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Car Audio moving forward. A reflection.

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JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
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Since 2002/2003
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15,831
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Connecticut
As a kid who got his license in the late '60, to me, music in the car has been just as important as the car from the day I first took the wheel. From the days of the clunky push button AM radio with the 5 presets, the gradual addition of FM radio, then FM stereo, the first 8-tracks and cassette car players, then CD and even DVD-Audio players - having good audio in my cars has always been paramount.

I can't tell you how many cars I installed audio system in, hacking up the back deck to install Jensen 6x9 Coaxial speakers, ripping apart the dash and the floor boards to pull the wires for a new "stereo", running a big fat red wire through the firewall to the battery - and I am sure many of you old times have done the same many times over.

Some cars came with wild radio system, even back in the early days of car audio. My fathers 1968 Chrysler New Yorker had a little pull switch under that dash that I one day discovered was a reverberator for the radio! What a revelation. You would pull it down, then you could turn the knob for more or less reverb. What a concept! I never asked him if he ordered that, if it just came with the car, or if he ever used it. To me it was a trip, though!

What brings all of this on is that my new car has arrived at the Acura dealership for me to pick up this weekend, and for the first time in my life I am getting a car that will not play any purchasable media. This struck me as I was cleaning the stuff out of my old car. Piles of DTS-CDs, and even a few store bought (or Amazon bought) CDs that I never even opened. As I put these in a box along with the other accumulated junk in the car, I came to the realization that I would no longer be able to stop in at a store (if I could find one) and buy the latest CD and listen to it in the car on the way home. Wow. That's sobering. It's something that, like I said, I've done my entire life. It was very cool to be able to go into Media Play or Best Buy, buy a DVD-Audio, and listen to it in the car INSTANTLY!! I remember getting "Love" and hearing "Because" with the birds and wondering "What the heck is this", right as I pulled out of the Best Buy. Again, those days are gone. Being on a trip and stopping at a store to get some "fresh tunes". Every one of us has done that in that past. It's only natural. But.............

As we enter the 2020's, cassette decks are gone, and the CD players will be gone as well from most new cars as everyone will be streaming music and listening to iPods/USB sticks, but the ability to purchase a new album and hear it right away will be gone as well.

The new possibilities are indeed great however! A USB stick with a ton of 5.1 files on it, freeing me from formats, how cool is that? It's really why I'm buying this, which will probably be my last new, car - but putting those CDs away, and looking at my LPs, DVD-A's, SACD's, CD's, and other misc media I have, and realizing that it's all superfluous once they are ripped to a hard drive, is a bit jarring. Reality coming into view.

There is really no need for any of this stuff anymore, once you have the data. It's just data. All of that money spent, and now represented by almost valueless media.

When I think about it that way, I honestly feel a little sad. Not sure why, but I can't help it.

Must be because I'm old.

Thanks for listening. :phones
 

Steve Schoultz

300 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Oct 4, 2008
Messages
373
Location
San Antonio, TX
During the days when we only had AM radios, I remember fantasizing about installing a turntable. I had all this great music on LP and could only listen on my home stereo. Enter the 8 track. Installed one of those with those same Jensen speakers.
Flash forward to today. Still driving my 2012 Acura 2012. Haven’t yet made the transition at home to computer based storage and play capability. But I will get there. I will still keep my 1000s of CDs, SACDs and DVD-Audios just in case of hard drive failure. But it is hard to imagine no longer having that physical thing to hold and look at with the music. Man we are getting old! Time moves on.
 

Clint Eastwood

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Messages
11,458
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Int Space Station
I'm not sure where to begin as you have covered a lot in your post...I never did evolve to a surround in a vehicle...but "back in the day" I had so many variations of music types...CDs...cassettes..and I fondly remember having an FM converter in a car I bought from a friend...what a great thing that was...at the time....but my fondest memories were making driving "tapes" for myself and my friends..once I started making my own tapes the word spread among my friends and I got a lot of requests which usually required some beer for my effort...my best friend and his wife were going on a vacation to California and he was going to be driving up the scenic Big Sur coastline and wanted a "driving tape"...knowing their musical preferences I spent a month making some tapes....he still tells me about those tapes...he had rented a convertible and since they both loved Johnny Mathis...99 miles from L.A. was the opener...

