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Companies Ready Vehicle-Specific OEM Car-Audio Upgrades

Las Vegas – More aftermarket car-audio upgrade packages are being tailored for use in specific vehicles with the vehicle’s factory radio.

At International CES, Harman unveiled vehicle-specific aftermarket upgrade packages tailored for specific vehicles in various countries. The first system for a U.S. market vehicle is intended for the Jeep Wrangler and will be JBL-branded.

Rockford expanded its selection of vehicle-specific systems under the Match brand.

Harman’s Vehicle Specific Audio Upgrade packages feature components designed to fit into the original factory location and plug into the existing factory wire harness with no splicing or fabrication. The packages include speakers, subwoofers, and a digital amplifier acoustically tuned, time-aligned and equalized for specific vehicles.

The first system rolled out recently outside the U.S., and additional systems will be rolled out worldwide in the coming months, including the first U.S. system intended for the Jeep Wrangler with 12-channel amplifier/EQ and two subwoofers in custom enclosures. Though it will be JBL-branded, the opportunity exists for Harman Kardon and Infinity branded systems, said Bill Turner, global VP/GM of aftermarket automotive audio.

U.S. pricing and ship date were unavailable.

The Harman systems will be targeted to retailers, expediters that sell to car dealers, and direct to car dealers who would carry the product in inventory.

The upgrade packages are particularly appropriate in countries where many new cars come without OEM head units or with very basic audio systems, Turner said.

Rockford expanded its selection of DSP amplifiers that can be tuned to specific vehicles and mated with the factory heads, factory speakers or aftermarket drop-in speakers. Price and ship dates were unavailable.

In 2012 and 2013, Rockford offered one Helix brand DSP/amplifier that dealers would flash to tune a base factory sound system, including the factory radio and factory speakers, to any one of 35 U.S. vehicle models. The brand also supplied vehicle-specific adapter harnesses and an add-on subwoofer.

In 2014, the vehicle-specific upgrade concept migrates to the Match brand and includes two DSP/amplifiers and three sets of vehicle-specific speakers. The DSP/amps consist of a five-channel model and an eight-channel model. A total of 35 preset vehicle EQ curves are available from Rockford for specific Volkswagen and BMW vehicle models.

The tuning parameters can be downloaded from the Internet via PC and flashed to the amps via USB for use with factory speakers. Dealer can create custom EQ curves if they add aftermarket Match-brand or other-brand speakers.

A third entry-level four-channel DSP/amp under consideration would be preloaded with tuning parameters for multiple vehicle models from a specific automaker. A different SKU would be available for installation in BMWs, with another SKU for Volkswagens. Neither would let dealers add their own customized tuning parameters.

The five-channel DSP/amp is the PP520SP, rated at 4×35 watts into 4 ohms and 4×50 watts in 2 ohms. The former features two-channel preamp output to add two more channels that can be tuned by the company’s PC software.

Meantime, Rockford plans first-quarter availability of Match drop-in speakers for BMWs and Volkswagens and non-DSP Match amps. They consist of the $329 MA10FX mono amp rated at 300 watts into 4 ohms and 500 watts into 2 ohms. The $379 MA40FX amplifier is rated at 4×75 watts into 4 ohms, 4×140 watts into 2 ohms, and 2×280 watts bridged into 4 ohms.

Two BMW speaker pairs (one coaxial, one two-way component) and one Volkswagen component pair are priced from $199 to $429 per pair.

Rockford markets the Match brand in North American for Audiotec Fischer of Germany. Rockford also markets Audiotec’s Brax and Helix brands.