Combining the appropriate transducer set with a DSP also allows you to "dial in" a specific frequency to track. This is good news for tuna fisherman who typically want to see the 88kHz zone, where tuna are reported to show up best.
Like all great new gadgets, this new technology does come at a price. Even if you have an existing fishfinder/sounder in your system, you will likely need to upgrade the whole thing. Your MFD should be fine with a simple software update. However, because the technology truly starts in the transducer, you will need to upgrade those to CHIRP. Typically there are three versions of transducers that cover varying frequency ranges; Low Frequency (40kHz to 75kHz), Medium Frequency (80kHz to 135kHz), and High Frequency (130kHz to 210kHz). Depending on the ranges you want to cover, you pick two of the three ranges. Each transducer can be used to send out a "Sweep" of all the frequencies within its range or you can tell it to focus on a specific frequency. Transducers may come in a "classic" bronze thru-hull version with built-in combinations like Low/High frequency or Medium/High frequency. Or for best results, you may choose two individual bronze, tilted element transducers, each covering its own set of frequencies. You will choose the transducers that best fit what you are fishing for and where, i.e., whether you are a ground fisherman or bluewater; or deep water or shallow. MSRP for the transducers start about $750 and go up from there. Larger commercial style transducers are also available. Contact Blue Frontier for help picking your transducers and actual pricing.
Once you have decided on the frequencies you want to cover, you next need to address the DSP. This most likely is in the form of a "black box" sounder module. If you are currently running a Garmin GSD22, Raymarine DSM300, or the like, you
have a sounder module in your network. This is good. Unfortunately, those units will not accommodate the CHIRP transducer. You will need to upgrade to a Raymarine CP450, Garmin GSD26, or Simrad BSM-2 depending on the existing system you are running or purchasing. Currently, Furuno does not offer a CHIRP specific networkable sounder module. They have stated that they are waiting to see how the market reacts before introducing (or not) their own CHIRP capable DSP. However, the Furuno FCV and Sitex/Koden CVS-FX1 Sounders can be used with the Airmar CHIRP transducers for enhanced performance. Expect future releases of MFDs from several manufacturers with "built-in sounders" to have the processing capabilities to handle the CHIRP transducers. Currently, the above mentioned sounder modules from Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad start at about $1999. Please contact Blue Frontier for actual pricing and compatibility with your system.
With your new CHIRP transducers installed and connected to your CHIRP-capable Sounder Module, you now connect to your MFD and you will be getting fish and bottom images and target distinction unlike anything you have ever seen before. Fish beware!
Much like the move Navico (Simrad) made with its Broadband radars, it seems like there is a new movement afoot to take an old, tried and true technology and turn it on its head. If Airmar's advanced technology continues to make waves within the walls of the fishfinder manufacturers, I think it is likely that there will be a serious move to enable all sounders with this capability. If you are skeptical, consider this: Garmin recently showed off an image of a CHIRP sounder tracking bottom in over 17,000 feet of water at 20 knots of speed!
Feel free to contact Blue Frontier with any questions about CHIRP and how you may benefit from it.