By on January 16, 2012

Are in-car CD players the mark of a vehicle aimed at geezers? According to an Automotive News report, the CD may be going the way of the cassette or 8-track player in certain cars – namely those aimed at younger, “Gen Y” buyers, who use smart phones as music devices.

An Automotive News article on the topic seems to suggest that “Sonic and Spark customers” [read: the coveted “Gen Y” types that Chevy is desperately hoping to attract] apparently don’t have much love for physical media any more.

“We asked potential Sonic and Spark customers what they were looking for in infotainment,” said Sara LeBlanc, MyLink’s global infotainment program manager. “They were very worried about cost. They said to us: ‘Get rid of the CD player. We don’t use it.'”

It’s true that Gen Y is concerned about vehicle costs, and that smart phones and MP3 players are the dominant forms of music players, but I don’t think anyone, regardless of age, has ever thought about how much the cost of a CD player has added to the price of the car. True, I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD, but unlike in-car iPod systems, CDs tend to work every single time, unless the disc is heavily damaged.

These days, the number one question I get about a press car is usually “how do I plug in my iPod.” Horsepower, airbag count, sticker price, where it’s made, those are all secondary considerations for passengers. Anyone who has driven a new car in the past 18 months knows that these systems are imperfect at best.The Ford SYNC system is at the top of my shit list for failing to work as advertised in nearly every single press car. Just as consumers expect total reliability from their cars mechanical components, they expect the same from things like infotainment systems – a flaky iPod interface is a surefire way to piss off your customers, have them raise hell on social media platforms and lose spots in the all-important J.D. Power Initial Quality studies.

GM’s elimination of the CD player may have more to do with getting rid of “…optical drives — that is, CD or DVD players — because they are expensive and appeal mainly to older motorists.” Sales of CD-free infotainment units are expected to jump 36-fold over the next 6 years, but CD players will also likely stick around for a while due to Boomers and “older” generations favoring them. GM can also eliminate having to offer pricey options such as navigation systems, by shifting that responsibility to the user’s smartphone.

Chevrolet seems to have found a novel feature to keep costs down, by having the phone do most of the heavy lifting. But what if you’re among the 47 percent of Americans aged 18-24 without a smartphone? Are you completely shit out of luck for any hope of having a sound system, navigation or other similar features?

The increased proliferation of these sorts of systems  also raises big questions about the robustness of the current crop of cars. Will the infotainment systems still be supported by the various suppliers and vendors, or will they essentially “brick” the cars, or crippled a large part of their functionality? Not that the OEMs should care; after all, the warranty period will be up, and all that matters is getting buyers into cars right now and keeping them coming back when it’s time for another new car every few years. Given that the automakers business model is based on selling new vehicles, it’s not really a concern of theirs whether or not the system craps out and renders the car useless. Just buy a new Spark for $0 down, $199 a month for 60 months! The prospect of a whole field of useless cars, sitting dormant amid a tight supply of decent used cars seems like a far fetched prospect until you think about all the obsolete electronics cluttering the various nooks in your house. Tossing a Minidisc player in the trash is no big deal; an automobile isn’t quite the same thing.

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129 Comments on “Generation Why: The CD Player Is Dead, Long Live Smartphones...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    I’m willing to bet that the people who worry about the cost of a CD player are the ones who demand big, fragile alloy wheels mounted on low-profile tires, and HID headlamps.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    the only thing i care about is a built in USB port for my 8GB USB Key, screw all the mp3 player / dongle / media center / adapter bullshits.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      +1, this is far and away the most convenient solution.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      +1.

      The interface needs to have a minimal level of functionality — it needs the be able to reasonably navigate 16 or even 32 GB of MP3 files (I’ve seen some which freak out at even an 8GB drive), it needs to remember where it stopped playing when you turn the car off and resume from there (I’ve seen some that restart from the beginning of the track or worse yet, folder 1, album 1, track 1) and it should have a whole fob shuffle. I can drop a 32GB keyfob in the glove box of my Honda Fit and do all of the above, and I don’t need to worry about docking up my phone every time I step in the car.

      There are a couple of things that could be better — there could be a larger or more detailed text area, the browsing is not hierarchical it is by containing folder name (so if I have things sorted by Artist->Album->mp3s, it would be nice if I could drill down through artist, rather than being presented with a huge list of album names — this could be done by folder structure or by meta tags), and it could be better sorted on the fob — album folders are sorted by the order they’re in the file system index, which is to say the order they were placed on the fob, unless I manually run a program on the fob (from my PC) to to reindex the FAT file table. But it meets the base level of functionality so I’m happy with it.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I insist on a USB port for a thumb drive in my next car. (Why pay hundreds for an iPod when you can do the same thing from a $10 thumb drive?) I also expect HD radio.

      I would prefer to keep the CD player, but I can live without it if necessary. (Actually, I prefer an MD player to CD–the discs are smaller & playback is more robust. I may be one of only a half dozen in the country with one, but I love it. When/if I sell my current car, that head unit is staying with me.)

      I’m indifferent on most other options, except touch screens. I don’t want one, and any car company that only offers them can rot in hell for all I care. They can pry my buttons/knobs from my cold, dead hands.

    • 0 avatar
      Slocum

      I want an aux jack for the phone rather than a USB port — that’s because I want the music, spoken GPS directions and phone functions all piped through the audio system. Otherwise, the music is too loud to hear the GPS ;)

      • 0 avatar
        boltar

        I second that — every car’s audio system should have an auxiliary jack for future-proofing. I was annoyed at having to pay for (and suffer the wasted real estate for) the CD players on cars I bought 5 years ago. So tired of the 8-track tape/cassette treadmill of building in dated technology. Allow a CD magazine as a dealer-installed high profit option for those who must have them.

        There is a fundamental problem in that entertainment electronics are evolving much faster and have lifetimes much shorter than the length of time most ordinary folk own their cars. Building custom integrated entertainment systems into the dash is like building in a permanent non-refillable Kleenex dispenser.

        I would be happy to pay for an option for a *good* Apple iOS interface, but I have yet to see one that doesn’t look pathetic and primitive compared with the device I’m plugging in. BMW’s expensive iPod interface just leaves me putting my face in my hands and wondering how it is that Germans don’t seem to ‘get’ electronics. Wish someone would just have Apple design a snap-in modular headless iPod that will sync in my garage and can be replaced (with some effort) to keep it up to date over the ten years I’ll own my car.

      • 0 avatar

        AUX is a wretched idea, unless you have a real intercom feeding into it, like the ones they have in airplanes. What you need instead is integration. Unfortunately, the only bus to deliver audio stream for it is Bluetooth (for some definition of “bus”).

