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The CES Report - Mobile Electronics

February 2003
Mobile electronics boasts more bass


By Brett Solomon


Advances in mobile electronics were all around the North Hall at this year's CES. In the case of amplifiers and woofers, 2003 can be described as the year of the boom. Woofers designed specifically with Sound Pressure Level (SPL) to withstand the rigors of mobile competition abounded. Manufacturers embracing the massive SPL woofer trend included: Audiobahn, with the AW00Q series; JBL, with the GTi series; JL Audio, with the W7 series; MTX and its Thunder 8000 and RFL series; and Orion with its H2 series. You can tell these woofers apart from mundane units because of their prominent motor structures (that integrate voice-coil cooling) and extreme linear excursion capabilities, which reproduce deafening bass.

The boom phenomenon can be attributed to the growing popularity of SPL competitions held by mobile electronics sanctioning bodies, such as IASCA, USACi, SLAP, and dB Drag Racing — many of whom exhibited at CES. Such contests involve placing a microphone in a vehicle and measuring volume levels; woofers are a critical component in winning points. Points are awarded by the relevant sanctioning bodies to contest competitors, and if enough points are accumulated, the vehicle qualifies for the competition final (the SuperBowl of any SPL event). Recognizing this trend, manufacturers are offering a wider range of woofers that meet the needs of SPL competitors.

Powerful amplification is a must to drive these massive woofers to win. Two standouts at CES were JBL's A6000GTi and Blaupunkt's PA4100 series. The JBL is an absolute powerhouse monster that looks the part of a ConEd substation. It was designed in conjunction with pro audio amplifier stalwart Crown; its 6,000 watts RMS and 10,000 watts peak is perhaps the most extreme car audio amplifier to date. In fact, Andy Weimeyer, product development specialist for JBL, said, "When I first saw the prototype for the A6000GTi, I was kind of like a kid on Christmas waking up to find a jet engine strapped onto his new tricycle."

On the other side of the size fence are diminutive-looking amplifiers armed with the power of a monster amp, like Blaupunkt's PA5350 (4x50 watts plus mono 150 watts). With help from Tripath Technologies, the "Class T" amplifier is touted as having the sound quality of a traditional Class AB amplifier while only taking up a Class D chassis size. In fact, the amplifier runs so well it can be housed in a plastic case instead of the traditional aluminum.
 

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