ok, taz's question first, because he posted first.
average mobile to mobile range for barefoot (no linear amplifier) radios is around 5-20 miles, depending greatly on your antenna setup.
if you want to hear others better, and for that matter, reach out further; your antenna system is the place to start making improvements.
dont buy cheap off brand antennas, and mount it up high on your vehicle.
yes, many variables there, but searching around this forum should give you some good suggestions.
i dont know what "motherboard" is, but you should be able to hear people from a couple of kilometers away with no problem whatsoever using just a stock CB
Skyrider, soundtracker is a marketing ploy used by cobra to get unsuspecting buyers to choose their radios over the unidens and midlands that are sold right next to them.
the concept behind it is called "companding" which is a mash up of the words compressing and expanding.
the idea is that when you add compression to your mic audio, it will give your voice more punch, allowing you to be heard over the noise.
the expansion is on the receive end, where your receiver "expands" the audio coming in that has been compressed, and allows you to hear that station over others that arent running compression in their mic audio.
there are two things about this that cobra fails to mention. first, BOTH the receiving radio and the transmitting radio have to be using the soundtracker feature for it to have any benefit whatsoever. pretty lame eh?
the second thing they dont tell you is that it doesnt work very well even in the rare case where both radios are using the soundtracker feature.
the "companding" concept got big in the early 80's and was planned for use in the telephone industry.
radio people borrowed the idea and tried applying it to radio comms.
Selman Enterprises (the Secret CB
people) used to sell a kit called the VSB-1
(Voice Signal Booster) and if you read their advertisements for it; you would have thought you could hear someone on the moon with it. LOL
the idea just never caught on, and i for one am
very glad it did not.
if it did, pretty much all major branded CB
's would have that "feature".
most people just never turn it on. some of us will remove it from the radio completely and use the button for something useful.
i have heard people say that radios that came with the soundtracker feature sound better with it removed than just with it off, but i have not had an opportunity to confirm or deny this.