Car CD Players & Changers
There are a number of options when it comes to playing CD's in
- An in-dash CD Player - often combined with
radio tuner, WMA/MP3 player
- An in-dash CD Receiver - with a multiple CD
cassette / changer located elsewhere in the vehicle
- Connect a portable CD player to an existing
in-dash audio unit using either a cable and adapter or a bluetooth
Choosing a Car CD Player
The first two things to consider when choosing a car CD player
- Will it physically fit into the vehicle
- Will it integrate cosmetically with the dash and other electronics.
Most decks have standardized form factors; so fit most cars, but
there are exceptions, so make sure that the deck is suited for your
car. You are usually pretty safe is the car stereo is made for the
same market as the source of your car:
German made vehicles - the car sound systems
standards are set by DIN, the German Institute for Standardization.
Japanese vehicles - standards are set by EIAJ;
the Electronics Industry Association of Japan.
United States vehicles – guidelines set
by SAE; Society of Automotive Engineers.
Some standard sizes are interchangeable, some not. Fit kits are
commonly available; also called installation packages. The most
common sizes are indicated by chassis size or codes:
- at least four basic DIN sizes
- one basic radio size
- one size that fits only in certain GM and Chrysler vehicles.
- a "double DIN" size common in many Japanese cars.
Most reputable mobile electronics retailers have guides that can
tell if a particular stereo component or speaker will fit and if
special modifications to your car or radio will be necessary.
Does the faceplate and display match the rest of your dash? Some
decks allow you to change the color of their displays.
Remote operation - if your car already has remote
capability, identify whether the new deck integrates existing steering
wheel functions or need custom integration.
Display – the display is the only way the
device can communicate with you. Check you can read it in bright
daylight; many displays wash out in bright surroundings making them
almost useless. If the display is bright, check you can dim it to
match the rest of your dash. Driving at night with a super bright
display can be a driving hazard.
User controls – are buttons logically laid
out for, easy to operate in one step to make use when driving safe.
Check the owners manual makes sense!; many are translated badly
from Koren or Japanese and are a game in themselves to make sense
Make use the off switch is the most obvious. It has been known
to be left out of the button range and located deep in a hidden
Media format support - Consider the media you
want to play – XM or Sirius Satellite Radio, CD, MP3 discs,
System Expansion Capability - A sub-woofer output
is a must for many. Changer input — especially if it does
not have MP3 long play capability. Check it doesn’t use the
same port as used for satellite radio.
FM performance – if you are a radio fan,
check modern units still perform well; many are now more concerned
with alternative media at the expense of radio. Testing instore
connected to a store demo board hooked to a cable or giant antennae
is not representative of in-car performance. If you’re an
AM talk radio fan, consider that also. Power supply impacts AM reception.
Sound – modern decks don’t suffer
many sound quality issues, but if you like a particular sound-mix,
check you can manipulate the required attributes.
Output voltage –most decks can be driven
with less than a volt; modern decks outputs are more than 1 or 2
volts, so don’t expect problems here. Higher voltage outputs
minimize noise problems, but good installation and proper wiring
Warranty and support – check how long the
warranty is and what it covers. Check it also applies if you install
Basic CD Player Specifications
Understanding the basic specifications common to most car audio
systems helps to compare makes and models and assess the likely
- RMS Power Output: amount of continuous power
the amplifier produces [in watts]. Higher RMS figures allow louder
music, but not always better sound quality. Use RMS output to
comparing receivers or amplifiers.
- Peak Output: measures peak or maximum output,
not a continuous rating. The output number is commonly found on
the face of stereos and the front of many manufacturer components.
- RMS Power Bandwidth: the frequency response
or range used to determine the built-in amplifier's RMS power
rating. Look for 20-20,000 Hz, the approximate range of human
- Preamp Outputs: number of RCA output jacks
on the rear of the receiver to connect external amps. The more
- Preamp Voltage: the stereo preamp output rating
is only important if you are planning to add an external power
amplifier. Look for over 2.0V.
- FM Sensitivity: how well a receiver picks
up FM radio signals. Smaller decibel femtowatts (dBf) values are
better to pick up weaker stations.
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: measure of how well
the unit silences background noise. Higher ratings indicate less
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