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MP3 on factory head unit.

13 May 2000
Near Rotterdam
I know there are a lot of NSX'ers who would like the new technologies, but don't want to mess up there dash, or want to keep the car all 'factory'.

So i've been thinking for a while about a harddrive based MP3-player, which will take the place of the standard Alpine changer, and can be controlled from the Alpine/Bose head unit. Figured out a microcontroller, found a cheap DIY MP3-HDD unit.
I was actually in the progress of finding out the protocol used by Alpine on the M-bus, until i hit this site:

They seem to be working on the M-bus compatability.

If it comes avail. i will try to build it in the Alpine CD-housing, by removing the internals, giving it that OEM-look.

Couldn't you just skip all that effort, and install a CD based MP3 player (like the offerings from Aiwa, Kenwood, or Sony)???

I run the Aiwa CDC-MP3 in my Eclipse right now, and I'm wondering how easy it is to transfer that over to the NSX. What would you have to remove in order to do that? Do they even make NSX mounting kits for aftermarket CD players?
The benefit that dutchy points out is that you would have to modify the factory head unit, which is a major undertaking. If the MBUS combonent of this product materializes, I will be placing an order. I have a DIY to place the changer in the NSX trunck (91-92 only) which would be a nice mod.

-- Chris


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I run an iomega hip zip mp3 player and run it through the tape adapter on my NSX.Sounds great and holds 40 megs per disk.


97 NSX-T
93 Supra TT
92 Talon AWD ( For Sale )
Bah...700MB of space on CDs, the ability to place extensive directories, and just dump a bunch of MP3's into a directory and punch the Random button is what its all about...
The Phatnoise system looks interesting, but I don't think it'll work too well with the limited capabilities of the NSX headunit. Say you have 100 playlists, what's the head unit going to display? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc with no titles? That doesn't sound very usable.

I think a much better solution is the empeg unit (now "Rio car"). It's software is designed from the ground up to manage 1000's of mp3 files. I have this unit currently installed in my CRX and plan to install it in the dash of the NSX.

I don't like the idea of having to modify the dash of my NSX either. But from what I've seen, a good body shop can modify the center console trim while maintaining a near factory look.

Personally I'm kind of excited about doing this project because in addition to the mp3 capibilities, I'll end up with much better sound in the process. The factory Bose system is such as piece of shit-- the bass sounds boomy and muddy, obscuring the clarity of vocals; imaging is almost non-existant; and there's almost no high frequency detail. Many friends and family who've sat in my car say, "Ooohhh a Bose sound system, I bet that sounds good". When I tell them how bad the Bose is, they look at me in disbelief. Well, OK it does sound better than the factory stereo in most other cars, but that's not saying much.
Why HDD (6GB or 20GB), and not CD or memstick:

Currently i have 6 CD's= 6x 12 = 72 songs in the changer.

700MB MP3 CD would give approx. 140 songs (with reasonable bitrate, not going for 256Kb/s).
So that 'only' doubles it'.

I remeber having a 10 CD changer, and with that i was getting fed-up with the CD's in a couple of days (120 songs).

You always have 2 CD's for every mood your in, so with the standard CD-changer you have 24 songs to choose from (depending on the mood youre in), take half away coz those songs are on the CD, but you don't really like them, so there's only 12 left......

6GB HDD: 1200 songs/3 moods= 400 songs per mood.

I have looked at other options as well, but i like it all OEM, so no wires hanging out from my dash, and no added key-pads, mostly beacause my NSX is my daily driver.

I guess the part that bugs me about the HD based units, as compared to the CD ones, is the flexibility factor. Sure, you can transfer over your current MP3 collection to the HD, and play away. But, if you download new songs and want them in your car, you have to take the drive out, mount it to the PC, and then re-install it when finished.

With CD's, I just zap out another one (at .25 a piece for 700MB I can afford that
and stick it in the car.

700MB per CD is just about the right size too. I can fit the ENTIRE set of Pearl Jam albums on one disc, another entire disc is comprised of 8 or 9 live concerts. I have another disc with all the essential Pink Floyd albums as well...all browsed to by directory, with the directory name listed on the unit's LCD.

For the money, I like the ease and flexibility of the CD units myself - but to each his own. What they really need to do is put the MP3 decoder hardware into a CD changer, so you can have 10 CD's at a time....now that'd be amazing cool.
Just an idea...
Does anyone have a spare OEM unit?
What could be done with a lot of cursing and alcohol, is to take a single DIN CD headunit and dissemble it to be fit in the OEM housing. I once did this for a friend and it looked total OEM but with the goodies that he wanted at that time (RDS and CD-changer control). You could use the tape section to make a nice slot in CD.
Hum.... I'll think I will rush to the shop and se what kind of devices are out there with the correct displaysize.

Enjoying life at 8.000 RPM
Originally posted by bartonkt:
I guess the part that bugs me about the HD based units, as compared to the CD ones, is the flexibility factor. Sure, you can transfer over your current MP3 collection to the HD, and play away. But, if you download new songs and want them in your car, you have to take the drive out, mount it to the PC, and then re-install it when finished.

With empeg/riocar unit the entire head unit slides out. I then bring it inside, set it on the desk, and plug it into ethernet on my PC. (You do not have to take drives out and remount them in your PC.) It's a very easy process that takes no longer than going into your trunk to fetch your CD's out of your CD changer.

If having to pull the head unit out the car to add new tracks annoys you, then you could do like many others have: buy an Apple wireless base station, mount it behind the dash, and hook it into the back of the empeg. Then get a Lucent Wavelan card for your PC. You'll now be able to access your head unit from your PC whenever you car is in the garage. Going farther, you could put another wireless card in your PC at work and access your mp3 collection whenver you car is in the parking lot at work!

The entire point of the hard drive based units is to avoid the problem inherent with CD changers. Every morning before work or before I went on a long trip I would have to decide which discs to bring with me. Now everywhere I go all 250 of my CD's are always available to me! That's somethign CD-based MP3 players can't even begin to touch.
I've got a Rio-car mounted in my NSX dash; I'll try and post a picture or two in the next week or so. As the co-founder of empeg I really needed to have one in my car, but the dash surgery worked well.

All I need now is a decent sub - unfortunately, the Dali one is for the right-hand footwell, which is rather full of pedals on a RHD car


Please do post those pictures! I saw the pictures of your modified center console trim a few months back, but I am dying to see what it looks like fully installed!