In-Car Tech: Showtime! The Cars of 2012 CES
The Magic Bus
Off site at the Flamingo Hotel where many high-end home audio companies were exhibiting, Dynaudio hosted Jon Whitledge’s Dodge Sprinter van that’s been dubbed ‘The Magic Bus’ for its insane mobile audio system. Whitledge, a self described live music fanatic, spent what amounted to be several hours with me and some other 12-volt installers going over details of the choices he made in the installation and (the best part) listening to all kinds of music.
Whitledge chose the long wheelbase version of the Dodge Sprinter because it provided the best environment for what would become a 4,400-hour-and-counting labor of love in a mobile audio system. The system uses the best of the best Dynaudio speakers (mid/tweeter in A-pillar enclosures, midbass in the front doors and subwoofers in the rear of the van), Genesis amplifiers and Alpine F#1 Status DVI-9900 DVD-Audio head unit with the companion PXI-H990 processor and a load of Cascade Audio noise-control materials throughout the inside.
“I attend live performances probably three or more times per week so I really have a great reference point of what great live music should sound like. I pursued that goal with the audio system in the Magic Bus, starting with the environment inside the van itself,” shared an excited Whitledge.
Besides the fantastic sound of the Magic Bus with various CD and DVD audio media he demonstrated, we were lucky enough to have world renowned guitarist Larry Mitchell on site ‘plugged in’ to the van, playing his guitar live. Mitchell played through the van’s system and then through a reference system of Dynaudio monitors set up outside the van to allow people to compare just how close the van is to that live sound in real time. Anyone who’s heard Mitchell play would have thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with the Magic Bus and just experiencing great audio in general.
Although 12 volt retailers will certainly not go to the lengths Whitledge has to create a mobile audio system for their day-to-day customers, it was a great experience to see that the music still matters and even gleaning small improvements in audio system performance from Whitledge’s installation ideas can be the inspiration to provide people with a high-quality sound experience in the car.
Honorable mentions to a couple other great-sounding cars at the show were the Hybrid Audio Infiniti G35 in the IASCA booth and Fred Lynch’s Saturn Ion in the Arc Audio booth. It was really nice to see a renewed interest in great sound with many of the cars at this year’s CES show, not just painted fiberglass tubs in the back of a car full of audio gear on display that was the trend for many previous years.