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Drive Life : February 4th 2011
1HERSA1 0009 *3 year free ser vice based on standard scheduled servicing (normal operating conditions) until first of 3 years or 40,000kms. ^Drive away price for the Koleos Expression manual 4x2 non-metallic paint. ol rawford Motors 497 Pittwater Road, Brookvale 2100. Tel: 99 41 1200 DL 6342. Northshore Motors 60 Pacific Highway, Waitara 2077. Tel: 9 473 7122 DL11646. Overs ity 573 Gardeners Road, Mascot 2020. Tel: 9317 2111 DL 11226. Peter Warren Renault Hume Highway, Warwick Farm (Liverpool) 2170. Tel: 9828 8844 DL5411. Rick amelian Renault Cnr Elswick Street & Parramatta Road, Leichhardt 2040. Tel: 9560 1000 MD18402. REN1821/SMH www.renault.com.au 5-Star EURO NCAP Safety Rating ABS with EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) ESP (Electronic Stability Program) 6 Airbags 17" Alloy Wheels Cruise control with speed limiter Fog lights Bluetooth® Hands Free system KOLEOS EXPRESSION RIVE THE HANGE RIVE AWAY $29,990^ FOR A LIMITE TIME, WITH FREE 3 YEAR S HE ULE SERVI ES* ROSSOVER WITH ONFI EN E Free Service or 40,000kms*. Unlimited Warranty. Unlimited Roadside Assist. YEAR ADULT OCCUPANT The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, February 4, 2011 9 DriveLIFE cover story delivered from time to time. But if you haven't shopped for in-car entertainment for a few years, the biggest change you'll notice isn't the technology, it's the pricing. You can get a great media centre for $500, a CD player complete with a 50-watt by four channel power chip for $150 and an overhead DVD player with a generous screen, a remote and a couple of pairs of headphones for $1000, all from good brands. Nydegger says the hot product among music buffs right now is a digital processor from Audison called the Bit One. It takes the signal from the head unit and cleans up any interference to yield a rich, pure signal to the speakers. It can also flatten out factory pre-set equaliser settings. "Otherwise it's all about Bluetooth and iPods or iPhones," he says. "There are compatibility problems from time to time but mostly we have them sorted out." Jay Ariti from Xtreme Car Audio in Blacktown says touchscreen systems and stand-alone roof- mount DVD systems have become very popular within the family market. But the number of people spending serious dollars is dropping, he says. "We would only see two or three customers a year spending between $10,000 and $20,000.'' HISTORY Car radios began appearing in cars in the 1920s but well into the 1950s they were still a luxury fitting: a good quality AM-only unit with five mechanical push-buttons for station selection cost as much as10percentofthepriceofa Holden. So would you pay $3000 for an AM radio? It was only when Japanese brands charged into Australia in the 1960s that radios became standard equipment. In-car entertainment really didn't start cranking up until a decade later when cassette players turned up. They weren't the only tape players in cars. In the mid-1960s Bill Lear, the maker of the Learjet, invented an in-cabin entertainment system built around a tape module the size of a book, carrying a long loop of quarter-inch tape. Called the eight-track, it was quickly picked up because of its excellent sound quality. It led to a curious and short- lived offshoot, the Quadraphonic system championed by JVC. This used the same tape modules but provided genuine surround sound with a speaker in each corner. Car companies were tediously slow to make CD players a standard fitment, some brands keeping them optional for 15 years after the birth of the format, but they have been fast to embrace premium sound systems, probably because of the premium margins involved. THE GOOD, THEBAD... Bose really started something when it put its name on car audio systems. In the past decade a host of prestige audio brands have turned up in cars, Bowers & Wilkins, Bang & Olufsen, JBL, Dynaudio, McIntosh, Harman/Kardon, Rockford Fosgate, Burmester and Mark Levinson among them. Even Fender has got in on the act. Some are good but others, well, their folk know more about home audio. We've heard some great Bose systems but we've also heard some shockers, among the worst in the current Nissan 370Z. And Audi's premium B&O system, complete with tweeters that lift out of the dash, struggles to justify its breathtaking price. Then again, the performance of the optional B&O processor/ speaker package in premium Audis is excellent. Harman's Logic7 (used by Mercedes-Benz) and Levinson systems in Lexus RX 350 and IS F are among the best factory-original systems we've heard. Honourable mentions go to Volvo's Dynaudio package and Jaguar's B&W system. Alpine's premium electronics and speakers remain unmatched by anything we've heard. UPGRADING Most people make a mistake when they upgrade original audio. They replace the head unit --- that gizmo in the dash with the radio tuner and the CD. The truth is, in terms of sonic performance there isn't much difference between a cheap head unit and an expensive one. Replacing the factory original seldom improves sound quality. Your first step should be to replace the speakers. Car companies buy the cheapest speakers they can get away with and hide them behind expensive- looking grilles. In some cases the speakers cost a couple of dollars each. They have tiny magnets, thin, fragile cones and a power- handling capacity on par with Sarah Palin. Replace them with decent speakers, which cost about $100 to $150 a pair. The improvement in sound quality will be palpable. So good, in fact, that you may be happy to call it quits there. If not, add power with an external amplifier and chuck in a subwoofer, not necessarily to turn the car into a doof-doof machine, but to counter road and engine noise. GETTING SOUND RIGHT It's hard to get concert-hall sound in a car; cabin acoustics are terrible. There are hard plastics and glass that reflect and brighten sound, making it harsh and sharp, and there's carpet and upholstery that swallows it up. And cabin acoustics can be altered when someone gets in. Now throw in road and mechanical noise. But Phil Muzio, the man behind the Mark Levinson systems in Lexus, says there are two big advantages in designing a car system over a home system. Firstly, he knows the exact dimensions of the listening space and secondly, he knows where everyone is sitting. Equalisation can therefore be used to boost dead spots, reduce bright spots and for electronic time alignment. Muzio says carmakers are cottoning on to quality sound. "Now they understand how to get a good result they're beginning to design systems from the ground up that sound really good," he says.
January 28th 2011
February 11th 2011