    • 0 avatar

      +1 USB and AUX jack makes it all too easy.

      Either a USB jump Drive or an iPod Shuffle/touch,etc will do.

      I personally prefer using my iPhone4S to listen to XM radio or stored music.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      I’ve wondered this for five or six years! Why can’t all cars simply have a USB port? Isn’t this the way the Ford system works / supposed to work? Does anyone know what cars /if any have this currently?

  • avatar
    velvet fog

    I totally agree with this direction. Just like you can’t get a cassette player any more, the CD/DVD player days are numbered. I’ve also bought my last car with Nav too.
    The pace of technological change renders these flashy in car electronics, out of date way too fast to justify the add on costs to the purchase price and when you add in the impact to reliability and customer satisfaction, they make even less sense.
    Until these devices can be updated in seconds and for free (goodbye $250 updates for Nav discs) by marginally capable owners, they will continue to be replaced the superior capabilities of my phone.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Rather than pay the 130€ to update the disks for my Mercedes GPS system, I put it towards an iPhone 4S with the TomTom Europe App…

      I’m expecting my next car to have nothing more than a Bluetooth connection with an amplifier for the speakers. Can’t see the purpose in having any radio, phone or GPS functions built into the vehicle anymore.

      We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, and all those technologies will be as dead as a doornail, and the winners will be the ones that figure out how to make a simple unit using the smart phone as the UI, or a deluxe unit that can control any smart phone from a US integrated into the steering wheel.

  • avatar
    replica

    I burn MP3’s to CD’s all the time. I fit around 8-12 albums per disc, works great. Looking down at an MP3 player or phone while driving is annoying, so is hooking up a cable and so on. I guess being old and pragmatic go hand in hand. Just because it’s optical media doesn’t mean it can’t hold 700mbs of information as well as any other data storage medium.

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      In your case, being old and being inefficient seem to go hand in hand. What’s the sense of having a half hour’s worth of music and then having to change discs when you can fit a day’s worth of music on a player, set it to shuffle and forget it? You’re used to doing it with discs, but “pragmatic” is not an accurate description for that process.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Uh, I can fit waaay more than a half hour if it’s MP3 format. As stated, I can stuff 8-12 entire albums per disc. If you could go through that in a week, I’d be impressed or you’re a trucker.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Or even better–some cars have DVD drives, so you can fit gigs of music on one disc.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        To do that you must be burning CDs full of MP3s. That was a good solution a few years ago when solid-state memory was still expensive, as long as all your CD players supported them. I did that too back in the day. But for me it still wasn’t as convenient as putting everything on a cheap MP3 player and leaving it in the car, especially once I had a vehicle that had the ports inside the center console so I could hide the player inside and not make it a theft target.

    • 0 avatar
      missinginvlissingen

      Agree. I can load up a month’s worth of podcasts onto a CD, and enjoy not having to fuss with AUX cable or external devices.

      Actually, I USED TO be able to do that, when I had older cars with aftermarket head units. The fact that my two newer cars’ factory CD players lack an MP3 decoder is an annoying embarrassment to both manufacturers. Seriously, in 2006 Subaru and in 2008 Mazda thought it was just fine to spec a CD player that can’t read any other audio format. Pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Or you could set your smartphone up to automatically download the podcasts, get in the car, turn it one, and the bluetooth automatically starts playing the podcast. With things like iPhone’s Siri, you hold the home button and say “play album good news for people who like bad news” and it starts playing the first track from that album*. No cables or taking your eyes off the road required and it is all handled via the bluetooth connection. My ’07 GTI had a basic 1/8″ input and I found myself listening to CDs from the changer at some decent frequency. My ’10 4Runner with the bluetooth audio streaming is simply brilliant. I have no idea what CD is even in the player because I probably haven’t touched it since summer.

        * You can tell it to play artist, album, track, genre, podcast, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        missinginvlissingen

        I suppose I could do what you describe, if I had a smartphone.

        Will everyone have a smartphone in 5-10 years? I honestly don’t know. But if automakers are going to start deleting the CD player already, they really should make sure there’s some other way for the non-smartphone crowd to listen to stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Quentin, what you describe doesn’t always work. It relies on the BT working (I know it doesn’t work in the new Focus), the voice recognition working (again, the Focus fails at this unless all the files are cleaned up using Ford’s software, and even then it’s iffy), and the phone having service/working properly/not running out of data on its plan.

        I have little interest in something that requires multiple components and systems to all play nice with each other to work. CD players don’t need any of that, which is why they are so robust.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Redav – maybe the issue isn’t the technology but who is implementing it. My 4Runner doesn’t connect to bluetooth about 2x/month and it is the matter of hitting the settings app > general > bluetooth > 4runner bluetooth profile on my iphone. I know within 10 seconds of starting the car up if it hasn’t connected, so it adds an extra 10 seconds to pulling out of my parking spot or garage… 2x/month. How long does it take to find the CD you want to listen to, remove the CD from the changer, and change out a CD? I’m going to hazard a guess that you swap CDs in the car more frequently than I have to reconnect to bluetooth.

        Also, what are you going on about with data? Using the basic ipod controls on the iphone’s ‘voice command’ requires no data connection. Siri will use data if you ask it the weather or where something is, but when you ask for music, no data is required.

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      What CD player in a stock car plays MP3 CDs?

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        the stock 2006+ miata head unit (not just the bose upgrade) reads mp3 encoded cds.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        My ’12 Focus does, my old ’05 Focus could, as did the 2011 Impala and Malibus that I’ve rented recently.

        By the way, I tried to use a memory stick in one of the Malibus. Every time I shut the car off, it would start playing the music stored on there back at track #1. Very annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        The stock CD player in my 2008 Grand Prix can play MP3 cds… yeah I was surprised too.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        The stereo in the Maxima I rented in November did, the one in the Altima I rented in April did not. Both looked relatively new, I think the Maxima was a 2011 model. I quite liked that car actually, except for the CVT, now I know what everyone complains about.. (wasn’t too bad in teh Altima tho, I guess I wasn’t expecting the car to do more)

      • 0 avatar
        EAM3

        My 2006 330Ci does. I usually burn a couple of hours of music in 1 cd and that takes care of my commute for the week.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        My ’05 Scion xB. Then again, that was probably fairly advanced seven years ago. And I like the 76 minute limitations on burning an .mp3 disc. I tend to like to listen to my music in blocks of one artist at a time, so I set my CD’s up that way.

        Sometimes inefficiency can be a virtue.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        My 2006 Civic handles mp3 discs, WMA discs and CD-RWs. Honda has it covered also with the 1/8″ auxiliary plug, which I will never use because I think “smart” phones are dumb. However, the sound quality of said stereo is rather tinny compared to a comparable vehicle, and it is part of the dash; that is, a major overhaul of the dash (a kit) would be necessary to change stereos. I’ll just stick with the transistor radio (I guess I’m dating myself with that remark…).

