So you finally get some gear installed in your car (after the installer "friend" of yours tests your patience and your sense of humanity-you wanted to strangle him so bad!) and you think you're set; and then that company that was saying how cool their product IS (soon to be WAS), will be dropping their latest and greatest sh*t when you're about to unleash your amazing customized car with the old sh*t! If I'm describing you, then stop reading, 'cause now you'll only feel compelled to spend more money to swap some products. Now if you happen to have a little extra loot in this lousy economy, then read on. If you're like me you probably want to replace your old navi with the scratched touchscreen (thanks, installer "friend"!) with one of the new AVICs from Pioneer. I got a close look at Pioneer's annual Road Show and yes, the new models looks better than the previous year's offerings. And they're even priced better, which is saying something. That should make it even more difficult to resist swapping products... again. Just get an installer that'll work fast, y'know what I'm saying?
Memphis Car Audio
CM & C3
Memphis' CM and C3 subwoofers have new voice coil technology that allow for even more bass. The "C" in CM stands for the Cast aluminum basket, while the "M" is for Mojo. The CM handles more wattage than its predecessor for big bass. That's because the voice coil in the CM is now made with aluminum instead of copper, meaning it dissipates heat better, thus handling more power. Where previously a 12" woofer was only able to accept 1000-2000 watts of power, the CM can now receive 1100-2200 watts. If you don't need quite all that much pumping and thumping, then the little sibling C3 may be more your style. The woofers have four bolts attaching the basket to the motor for more strength, and the surround is now made of butyl rubber instead of foam for durability. The black wrinkle finish of the signature Memphis M baskets feature inset chrome mesh accents and a chrome back plate with laser etching. Gaskets are now rubber for both look and fit, and new, proprietary terminals also feature chrome branding. Both the CM and C3 still incorporate the parabolic reflex cone design that decreases flex, thereby lowering distortion and increasing impulse response and output.
If you want more, then go high-end with the new AVIC-Z. The AVIC-Z110BT looks expensive and has all the features you can handle, but at $1,600, it's positioned at a very reasonable price. The Z110BT runs on 4GB of on-board flash memory, offers CD as well as DVD playback, and has a 7" touchscreen. It has a built-in Bluetooth and also features Drive Report, Highway Sign Board Guidance, in addition to MSN Direct information. Map data is supplied by Tele Atlas. It includes over 12 million points of interest (POI) organized in more than 150 categories. MSN Direct is a subscription service, but if you get the optional MSN Direct tuner, you can get traffic information, with traffic incidents and traffic flow information overlaid directly on the map and indicated by different colored lines and traffic icons. (This is available in 134 cities across the United States and Canada.) MSN subscribers also have access to weather forecasts, gas prices, movie times, news headlines, local events and stock quotes. Nobody wants to pay another subscription fee, but it's a really handy service. This AVIC-Z has a new advanced voice recognition engine for key navigation and audio/video functions. Moreover, after syncing a compatible iPod/iPhone to the AVIC, conversational commands can be used to initiate music playback from a connected iPod/iPhone by artist, album, playlist and genre. Users can also switch between sources and carry out functions such as play, pause, shuffle, next track and previous track for music from a SD card, USB or iPod device. The AVIC-Z is equipped with Bluetooth by Parrot. It allows audio streaming to transmit music wirelessly and control Bluetooth-enabled portable audio players using the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) and the Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP).
Kicker has taken a lot of the technologies from their supreme QS-Series Systems, and incorporated them into the more affordable RS-Series. The RS65.2 is composed of a 6.5"midrange woofer while the RS60.2 has a true 6" midrange that also fits a 5.25" location. The speakers employ a polyimide former and copper-clad aluminum wire to help decrease hot temperatures within the motor and cast-aluminum baskets with nickel-plated, spring-loaded terminals provide additional protection and result in a more durable driver and higher power handling. The 1" tweeter with elliptical domes can be installed in a flush, angled, surface, or coaxial mount. The redesigned crossovers offer greater flexibilty and reliability with the new two-way bi-ampable passive crossovers that have 18 dB/ octave highpass and 12 dB/ octave lowpass filters at 3.5kHz to optimize output. A tweeter output-level switch (0dB, +3dB, +6dB) determines tweeter volume, while the crossover itself provides incandescent tweeter protection.MSRP: RS60.2 - $399.95; RS65.2 - $449.95.
Is it time to say goodbye to pricey navigation systems? Pioneer continues to raise the bar while simultaneously lowering pricing on the MSRP side. The AVIC-U310BT has nav, built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and Apple iPod/iPhone control and a full-color 4.3-inch WQVGA touchscreen-all for $600. Ridiculous, right? Map data is supplied by Tele Atlas, and it covers the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, plus Canada. Pioneer's included proprietary PC software, AVIC-FEEDS, allows users to import custom destinations, POIs, and contact lists, upload photographs, create custom illumination colors and store a driving log. You can upload data before leaving the house via an SD card slot located within the detachable front panel of the unit. (Note: you can get map information when the front panel is detached but it does not have a separate GPS.) Users also have the versatility to easily add up to 12 million POIs or a Mexico map (via SD card) with optional add-on packages available from Pioneer. The AVIC-U310BT has the new Highway Sign Board View, which depicts highway signs that help for quick visual aid while navigating. It also has Drive Report, which provides the fuel cost for trip routes, estimates the vehicle's CO2 emissions and, with the help of the AVIC-FEEDS software, logs and archives the data to generate various reports. Users can also transfer driving data such as abrupt stops and accelerations to AVIC-FEEDS for an analysis of driving habits and suggestions to improve fuel efficiency-if you're into that sort of thing. And yeah, this thing still plays music too! Play all your usual music files. Use the USB interface located at the rear of the unit to connect a DMP or thumb drive or iPod/iPhone music players (via an optional cable). Check with your Pioneer dealers around July.
JVC Mobile KS-AR9501D
JVC has improved the look of their amps. The KS-AR9501D in particular has a great cosmetic design. Better than that, it's a high-power amplifier with a max power rating of 1800 watts. It has the added benefit of being easy to install stealth mode. The illuminating panel and control panel cover help with under seat installation (or in some other inconspicuous areas of your car). Encased in the KS-AR9501D are the large control knobs that require no tools for adjustment. Cascade stacking allows space-saving mounting options and is useful with the external bridging function, which makes it possible to use multiple amplifiers at once. Use one unit as a master, and the other as a secondary, and two 1500-watt amps can be combined for a total of 3000 watts.