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Marine Product Guides > Fish Finder Guides >

What is CHIRP Sounder?

What is CHIRP all about?

Benefits of CHIRP sounders:

Standard, non-CHIRP Fish Finders operate at one or two individual frequencies and are generally capable of detecting targets and displaying them only within those narrow frequency bands. CHIRP Fish Finders transmit pulses across a wide range of frequencies, allowing superior digital signal processing (DSP) to display fish and structure targets with unparalleled clarity, accuracy and resolution.

Typical Non-CHIRP Fish Finders operate with a maximum duty cycle of 1%  - meaning they transmit a voltage to the transducer no more than 1% of the time. Consequently the transmit pulse can be high power but very short duration, limiting the total energy that is transmitted into the water column.

The CHIRP Fish Finders  uses a precise sweep pattern across frequencies within a long-duration transmission. The equivalent sound energy transmitted into the water is 10 to 1,000 times greater than a conventional Fish Finder, resulting in more energy on target. The results are up to 5x greater resolution and depth capability than comparably powered, standard Fish Finders due to the advanced signal processing of the return echo.

When used with a compatible CHIRP transducer (sold separately), it displays crystal-clear sonar images to help find the next hidden fishing spot, ship wreckage or diving location. With our Spread-Spectrum technology, you can see target separation and resolution at extraordinary depths, and dial into specific frequencies to target certain species of sport fish. Bottom contours are more visible, and signal noise can be suppressed at greater depths to provide a more timely interpretation of what’s below for safer navigation and better fishing.

What is CHIRP?

CHIRP is the most sophisticated sonar technology available for use by the fishing and boating public. The word itself is an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse.

Standard Sonar

Standard sonar sends 1 single frequency at a time. Since the only feedback is from this 1 single frequency, there is little information to work with, limiting the clarity and resolution available with standard sonar.


Instead of sending just 1 single frequency, CHIRP sends a continuous sweep of frequencies ranging from low to high. CHIRP sonar technology then interprets frequencies individually upon their return. Since this continuous sweep of frequencies provides CHIRP with a much wider range of information, CHIRP sonar is able to create a much clearer, higher resolution image.

CHIRP Scanning Sonar

CHIRP technology also enhances the performance and clarity of Garmin DownVü and SideVü scanning sonar to provide the clearest sonar images on the water.Types of Sonar

Traditional HD-ID Sonar

Traditional sonar that is available on Garmin fishfinders. HD-ID sonar transmits two frequencies, generally either 77/200 kHz or 50/200 kHz. Our echoMAP and GPSMAP chartplotter/sonar combos have Traditional HD-ID sonar built in.


CHIRP sonar transmits a sweep of many frequencies within a long duration pulse. The equivalent sound energy is hundreds of times greater, resulting in more energy on target. This provides huge advantages in detail, resolution and accuracy at much greater depths. CHIRP is built into our GPSMAP chartplotter/sonar combos


Panoptix all-seeing sonar is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on the water. Use the Panoptix Forward or Down transducer with a compatible Garmin GPSMAP unit to see all around your boat in real-time. You can see fish in the water column in 3-D. You can also see your bait cast into the water and watch it as you reel it in. You can see fish swimming in front of or below your boat. You can even see them chase your lure. But to truly appreciate Panoptix, you have to see it.

DownVü Scanning Sonar

This high-frequency sonar gives you a clearer picture of what's below your boat, by producing a more detailed representation of objects, structure and fish. DownVü with CHIRP technology takes it one step further, producing an ultra-clear page with even more detail. DownVü scanning sonar is built into our echoMAP combos, and DownVü scanning sonar with CHIRP technology is built into our GPSMAP combos. 

SideVü Scanning Sonar

SideVü shows you what is happening to the sides of your boat. An excellent way of finding structures and fish. SideVü with CHIRP technology provides an even more detailed and higher resolution image of what is beneath the surface. SideVü scanning sonar is built into our echoMAP sv combos, and SideVü scanning sonar with CHIRP technology is built into our GPSMAP combos. 


















What are the benefits of Airmar's Broadband Transducers?


Airmar offers "True Broadband" Transducers that can operate at a "broad band" of frequencies, not just the traditional 50kHz and 200kHz frequency selections of traditional fishfinders. See the image below that explains this.