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        My 08 Elantra plays MP3’s, has the file button and so on. Still just plug my phone into the aux jack tho.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        My ’08 CTS plays audio CDs, MP3 CDs, DVD audio discs, and can play video DVDs on the audio/nav system screen. It also has an aux audio plug (1/8″), and a USB drive for memory sticks. It also has a 40gig hard drive that you can transfer music to from any of the above-mentioned media (not including DVD video discs).

        Also, all Cadillacs offer a hidden 8-track player in a compartment in the truck for “legacy” buyers.

      • 0 avatar

        The Stock CD player in Chrysler 300/Charger, etc and Cadillacs since 2002 play MP3’s.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        The Fiat 500 does play mp3 and I think WMA based CD’s as well as via the Aux and USB ports.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      MP3 sound quality sucks though. Unless you like the sound of nails on a chalkboard, or you’ve lost 85% of your hearing.

      CDs aren’t going away anytime soon. Vinyl records are still on the market. Weren’t audio tapes supposed to replace records? Weren’t CD supposed to be the final death throw to records?

      All that being said, the OEMs will stop offering factory in dash CD players, but the aftermarket will be offering them for a long time.

      What they manufacturers need to do is stop building these custom built in stereos that cannot be upgraded without ripping up the dash. And then let the consumer be able to upgrade the in dash unit with that of his choice.

      Then I’d research what I wanted and find something with the a better digital to analog converter and interface, and hook up a media device with everything stored in a lossless format.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Most people can’t hear the difference between a CD and a 320k MP3. Most of them who swear they can would fail a double-blind test badly. The percentage of a percentage who really can tell, and who actually are bothered by it, well more power to them.

        I learn a lot about Average Joe from watching my stepkids though. Average Joe doesn’t listen to music, just the words being screamed into the microphone. They don’t even give a rat’s ass if the medium is a 128k MP3 that sounds like you’ve got cotton stuffed in your ears, so long as they can hear every word of the cursing and thinly veiled sexual innuendo. The nuances of a quality recording are lost on them. “Sound quality” = “more bass.” The first thing they do when they get in a car is turn the bass all the way up.

        I can’t even hear above 15kHz anymore. Youth is wasted on the young.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I can identify most MP3s vs CDs on quality equipment. The problem with all this downloadable stuff is that in most cases the sound quality suffers for the convenience of downloading. I miss the golden days of audio. And, yes I don’t think I’ve heard 20kHz in quite a few years..

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If you can tell the difference between a decent bitrate MP3 and a CD in a moving car, you have far better ears than me, or a far better stereo in a much quieter car. I can’t tell the difference in my 328i with the Harman/Kardon system upgrade using 256K MP3s vs. the original disk when driving on the highway. On certain disks I might be able to tell sitting still with the engine off though. But mostly not.

        I used to be a major audio snob in younger years, but now I mostly listen to Blue Collar Comedy and NPR on Sirius. I am not sure what that says about me.

        In my Alfa GTV6, the audio system consists of an old amp, two speakers and a cable to plug into my iPhone. Then again, with the Alfa V6 who needs any other music?

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        I must have super human ears. Because I can tell the difference between music recorded with a digital microphone versus an analog mic.

        I can tell the difference between music mixed on a solid state board vs a tube board.

        Most modern recordings hurt my ears.

        Not sure if I’ve ever listened to a 320K MP3. So I cannot comment.

        Truth be told, I prefer the sound of FM from an old school jazz station that still has 1960s radio equipment to a CD. Those are rare though. Luckily for me, there is one not too far from my house.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Most modern recordings hurt my ears.

        The horror of the loudness war; music mastered to be heard on an iPhone’s 1/4″ speaker instead of a real audio system.

        Ripping that stuff to 320 kb/s, or even 192 kb/s, using a good program doesn’t seem to make it any worse, but there’s no way to make it better. I put one of my oldest CDs in the player a while back – Def Leppard’s Hysteria – and was shocked at the dynamic range and clarity of the high frequency sounds compared to more recent recordings. I just had to turn it up a bit compared to those to get the same volume. Lately, I’ve found that I’m listening to live music more and recorded music less.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    oh noez the sky is falling because of no more CD players? Seriously? Come on, I’m 40 and I haven’t used a CD player in a car in years.

    Navigation is not critical for vehicle ownership. Handy, but not critical. Neither is sound, really, but all these systems have a 1/8″ headphone jack that will accept a connection from absolutely every consumer’s portable sound-generating device created since the invention of the first cassette Walkman. If all else fails, you can plug in there and control the player directly and it’ll work just fine. Nobody is going to go without tunes. If you can afford one CD, then you can afford an off-brand MP3 player that will play through these systems without any trouble.

    USB connectivity and the ability to control the device via the car radio or voice command is really nice, but it’s hardly the end of the world if it doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    47% of people 18-24 may not have a smart phone, but how many have at least an iPod shuffle or some other digital music player? At 27, I was late to the smart phone game, having only had my Jesus phone since April. However, I haven’t bought a CD in 7 years much less listened to one in about 6 as I had several iPods over the course of that time, with other friends having Zoons, or other players. Ironically enough, for my generation, a tape player is far more valuable than a CD, since you can at least get relatively high quality audio for not much $ from your digital music player through cassette, whereas a CD player is useless unless you have a CD.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      +1. If a car doesn’t have a 1/8″ input from the factory, then I prefer a tape player. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to use a tape adapter to connect a device than trying to add a 1/8″ input to an older CD player.

      It is frightening how thoroughly integrated infotainment systems are with newer cars. With some cars (BMW, probably MyFordTouch systems) you really have your work cut out for you if you want to change the head unit to something that better suits your needs.

      Manufacturers should simplify the head unit to a 1/8″ input and USB, and design the whole thing to be easily replaceable once technology moves on.

      As for people that still use CDs because they are used to it and think it is reliable or whatever, technology moves on. If manufacturers of anything paid this much attention to the crowd wanting things to stay the same because they are used to it, technology would never go anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        That’s not necessarily a bad thing you know. Backward compatibility has it’s pluses and never underestimate the benefit of being able to recover something from an older format that ISN’T available on a newer format.

        I would love the USB port in the car as it’s MUCH more convenient to have all your music on one thumb drive than various CD’s unless one has a CD changer instead.

  • avatar

    I never use CDs because they scratch. I use them as master media, safely locked away, and listen to MP3 rips of them. My ideal media would be an SD card. A USB key is too easy to break off by accident. BTW, I don’t have a smartphone.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Same here on the CDs. I don’t yet have an iPod input or even an MP3-capable CD player in the car, so I burned a little library of plain audio mix discs for the car.