Over the years...like Jon...I could stop at a music store and buy a CD and put it in my car system...it was so cool having those available...and since Jon made his post...I dug up one of my traveling cassette holders...which I used later on for 8mm video tapes..it was a big war between TDK and Maxell...and they would give you these cassette holders for free...

IMG_3158.JPG
 

LuvMyQuad

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Messages
2,288
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Western NY
My most recent auto lease was a 2017 Chevy. One of the few remaining makes that still come equipped with a CD player (a crappy, non-gapless one, but a CD player none the less). So I still could pick up a CD and listen to it on the way home. Unfortunately there are no longer any brick and mortar stores that actually sell CDs in my area anymore. They have all closed down.

My better half drives a Chrysler 300. Chrysler hasn't offered CD players for a few years now. I thought she was gonna cry when she found out she couldn't get a CD player, not even an after market unit. Consider too that her last Chrysler 300 had a factory head unit that included both a CD player and a CASSETTE player. So now she needs to have music ripped to either a secure digital card or a flash drive.

In neither of our vehicles will the audio system decode FLAC files. Only MP3s and WAVs. So every few months I rip us some new music to MP3 on a flash drives. She also listens to Sirius/XM though. I'm cheap, so I only listen to it when its a free week.

Sad indeed.

But I take comfort in thinking back to my teen years when I had a Quad Q8 deck and four corner speakers in my '66 Mustang. Damn that was some fine listening. I haven't had a car equipped to play multichannel sound since.

I always anticipated that there would be improvements in media formats as time went on. I remember reading articles about how fantastic digital audio was going to be once it arrived.

How ironic is it that the final format would involve no physical media at all.
 

Quadzilla

Exiled QQ Veteran
Since 2002/2003
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Messages
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London, Ontario, Canada
My first exposure to discrete (as opposed to kinda-sorta synthed) quad was on a Q8 deck in my buddy's old Ford Falcon. He only had a few Q8 tapes … Abraxas, A Space In Time and Overnite Sensation, along with a few others … and we enjoyed a lot of weed surrounded by those great tunes. I never bothered with 8-tracks. I was a cassette and reel-to-reel guy, so I didn't have any surround sound in my car until I got my first Acura TL … just in time for DVD-Audio to go the way of the 8-track. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
 

DuncanS

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I remember a school friend getting his first car, we can drive at 17 in the UK, and he fitted an 8-track. I didn't learn to drive until I'd finished Uni, my first wreck had a just about working radio, which only worked when the rain didn't get through to it. Then I was carless (careless as well!) for years. When I did get one I fitted a cassette player, and it was always a pain to have to record to tape to listen to something. Then came cars with CD players, then CD multi-players, which as I commuted long distance was great. My last the Audi A4 I made sure I got it with CD multi-player fitted, in addition to the standard CD/DVD. Plus it did play from USB & SD Card. I've been looking at another new Audi and you need to ask for the CD player option - if its available! So we're heading back to having to transfer from CD to SD Card/USB Stick instead of LP to Tape. Progress?
 

holland123

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,054
Location
detroit, michigan.usa
Yes,Yes, Yes, this is actually very sad to me as well. not really sure I can deal with it like an adult, that's why I drive an older car (02') in which i can still rip out the stereo and do a full rewire/reinstall with dvda player, amps, eq, power cap, etc. It may be especially hard for me since I was in the custom competition car audio game for a spell. just can't get that out of my blood. the satisfaction of getting that new disc and playing it right away is indeed awesome.

my very first mod to a car was when I started driving in the mid 70's. cut the radio wires on my folks brand new 75' Dart that they paid a whopping 2,500.00 to wire in my little portable piece of shit Norelco mono cassette player/recorder. they were so pissed at me as I messed with it for almost a week and they had no am radio to listen to. The car was only mono with 1 shitty speaker in the middle of the dash ( "3 on the tree trans" ). Finally got it though and it was super cool. ( to me).

In post #3 Steve mentioned a car turntable and believe it or not there was one made in the late 60's. My friends older brother had one and it was waaay cool. it mounted in the trunk, it played the record upside down, you had to be parked to play it but it was awesome, as I remember it didn't last very long before breaking down, he was constantly pulling it out to fix this or that on it. fun times, the world was so different then.
 

