Mobile Audio Pathways
The purpose of this is to lay the foundation of how we think about flow through a Mobile Audio System. Mobile Audio Pathways is a concept that you must understand like the back of your hand if you want to master sound system design.
Sketching out the pathway by hand, by putting a pencil or pen onto paper and making it become whole in front of you, helps make it more solid and real in your mind. You can do this on a tablet or computer also. If you’re worried about what program or app you need, do not overthink it. More on that later.
Have you ever gotten deep into a project which you started without a plan, and you started to doubt yourself? You’ve got parts scattered all around, you’re stepping over and around things, you’re wondering Where Did I Put That Thing?! I’m not promising that won’t happen again once you learn and implement Mobile Audio Pathways. What I’m laying out is a proven way of planning a sound system that will serve you well.
Whatever Mobile Audio System you decide to start, start something good. Become more confident. Understand why it is you’re buying what the salesman or the discussion group or the shopping site recommended. The pathway works whether it’s a very small and simple sound system or it’s massive and pushes you past what limits you thought you have.
Describing Flow Through a Mobile Audio Pathway
PLAYER -> SIGNAL PROCESSOR -> AMPLIFIER -> SPEAKERS
These are the 4 primary modules of a Mobile Audio System.
This is all about playback of a recording. We’re not generating music in the vehicle, like singing into a microphone karaoke style or plugging in an electric guitar and playing a solo. The Player could be a radio, or a head unit, a receiver, your smartphone or a portable digital audio player. Did you think of another form of player?
Signal processing means something is changing the voltage(the signal in a Mobile Audio System) in some constructive way before passing it along through the Pathway.
An equalizer is a signal processor. This might not be a separate piece of hardware. Your player likely has an equalizer, even if it’s just a button or slider to increase the bass. That’s signal processing.
The Player and the Signal Processor work on Low Voltages that are not yet ready for the final module in the Mobile Audio Pathway. First we need the Amplifier. This is where Low Voltage is multiplied, or increased by many times in amplitude, up to High Voltage.
The Player often has an amplifier. A head unit usually gives us the option of connecting speakers directly to it. Your smartphone may have a headphone jack, and if it does it has an amplifier.
This is the final module of a Mobile Audio System. The job of a Speaker is to take voltage and convert it into pressure against the atmosphere, which is then heard by our two ears and deciphered by our brain.
Pictured below is a Mobile Audio System Diagram. Do you see a Player, a Signal Processor, an Amplifier, and Speakers?
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