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Which Garmin Sonar do I need?

Traditional | CHIRP | DownVü
ClearVü | UHD | Panoptix

Which Garmin Sonar do I need?


Traditional | CHIRP | DownVü
ClearVü | UHD | Panoptix


Garmin Sonar | Guide

by | Last updated: Feb 26, 2024

Whether you’re a freshwater or saltwater angler you know that sonar is one of the most efficient ways to find fish & bottom structure.

In this post, we are going to examine the 6 types of Garmin Sonar from Traditional Chirp to Panoptix All-Seeing Sonar, and compare their features.

Garmin sonar technology is excellent for both Beginners and Pros alike.



First, we put the table below together for a quick comparison of the current models and the sonar they support.



Then… we dive into the types of sonar/fishfinding technology that Garmin has, what they do, and which ones will are best for fishing and finding structure.


  1. Traditional vs CHIRP
  2. ClearVu
  3. SideVu
  4. Ultra High-Definition
  5. Panoptix LiveScope
  6. Panoptix All-Seeing


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  ReviewMarine is reader supported.

We may earn a commission when you buy thru our links.

Garmin Sonar | By Model

Here is a breakdown on which models have which sonar

Striker Vivid - Series
ECHOMAP - Series
GPSMAP - Series
Our Reviews
Vivid 4cv
Vivid 5cv
Vivid 7cv
Vivid 7sv
Vivid 9sv
Plus 43cv
Plus 44cv
UHD 63cv
UHD 64cv
UHD 73cv
UHD 74cv
UHD 73sv
UHD 74sv
UHD 93sv
UHD 94sv
Ultra 102sv
Ultra 106sv
Ultra 122sv
Ultra 126sv
742xs Plus
942xs Plus
1242xsv Plus
LVS 12
LVS 32

6 Types of Garmin Sonar


► 1 – Traditional Sonar vs Chirp Sonar


Traditional Sonar – sends one single frequency at a time.

Since the only feedback is from this one single frequency, there is limited information to work with, restricting the clarity and resolution available with standard sonar. 



Garmin Traditional Sonar vs CHIRP Sonar



CHIRP Sonar – is one of the most sophisticated sonar technologies available for fishing and boating today.

It truly provides amazingly clear target separation and definition because it puts even more energy onto a target than traditional sonar.

Instead of sending just one single frequency,  CHIRP sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies within a range from low to high and then interprets each frequency individually upon its return.

Since this continuous sweep of frequencies provides a much wider range of information, CHIRP sonar is able to create a much clearer, higher resolution image with greater target separation and crisper fish arches.

For example, 80-160kHz is sweeping through the range from 80kHz all the way up to 160kHz and hitting every single frequency in between.



Choosing a CHIRP Transducer – Picking the right transducer is very important to get the most CHIRP sonar.

These transducers have elements that are tuned to specific frequency ranges and limit interference while transmitting and receiving data.

It’s important to choose the right frequency range for the water conditions you boat or fish in. Higher frequencies use a narrow beamwidth and are better for high-speed operation and rough sea conditions.

The bottom definition and thermocline definition can be better when using a higher frequency. 

Lower frequencies use wider beam widths, which can let the fisherman see more targets, but could also generate more surface noise and reduce bottom signal continuity during rough sea conditions.

Wider beam widths generate larger arches for fish target returns, making them ideal for locating fish. 

Wider beam widths also perform better in deep water, because the lower frequency has better deep water penetration. 


High Frequency vs Low Frequency

High Frequency vs Low Frequency



Which Frequency do I use?


Low CHIRP | 40-60kHz

  • Ideal for deepwater
  • More power = Deeper Depths
  • Can show  thermoclines


Medium CHIRP | 85-165kHz

  • Best all-around performance
  • Mid-Band CHIRP, excellent for targeting Tuna, and Billfish


High CHIRP | 145-230kHz

  • Best suited for shallow water
  • High band frequencies use a narrow beam that is good for finding fish that are holding tight to structure.
  • Better target separation for bait


High Wide CHIRP | 150-240kHz

  • Excellent for freshwater.
  • A wide beam angle can cover more area in the water column.
  • High Wide beam shows larger fish arches than the standard high CHIRP transducer.



► 2 – CLEARVÜ Scanning Sonar


ClearVü Sonar – gives you an ultra-clear sonar picture of objects, structures, and fish below the boat.

ClearVü sonar is mainly used to identify structure and gives you a nearly photographic image structure below the boat.

With ClearVü, you see structure, submerged objects, and fish separation more clearly.


Garmin Traditional CHIRP vs Clearvu

Clearvu vs Traditional CHIRP



How Garmin ClearVu sonar works

Excellent for Structure


Instead of a cone-shaped beam like traditional CHIRP sonar, ClearVü scanning sonar sweeps a narrow beam of very high-frequency from side to side, producing “slices” that are combined to create very detailed images.


Garmin Clearvu Sonar Imaging


Fish are easily identifiable on Traditional View with CHIRP where as Structures are well defined using ClearVü.

