Radio or head unit? How car audio has transformed

Acquired the karaoke function

Yes Yes exactly. Karaoke in the car is now quite real. Such a function appeared, for example, in several new products from Pioneer (DEH-S5000BT, DEH-S3000BT, MVH-S300BT). It's simple: connect the microphone to the AUX input and activate it while holding the Search button. Now your voice will sound in the speakers of the car audio system along with your favorite tracks from a CD, a USB flash drive, a hard disk or even a smartphone connected via Bluetooth.

Pioneer DEH-S3000BT CD receiver with karaoke function

Using the proprietary Pioneer ARC application or from a smartphone connected via Bluetooth, you can adjust the microphone volume separately from the main track. By the way, this opportunity is useful not only during a trip by a large company or a party in nature - karaoke radios will also be useful when conducting excursions.

Switch to new audio formats

In the 1960s, car audio began with ... record players. Today, analog formats have remained only at home audiophiles, and in the car, the “digital” ball has long been ruled. The standard is to play files in the popular MP3 format, although many models additionally support WMA and AAC files. Agree, this is very convenient when a few flash drives a few hundred of your favorite music tracks to fit any mood.

However, in reality, not everything is so beautiful: the MP3 format also has drawbacks. As often happens, for the compact file size you have to pay mediocre sound quality. Compression of information in MP3 format is achieved by “ejecting” some part of the information from the file. That is why real music lovers until recently believed that high-quality sound in digital format can be achieved only from CDs.

Bentley brings together 1, 321 cars

The situation has changed with the advent of a new audio file format - FLAC. Compression of information in it occurs according to other algorithms and without loss of useful information, which is why it is called lossless in English. In fact, it combines the advantages of a compact disc (clear and rich sound) and compressed format (relatively compact file size). Head units that play FLAC audio files can be found, for example, in the Pioneer lineup.

Pioneer SPA-DA120 Multimedia System

Began to show video

Video in cars appeared a long time ago, but, as a rule, the capabilities of head units were limited to reading only DVDs and a modest set of other not very popular video formats. Today, they are being replaced by new video file formats - for example, MKV. Among car head units, it is supported, for example, by Pioneer SPH-DA120 and Pioneer AVH-X8800BT. This format, by the way, is loved by home movie fans, so the motto “in the car as at home” seems to finally become more relevant than ever.

Multimedia System AVH-X8800BT

By the way, another plus of such devices - the screen can be used not only to view videos, but also display the image from the rear view camera on it. Fortunately, almost any car multimedia device now has a connector for connecting a camera.

Became an assistant in communication

Using a smartphone in a car is dangerous; this fact does not need proof. But don’t turn off the smartphone while driving, right? Because there is a way to use it safely and comfortably - Bluetooth technology. The smartphone connects to the audio system and it turns into a wireless headset - you can talk on the road via “speakerphone” or listen to music without touching the phone.

Sami learned to communicate

With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies, things have become even more interesting. You connect the smartphone to the head unit of the car and after that you can control its applications and functions using the interface of the multimedia system - it is convenient and safe. The main feature of these technologies is voice control. Just ask the radio to find the desired track in the music collection, dictate a text message, ask about the weather for the coming days or ask to get directions. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported, for example, in the Pioneer AVH-X8800BT head unit.

Pioneer AVH-Z5000BT Multimedia System

Learned to sound better than home stereo systems

The car interior is not the easiest acoustic environment. Some speakers are located farther, others are closer, the sound spoils reflections from surfaces ... Here the sound processor comes to the rescue, it is also DSP. Often it is connected between the head unit and the amplifier, but it is much more convenient when the sound processor functions are contained directly in the head unit. As, for example, the Pioneer FH-X730BT, MVH-X580BT and DEH-X5900BT. There are three of these functions.

Pioneer DEH-S5000BT CD receiver

Firstly, this is the ability to channel speakers. The fact is that in any audio system, different types of speakers are responsible for their frequency range. The speakers in the doors - for low and medium frequencies, tweeters - for high. If you connect each of them directly to its amplifier channel, you can directly configure the “division” of the frequency range between them directly from the head unit. So you can much more accurately balance their sound with each other.

Secondly, the processor allows you to delay the signal for each speaker and thereby virtually "align" the distance to them. At the same time, the sound is evenly distributed between the right and left sides and as a result a uniform and three-dimensional stereo panorama is obtained.

Well and thirdly - it is an equalizer. By amplifying or attenuating the sound at individual frequencies, we can achieve the most correct sound - as in a good home stereo system. Unlike most head units, in models with a DSP processor, equalizers have a much larger number of control bands.

Become more flexible

The “radio and four speakers” system has always been considered the unshakable classic of car audio. Today, a separate amplifier can hardly be called a sign of exclusivity, and therefore even inexpensive models of head units, as a rule, have linear RCA outputs for connecting them. For example, in Pioneer head units there is at least one pair to which a subwoofer amplifier can be connected - this is the Pioneer MVH-180UB.

And for more advanced audio systems it is better to choose a model with several pairs of line outputs at once - for example, Pioneer DEH-80PRS and Pioneer DEX-P99RS. The amplifier in the audio system is needed not to increase the maximum volume level, as some people think, but first of all for higher sound quality. At the same volume, a system with a separate amplifier sounds more saturated and pleasant, and also more accurately transmits signal peaks, to which our hearing is very sensitive.

PRS DEX-P99RS Series CD / USB Receiver

Became easier to install

A powerful amplifier does not have to be bulky, heavy and very hot. For example, D-class amplifiers have a key difference from conventional amplifiers - their efficiency is more than 90%, as a result of which they are compact and almost do not heat up. For example, the 4-channel Pioneer GM-D1004 has a very decent power, but at the same time its length does not exceed 20 centimeters! And it can also be connected to standard radio connectors.

Among the subwoofers, there are also quite a few quite interesting models. Let's say an active Pioneer TS-WX70DA subwoofer with built-in amplifier is made flat and with strong walls. It can simply be put on the floor of the trunk, almost without losing the useful volume. At the same time, he gives out surprisingly powerful and dense bass - the return is increased due to a special system of internal channels that acoustically “loads” the speakers installed inside.

Active subwoofer Pioneer TS-WX70DA


We always respectfully and nostalgically recall the simple car audio systems of yesteryear. But modern technology today has given us a ton of new opportunities that it would be wrong to not use. The main thing is to choose the right manufacturer, who has earned a reputation as a pioneer in car audio systems and multimedia devices.

As an advertisement

Everything for cars ...

News about automotive industry news and legends of the past, racing cars and career heavy trucks in your mail! OK I agree to the rules of the site Thank you. We have sent a confirmation email to your email.


How to quickly inflate a mattress without a pump
Military vehicles of the past: tensional and torsion guns
Honor 20 vs Xiaomi Mi 9: who is faster?