He and Larry Frederick would do this together,” she said, adding that during a conversation about a project, he’d sketch out ideas. 39

Model Mentor

Ramsey served as consultant for Mobile Solutions, writing technical documents, training content and press releases. He and Bryan Schmitt (left) then collaborated to form MasterTech Expo.

“I want to live by his model. I try to emulate it. I try to scoop people up and push them forward, too.” – Kris Bulla Everything with Ramsey had to be just-so: “When we had to hang something on the wall or reposition furniture, he’d measure and draw it out and use painter’s tape to outline where everything would go,” Judy said. “I would make fun of him for it, but I really appreciated it. We complemented each other that way.” Kris Bulla of Sony Car Audio remembered meeting him around 1998, when he reached out to CTA after noticing errors in the advanced MECP test. “We hit it off in early 2000, when Chris Cook put together the first MECP test writing session in Denver, Colo,” he said.

40 Mobile Electronics

Todd Ramsey and Josh White, now technical director of lighting and batteries at Lucas Automotive, North America.

LEADING LIGHT Bulla recalled Ramsey’s steadfast encouragement. “I was a newbie then. He introduced me to a lot of people, and that became the foundation for my career. He scooped people up. It didn’t matter what your level of understanding was, or your experience, or what you aspired to be. He wanted you to succeed.” Chris Cook, president of Mobile Electronics Association, echoed this sentiment, adding, “He was kindhearted and always willing to step up to a challenge.” Cook and Ramsey became close personal friends after meeting in the early days of MECP, when they were both subject matter experts. Later, Ramsey worked as editor of Mobile Electronics magazine from 2010 to January 2011. However, Cook said, he’d served as a technical contributor to the publication beginning in the mid-1990s. Over time, Ramsey and Bulla also became good friends. His influence was an inspiration to Bulla, who added that he endeavors to emulate that special lesson of mentorship which he learned from him. “I want to live by that model. I try to emulate it,” he said, adding, “I try to scoop people up and push them forward, too.”


When Ramsey taught at Mobile Dynamics, Judy recalled how he’d come home and tell stories about particularly bright students, saying, “I might work for him one day.” One of his students, Adam Devine of Devine Concepts in Naples, Fla., recalled meeting Todd in 2001. “It wasn’t long after I graduated high school,” he said, adding that all he wanted to do was work on cars. Disinterested in the usual university setting, Devine set out for Mobile Dynamics. “If you had at least a 95 percent on every exam and 100 percent attendance, you’d get a letter of recommendation from Todd and the school. That was my focus. I studied hard, and he could see it. A few weeks in, he told me, ‘Keep pushing. You’re going to get that letter of recommendation.’ He said to me, ‘With how fast you’re picking it up, you could probably come back and teach here in a couple of years.’” Judy confirmed that if Ramsey saw something in someone, and thought he could


In 1991, a Turkish student named Savni Okcu walked into Competition Auto Sound and asked if he could work there. “Todd took him under his wing,” Judy said. “His father was a champion rally racer who owned a mechanic’s shop. Savni was more interested in what’s now called infotainment and integration. Todd would pick up Savni every morning and drive him to work in his chopped, lowered VW project car.” In 1992, they attended their first CES show in Las Vegas together. He went to Turkey and became close friends with Savni’s family, attending events and teaching classes there. It was the birth of a friendship, and the beginning of Ramsey’s international travels. Every year, the two friends attended CES together, while Ramsey became fluent in Turkish. “He was so verbose that he was just miserable if he couldn’t talk to people,” Judy said, adding that he learned on his own by listening.

help them on their journey, he’d take the time to do that. “Todd was a master at being able to accommodate different learning styles, skill levels and interests,” she said. “He had a special gift for connecting with people, and he would talk to anyone. He was very generous with his time and interested in other people. He wanted to talk

Judy and Todd married in 2017 in Bodrum, Turkey with Savni and family in attendance.

He also taught in England. “One of the classes Todd taught in London was, ‘It doesn’t matter how it looks, as long as it works.’ He and his friend, John, built what was considered an ugly project car, but it sounded perfect and they won SPL competitions with it. He was going back and forth between London and Istanbul for half the year, and in the United States for half the year.” Judy said she felt Ramsey’s influence helped move the industry forward in Europe a bit quicker than it might’ve otherwise. “At the time, Turkey was a little behind the U.S. in technology innovation. Todd was able to educate a lot of people internationally on things that were just starting here,” she explained. “When Savni took over the shop from his father, he shifted his focus from automotive repair to car stereo. They built Savni’s demo car, and it won championships.” The business has changed a lot since then. Today, OKCU Individual Automotive Concepts custom-designs and hand-builds ultra-luxury Mercedes Sprinter vans. To learn more, visit

to people about their interests and goals, whether personally or professionally.” Ramsey was a fixture at Mobile Dynamics when Bryan Schmitt first met him at a Christmas party in 2000. At the time, Schmitt worked with Rockford Fosgate. The two quickly became friends, bonding over shared interests. 41

Model Mentor

Bryan Schmitt and Kris Bulla pose with Todd Ramsey, whose legacy will live on through his writing and all those he’s inspired and encouraged over the years.

“In 2006, Todd became a full-time consultant and contributor for Mobile Solutions,” Schmitt said. “He wrote all of our technical documents, training content and press releases. He also coached me on how to start a business.” At the same time, he was a subject matter expert and contributing writer for MECP. The two then combined efforts in the form of Master Tech Training, and later put their heads together to found the MasterTech Expo. Devine credits Ramsey with shaping his career, saying he wouldn’t be the person he is today without his influence. “He had a way of making everyone feel included, no matter who you were,” he said, marveling at the amount of time he put into helping others reach their full potential and adding that Ramsey exemplified the “one team, one dream” mentality. When the day came that Devine was also invited to be a subject matter expert for MECP, he said he was thrilled. “I wanted to give back after everything I learned from him over the years.” Ramsey’s influence, he said, went well beyond the individuals he taught and befriended. “I wouldn’t have my career if not for him. The people who work for me

wouldn’t be able to support their families if not for him. He impacted people well beyond the industry,” he added. “Everything he’s done to teach, guide and influence me now allows other people to live and support their own families.”