      No smart phone here, either, but I do look forward to plugging my iPod touch into the next car. An iPod Touch is an iPhone without the burden of a data plan (I hate monthly payments or all kinds).

    • 0 avatar
      Dukeboy01

      This. Dump the CD player, add an SD card slot, a USB, port, and a 1/8′ AUX jack and you’re good to go. When the factory cassette deck crapped out in my ’95 GMC I replaced it with an aftermarket unit that has exactly those features and cost less than $50 at Meijer. I have a 4 gig SD card with 700 songs on it and my XM radio receiver plugged into the AUX jack. I have yet to use the USB port.

      My only gripe with it is that searching through the songs on the SD card is less than ideal. It’s not set up or capable of understanding the concept of subfolders. You have to scroll either forwards or backwards through the whole 700 song file list. You can do it one file at a time or ten files at a time, but good luck finding a specific track. However, at a $50 price point, what should I expect?

      A major manufacturer should be able to build a unit that includes the ability to search subfolders that costs half of what a CD player does.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I have no smart phone, nor an ipod type device.

      Mainly listen to the radio.

      Sometimes I listen to CDs. In all my 36 years, the only CD’s I’ve owned that have become to scratched to work, are ones I’ve loaned to people.

      Bottom line, don’t lend anything out unless you either don’t care about it, don’t care if it gets ruined, or don’t care if you ever get it back.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    I’ve been wondering when this would happen. I still keep a collection of CD’s in my car but more often end up listening to pandora via my phone. I don’t think it’d impact my purchase decision if the next car didn’t have the cd player. It’s not difficult to transfer all the music onto your phone or into the cloud.

  • avatar
    missinginvlissingen

    CD players certainly won’t be in cars forever. The question is how soon they will disappear, and what they will/should be replaced with.

    Personally, I’m happy with an AUX input, but I know this makes me pretty low-tech compared to most people.

    The problem is that some replacements would last a long time (1/8″ connectors have been standard audio output for decades), while others will eventually be just as comically useless as an 8-track player. I think the iPod connector is in this latter category.

    Bluetooth could be an enduring standard. Maybe every car should just come with a radio, amp and bluetooth interface. Leave an empty space in the console for a satellite tuner, CD/DVD drive, or whatever legacy gear a car buyer wants to add as an option. Of course, I’m sure the $15 parts cost for a CD player will somehow become a $795 dealer-installed option. Which will undoubtedly speed the format’s demise.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I agree with bluetooth being the only logical standard. It’s obvious that most ICE systems can’t handle 10,000 songs or even the basic task of starting to play when the car turns on.

      With BT, you’d never be obsolete.

      Seperately, if I were GM I wouldn’t care about the one-half of twentysomethings not owning smartphones. They ain’t buying new cars either.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    From the article: “Given that the automakers business model is based on selling new vehicles, it’s not really a concern of theirs whether or not the system craps out and renders the car useless.”

    Ummm… isn’t that the thinking that took GM down?

    Why shouldn’t most of a car’s infotainment electronics be dealer-installed? It can’t be that expensive to do… doesn’t Scion operate this way?

    And it seems to me that expense isn’t a big part of the CD/no-CD question, it’s the volume available in the dash that would be more critical. DVD players are available for $29 the last I* looked, an OEM CD as a component in a car stereo can’t be very costly at all. As it is, however, the dash panel is very crowded, and getting behind the dash for a repair is often very expensive. Less could be more.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Honestly, why bother with audio systems at all? Is the act of driving so boring and our own solitary thoughts so vapid that we need constant external entertainment? There may be something to the idea that the addiction to watching tv and listening to recorded music is an autoresponse that developed from an early age when we saw mom and dad turn on the tv the second they walked into the family room or cranked up the radio everytime they slid behind the wheel. The music “industry” and Apple can take a hike as far as I’m concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      Really? Try driving across the state of PA via interstate with just your own thoughts for entertainment. Unless you’re of a split personality you’re going to be batty before you reach Harrisburg.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        I drove a moving van across the entire United States (Annapolis MDCarson City NV) twice without a radio, and lived. Sanity intact. Some of us are actually able to stand our own company for more than 10 minutes without freaking out.

      • 0 avatar
        boltar

        I most emphatically DO NOT call shotgun riding with Steve65 across country ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        On the eastbound trip, the 6-year old loved riding shotgun. Mom and my sister mostly rode in the car. I was alone about 75% of the drive. On the way back west it was completely solo. No other vehicle, no other company. Passenger seat area was filled with my duffel, a cooler, and a box of road snacks.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      +1 @ getacar….

    • 0 avatar
      stottpie

      i don’t know if you can make that blanket statement.

      i have an 84 mustang. the radio is a pos, so i usually drive without any music. i personally like the sound of the engine, hearing the turbo spool, etc. but what if it was a far more boring car?

      you need tunes sometimes.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    My only worry is that it will require more use of the touch screen which, like new phones, requires more time and attention to perform the same operation. Radio/CD controls, depending on their design, fall pretty easily to hand.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    My daughter just got her license. She has never purchased or used a CD. Time to move on.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What is the average age of new car buyers? I’m guessing it is higher than 16.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Just because Mom and Dad are paying for the car doesn’t mean that the kid isn’t spec’ing it out. Otherwise, Scion would never have gotten off the ground — the geezers’ eyes would have lit up at the sight of the latest Camry, and Junior’s funky econobox would be a distant memory.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    My ‘infotainment’ system is a bucket full of CASSETTE tapes. I guess that tells you which generation I am from.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Let me get this straight. Someone who’s still playing CDs in their car is a geezer, but someone who salivates over a Lincoln Town Car is not. I sense a bit of a contradiction here, but I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation. Inevitably.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Playing CDs in a car (seriously) -> Geezer.
      Salivating over a Lincoln Town Car (ironically) -> Hipster.

      Playing bands nobody has heard on on cassette in a Town Car, but riding an old bead up road bike converted into a fixie to work on Monday. -> King of the Hipsters.

  • avatar
    Eyebolt

    Sounds like someone is upset that they won’t be able to play their Prince CD collection anymore.

    I’m one of those people who never use the CD…or even the radio tuner. It started as my MP3 player constantly being plugged into the AUX-In jack…and now is solely my Android phone. Pandora…Spotify…Slacker…and my MP3’s, all in one place. It doesn’t matter what car I’m driving, I have the same options in my car or my wife’s mini-van. I would rather have that than a full “infotainment” system…then I have the portability between cars.

