Posted by: rubberhawk | March 1, 2009

The Future of In-car Audio

I can recall from a very early age our car having a cassette tape player (remember them?). Then as the cars changed over the years, the cassette player eventually made way for the CD player and now they have become the defacto standard feature in every car you see. If you wanted a little more luxury in your life you got a CD changer in the trunk.

Nowadays, though a CD changer seems very old fashioned, don’t you think? The majority of head units in cars these days sport MP3 CD compatibility meaning you can fit hundreds of songs on 1 disk as it is. CD changers are fast becoming large bulky boxes that take up trunk space you could be using for your golf clubs(?). In recent years our music collections have changed dramatically. The amount of content has expanded exponentially while the physical size has shrunk just as dramatically. Many people carry their entire music collection around in their pocket on an ipod. Car media has been adapting to this and has a number of solutions at varying levels of the market:

Fusion ipod receiver

Fusion ipod receiver

Fusion Electronics has developed the CA-IP500 ipod receiver. The first thing you’ll notice about this head unit is the lack of a CD slot. In its place is a bay behind the pop-down fascia where you can insert an ipod that is then integrated directly into the unit. no wires, no bulky boxes, no mess. The interface is even transferred from the ipod to the unit fascia. At $399 it ain’t cheap though. Of course other models exist that essentially do the same job but this is an example of where the technology is going in the future. However at that price, units that are this well integrated will be out of the price range of the average music fan for a few years to come. It is clear however that the ipod is the next big thing in car audio sources.

Auxillary input

Auxillary input

Today though we have a solution that has crept into almost every aftermarket car stereo you can buy. That is the auxillary input which is little more than a 3.5mm jack on the front of the head unit. Starting as low as €60 + €5 (head unit and lead respectively) you can have almost all the functionality of the more expensive Fusion IP500 unit. By simply being cheaper and easier to use the aux in connection has become almost a standard feature in the car audio world. This is for a number of reasons:

  • A basic setup is over €300 cheaper than the fusion setup, A high end one can still be €150 cheaper. Thats more money to spend further down the line on your speakers where price has a much bigger effect on quality.
  • It in theory works with anything that has an audio output on it(even phones and laptops), provided you’ve got the right lead.
  • Changing the source is as simple as changing a CD, just plug the jack into something else. This makes sharing with friends devices incredibly easy.
  • Control isn’t just limited to the two people in the front seat. Just pass the mp3 player back to the people in the back. Don’t worry though, you still have final control sitting in the front.
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