For fishermen and divers looking for structure like wrecks, reefs, log piles and other underwater natural and man made features, ClearVü is a great tool.


► 3 – SIDEVÜ Scanning Sonar


SideVü is a high-frequency sonar – that gives a true-to-life view of structures and targets on either side of the boat.

Like ClearVü, SideVü scanning sonar sweeps a narrow beam of very high-frequency out to the side, producing “slices” that create very detailed images.



You see a crystal clear image that makes it easy to identify wrecks, structure, rocks, and even fish that are stacked up next to or above them.


Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer - Chirp SideVu


The distance you can scan out to the side depends on the depth but can be usable out several hundred feet which is excellent for covering and searching lots of area quickly.



Ultra High-Definition Radar Scanning System

Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar redefines scanning sonar. See everything below and off to the sides of your boat in amazingly sharp, crisp detail.

Share Ultra High- Definition scanning sonar images seamlessly across multiple networked chartplotters.

The black box system version includes an easy-to-install, networking GCV 20 sonar black box with an included three-array GT34UHD or GT36UHD transducer to provide scanning sonar images in ultra-high definition.

UHD comes standard on the ECHOMAP UHD Series, Ultra Series, GPSMAP 8600, and the new GPSMAP x3 series. No black box needed.

Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar gives you some additional depth performance.

It shows very detailed images of fish and structure up to 200’ below the boat with 800 kHz ClearVü, while two SideVü sonar frequency settings (455/1200 kHz) provide a depth range of up to 125’.





Ultra High-Definition  ClearVü – Transmits brilliant image clarity of structure and fish below the boat at greater depths than other high-frequency scanning sonars by utilizing a downward-facing element to put more power on targets.

Note: A  UHD Transducer is required for Ultra High-Definition Sonar. Some bundles include the GT54UHD-TM or  GT56UHD-TM transducer.

Here’s a good side by comparison of standard ClearVü and UHD  ClearVü.


Garmin ClearVü vs UHD ClearVü


More UHD Examples


Garmin Ultra High Definition  ClearVü Sonar




Ultra High-Definition SideVü –  shows stunningly clear images of structure and fish out to the sides of the boat. This makes searching new areas easier and faster because you can see everything the first time with excellent detail.

Keep in mind though that these sonar images are under perfect conditions and tuning. We rarely get returns back quite this perfect in everyday fishing, but they are pretty damn good.


UHD SideVu - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer





Choosing the right GARMIN Transducer - Panoptix Livescope


Panoptix LiveScope sonar brings real-time scanning sonar to life.

It shows highly detailed, easy-to-interpret live scanning sonar images of structure, bait, and fish swimming below and around your boat in real-time, even when your boat is stationary.



PANOPTIX Livescope LVS12


The LVS12 Livescope series offers both 30-degree forward and 30-degree down real-time scanning sonar views.

Panoptix shows real-time sonar images below the boat, even while stationary.

With the active scanning capabilities of Panoptix LiveScope, you can see images and movement so clear that it’s even possible to distinguish between species of fish.

The single-array transducer is an economical solution for inland and near-shore anglers without the need for a black box.

The LVS12 transducer is compatible with both the GPSMAP 8600s and the ECHOMAP Ultra Series in plug-and-play.


Panoptix LVS12 Forward View


Panoptix LVS12 Down View


LiveScope LVS12 features two modes in one transducer .

LiveScope Down and LiveScope Forward – and can be installed on a trolling motor or the transom.

Depending on your fishing preferences and style, you can choose to view both modes simultaneously or each individually from the chart plotter without any manual adjustment of the transducer.


Garmin LVS 12 - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer


Both views provide incredibly sharp, real-time scanning sonar images up to 200 feet down or away from the boat, even when the boat is stationary.

The LiveScope LVS12 is also equipped with an attitude heading reference system (AHRS) that constantly adjusts sonar beams to compensate for boat motion, so even in rough conditions, anglers will still see a steady sonar image.


Full Scanning Sonar System

Panoptix LiveScope System - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer

This module includes a compact GLS 10 sonar black box with LVS32 transducer and simple plug-and-play Garmin Marine Network connector to install easily and integrate seamlessly with your compatible Garmin Chartplotter [1].

Use the transducer as a supplemental traditional and ClearVü sonar source to see a historical representation of structure and fish below your boat. Available with trolling motor, transom, and thru-hull mount transducer options.