Many in the industry are familiar with a gathering that started small and grew to become an influential networking event casually referred to as “The Todd Ramsey Experience.” Bulla couldn’t recall who first coined the term, but he believes it happened after the first one or

42 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

two gatherings. “Someone came by and said, ‘Is this the Todd Ramsey Experience?’ and it just kind of stuck.” It began as an afterhours gathering at a trade show in Ramsey’s hotel room. “Todd would have drinks and snacks there. It was an informal way to network with the movers and shakers in the industry, and it grew over time.” Most importantly, Bulla said, “You didn’t have to have your company shell on. You could remove that, and just be yourself.” Devine, too, remembered attending the gatherings as his friendship with Ramsey grew. “People talk about the parties being the Todd Ramsey Experience. For me,



Todd Ramsey’s many pieces of advice—including this one—will always live on in his students and industry family.

the true Todd Ramsey Experience was the shared knowledge, education and networking,” Devine said. “He may have lured people in with fun and drinks to get them to loosen up, but the ultimate goal was to connect people, make friends and grow together as an industry.” Ramsey’s writing, Schmitt said, has largely shaped his legacy. “His technical writing, his contributions to Mobile Electronics magazine, to MECP—that literature will live on.” He was like a big brother to him, he said. “He coached me on all kinds of things that went way beyond business. He was

Adam Devine remembered one of the most valuable lessons he learned from Todd Ramsey: “He taught me how to troubleshoot,” he said. “It’s something I love to do.” One of the things they had in common was that they both enjoyed trying to solve problems which most everyone else had already given up on. “There’s no greater feeling than reaching that ‘ah-ha’ moment.” The industry’s next generation of professionals is already having a different experience due to newer vehicles and technologies, he added. “We had to figure it out, and that taught us to reverse engineer,” he explained. “When a problem arises, we aren’t just dependent on flashing a new module. We can understand why something doesn’t work.” Ramsey, he said, helped nurture a passion for wanting to know more—wanting to know why and how things work. “That lives on in his legacy, and I also try to instill that thirst for knowledge in others.” Devine learned “identify, isolate, eliminate” from Ramsey, in the context of troubleshooting electrical issues in vehicles. However, he said, this helpful tool is something he’s applied to every aspect of his life— not just in car audio. “I can use that to troubleshoot issues in my own life,” he explained. “If you identify a problem, then you can isolate the reason and then eliminate the cause. Find the solution. That clicked with me and it guided my life in a larger sense.” Today, Devine teaches this concept to his own students in training classes. “I’m honored to have known Todd,” he said. “His impact had a never-ending reach. He was so good at bringing people together, and that’s one of the biggest things I’ll miss.” 43

Model Mentor


As a gift to Ramsey, a group of his industry friends got together and decided to do a surprise build on his Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon as a gift to show appreciation for his mentorship, encouragement and support. They planned to present it to him at a big event—the last Todd Ramsey Experience, Bulla said. “He was a car guy,” he explained. “Not everyone in the industry is a car guy. There are probably more audio lovers than car lovers. Todd loved cars, especially Volkswagen Beetles, Cadillacs and Mercedes.” The car started as a project for Focal, according to Schmitt. “I thought we should do Todd’s car. I asked him, and he was into it. I told him we just wanted to do a subwoofer upgrade. That wasn’t the truth.” A “dream team” of industry installers got together to complete the build, keeping it a secret along the way. The plan was to present the surprise to Ramsey after a four-day class at the event’s host hotel. “A few hundred of his closest friends would be there to surprise him. That was the plan…but he made it to a week before that. It was devastating. We decided to keep going. We built the car as a tribute, and I couldn’t believe how many people came to the hotel the Monday night before the funeral. Judy and the whole family were there.” Everything was hand-built, according to Bulla: “The signature of the engine builder is on the engine. So, when they installed the subs, they used a similar design and stamped Todd’s signature on it, from his and Judy’s Marriage Certificate. All the little details were top-notch. It was like an Overhaulin’ presentation.” When the hatch opened, one of Ramsey’s favorite songs— “Tom Sawyer” by Rush—started playing. Everyone wept, Schmitt recalled. The car was presented to Judy. Each guest had a chance to share their heartfelt memories that evening. “There wasn’t a dry eye. It was really emotional. You could feel Todd there,” he said, adding, “He was absolutely there.”

44 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

A “dream team” of industry professionals collaborated on a project to honor Ramsey’s contribution, including: Bryan Schmitt, Tom Miller, T.J. Carlson, Gary Bell, Doug Dobson, Dean Beyett, Lee Teeples, Jeremy Katz, Junior Ngim, Nando Lopez, German Schulmeister, Christian Aking and Nalaka Adikari.


“He’d say, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to pay attention.’ Just do that, and you’ll be rich with information.” – Judy Ramsey one of my closest friends.” When it came to the creation of MasterTech Expo, he said Ramsey was excited to give back through the continuation of the event. “He wanted to educate people. He loved sharing his knowledge and expertise. He wanted to see that light bulb go off—watch someone begin to understand it.” When it came to acoustics and electronics, Schmitt said Ramsey could explain audio to just about anyone, regardless of what they knew or didn’t know. “He had a way of making it seem accessible to someone who knew nothing about it,” he

added. “He’d even talk to someone about it at the airport—break everything down for them. It didn’t matter who they were or where they were at.” One of the things that most impressed him was that Ramsey never seemed to hold a judgment against anyone. “Everyone was welcome. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone. There were times when I would call him and start ranting about someone, and he would say, ‘Maybe think about it from a different angle. Maybe they were going through something.’ He was never negative. He was the kind of friend you’d always want to have. He would be there for you—no matter what.” Ramsey, Bulla said, had a magnetic force. “He brought people together. That was one of his best traits. You were naturally motivated to do the same when you were in his presence.” If he hadn’t met him, Bulla said he never would’ve been involved with MECP in the first place. “In my life, that’s huge.” When it came to instructional phrases Ramsey might’ve used, Judy remembered one that he probably learned from his father. “It went back to his passion for sharing information,” she said, adding, “He’d say, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to pay attention.’ Just do that, and you’ll be rich with information.” 45

Model Mentor

Grea t indiv idual , he will be misse d. - Aron Deme rs

I am in the process of listening to Car Audio Fabrication podcast w/Todd as the guest…. I never met the man (Legend) & I am saddened by his passing… Evan Lewis

Todd was always viewed as the bank of knowledge. You could always turn to him for advice and his desire to solve a problem was infectious. He will be dearly missed and be labeled as one of the best. - Steve Wenger

Such a huge loss for all of us in 12v. Todd was an inspiration to many and was always more than willing to help and educate any way he could. I haven’t known Todd nearly as long as many others in the industry, but he always made me feel like we were best friends for decades...he had such a positive effect on people, and it was absolutely contagious. RIP Todd, you will surely be missed - Matthew Palumbo

Todd was such a good guy. RIP Todd, you were an inspiration to I knew him through the 12V us all. I can only hope that the people industry and always enjoyed attending your celebration of life have our conversations about cars, on final Todd Ramsey experience in your the industry and business. honor. - Ernie Hartman Many folks don’t understand how passionate Todd was about the car audio industry. He wanted it to be better, to grow and continue to be fun. He loved all things about it. What a great guy. The cars, the music, the sad to hear. products, the industry, and Always made you So I haven’t spoken to most of all the people. I laugh. I’ll miss him. Todd for many years, but remember walking through was always a great MasterTech in Mesa AZ a - Michael Cofield he guy and looked out for couple years ago with Todd. others!!! - Chris Tobin It was amazing to see the relationships he had with everyone. Todd will be missed. RIP Todd… You were a great My thoughts and prayers are ambassador to the 12-volt with Judy and family. RIP my industry. friend. - Patrick Virock - Bill Jackson

Todd was a great human, he will be missed. - Jeffery Fay

our Like many people my connection with Todd wastothru personal love cars and mobile electronics which evolved toa AZ ated friendship over many years. When we reloc that I could earlier this year one of my highlight points waspass ing but his spend more time with Todd. Very sad for - Chris Kane happy with all of our memories.