Jim the Oldbie

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Jun 6, 2015
Messages
880
Location
Midwest USA
When I was 16, I bought a crappy underdash 8-track player and installed it in the family sedan. It soon developed an intermittent crackling noise in one speaker that was irritating as hell.

One afternoon, I was cruising around with a friend, trying to listen to the "new" Jethro Tull album, A Passion Play, but the tape player was acting up badly. I'd jiggle the slide-out mount and it would be OK for awhile, then that damn noise would return. Finally I twisted around a little in the seat and gave that thing one f890ing good KICK... and the crackling noise disappeared. Never heard it again. That tape deck worked like a charm until we sold the car.

That was the first and last time I ever had any success with that particular repair procedure.
 

Quadzilla

Exiled QQ Veteran
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Jul 9, 2003
Messages
2,179
Location
London, Ontario, Canada
When I was 16, I bought a crappy underdash 8-track player and installed it in the family sedan. It soon developed an intermittent crackling noise in one speaker that was irritating as hell.

One afternoon, I was cruising around with a friend, trying to listen to the "new" Jethro Tull album, A Passion Play, but the tape player was acting up badly. I'd jiggle the slide-out mount and it would be OK for awhile, then that damn noise would return. Finally I twisted around a little in the seat and gave that thing one f890ing good KICK... and the crackling noise disappeared. Never heard it again. That tape deck worked like a charm until we sold the car.

That was the first and last time I ever had any success with that particular repair procedure.
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of delicate "persuasion". :cool:
 

Quad Linda

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8,226
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DROP YOUR WAD ON QUAD Chicago, Illinois
I've owned 14 cars. The first two had AM only. After that, I had BOTH Q8 and cassette mounted to a slide mount. If I knew I was going to the record store, I'd bring Q8. If I had dubbed my new stereo LP's to cassette, or had made a new mix tape, the cassette would come along. Each week, I'd makes a 90 minute mix cassette of the best tracks from the 20-30 albums I gought that week.

More later...
 
Last edited:

Jim the Oldbie

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Jun 6, 2015
Messages
880
Location
Midwest USA
...My first 8-track car player, a Sony tc-84. Impressed many of my friends playing Dark Side of the Moon in quad.
That was a pretty expensive deck as I recall.

True story: I knew a guy back in the day who owned a TC-84. Never installed it in a car that I know of. He just had it in an empty bedroom in his rented house, running off a 12V power supply, with 4 little plastic car stereo speakers, one in each corner of the room. His one and only quad tape was Dark Side of the Moon. Every now and then he would just do a few bong hits and head for the bedroom, no big deal. He was a pretty good dude actually, if a bit quirky. :)
 

Quadzilla

Exiled QQ Veteran
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Jul 9, 2003
Messages
2,179
Location
London, Ontario, Canada
That was a pretty expensive deck as I recall.

True story: I knew a guy back in the day who owned a TC-84. Never installed it in a car that I know of. He just had it in an empty bedroom in his rented house, running off a 12V power supply, with 4 little plastic car stereo speakers, one in each corner of the room. His one and only quad tape was Dark Side of the Moon. Every now and then he would just do a few bong hits and head for the bedroom, no big deal. He was a pretty good dude actually, if a bit quirky. :)
Let me know when you get to the 'quirky' part. He sounds like most of my friends when we were younger. :smokin
 

JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
15,831
Location
Connecticut
I'm not sure where to begin as you have covered a lot in your post...I never did evolve to a surround in a vehicle...but "back in the day" I had so many variations of music types...CDs...cassettes..and I fondly remember having an FM converter in a car I bought from a friend...what a great thing that was...at the time....but my fondest memories were making driving "tapes" for myself and my friends..once I started making my own tapes the word spread among my friends and I got a lot of requests which usually required some beer for my effort...my best friend and his wife were going on a vacation to California and he was going to be driving up the scenic Big Sur coastline and wanted a "driving tape"...knowing their musical preferences I spent a month making some tapes....he still tells me about those tapes...he had rented a convertible and since they both loved Johnny Mathis...99 miles from L.A. was the opener...

