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Alpine introduces the all-new X-Series high grade speakers engineered and tuned to perfectly match with the X-Series amplifiers for extraordinary dynamic, realistic sound reproduction and a spatial sound impression. The X-Series Speakers employ an all new motor design which uses a very powerful neodymium ring magnet, ensuring a very compact basket and motor assembly, while achieving very high power handling and dynamic sound. Designed and built to handle massive amounts of power, even at high volumes the X-Series sound is always clear—making these speakers perfect for use with the powerful X-Series amps.




Designed to deliver highest dynamic and sound quality, Alpine’s new flagship speakers reach their full potential when paired with the all-new X-Series ultra-high-resolution digital amplifiers for pure hi-fidelity sound.




Instead of using a regular silk dome tweeter, Alpine chose an all-new carbon graphite hard dome tweeter design. This lightweight tweeter dome features improved high range response up to 40kHz to deliver highest sound detail.





The woofer cone consists of an all new nano-fibre material to achieve a very fast response speed and dynamic, while keep high clarity and realistic sound reproduction.


The all-new X-Series Subwoofers have been engineered to perfection, boasting supreme build quality and excellent performance. The massive power handling achieves cleaner and deeper bass extension, faster and more accurate transients and greater output capability.








Introducing the all-new X-Series, these small amplifiers produce an unbelievable amount of power and incredible sound quality. Alpine sets industry benchmark in achieving new levels of operational efficiency by employing an all-new advanced digital amplification technology. Reliability is an important feature of the X-Series amplifiers, generating almost virtually zero distortion to maintain the highest sound quality, whilst producing very little heat to ensure long periods of operation without the fear of a power shutdown. Designed to suit any installation requirements, the X-Series amplifiers can even be stacked vertically to save space without sacrificing power. The fully redesigned speaker terminal connectors, maintain the amps compact design, allowing clean and simple installation with lossless connectivity. The new design also makes advanced system expansion much easier. The all-new X-Series amplifiers set a new standard for sound quality performance and power output in a very compact design. What’s more, X-Series amps are designed for true Hi-Res Audio playback, featuring ultra-low distortion and a wide frequency range.







• 100W RMS x 4 + 500W x 1 [2Ω@14.4V] • 75W RMS x 4 + 300W x 1 [4Ω@14.4V] • BASS KNOB CONTROL READY

• 175W RMS x 4 [2Ω@14.4V] • 120W RMS x 4 [4Ω@14.4V]

• 900W RMS x 1 [2Ω@14.4V] • 600W RMS x 1 [4Ω@14.4V] • BASS KNOB CONTROL READY

INCAR #05-2017


Contributors Jez Ford, Stephen Dawson, Damon Greenwood, Ed Kramer, Marty Price, Tony Rabbitte, Ralf Schubert Artist Paul Saint Group Art Director Kristian Hagen Technical Editor Greg Borrowman Advertising Traffic Diane Preece Tel: (02) 9901 6100 National Advertising Sales & Divisional Manager Jim Preece Advertising Sales Manager Lewis Preece Group/Acting Editor Jez Ford Production Manager Peter Ryman Circulation Director Carole Jones Australian InCar Entertainment is published by nextmedia Pty Ltd ACN: 128 805 970, Level 6, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards NSW 2065 © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior permission of the publisher. The publisher will not accept responsibility or any liability for the correctness of information or opinions expressed in the publication, or for the loss or damage to products or materials submitted to the magazine for review or other purposes. All material or equipment submitted is at the owner’s risk and should be covered by a suitable insurance policy throughout transit and while with the magazine. While every care will be taken, nextmedia does not accept liability for loss or damage. Privacy Policy: We value the integrity of your per-

sonal information. If you provide personal information through your participation in any competitions, surveys or offers featured in this issue of Australian InCar magazine, this will be used to provide the products or services that you have requested and to improve the content of our magazines. Your details may be provided to third parties who assist us in this purpose. In the event of organisations providing prizes or offers to our readers, we may pass your details on to them. From time to time, we may use the information you provide us to inform you of other products, services and events our company has to offer. We may also give your information to other organisations which may use it to inform you about their products, services and events, unless you tell us not to do so. You are welcome to access the information that we hold about you by getting in touch with our privacy officer, who can be contacted at nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590.

Level 6, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065 Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards NSW 1590 Tel: (02) 9901 6100 David Gardiner Chief Executive Officer Bruce Duncan Commercial Director

INCAR ON THE INTERWEBS: AVHUB.COM.AU Delightfully digital as this issue may be, we’ve long been posting our best bits at, so for the very latest news in mobile entertainment, cars and features, visit AVHub and subcribe to the newsletter, which will alert you to future digital issues direct to your inbox. Audio, AV, photography and guitary bits are also up there on AVHub.






Five-channel amplifier One very solid performer for both quality and volume, offering a rich blend of overall tonality, control and precision.


This XR6 Falcon looks great in the pictures, and even better in the three-dimensional Show’N’Shine-winning flesh. Yet the true reasons it so shines are rooted in the fourth dimension of time….


Latest news including Alpine, Clarion and Kenwood smart head units,the upgraded Redline EX radar/ LIDAR detector, Navman’s combo dashcam & satnav for SUVs, and more...


CarPlay head unit The Alpine iLX-107 head unit is only for iPhone people. But if you’re one of them, it ought to thoroughly please you.


Can a mere three words really describe any location on Earth? It seems so, and could lead to a radical departure in navigation.

56 HELIX H 400 X


While Australia’s High Court has recently been putting Senators out on the street for dual nationality, here’s one that’s not only all-Aussie, it was born (and now reborn) to be out on those streets, where it belongs…

Four-channel amplifier Anyone who thinks there’s little difference between amplifiers should revise their opinion by swapping out their existing unit for these...


Street Machine Summernats is revving up for the January spectacular in Canberra, with news of special guests on the way...


Meet this issue’s drive from the archive — this Golf GT Sport was kept within a ‘factory’ colour scheme but nevertheless bears an impressive high-end system. Ah, if only they rolled that way off the production line…


Luxury brands are racing to get individually addressable OLED tail lights on their rides — but is an OLED shortage looming soon?


Smart USB car charger It looks like a simple USB charger running off your cigarette lighter — but then it emails you with a detailed list of your journeys...


Dashcam A new Sony Exmor sensor improves the lightsensing abilities of the latest version of this neat and versatile little dashcam.



Alpine INE-W977A Apple CarPlay with Siri, Android Auto with voice control, premium navigation with off-road and 3D capabilities — plus a healthy 4 x 50W of power to deliver the wealth of entertainment options… Alpine’s INE-W977A really does seem to deliver a new benchmark for 1-DIN in-car entertainment, with a 7-inch touchscreen for control. So there’s no need to choose a head unit to match your mobile platform here. There’s Apple CarPlay providing iPhone functions directly through the 7-inch touchscreen display, with directions, phone call functionality, sending and receiving of messages, and music playback, all while you you’re your thoughts on the road. Or you can use Android Auto with an Android smartphone — again offering easy phone calls, text messages, Google Map and voice control through the 7” touchscreen. The INE-W977A includes a precision GPS antenna which ensures a highly accurate navigation experience with either mobile system, and with voice control



seamlessly allowing you to dictate your destination and start driving. But there’s also the Alpine unit’s own premium navigation provided through the Primo 3.0 navigation system, with an extensive Point of Interest database, 3D landmarks, 3D cityscapes, high resolution maps and seamless animation graphics, and even 4WD Off-Road maps. Don’t like 3D maps? You can select from three viewing options, including 2D with heading up, or 2D with North up. Three years of free map updates will ensure your navigation system remains up to date. As for your entertainment, in addition to CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth options there’s DAB+ and FM radio onboard, USB connectivity, an HDMI input available for video options, and high-res file playback of 96kHz/24-bit music through a 24-bit BurrBrown DAC. The INE-W977A is equipped with advanced sound processing features

such as Bass Engine SQ and Media Xpander HD for precise tuning, a 9-band parametric EQ and digital time correction. Sound complicated? Alpine offers the ‘TuneIt app’ to simplify the process, including the download of preset audio parameters. Alpine’s 4V Pre-Out stage allows clean signal transmission to external amplifiers even at high volume levels. The INE-W977A is heading to Australian Alpine dealers now, RRP $2299. Alpine INE-W977A 7-inch single-DIN multimedia head unit Price: $2299 Contact: Alpine Electronics of Australia



FSP-8 Sound Processor If you’ve invested in some fine Focal hardware for your vehicular entertainment, you’ll be wanting to ensure it’s working to its fullest capability. Whether it’s for controlling the company’s Flax speaker drivers, the K2 Power line or those ultimate Utopia beryllium speaker drivers, the French company’s FSP-8 Sound Processor aims to offer “the ultimate digital tool” to optimise and control the audio signal, capable of handling high-resolution audio, and providing a user interface designed for (and by) acoustic experts. Equipped with six selectable high and low level inputs to ensure compatibility with any front-end, the FSP-8 is designed to work with both factory head units and aftermarket solutions. It also features an optical digital input capable to 24-bit/192kHz and an additional auxiliary input, allowing the user to connect additional digital music players or smartphones directly — which can yield a significant quality boost over Bluetooth. The software comes in the form of the FSP-8 DSP MANAGER for Windows (Xp/Vista/Seven/8/10), providing the user interface for controlling the FSP-8 from a laptop. Its design, says Focal, “was inspired by the solutions used to perfect the audio systems in production vehicles manufactured by Focal’s partners”. Four main screens give access to strategic settings — based around a main “CONFIGURATION” menu with three secondary menus for “EQUALIZER”, “CROSSOVER” and “TIME ALIGNMENT”. The software has a fixed pane at the top of the interface, giving direct access to numerous settings, in addition to a section at the bottom with a dynamic ‘help’ tool. There’s a ‘Standard’ mode which allows you to quickly configure the inputs/outputs according to the most common speaker driver architectures, but also an ‘Expert’ mode which allows more control over the entire input/output mapping, and thus more complex configurations. Eight analogue 3.4V outputs feed your external amplifiers with the processed signals. There is an optional LCD remote control, which allows you to adjust the main settings, and more importantly, to recall up to four saved presets. The main FSP-8 measures 14cm x 22cm x 5cm, and the RRP for the processor is $899. Focal FSP-8 Sound Processor Price: $899 Contact: Eastcoast Distributors on 02 9724 6070


EUPHORIC BASS The Euphoria range of subwoofers represent DB Drive’s flagship models, yet at $399, there’s little to hold you back from enjoying the latest EPS8 powered sub in the range. The range is designed “for the traditional audio purist that likes to live life on the edge”, says DB Drive, focused on accurate musical reproduction, yet with the ability to perform at any volume level. The EPS8 uses an 8-inch drive and dual passive radiators with internal amplification rated at 225W or a stonking 550W dynamic power backed by a PWM MOSFET power supply and multi-fault protection circuitry. Compact and suitable for underseat use, it’s versatile too, offering adjustable input sensitivity across both low level RCA inputs and Factory Radio high level inputs, with 180-degree phase shift and variable low-pass filtering from 50Hz -150Hz and variable bass boost of up to 18dB at 45Hz. All this in a package usefully dimensioned at 345mm x 245mm x 70mm. db Drive Euphoria EPS8 powered 8-inch subwoofer Price: $399 Contact: Mongoose Australia on 02 9482 4444



It’s also ready to work with Kenwood’s DRV-N520 dash-camera with its full-HD HDR recording and Simplified Advanced Driver Assistance System. The Bluetooth implementation usefully includes AAC for higher quality streaming from Apple devices, while there are dual USB and dual camera inputs, and support for Direct OEM Steering remote controls (functioning with most Japanese and Korean vehicles). The internal DACs are high level as well, allowing replay of music files up to 24-bit/192kHz, also upconverting all AV sources including radio to 32-bit/192kHz. Sound tuning options include 13-band EQ and Digital Time Alignment, with a 3-way crossover mode available for its high voltage (5V) preouts. RRP is $1199 — but as with many products, retailers are offering it at significant savings.