46 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


ays the life Todd was an amazing individual that was alw12V industry of the party. His undeniable passion for theguy tha t got me my inspired and educated us all. Todd was the get him . first job in this business, and I will never for Res t in peace my friend. RIP Todd… You were a true 12v - Greg Orlando visionary with passion for our

industry you will be missed! Todd was truly one of a kind. He - Matt Bradley will be missed. Rest easy Todd. Great smile. Always a positive, can-do attitude. Contemplative - Scott Chapin intellect. A value-add leader by example. Todd should rest in peace knowing that he left a mark. Ray Windsor

Truly a tragedy – Todd was actually one of those “one-in-a-million” types. He worked hard, and he played hard. And I’m honored to say I got to do some of both of those with him. RIP. - Chris Pearson This is shocking sad news. Todd was always a cheerleader for our industry and our talent, loved to connect the dots and introduce you to sharp people, give you ideas, and shout out your company on social media for what you were doing. He is leaving a legacy with his work on the MECP certification, and the number of technicians lives he touched, not to mention attracting kids to the industry. I’d love to see the MECP cert renamed after him in his honor so his legacy lives on in our industry and people talk about him for a long long time. - Jeff Varick

Todd was a wonderful human being and will be truly missed. So genuine, so kind, so giving, and always smiling. He would turn “Rocket Science” problems into simple solutions and educate those on how to do so. Rest in Peace my friend. God Bless – Kas Alves, Scosche

So sad. I knew Todd for many years back when he was doing international training for us at Cerwin-Vega. He was a great guy and so knowledgeable. Our industry will miss him, and I’ll miss an old friend. Rest in Peace Todd - Ken Koga

It’s hard to remember when I first met Todd, but easily over 25yrs ago. I’ll always cherish the long talks and fun I was blessed to have known Todd for well over 20 times, such as his “Ramsey years. What began as a business friendship led into a Experience” at several K-fests private one that I will always cherish. I never knew of throughout the years. Todd Todd speaking down to anyone or speaking negatively. was truly one of a kind. Both He was always an optimist and I loved that about him. professionally and personally, Judy, you chose well. May God, grant you grace and he was a passionate, kind and peace as you deal with his loss. generous person. His legacy will live on through all the Whenever I would see Todd at an event, he would lives he touched and his posiinstantly get a big smile on his face and walk towards tive influence on our industry. me. It made you feel special. And that was Todd in a He will be dearly missed by all nutshell. Everyone felt special around him and learned who knew him. God speed my something whenever he started talking. Man, I am friend, may you rest in peace. gonna miss this dude! - Mark Miller - Jason Kemmerer 47

 Learning From Leaders


MONEY As a strategic account executive at Snap, Rudy Bennett makes the impossible possible for retailers and their customers. WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER

48 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


career path can be a winding road. We may have early thoughts about what we want to do, but then end up in a series of other jobs until finding our place in the world. Sometimes, where we end up is where we least expect to be—which was the case for Rudy Bennett, an executive at Snap Finance. Snap, a financial services business, launched in 2012. The company aims to “unlock financial flexibility.” Snap looks beyond credit scores to empower people of all credit types, while enabling retailers to reach more customers. For businesses, Snap offers financing to a retailer’s customers to help maximize sales, drive traffic to the store and increase customer retention. Bennett holds a degree in business management and said he fell into the job somewhat by accident. “When I first started out, I didn’t know where I’d end up,” he said. “I just wanted to be in a sales position and climb that ladder to a place where it’s sales, but not really sales.” He added that he’s sold just about everything in the past, including payroll and medical devices. He was also involved in another finance company prior to joining Snap, then left that position and got into literacy-based education. “I was so happy in my job that I literally thought I would die there because I liked it so much. It’s a huge passion for me,” he said. “But the company was acquired by another business and there were lay-offs. Eventually I landed at Snap where I have been for the last two-and-a-half years.”

Show Them the Money

Regardless of the field, Rudy Bennett said it’s important to him that a company’s mission and values align with his own. Pictured: Carlos Lizarraga (left) and Rudy Bennett.

owner has two, three, four or more stores. “It’s a double-edged sword. I am their average customer. When I used to buy subs and other audio equipment for my car, I would go into the store and I believed everything would cost a total of $500—the whole stereo system rebuild for $500. But then the salesperson would say, ‘No, buddy, what you want is $2,000.’ But if that customer only has $500 budgeted, what we do is allow the customer to use that money, but then finance the difference so they can purchase what they really want—instead of leaving the store with $500 of gear which probably wasn’t what they were looking for at all,” he explained.

Align With a Company That Shares Your Values

Creating Opportunity for Both Retailers and Clients

A large part of the business which Bennett handles is related to the mobile electronics industry. The partnership between Snap Finance and Mobile Electronics Association has helped make a huge difference in the bottom line for 12-volt retailers, according to Bennett. “We offer financing for individual retail locations,” he said. “We go to all the KnowledgeFest shows.” At the events, Bennett and other company representatives explain benefits to attendees.

If a retailer doesn’t already offer financing at their store, he said, explaining the “power that comes with it” often encourages them to sign up. “Then we’re boosting a retailer’s numbers by about $70,000 to their bottom line on an individual location basis,” he explained. “The other piece of this is that if they’re not offering it, the store down the road is. And that customer will leave your store and go over there and still get what they want with that financing option.” The benefits of financing, he added, increase substantially if a business

An important consideration with any company, Bennett said, is to make sure you are on the same page when it comes to values. “It’s been a roller-coaster being here at Snap, but I see the positive impact it creates across the spectrum—not just for mobile electronics retailers. In the big picture, it’s a small piece of what Snap does as an overarching company,” he said. “I stumbled into this, but what makes being part of any company worthwhile is if you believe in what they’re doing.” The company’s mission and values, he added, are very important to him. “I want to make sure I’m aligned with that.” As someone who enjoys working with people and believes in creating a positive culture, “that really resonated for me with Snap—the culture, the vision and where we want it to go.” We don’t always have the luxury of choosing where we work or who we work for, he said. “But if you do have the option of slowing down, it’s important to align with the mission and values of the company you work for. You also want to make 49

 Learning From Leaders

sure you like the leadership team, and that’s another huge thing for me.” Regardless of what his future might look like, Bennett said being involved with Snap Finance has allowed him to balance his professional and personal goals. “It’s all about supporting my family and then aiming for the goals I’ve set for myself,” he said. “I don’t necessarily have a quota, but I do manage a portfolio of $350 million. Snap provides a good worklife balance.” The company also makes it financially rewarding for those who meet their targets. “I am a money-motivated individual, so Snap allows and puts goals in place so that if I’m meeting my numbers, then it benefits me financially,” he explained. “In turn, those finances help me take care of my family. But it’s a balancing act.” Bennett said Snap implemented a backto-office policy for two days each week. “The company was doing that for about three months.” After a company-wide survey showed that employees preferred

remote work, the company returned to that. “I was commuting and spending 90 minutes in the car every day—six hours in the car every week just driving. That takes away from my family and it also takes away from my work,” he added.