    The only thing I wish they would add would be a factory HDMI input for my kids. Then I can just plug in the phone there and have the kids videos anywhere as well.

  • avatar
    replica

    I’m sure the new generation is VERY concerned about the cost of that CD player, you know, because it blocks a place they could put their $500+ phone.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I wonder for the umpteenth time why they try to appeal to GenY when they have so little disposable income, and they won’t be brand loyal anyway.

    I’m a boomer, so I’ve been written off by marketing types. Trouble is, I’m going to hang around another 25 years and by several more cars.

    I wonder if commercial radio is doomed – as far as music? No reason to listen to any music station as you can listen to what you really like on your CD/MP3/Whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Try being a part of Gen X – no one has ever given a rat’s behind about any of us since we’re outnumbered by the preceding and following generations. At least your wants/needs were acknowledged and catered to for a period of time.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I still buy CDs for two reasons: Better sound quality than compressed file formats, and it’s nice to have original media as a backup. But then again I’m far too old to be gen Y.

    I seldom listen to CDs in the car though. In a car, the difference in sound quality between MP3 / AAC and CD is not significant, and the convenience of being able to carry 32 GB of music around on my phone counts for a lot.

    What I would like to see is a good standardized interface to in car entertainment (ICE) systems. It should be quick and easy to pair devices using either USB or bluetooth, and be possible to display track information, skip tracks, etc, using the built in controls on the car. Fully functional steering wheel controls for basic functions would be a plus, as using a touchscreen or trying to operate the device itself can be distracting.

    It should be quick and easy to pair devices with different, so you can pair a device without thinking about it, even in an unfamiliar rental car.

    It makes sense to leave as much functionality as possible in the device, and let the ICE system just serve as audio, controls, and a display. Car makers expertise is in mechanical devices – not consumer electronics. Also, cars last a long time and should be able to support several generations of device.

    In the past two years I have used BlackBerry, Apple IOS, Windows Mobile, and Android – so I believe that all systems and devices should be supported as much as possible. Plain USB keys with media files should also be supported, although I have personally never used one in a car as I normally have some other device with my music.

    As for the “47 percent of Americans aged 18-24 without a smartphone”, I suspect the majority of them at least have an iPod or some similar device. Those that have neither a smart phone nor an iPod are not likely shopping for brand new cars – but if they are, they can simply put their music on a USB key.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Sound quality doesn’t seem to be something the self-appointedly cool care about.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        The noise floor in a moving car, even a luxury car, is way too high to be excessively worried about sound quality. If you’re listening at home, double-blind tests have shown that very few people have ears golden enough to reliably distinguish between CD audio and 320kbps MP3s. For most people, the practicality of digitized content far outweighs the sonic difference. So if music in formats other than digitized files becomes a niche product, well, such is life.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Try a Lexus and get back to me on that. I can always tell an MP3 from a CD, and I’ve never tried to. Of course I don’t listen to techno or rap, so perhaps I’m not doing it right. Where I live now there are actually pretty good radio stations. If I’m not listening to music for the purpose of listening to music, I’m quite happy listening to what amounts to old college radio. Otherwise, I just assume have accurate music reproduction. It isn’t that much of a focus of mine, but I don’t have any interest in smile equalization curves and clipped audio. I don’t really understand why people who don’t care about quality do care so much about their infotainment systems.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        CJinSD – For most people, in a car it is about quantity, not quality. A CD doesn’t hold enough music and changing them is a PITA. I primarily listen to Pandora through an android phone. I can notice a drop off from even a 160kb/s mp3 and Pandora, but I don’t really care. I would rather have the variety I can get with Pandora. Of course I am also someone perfectly happy with getting this sound through a tape adapter…

        Digital music doesn’t automatically mean terrible quality. There are file formats (FLAC) that use minimal compression. Obviously you will need a lot of storage space on your thumb drive/digital music player of choice to have your cake and eat it too, but I’m pretty sure you will get more music than the 10-15 songs on the typical CD.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        The numbers I saw were that the background noise level in a new Lexus at cruising speed is 62dB, or approximately as loud as a conversation. A more ordinary car would be closer to 70.

        Audiophiles expect background noise in the 20 to 30dB range when they’re listening.

        It’s not that hard to tell a crappy MP3 from CD quality audio even at highway speed in a car, if you care enough to listen for it. If you have lossless or high-quality lossy audio, it’s very hard when your noise floor is as loud as a conversation.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        Apparently it is…

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        burgersandbeer,

        Unless I have a track (or more) that’s over 3:10 seconds or so each, I can get easily 20 tracks or so, or about 75 minutes of an 80 min CD worth’s of music using full WAV files and thus full CD quality sound on my mix CD’s.

        That’s enough to music to play for over an hour’s car trip. True, you STILL have to swap out CD’s if the trip is much longer than that though.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        ciddyguy,

        Unfortunately, 75 to 80 minutes would only get me through 1 day of commuting. Maybe you don’t have to change CDs during the commute, but unless you want the same music daily you have to burn a new one every night. And what happens if you decide you are no longer in the mood for the music you burned the night before?

        I know people that can listen to the same CD repeatedly, almost indefinitely. It’s just not me. I like having a variety available, and what fits on a CD doesn’t cut it for me.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I still buy CD’s – mainly for home listening and archival purposes – but for the car, my low tech ipod classic does trick. Carrying 10 or more CD’s on a road trip adds bulk to a travel kit.

    Millennials mostly download their tunes. If you want to make them happy, offer blue tooth and a USB charger on even the entry-level cars. No CD player needed.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    1/8″ to RCA splitter-cable to amp to speakers. Cheap and easy or high end with multiple Xover amps.

  • avatar
    mcs

    What I’d like to see is a standardized dash dock for devices in vehicles. Individual device manufacturers could then build dock adapters to the dock for their various devices. Buy an iPhone or a Motorola phone and an adapter, then be able to attach your phone to the car’s dash dock.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      +1

      I hate all the cables for charging and connecting all the crap, thats why I want it all built into the dash. A dock with interchangeable adapters would be perfect.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I have a “dumb phone” (Nokia Fold) and have no AUX plug-ins of any kind on my 2004 Impala, just a CD player. I have to admit the CD player has been bullet-proof, as it plays anything. No MP3 capability, though. The CD player/changer in my wife’s 2002 CR-V is a piece of garbage. It hardly plays anything and doesn’t even like factory CDs all that much.

    Over the holidays I went to Micro-Center and bought a small blackjack-shaped thingy for $20 (with a $10 rebate!) that plugs into the cigarette lighter and broadcasts like FM converters of old into an unused FM frequency of choice. It has a built-in 2MB memory plus accepts SD cards and USB flash drives. It works okay, but the “c”‘s and “s”‘s on songs tend to distort, but until I get a newer car with plug-ins, that’s the way it is.

