MP3 meets Car Audio: Empeg Mark II in-dash Car MP3 Playerby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 18, 2000 3:17 AM EST
It wasn’t too long ago that AnandTech dove into some MP3 coverage with reviews of Portable MP3 players from Best Data and Pine Technology. Since then, the popularity of not only the MP3 standard but also the players that make the standard useful has increased tremendously. Not only are companies like Diamond producing MP3 players but the kings of portable electronics of yesterday are jumping on the bandwagon as well. With Sony already promoting their line of digital music players and RCA having produced a Rio clone not too long ago, it’s obvious that MP3 was most definitely moving mainstream.
But why should MP3s only be used as a replacement for the portable cassette or CD player? It wasn’t long ago that a handful of creative thinkers imagined what it would be like to have a MP3 player in your car. Unfortunately, while MP3 players gained incredible popularity, facilitated by downloading services such as Napster and Scour, the players never really made their way into the next most logical place, the car.
Car audio is an incredibly large market, mainly because unlike portable electronics, in the car you are given much more room and the ability to produce some fairly high quality and high volume audio. In spite of all of this room, the limitation of how much audio you can fit on a single CD still exists. In the home, you can always pickup a 200 or 300 disc CD changer granting you quite a bit of music, and you can always run over to your CD collection to pick out another title if you’ve completely exhausted your current playlist. Then there’s always the computer, the foundation of your MP3 collection, which can provide endless amounts of music basically limited by the amount of space remaining on your hard drive and the speed of your connection to the Internet.
Neither of those two options, a 200 disc CD changer, or having your desktop computer in your car is feasible for day to day operation. While many have tackled the idea of keeping a laptop in your car simply for the purpose of playing MP3s, it is far from the most elegant and the most effective approach to accomplishing the task.
A man by the name of Hugo Fiennes ran into the same problem when attempting to upgrade the stereo in his Mazda Miata around two years ago. Faced with the constraints of 74 minute CDs and CDRs, Hugo quickly realized that even with a 10 disc changer, there’s no way to have your entire music collection at your fingertips in a car. As it has often been said, necessity is the mother of invention, Hugo put that very axiom to test as he set out to create his own in-car MP3 player in 1998, he called it the MP3 Mobile.