OEM Integration Grows Up

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AmpPRO at CES integration for car audio

A new kind of integration product will generate a giant leap forward for the car audio aftermarket, say industry members.

Automotive Data Solutions (ADS), AAMP Global and Metra will launch by March interface devices (Metra’s is also a DSP) that link to the CAN bus of the car to enable volume control from the radio for aftermarket add-on amplifiers and other products, solving a problem that has dogged the aftermarket for years.  They accomplish this in a factory amplified system, before the amplifier, unlike many of today’s solutions, which occur after the factory amplifier.

Kenwood XR600-6DSP shown with Mark Rutledge of ADS
Kenwood XR600-6DSP shown with Mark Rutledge of ADS

Rockford, Kenwood, Elettromedia (Audison), and AudioControl have all announced  car audio products that work with ADS’s solution.

These new “before the amplifier” aftermarket solutions also solve another problem.  In many factory amplified systems, so much processing occurs in the factory amplifier that it requires an expensive, aftermarket DSP processor to clean up all the muddied signals to ready the system for aftermarket components.  Many of these aftermarket processors can cost upwards of $600 while some of the new “before the amplifier” interfaces start at under $300.

The new products may be used in factory amplified systems like Ford/Sony, although Metra’s Axxess DSP can work with other kinds of systems too.

It is estimated that as many as 25 to 30 percent of today’s cars come with a factory amplifier and can benefit from these new before the amplifier systems. About 40 percent of General Motors’ cars are amplified, and about 40 percent of Ford’s systems are amplified, says AAMP Global.

Many dealers are applauding the technology.  Many are still waiting to test it or learn more about it prior to the March launch.  So here is some information that may be helpful.

Some factory systems like Ford/Sony systems, include a pre-amplifier (which controls volume) in the amplifier instead of in the radio.  So when you add aftermarket products and you move the volume knob on the radio, nothing happens.

rockford-dsr-1 car DSP
Rockford DSR-1 DSP with ADS Maestro AR

“If we have a customer who comes in with a Ford truck and he wants that system to sound great, there’s an analog signal coming out that’s…a clean, beautiful signal but [if you add aftermarket amps and speakers] the volume doesn’t change when you move the volume knob.  So your steering wheel buttons stop working and that means that most likely your fader and balance doesn’t work properly, so unless you install your own volume knob, it won’t do anything,” explained Ken Ward, who heads the Educar training school and who co-owns the Musicar Northwest shop in Oregon.

Also you may lose navigation audio prompts and handsfree calling prompts, which are mixed into the factory amplifier.

Ward said, “People say those amps have a digital signal, but they use an analog signal plus a digital signal to do those volume functions.  The AmpPRO has a preamp built-into it and it takes the signal coming from the radio and it executes all the preamp commands that the radio sends as if it were the factory amplifier.  So when you turn up the volume, it gets louder. And the output is a clean, clear preamp signal so that solves an awful lot of problems.”

Other factory amplified systems are loaded with digital signal processing at the amplifier.  But these new devices load into the system before the amplifier, providing an entry point for the aftermarket where the signal is clean and ready for use.

Car Toys said it is “super excited about the work AAMP, Kenwood, and many others are doing with ADS.”   “This is meaningful work in the digital space that offers exciting new better sound solutions for the owners of a LOT of cars.  Car Toys is embracing these products wholeheartedly and will offer them as soon as they’re available,” said VP Merchandising & Marketing Jim Warren.

ADS will offer the Maestro AR interface in March.  It will work with DSPs and amplifiers from certain suppliers, tapping into the CAN bus in certain cars and allowing volume control from the radio.  Rockford has incorporated the Maestro AR technology into a new Rockford DSR-1 DSP at $249.99.  And ADS will also sell the DSR-1.

Kenwood Electronics announced at CES the eXcelon XR600-6DSP, an amplifier combined with a DSP that also works with a Maestro AR to let you replace the factory amplifier. It will ship in March at a suggested retail price of $799.

Elettromedia announced its Audison Prima amplifiers will be ready to work with the Maestro AR and AudioControl said at CES that three of its DSP and amplifier products (two DSPs and one amplifier) will work with a Maestro AR module.

Metra Axxess DSP at CES 2017
Metra Axxess DSP at CES 2017

The Maestro AR itself will be available in March at a suggested retail price of $129.99.  It is compatible initially with many Chrysler and Ford vehicles including 2009- 2017 Ram pickups, 2011-2017 Chrysler 300, 2011-2016 F150, 2011 -2017 Grand Cherokee, and the 2011 – 2016 Edge..

The AmpPRO will be available in the first quarter 2017.  It lets you add other components to factory amplified systems and use the radio’s volume control.  It also provides variable volume, fade, balance, bass, treble and mid audio settings and variable audio output with an option for a TOSLink optical output so it can be used with aftermarket digital signal processors from other brands.

AmpPRO will be offered in vehicle specific plug and play models.  The first versions will be for Ford vehicles with Sony systems and several Chrysler models followed by Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors versions.

The AmpPRO will carry a suggested retail price of $299.

Metra’s Axxess DSP is a before the amplifier full DSP device that also allows volume control from the radio volume knob. And it also retains the GM chime, Ford SYNC, OnStar and other factory features.  Metra’s Dave Daly said, “You can drive it low level with an aftermarket radio, in which case, it could function as a preamplifier.  If you’re driving it with an OEM head unit, typically you are driving it high level and in that case it operates like a line output converter with a DSP.”

He added, “Ours was really intended to work in a car where there is no amplifier, or where there is an analog turn on amplifier or a car where there’s a digitally controlled amplifier.  It will work with any of those three.”

The patent-pending DSP uses plug and play harness solutions for specific vehicles to further reduce installation time. It is expected to ship in March at $299 suggested retail price.


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  1. Cant learn everything from the internet 🙂 Call your regional AAMP Global Rep. My early adoptor’s, have them, all my field team have them. And we have even more coming to replenish our back orders. So yes they are shipping, way to Go AAMP Global!

  2. PAC is already shipping 3 different applications of these items w/ toslink option. AP4-CH21, AP4-CH41 for Dodge Chrysler, and AP4-FD21 for Ford. No telling how long it will take for the others to come to market.

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