The world’s first true digital car audio system was introduced at CES by Clarion. This is the only car stereo system on the market worthy of the label “Audiophile Quality.”
The car radio has been an integral part of the automobile since its introduction to the mass-market. It was back in 1930 when Paul, William Lear, and Joseph Colvin develop what is known as the first car radio. It was affectionately called Motorola as a way to describe a motorized Victrola. The first prototype was the 5T71, demo in a Studebaker, and since then the car radio has been an integral part of the automotive experience. One can only imagine going on a long drive in countries with open roads like the USA, Australia, and even the European Union without music or at least talk radio.
With that said it is important to point out that even in this age of digital everything the majority of all car stereo systems are considered analog devices since they use amplified AC signal to send a signal to the speakers. The problem with regular analog amplifiers especially those of class A/B is that they are rather inefficient. In many cases delivering only about 50% of the power, they take in as an audio signal.
At the 2016 CES show, Clarion Corporation of America announced an all new and revolutionary full digital car audio system that’s taking the industry by storm. Clarion, a Japanese manufacturer and well-known player in the consumer and corporate commercial mobile electronics industry and majority owned by giants like Hitachi and Foxconn. For several years now, Clarion car stereo has been part of the conversation, but it was not until now that the company has garnish so much attention from critics and industry leaders alike.
After unveiled and demoed their new and full digital sound system at CES, Clarion has set in motion a new benchmark for the car audio industry. Not too many car stereo companies cater to audiophiles nowadays, Clarion has changed that! The Z3 is ideal for high-resolution audio tracks, and it is capable of maintains a digital audio signal from the source all the way to the multilayer voice coils speakers, making it the only car stereo system on the market today worthy of the label “Audiophile Quality.”
The system consists of four components. The Z3 is the brains or central digital sound processor (DSP). The Z3 also comes with a set of high resolution, aluminum tweeters. The second part of the system are the Z7 digital speakers. These are 6 1/2 inch midbass, drivers covering a frequency range from about 80 Hz to 5 kHz. The third and final component is the Z25W a 10-inch six-voice coil digital subwoofer covering the first two octaves of music.
Several other car audio equipment manufacturers offer digital sound processors (DSPs). However, almost all of them terminate in an animal connection sending a low-level signal to an analog amplifier. The Clarion Z series digital sound system is the world’s first completely digital high-resolution car audio system with Full digital playback with the digital-to-digital transmission. Many of those who attended the show were convince that all that Clarion had accomplished was move the amplifiers to the speaker. That is until they see the thin gauge wire connecting the DSP module to the speakers.
The technology does not use amplifiers but rather several custom LSI chips Clarion has developed exclusively for their Full Digital Sound system. These custom LSI chips are the first of their kind designed for the automotive space and capable of maintaining a 96kHz/24-Bit digital audio signal from the source to the speakers without ever converting it to analog or passing a signal through a traditional amplifier.
The Clarion Z3, Z6, and Z25W now available primary through online car audio retailers like CarAudioNear.Me but the best way to appreciate its performance in at a live demo. Especially the demo is conducted with the Clarion NX807. These Double-DIN Multimedia Source Unit with Apple CarPlay Support is also a one-of-a-kind being the only car stereo head unit in the market today with Digital optical output. When combined with the Z3 system the signal path from the head unit to the DSP, to the speaker is 100% pure digital. Clarion understands that they don’t carry the brand equity with youngsters as some of the other head unit brands. However, with aftermarket, car stereo sales on the rise and car manufacturers is slow to react to the demand for better sounding car stereo system it is likely that the market would simulate this technology just as he has in the past.