Find a Mentor to Help Guide You

While having a mentor sounds great, it’s not always easy to find the right person. Sometimes, Bennett noted, you have to rely on other resources or folks you’ve met at different points in your career to give you advice. “I’ve been in situations where someone I work with may be great at what they do, but may not be the best mentor,” he said. “You may want to tap external resources for guidance. Everyone is different, and certain types of mentors will check different boxes for different people.” Bennett shared what he looks for in a mentor: “When we’re trying to solve something, or improve on a scenario, it’s like this—let’s slow down, let’s talk, let me

50 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

paint you a picture. Let me give you possible solutions that I’ve come up with and I’ll help you workshop that. That’s how I learn. I like a work-in-progress session.” If someone is “closed off” and just gives directions such as, “That’s wrong, here’s how you fix it, call me when it’s done,” Bennett said this doesn’t really help him to grow. “If I have something I need to work on, then I want to slow down, chip away at it and have the opportunity to figure it out.” What if no real mentor is available? Bennett doesn’t believe this should hold anyone back. “I read a lot of books, too. Information is everywhere. You just need to know how to access it. If you’re struggling with something, chances are someone else has struggled with it, too, and there is usually a resource for that,” he explained. “It’s important to be openminded. That’s what has been beneficial for me. Finding the right mentor can help you stay motivated, but there are lots of resources out there to complement that.”

Show Them the Money

A Snap Finance Solution

Drive more sales and grow your business with Snap Finance Exclusive discount rates for Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) members Nearly one in three Americans have a subprime credit score.1 With Snap as your preferred lease-to-own financing provider, you can convert those consumers into loyal customers, boosting your sales revenue and expanding your reach.2

0% merchant discount rate

All credit types welcome2

Exclusive to MEA members,

Snap provides more consumers with

use Snap at no cost to you.

an accessible financing solution.

High approval amounts

Multiple ownership options

Customers can get up to $5,0003 in

Customers choose from three convenient

lease-to-own financing, helping you

payment options, including an 18-month

increase your average order value.

term option.

Average amount our top MEA retailers

$23,000 receive per month in Snap funding4

Start attracting and converting more customers Claim your exclusive MEA partnership offer today. | 833-575-8789 Access code: MEA2023 The advertised service is a lease-to-own agreement provided by Snap RTO LLC. Lease-to-own financing is not available to residents of Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin. ¹DeNicola, Louis. “What Does Subprime Mean?” Experian. July 9, 2022. ²While no credit history is required, Snap obtains information from consumer reporting agencies in connection with the lease-to-own application. Not all applicants are approved. ³The average approval amount a customer receives is $3,000. 4 Dollar amount based on top-performing retailers, 2022. Does not indicate future performance.

A Snap Finance Solution 51

 Learning From Leaders

“Understanding and then empathizing, he added, is a helpful skill for anyone in sales or salesrelated positions.”

Be a Good Listener. Then, Empathize

Listening is a skill anyone can have, according to Bennett, but empathizing is just as important—if not more important. Listening, understanding and coaching is all part of what he does in his job at Snap. “For instance,” he said, “some of the retailers I work with at MEA might say, ‘Oh, I feel bad having the customer pick up this financing because it might bury them forever.’ To which I say, ‘Okay, I totally understand that. But let’s talk about it. Let’s expand. So what are the other options for these customers?’ Then I share this with retailers: A credit card is going to be three times more costly than financing if the customer makes just minimum payments and then they have all that trailing interest. Secondly, there’s the option of a title loan, but the customer is putting their car on the line. Let’s say they don’t make any payments—then they’ve lost the stereo and the car as well.” He emphasized that it’s important to understand the big picture, from all points

of view. This is what he loves about his job, he said: listening to retailer’s concerns, sharing information and helping them understand options they can offer their customers. Understanding and then empathizing, he added, is a helpful skill for anyone in sales or sales-related positions. “12-volt is interesting because it’s mostly centered around a want, right?” he said. “No one is twisting a customer’s arm to make them purchase a car stereo, a subwoofer. What we try to do at Snap is try to give the customer payment options that are affordable, and we don’t try to overextend anybody—because that’s a huge criteria for us. But there are disclosures all over the place.” For example, he said, if the customer has problems making payments, it’s their responsibility, not the retailer’s. “If need be, the customer can surrender the material. We can take it back and they can move on,” he said. “And believe me, people surrender stuff all the time.” In the grand scheme of things, through Snap Finance, Bennett said out of about 200

52 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

items that are returned, only six or seven minute be 12-volt. “Most returned items are jewelry,” he added. “That’s an emotional buy. I have hardly seen anything with car audio returned in the entire time that I’ve been here.” At the end of the day, he concluded, it’s an interesting space to work in and it means being a people person. “We’re in the debt-collecting services business, and I don’t know the last time you had someone calling you for money, but usually those people are not that nice. We’re trying to help people get on the right foot and live the life they want to live, even if they don’t have the means for it. Maybe someone just went through a divorce, so they need financing. Being able to provide this service has been beneficial across the board. Our NPS scores—a universal metric to measure performance and customer satisfaction of a company— are high. Our customers gives us a 93 out of 100 for satisfaction,” he said, adding, “We try to work with everyone and we always give options.”

Show Them the Money

The new GS series speakers offer high performance, high value and long-term reliability.

Contact your authorized Sony car audio representative for more details. ©2023 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. 53

 strategy & tactics

SCHOOL’S IN SESSION In the training rooms at KnowledgeFest, industry experts talk customer service, sales strategies and upping the social media game. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Often, the simplest methods are the most effective. In sales training classes, industry professionals discuss the importance of building relationships, highlighting quality over cost and thinking outside the box to draw new clients into the store. Here are some top tips, straight from the training rooms.

HOW TO SIMPLIFY NETWORKING AND REACH MORE PEOPLE At KnowledgeFest, Drewbie Wilson presented on “Social Media Mastery,” challenging everyone in the room to think of themselves as business owners. After all, he noted, everyone in attendance had been working to create their own personal brand—whether it’s through work as a technician, fabricator, salesperson or store owner. While people tend to get hung up on how many followers they have—or don’t have—Wilson said it isn’t worth it to worry about it. “I would rather have 1,000 raving fans than 10,000 followers who don’t know anything about me.” He told the audience to pay close attention to where they are putting their energy. “There’s only so much time you have in a

54 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

day and you can’t get that back,” he said, encouraging attendees to get involved in networking events, go out and meet people and build relationships. “What about building referral partnerships, someone who can send you opportunities?” he said. “Take time to network with those people.” Social media, he noted, “is like owning your own digital coffee shop.” Instead of meeting everyone in person, people can “visit” all day long. “I can be here talking to you and I can also be having a ‘conversation’ with 15 other people [online] introducing myself, telling them how I help people,” he explained. “They’re on my social media, they’re getting to know me and trusting me. They’re in their comfort zone. They can get to know me a little bit. We don’t buy from logos, we buy from people we know, like and trust. You can use social media to fill that process.” Wilson recommended using the “80/20 rule” for posting: In other words, 80 percent of the posts should be personal, and 20 percent can be a post about a successful installation or a new product. “If you just post offers all day, they’ll ignore it,” he said. “No one wants to sit and watch commercials all day. The key to creating great content is to weave the story of your life and your experiences with the business.”