    I’m not always in the mood to listen to music or radio, as I like silence much of the time to clear my mind and have no need to have something always blaring in my ears besides road noise.

    But still…it would be nice just the same.

    MP3 players appear to be the best choice for me, and I’ve been down
    all car audio roads, 4- and 8-track, cassettes, CDs, all except under-dash record players – a really stupid idea!

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      The s sounds through your FM modulator are distorted because the device’s transmitter wasn’t tuned perfectly on frequency, and that happened because it was designed and built on the cheap.

      If it has selectable output frequency, maybe one of the other channels would offer better performance.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Hey, thanks for that. Yes, it was cheap and I bought it as an experiment. It is a Mach Speed Technologies product. I will most likely look for a better replacement that has adjustments on it. All mine has is stop/pause, forward/back, change station frequency – very basic. I think some of it depends on the “deadness” of the frequency chosen, too. I’ll search around for a “deader” frequency!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The real problem is that a number of years ago the FCC (or some similar gov’t agency) required the output of FM modulators to be reduced due to complaints from other motorists about signal bleed into their car from a nearby vehicle. My original satellite radio was so strong it would broadcast to my car well over 50-75 feet away with perfect clarity.

      The bottom line is that all FM modulators now stink thanks to some letter-writing ninny who couldn’t handle hearing Howard Stern for a few seconds and/or couldn’t be bothered to change the station on the rare occasions they heard something they didn’t like.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      FM modulators will sound terrible no matter how powerful they are, just as with FM radio. The format simply does not transmit the high or low frequencies.

      But it’s still a lot better than satellite radio. I’d rather have missing frequencies than have those same frequencies turned into random high frequency noise!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Zackman: I would think with your epic commute, especially in a major metropolitan area, you’d be stuck listening to traffic radio all day.

      But I know what you mean. As I’ve aged, I want to hear less noise, more silence. I want to know what’s going on with the car, and my own mind.

      Good luck with the FM modulator!

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Just judging from my parents, my close friends, my wife, and my inlaws, a CD player isn’t necessary. My wife, close friends, father in law, and I are dead set on using smartphones or ipod type devices for our music. My 4Runner and my father-in-law’s RX350 handle the bluetooth audio streaming with ease. Most of my friends and my wife have some sort of aux input or FM modulator to get their vast collections of music coming through their car speakers at all times. My parents are content with the local pop and country radio stations. My mother-in-law likes silence. I think there is the point where you say that you’ll keep up with tech and have your music on your car stereo or you’ll see it not worth the hassle and listen to whatever is on the radio. A book of CDs floating around your vehicle is a hassle. If you’re going to be hassled, may as well have all your music available in an ipod type device.

    My wife and I jumped on the smartphone kick in 2010. We’ve not bought a single CD since, as I can pretty much download whatever I want whenever I want from the itunes store. With cloud computing, my music automatically downloads to my computer, too, without having to find somewhere to tuck yet another CD case and figure out which car the CD will live in. Keeping a 1/8″ male-male cable somewhat handy means that I’ll have my music in whatever rental car I use as well.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I stream off youtube for free with my smartphone. But the CD’s have higher fidelity that can’t be matched.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    A CD player is a fairly large piece of hardware. Once you remove that feature these head units could downsize significantly and many cars already have external amps.

    Most of the interfaces I have seen for using USB/ SD cards tend to be clunky. Often they won’t play all song file formats.

    I prefer the Bluetooth streaming capability from my smartphone. You can stream anything regardless of format and it will play.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    Styz had in right in their son “Mr. Roboto”. Too much technology.I’ve went from 8 tracks to cassettes to CD’s. Tired of “The Man” telling me what kind of music format to use. I can buy a CD and it is mine, do not have to worry about the electronics in an Ipod or MP3 player going on the fritz and wiping out my music.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      1) You can burn downloaded music to a music or data CD to act as a backup.
      2) Apple’s itunes allows you to redownload any music you’ve purchased from them. If you use their cloud service, they’ll back all your music up on their servers and you can download it to your computer, iphone, ipad, or ipod touch whenever you want. They also store your backup in a 256bitrate (or higher, I can’t remember), so if you ripped something in a dreadful 128kbps back in 2001, you get a lossless version.
      3) Do you still shoot everything in 35mm? I do not miss the days of having a setting wrong on the 35mm SLR and all the pictures coming out awful. I much prefer shooting w/ my DSLR, backing up to my external harddrive, and printing as many copies as I want of the good ones the first go-round. All sorts of places now allow you to back up photos to cloud servers, too. Sure beats looking through stacks of negatives the next time you ruin a print.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    My 2007 Accord, EX-L, with nav does not have a USB port.
    It also doesn’t have the following:
    -Ipod connectivity
    -Bluetooth
    -Aux Jack
    -The ability to read MP3 CDs

    It’s like living in the stone age.

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      There may be an aftermarket solution for you.

      I had one of these in my 96 , 2001 and 2003 Audis. Works great.

      I believe they work in the Accord.

      http://www.gromaudio.com/store/all-hon1.html

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I’m 57. My 4gs or IPad syncs beautifully with our 2011 ST Adrenalin factory Bluetooth Sync. Don’t use the Jukebox (yet) as the transfer is a pain (MS-Apple no talkie) and I’m just lazy about transferring CD’s one at a time. I keep my playlists under 8-10 gigs or so and that’s a lot of music for a few hours drive. . Satellite radio gets way more play than CD’s and smartphone. Eventually cloud storage will rule. My theory is..Younger boomers (born late 50’s to early 60’s) grew up with the the dawn of computer tech whereas older boomers (late 40’s to early 50’s) didn’t (as much). Just because you can dial/text a smart phone and select a playlist…doesn’t make you tech literate. Using a laptop to map and modify your fuel management system on that GT ‘Stang or rice burner…well that’s tech literate.