Over the years...like Jon...I could stop at a music store and buy a CD and put it in my car system...it was so cool having those available...and since Jon made his post...I dug up one of my traveling cassette holders...which I used later on for 8mm video tapes..it was a big war between TDK and Maxell...and they would give you these cassette holders for free...

View attachment 33397
Oh yeah. Had these. TDK vs Maxell. Chromium Tape, metal tape, many different grades of cassettes. I even had the dual well dubbing decks to copy songs from one to the other. Ah, the old days of audio. So much fun, so much money!
 

Clint Eastwood

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
Messages
11,458
Location
Int Space Station
Well Jon...knowing your interest in music while driving....what is it going to be(music) for the maiden voyage of the new Acura?...some mellow tunes...or rock out:SG..is it going to be just straight home....OR...maybe a little scenic trip in the new ride:phones
 

djstephan

Well-known Member
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Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
139
Location
Heraklion, Crete
I arrived in the States as a student in 1980. My girlfriend's dad car (don't remember the make) had an 8 track player that sounded amazing to me.I guess that was my first multi exposure.My first car , a Ford Pinto,yes a Pinto:) had a pretty decent cassette/radio,it's FM tuner sounded really good , used to listen to KMET(the mighty Met) and KLOS in L.A...cranked both stations real loud..Friday nights never sounded better after school...aaah the good old days...
Although I bought a ton of cassette tapes, most were unfortunately eaten up by the car stereos. One thing I don't miss is trying to get a tape out of the deck, and trying not to destroy the tape itself..what a mess..and the self rewinding once that tape was out ,what a hoot..
Through the years I owned most of the major car stereo brands..Pioneer, Alpine ,Kenwood all made great car stereo players..I seemed to prefer Pioneer because to my ears, it had the best sounding FM tuner...
Once CD's hit the market...I remember having a CD holder in the trunk and a multi changer..what a convenience that seemed at the time..hours of music at your fingertips at the touch of a button..I remember hitting the "change CD" button , lowering the volume on the radio and trying to hear the cling clang noise of the changer as it changed the CD and finally the display on the car stereo..bliss!..Most of my CD collection was sold when I moved to Crete,I held on to my multi discs though:)
The latest car I bought a few months ago had the CD player as a (99 euro) option..I did get it is mostly for nostalgia..I know my 6 year old is going to ask what a CD is one day.
Times have changed...
 

elroy

600 Club - QQ All-Star
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Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
692
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Orange County, CA
I think of the car cassette tape player and the chance to play my self-made cassette tapes. Not just the chance to hear any of my albums in full in the car,but the chance to make KILLER mix tapes! Some perfect lineup of songs that I would play over and over, such that when I heard "Song 7" on a radio station, I would be disappointed when "Song 8" from the mix tape wouldn't play next.

I played those tapes over and over. All the work it went into making them - adjusting the levels for each song, cuing up the record, starting the recording with just the right gap, figuring out how much time was left and if I could squeeze in one more song...

I guess it's very easy to make playlists on iTunes or streaming services but it's not the same.
 

Quadzilla

Exiled QQ Veteran
Since 2002/2003
Joined
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Messages
2,179
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London, Ontario, Canada
OK guys … fess up! Who had a pair of 6X9s propped up in the back window? You know the ones … just wedged in between the back window and the rear shelf, just waiting for you to slam on the brakes so they could come sailing into the back of your head. Those were the days before head rests after all. Come on guys … I know that some of you did that.
 

Jim the Oldbie

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Jun 6, 2015
Messages
880
Location
Midwest USA
Ha! I never had any projectile 6x9s, but I did have a loose pair of Large Advents blasting away in the back of my old Econoline van on the night I wrecked it. They did indeed travel several feet from the back of the vehicle to the front, thankfully avoiding my inebriated noggin. (I checked into detox/rehab the next morning, and haven't had a drink since that night, around 37 years ago.)

I still have those banged-up old Advent boxes (looking at one of 'em right now). I disconnected the tweets & crossovers, and replaced the woofs with Kenwood 12" DVC car stereo models. Each 4Ω voice coil (4 total) is driven with ~110 watts from its own output channel of an Outlaw Audio 7075 power amp. They are room-tuned to 16 Hz, roughly an octave below the well-known "Advent bass" they originally produced. :)
 
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