With Kenwood’s new and nicely-curvy 7-inch in-dash multimedia receiver, you don’t even have to touch its touchscreen, you can “conduct” the DDX917WS series with a wave of your hand using ‘Air Gesture’. You can also customise the gesture commands to operate your most used functionality — wave right for next track, wave left to reject calls from the missus, as you like. This is just a sign of the high technology within the DDX917WS. In addition to four channels of amplification 22W at <1%THD (max power 4 x 50W), it carries both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Air Mirroring, displaying your Android apps without cables or a network connection. Two-way communication and touch control can be supported for selected Android phones.



Kenwood DDX917WS in-dash multimedia player Price: $1199 Contact: JVCKenwood Corporation


DETECTORS We always start stories on radar detectors with the following important disclaimer: radar detectors are illegal to use in all Australian states other than WA (where Redline distributor Neltronics is based). See a further note at the end of this article. So Neltronics has announced a major upgrade for its bestselling Escort Redline radar detector — the new Redline EX. This is, they say, the same old Redline under the hood, with its dual antenna design for extreme long range detection, and they claim it to be “completely undetectable by RDDs (Radar Detector Detectors)”. The new additions include GPS, which assists with false alert filtering, and operates in cohoots with Escort’s Defender database of all fixed speed cameras and red light cameras. With GPS the new Redline EX has the ability to lock out false alerts, mark your own locations of speed traps and of new cameras not yet in the database, as well as manually locking out your own known false alerts if need be. Plus there’s integrated Bluetooth which pairs with a mobile phone to make use of the Escort Live app.

< ESCORT LIVE mobile app The Escort Live app (available for both Android and iOS) i­s free for Escort radar detector owners. It allows users to change the settings of their Escort radar detector, update the firmware when available, view true GPS speed, and when an alert is detected, it shows the information about the signal. Perhaps most usefully Escort Live crowdsources new information about locations of mobile speed cameras and other police speed traps. When a user picks up a mobile speed camera with their radar detector, the app gives the driver the option to manually lock out a particular alert if they know that it is a false one (false triggers can be caused by various detectors, even automatic doors at a service station). If they leave the alert as genuine, then the app shares the location with all other Escort Live users in the area and alerts them to the threat. This works with speed cameras, handheld radar or laser guns, and also with newly installed fixed cameras that may not yet be in the Defender database.

Alerts like a hand-held radar gun used by a police officer on the side of the road or a mobile speed camera will remain in the app for up to three hours. Fixed alerts added by users are permanent. And as with such crowd-sourced information, the more people that use the app, the better it works. We report on these devices in their role as safety warning systems to give the driver advanced warning of speed measuring devices and traffic hazards. ‘Australian Incar’ is in no way condoning speeding, dangerous driving or for the use/misuse of these devices, which do not guarantee that you will not be detected and issued an infringement if driving outside the law. The use of radar and laser detection features may be illegal in some states. You should check applicable laws before using them. Escort Redline EX International Radar & Laser Detector Price $1199 Contact: Neltronics On 08 9383 7833


DITCHING THE DISC Clarion’s latest doubleDIN 4 x 40W receiver confirms the move away from physical media and the rise of the connected car, with its ability to run either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto depending on your platform of choice, then putting your apps right on the 6.75-inch capacitive touch panel. Of course there’s also Bluetooth built in for easy audio streaming, including Handsfree Profile 1.6 for superior call quality, with an external microphone included in the package. The Clarion can retain pairing information for five phones — enough for all the family — along with 500 contacts per phone, making calls and caller ID a clear and easy process. The disc-free mech’s rear USB makes the CarPlay/Android connection and also allows iPod direct connect; there’s a minijack analogue input there also for nondigital sources, plus a composite

Clarion FX508AU

video input for a rear vision camera. The radio section is FM/AM with 18 FM presets and 12 for AM available. For those expanding beyond factory-fit speakers there’s a two-channel 2V preout and a subwoofer level control. The FX508AU is also OEM steering-wheel remote ready.

Just arriving at Clarion dealers nationally, the VX508AU has an RRP of $649. Clarion FX508AU 2-DIN head unit Price: $649 Contact: Clarion Australia


Off-roaders and tech heads can choose from some stylish new plates to customise their ride, with the latest releases from myPlates. myPlates has had a carbon-fibre style option for some time, but now they’ve added colour options in red, green and blue carbonfibre (above), made available for cars only, at this stage. These fill out a ‘tech’ range of custom plates along with mesh grille and brushed metal



options, and a chequer steel finish. Or for offroaders, the Wanderlust range may suit — just a tad on the tacky side, perhaps, with their taglines “Happiness... is a road trip” and “The road is my home” (the slogans are not customisable), but they make a colourful option for getting spattered with red dirt as you head down the track. Prices vary from a one-off fee or $299 for the tech range and $330 for the Wanderlust

series. If you are using your assigned plate number, that’s all there is to pay, though if you’re choosing your own letters and numbers too, there’s an ongoing annual fee for that plate content customisation of $105 per year. The new designs join a wide raft of colour, texture and patterned plates. including the existing Australiana range of beaches and Outback, sans slogans. More info:


WHAT3WORDS? facing.mull.caves Federation Square, Melbourne

It’s a bizarre notion for navigation – let’s get rid of street addresses. Instead, we’ll name everywhere on Earth with just three words. Crazy? Not according to Mercedes Benz. In a voice-prompted world, street and suburb names are apparently just not good enough. “Traditional street addresses just were not built for voice input” says Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of what3words, which is based in London (that’s London, UK). “15 Ammanford Road and 50 Ammanford Road are hard for a voice system to distinguish between, and many house names and road names aren’t unique. There are 14 different Church Roads in London, and 632 Juarez streets in Mexico City.” So to avoid such duplication, what3words has named each and every three-metre square in the world (that’s 57 trillion of them) with three words from the English dictionary. So instead of telling someone where your business is located, you might say it’s index.home.raft. It seems a little ‘WTF?’, but the system has just received a huge boost to its credibility with news that following Daimler’s partnership with the what3words team, Mercedes-Benz has now announced plans to be the first automotive manufacturer to launch in-vehicle 3-wordaddress navigation compatibility, including it in their next generation infotainment system launching in 2018. While voice recognition is now highly advanced thanks to the massive library of voice samples being accumulated by the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple through their voice assistants, there is a serious problem when it comes to voice recognition of addresses. “Street addresses also use thousands of non-dictionary words,” explains Sheldrick, “and the pronunciation can be near impossible to

guess. The town of Godmanchester is actually pronounced ‘Gumster’.” Australian Incar can confirm the issues with current systems after a Hertz GPS unit failed to pronounce even simple place names like Christchurch and Cape Foulwind on a recent trip around New Zealand’s South Island. But would we have felt more confident telling the GPS to head to reshape.fortress.silkworm, the what3words location for Cape Foulwind? The company thinks so. “Non-technical people can discover and understand a 3-word address more easily than a postcode or GPS coordinates”, says the company. “They can also share that address more quickly, more accurately and with less ambiguity than any other system.” The satnav market is a potential licensing pot of gold for the new concept if it takes off,

worried.forensics.swims Kakadu, NT

but the 3-word system is also seen as having applications in deliveries and logistics, postal services, and in travel and tourism. It offers an easy definition of off-road locations which lack conventional street addresses, certainly easier to remember input and type into a system than full GPS coordinates.

How does it work? The what3words system uses a wordlist of up to 40,000 words, depending on the language version used. You don’t choose your own — we’d have too much fun defining our homes as pig.fart.mansion or similar. It’s all been predefined, with an algorithm sorting the list so that simpler and more common words are used in more populated areas, and longer words in unpopulated areas. Similar-sounding addresses are placed as far from each other as possible, with the words intentionally randomised and unrelated to the squares around them. The app even predicts for spelling errors and other typing mistakes, and will make suggestions based on 3-word addresses nearby. And in data terms, it’s very small. The what3words system uses a mathematical algorithm held in a package around 12MB in size. As such, it will comfortably fit on a modern smartphone or GPS unit. It also means that you can search for a 3 word address online and offline, or where a data connection is unreliable.

Where do you live? Head to to navigate to your home and you can read the three words from the URL above. Should you some day be visiting Australia Incar HQ, you’ll be pleased to find our car park entrance at limp.type.mops.


GPS+CAM FOR BIGGER DRIVERS Navman has released an SUV version of its DriveDuo combo satnav and dashcam. It includes not only 4WD routes but also Large Vehicle Routing (avoiding narrow laneways or low overpasses when driving a light truck, large SUV, or towing a caravan or boat), all displayed on its 6-inch screen, while its inbuilt ‘Super 2K’ (that’s full-HD 1080p) dash cam records high quality recording to an internal 8GB of memory, expandable via microSD up to a further 64GB, whle the DriveDuo SUV’s 3-axis G-Sensor shows the direction any impact came from in the event of a collision, providing more

information on how an impact happened. Also onboard are Lonely Planet Travel Guides , the Zomato Restaurant Guide, and Live Traffic. There are more than 123,000km of off-road tracks drawn from mapping partners HERE, using combined data from sources such as HEMA and Hardie Grant (Explore Australia). You get free monthly map updates including updates to safety alerts, and a two-year warranty. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity turns your Navman into a handsfree car kit so you can safely make and receive calls via a compatible Bluetooth mobile phone.

