If you are happy with the features in your car radio but miss that killer sound at any volume, the car audio aftermarket has an answer. It’s called a digital signal processor (DSP).
Car makers tend to use cheap factory speakers and then add a lot of digital signal processing to the system to compensate. The result is mediocre sound, especially at higher volumes. And if you feed that man-handled signal into aftermarket components it will sound muddy.
So leading car audio companies are introducing sophisticated DSPs to counteract the factory shenanigans. Many of these new DSPs have two functions. They strip out the processing in the infotainment system to give you a clean signal that’s ready for aftermarket amps and speakers. And they help tune the audio system to best suit your car’s acoustics.
Two of the latest DSPs to hit the market are from AudioControl and Mosconi.
AudioControl’s DM-810 is unique in that it has built-in real time analyzers (RTAs) on both its inputs and outputs. This lets installers perfectly visualize the signal coming into the device and the improved signal leaving the device for better control in tuning the car’s acoustics.
The DM-810, can also handle the highest quality audio available called Hi-Resolution Audio. So if you’ve recorded some Hi-Res Audio files you can stream them over Bluetooth 4.0 for playback in the car. (An optional Bluetooth dongle will be available next month). With the dongle you can also use your phone or tablet to wirelessly program settings on the 810 including time alignment, 30 bands of eq and RTA.
The DM-810 processor has 8 active high level speaker inputs, 6 preamp inputs, 2 digital inputs plus 10 preamp outputs. It’s available at $699.
Mosconi’s new 8to12 Aerospace is a spare-no-expense DSP that claims to use some of the finest digital-to-audio and audio-to-digital converters available.
It is built in Italy. Mosconi says the the 8to12 Aerospace is the only processor that handles 192 kHz/24bit Hi-Resolution Audio through all processing stages of the DSP.
While many DSPs accept Hi-Res Audio up to 192kHz/24 bit, “they aren’t able to maintain it all the way to the output stage without down sampling it,” said a Mosconi spokesman.
It offers 8 high level, summable inputs, and 8 low level inputs with 12 channel output. It has a built-in coaxial digital input, an optical input and an optical output.
It also has an automatic source selector so you don’t need a separate controller. If you plug in a smartphone and hit play on the phone, the music will automatically start playing through the DSP and if you hit pause, the DSP will revert to the radio or the last source played.
The 8to12 Aerospace can stream CD quality audio over Bluetooth with an optional plug in module.
Suggested retail price is $1,399.