The state of Car Audio... Musings on where we've been and where we've ended up in 20 years of car audio.
Car audio has come a long way. When I first got into listening to music in cars in the 90s, car stereos were still in the dark ages. Audio was largely an afterthought - Car manufacturers realized that just about everyone wanted to hear music, but most people weren't really willing to pay for really good music. You had some cars that had decent audio systems, but even the best of them paled in comparison to even a moderate home audio solution. Cars were inherently noisy environments, and most people didn't care enough to really warrant putting a lot of thought and effort into them. There were lots of co branding with Infinity and Bose, but usually all that got you was a forced bass sound that made some semi-appropriate thudding noises. The aftermarket car audio market was huge, since anyone who wanted decent sound ended up replacing the factory head unit, and adding speakers and often amplifiers and subwoofers. These weren't just the boomers, people cruising down the street sharing music with everyone around them, even people who just wanted to hear the detail and nuances of music while driving at 60mph.
Hummingbirds near the fruitless mulberry tree in our front yard.
I recently bought a 2016 VW Golf R. I deliberately skipped buying the in car Navigation system because I knew the 2016 model came with an Apple CarPlay enabled radio - I could simply plug in my iPhone (boo no wireless CarPlay support in VWs) and get navigation and access to my contacts, along with my music on my phone. Since I use Amazon Prime music, this seemed like a great solution and saved me some money, over buying the model with the navigation, since it had a bunch of other stuff bundled with it (about $2245 extra.) .
However, my experience with CarPlay, at least the VW implementation leads me to think that it's still pretty early in it's development cycle and might be a great thing in sometime. Now, I'm curious to see if Android Auto is better or worse. When it works, I'm about 80-90% happy with it, but unfortunately that is not all of the time. Lots of times I get connection glitches that require a hard reboot of either the phone or the car, or both. This is not just turning the car all the way off, rather locking it and walking away so the electronics fully shut down, and coming back 30+ minutes later.
Silicon Valley Dad, who loves cars, cooking, clothes and cameras