School’s in Session


TO QUALITY At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, Keith McCumber of SoundsGood in Coquitlam and Burnaby, BC, Canada, and Carlos Ramirez of NVS Audio in Roselle, New Jersey teamed up to share tips on mastering social media marketing. While both experience the same positive results from social media, they each have different approaches and different strengths: Ramirez excels at Instagram and YouTube, while McCumber is better at using Facebook. SoundsGood delegates such tasks to its media team, while Ramirez prefers to maintain control of his posts, ensuring they always market his own brand and style. “Social media isn’t about spending money,” McCumber said. “It’s about getting people’s attention enough to get them into the store. Content is king: The content depends on your market, the message you want to send and what kind of store you have.” Both instructors underscored the importance of drawing attention to

“CONTENT IS KING: THE CONTENT DEPENDS ON YOUR MARKET, THE MESSAGE YOU WANT TO SEND AND WHAT KIND OF STORE YOU HAVE.” quality, adding the result is giving the customer what they really want: “Value for their money.” Each online platform should present a call-to-action: Ramirez said his YouTube platform serves as a way to draw viewers to his Instagram page, while both he and McCumber said social media should draw viewers to the business’s website. Currently, Ramirez has 25,000 followers on Instagram. When he first started, he said he couldn’t afford to spend money on social media marketing. He went on to explain that he spent a year creating his own videos, his own posts and doing his own editing.

Then, he used his marketing budget on vendor spots at car and motorcycle shows, and giving his clients better warranties. All of this, he added, worked out better than he could’ve hoped. “In case a manufacturer turns down a warranty, additional warranties keep the client happy. They chose me. I appreciate it, so I’m going to do the best I can for them,” he explained. “It’s all about relationships.” When the funds are available, McCumber recommended hiring a good team to handle marketing. When it comes to tailoring posts to an audience, he noted there are a few ways to go about it: Posts can be funny, insightful, or they can offer some kind of knowledge. The marketing team at SoundsGood is made up of car audio people, according to McCumber, who said he’s tried other marketing companies in the past who weren’t focused on car audio, and it never worked. The outside companies didn’t know enough about the topic. “We can always grow. We brainstorm as a media team every Monday morning and we go through different experiences, what we learned from it and what we can do next week.” He added that this team interaction changes everything.


 strategy & tactics

BRING DOWN BARRIERS TO HELP CLOSE THE SALE Asking questions, building trust and fostering strong connections are tools in closing the sale. In his three-part sales conversation class, Kevin Hallinan of Winning, Inc. introduces attendees to a methodology rather than a process, demonstrating how to “lower the natural guard that exists between buyers and sellers.” This methodology, he said, includes the “how” of interaction with a potential client. The Sandler Selling System, he explained, is designed to overcome the prospect system of traditional sales: “It’s

“ Ask good questions that get to the truth. Be yourself. ”

56 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

a systematic approach to help people make buying decisions and overcome the traditional responses people have to sales—in other words, [the urge] to run and hide.” The method, he said, allows the salesperson to be honest and pressure-free. “Ask good questions that get to the truth. Be yourself.” How it’s applied will be different with each person because everyone has their own style, he noted, but the foundational concepts remain the same. Traditional selling has taught prospects how to be behave. “We as salespeople were taught to find someone with interest in what we sell, and then tell them about stuff. Traditional sellers are taught to close, and prospects have learned it’s safer not to make the decision in front of the salesperson.” Conversely, salespeople are taught to chase—in other words, to follow up with a potential client, to try to get them to buy. While Hallinan said he was a traditional salesperson for years, he added, “This is not a healthy way to sell.”


CALL: 720-583-3835 // EMAIL:


 tech today

A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO AFTERMARKET AUDIO SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE REQUIRES A PLAN Power considerations, speaker location, enclosure design and decisions about the head unit should all be included in an audio system architecture plan. WORDS BY TODD RAMSEY


ftentimes in our business we become ingrained in the dayto-day regularity of installing “this” into “that.” We sometimes overlook the obvious question of what we’re really trying to accomplish for a customer. Nothing is a better example of this oversight than the process of building aftermarket audio systems. What seems like business as usual is really anything but with cars and available products these days. To provide customers with a great car audio experience, you need a plan. Understanding the basic concepts involved in planning a comprehensive approach to building an audio system is crucial to creating a plan that will work. In this article, we look at a few of the considerations that any shop providing audio upgrades (and ultimately an “experience”) should consider in their process. Think of it as more than just “designing a system,” but instead as creating a System Architecture Plan.

Just exactly as you’d expect construction of a new home or a major renovation to an existing home to have a clear architectural plan before breaking ground, so should an aftermarket audio system installation. Installation technicians often overlook simple things like drawing a diagram of system connections on paper as part of a work order and writing down placement details of equipment. Other, more important aspects involving electrical system considerations or cosmetic modifications repeatedly do not get fleshed out beforehand; instead the technician is left to somehow make it all work properly, look good and hope it meets customer expectations. Sometimes as installers, we’ re even inspired by an unplanned creative vision and decide to tackle a superfluous timeor labor-intensive installation concept. Sometimes there’s a lack of communication of important details discussed with the customer. Poor communication and

58 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

time management can destroy a budget or labor time allocation and make working on a project a money-losing proposition. We’ve all had that happen—cars that, in the end, made very little money for the work we put in. At the end of the day, installations must provide a great-sounding result but they need to be profitable for the retailer and pay the technicians as well. We have to do things for a reason! You can’t promise a great result if you leave all these variables in your process up to chance most of the time. You want to create a solid foundation on which to add aftermarket products and use your specialty installation services to ensure a measurable, desirable result for the customer. Show up with a plan when you start to take that car apart!

To Keep or Replace the OEM Head Unit

OEM head units today are really not the principal reason that a

A Practical Approach to Aftermarket Audio System Architecture Requires a Plan

Above left: Changing to an aftermarket head unit really makes sense when the features of the aftermarket version (such as this Rosen DS-GM071D· N11) greatly outweigh the factory radio features and require minimal integration issues to function with other factory electronics. Above right: It’s important to consider the factory alternator’s output, over and above what’s necessary to run the vehicle’s existing electronics, when planning audio system power.

factory-installed audio system does not sound good—at least in most cases. If you have customers focused on getting better sound and aren’t interested in the other features aftermarket head units offer (such as navigation, Bluetooth, direct iPod connectivity, etc.), then changing the OEM head unit won’t always be the best approach. Money spent on adapters and the extra time required for installation could be leveraged elsewhere in the budget to gain a more obvious improvement in the sound of the audio system. You must first consider what you are trying to accomplish in a prospective head unit swap—improving features or improving sound. Now there are certainly many candidates for aftermarket head units, particularly older vehicles with a complete solution already available in the market (including kit/harness/proven interface devices) at reasonable costs, and newer vehicles with minimal features on board. The prime aftermarket head unit candidates are vehicles that did not come with navigation/DVD/Bluetooth/etc. functionality that the customer wants. In addition, there must be viable solutions available—meaning not having to reinvent the wheel to get an aftermarket unit in the car. Newer cars with premium integrated features, such as navigation and/or Bluetooth, aren’t necessarily default

candidates for aftermarket head units. You have to look at the addition of an aftermarket head unit as a feature-based improvement because it offers things the OEM unit does not (or an integration adapter like an iPod interface or other source input adapter is just not available for it). An aftermarket head unit is not always a guarantee of “better sound” because aftermarket and OEM units still rely on amplifiers, signal processing and better speakers to really do the heavy lifting that make the sound demonstrably better. OEM head units in many modern vehicles are viable building blocks for better sound due to the features and overall audio signal quality.