Navman Drive Duo SUV GPS+Dashcam in One for SUV Drivers Price: $479 Contact: MiTAC International Corporation on 1300 628 626


Alpine is aiming to set an industry standard with its X208AU 8-inch advanced navigation system, delivering smartphone apps to your dashboard through the inclusion of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Primo 3.0 NextGen navigation platform provides high-resolution mapping including 3D landmarks and cityscapes, seamless animation Graphics, TMC Live Traffic Updates, and also (when away from the traffic) 4WD Off -Road maps included and, of course, an extensive Point of Interest database. Three years of free map updates ensure your navigation system will be up to date for a good while. Siri, OK Google and voice control and voice control can handle phone calls, messages and an endless choice of music options, right up to



in high-definition through the 8” display for virtually limitless entertainment. For an additional $200 you can add the DVE-5300 disc player anywhere in your vehicle for DVD and CD playback through the HDMI connection. The HDMI output allows dualzone operation. The X208AU provides the opportunity to add a reverse camera via the RCA or direct camera port. And much more! Check Alpine’s website for full details.

24-bit/192kHz FLAC files, and the inbuilt DAB+ digital and FM/AM radio. There’s a USB iunput and, of course, built-in Bluetooth. HDMI enables connectivity to different devices ,including smartphone mirroring — making audio and video playback possible

Alpine X208AU 8-inch single-DIN multimedia head unit Price: $2499 Contact: Alpine Electronics of Australia


SUMMERNATS! Australia’s biggest horsepower party is already gearing up, with the annual Street Machine Summernats festival presenting “four days of automotive perfection” in January, attracting over 100,000 people and 2,000 entrants to Canberra. Latest news is that Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaws’ ‘Farmtruck’ and ‘AZN’ are returning this year — and this time, we’re told, they’re not just along for the ride. “We had to come back. We genuinely fell in love with the cars, the culture, the people and the simple fact is this time we want to do a burnout Aussie style!” says Farmtruck. Farmtruck and AZN will supercharge their involvement in the event by shipping a standard version of of Farmtruck’s famous 1970 C-10 Chevy Pick-up (below) over to Oz. Thanks to an upcoming partnership between Summernats and the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), the truck will then be modified so Farmtruck can lay his own rubber on the hallowed bitumen

that is the Summernats Burnout Pad. And in a first for Australia, the popular Street Outlaws show will be sending their own production crew to film the CIT team of automotive and metal fabrication apprentices and staff building the truck, as well as Farmtruck and AZN’s Summernats experience. Street Outlaws will then produce a ‘Summernats special’ which will be broadcast to millions worldwide on the Discovery network. The Street Outlaws team are not the only U.S. automotive industry heavyweight returning to the ‘Nats. The 1320Video team, who are the largest online street-car media company in the world, boasting over half a billion views on their videos, are also building a car to get into the Summernats 31 action. “We’re really excited to have huge U.S. stars like Farmtruck and AZN plus 1320Video return to Canberra for Summernats this year,” says Summernats co-owner Andy Lopez, “but we’re not at all surprised! They couldn’t keep

the smiles off their faces all weekend during their first experience. “Not only will these huge shows expose the event to millions of new people worldwide through their respective audiences, but it shows that we have a world class festival here and the entire Australian automotive community should be very proud of that.” Showing how diverse and action packed the ‘Nats is, the 31st annual horsepower party will play host to the colourful City Cruise through the heart of the city, the world’s premier burnout competition – the National Burnout Masters, the awarding of the most coveted street machine award in Australia, the Summernats Grand Champion, plus a massive music line-up including Wolfmother, Thundamentals and 28 Days. The Street Machine Summernats, proudly presented by Rare Spares, will run from January 4-7 next year, and tickets are already on sale via


OLED ON YOUR TAIL You might think that tail-lights are an odd place for innovation, but OLED tail-lights are becoming the latest refresh for luxury rides, with Mercedes announcing their addition to the new S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, following their introduction by BMW and Audi. Mercedes uses 33 individually controlled OLED panels in each module — their individual addressing allows rather pleasing ripple or sequence effects, though Mercedes isn’t using them to double as indicator lights, instead including separate turn signals. “The total of 66 ultra-flat OLEDs act like floating elements inside the tail lamp”, says Mercedes. “In addition, they emit a highly homogeneous light pattern in all directions and form a unique day and night design. Locking and unlocking the vehicle is additionally emphasised



by an animated dynamic light sequence with subsequent dimming-up of the tail lights. Of course, the OLED tail lamps also employ the usual Mercedes-Benz multi-level technology with different levels of intensity for brake lamps and turn signal indicators depending on the driving condition and ambient brightness (day/night).” The new lights appear to have been made by the leader in OLED televisions, LG.Display, with LG Electronics Germany releasing a short press release (spotted by OLED-info) showing the Mercedes design. The OLED panels to Audi and BMW are, however, provided by OSRAM. The next few years will be interesting for OLED display screens in automotive use, as LG.Display (which is a sister company to LG Electronics) is approaching capacity for large TV-sized OLED screens in its current fabrication plants, and while a new Guangzhou

plant is planned to open in 2019, there will be competition between automotive use of OLED and the many TV companies now buying LG’s OLED panels (LG Electronics, Bang&Olufsen, Grundig, Loewe, Panasonic, Philips, Sony and others). Since automotive applications have higher margins than the notoriously lowmargin TV business, some commentators are foreseeing a shortage of larger panels for TVs by the decade’s end. The S-Class has been used for lighting innovation before, with the night view assist system introduced back in 2014 using infrared light up front, invisible to the human eye and so able to illuminate the road beyond normal levels without dazzling oncoming traffic, with the image from an infrared camera mounted on the inside of the windscreen displayed in the instrument cluster.



Enjoying your journey is easy with Alpine’s 7” and 6.1” Navigation Stations for your Ranger. Featuring a WVGA display, experience a whole new level of entertainment, premium sound quality and navigation with 4WD maps, plus steering wheel integration and many more incredible features.

Retain control of the factory steering wheel audio controls with Alpine’s included steering wheel control interface.

Complement your all-new Ford Ranger driving experience with Alpine’s 8” Navigation Solution, the perfect companion for the working weekday and adventure bound weekend. The latest advanced navigation features include 3D landmarks, lane guidance, live traffic information as well as speed alerts, fixed camera warnings and even parking recommendations. Venturing off-road unlocks Alpine’s true 3D terrain capabilities and intuitive turn-by-turn 4WD navigation. Safety and comfort while travelling are assured with steering wheel controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity including audio streaming and voice control with compatible smartphones, plus drive assist technology with the option of front and rear multi-view cameras.

Everest Off-Road

Adventure further in your Ford Everest with superior on-road and 4WD off-road maps. Drive in grand style with a massive 8” infotainment system specifically designed for your Ford Everest. Alpine’s exclusive integration solutions are stylish to enhance the aesthetics of the interior and will exceed all expectations an

Everest owner may have. The premium infotainment system brings cutting-edge technology with the latest media compatibility and connectivity, advanced navigation capabilities and superior sound quality.

Premium Rear Seat Entertainment Make every journey more fun for your passengers with an optional PKG-RSE3HDMI. This premium monitor has a built-in DVD player and is ready for other sources. What’s more, the dual

HDMI inputs allow connection of auxiliary devices such as smartphones, media players and game consoles. Best of all, Alpine’s perfect kit ensures seamless integration into your Ford Everest.

Alpine’s incredible HCE-C252RD and HCE-C257FD Multi-View cameras provide a selection of viewing modes for various situations. To the rear, Corner View splits the screen so you have a clearer view of both sides of the rear of the vehicle. Ground view is not only convenient for parking, enabling you to avoid various obstacles to the rear of your car. It also gives you the ability to reverse up to a trailer hitch without leaving your vehicle. Panorama view allows you a clear wide view to the rear of your vehicle, and when accompanied with the rear camera guides you’ll be able to park closer and safer than ever. The addition of a front camera similarly provides better visibility around obstructed corners, and even when 4WDing to see your winch.

With the HCE-C252RD and HCE-C257FD multi-view cameras you can select the desired view at the press of a button.







This XR6 Falcon looks great in the pictures, and even better in the three-dimensional Show’N’Shine-winning flesh. Yet the reasons it so shines are rooted in a fourth dimension — time… Story Damon Greenwood Images Tony Rabbitte



t’s a funny thing that the deeper you examine the ins and outs of this Falcon XR6, and the longer you study its finish and fit, the more your mind is driven outside its physicalities to consider a different dimension entirely — that of time. Time was the first thing I noticed when I looked at Jack’s XR6. There has clearly been a great deal of it spent on this car. He is obviously a Ford fan and really loves his car, this passion evidenced in the finished product (or potentially work-still-in-progress, as we’ll see). First hours and hours of deliberation, consideration and thought must have been invested in the planning process before ever a tool was lifted. On the outside, agonising over the colour scheme and, once the colour split was chosen, how to transition between the two? What wheels, what colour and style the interiors? Of course, every restoration or customisation faces these quandaries, but without a fan-level attachment to specifics, the selection criteria are wide and non-critical. With a love for all cars you can choose to play with cool stuff, learn and adapt as you proceed, end up with something that you can be proud of, and enjoy riding and showing. For a fan, however, the right look for your beloved is a matter of life and death (and true fans will tell you with a straight face that it’s much more important than that…). And how do we know that Jack is a true fan of his car? Because on the tech data sheets that







TECH SPECS owner: Jack Moss occupation: panel beater/spray painter vehicle: 2010 Ford Falcon XR6 engine: 4.0L Barra Six intake: standard controllers: Apr stage 2 tune transmission: ZF 6 speed automatic exhaust: X-Force suspension: custom re-set brakes: custom air brushed wheels: 20”x 10” Vertini Dynasty dark tint tyres: 245/35/20 stretched

SYSTEM source: Audison bit One front amplifier: Soundstream AFM600 rear amplifier: Soundstream Stealth ST 4.1200D sub amplifier: Soundstream Stealth ST 1.1200D front speakers: Hertz Mille 3-way component rear speakers: Hertz Mille 2-way coaxial subwoofers: Soundstream Tarantula SST 12/2 12” enclosure: 4 individual sealed enclosures battery: 3xD34 Optima body deadening: Full Dynamat treatment installed by: Frankies Auto Electrics total build time: six months and counting credits: Frankies Auto Electrics, Sewtime Interior, my partner for all of the support, Peta, and Matt.


2010 XR6 FALCON FEATURE CAR we get filled out (so that we can present you, dear readers, with the fine details of these vehicles), there is a section that asks what the owner’s dream car is. Jack response to this Q: “Existing, with more mods”. Proof positive of the tragically devoted. Pretty much everything in this car, from the research to the sweat, comes not from the mere pursuit of a cool ride, but from a deepseated desire to make the Ford Gods happy.

