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Car stereo design

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Jun 1, 2003.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I like to think I'm pretty gadget-savvy. At 35 I'm not at the cutting edge of the fashion/chic aspect of electronic doodads, but give me a cellphone/GPS/random piece of software/yada yada and I'll have it all figured out as fast as the next geek.

    Why then do I feel like a feeble old guy when I encounter a new car stereo? I think it's because design trends for car stereos have gotten pretty awful. These things are almost universally an ergonomic nightmare.

    Anyone agree? Or am I just an old geezer?
  2. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Certain models of the Alpine headunits have rotary knobs. Not all hope it lost, guys.
  3. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I know what you are talking about. A month ago I saw advertisement for this cheap mail-order car stereo, and I almost bought it just because it looked so nice and simple.

    I think most modern car stereos look as awful as most cheap home stereo sets do, you know the ones with "100+100w, now with TURBO BASS SYSTEM!!" stickers.
  4. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i have a feeling SOMEONE just checked out a new bimmer or benz, eh?

    that idrive thing is the stupidest idea in a car, EVAR.

  5. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Um..what the heck IS that thing (<--doesn't keep up on this sorta stuff).
  6. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    in the new 7 series (and i believe the new 5 series) all climate control, navigation, radio, data and such is controlled through that display, and the little knob on the arm rest is the 'mouse'

    it's not really something you can operate without looking at - bad news
  7. BigBohn


    Sep 29, 2001
    WPB, Florida
    Horrible design, might I add. That IDrive has nearly made sales of the 7 series plummet 40%. As well as turning potentials away, its been driving repeats off. I got a friends whos dad is sale manager at a prestigious BMW dealership (Braman) in West Palm Beach, Florida, as well as my dad has leased from them before (2000 528i; a lovely car might I add).

    While we were pondering options for the next car after the lease of the 5 was up, the 7 came into consideration and quickly out. BMW has been lacking lately in the styling department, so our attention was turned toward the newly redesigned Mercedes E class. Ended up with an E500 optioned out and we never looked back in the decision. Just a joy to drive. And will sure as hell beat the new 5 series looks-wise when they come out later this year. As for performance, I don't know. ;)

    I also hear plenty of stories like SMASH's where respectable BMW and M/B (primarily ML series) buyers were turned away by the design and quality of the vehicles they've been leasing or buying, are going out to buy a Honda. I find it actually a smarter purchase. I'm considering purchasing the 2003 (or 2004) Honda Accord sedan. Test drove, researched it heavily, compared it crashwise and performancewise with other vehicles in its class; it stacks up pretty well. Very good car; if I get it, I hope to get that Navigation upgrade as I heard Honda did very well on it unlike the recent M/B E class navigation scandal. :(
  8. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    That is one of the dumbest things I've yet seen in a car. Can you imagine someone trying to work that and talk on their cel phone? :rolleyes:
  9. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Im still a fan of the old school shaft mount stereos(you know the ones built prior to about 1985), and usually get laughed out of stereo shops when I ask if they still sell them.

    I dont understand today's car stereos. All the blinking lights, the ones with the racecar scenes to go along with the music, etc..........Back in my day if you had a Pioneer Super Tuner and Jensen 6x9's, you were king. Now thats junk by todays standards.

    One of the guys I work with has some new whizbang stereo that has a remote(like the one for your TV). *** is up with that? Im tempted to steal the remote, follow him home from work and mess with him.
  10. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Haha I had a cd player in my car for awhile that had a remote. I was borrowing my friends at the time. It was the dumbest thing...sitting there in the drivers seat changing stations or tracks with a remote when you are 1 foot away. :D
  11. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Maybe the remote is handy when youre in the backseat knockin boots with some hottie, and you wanna change the channel.........:D

    Other than that imo its pointless
    but then again if you build it, someone will buy it :rolleyes:
  12. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    I feel like an old geezer in most of todays cars, even when trying to do something basic like turning on the headlights or rolling down the power windows. Why? Well, first they stopped labeling switches with words(instead they use some stupid symbol that no one understands), and second they stopped putting switches in logical locations(read: where you can actually find them).

    Whats next? Maybe theyll replace dipsticks with some piston pullback relief valve lever screwkit adjusting mechanism that only 2% of the population will actually understand.

  13. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    no, they'll probably just cover the engine compartment with a pretty plastic cover.



  14. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Yeah all these new plastic engines kind of piss me off. isn't there actually a model or two that has a sealed engine compartment? meaning you can't even open it up yourself.

