Headunit with builtin hard drive and usb connection ?

BeelzebubUK

Active Member
I'd like to be able to play my CD collection that I've ripped to FLAC (took a loooooong time) in my car.

Ideally what I'm after is a single DIN (double DIN could be possible) headunit that houses a laptop drive internally and has an external USB connection for access to it so I can plug in a laptop to copy files across.

The FLAC files are currently 230GB but I've got no problem doing a mass conversion to MP3 so will probably weigh in around 150GB which is why I need a hard drive.

Every so often I search around but there seems to be nothing that fits the bill so either my googling skills are lacking or theres nothing quite like what I'm after.

Does anyone have any suggestions ?
 

laalves

Active Member
There's nothing close to that in the market. Believe me, I know, I searched furiously. Further, the trend is now to drop built-in hard drives (only accessible via on unit rip) and go pure USB interface (Clarion and Pioneer did that for 2009). Of these, the one and only way to have tagged lossless music is to get a headunit that accepts digital from an iPod and put all the stuff in the iPod as tagged Apple Lossless. No USB headunit in the market will take tagged lossless of any sort via USB. That I know, none will take FLAC. Some will accept untagged WAV, and all take 256kbps WMA, 320kbps MP3 and AAC/MP4.

Currently, I have a Clarion MAX983HD (40Gb HDD, you will not find any larger) and am about to take it out to replace it with an Alpine iXA-W407BT, CDless 2-DIN unit. I got a iPod Classic 160Gb to which I have transferred my ~550CD collection in Apple Lossless format (except for some lossy downloads).

That's the only way to have lossless tagged music in the car EXCEPT if you go the CarPC way.... But that's a whole different world. If you do that, get an Asus Xonar Essence STX audio board, the absolute best in PC sound quality.
 

BeelzebubUK

Active Member
Thanks for the reply. Wasn't too worried about converting to MP3 but wanted to stay away from the iPod route as I'd only use it in the car.

Will have to hope that someone brings something out closer to what I want one day.
 

laalves

Active Member
Thanks for the reply. Wasn't too worried about converting to MP3 but wanted to stay away from the iPod route as I'd only use it in the car.

Will have to hope that someone brings something out closer to what I want one day.

Sure, you may wait, but you may also try an iPod. This iPod Classic I bought last week is exclusively for the car. Will only take it out to update the music library.

The way I'll use it with my soon-to-arrive-Alpine iXA-W407BT is the same way I use my CD-based hifi at home: transport feeding a DAC. iPods actually excel at outputting digital music, and the Alpine uses a 24-bit upsampling Burr-Brown DAC. The DAC will then feed the signal to an outboard DSP (Alpine PXA-H100) which is develpoed by Audissey to do the "room" correction duties, taking care of crossover and equalizing duties. In turn, this feeds two outboard amps (Alpine PDX-4.150) connected to Focal speakers (4 x 13WS + 4 x 100 KP). Can't really go much better than this in car hifi terms...
 

BeelzebubUK

Active Member
Just don't like having to plug something else in and hide it away when the cars parked up.

I'm wondering if theres any headunits that can access an external drive from a USB port in the back ? Could then tuck the drive away under the bonnet. Its a Boxster so theres a compartment for a CD changer under the bonnet I could put it in and no heat because the engines where it should be....in the back :)

Thats also why I'm not fussed about not being able to play lossless as I'd never hear the difference anyway. Although it would have been a bonus tom play FLAC.

Will have to do some more searching methinks.
 
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laalves

Active Member
Ah! If you don't require lossless, and are happy with an offboard HDD there's plenty of options for you. All major brands have at least a unit with USB in capable of handling a pendrive or a HDD, via USB. Go to any highstreet store and ask for advice. There's plenty of stuff for you. Even easier, there are aftermarket interfaces to replace the Porsche CD changer with a USB/iPod adapter! You may then control your files in the stock headunit.

As for the right place for the engine being in the back..... couldn't agree more! My car is a 996 Turbo. Find me at renntech.org, same nick. You can see my install in the DIY section.
 

BeelzebubUK

Active Member
Love what you did with the CD drawer :)

Would like to upgrade to a convertible 996 one day but until I can afford one the Boxster ticks all the right boxes.

I don't actually have the original headunit but you may have convinced me to take a look at getting one and setting it up in a similar way. Would be nice to have it looking like original.

I noticed everyone has the climate control moved down to the bottom. Is that easy to do ? I have 2 open storage bays there and the climate control and headunit are at the top.
 
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BeelzebubUK

Active Member
After seeing how much people want for a used PCM1 I think i'll be looking for a normal headunit :eek:
 

BeelzebubUK

Active Member
Looks like a lot of people are having issues getting large external hard drives powering up with many of these headunits but I think I might have a solution.

The iPod works because it has its own battery to handle the power draw on spin up and then the 500ma current is enough to keep it charged. So using one of these boxes :

New SD MMC MS to 2.5 HDD Hard Drive Backup Storage Device - Wholesale Factory Direct

With a hard drive will be a much cheaper alternative for MP3 playback. Just need to look for a SATA alternative that can accept a bigger capacity.
 

laalves

Active Member
Looks like a lot of people are having issues getting large external hard drives powering up with many of these headunits but I think I might have a solution.

The iPod works because it has its own battery to handle the power draw on spin up and then the 500ma current is enough to keep it charged. So using one of these boxes :

New SD MMC MS to 2.5 HDD Hard Drive Backup Storage Device - Wholesale Factory Direct

With a hard drive will be a much cheaper alternative for MP3 playback. Just need to look for a SATA alternative that can accept a bigger capacity.

Yes, I also read that in a couple of forums. You can also surrender to the iPod fashion... I have and is much easier! In any of the units available, the iPod interface is much better than the USB drive, allowing for better control, ID3 tag and also cover artwork display. Few units will display covers (recent 2-DIN Alpines do).

Anyway, whatever route you choose (1 or 2 DIN, USB or iPod) the brands to check are Pioneer, Clarion, Alpine, JVC and Kenwood (no particular order).

The first 2 of these have very interesting (and very expensive) 1-DIN high end units, complete with USB interface, copper plated chassis, highly specced internal components, etc.
 

Arfa

Active Member
Went through similar thinking myself. In the end I've settled on the Kenwood W7544U, which has a rear USB lead, which I routed to the glove box. Gave up trying to power a HD off the thing, so picked up a 32GB USB mem stick for £45. Since everything compressed, its surprising how much you can get on there. I just wrote some Linux scripts to convert everything from flac to top notch AAC. Also hard coded replaygain setting into the intermediate wav file using wavegain, since the Kenwood player does no volume normalisation.

There's only so much track selection you'll want to do whilst driving, chances are you'll want to be a bit selective as to which tracks go in the car.

There's definitely better HU's out there, but the Kenwood was a very good price, and the leads to wire it up to my steering wheel controls and dash display were cheap. Some other brands can be pricey.

The Kenwood also comes with reasonable software for transferring files, creating playlists and building up an index, to save the HU from scanning the entire disc on startup.

Don't get too hung up on using a hard drive; remember it'll be bouncing around all over the shot, on them cold mornings will be covered in condensation and in the summer parked up out of the shade boiling up. Flash mem is much more robust. More expensive though.
 

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