STRIPPED BACK So where do you start? If you are a panel beater like Jack, we suspect the decision is obvious — the colour. And as a panel beater you don’t merely re-paint the car — the whole car was stripped out for a full Dynamat acoustic treatment, along with the running of cables for the audio system. The ever-popular Audison bit One processor was fitted up front, managing and processing all music inputs, its outputs then passed to the amplifiers. There’s a Soundstream AFM600 for the front stage of Hertz Mille three-way splits, the tweeter and high-mids sitting in custom A-pillar pods, and the mid-bass drivers in the door’s factory spots. A Soundstream STL 4.1200D Stealth powers the rear and boot speakers, with Soundstream STL1.1200D amps for the subwoofer — of which, more below. Before the boot, though, examine the rear parcel shelf (left), built up to accommodate four speakers — a pair of Hertz Mille 2-ways, with a custom-mounted amp between the two rear seats. Indeed a rear seat was specially custom fabricated to fit this amp along with lighting.

MUSIC TWO WAYS Into this tasty mix we add the boot complement (previous page and overleaf ) — where the show becomes quite spectacular, unfolding a complete sound presentation ready to fill the world with music. Four Soundstream Tarantula SST 12/2 12-inch subs with their black Zirconium-coated injection cone woofers are seated in custom individual sealed enclosures facing rearwards, showcasing the flush mounted amps in the floor. But check out that boot lid, which holds something special indeed. The obligatory 6.5inch co-axials are present but they are accompanied by a pair of mid-size pro horn drivers. This rear-facing system is then perfect for car shows, but more importantly also when you need tunes around the barbecue — these horns will match the output of the subs and should turn the boot into, well, basically a nightclub-type J-bin speaker. And proving it’s not all for the good looks, the Moss Falcon took out First Place for SPL in the Street Pro 1st class at the Jamboree at Sydney Dragway — Jack’s ride hitting 128.0dB at 69Hz. It seems the XR6 both walks the walks and talks the talk. (And what also impresses is that the boot floor remains fully functional, with access to the spare tyre.)

SHOW-N-SHINE And while shaking down with sound, this XR6 has also been recognised for another outstanding feature of this car, the paint job — its design,



style, and obvious high levels of workmanship won a Promoter’s Choice win at the same Jamboree in the Just Car Show’N’Shine comp. The way the two-tone theme enhances the horizon is outstanding and the transition between the two is unique and flawless, utilising hand pin-striping in addition to many highly impressive freehand skulls throughout the vehicle, inside and out. Add to this the interior with some well-placed suede inserts, blue cross stitching, refoamed and trimmed front seats and a custom rear seat, the whole delivering a subtle mood of black elegantly enhanced with blue highlights from painted pieces throughout the car. So here is a car that has real street presence — and not only because of heaps of cool stuff or wads of money, but because of that special ingredient which Jack (pictured left) has spent on this project… the extra dimension of time, not to mention the double delivery of ourward audio as well as inward. It all adds up to real passion — for this particular car, and for the way the improvements made here represent his respect for the very idea of the Ford Falcon XR6.








While the High Court of Australia has recently been putting Senators out on the street for dual nationality, here’s one that’s not only all-Aussie, it was born (and now reborn) to be out on those streets, where it belongs… Story Damon Greenwood Images Ralf Schubert





abian Augustine’s car — a 2010 VE HSV Senator which has been blown, cammed, bagged and kitted out with some primo audio/visual gear in a very tasteful way — is a fine example of good planning. You may have heard, among the more male-orientated car enthusiast, the wildly unacceptable truism that “If it’s got boobs or wheels, it’s going to cost you a lot of money.” If that were indeed true, then Fabian’s ride should have cost a good deal more than we gather it did. Because these wheels are outstanding, and yet the whole car has nailed the concept of achieving attention by not doing anything too over the top to get it. So the initial appearance is of a burgundy Commodore — nice enough, but wait a mo… before you have even looked away, you realise there is something rather special about this particular Commodore. To start with, Fabian (who is Car Audio Manager at Progressive Car Sound Vision in Rockingham, WA) has jammed some nifty airbag suspension into his ride, so that the car looks and moves nicely lean, low and mean. Then



TECH SPECS owner: Fabian Augustine vehicle: 2010 VE HSV Senator engine: 6.2L LS3 intake: OTR transmission: standard auto exhaust: Pacemaker headers suspension: full front and rear air bag suspension brakes: standard HSV big brakes wheels: limited edition Vossen VLE-1: 20x9 front and 20x10.5 rear tyres: Achilles atr sport 245/30/20 front and 275/30/20 rear

SYSTEM source: Alpine X008AU VE solution processor: Audison bit Ten D front/rear/sub amplifiers: 2 x Audison AV5.1K front speakers: Audison Voce 3-way component crossover: active rear speakers: Audison Voce 2-way component subwoofers: 4 x Audison AV10 enclosure: single sealed enclosure battery: Optima yellow top body deadening: interior/exterior of all doors, rear shelf and boot treated with Dynamat Extreme installer: Timothy McArthur – workshop manager at Progressive Car Sound Vision, Rockingham, WA total build time: two weeks credits: “Krista Henning and Nigel Carley for the colour change, Ryan Lightbody from Signature Customs for the hard lines in the boot, Chris Downs from Trimcare for the interior, James from Proshine Detailing and Whitewalling for always keeping my car clean. All my friends that have helped along the way, my family and girlfriend for the ongoing support. Biggest thanks to Tim McArthur at Progressive; without him very little would have been achieved. He not only installed the stereo but helped with other aspects of the build. He has supported me 110% since day one and no challenge was too big for him...”






you might think ‘Oh yeah, that’s pretty cool — Prolly just got an exhaust’. But you’d be wrong. The LS3 has been tickled up with a hefty Harrop 2300 Supercharger and accompanying VCM supercharger-spec camshaft, finished off with Pacemaker Headers. And have I mentioned the wheels?

MAKING MUSIC But I digress — our Australian Incar brief has the audio system at its pointy end, right? Well, it’s pretty much the same approach there as for the exterior — understated, but impressively over-engineered. It starts with an Alpine X008AU VE Solution head unit, the company’s advanced navi station,



as it calls it, with a large eight-inch WVGA touchscreen for control, and here running full digital, providing its output optically to the amplification. In addition to CD, DVD, USB and Bluetooth source control, this gives the Senator a top navigation system with 3D landmarks, lane guidance and more. The 1s and 0s are then passed on to an Audison bit Ten D, the Italian company’s multi-function digital processor, allowing for signal matching from different source outputs and so much more thanks to its 32-bit 147MHz DSP processing. And then on to two Audison AV 5.1K amplifiers to run the front and rear speakers and the subwoofers. With the versatility of the Audison processing available

here, this type of set-up offers many different configuration options, some of which will give lots of loud noise, some uniform sound throughout the car — and one way which can yield optimum soundstaging, height and width (and tunability) for the front two seats in the car. Guess which one is used here? So the front Audison Voce 3-way speakers are run as completely active three-ways (even though the original vehicle had only two-ways installed). “We opted to put the tweeters and midrangers in the A-pillar,” Fabian tells us. “There’s custom trim installed for those, and a custom flushmount panel for the DRC (Digital Remote Control) near the power window switches in the centre console. The bit Ten D fitted under the driver’s seat.”

FOCAL â&#x20AC;&#x201C; FRENCH, FABULOUS AND AWARD WINNING SOUND For over 35 years Focal has been developing and manufacturing loudspeakers for the home, speaker kits for cars, and monitor speakers for recording studios. The brand is recognised around the world for sound quality and technological innovation. If you are upgrading your car audio system, audition the sound at one of our 80 authorised Focal car audio dealerships across Australia.

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Those midranges and tweeters are placed low down in the A pillars, while the mid-bass drivers are custom-fitted into the factory locale but with remade speaker mounts to change their position so that they could be displayed (same with the rear mid-ranges). The rear tweeters are flush mounted near the midrange drivers in the rear doors. All this is rounded out with four 10-inch Audison subwoofers in a sealed enclosure facing rearwards for fast bass attack while retaining a strong, even level. Using the active components in the front allowed particularly fine tuning of crossover points, while the rear stage is run passive mono to enhance the front stage rather than compete with it… and then obviously the subs are wired the usual way.

Dynamat Extreme has been splashed all around the interior — inner and outer door skins, the rear shelf and the boot. Audison cabling, connectors and capacitor were used and a modified battery bracket was needed to fit the Optima Yellow Top battery. The boot install is a triumph of plexi-glass, fibreglass lighting and, most importantly, design. Keeping things well thought-out and not too flashy means the boot has an air of quality and is not ‘busy’ at all — an accomplishment when you consider the work and componentry involved. In fact the whole exterior and interior is thrillingly well put together, with beautiful diamond-stitched leather panelling framed by suede to great understated effect. This car oozes old-school cool.

LESS IS MORE When building a car and system such as this one, the ultimate overall presence of the vehicle when completed is often determined as much by what has been left out as what has been added on. One can become lost in the excitement of a project, running the risk of creating a collection of cool shit in a car, all separate pieces screaming for attention individually, rather than working together for an overall effect and theme. And so, from the wheels to the 3M gloss black rose wrap, the growl and whine of exhaust and blower, and the high-end Alpine/Audison ear-candy showcased through elegant lighting and installation… Fabian’s car is one beautiful music system. And seriously, how freaking nice are those wheels...






Kept within a ‘factory’ colour scheme, this Golf GT Sport — our drive from the archive for this issue — nevertheless bears a massive high-end system inside, including not one but TWO Audison processors. . If only they rolled off the production line this way… Story Ed Kramer Images Tony Rabbitte




he owner of this VW Golf GT Sport wanted a colour scheme that kept in line with the original factory tones. But then, as a show car, the audio install was taken far far ahead of any factory system, via a commission to specialist Hyper Sound Car Audio.

