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Thread: Why have a head unit at all?

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate willmeyer's Avatar
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    Feb 2009

    Why have a head unit at all?

    Hi all, getting up to speed planning a project, have a very simple question. I've noticed in the project cars that almost everyone seems to keep their head unit (OEM or aftermarket) and have the carputer hooked up as an aux source. Question is, why not just let the pc handle all of the audio control? Hook it up to the fm antenna with a tuner, etc etc. Is it because of the startup times on the carputer? Or reliability? One thing Im not really sure of with a car pc will be how it feels to get in, start it, and dive for 5 minutes to run an errand. Do you end up having it boot the entire time, then selecting your playback source, etc., or is it pretty responsive?

    So yeah, just wondering generally what the common wisdom is on ditching the head unit altogether and using the car pc as the head unit. Thoughts welcome.

    Thanks all, great forum!


  2. #2
    Confusion Master
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    Enforcer's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    If you go down to the woods today, You're sure of
    Actually I think there are a ot of people that don't use HU's.

    Personally I use one, Just gives me a different option if and when I take the PC out for maintenance or upgrade (like now )

  3. #3
    Raw Wave Rob Withey's Avatar
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    Apr 2000
    Bedfordshire, UK
    I used a headunit too. Advantages for me were:

    o) Nice easy to use volume, balance, fader, bass and treble controls (main issue).
    o) No need to buy/install an amp.
    o) Ability to listen to the radio without having to boot the PC.
    o) Easier to return to stock if necessary.
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  4. #4
    FLAC hexxamillion's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    My EEEPC is my carPC for now and I have it connected to the aux in my aftermarket stereo. I also have a full aftermarket system (amp, subs..etc)

    Even when I get my 7" VGA touch screen I just may still keep my head unit for the same reason others mentioned in this post. If you are performing maintenance on your PC then you still have access to music.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate jessekilner's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    no head unit here was'nt enough room after the 10.4" install. I keep PC on standby (laptop) so as soon as I get in and turn car on it's rockin the last tune I strongly suggest if you don''t do the H.U. though that you buy a amp that has a minimum input voltage of .3v on the can find that info in the specs of the amp your interested in! Otherwise you would need a pre-amp booster or you will be in the zone for picking up roadnoise and alternator feedback. JL Audio has nice preamp filters and response to very low input voltages on there amps, if you want my input..pricey but worth every penny.
    Did it.. Done it... now I got to keep the neighbors kids away!!

  6. #6
    Low Bitrate willmeyer's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    Ok thanks for the thoughts, everyone, I suppose it does seem more straightforward to keep the head unit, even with an aftermarket amp setup, for the convenience factor. Appreciate the advice.

  7. #7
    Raw Wave treetop777's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    War-Town, GA.
    Sooner or later, the PC IS going to malfunction, and knowing my luck it will be in the middle of a long trip - i would hate to go down the road in complete silence (aside from wind and road noise). The HU is a back-up; never leave home without it!

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Norton, MA
    as others said I have an HU and the computer for pretty much to compartmentalize things and like others said if/when the computer messes up or needs rebooting or updating or something else there is still a radio to play with. Another reason I had (even though its easily circumvented with computer software) is stereo tuning functions for complete audio tuning. I have an alpine 9887 which gives me time alignment and active crossover processing plus ease of total stereo build.
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  9. #9
    Low Bitrate
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    Jun 2008
    Camden / Australia
    i have been without my head unit since i first installed my carpc, but due to a lack of quality fm radio tuners for the pc i havee decided to install a head unit back into the car.
    however the pc will still be handeling the sound with the head unit feeding into the pc line in

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  10. #10
    Variable Bitrate billmee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    I had a choice of a HU or an amp in the setup I am currently building but decided the money and space taken up by a HU would be better spent on an amp. ( better sound that is)

    I plan on adding a Visteon HD radio tuner connected to the pc and if I'm lucky directly to the amp (+preamp) if the pc is out for service.

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