  • The Panoptix LiveScope scanning sonar system includes a compact GLS10 sonar black box with LVS32 transducer
  • It has a total of six sonar beams generated by three arrays
  • Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) stabilizes sonar view on Chartplotter screen, even in rough conditions (similar to camera stabilization). This also tells the Chartplotter what orientation the transducer is in for Forward vs Down views (similar to the PS22).
  • Will read water temperature
  • Can be the transducer source for Traditional and ClearVu


1. Compatible with:

  • GPSMAP 8400/8600
  • GPSMAP 702/902/1202 Plus
  • GPSMAP® 7400/7600
  • GPSMAP 1002/1202
  • GPSMAP 1202/1202xsv Touch
  • GPSMAP 702/902 series
  • ECHOMAP UHD 70/90
  • ECHOMAP Plus 70cv/70sv/90sv



Garmin Panoptix LVS32 Specs

530 -1,100 kHz
500 W
20o x 135o
Maximum depth
Down and Fwd 200' (61.0m)
Number of pins
Cable length
20 ft.




  • Panoptix LiveScope coverage is 20o(Port to Starboard) x 135o(Bow to Stern)
  • Maximum Range is 200′ (Forward or Down)
  • Frequency Range is 530 – 1100 kHz


Beam Angles - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer





LiveScope System (LVS32)

  • Full System – $1499
  • It has a total of six sonar beams generated by three arrays
  • Two modes in one Transducer. Transducer must rotate.
  • 135 degree front to back x 20 degree side to side beam


LiveScope System LVS32 Comparison - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer


LiveScope LVS 12

  • Lower Cost – $499
  • Two sonar beams generated by one array
  • Two modes in one Transducer. No manual adjustment needed
  • 30 degree front to back x 20 degree side to side beam


LiveScope System LVS12 Comparison - Choose the Right Garmin Transducer


PANOPTIX LIVESCOPE |  Transducer Comparison

RealVü 3-D Down
RealVü 3-D Historical
LiveVü Down
RealVü 3-D Forward
LiveVü Forward
FrontVü Forward
Garmin Marine Network Compatible
Independent Power Connection
Transom Mount Included
Trolling Motor Mount Included
Thru-hull Mount and Fairing Block

See On eBay

See On eBay

See On eBay

[1]  The forward-facing transom mount should be mounted in a location that is out of the water at speeds over 17 knots; if located below the waterline, cruising speeds over 21 knots should be avoided.

Here is a great video on the details of Panoptix LiveScope and how it works.


Panoptix FrontVu Sonar - Choosing the Right Garmin Transducer
Panoptix sonar is opening up a new world for serious anglers. It makes it possible to see fish and bait swimming, in real-time, around or under your boat — even when the boat is not moving.

Multibeam thru-hull transducer with premium FrontVü forward-looking sonar helps you avoid running aground¹ by displaying the bottom ahead of your boat in
real-time on your Chartplotter.

It also includes LiveVü Forward sonar so you can see fish — even divers — swimming in real-time under and ahead of your boat with a 300′ forward range.

Panoptix All Seing Sonar Lifestyle - Chosing the Right Garmin Transducer



Which includes three forward views: LiveVü Forward, RealVü 3-D Forward, and FrontVü.



Garmin Panoptix LIVEVÜ FORWARD Sonar
Provides a live sonar look at fish swimming and moving toward or away from the boat. Cast right at fish. See your lure. See fish react to your lure. See and feel the strike.


Garmin Panoptix REALVÜ 3-D FORWARD Sonar
Scans the area in front of your boat, creating a forwardlooking 3-D view of the bottom, structure, and fish.


Garmin Panoptix Forward FRONTVÜ Sonar

To help give you time to avoid collisions with submerged obstacles, FrontVü shows underwater obstructions within a 300′ range as you approach them in real-time.

The ability to effectively avoid running aground with FrontVü sonar decreases as speed rises above 8 knots.



Which includes three downward views: LiveVü Down, RealVü 3-D Historical, and RealVü 3-D Down.



Garmin LIVEVÜ DOWN Sonar
Shows real-time moving sonar images of small baitfish and large target fish swimming below your boat and pinpoints their distance left or right and their depths.


Garmin REALVÜ 3-D DOWN Sonar
Scrolls through sonar data as the boat moves; to show the history of the entire water column from the bottom to the surface and all of the fish in between.



Scans below the boat – front to back and side to side – to construct a full 3-D view of the area under the boat, letting you see contour changes, fish, and structure, even while stationary.

Panoptix Compatible Models

Which Garmin Fishfinders Support Panoptix?

GPSMAP 8400/8600
GPSMAP 702/902/1202 Plus
GPSMAP 703/903/1203
GPSMAP 7400/7600
GPSMAP 1202/1202xsv Touch
GPSMAP 1002/1202
GPSMAP 702/902 series
GPSMAP 8000 chartplotters*
ECHOMAP UHD 70/90 combos
ECHOMAP Ultra combos
ECHOMAP Plus 70cv/70sv/90sv combos
All-Seeing Sonar
LiveScope System
LiveScope LVS12
Rodney L.

Rodney L.

NavGuy | Lead Writer

Charter Boat Captain, Avid Cruiser, Boat Builder & Marine Electronics Pro:

With over a decade of experience in the marine electronics industry and over 30 years of cruising the Bahamas on boats of all kinds, Rodney is well-positioned to help boaters of all levels sift through the many choices we have today in marine electronics.

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