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Thread: extreme newbie to car MP3 needs help

  1. #1
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    Post extreme newbie to car MP3 needs help

    Maintaining the sound quality of my system is of top priority. My system consists of a Nakamitchi CD-700, Dynaudio 3-way components in kick panels, a pair of PPI PC2600 amps and one JL sub. Those of you who know the specifics of these components will recognize the quality, and i'm sure you can appreciate that I don't want to take a step back in sound quality. With that being said I have a few questions:

    #1
    I have been reading several posts talking about cobra. What is cobra? I tried going to seveal links someone had in their signature that was going to lead to info, but most of the links are dead.

    #2
    Is their a link that goes to a list of components that I need to buy to build a MP3 system for my car?

    #3
    Are any of the systems that you guys have built capable of playing WAV. files. I think it would be worth the extra money to spend on a largr hard drive to ba able to play uncompressed files.

    #4
    When I go to build this system, I will be removign my Nak CD-700 and using the preamp function of a Zapco PX for the volume control, what are the output voltages of the system you guys are building? The Zapco can handle up to 4 volts in, and the closer to 4 volts the better.

    #5
    How are the systems controled? A Mouse? A mouse in the car would seem a little awkward. Are there any touchscreens availible?

    #6
    What operating system are you guys using? Is bootup and shutdown times a problem. It seems a Windows system would be a pain in the ***.

    Any help would be appreciated. I would really like to get a system together soon. I would buy a Rio Car Jukebox, which seems to have all of the features I want, but $1399.00 for the 60 gig is outrageous.
    Car computer and console.

    Shuttle FV-24, 100gig, DVD, 10.4 VGA TFT, 866MHz, 128MB Ram, Keyspan remote, DC-DC

  2. #2
    Unregistered User ODYSSEY's Avatar
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    Answer to all your questions:
    Great place for newbies

    [ 11-22-2001: Message edited by: ODYSSEY ]
    ODYSSEY

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  3. #3
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    #2 it depends on exactly what you have and what you want to do with your system.

    #3 of course they can play WAVs, but in your car you will not notice the difference between a well encoded MP3 file and a WAV file, there is no need to use WAVs.

    #4 depends what type of sound card you have in your system I would guess. If 4V is standard and you have a standard sound card with a line-out, then you should be fine.

    #5 that depends. you can get a touchscreen, a trackpad, a trackpoint, a keypad, a small keyboard, or just a few buttons. it all depends what you want to do with your system and how much money you have to spend on it.

    #6 from what I can tell, most of us use windows, and no it is not a pain in the ***. IT's quite fine for what we need. I'll be running XP, some others use a stripped down version of Windows98 that boots nice and fast.

    $1400 is completely crazy for a MP3 system, but as I said it really depends what you want to get out of your system and what capabilities you wish to have. You can spend as little as a hundred to two thousand depending... What exactly do you want to do?
    IN DEVELOPMENT -- '96 Mustang, lilliput with PII/450 laptop, custom DC-DC power supply, 60GB; Garmin GPS; 802.11g; compact keyboard, small graphical LCDs, OBDII.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the reply Telek
    #2 I would like a system that boots as fast as possible, sounds as best as possible, and is as simple and easy to use while driving as possible.

    #3 To tell you the truth, the only MP3's I have heard is on my portable MP3 player and my computer, and I can hear a noticeable difference between them and my truck. What exactly do you mean by well encoded? I guess I was under the assumption that a MP3 would not sound as good all of the time.

    #4 That is the problem, I don't know what the standard is for sound cards. The PX will take up to 4 volts. I would like a sound card with the highest voltage output.

    #5 I have no access to anything special. The question would be: does anyone know of inexpensive touchscreens? If this is not practical, what would be the simplest to setup and use?

    In the end, I want it to be able to hold all of my 100 cd's, play CD quality, be easy to use while driving, boot up and shut down fast, and be less than $1400.00

    Thanks
    Car computer and console.

    Shuttle FV-24, 100gig, DVD, 10.4 VGA TFT, 866MHz, 128MB Ram, Keyspan remote, DC-DC

  5. #5
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    Steve,

    #4 As far as I known most soundcards use the standaard 500mV max output level (used is most home audio equipment) which is a lot below your 4V.

    But my guess the reason you would like the 4V is to get the best sound quality and within a car you probably need something like a balanced line or 4V (I have even seen 9V applications ) to transport the signal from your head-unit to your amps without loosing a good signal.

    With an MP3 install you can put your computer as close to the amp as you would like. Therefore if you put them close enough, and your amp is sensitive enough to work with 500mV, you can reduce the change of a bad signal a lot because the signal line is so short (and kept away from any possible interfering equipment) and then the need of a higher signal level (or balanced) is gone.