Airmar achieves superior results by using a unique ceramic
material. It lets transducers operate over a broad range of
frequencies while maintaining sensitivity. These Broadband
Transducers are, by definition, low-Q devices (refer to “Q”
paragraph). In other words, they exhibit very low ringing.
There is little variation from transducer to transducer.
Additionally, Broadband Transducers are relatively immune
to the effects of aging, so their frequency range remains
stable over time.

Airmar is the first to introduce affordable Broadband
Transducers. This is an enabling technology that provides
better fish detection today and will lead to dramatic
advances in echosounder performance in the future. While
these transducers are more costly to manufacture, the
present and future benefits are huge.
Broadband Transducers enhance fish detection on virtually
all of today’s fishfinders. They give better definition; it is far
easier to distinguish among individual fish and between fish
and the bottom.

Broadband Benefits Today
Manufacturers now market echosounders that can adjust
operating frequency and power output. While these are
premium products, the designs are a precursor of things to
come. With the ability to adjust frequency, an echosounder
can operate Airmar’s broadband ceramics anywhere in
the frequency band. By selecting different operating
frequencies, two or more sounders can work simultaneously
without interference. The frequency can also be adjusted to
the mission. Lowering the operations frequency increases
the beamwidth and depth capability; raising the frequency
narrows the beamwidth, increases echo definition, and
improves high-speed performance.

Broadband Future Benefits
Here is where it gets really exciting. In today’s fishfinders,
good fish detection is obtained by transmitting a long
pulse. This puts more energy on the target. With a long
pulse, closely-spaced fish cannot be separated—you get a
big blob. Fish close to the bottom appear attached to the
bottom and are difficult or impossible to detect.
Airmar’s broadband transducers enable frequency
modulated (FM) transmissions; a.k.a. CHIRPor coded
transmissions. Using FM transmissions, you can achieve both
the benefits of long pulse, more energy on target, and short
pulse, segregation of closely-spaced fish and identification of
fish on or close to the bottom. This is because the coding of
the transmission is known and the return echoes are similarly
coded. The technique is also known as pulse compression.
In summary, fishfinders of the future with FM transmissions
will have dramatically improved target resolution and
signal-to-noise ratio. Airmar’s broadband transducer
technology will enable this to happen.

A Transducer’s quality factor, or “Q” describes the amount
of ringing the ceramic element or elements undergo when
power is applied to the transducer. Think of a church bell
analogy—as the bell is struck it vibrates rapidly and then the
vibration will eventually stop until the bell is struck again.
Most competitor’s recreational transducers have an average
Q between 25 and 35. Airmar Q values range from 1 to 30,
depending on models. The lower the “Q” number the less
ringing in the transducer and the better the performance.
Less ringing greatly improves individual fish separation along
with bottom imaging in rapidly changing water depths such
as ledges and offshore canyons.


Are there any special concerns for installing CHIRPtransducers?

Due to the nature of CHIRPtechnology, CHIRPtransducers generate more heat than traditional tone burst transducers operating at distinct frequencies. CHIRPtransducers require heat sinks in their construction to dissipate this heat. Airmar's CHIRPtransducers have been designed to be installed in specific ways according to the number and placement of these heat sinks. To install a CHIRPtransducer in a way other than intended by the manufacturer would lead to the transducer overheating and could result in transducer failure.

External thru-hull mount transducers must be installed as external thru-hulls. They can not be flush mounted or keel mounted or pocket mounted or fiberglassed into the hull in any way. If you wish to mount a transducer this way, be advised that Airmar makes equivalent transducers with extra heat sinks that are appropriate to be installed this way. See the Pocket/Keel Mount CHIRPbrochure available for viewing on Airmar's home page by clicking the link near the bottom of the page or click the link below.




**The price is subject to change at anytime without any notice.  We are not responsible for any typographical errors.  Any products can be cancelled from sale at any time.

** All Products sold here are Brand New unless specified Otherwise and come with Full Manufacturer's Warranty

WarningWARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Di-n-hexyl Phthalate (DnHP) which is known to the State of California to cause reproductive harm, and Vinyl Chloride which is known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information go to P65Warnings.ca.gov. __________________________________________________________________________________________


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