I've felt for a long time that the car was absolutely the best platform for digital music. You can be in your car for hours and you need entertainment. While a CD changer is a step in the right direction if you are like me you listen to those same six CDs for weeks, or even months, before changing them. I looked around a few months ago for solutions but didn't come to a conclusion. Recently my friend Chris (excuse his website, I think he's working on bringing it into this century) decided he wanted to pursue this goal so I piggybacked on his very thorough research and got a PhatNoise PhatBox. I would say we installed it this afternoon, but unless you count fetching a few tools and asking questions I don't have much of a place in the we. The install took the whole afternoon. A few things came up on the install. I'll share them here for others that may try this at home.
- I had the PhatBox unit for Volkswagen but was installing in an Audi A6 wagon. The unit is exactly the same, but the cable is different. Chris did the solder iron magic and put a female DB-13 connector in place of the VW connector.
- We blew the fuse in the Audi head unit while installing due to plugging and unplugging a lot of times. I'd suggest not plugging the PhatBox in until you have the connectors fully connected.
- I upgraded the system files on the PhatBox to the newest versions. Took a few minutes on first boot but everything worked perfect.
- The physical install was a bit rough, a hole had to be cut in the back of the steel frame that held the old CD player to allow room for the cable. Be ready to cut into some serious steel.
- The screwholes on the unit weren't ideally placed. In order to get the access panel back over the unit once installed new holes needed to be tapped into the aluminum chassis and even then the insulation had to be cut out to accommodate the unit. But after that, it fit fine.
I've only had it for a few hours now but I really like it. The voice prompting system seems to work well but I'm still getting used to it. When you turn it on the first time you get this rocking welcome sound. The PhatBox uses your standard car stereo so it cannot display menus with long text. PhatNoise has a fairly elegant solution to this using voice prompts. It will announce your genre for you, and it creates album names so you can pick what to listen to. As a bonus the random button on my head unit now has a purpose since it does something that is worthwhile. Anyway, you can read up on your own if you want more information.
Huge thanks to Chris for doing the install! I would have been way over my head. We didn't take out the camera so no pictures of the install. I can now happily drive down the road listening to one of a few thousand different songs at a time. Plus, I get to feel cool since I've got a little Linux computer in my trunk.