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Going Mobile - Digital Audio in a Car


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Hello everyone! This is my first post. Hope it's in the right forum. Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.


Is anyone taking hi fi 'on the road'? I'd like to discuss implementing a digital front end to a car stereo. In my case the DSP/DAC has a Toslink input, and outputs to Soundstream class A power amps (designed by Nelson Pass) and Morel Supremo speakers. That much of the system is up and running in the car, getting analogue signal from the head unit.


On the digital side, the plan is to use an iPhone to store and play files, connected to an Apple lightning to camera adapter (lightning to USB 2.0 type A) in order to access the music digitally from the phone, a Wireworld Starlink 7 USB A to B cable, a Peachtree Audio X1 to convert the data to the Toslink that my DSP/DAC accepts, and of course, a Toslink cable into the DSP/DAC. Haven't used this front end yet. The power supply for the X1 is the hang-up. It only draws 55 mAH, but the iPhone won't deliver it - the phone gives an error message about the device drawing too much power. One solution is to insert a USB hub between the iPhone and the X1 in order to 'fool' the phone into thinking its not exceeding its power iOS imposed power supplying limit. Although somewhat inelegant, this should work. Until the phone's battery runs out, or worse.


So can we talk about other, better ways to implement this. I'm not an EE, just a rabid, ageing audiophile, and the in's and out's of USB is a bit of a mystery to me. Would a power isolating USB 'Y' adapter/cable like this (câble adaptateur usb-b pour alimentation externe jack 5.5/2.1mm) and a power supply work here? I think so but this would seem to raise two issues: (1) making nice with the chip in the lightning connector so that the chip allows the data to flow and (2) providing clean power to the X1 converter. Or am I way off base with this?


Also, what alternative front ends would you suggest?

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I use Bluetooth streaming from our phones in the vehicles. it is fast, easy, convenient, and cheap. :) I can also use several sources to stream music, either from my personal music library, or from other sources like Apple Music.



Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Personally i do it digitally in my car at least since 15 years - maybe longer.


My old Sony Mobile ES has a digital headunit which goes to the DSP via optical cable.

From there the analog cables to the poweramps are only 30cm long.

The setup is fully active (each speaker has it's own amp channel).


A good address for questions is Klangfuzzi Forum if you happen to speak German (but you can ask in English, too).

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Have tried a few different cables and hubs. By using an inexpensive USB powered hub I'm able to power the USB/SPDIF converter and stream music from my iPhone to the converter. The phone and the converter are both plugged into downstream ports on the hub. The upstream port draws power from the car. SQ varies widely from file to file. My rips (with JRMC 21) of high quality recordings sound good - much cleaner than bluetooth, the HU's output, or the iPhone's 3.5mm output. There is not necessarily a correlation between file size and SQ. Other files can sound pretty bad - compressed, dirty, harsh.


Anyhow, I am happy to have what I have working. With tuning, I'm confident that SQ will improve by leaps and bounds (this is a new installation in a new car). Happy listening!

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  • 1 month later...

I have used my ipad air 2 with streaming offline content from Qobuz and Tidal and it sounds wonderful connected to the the car system via external input- i don't know if this what you are looking for or not-my only mistake was not buying the iPad with more memory-next time if i get my CFO's permission i will

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One thing to think carefully about with mobile audio in the car is make sure you have something which is easy to control and not going to distract you.



...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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