MUSIC IN OUR DRIVING MACHINES

The highway commissioners and City Planners will insist that today’s rampant traffic is the consequence of rising populations, meager road funds, poorly conceived housing developments and probably, not enough bran in our diets, I, however, have a better explanation for the profusion of automobiles on our byways: They sound too good to park. Today’s vehicles are fully calibrated with horsepower, they’ve got the reliability- so to stand out, more and more automakers are pumping up the volume in the cockpit. So forget about kicking tires. The modern auto shopper is more likely to begin test drive by plugging in his Apple iPod.

It’s not that our ears are deprived at home, mind you. In my living room, I have an audio system that is sufficient to keep me in tune with the Joneses: five-speaker surround-sound setup plus Velodyne subwoofer that when I crank up my Terminator 2 Ultimate edition DVD, causes my house to shimmy as if the San Andreas Fault were auditioning for Dancing with the Stars. However, my home audio rig is a mere flea compared with the dogs of war that woofer in many new cars. For example, the system in Motor Trend’s long-term Acura RL, for instance, has 10 Bose speakers, an eight-channel digital amplifier, active noise cancellation (to help nullify road racket), and a head unit that can play XM Satellite Radio and high resolution DVD-A of REM’s “out of time” during my drive home, the sound was so damn clear that I could hear Michael Swipe sweating. Lol

Just imagine, ten speakers are over the top? These days, it’s only the first rung on the ladder of factory-stereo one-upmanship. The Jaguar XJ packs 12 speakers into its cabin, the Range Rover has 14 (fed by 710 watts of amplifier power), and the Cadillac boasts 15 including the two in each of the front-seat headrests, perhaps so the sound waves can really style your hair. Where speaker spawn will stop is anybody’s guess. So when it hits dealerships later on, the 2007 Lexus set a new production-car record; nineteen speakers would’ve served the hi-fi needs of nine houses- and there would still be one left for the ham radio in somebody’s bomb shelter.

Then of course, the twenty-first century man can’t survive without his iPod, and the automakers know that, too. One of the first car brand who introduced this one is Chrysler that have announced before that they would offer full iPod integration- song displays in the dash, song selection via cockpit controls-as one of the option in most of its 2006 models. Now there are more and more automakers are following the trend. (Apple have actually estimates the forty percent of the vehicles which are sold in the United States last last year has offered hookups). The Telematics Research Group Forecasts that by 2011, 28 million cars in the US will be iPod-ready, up from just under one million in 2005. “ Ten years ago, everybody wants to have CD changers in the vehicles, says Bart Herring, product manager for the E.S and CL Class at Mercedes-Benz that significantly offers iPod integration on most of its lineup. Today the percentage of the population now carrying music with them everywhere, its critical to offer iPod connectivity in the vehicle.

In addition to this ever increasing or growing availability in cabin video screens, and it’s no wonder we hate abandoning our carefully equalized, surround sound cocoons for the sonic slings and aural arrows of unamplified life outside the cockpit. Just don’t be surprised if the situation turns political. Now the question is. Do you know how much gas it takes to listen to10,000 songs?

~ by khia0486 on May 10, 2008.

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