Video: Tour of the Mobile Audio Listening Lab
I've been with Crutchfield since 1999, where I began as one our advisors, helping our customers choose new gear. After a couple of years, I moved to the writing team where I spent a decade researching new products and getting hands on with car stereos, amplifiers, speakers, and subs. Yeah, I've been doing this for a while.
For the past few years, I've been the managing editor of Crutchfield's Car A/V web article content. I couldn't ask for a better job — we get to play with car audio gear every day! I'm a Virginia native from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outside of work, I love listening to music, playing board games, and installing new audio systems for my friends.
More from Robert Ferency-Viars
We built our Mobile Audio Listening Lab so we could get hands on with various car audio gear — and then pass whatever we learn on to you. Our advisors can listen to various sets of speakers and establish their own opinion of what sounds great, so they can help you find a better match for your system. In short, the Labs have made us better at what we do — and now we’d like to take you behind the scenes.
For an in-depth description, check out our article on the Mobile Audio Listening Lab.
Hi. I'm Robert, and today I'm going to show you around the car audio portion of the Crutchfield Labs. We'll start with right here behind me, the speaker demo board. You'll see something like this in most car audio shops. Basically it allows us to listen to, in this case, up to six different sets of speakers at a time, and just with the flick of a button we can compare one set of speakers to another. They're all powered by independent channels of amplification provided by three JL Audio amplifiers. And when we want to add it in, we have similar amplification for the bass. So this really lets us compare apples to apples and speakers. You know, we can listen to a set and see how it sounds compared to other sets we're familiar with, and similar with subwoofers.
So that was our listening board where we can compare a lot of speakers at one time for casual listening. For critical listening, we have this station over here. It starts off with two acoustically dampened boxes that internally mimic the acoustic properties of a car door. The speakers are powered by a top of the line Focal amplifier and also an audiophile-quality Pioneer head unit. We sit back in a chair on the other side of the room, and then to switch back and forth we have this really handy thumb switch, so that as we're listening we can get into the music and push the button and it'll switch from one set to the other.
That was our speaker listening room. Out here is where we check out all the different head units. We can listen to them. We can see how the different touch screen interfaces work — pretty much all the functions of the stereo. We can check it out here and just get a feel for how each stereo works. Now over on this side, we have an area where we can do the same thing with single-DIN stereos, whether it's a CD receiver or a digital media receiver. We can compare different features. We can compare how they sound to one another. And in fact, in this board we can even compare different sizes of speaker from the same line, starting from the 4, 5 ¼, 6 ½, 6x9.
Then over on this workbench here, we have a box that we built for a road test we did a while back — you may have seen it, where we took five different navigation receivers out on the road specifically to compare the navigation capabilities of each one. Well, we built the box for that test, so now it's here in our lab. We can use it any other way we come up with.
So this is our installation bay. This is where we can bring the cars in and put the gear into the car for real, and then take it out into the real world and play with it. And really this is what the Crutchfield Labs is all about. It allows us to get hands-on with the gear, with the products, so that we can form expert opinions about what any given product can do, or what a line of speakers or amplifiers is going to be good at, and maybe not so good at, so our advisors can form expert opinions to tell a customer what's gonna work for that person given their situation. And that's what it's all about. So if you have any questions about any car audio gear give us a call.