Although products that affect integration with today’s OEM head units is an ever-growing and changing category, we need to understand that, as an industry, this element of modern vehicles is not going away. If anything, it’s the major element that will indicate to customers whether you can deliver great sound in those applications without being a habitual parts changer for the sake of changing parts, being intimidated by the perceived complexity or being unsure what the outcome will be. The truth is that with the right tools (particularly an in expensive oscilloscope, an RTA and a polarity tester), it’s very likely you can integrate aftermarket audio accessories

Computer-assisted subwoofer enclosure design saves time and money when leveraged properly in an audio system plan. 59

 tech today

Choosing mid- and high-frequency speakers with higher 1w/1m sensitivity can be a way to get more output from the audio system’s power than a vehicle can feasibly support.

with a modern factory audio system in any vehicle and add the necessary general interface, aftermarket amplifiers, speakers and/or subwoofers to create that great sound a customer is looking for. Selling this concept means you must be able to demonstrate it, too, so consider in your system architecture approach that a demo vehicle—hopefully one that you or a co-worker drives to the shop each day—has an integrated aftermarket audio system with a familiar looking and easy-to-operate front end of an OEM head un it. You can even add the aftermarket iPod, USB, AUX-IN and satellite radio adapters. The main thing you convey with this approach is that the idea of “better sound” comes from the architecture of your individually recommended approach to that car, not a cookie-cutter approach. It’s much more convincing to position your integration abilities this way.

Electrically Speaking

Beyond what’s in the dash and whether it stays or goes, a key consideration in the overall architecture is the effect on the vehicle’s electrical system that amplifier power consumption will have. There is a practical limit to what a vehicle’s factory electrical system can support beyond its existing electrical loads. Although it’s different with every car and customer driving behavior, ignoring the car’s electrical capacity has virtually the same consequences over time—voltage drops that result in poor amplifier performance, and inadequate current supply that creates

reliability problems in the aftermarket equipment and the vehicle’s electrical system itself. It’s a moving target, and you must consider this aspect before running off to sell equipment. Doing so can make clear cases for choices, in certain amplifier topologies or channel configurations, which maximize what the vehicle can comfortably support. How does the old saying go—work smarter not harder? First and foremost, you must consider whether the car and customer’s budget are candidates for an alternator upgrade or adding additional alternators. After all, the alternator is the principal energy source for regular combustion engine vehicles while they are running. For many people, this is news. They assume it’s the battery that provides power. Although it’s true batteries provide energy while the car is not running, once it’s started and running, more batteries only mean extra loads on the alternator just to stay charged up. If upgrading or replacing alternators is not an option—and with 95-percent plus of the cars you do it isn’t—you must work within the parameters of what the factory alternator can electrically provide, subtracting the existing electrical loads it already powers. Now here’s where it gets tricky. The actual amount of amplifier power a vehicle can tolerate with a given available alternator output capacity is not just a matter of adding together the fuse sizes of the amplifiers. The real analysis completely depends on how much and how often sustained current draw is part of the puzzle. In addition, the types of music

60 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

the customer listens to, as well as relative volume levels, affect that current draw, both instantaneously and over time. It’s the basis over time that you are really considering, from as little as a couple songs to as much as months of daily use. It’s fair to say that some music is more demanding on an amplifier’s power supply than others, as is the overall system volume where most listening occurs during a trip. Your customers who want to blow-dry their hair while listening to rap and hip-hop with their audio system playing full blast, where electrical capacity of available current is near the alternator’s limits, will need an alternator well before a customer who listens to jazz and blues semi-regularly at moderate volumes. In other words, all things being equal on the electrical supply side, it’s the variation in demand that determines just how much amplifier a technician can install and how much power he or she can expect will be electrically delivered. It’s called duty cycle. The more duty given to the alternator for supplying electric current to the audio system, the more taxing it is on the electrical system. For cars driven on the street that must reliably start and run all the electronics (factory and aftermarket) every day, this is a critical consideration. There are also ways to reduce the load on the alternator by using amplifiers with more efficient switching topologies, certainly a consideration for subwoofer amps. Of course there’s also the hidden cost of running amps at redline into 2-, 1-, or 1/2-ohm loads for the thermal and current draw penalty. Although some amplifier specifications declare they’ll make more power in ridiculously low impedance loads, they do so at the cost of increases in current draw and often with significantly added heat in the process. Think of it this way: An amplifier rated to put a certain amount of power into 4-ohm loads does not increase the size of the heatsink or the number of output devices when it’s expected to double or quadruple power output into lower loads. The same heat required for that increased 2-, 1-, or 1/2-ohm power level often must be spread across the same heatsink and number of output transistors or FETs as it would at a much more comfortable 4-ohm

A Practical Approach to Aftermarket Audio System Architecture Requires a Plan level. Can you reliably leverage an amplifier’s power increases in lower impedance loads? Yes, of course. Just don’t think that power comes for free. Sometimes if you need 800 watts on a subwoofer, the answer is to get an amp that is designed to do 800 watts comfortably, not a 200-watt amplifier in a cheap attempt to load down and get those 800 watts with an amplifier not designed to sustain that electrical current draw and power output!

Subwoofers and Enclosures

It’s really a shame that 12-volt retailers don’t do more computer-based analysis of subwoofer enclosures, both of the enclosure type and then of various subwoofer models in a certain enclosure type. It used to be done much more often 15 years ago, but lately it seems the well-thought-out enclosure design answers have shifted onto manufacturer technical support departments. This might seem like a good way for a manufacturer to control how its subwoofers are used by suggesting optimized enclosure volumes to their retailers. The reality is that the manufacturer is not on site and does not always know the relative measured amplifier output power, or the positioning in the vehicle, let alone the vehicle type in some cases. Also, they surely don’t know if what they suggest volume- and bracing-wise is what the installation technician ends up building. Some people might say good subwoofer enclosure design is an art, but really it’s more of a science. At the simplest, subwoofers are just pistons that move air in a vehicle’s interior space. There are many electrical and mechanical parameters that go into a detailed analysis, but much of the real math is already done for you in these software programs. Many of them even have databases of drivers that can be updated to reflect new models and brands that hit the market. When you can get 95 percent of the way there with computer-based design assistance in one of these many good software design programs before ever cutting one sheet of wood or adding polyester resin to any fiberglass materials, why would a specialist retailer miss the opportunity to sell their expertise at using this tool? Have you ever considered actually selling the service of

Generous use of sound deadening mate rials can lower the noise floor of a vehicle, which effectively can increase the dynamic range of the audio system.

subwoofer enclosure design as a standalone item, complete with a printout of parameters, graphs, etc.? The value that adds to whatever subwoofer you attach to that sale is well beyond the small amount of time it takes to actually do the task. In addition, you can use the exercise to compare several subwoofer makes/models in the same type/size of enclosure to show a customer the predicted results of various combinations paired with amplifier power levels, or other variables that can give them the most bang for their buck. The largest, highest power-handling subwoofer is not always the best choice if the amplifier power is relatively fractional by comparison—something computer-based analysis could demonstrate. The truth is most customers will respond positively to the enclosure design steps, and that’s one additional piece of the puzzle in an overall system architecture plan that helps you differentiate your business from every other shop’s seat-of-the pants or cookie-cutter approach.