    As far as the remote goes, maybe if you stick it somewhere that's a little easier to reach than the console it could come in handy. Maybe not. I like the steering wheel mounted buttons that control the stereo.
  15. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    My car stereo system is old enough that they'd have to rewire the speakers and stuff in order for a new unit to work without frying it. :eek:
    I went to a few different places to get quotes and it'd be all custom labor [was quoted $200 min. in labor plus cost of unit & parts] so i'll be enjoying the whole 3 stations i can get on the AM radio. Oh yeah, BTW my car is an 84 Chevy Impala V8 305 has the 2 speakers up front + an AM only radio. The only power things on my car: steering, brakes, if there's something else i'll be surprised :D With the newer designed units i think it's a bit to complicated for me, i want a KNOB for the volume and not overly intricate things to control even though some detail is nice but i don't want to get overly confused. Thats all

    edit: My car is old, but it's got 54k miles on it and will last HOPEFULLY another 150k before it decides to quit and is built like a tank.
  16. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000

    It is true when you have an actual in-dash receiver, but my g/f used to have a '96 Pontiac Sunfire that had the controls for the CD mounted down in the console so you couldn't actually reach it. The only way to control it was the remote. That was a stupid idea too (whoever did it wasn't thinking very well), but it was the only way that the CD changer would work.
  17. I'm glad someone brought this up. I'm a sound engineer and I find it hard to understand those car stereo with all those fancy abbreviation that describe their fixed EQ settings that only apply to that specific brands. It's ridiculous! Let alone installing them, it's all color coded...nightmare from color blind people like me. The specs are usually full of s..t! Except those hi end ones. It's pathetic man, they're charging the consumer for the fancy display graphics, and the junks in there that has nothing to do with the overall sound quality itself.
  18. if you go to a nice store worth going to, you won't find a bunch of flashy stuff with no sound. the cheap, best buy crap is designed with the rice boy in mind. pretty much all of the good stuff have knobs on them, just like a factory stereo (i.e. the push the knob for bass, treble, pan, and fade functions as well).

    as for a remote, though i do not have one with mine, i've used cars with remote stereos and it's actually quite convenient. you can learn the remote by feel, just like any other remote, so you can more easily reach the buttons you need to make changes without taking your eyes off the road. some remotes even have a knob for the volume. it looks a little goofy, but its function is damn cool.

    for me it always comes down to priorities. if you understand the value of a good music reproduction system, then it is well worth the money to spend a few hundred dollars on some decent components for your car. if you can't install them yourself, make sure to budget for installation. i guess that is why my best bass is my 1999 MIM jazz (at least i have ultra jazz pickups in it).

    also, just like anything else, if you buy it, read the manual! if you can't understand the stereo you just bought for your car, it's your fault. because of the constraints of space, it's not feasible to have a big, fisher price knob for every single function. but that doesn't mean it can't be intuitive. you just have to spend some time with it and actually bother to learn instead of walk away and blame someone else.

    further, MikeN, i've found that modern cars are far more intuitive than many older cars. it must be a generation gap, pappy. modern cars have far fewer buttons and releases hidden under things -- no more trunk releases in the glove box, and no more hazard light switches on the steering column that you have to pull out to turn on (***?). i'm glad modern cars have changed from the '85 Z24 you, no doubt, drive.

    the common denominator in all you people's complaints is that none of you use the products -- you don't know how well or how badly they work because you haven't bought any and used them. i've been there before. i used to really hate car audio until i realized that i had to pay for quality just like in everything else. if i hadn't worked for a car stereo manufacturer, and then for a hi-fi retailer, i would not have any of the gear i have in my car. the low end stuff is terrible, and the high-end stuff is expensive, and i didn't know how worth it it was.

  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    That's what I thought too... until I actually started using mine. Then I found that it was very convenient, if the remote is ergonomically designed.

    With the remote there is little reason to look at the stereo... that means you keep your eyes on the road. I have three systems with remotes, a couple of Clarion Pro Audio setups with 12 disc changers and I just installed my old Alpine unit in the Fiat Spider. With volume, left, right, up and down buttons (among other things) a thumb press away you watch the road and control the stereo. I'm sold on the idea and my next system will have remote too.

    If the remote is just flat with no discernible bumps you'd probably have to look at it to press the right function. That's a bad design. The good designs work great IME IMO.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I doubt any manufacturer would be making these stereos if not for one simple premise... they sell. Some people truly love the mini video displays and other such stuff that has nothing to do with what I use a stereo for... sound reproduction. I'd be happy with much less "look at me" nonsense but sadly I'm in the minority.

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