Pursuit of Performance

Hit the Road with the Latest Car Music Systems

car music systems
by Kristin Houser
Writer & Editor
, LA Music Blog

From voice-controlled apps to tech that prevents one passenger from missing a beat while another fields a phone call, these music-listening innovations help drivers rock their ride.

Forget the sound of the pavement whizzing by below the wheels or the wind blowing through the cracked window. What drivers really want to hear when hitting the road is their favorite song.

For decades, listening to music while driving has been a favorite pastime, but new car music systems are taking it to a whole new level. Now, drivers can hear and feel their favorite tunes, transforming the vehicle into a mobile dance club. “

More than 70 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds listen to music in their car more often than anywhere else,” said Matt Fisch, VP Global Engineering at Harman International, makers of new technology that creates individual sound zones inside a car.

“Music will play an even more important role in cars in the future.”

The latest music tech is changing what drivers and their passengers hear when they’re out on the open highway — or just commuting to work.

Peugeot Fractal

While the crackling car speaker and AM radio of yesteryear have been romanticized in film, who really wants to hear music that way anymore? The Peugeot Fractal, a veritable Batmobile of Bass, is likely the furthest you can get from that listening experience from yesteryears.

In September, French automotive giant Peugeot debuted the industry’s first music-based concept car at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show. The electric urban coupe features a 3D-printed interior, custom FOCAL loudspeakers and sound palettes designed by EDM heavyweight Amon Tobin.

Peugeot Fractal with SubPac seats

The coolest feature of the Peugeot Fractal, however, may be its seats.

Audio tech company SubPac worked with Peugeot to install their tactile bass technology. This tech translates low-frequency sounds into a full-body experience, allowing listeners to feel their music, just like they would in a club setting. “

We had to create a solution that would fit within the Peugeot seat designs and still feel like the fully optimized SubPac experience,” explained John Alexiou, CEO/Founder of SubPac. “

Each seat has its own ‘intensity’ control, allowing each rider to choose their preferred level of tactile bass and Sub Bass from the SubPac.”

While many may never have the opportunity to experience SubPac’s tech in a Fractal, they can bring the bass experience to any car via the company’s SubPac S2 seatback (available now), or its forthcoming wearable SubPac M2.

Ten car manufacturers have announced plans to have self-driving cars on the market by 2020. In the not-so-distant future, drivers may be able to spend ample time flipping through radio stations while the car takes care of the daily commute.

Until that day, however, these new solutions ensure drivers’ eyes stay on the road and their favorite tunes keep playing.

Apple CarPlay

For the millions of Americans who own an iPhone, Apple’s CarPlay could be the perfect travel companion.

It’s the link between vehicle and iPhone, making it easy for drivers to make calls, check traffic reports, get directions and, most importantly, listen to music — all with minimized distraction.

CarPlay can be controlled using a car’s native interface or by pushing and holding the voice control button on the steering wheel to access Siri. It comes equipped with Apple Music but is also compatible with several third-party apps such as Spotify, Rdio, and iHeartRadio, so drivers never run out of road trip tunes.

Google also had driver safety in mind when designing the Android Auto interface, which works with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher. “

Android Auto brings the Android experience into the car by ‘projecting’ apps and services to the screen in your dash,” said a Google spokesperson.

Like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto can also be controlled via voice command and is compatible with several music services, including Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. As a bonus, Android Auto users get 90 days of Google Play Music for free, including access to 30 million songs.

But what’s a music-loving driver to do if their car isn’t compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? Check out Exploride!

Exploride dashboard display

Expected to ship worldwide in January 2016, this futuristic device features a transparent 6-inch display that can be attached to a car dashboard; it also includes a built-in dash-cam, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and Google Maps-powered navigation system.

Exploride communicates with the driver’s smartphone and the car, providing diagnostics such as speed, tire pressure, fuel level and engine stats. What’s more, everything can be controlled using voice or gesture commands.

That means flipping between songs on Pandora with a flick of the wrist, or pausing the playlist on Spotify without ever taking an eye off the road.

Exploride has already raised more than half-a-million dollars via an IndieGoGo campaign, where it is being offered at more than 40 percent off retail price.

For people who want to purchase the device as a belated holiday gift for a loved one, or treat themselves to something shiny just because, pre-orders need to be placed ASAP, as many packages are already sold-out.

Harman ISZ

And to personalize the listening experience, Harman’s Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) allow riders to create individual sound zones in their own seats. “

This new in-cabin technology enables drivers and passengers to create sonic zones between individuals,” explained Matt Fisch. “

Each ‘zone’ is activated and controlled by the respective passenger, allowing complete control over their listening preferences.”

The ISZ tech also manages the way each speaker directs sound, minimizing crosstalk, Fisch said. This means one passenger can enjoy that playlist bumping from the speakers while the person next to her takes a call.

New technology ensures today’s drivers can safely enjoy high-quality sound in new ways, and there are likely to be even more options in the future.

“In-car entertainment is a world that continues to expand,” said Alexiou. “As always, the general desire is for better, less loud and harmful sound that still retains emotional connection to the music.”

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