THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business May '14

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May 2014 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 59 "Today's equipment has the ability to make better sound with smaller, lighter components that are easier to hide," agrees Dan Jobin, rod and custom product plan- ning manager for Stillwater Designs/ KICKER in Stillwater, Okla. "Aftermarket car stereo equipment has traditionally been meant to be showy and in-your-face. Like a Roots blower sticking up through the hood, the sound system was installed in a manner that attracted attention." To be sure, some hot rodders embrace such ostentatious style—but we'd venture a guess that most prefer something more subtle. Any rodder/restorer striving for an authentic or nostalgic look, or a machined- from-billet race-car look, or a modernized clean-and-sanitary look will prefer an audio system that's at most inconspicuous and at best hidden completely. Yet they all want modern, OEM sound quality. We urge builders and end-users to ex- ercise judgment, however, about using a smartphone or tablet to adjust the stereo while negotiating traffic or bulleting along at highway speed. Under those circumstances, stereo operation might best be left to a passenger. That said, let's look at some of these new developments in detail. Bluetooth Is Not A Dental Condition "Probably the biggest single development is the integration of Bluetooth across virtually all after- market car audio platforms," offers Steve Brown, product marketing manager for Alpine Electronics of America in Tor- rance, Calif. "This is great for hot rods and restorations, because it allows the customer to mount the radio in a remote, hidden lo- cation and still have the ability to use the phone and stream audio hands-free." "Over the last two years the mobile elec- tronics industry has seen a huge growth in in-car connectivity," adds Rob Haynes, national sales trainer for Rydeen Mobile Electronics in Torrance, Calif., "thanks to the emergence of numerous 'app radios' or true Android stereos such as our DV638A Android Multimedia Player. With the smartphone boom, consumers now expect this technology in their cars, and the after- market has done a great job of providing it. Consumers can now control popular apps such as Pandora, Google Navigation/ Google Maps, YouTube and even check their email from their radio's touchscreen— and still enjoy digital sound quality." Custom Autosound offers the Blukit adapter, a Bluetooth wireless interface for the company's vintage-look USA-66 and USA-630 radios. "This adapter plugs into the CD changer port of your Custom Autosound radio," says McDonald, "and enables hands-free calling from any Bluetooth-capable phone. It also allows you to listen to music stored on an A2DP-enabled Bluetooth device." And although its visual style is essentially modern, Alpine's CDE-HD149BT is a full- feature, 1DIN head unit that supports Blue- tooth, audio streaming and satellite radio; and can be "tuned to the user's liking" us- ing a smartphone and Alpine's innovative TuneIt app. Bill Greenberg, CEO of KnuKonceptz in Cleveland, confirms that "tablets and smart- phones have found a place in vehicles," potentially replacing the traditional dash- mounted head unit. "Smartphones include music-player applications and as much as 64 GB of storage—that's thousands of songs. Internet radio channels such as Slacker and iHeartRadio are free to use, and offer hun- dreds of streaming audio channels anywhere you have cellular access." In other words, you no longer need to hide the head unit, because you no longer need a head unit—your smartphone can stream audio content directly to a hidden amplifier, which is easier than ever to hide because ampli- fiers have shrunk in size and in- creased in output. "These newer, more efficient amps are easier to install, take up less space in the trunk or under the seat, and weigh less," Greenberg adds. A hidden amp controlled by a smartphone or tablet can provide up-to-the-second modern sound with absolutely no compromise to the vintage look of the vehicle—or to what- ever look the owner desires. Smaller, Lighter, Tighter Haynes confirms that "amplifiers keep getting smaller and more powerful, thanks to new digital technologies. These tiny amplifiers can fit in just about any vehicle, draw less current than older amplifiers and provide exceptional sound quality." Smith recommends JL's XD amplifiers. "The fact that they are so small and pow- erful makes them easy to work with, wheth- er you want a completely hidden system, or to show off with a wild-and-crazy one. And with efficiencies exceeding 80 percent, they generate far less heat and strain on your ve- hicle's electrical system than a conventional large amplifier." Various models range from one to eight channels, and 300-1,000 watts. The latest XDv2 models turn on automatically when they sense a signal, and "accept a wide range of inputs, from line-level all the way to high-power, speaker-level signals." Speakers, too, "fit into tighter spaces than ever before," says Smith, "because many newer cars"—the emphasis is ours—"offer less open space and require more compact solutions. These space-conscious products also benefit the hot rodder by making it KnuKonceptz's UBT-840P and UBT-840N battery terminals, designed to provide additional ports for 0-, 4-, and 8-gauge cable. (Courtesy KnuKonceptz) Consumers can easily control apps such as Pan- dora, Google Navigation/Google Maps, You- Tube and even check their email from their ra- dio's touch screen. (Courtesy Rydeen Mobile) PHBMAYp58-91.indd 59 4/2/14 12:02 PM

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