Speakers Make a Difference

Often the very same way you can design additional output in a particular low-frequency range “for free” by using a vented or bandpass enclosure design, so can you select mid- and high-frequency speakers

that meet the needs of a particular listener or system architecture criteria. The overall speaker frequency response while in the car must be part of how you evaluate what sounds great, because although some speakers may sound great on a demo board (on axis) at 60 degrees off axis, the resulting sound your ear hears is quite different. Listen to speakers in the cars you work on and find out what really sounds good. Find out what’s loud, find out what’s bright and find out what plays low when used in a door. These may not all necessarily be the same speaker or component set, but each has a more appropriate application depending on the customer’s listening tastes, the position of those speakers and the amount of amplifier power dedicated to them. Now all things being equal (or relatively similar) between speakers, you will have more output from speakers with a higher 1w/1m sensitivity for a given amount of amplifier power. That means if the frequency response and crossover points of t wo component sets are similar, and one is 87dB sensitivity while the other is 90dB sensitivity, that’s an additional 3dB of output that would otherwise have taken twice the amplifier power to achieve in the 90dB set. In many ways this is an effective solution to maximizing the electrical power the vehicle can provide by using amplifier output power 61

 tech today

Clever mounting of components behind factory panels using metal bracketry and threaded mounting hardware make the design more service-friendly.

more wisely, particularly in situations where customers are in pursuit of every ounce of volume and output they can get or when upgrades to the electrical system (for budget or complexity) are simply not an option. Another small but important consideration is the material of the tweeter diaphragms. Silk is going to produce a different sound than aluminum, which will also be different than polypropylene or other plastics. Depending on what the customer has in terms of high frequency hearing loss already, perhaps one type lends itself to better filling customer needs than another. If you find you’ve demonstrated what you think is a system with good high frequency response, and the customer says he or she would like a little more “sizzle” in the highs (or something like that), you have a reason to consider the choice and location of a component tweeter, perhaps even the number of them in the front end. This would not be a complete discussion of speakers if we failed to bring up the importance of sound deadening materials, particularly in areas where large, thin panels of sheet metal are expected to be good speaker cavities. Adding damping materials to those areas (doors, rear side panels, rear decks, etc.) significantly

increases the speaker’s ability to project air movement to the listening space instead of wasting that energy vibrating sheet metal. The addition of further floor, transmission hump and trunk panel damping efforts can also make the ride quieter and reduce mechanical and environmental noises when the car is on the road. A speaker in a cavity without damping materials around the mount and behind it might as well be in a coffee can. As I always say, try to waste less electrical power instead of always consuming more. Choosing mid- and high-frequency speakers thoughtfully and properly damping the surrounding area are effective ways to achieve that.

Locating Electronic Components

Where a technician places electronics (other than the head unit of course) is a prime area of importance in overall vehicle usability. This is what drivers have to live with every day. Another consideration is how it impacts the perception work quality when those cars visit a dealership for service. Certainly a technician must consider the subwoofer location(s) as part of equipment

62 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

placement, but those will be dictated a little more by the volume requirement for that particular design and the goal of overall output. It’s the electronics (amplifiers, signal processors, power distribution, passive crossover networks, etc.) that a technician should install in a way that is serviceable yet doesn’t interfere with vehicle functions. Thinking creatively about using of outof-the-way mounting locations that, once the system is properly calibrated, do not require everything be on display for the customer to damage or “fiddle” with, is one element of system architecture. Your choice of materials for mounting in places where mounts do not currently exist is also important to plan. Metal and plastics are certainly more at home in today’s vehicles than a block of wood stuffed here or there for mounting purposes. Depending on what is mounted where, a metal mount with machine screws is a much more elegant solution than a chunk of wood with drywall screws through the sheet metal of the car body. Once again, this element provides just enough of an obstacle for the other guys that using this approach can help differentiate your business from others. How you approach the integrity of mounting and placement can mean a trouble-free experience for the customer over the long term—and that’s what they expect no matter what they’re paying.

Summarizing System Architecture

We can make good or bad decisions about the overall performance, long-term reliability and functionality of audio systems we sell and install. Opportunities to create this value won’t land in your lap; you have to market, demonstrate and promote your own audio system architecture approach. Yes, sometimes customers push back or have questions, but more often than not we’re not really doing a good job, industry wide, of providing comprehensive audio system planning. We can do better and offer more value. We can ask better questions, demonstrate better examples and provide better thought-out solutions. And we can charge fairly and profitably for this work if we deliver on those value propositions.

The Connected Car: Friend or Foe?

The Mobile Electronics Certiied Professional (MECP) program is the only internationally recognized program of its kind.

- Online learning material with smart-resume and exams on any Internet-connected device. - Instant validation of exam scores and immediate incorrect answer feedback. - MECP Proole access with real-time certiication status and certiicate access. - 14 available courses and exams available to suit your speciic role(s). - Discounted renewal and upgrade options for your personal certiications. - Printed certiicates, patches, and retail store stickers and banners are available. - The only certiication in any industry with online veriication for employers or consumers! Get Certiied

Verify Credentials

Verify A Retailer

Questions about how to get certiied or link your retail location? 63 Contact us at!

 tech today



P OWE R @ 4Ω: 4 X 125 WR M S

P OWE R @ 4Ω: 1 X 6 6 0 WR M S

P OWE R @ 2Ω: N /A

P OWE R @ 2Ω: 1 X 1000 WR M S

P OWE R B R I D G E @ 8Ω: 2 X 250 WR M S

P OWE R B R I D G E @ 8Ω: N /A P OWE R B R I D G E @ 4Ω: N /A

P OWE R B R I D G E @ 4Ω: N /A O P E R ATI N G VO LTAG E: 9V – 16V C U R R E NT D R AW (M U S I C): 65A C U R R E NT D R AW (MA X): 13 0A R E C O M M E N D E D F U S E (M U S I C): 8 0A

O P E R ATI N G VO LTAG E: 9V – 16V C U R R E NT D R AW (M U S I C): 65A C U R R E NT D R AW (MA X): 13 0A R E C O M M E N D E D F U S E (M U S I C): 8 0A TOTAL E F F I C I E N CY: 8 0%


DAM P I N G FACTO R: 75 F R E Q. R E S P. (-3dB): 6H Z ~ 500H Z

F R E Q. R E S P. (-3dB): 6H Z ~ 65.25 K H Z

S N R: 105dB

S N R: 105dB

S U B S O N I C: 8H Z ~ 20H Z

C R O S S OVE R H P F: 45H Z ~ 850H Z

C R O S S OVE R LP F: 6H Z ~ 500H Z

C R O S S OVE R LP F: 45H Z ~ 850H Z

BAS S B O O ST: 0dB ~12dB @ 50Hz


64 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023


The Connected Car: Friend or Foe?