DESIGNING FOR DIGITAL In order to take the entire audio shebang to a whole â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nutha level, the system was specified around Digital Designs range of amplifiers, speakers and subwoofers. The factory VW RNS510 head unit with builtin navigation was maintained as the source signal generator while two Audison bit Ones (whose processors form a bit of a through-theme this issue, with all three cars using them) were put into the path to massage the signal to get the best out of it. In this ride, the two bit One processors have been used in order to maximise and maintain full control of on all aspects of sound quality. The bit One itself has been installed underneath the passenger front seat while the controller has been smartly placed beneath the central climate controls. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re told this configuration with the twin processors may be unique in this country and perhaps even abroad. From there we go to the amplification which is handled via Digital Designs. Four C5C 4-channel amplifiers are used to drive the



Works with Simplified ADAS, DRV-N520. You can operate the DRV-N520 via the DDX9 and DNX9 screen. If a collision occurs, the Incident Detection G-sensor will automatically save the footage of the incident. The integrated camera also allows for forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

Small Size


A dash-camera with Simplified ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance System. Camera Dimensions W:79mm x H:21.5mm x D:48mm. Angle of field: Horizontal: 117° Vertical:63° Lane departure warning

Forward collision warning




Built-in Wi-Fi® , 7inch WVGA Capacitive Touch Screen AV Receiver

Display / Control from DDX9 series

True smartphone integration is made possible with the 9 Series Kenwood multi-media AV receivers that utilize Cortex A9 dual core processors – providing the exciting experience of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both smartphone platforms seamlessly integrate with the DDX9017DABS and allow access to proprietary Apps like Apple Maps, music, podcasts and audiobooks on iPhones, or Google Maps, Google Music, Spotify, Stitcher and many other Apps via Android devices. Even better, Siri and Android Voice command are enabled for the ultimate in safe driving while staying fully connected.

Apple CarPlay™ via USB Connection

CarPlay takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them right on a DDX9 series display. You can get directions, make calls and listen to music, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road. Just connect your iPhone and go. The service may not be available in certain countries. For details, see:

Android Auto™ via USB Connection

A simple USB connection gives you immediate access to apps like Google Maps, Waze, music and voice control. Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. The service may not be available in certain countries. For details, see:

*ADAS function uses the image processing technology commonly used in a digital camera, and its operating accuracy is realized only within the limits of the technology. It may not work as intended in some situations.

Built-in "Air Mirroring" over Wi-Fi® Air Mirroring is a groundbreaking solution for seamlessly displaying your Android or iPhone apps on a DDX9 series screen without cables or a network connection. 2-way communication (touch control) can be supported for selected Android Smartphones.





TECH SPECS owner: Jacob vehicle: 2008 VW Golf GT Sport All specifications as factory standard

SYSTEM source: VW RNS510 navigation unit front speakers: 4 x Digital Designs AW65 6.5-inch mid/bass, 4 x Digital Designs AW3 mids, 2 x Digital Designs B2 tweeters rear speakers: 4 x Digital Designs AW65 6.5-inch mid/bass, 4 x Digital Designs AW3 mids, 2 x Digital Designs B1 tweeters subwoofers: 2 x Digital Designs 9512i 12-inch subwoofers front & rear amplifiers: 4 x Digital Designs C5C 4-channel amplifiers subwoofer amplifiers: 2 x Digital Designs M1C monoblocs processor: 2 x Audison bit One wiring: Iridium cables battery: 1 x Optima D34 Yellow Top, 1 x Optima D34 Red Top lighting: Aerpro LED strip lights (approx. 50m) sound deadening: Ground Zero configured system power: 4500 watts installed by: Hyper Sound car Audio total build time: Six months



speakers while two M1C monoblocs are used for the subwoofers. The speaker/subwoofer team is all Digital Designs too and it’s made up of four AW65 mids, four AW3 mids and two B2 tweeters in the front. The rear houses two Digital Designs AW65 mids, two AW3 mids and two B1 tweeters. The subwoofer posse features two massive Digital Designs 9512i 12-inch subwoofers. The install uses copious amounts of Iridium cables and Ground Zero sound deadening while things are prettied up via a 50 meter run of Aerpro LED strips. The entire system (and car, for that matter) is powered via two Optima batteries – a D34 Yellow Top and a D34 Red Top.

SUPER FACTORY It may be less obvious to the untrained eye but there has been a substantial amount of customisation applied to this Golf. For starters, Ground Zero sound deadening was applied to all the doors on both the inner and outer skins, throughout the boot floor, the quarter panels and the boot lid (inner and outer skins here too). The door skins had



to be modified in order to allow fitting of the speakers but the owner did not want any cutting of the metalwork so as to maintain the car’s structural integrity. Fabrication of a large custom subwoofer enclosure was undertaken, as were the speaker moulds which were angled on a specific axis in order to maximise acoustic cohesion within the cabin. The amps were placed on a ‘floating’ rack in the boot where the subs also live. The interior is pretty classy, as is, in the GT Sport and the speaker pods/moulds mentioned earlier have been covered in a grey vinyl to match the door trim and upholstery colour but feature gloss silver accents where the speakers are mounted (there’s Perspex and LED lighting around the speakers to accentuate the overall install and cabin ambience). The B-series tweeters are mounted high on the door trims while bellow you’ll find DD’s mid drivers. The hatch – or boot – features the floating amp array with two of the amps set up high just behind the rear headrests while centred vertically below are the other two. The vinyl-covered

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DRIVER PROFILE Name: Jacob Car: 2008 VW Golf GT Sport

1.What got you into car electronics? My love for music got me into car audio along with reading InCar & Street Machine at a younger age. 2.How long have you been into it for? Many years. 3.Occupation? Currently a student. 4.Favourite music for testing audio gear? Metal. 5.Dream car? VW Golf R & T1 ‘splitscreen’ Kombi. 6.Other hobbies/interests? Computers & Photography. 7.Where to next? More studying. Saving for mods like new lights, wheels, airbags, maybe a body kit, flared guards & a new paint job.

subwoofer enclosures are placed to the sides with the subs being mounted magnet-out on angled baffles which, again, feature smartlooking gloss silver accents around the drivers. The exterior of the Golf is understated and attractive. It even sports stock multi-spoke wheels but we’re told new larger diameter wheels are on the shopping list with a priority. Also on the wish list are a body kit, flared guards, a new paint job, airbags, new lights and much more. So in time, this Golf may be almost unrecognisable, except for the awesome sound system.

CONCLUSION Given the quality gear and installation — with the twin Audison bit One units — this must be one awesome-sounding Golf. The interior is calmly embellished by the excellent speaker installation while the boot is a real talking piece. And we gather that plans have been laid for a host of exterior additions in this outstanding example of understated excellence.




PROFICIENCY MEETS VALUE. Not unlike every industrial sphere, car audio has its illustrious leaders — audacious companies unafraid to reinvent the wheel if that’s what’s required to achieve the goal. Of course this ideology is not always proof positive of a true innovator. Development of new technology is critical, yes, but it sometimes requires significantly more acumen to do the opposite — that is, rather than head back to the drawing board, instead take an existing design and successfully infuse the latest technological advances into said platform. It was this ideology that French master designer Focal had in mind when it began development of its new range of amplifiers. It didn’t look to reshape the world. Rather the ambition was to the take the highly successful FPS range, give it an aesthetic makeover and implement some technical updates. I suspect, however, that poor Focal is afflicted with a condition that might be labelled



‘techno OCD’. Not long after the project was initiated, things got a little out of hand, with the rejig soon evolving into a major rework covering just about everything from look and feel through to class and power. The efforts did not go to waste. The result is a new FPX range that looks absolutely stunning, and comes with power to match.

HIGH FIVE The FPX stable boasts many a configuration and we’ve tested numerous examples hitherto. Here we focus on the FPX5.1200, as it combines all the important facets necessary for a high quality budget amplifier, boasting superb power and efficiency, a small footprint, impressive performance specs and not too alarming a price tag; it’s one little powerhouse to be reckoned with. Using ‘digital’ switching Class-D topology, the FPX5.1200 is a quintuple-channel amplifier, outputting 75

watts continuously from its four satellite channels when measured at four ohms, while the subwoofer channel outputs 420 watts at four ohms. When loaded down these figures rise substantially, to 120 watts per satellite channel and 720 watts on the subwoofer channel respectively. However if you’re planning on taking the latter impedance path, ensure you have adequate airflow for cooling, because she can get a tad warm and you don’t want to dehydrate the caps over time. Total harmonic distortion remains at 0.03%, this measured at a healthy volume too, rather than at near-on idle as some less scrupulous manufacturers quote. Damping factor likewise stays quite high, thus ensuring controlled cone deceleration, while a decent slew rate ensures controlled reciprocation speed and accuracy. A signal-to-noise ratio of 75dB affords the ability to play fairly quietly so far as induced hiss and artefacts go.

Just a word on power ratings before we move on — as some have queried how Focal arrived at those output points. It’s actually a perplexing conundrum deciding what power output a new amplifier design is to afford, not only because you don’t know what subwoofer the end-user intends to marry up to it, but also because you have other external considerations such as fiscal restrictions and real estate requirements. Sure, five figures of power output in conjunction with an equally imposing pricetag is fine — right up until you actually try to sell one. Focal is no Johnny-come-lately, and at the risk of overusing my clichés, this isn’t its first rodeo. It has carefully chosen the power output point, and this becomes self-evident when you begin to deal with as many subwoofers as this author does. The vast majority of subwoofer motors tend to hover within a certain band of power requirement, and most five-channel amplifiers tend to be either woefully inadequate or else titanically overpowered for what this band stipulates. Therefore Focal wisely chose the aforementioned 400 to 700 watt region, as it’s right slap bang in the middle of what ninety-nine percent of subwoofers require. It’s almost as though it’s done this whole amplifier gig before...


PERFORMANCE When the time comes to install the FPX5.1200, you quickly discover that given its diminutive proportions it fits in all matter of places you probably didn’t consider previously. I had mine jammed down within the confines of a side trim panel, vertically to allow cool air to flow along the heat sink. Focal also seeks to make your life easier by including clearly labelled instructions along with various tools and mounting hardware. As always the auditioning process began long before the unit made it to the test car, with the first check upon the test-bench being that of the zero-noise track. The amplifier is not what you call completely hiss-free, but even at full tilt the hiss is minimal. Overall it’s one very

quiet design, despite having plenty of power on tap, a real credit to the Focal designers. Getting to the car, I set up the unit with the oscilloscope before grabbing my music and heading out on the road. The delivery of sound proved most articulate, with the satellite channels remaining very clear and controlled even when pushed. Despite the fact they may not look as titanic as some on paper, rest assured there is still plenty of grunt, more than enough to aggrieve your ears. The subwoofer channel, likewise — its output is solid, defined and accurate, and all five channels display an impressive level of linearity combined with minimal distortion over their entire 10Hz to 20kHz bandwidth, even when pushed right to the brink. Naturally physics dictates that there is an upper limit; however if you feel the need to continually approach said point then perhaps look to the well-proven combination of Focal’s FPX1.1000 and FPX4.800 pairing instead.