    Hope this helps.
    CAR PC in Progress... equipment gathered so far : Chrysler PT Cruiser touring edition 2002 model color Silver :-), LG064V1 6.4" LCD panel (with inverter) + Rainbow II V4 VGA converter + AOpen MX3S microATX mainboard + PIII 667Mhz + 512 MB + KeyPower ATX DC/DC powersupply

  6. #6
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    Thanks KD,
    500mv is pretty low, but the PX's input sensitivity rage goes well below 500mv so I know it will work. Thanks
    Car computer and console.

    Shuttle FV-24, 100gig, DVD, 10.4 VGA TFT, 866MHz, 128MB Ram, Keyspan remote, DC-DC

  7. #7
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    You can always consider getting a USB adapter, and that way it's digital all the way up to the inputs to the amps!

    Well encoded MP3s are using a good encoder (example lame) and at a good bitrate (at least 160kbit/s, if not 192kbit/s). Oh and use VBR variable-bit-rate-encoding as well (this allows the frames to change size, so if one frame doesn't need more than 128kbit/s, and the next set would need 256kbit/s, you can "share" the extra). I have a very sensitive ear, and I encode at 192kbit/s VBR and don't notice a difference unless I specifically listen for it, but it's good enough that I don't notice it. If you're paranoid you can encode at 256kbit/s or even 320kbit/s but I doubt that'd be necessary. Check out lame here.

    If you can spend $1400 then you can get a good system setup. Go hop on ebay and look for datalux screens, $300USD for a 10.4" 640x480 VGA TFT touchscreen, which will work great for you. It's 200 nits as well which is fairly bright, but not anywhere close enough to be sunlight readable. With that screen you can make it big enough to see well and use as a real interface, and don't need a keyboard or mouse because of the touchscreen interface.

    A stripped down version of windows 98 will boot on a decent computer in less than 30 seconds, easy. I've heard as low as 15s, which is pretty good. My XP boots from cold to usable in about 35 seconds, which is sweet!

    Do you already have a computer, and what do you plan on using, and what do you plan on doing with the computer in the car other than MP3s?
    IN DEVELOPMENT -- '96 Mustang, lilliput with PII/450 laptop, custom DC-DC power supply, 60GB; Garmin GPS; 802.11g; compact keyboard, small graphical LCDs, OBDII.

  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate Meatballman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by steve671:
    <STRONG>Thanks for the reply Telek
    #2 I would like a system that boots as fast as possible, sounds as best as possible, and is as simple and easy to use while driving as possible.
    </STRONG>
    Don't we all . I think what he was getting at was: Do you just want MP3's, or do you want to do GPS, DVD, music visualizations, etc... Those are the things that largely determine what kind of hardware and software you need.

    <STRONG>
    #3 To tell you the truth, the only MP3's I have heard is on my portable MP3 player and my computer, and I can hear a noticeable difference between them and my truck. What exactly do you mean by well encoded? I guess I was under the assumption that a MP3 would not sound as good all of the time.
    </STRONG>
    Most likely, this is due to the quality of the amps and speakers in said equipment, not the quality of the MP3. I can't tell any difference beyond 128kbps, but some will tell you to encode your mp3s at 192 or 256kbps. You would be hard-pressed to hear the difference between a 256kbs mp3 and a wav file on the same equipment.

    <STRONG>
    #5 I have no access to anything special. The question would be: does anyone know of inexpensive touchscreens? If this is not practical, what would be the simplest to setup and use?
    </STRONG>
    I'm not sure how deep your electronics expertise runs, but the easiest thing would be to get a 6.4 or 7 in. touchscreen LCD that runs composite video. Then plug that into a video card with a composite video out on it. For a better quality, but pricier alternative, check into getting a VGA TFT LCD with a controller from somewhere like Earth LCD

    [ 11-28-2001: Message edited by: Meatballman ]

  9. #9
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    as far as controlling in the car IRMAN is the way to go! it allows you to use any ir remote to control you box.
    "if everything is under control, you're not going fast enough!"

  10. #10
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    Thanks Meatballman

    I just want to use the PC to store and play music, nothing else.

    I have been using Music Match, and Creative Play Center to rip at 320kbps. I just borrowed my friends laptop and connected it to my AUX input of my Nak CD-700 CD player in my truck. I used the same song ripped at 320 vs. WAV vs. the cd in the player. I can clearly hear a difference in sound quality and especially in background fluttering sounds on the MP3, so I am definitly going to use WAV files.

    I think I am going to ditch the touch idea, (too pricy) can you recommend a 10inch VGA that would plug into this system:
    http://shop.store.yahoo.com/pctekonl...bkbookpcc.html

    I would like one that will simply plug in without any special cables, You know the KISS stradagy (Keep It Simple Sillyhead...)
    Are there any other suppliers other than earthlcd?
    Car computer and console.

    Shuttle FV-24, 100gig, DVD, 10.4 VGA TFT, 866MHz, 128MB Ram, Keyspan remote, DC-DC

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