Stereos have come a long way from radios. It used to be the car “radio” was something to ensure you could hear news and weather reports, sports broadcasts, and tinny sounds to avoid the monotony of wind passing the windows.
I’ve witnessed the progression of auto sound since my childhood. Of course, I haven’t seen it all. I joined in the 70’s with push button radio seeking, 8 tracks stored in the glovebox and went forward from there.
I’ve always loved music, especially in cars. Cars and music pair together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
Somewhere around the 80’s, I became aware that fashionable cars could sometimes be paired with chic sound systems. As a kid, I was fascinated not just by Porsches, but the exotic sounding Blaupunkt stereo.
I always wondered if we were even pronouncing it correctly.
If you had an Alpine stereo in the ‘80’s, you were a cut above the pack. That classic light green and white colors were easy to identify from a distance and mark a true audiophile and enhance most any cars, not just Lamborghinis.
By the time I was in high school, it wasn’t uncommon to see mall rats slinging their pull-out Alpine decks by the handle as they catcalled poofy-banged girls. (For those who don’t get this, the rationale was to protect it from theft, and not come out to the parking lot and find the recognizable-at-a-distance glitter of shattered glass on the asphalt by the car). Of course, it was one of the first #humblebrags before we had a name for it. The detachable faceplate was soon to follow, but just didn’t seem to carry the same swagger as swinging your expensive stereo around.
Today, auto manufacturers have their established relationships and there are over a dozen pairings out there. In our family vehicle stable, we have several different factory sounds: Fender, Harmon Kardon, and JBL to name a few. They all sound pretty good, and though I still think aftermarket speakers and head units bring a superior sound quality, I haven’t done any recent replacements of the stock system.
So my first question is, does the sheer number of names and pairings dilute the special experience, or is it just the next phase of audio & auto enjoyment?
My second question: what premium audio brand gets your ear drum tingling these days? There’s so many to choose from now. From Bang and Olufsen to Bowers and Wilkins, Boston Acoutics to Burmester, McIntosh to Monsoon, what name gets you as excited as the car it’s in?