P OWE R @ 4Ω: 8 X 165W R M S

C U R R E NT D R AW (M U S I C): 8 8.3A

P OWE R @ 2Ω: 8 X 250W R M S

C U R R E NT D R AW (MA X): 176.6A

B R I D G E P OWE R @ 8Ω: 4 X 33 0W R M S B R I D G E P OWE R @ 4Ω: 4 X 500W R M S

TOTAL E F F I C I E N CY: 8 0.44% DAM P I N G FACTO R: 95.94

F R E Q U E N CY R E S P O N S E: 6Hz ~ 40kHz P OWE R CAB LE: 21M M² (4 AWG) C R O S S OVE R LP F: 45Hz ~ 850Hz S P EAK E R CAB LE S: 2.5M M² (13 AWG) C R O S S OVE R H P F: 45Hz ~ 850Hz O P E R ATI N G VO LTAG E: 9V ~ 16V

R E M OTE CAB LE: 1.5M M² (15 AWG)

S N R: 114.7dB

R E C O M M E N D E D F U S E (M U S I C): 100A

I N P UT S E N S ITIVIT Y (R CA): 0.4 ~ 10V

R E C O M M E N D E D BAT TE RY (M I N): 100AH

W W W . S O U N D I G I TA L U S A . C O M 65

 installs

62 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

THE FULL PACKAGE Looking to go mudding? Wet Sounds showed off its rugged new Jeep package at KnowledgeFest Dallas. SUBMITTED BY: CARL CAMPBELL, WET SOUNDS 67

 installs On the show floor in Dallas, Wet Sounds displayed a Jeep Rubicon to demonstrate the company’s soon-to-be available package deal. Included in the build were four Zero 6 six-inch high output coaxial speakers; two Zero 12 XZ 12-inch sealed enclosure subwoofers; two Rev 12 HD 12-inch marine tower speakers; one SYN-DX6-DSP-OE 6-channel marine amplifier; and one SYN-DX4DSP-OE 4-channel marine amplifier. According to Carl Campbell of Wet Sounds, the company intends to include everything that’s needed in an easy-toinstall Jeep package. “A dealer will be able to order everything—the speakers, dash grille covers, wiring and tower speakers for the rear,” he said. “The enclosure holds two 12-inch subwoofers. Everything plugs into the factory location and it operates from the factory radio, but makes a full Wet Sound system.” This is the very first Wet Sounds vehicle-specific kit, he added. “It’ll fit 2018 and newer Jeeps—four-door models, Wranglers.” Additionally, other products can be incorporated into the kit. “Stage one and stage two will be available. With stage two, they can add a pair of tower speakers with special mounts that clamp to the roll bar, a secondary amp for them and wiring for it, as well,” he explained.

The plug-and-play T-harnesses can be installed easily by a novice, Campbell added. “They can put in a $55,000 sound system and it’ll take less time. It uses all the factory mounting brackets. The imaging and sound quality is amazing. It’ll still be able to handle the environment, the weather and the water for people who like to take the roof off or go mudding.” Additionally, he said, the back can be lifted up to give access to the spare tire. “This kit gives you everything you need to build a great system.”

68 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

Finally, Campbell noted that retailers and enthusiasts can anticipate the kit sometime between January and March of 2024. 69



Why You Need to Install and Use the Products You Sell Words by Todd Ramsey

Reprinted from Mobile Electronics Magazine February 2010

You can bet if we’re putting off installing our products because it’s complicated, so are the prospective customers we so desperately need.”

Car audio is one of those things I loved as a young person and still love today. I love the process of system design, analysis of complex topics and vehicles, fabricating solutions, installing equipment and fine-tuning the operational characteristics of a finished product. I love networking with colleagues at trade shows, training others and the worldwide travel that I’ve been privileged to enjoy. I love it all. These days I really like the audio part of it the most, where you can hear the results of your work and spend time getting lost in the music. This brings me to the issue at hand. What happened to us as an industry? When did we forget to give people the audio experience that originally hooked us? We can’t please every prospective customer, but when did it become okay for us to stop trying? When did it become okay to just show customers a wall of blinking lights, and speakers that make noise, without showing them what WE have in our own vehicles? When did it become, okay to have a car with nothing we manufacture, sell and install in it? I think we all know it HAS happened. Somewhere along the line, working in the hobby or interest you loved became a job. For many of us, this is the fork in the road we’ve taken. As an industry, it seems like the majority of our professionals just aren’t engaged and interested like they used to be. With my newly minted assignment as Editor of Mobile Electronics magazine, I’m bringing this issue to the surface. We’re going to talk about this out in the open. I’m going to encourage the entire industry at every level of the supply chain to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to what our industry offers consumers. It’s no longer okay to have a car without any aftermarket 12-volt products installed if you’re part of our industry. Maybe it’s audio or video. Maybe it’s security and convenience. Maybe it’s Bluetooth kits or safety devices that you choose to install. It matters less what you install than that you install something and participate in the process we’re asking prospective customers to

70 Mobile Electronics November/ December 2023

engage in. If you’re too busy or too intimidated to install something yourself, pay a professional to do it. I’m pretty sure you know one or two, and it’s yet another way to see the process we ask customers to go through. How are others going to become excited and aware of what we do if we don’t show them? I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty. I’ve owned several cars over the past 10 years, only about half of which I installed aftermarket gear into. Prior to that I had something in every car I’ve owned since I’ve been driving. Frankly, one of the reasons I stopped was because my tastes changed. I liked some of my product choices less and less. Buttons on head units became too small and menus became more complicated. Amplifiers were so darn big at one point I couldn’t put them anywhere without taking up valuable space in a vehicle or going to great lengths to fabricate a suitable mounting alternative. The parts I needed to install a remote starter in my Lexus weren’t immediately available when I had a few spare hours—I actually had to plan the install. All of these things and more made it easy for me to put off installing anything. I’m sure you each have a similar story. It seems putting things off is the industry’s biggest story. It’s been shocking to find out just how few people working in our business have anything we sell or install in their cars. Why does it have to be so difficult? Why do we make installing something into a long, drawn-out process? Why don’t products speak to customers’ needs better? You can bet if we’re putting off installing our products because it’s complicated, so are the prospective customers we so desperately need. And with some of the options available from the OEMs, it’s no wonder they’re avoiding us. To overcome this problem, we need something that conveys a positive user experience that retailers can easily show to prospective customers. We’ll be tackling this core issue during much of 2010. It’s our year to get back to basics. It’s our year to rediscover why we got into this business in the first place. I hope you’ll join me!

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.