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09-19-2012, 10:18 PM #1
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- Apr 2010
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Search Autoparts/Aftermarket-business/Research/ THE FUTURE OF CAR AUDIO SYSTEMS
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The audio system is one of the few parts of a vehicle that is not essential for transportation, but, all the same, in-car entertainment is incomplete without it. Car audio systems have come a long way — from Motorola’s first radio model 5T71, introduced in the 1930s, to the complex electronic music systems that can be found in cars today. Initially deemed as a luxurious accessory that only the rich could afford, audio systems today are a necessity. Gone are the days when cars were sold only on the basis of their horsepower rating. Now customers demand luxury and comfort at an affordable price.
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Until about a decade ago, vehicle built-in audio systems generally provided a lackluster experience to the listeners, thus forcing the end user to opt for aftermarket upgrades. But now, OEMs are keeping the customers’ demands in mind and designing systems that may even override the performance of aftermarket options.
Customers, who are very particular about audio quality, can still customize their audio systems using market leaders like Sony, Panasonic, JBL, Alpine, Kenwood, Blaupuknt and others.
The choice depends upon personal preferences, budget and exactly what a consumer wants in their vehicle — speaker, woofer, amplifier, head unit, etc.
Today, audio systems come equipped with CD/DVD players, AM/FM tuner, AUX/USB compatibility and are even Bluetooth enabled; also, many high-end cars have steering-mounted controls to improve safety and convenience while driving.
PAGE 2The main components of audio systems include:
Head units: The head unit is the dashboard-mounted panel that controls the entire audio system. It houses many different components like the radio tuner, CD player, USB port and performs various functions, like volume control for all the speakers, woofers, sub-woofers, and tweeters fixed in the car and tone control (bass or treble). Many high-end cars have Bluetooth-enabled audio systems, which enable music to be streamed wirelessly via a mobile phone.
Amplifiers: As the name suggests, an amplifier boosts the strength of the signal fed to it. In order to obtain sufficient clarity of sound and adequate volume from the speakers, amplifiers must be installed in a car.
Speakers: Similar to ordinary loudspeakers, speakers in a car convert sound energy to mechanical energy that push and pull the speaker’s cone to create sound, which then travels to our ears through the changes in the air pressure. Speakers are generally mounted on the front doors and in the rear parcel shelf.
Equalizers: Equalization is the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal. As it is impossible for a speaker system to independently produce immaculate sound, equalizers help to refine the sound.
Crossovers: In order to break the entire frequency into small portions, speaker crossovers are utilized.
Consumers today are becoming increasingly inclined towards overall comfort and want to be abreast of all the latest technologies available at their disposal. This has prompted OEMs and audio system companies alike to come up with innovative technologies that help provide an enthralling experience while driving. Some such technologies are:
Steering-mounted controls: Using easy-to-touch controls, drivers can adjust volume levels, change tracks or even audio sources while driving, without taking their hands off the wheel. High-end models generally come equipped with such controls.
Voice recognition: Using voice commands, it is possible to control the entire music system, from changing radio stations to playing specific tracks; all can be achieved by the exaction of your voice. It also makes driving safer, by eliminating the need to take your eyes off the road to change tracks or control volume. However, the inherent disadvantage is the system’s failure to recognize commands if slightly mispronounced.
Bluetooth connectivity: Bluetooth-enabled audio systems wirelessly stream music from an audio source, which could be a phone or an iPod. Some advanced systems even allow voice call reception while the phone is connected to the system.
USB port: One can easily connect iPods and other music players or phones through the USB port. The dual advantage here is that, while connected, the device not only plays one’s favorite list of songs, but is charged simultaneously. All in all, this is a very sought after feature for a car audio system.
Myriad combinations of head units, speakers and amplifiers produce differing quality of sound that can cater to individual tastes. With newer technologies capturing the market, there is no end to the modifications that can be applied to the overall audio system of cars, which can lend a gratifying sensation to the driving experience.
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