CONCLUSION Overall the FPX5.1200 is exactly what it’s purported to be — one very solid performer, offering a rich blend of overall tonality, control and precision. Focal goes to great pains to explain that if you’re looking to hit the lofty heights of 180dB… well then perhaps look elsewhere. But if you’re in the market for an amplifier that’ll vastly improve both the quality and volume of your listening experience, without consuming half your boot or bank account, well then, this is the unit for you.

FOCAL FPX 5.1200 AMPLIFIER TYPE: Class-D five-channel amplifier POWER: Continuous power rating 4 x 75W + 1 x 420W @ 4 ohm, 4 x 120W + 1 x 700W @ 2 ohm FEATURES: Adjustable crossovers, bass boost, phase control, input shunting & remote level controller COST: $899 CONTACT: Focal WEB:

• Well priced, well specified • Improved design • SPL seekers may need to look elsewhere



Turning to the presentation, the FPX5.1200 is an ultra-clean design — refreshing because, as much as I love Focal, the previous FPS range looked more like a Star Trek prop than a power amplifier. The new design uses an outer extruded aluminium case, anodised black for a very professional look. As mentioned the dimensions are anything but large, measuring a mere 337mm x 176mm with a height of 57mm, and a weight of 4100g. These physical dimensions take into account the plated terminal blocks recessed into the ends for protection too. At the business end are 4AWG power and earth terminals along with the operational LEDs and five sets of speaker outputs able to accept up to 10AWG cable. The other end of the unit is home to the three plated RCA input pairings, which can be routed in various configurations by switch, depending on how many inputs you have at your disposal. Aural controls also reside here starting with the mandatory gain pot for each channel pairing. Crossover-wise on the satellite channels there’s a switchable low or high pass which can be set between 50Hz and 500Hz, while on the subwoofer

channel there’s a 50Hz–250Hz low pass crossover, 10Hz–50Hz subsonic filter for ported applications, 0dB–12dB bass boost ability centred at 45Hz, in addition to the critical phase adjustment allowing 0° through to 180° (which is infinitely superior to 0° or 180°). Last but not least this end is also home to a remote input port, with the remote control and cable being supplied in the box. Removing the bottom plate for an eyeball is a rewarding experience, as Focal has garnered quite the reputation for its mastery of amplifier design over the years. The FPX5.1200’s internal topology is wonderfully laid out upon a glistening blue PCB, and starts out with stiffening in the form of a quadruplet of 25V/2200uF caps. From there the power is shunted through a large air-core transformer for step-up, the newly raised voltage then being stored within six 50V/1500uF power capacitors, including a reserve for those occasions where a little more supporting current is required. Power is expelled courtesy of twin rows of highly efficient output transistors. Thermally speaking the layout sees the power input stage, power storage area, stepup transformers and output stage placed in thermally efficient locations, with the FETs literally clamped hard against the outer case to draw heat away from them. The power components are also kept well away from any signal handling, thus being less conducive to induced noise.





THE STATE OF CARPLAY. It’s a couple of years since we did a deep dive on an Alpine head unit devoted to Apple CarPlay. But here we have Alpine’s latest, the iLX-107 head unit, which is indeed imbued with that devotion.

PICKING THE PLATFORM Indeed, it’s so devoted that apart from the built-in AM/FM radio, it is pretty much CarPlay and nothing but CarPlay all the way. To be precise, beyond CarPlay (to which we shall return) there are three entertainment options: AM radio, FM radio and the analogue A/V input. The last of these is only going to work when your handbrake is applied, assuming you’ve wired up the system the way you’re supposed to and not simply attached the ‘Park Brake’ cable to the earth. If properly wired you’ll still get sound when moving but the video will be blocked. The USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions are all limited solely to supporting CarPlay. I’m



stressing this because while these functions will suit many very nicely indeed, they do make the unit so dedicated to your Apple device that the only way to play music for someone without an iPhone, apart from the radio, is via the analogue input. All the great hands-free functions and voice control won’t be available to those with an Android phone. So if you’re later selling your car, this might have the effect of restricting your market to those who are Apple-orientated (or who simply don’t care about car sound systems). So with those caveats, let’s put all that behind us and dive in.

EQUIPMENT The Alpine iLX-107 has a 2-DIN sized frontage on a single-DIN chassis, using a 7-inch LEDbacklit LCD display. It is of course a touchscreen (and a fine one, as we’ll see). The physical controls are across the bottom. The volume

control uses two touch-sensitive buttons to the left — clearly a bias towards left-hand-drive cars here. Next is a dedicated ‘Siri’ button to invoke you-know-who. Then a Stop button which doubles as a home button to bring up the main menu. Finally, left and right arrows to do things like skip tracks and adjust the radio tuning. The four-channel amplifier is rated at 50 watts per channel. It comes with several wiring looms, one of which provides line outputs for the four main channels and two subwoofers. Another is for connecting a reversing camera and the A/V device. Another covers the steering wheel controls and the hands-free microphone. The USB extension cable plugs into a recessed socket. A cooling fan is at the right-hand rear, and the amplifier heat-sinks appear to be on the left side. They got pretty warm after running the unit for a while with loud music (I originally mistyped ‘lout music’; there was some of that too).

USING CARPLAY The first thing to remember with CarPlay is that it is an Apple system, and Apple is always very particular about which of its products will work with which of its systems. Yoi might think it would be fine to expect a 4G-fitted iPad to work with CarPlay, but no, it does not permit that. So no iPads. No iPod touches either. You can only use it with an iPhone — specifically an iPhone 5 or later. I confess to being more an Android guy, though I keep an iPad Mini 4 on hand to assess iOS things. Since there was no go with that here, I had to borrow my wife’s iPhone during this test to check it out. Except it didn’t work initially. Every time I plugged the phone into the head unit’s USB cable it showed the message ‘CarPlay Not Available — to use CarPlay, enable Siri in the Settings app on your iPhone’. I dutifully checked that Siri was in fact on in the phone, as indeed it was. I went through and made sure every aspect of Siri was enabled, including when the phone was locked. All to no avail, despite reboots and multiple full switches on and off of the head unit. So off to Google Search (slightly ironically of course) to ask what to do about the situation. Check the cable, it said. I was using a new cable with which the phone synced fine with my computer. And make sure iOS is up to date, it said. Well, the iPhone was running iOS 10.3.3, the last version prior to 11.0.x, which was released only a couple of months ago. But I reluctantly upgraded the phone to the new version and, at last, it worked. A problem with CarPlay on previous versions of iOS? Or was there some bug or installation problem on my wife’s phone that the iOS update fixed? Who knows. To be on the safe side, I’d suggest taking your phone in with you to your car stereo retailer and ask permission to plug it into their demo unit to make sure all’s working fine. Because with it all working fine, even with me being an Android guy, I must say that if anything was going to get me to jump over to the iPhone, it’d be Apple CarPlay running on the Alpine iLX-107. Once it was working, it was a delight. The unit’s own microphone captured my voice without error, with a ‘Hey Siri’ allowing all functions to work. That is, within the limitations of Siri being aware that it’s in a car. For example, when I asked Siri to “show me the way” to the nearby shopping mall, he (he has a British male voice on my wife’s phone, which I guess says something) refused because I was in a car. So I had to ask him to “give me directions to” the mall, and he was happy to oblige. The standard items on the main CarPlay screen were Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Now Playing, Main Menu (that takes you back to Alpine’s main screen), Podcasts and Audiobooks. Each of those just hooks into the matching apps on the iPhone. There are several other audio apps that also work with CarPlay, such

Soft power: Alpine’s TuneIt app offers additional and more in-depth tuning for your system.

as Stitcher for Podcasts, Audible for one of the largest collection of purchasable audio books, and VOX for higher quality audio playback, including support for the FLAC audio format. But the standard Music app is what most people will use, and that worked fine. And it worked well with Siri, playing music to my voice commands. CarPlay does not necessarily require a wired connection, although that’s going to help

your phone’s battery of course. You can pair the phone so it communicates via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. That way you can release the USB cable for charging your companion’s phone.

TOUCH AND TUNING The touch-screens on some head units are an iffy proposition. With some examples I’ve spent a lot of time repeatedly stabbing a ‘button’ on the screen with it only occasion-


AUDITION ally responding. There’s none of that here: the screen was very nearly as responsive as that of an iPad or iPhone, both with selections and with scrolling. Which is all the more important given safety considerations. There are a bunch of basic audio controls, including the ability to switch on the subwoofer, using the audio set-up menu on the head unit proper, but for any serious tuning you really ought to install the Alpine TuneIt App on your iPhone. Rather than basic bass and treble controls, or a choice of a bunch of pre-



iLX-107 CARPLAY HEAD UNIT TYPE: CarPlay head unit FEATURES: 7 inch LED touch screen display, GPS/Glonass, GPS/Music/Phone/Voice command via Apple CarPlay compatible iPhone, Mic supplied, USB charging, AM/FM, Steering Wheel Remote ready, Reversing camera input, pre-outs including subwoofer POWER: 4 x 50W into 4 ohms; CEA-2006 rating: 4 x 18W COST: $1099 CONTACT: Alpine Electronics of Australia WEB: • Full implementation of CarPlay • High quality power & sound • Versatile adjustment with app • CarPlay picky on iOS device type



set EQ curves (‘Flat’, ‘Rock’ etc) you then get a nine-band parametric equaliser, with three bands each in the bass, midrange and treble. Remember, a parametric equaliser isn’t locked into specific frequencies, but can be set to different frequencies, and with a different ‘Q’ for each. That’s the scope of the frequencies affected by the adjustment. There’s also a cool combined balance and fader control which you adjust simply by dragging a dot around a map of the car. Time correction is available in the app (so you can delay the channels closest to you in order to get a more realistic stereo/front-back image). This is adjusted individually for each of the six channels (two are for the subwoofer line outputs) via arrows. The time delays can be entered in inches or centimetres, rather than you having to calculate milliseconds. Each tap of the arrow adds a delay equivalent to around one and a third inches, or around 3.4cm. Finally, unlike the car’s interface, the TuneIt app permits proper adjustments for a subwoofer. There are both low-pass filters for the subwoofer channel/s, and separate high-pass filters for the front and rear speakers. You can choose the crossover frequency and the slope in 6dB increments from zero to 24dB per octave. The filters can be set to as high as 200 hertz. But don’t ignore the head unit’s own interface entirely. Scroll down its audio menu and you’ll find a nifty feature allowing you to adjust the relative volume levels of CarPlay, the radio and the A/V inputs. Fun as touchbutton volume controls might be, they are not as responsive as knobs, so having everything roughly match in level is a good idea.