  • avatar
    mvlbr

    Wireless bluetooth audio is the only important feature I need nowadays.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    The FRS has a radio delete option, right? A two-line LED readout for the DIC and a spot for anything (or nothing) that fit for the “infotainment” sounds about right…

    There’s just something perverse about the idea that you’re supposed to get the ultimate driving experience — however you define that; power; fuel economy; handling; space; visibility — and then the make-or-break is the feel of the top of the dash and whether the manufacturer baked in this year’s consumer electronics fad four years back. I bet the infotainment systems can communicate a social disease just like excessive soft touch plastic rubbing on the auto show demos.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I am very adverse to paying upwards of $50 a month for wireless broadband to play streaming audio – Pandora, etc.
    The audio quality of satellite radio seems to be marginal – way too much compression.
    The disadvantage of a USB socket is that it assumes the automobile equipment knows how to interpret the codec (MP3, AAC, etc) in which the audio is stored.
    The line-input (1/8 inch socket) is the most versatile because your audio device is interpreting the codec. New codecs can be handled by a new player – it’s much cheaper to upgrade a $200-$300 player than a $30K automobile.
    I can get a much nicer interface on an iPod Touch than on many automobile systems. And it can be upgraded with a new unit for a relatively low cost.
    Bluetooth systems are nice but they don’t keep the audio device charged (if you’re on a long trip, battery life of the audio device can be an issue).
    I don’t use CDs anymore when I can carry the equivalent of several hundred of them on my iPod Touch.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I listened to satellite radio in a rental car for about 45 seconds until I had to turn it off.

      Too much compression is an understatement. Sounded like the music was recorded on one end of a 40″ tin can with the band on the other.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        Satellite bandwidth isn’t free. Better to have low quality audio than drops.

        Of course, “dropped” is what I did to Sirius/XM after the free trial expired that they gave me after I bought my car. The content wasn’t so wonderful that I felt compelled to give them money for the service. Sound quality wasn’t the issue – I do most of my driving in town, so in the interest of not getting killed I don’t concentrate on the music that closely anyway….

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I’m old; I still carry a 250 CD wallet with me on road trips. But I’d have no complaints about them ditching CD players and including both an auxiliary input and a USB input capable of managing plenty of memory. In fact, I’d prefer it.

      I use CDs because I don’t want to replace the factory stereo and I haven’t found an MP3 player I’ve wanted to buy. Most don’t have enough storage capacity, and my buddy’s iPhone demonstrated absolutely horrible sound quality when we connected it to his receiver, even though the file was a good quality LAME rip that sounds fine on my computer and in his Audi through USB. I haven’t seen any 80GB+ players from other manufacturers, but I haven’t really looked too hard either.

      Edit: Not sure why this ended up as a reply to a previous post. I typed it into the box displayed at the bottom of the page after the entries below. But while I’m here, I might as well say that Sirius/XM satellite radio does sound terrible. I’d say it’s comparable to a 96 kb/s MP3, well below the 192 kb/s minimum for tolerable quality.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        And even 192K, if listened to hard enough can sound OK but not quite as good as even lossless file formats like WMA.

        But if push comes to shove, I can make do with 192K in the car but I DO like my full CD quality sound even there, road noise be damned. If you have good enough speakers, you WILL notice the difference.

  • avatar
    James2

    Gen-Y and Chevy has it backwards if “cost” is really their biggest concern. How much does a data plan for a smartphone cost? $50-60 a month? How much does all the extra weight GM cars typically have cost? Hundreds to thousands of dollars, I imagine. Meanwhile, I can buy a DVD player for $30, so in mass quantities an optical drive doesn’t cost the manufacturer much at all.

    Why deliberately alienate any demographic by limiting infotainment choices. Offer it all: CD (w/MP3), USB, Aux jack, etc. These things don’t “cost” that much. Even better, return to a standard double-DIN chassis so *I* can install something I like. (I know they won’t, as the automakers make money by having proprietary systems, but it’s nice to dream.)

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Well, it’s marginal cost.

      If you already have a smartphone, and already have a data plan, and would have one even if you couldn’t use it in your car stereo, having additional functionality just makes it more worth it. A properly used smartphone is so useful it’d have to be much more expensive than it is to not be worth it. On the flip side, I don’t have cable because that’s another thing that is obsolete, so budget wise it evens out.

      I don’t particularly buy the “it’s so expensive” thing, but comparing a car cd player to a cut rate Walmart dvd player doesn’t quite compute. I don’t know how the car CD keeps from skipping so well, but I’m guessing its got some fairly serious hardware the bare bones DVD player doesn’t.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I base all my audio purchases on the ‘free’ frequency.

    If it isn’t free, I’m not buying it.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I bought an ipod just to escape from CD-swapping hell. What miffs me is that the Honda HU will give you full Playlist/Artist/Album selection and browsing ONLY from i-whatever devices. Any non-Apple player or USB stick numbs the experience down strictly to folders sorted by chronological order. I don’t like being forced to buy Apple to enjoy music the way I want, but that’s how it is for now.

    Hopefully by the next time I buy a car, a generic USB stick will be as accessible as an ipod. Sad to say that I will have to take a damn USB stick and ipod to test drive my next car.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Is it cynical to say that if Scion or Nissan (i.e. anyone other than GM) did this it would be at the least a non-issue and more likely seen as forward thinking and a good example of listening to the market? Myself, I listen mainly to satellite with some iPod thrown in on occasion. I don’t remember the last time I used a CD and I’m Gen X.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Somebody has to be first, and people are resistant to change, so yeah no matter who did it first, they’d be lambasted. 5 years from now, a factory CD player will be an oddity, and draw the same 8-track jokes that a cassette player would get today. I have a 6 disc changer that plays MP3 discs, and I was STILL tired of burning and swapping CD’s, so I broke down and bought an 80GB ipod.

      Although I wouldn’t shed a tear if my next car doesn’t have a CD player, I demand that car USB interfaces be better than their sorry state today before they become the only (factory) means to play music in a car.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    For me when it comes to listening to music, I rarely listen to the radio and listen to CD’s ALL THE TIME.

    I’m also particular as to how I want my music done as I make CD compilations of my music collection and they are either themes or a mood or simply a reflection of a period of time (all 70’s music or all early 80’s music etc) and like to have the playlist remain as such and I’ve found that not all head units are created equal when it comes to digital files in that regard.

    I don’t usually have much of an issue with the CD’s as most of the time, they play fine and it also has a lot to do with the quality of the CD player mechanism to begin with as most head units generally don’t rely on memory buffers like the portable units do/did. If a CD I’ve made gets damaged beyond repair, I have a master copy and can strike a new copy as needed.

    Also, I’ve found that most of the time, unless one can go above 192K (WMA only goes that high) most compressed music sounds pretty poor and with most modern recordings compressed within an inch of its life, it just makes things even worse and thus why have nice quality speakers when the source music/file is of such poor quality?

    I’d rather do high bit rate compressed files or use WMA or AAC or the like that is either lossless or similar to it so I can still support the data files for display output of the song/artist/album and yet still provide good quality sound and unfortunately WAV doesn’t support this as it’d be the file format I’d prefer the most as it’s simply a CD quality file.

    That said, I like the convenience of the USB port but as I said, it doesn’t always support file orders of your choice as like the computer, it arranges files in alpha/numeric order only unless you can use the playlist format and not all head units don’t, the head unit in the ’10 Elantra didn’t and thus when I do MP3 or WMA based CD’s, I can guarantee that my music order per “CD” is how I want it and yet, it’s all on one CD.

