Car owners guide to: Car Audio > CD Players

Compact Disc has now almost completely taken over from Cassette tape as the way of playing music in the car. First introduced in the mid eighties, the early models were prone to skipping whenever the vehicle hit a bump in the road. But today's car CD players are extremely stable thanks to improved mechanisms and memory chips that read ahead and store a few seconds of music data, then step in during any mistracking of the disc. The smoother ride we get from today's vehicles themselves also helps.

As well as being able to play normal pre-recorded CDs, the latest car audio players will also handle CD-ROM discs 'burned' on a PC at home, including playback of MP3 files.

The latest generation of in-dash CD players incorporate a radio receiver and usually a whole bunch of extra features. Once you would have had to settle for a bass and treble control - these days there are digital sound processors built-in providing the kind of thing you'd expect to find in a recording studio.

Simple tone controls are still provided but now you also get a sophisticated equaliser, an active crossover, surround sound processor and other digital tricks, depending on the complexity and price of the unit.

Even in cases where the unit offers a lot of options to mould the sound to the way you like it, there are usually a number of simple preset soundscapes to choose from - it's then just a case of running through them and choosing the sound you prefer. So the stuff going on inside may be complex but it's still simple to use.

The Multi-Disc In-Car CD Auto-Changer

Also popular is the usually hidden multi-disc CD auto-changer. These are designed to be mounted out of the way, often under a seat or inside the glove-box, so that they are accessible but only to swap cartridges.

Each cartridge holds usually six or ten discs. The auto-changer is controlled from the unit in the dashboard (often referred to as the "head unit"). This might be a cassette player, single disc CD player, DVD player or just a controller and display unit with no built-in playback mechanism. Additionally, many in-car CD auto-changers can be operated from a handheld remote control.

Car owners with factory-installed audio systems are often tempted to add a CD auto-changer for the convenience it offers but are deterred by the cost of the vehicle manufacturer's option. In-car entertainment specialists have access to a variety of interface cables and small electronic devices that allow different brands and models of CD auto-changer to work with factory-installed head-units. It could save you a packet. Ask your nearest InCar Expert for advice on this.

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