SOUND QUALITY One of the great things about Alpine is the quality of amplifiers it builds into its head units. No doubt you can choose to go louder with an external amp, but you’re unlikely to get smoother sound. I did about half the listening of the modest collection of music on my wife’s iPhone using CarPlay, and most using the analogue A/V input from the far more extensive collection of music on my equipment. Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra sounded very nice via CarPlay. The latter, particularly, was mostly recorded in the days before audio gating and compression, so the big band backing was full and dynamic. The iLX-107 had the headroom to deliver this without notable limitation. Switching over to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, a bit of progressive bluegrass with a high quality recording is normally pretty revealing of weakness in the audio chain. There was none. Nine Inch Nails — the track Piggy from ‘The Downward Spiral’ — tends to be pretty demanding on any audio system, from bass through to dynamics in the drums. Again, these were delivered beautifully, with no limitation to the complex, interwoven drumming, and strong bass delivery from the full-range speakers I used.

CONCLUSION Clearly the Alpine iLX-107 head unit is only for iPhone people. But if you’re one of them, it ought to thoroughly please you. Do make sure your iOS is up to date, though, to be on the safe side.



Talk to people with years or decades of car audio knowledge


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CAR AUDIO SPECIALIST STORES. The right place for the right sound.



A MULTICHANNEL PRODIGY. Since its inception in 1990, Helix has enjoyed considerable growth worldwide. An audacious yet modest company, its expansion has not only encompasseed acumen but also stable size, so that today’s Helix is a vastly more mature and experienced company to that of thenadays. This veritable master of electronics now offers everything from speakers and subwoofers through to processors and amplifiers — even combining the latter for certain models. In short you don’t find ‘bad’ Helix products, period. Its specialty, though, is amplification. Though looking at the H 400X you could be forgiven for initially dismissing it as just another simple power amplifier. Sure it’s got a flashy appearance, but isn’t it just one among the myriad of other amplifiers on the market? What could possibly make the Helix H 400X worth owning over the competition? Well friends, take a seat — this about to get interesting, because there’s a whole swag of



reasons… equating to the world of difference between a simple amplifier and a good one. Of course the eye-watering performance specifications are the immediate stand-out for this unit. But there’s also some very clever technology implemented here, especially where power delivery is concerned.

SWITCHING THINGS UP More on that later though; let us first talk switching, as this was one of the more pressing concerns Helix faced when designing the H 400X. It was originally envisaged as an amplifier operable primarily within the Class-A realm — which is conducive to the warmest and purest sound. But sadly it’s also somewhat inefficient, and Helix no doubt didn’t want this unit drawing an ongoing flow of amperes even at idle. Put simply, the design needed to offer a warm sound without causing an in-car brownout. Helix has realised this prerequisite by introducing a certain level of Class A-B amplifica-

tion, to ensure that the amplifier didn’t draw exorbitant levels of current during operation. Expanding upon this a little… we know analogue amplifiers are classed according to how much current is flowing during each wave cycle. We measure this in degrees, with 360º equating to current flowing during the entire cycle. The majority of Class-A amplifiers use the same output transistor to reproduce both the top and bottom halves of the audio waveform, and because it’s reproducing both, said transistor stays switched on permanently with full current flowing through it. Even when devoid of audio signal it still runs a 360º cycle continually flowing direct current, and is thus conducive to serious inefficiencies both thermally and electrically. Class-B switching, on the other hand, employs twin transistor groups with one reproducing the top or positive half of the waveform, while the other produces the bottom negative half — basically 180º apiece.

This is more efficient because there’s no idle current flowing through the output transistors when there is no audio signal waveform. While this sounds a far better arrangement, all transistors require a small amount of current to turn on, and so this causes a blip in the sound waveform to appear as the transistors switch roles. So not as pure for sound quality, despite offering vastly superior efficiency to Class A. Hence the Class-AB design was born, whereby two groups of transistors are employed akin to Class B, but because transistors require power to switch on, the Class-AB design leaves a little bias current constantly running through them. This ensures they remain switched on, which in turn eradicates that blip in the waveform. So the overall ideology is that Class-AB is more efficient than Class A, yet enjoys a similarly warm-sounding output.

the H 400X is stunningly presented, and utilises a delectable blend of aluminium and Perspex to great effect. The majority of the case is extruded aluminium, anodised black. It retains relatively small dimensions, with a footprint of 200mm x 336mm, and height of just 32mm, meaning that finding real estate for it is straightforward. The top of the unit is covered by a clear smoked Perspex cover, and why not? When you have an internal topology like this, the last thing you want to do is hide it. This cover not only allows you to see what’s inside but also doubles as protection for both the internals and connections it overhangs at each end. At the north end of the amplifier are gold-plated


power, earth and RCA input terminals, in addition to the channel routing switches. At the other end are the four gold-plated speaker output terminals and half the audio controls, the other half being accessible through the top plate itself. The switch locations on the top govern the crossover configuration between high, low or through-pass, while the four potentiometers on the end control the crossover frequency, which is adjustable between 15Hz and 4kHz. Crossover slopes are second order with a Q logarithm of 0.7. The sensitivity controls are also located upon the top plate, up the other end adjacent to the RCA inputs. With the internals on display for all to see, laid out like a Canberra street directory, do let’s delve into them further. The H 400X is a masterclass in intelligent amplifier design, chock full of high-quality goodies, an electrical odyssey starting with a bank of six capacitors to stiffen and smoothen the incoming voltage before it’s fed into twin toroid-core transformers for step-up to a final voltage of ±27V. Power is stored ready for usage in twin 40V/3900µf power capacitors, before being shunted through to two lines of bipolar output transistors clamped along the heat sink for maximum thermal dissipation. Installation is hard to mess up, as is setting the gains if you’re handy with an oscilloscope. I ended up with the gains a tad above zero, raised ever so slightly to match my processor’s

CONCLUSION The H 400X is one of those amplifiers where we feel genuinely despondent as our audition reaches its conclusion and we prepare to remove it again, so much does it bring to the musical experience. (Permanent owners will not face this “reviewers’ curse”.) Meanwhile for those out there who believe there’s little difference between amplifiers, I challenge you to swap out your existing unit for these. You may find yourself revisiting that opinion.


Departing the theory and getting back to the practise, then, the H 400X is a fourchannel design with each channel outputting 70 watts continuously when presented with a four-ohm load. Loading it down to two ohms will equate to upping the power output to 140 watts per channel, while bridging the channels will return you 250 watts at four ohms. If you load it down to two ohms bridged, you’ll double this figure… however if you find yourself needing to load it down like that, can I suggest you get yourself an SPXL1000 monoblock instead? These power ratings are fairly impressive, if not altogether staggering; but wait, there’s more. (Just grip something firm whilst I run you through the ancillary specifications, because they’re incredible.) First up the power comes wide a total harmonic distortion of 0.009%. Yes that is three decimal places. Hell, if that doesn’t ensure seriously clean and detailed sound, nothing will. Next up we deal with undesirable cone movement and to that end the damping factor is over 300, remembering that we humans cannot detect much difference over 50. Reciprocal accuracy is maintained thanks to an impressive slew rate of 7V/µs and channels are kept separated with very little cross-bleed thanks to a separation figure of 85dB. Operational noise is kept to a bare minimum thanks to a signal-to-noise ratio of over 100dB, and the overall operational frequency range is a sensible 20Hz to 20kHz, thus fulfilling its human hearing range without expending needless resources trying to reproduce frequencies only whales or canines will appreciate. As if the sound wasn’t impressive enough, just wait until you happen upon the presentation of the unit. Akin to many Helix products

output voltage. Not surprisingly it passed the zero-noise test with flying colours, and in actuality you can set it well past three-quarters on the gain potentiometers before any appreciable level of hiss presents itself. That’s dealing in sine waves though. Where the unit really shines is when you start playing actual music through it. If you’ve owned anything Helix previously, you’ll already be accustomed to its signature sound. But if this is your first foray into the brand, then rest assured you’re in for a real treat. It’s not so much the volume that’s staggering but the sheer tonal control and astute accuracy. You hear far more detail in your music than that provided by almost any other brand of amplifier. No matter the genre, be it the dulcet tones of a pipe organ through to the shrill screech of a Charvel guitar, the H 400X is scarily truthful and exact to the point of lifelikeness. Linearity-wise the output is also extremely smooth, as it concentrates more upon the business of providing you with an honest listening experience rather than hammering you blindly into submission completely oblivious to anything relating to quality...

HELIX H 400X AMPLIFIER TYPE: Class AB four-channel amplifier POWER: Continuous power rating 4 x 75W/140W continuous at 4/2 ohm FEATURES: High, low or through-pass crossover COST: $1099 CONTACT: Dynamic Audio WEB: • Clean detailed sound • And plenty of it • Hard to criticise





Deceptive little device, the Nonda Zus. Plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter socket and it provides you with two usefully illuminated USB sockets ready to power and charge your smart devices. It rapid-charges, and rather cleverly, the USB sockets are reversible, so you can make them convenient for your preferred devices’ easiest orientation. And from what you can see of the physical device — small, sculptured and illuminated nicely as it is — you might think that was it. But no. No, no, no.

MILEAGE REPORTS Because look, it has an app. Indeed the full name of the Zus (on the box) is “Connected Car App Suite & Dual USB Car Charger”. You pair it with your smart device, and this adds a raft of additional abilities, chief among them that the Zus will track its position and keep a log of all your journeys. These can be accessed on the app, but also sent to you as weekly (pictured right) and monthly reports (opposite) in an email. Using the app you get a little map of each journey showing distance, time driven



and the potential claim you could make to the nice people at the tax office. Mark each journey as either personal or business, and then when your monthly email arrives, there’s your charge summary all ready to hand to the accountant, who will LOVE you for it. It’s important to allow the Zus access to your phone’s location services all the time, i.e. in the background, otherwise it can only log if you have the app open, which you won’t. But this didn’t seem to cause any significant drain on our phone life, and the results speak for themselves (see screenshots). We never once interacted with the Zus in daily driving life — it just sat there and logged. And because we didn’t put the app on the missus’s phone, it only logged our journeys, not hers. (You can have multiple accounts and phones linked to the one Zus, including a ‘Family Share’ function which will allow you to see where another connected user has parked — handy for picking up the wayward car-borrowing kids, even, er, spying on them. Though we didn’t try this.) We should note that we did have trouble pairing initially. Your phone must have Bluetooth and internet and GPS activated, which

we did, but we were in a basement without phone coverage — so actually no internet nor GPS available. The pairing is described as Bluetooth, so we hadn’t expected an issue, but as soon as we tried in the open air, the Zus paired immediately, and was off and running.