    But to automatically assume people don’t want a CD player is ridiculous. Also, their claim that the cost of the CD player is a reason why, BS I say. One can buy portable CD players for WELL under $100, more like well under $50 and are so cheap these days as to be disposable.

    In 2005, I could buy a cheap assed Dual in dash CD player that also had AM/FM radio tuner for $70 or so. Yes, it didn’t play CD’s very well but hey, I could buy one for that cheap then. Also, my current aftermarket CD head unit from Panasonic is fantastic and it was a $130 or so unit that I got on sale for $99 in 2008 and though it doesn’t have the USB port, it does have the Aux port and can accept mp3/WMA discs and plays CD-R’s just fine as that’s what I play mostly are my home brew CD’s and it almost never skips so CD’s are much more robust and I’ve heard many problems with the mp3 player integration via USB and the same with the thumb drives as many of these systems seem to be so poorly thought out.

  • avatar
    thrashette

    Hell, I’m 18 years old and pretty keen on technology… my center console is filled with cassette tapes, many of which I made myself. I hook my cheapo mp3 player (which conveniently clips right to my ash tray) to my stereo with one of those cassette auxiliary things, and I’m good to go! It’s great to give people some sort of physical media option, because when my mp3 player craps out for whatever reason, I just plug in a tape and I’m golden.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Old Coot would smile and display glee having an 8-track player and an AM radio within either a 1969 2-door Dart or a 1970-1973 Duster or Demon with a slant-6, 318 or 340 or a 360 dropped in after the original engine died.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The future is BlueTooth. However the future has also shown that sound quality no long matter as evidenced by sat radio and MP3s popularity. HD radio is just better sounding FM, which means HiDef commercials and the same four “popular” sounds over and over… no thanks!

    I prefer to go the aftermarket route myself by swapping in a REAL radio in place of the factory junk. However today’s car have everything integrated already (our Volvo C30 for example) so an AUX jack is handy, but a USB port (w/iPod support) is even better. Even my parents, who at over 70 years old, use an iPod Shuffle in their car so they have grown past CDs. I really don’t see the need for CDs anymore unless you care about quality which clearly (but sadly) nobody does.

    The reason most people don’t realize how bad MP3s sound is the garbage speakers/amps the factory puts in. For my Z I’m replacing the crap BOSE system (w/tape deck!) with a 500 watt complete redo: Alpine radio (yep with a CD player!) Kicker amp, JBL separates and Polk subwoofer.

  • avatar
    afflo

    I’d say Toyota does pretty well with the stereo in its Scion models. In my tC:

    1/8″ input
    USB input
    Ipod connectivity through USB.
    No crazy custom sizing that requires replacing dash panels just to put in an aftermarket unit if you want it.

    When connected to my iPhone, it charges the phone. GPS directions from the MapQuest app are played over the audio.

    Cool stuff that my Honda stereo didn’t do with the iphone:

    I can browse through podcasts (the only way to do it on the Honda radio was to create a playlist, THEN attach the cord)

    The steering wheel track up/down controls work with Slacker Internet Radio (though unfortunately not the display). (in the Honda, bumping the next track button on the unit would result in pausing the Slacker feed and playing stored music.

    When searching through long lists of songs/artists, you can skip to a letter of the alphabet for easy browsing (Honda didn’t even consider that).

    It offers the option of granting full control to the iPhone/iPod if you don’t want to use the head unit interface (Again, no choice with Honda but to use their crappy interface)

    I used the CD player once. It can read MP3’s, but with an iPhone and an iPod touch, it’s never really been needed. I popped an old Information Society CD in to test it when I bought the car back in March. It’s still there. When I turn it on and hear “I want to know… What you’re thinking! There are some things you can’t hide” I know I’ve forgotten to reconnect the cable and pop the phone into the windshield mounted holder.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I like having a CD player because once in a while we’ll buy or borrow a CD while traveling and it’s nice to be able to just pop it in without having to rip it, but aside from that we hardly use it.

      I like Scion’s approach, especially the standard sizing so it’s easy to replace the head unit when the next hot thing comes along. The stereo in my Mini is pretty nice (aux, bluetooth, CD, USB), which is good because there’s no way to put an aftermarket unit in there without utterly destroying the dash. Of course in the Mini’s case, some people would view that as an improvement.

  • avatar

    I’m 50 years old and I did not play even one CD in my 6 month old 2011 Mazda, all I use is BLUETOOTH audio with my iphone and Pandora.
    CD is dead for me.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    All three of my cars have a 1/8″ plug in. Two are by way of aftermarket stereos, and the other one is factory in my 2009 Pontiac. The Pontiacs have all been able to play MP3 CDs since about 2004. I like the 1/8″ plug, as I can manipulate whatever device is on the other end of the cord without a potentially flaky, funky interface(s) distracting me from driving.

    I have iPods and cell phones that all use the same plug, so it’s nearly universal. I rarely hop in the car with out my cell phone anymore, so all of my music has migrated there. The iPods just sit in a drawer and collect dust.

    My kid’s Saturn has a Bluetooth interface, and she can play Pandora or Tumblr on her car audio through the phone. But the car has AM/FM, MP3 CD, XM and a 1/8″ plug in also, so the only thing that is missing is the USB port. I’m sure those weren’t even a consideration when the design spec for that car was being prepared.

    I’d hate to be one of the automotive product planners, as the technology that folks are using now will change radically in the next six months. I don’t know how they plan on keeping up with it all, just because of the unpredictability.

    EDIT: I meant to add that my wife still uses the CD player in the car, but mostly for long trips. She likes to get books on CD from the library and listen to those en route to the destination. But, before long, she’ll probably end up downloading all of those into the phone, too…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I have a MD deck, a MD changer, and a CD changer in my car. Also a line input and an interface for a computer. Sony made all these devices on a single I2 bus and I have kept them all these years.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    All you guys who are streaming all your music, dont you run out your data plan?? Most providers, even with unlimited plans, cap you or reduce your bandwidth after you hit a certain amount.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    It’s actually easier to solve the older your car is. My ’94 Mercedes E420 still has the factory Becker tape deck, so I just use a cassette adapter and plug that into my iPod’s headphone jack. Problem solved, with a total outlay of just a few dollars.

  • avatar
    Marko

    My father’s 2008 Acura TL has an interesting variety of audio interfaces:

    CD (and MP3 CD support, I believe)
    Audio DVD
    XM Satellite Radio
    Bluetooth
    AUX input
    …and a cassette deck! (Probably one of the last cars with one.)


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