LOST YOUR CAR? Since it remembers where you’ve parked, this allows you to find your car should you, er, for-

get where it was. For us, well, we don’t lose our car very often, being creatures of habit, and as yet of sound mind. But should you park in side streets around a disorientatingly ovoid sports stadium, or if you’re still in that time of life where you wake up in a stranger’s bed not sure where you are, or indeed if you’ve reached that time of life where you’re forgetting where you are as a matter of course, then we could see how handy this might be. Just remember, of course, that multistorey car parking positions may be hampered by a lack of GPS information at the moment of parkage. It is possible to ‘pin’ your location manually using the app, and even add a picture as you leave.

On a meter? Set a timer. You don’t strictly need the Zus app for this — any timer app would do, but what other app can lead you back to the car as well?

CAR BATTERY MONITOR LEFT: your weekly mileage report — using the app you can also see maps (opening iPhone screen top left). ABOVE: our monthly report for August, when we did remarkably little driving because of a holiday in the middle.

Well why not, it’s plugged into your car battery, so it can keep an eye on its voltage

CONCLUSION So for our money, and not much of it really, we reckon the mileage logs are the handiest of the bonuses over the simple USB charging abilities of the Nonda Zus, while the battery health warning might just save you getting stuck in the garage one morning waiting on the NRMA, and the family sharing might even stop your kids losing your car. Not bad for $69 — and Nonda is now rolling out a whole suite of smart devices... more on the rest next issue.

NONDA ZUS CONNECTED CAR APP SUITE & DUAL USB CAR CHARGER TYPE: Twin USB charger with benefits FEATURES: Fast-charge two devices; track mileage and app-connects to send you summaries; find your vehicle; battery health check; Fmaily Share function COST: $69 WEB:

• Inexpensive, fit-and-forget USB charger • App sends you mileage reports by email • Not a lot to say against this baby...




fluctuations and cycles. You can check it via the app, but if it thinks you’re up for a problem, the cloud will email you. Freaky, but handy.




Dashcams are becoming ever more handy for insurance purposes, as well as general piece of mind that you’ll have proof when you’re in the right, and others are in the wrong. And for that role, the key wants here are two-fold — reliability of operation, and quality of image. The last Transcend dashcam we tested was the DrivePro 220. This new 230 model looks very similar but updates both software and hardware, notably the all-important image sensor which, in combination with the optics, governs that vital image quality. Any low-res dashcam will record an idiot flying in from a side-road and causing an accident, but if they then scarper, will you be able to read their number-plate from a few soft blurry images?

SENSOR SENSE Chances are with the Sony Exmor sensor in this Transcend, not only will the number-plate be identifiable, but so will road-signs, other traf-



fic, and the bloke in the red cap who saw it all from from his lounge-room window. The Exmor sensor is not only full-HD, allowing recording here at 1920 x 1080 at 30fps (in .mov format), Sony’s sensor is more sensitive to light than your average light-gatherer because all the tiny wiring is kept behind the sensor, not in the spaces around the individual pixels, as is more common. The larger pixel area thereby possible makes the Exmor particularly effective in lowlight situations — and since night-time recordings are a traditional weakness for dashcams, the choice of sensor makes sense here.

PERFORMANCE Otherwise things are much the same. This is a very dinky little dashcam about 7 x 6cm in size, with a wide-angle (130-degree) lens facing forward and a usefully bright 2.4-inch screen facing the driver, with four function buttons below. A sucker mount adheres to your windscreen and the DrivePro clicks in below,

supplied with a long cable which can snake over your passenger visor and down through the glove-box to your 12V power socket. Those using the dashcam permanently would do well to plumb it in, as more than four metres of trailing cable is neither pretty nor convenient for passengers. As we noted on the 220 model, things here are clearly designed for left-hand drive, rather than our Australian right-hand drive vehicles. The cable emerges from the driver’s side of the cam here, while the useful red button for protecting important recordings is hidden from the driver on the passenger side. In a left-hand drive vehicle it would be visible and easier to reach — whereas on one occasion when reaching around for the red button we actually popped out the microSD card instead, which shut the dashcam down, exactly the opposite of what we were trying to achieve. But the red button is only used to mark a file for permanent storage if something inter-

esting happens; you don’t need it in day-to-day use. In fact you don’t need to do anything in day-to-day use; the dashcam powers up with your ignition — on our Subaru it operated 100% reliably as we started our engine, recording continuously, and stopping 10 seconds after the ignition was turned off. (Should your lighter socket be one that doesn’t power down with your ignition, you’d have to manually unplug it every time to avoid car battery drainage, which you’re unlikely to remember to do, so some other solution might be wise.) The DrivePro 230 comes with a “high endurance” 16GB microSD card, and it’ll keep recording all your journeys until that’s full, and then it’ll keep going by replacing the earliest recordings with new ones. Just like a black box, indeed. How much footage fits on the card? Remarkably little at 1080p — less than three hours, and only nine hours even if you invest in a 64GB microSD to insert. (Up to 128GB can be used.) You could more than double footage length by dropping the resolution to 720p, but that’s hardly making best use of the highquality sensor here. So it’s all about marking those important emergency files. Some 30% of the storage is reserved for these, but they’re not 100% protected — the earliest emergency file will be overwritten by the latest emergency file, so too many of those and the available space gets increasingly reduced. Make them sparingly, or get into the habit of transferring and deleting those files (see transferring panel). In addition to manually invoked emergency recordings, there’s a built-in 3-axis G-Sensor with two available sensitivities — low may be triggered by even minor shocks, which could again overstock your space. After a genuine accident, it might be sensible to power down the camera and even remove the card for safekeeping. You can also ‘lock’ recordings during playback, putting them in the emergency group even if not so labelled during recording. The other button to press as you drive is on the right below the screen, taking a snapshot without pausing the video recording. As with the videos, these are marked with time and date, and even GPS coordinates — you can decide exactly what’s listed through the extensive list of options under the ‘Settings’ menu accessible from one of the four buttons under the screen. Here you can alter video length, what’s ‘stamped’ on it, and whether you record audio (this can be either useful or dangerous, of course, depending on what you say or how you sing as you drive).

ABOVE: Date and time are stamped on both still images and videos on the left side, with GPS, elevation and speed stamped on the right. Even on a cloudy day, the number plate of a car moving at an angle is legible on the DrivePro’s recording. BELOW: Ute crossing the line! No accident occurred here, but had there been one, again the number plate was easily recorded from the DrivePro’s footage.

MORE OPTIONS There are various options like driver fatigue alert (just a timer which goes off after a fixed time) and lane departure warning… we doubt many will use these in day-to-day operation. Instead of normal recording you can manually start time-lapse, with one, two or four sec-

ABOVE: the DrivePro 230’s brighter night images than (RIGHT) the previous 220 model.


TRANSFERRING RECORDINGS The Transcend creates its own Wi-Fi, so after downloading the company’s app you can connect your phone or tablet and browse the recordings and snapshots you’ve made, then choose any you want to transfer across to your device. This worked extremely well, especially transfer, which proved speedy and reliable, and allowed more reliable scrubbing through videos than when viewing via Wi-Fi, when we found playback would work fine but scrubbing through would usually fail. With transferred recordings you continue to view them through the Transcend app. We encountered a glitch with our iPad Pro where snapshots were displaying half-screen only, though we could move and zoom around to see everything; Transcend acted impressively quickly to investigate. PC users can also use Transcend’s DrivePro Toolbox program for even greater control, including mapping of your videos, assuming you have GPS information recorded. If you remove the camera and take it into the home for transferring videos, watch out for its enthusiasm at autorecording at every opportunity. Given the internal battery’s minimal lifetime, we had the camera plugged into a spare USB socket to keep it powered up — but at the same time it was recording away and wiping previous recordings; we left it like this for a while and everything except our emergency recordings were replaced by long close-up shots of our desk. The alternative, rather easier we thought, is to simply remove the microSD card and put it into a computer — copy the recordings you want for viewing on any other program. This process also frees the files from the jurisdiction of the Transcend app, and the .mov movies and .jpg images played just fine through standard PC and Mac programs and other software such as VLC. The emergency recordings were shown as locked, though interestingly we couldn’t delete any recordings or images at all (from a Mac, anyway; they go back into the camera ready for rolling deletion or specific selection through the dashcam menus).

CONCLUSION The main upgrade from the DrivePro 220 here is the new sensor, which, as the comparisons show, brings a higher level of clarity to recordings. It’s important to remember the supplied microSD will hold only a few hours of travel, and less of emergency recordings, so that you should store any important recordings immediately on a separate device. The cabling is its other drawback — fit it beside your mirror and the cable trails all around the passenger visor and glovebox to the cigarette lighter. (As you can see, we had it lower down, for a shorter but still messy cable trail.) If you can plumb it in permanently, it’s a whole lot neater. Otherwise the Drivepro 230 ticks the essential boxes of reliability, fit and forget operation, and a good level of versatility, as well as clarity.



TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 230 DASHCAM TYPE: Tested with firmware: 1.2.0 PANEL: 2.4” colour LCD MAX RES: 1080p at 30Hz (.mov; h.2640) STORAGE: 16GB microSD supplied DIMENSIONS: 70 × 63 × 34.5mm WEIGHT: 81g PRICE: $299 CONTACT: Transcend WEB: • Reliable operation and great versatility • Improved imaging over previous version • Seems designed for left-hand drive


onds per frame, rather fun for getting a rapid spin through a particularly inspiring route, though remembering that in this mode you might miss the crucial cause of an accident should one occur. One feature can be added for those prepared to give the Dashcam a permanent power source or power bank — a Parking Monitor mode can be set to either time-lapse or motion-activated recording when you leave the vehicle in a public place. So how were the recordings? Excellent. Clear images and audio on the videos, and good detail both on day and night recordings (see examples). We still had our test images from the non-Exmor DrivePro 220, and the night images were particularly improved, with blacks black instead of grey, and clearly a far greater sensitivity to light. You can see this in the images here. If anything, Australia’s bright sunlight could sometimes overexpose number plates with flare, and at any time the motion blur could make identification difficult in any particular frame, though there was invariably some frame in which numberplates could be noted.


The word Euphoria conjures up images of a blissful and serene state, but in the case of our db Drive Euphoria EPS8 Subwoofer serenity is not what is first to cross your mind. Unless of course your definition of bliss is listening to your favourite tunes with real punchy bass. The EPS8 is a dynamically powerful subwoofer, which delivers true trouser flapping bass when you need it - all in a compact unit that sits comfortably under your seat.

FEATURES INCLUDE: 550 watts of Dynamic Power · Dual passive radiators for added bass · Adjustable input sensitivity · Low level RCA inputs · High level inputs · audio sensing remote turn on · Protection circuitry · P.W.M. MOSFET power supply and much more

/dbd riveaus&n z

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Australian Incar #5-2017  

12V Tech, Tests & Techniques

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12V Tech, Tests & Techniques

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