Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
August 30, 2011
Photos By: Courtesy of Manufacturers

Horse Sense: If you’re the type that doesn’t hold onto a car for long, you might want to keep your stock audio components boxed up in the attic. This way when it comes time to sell your ride you can put the stock components back in and transfer your high-end gear to your new ride. Of course, the easy way to do this is with installation kits and wire harness adapters to prevent any cutting of the factory wiring or dash.

Going fast, braking quick, handling well, and styling the whole time you're doing it is part and parcel of what owning a Mustang is all about. While every Mustang isn't a daily driver, for those that are, a decent audio system is a must to make the trek to Cubicle City one that doesn't have you on a Thorazine drip by the time you get to the office. In all reality, in the age of navigating six-lane highways and hour-long commutes, it's imperative to receive up to the minute traffic information (do you really want to wait on the DJ's lame "traffic report" every half hour?) or be able to reroute your drive to avoid construction, closed roads, or accidents. With today's technology it's quite easy to do these things, and more, with in-dash or remote-mounted hardware in just about any price range.

The 5.0&SF editorial cave has recently relocated from a small town to "the big city" (Tampa, Florida) and having to deal with a 70-mile daily highway commute, instead of 22 miles on surface roads, really nails the point home that having the right information at the right time really helps with the chaotic drive to the new digs. Editor Turner rolls with XM satellite radio and its Instant Traffic & Weather (available in 21 markets, including the Tampa area) so whether he's driving his '98 SVT Cobra or his '04 SVT Focus, he can get updated information instantly on road conditions. Meanwhile, I've got a nine-year-old Kenwood cassette deck with CD-changer in my '90. It sounds great with the Kenwood amp, Polk Audio speakers, and Kicker Solo-Baric sub, but all it can do is play music while I'm stuck in traffic, which is better than Johnson's ride, which had no tunes in it at all until just a few months ago when he decided to tie-wrap a CD-changer into the trunk!

Going one step further was our recent experience in Ford's '05 Escape Hybrid which was on loan for our evaluation. Equipped with the optional Hybrid Energy Audiophile Navigation System, the built in GPS and navigation software allowed us to recalculate our travel route from work to home one night on the fly after being detoured off of the highway due to an accident. The navigation software quickly recalculated the route and, while we were on unfamiliar roads, the system safely got us to our front door using surface roads. Without the system we would have been sitting on the highway waiting for a lane to clear.

The only thing sweeter are the new real-time traffic/navigation systems just coming onto the market now. So, while having an audio system that can play your favorite Metallica CD is important, modern upgrades like navigation, satellite radio, and even mobile video are becoming increasingly popular. We've gathered the latest gear from the top names in car audio and video entertainment for you to get glass-eyed over, so check 'em all out and then do yourself a favor and put some rock in your ride.

Audiobahn

Audiobahn [(800) 488-8595; www.audio-bahn.com] has one of the most versatile new head units on the market right now. Introduced at the '05 CES show, the A1250N head unit ($269.99) not only features all the normal bells and whistles like multiple-format CD playback (CD-R, CD-RW, WMA, and MP3), 18 FM and 6 AM presets, XM satellite ready, 20-watts-per channel internal amplification, wireless remote control, and station name display, but this new model also allows direct connection of an Apple iPod through the unit's rear chassis connector. Utilizing the iPod's 30-pin docking connector, the A1250N allows full access to your content on the iPod. The A1250N even display's iPod screen information, allowing the user to completely hide the iPod in a console or glove box. This same rear chassis connector can also be used for portable XM tuners and can even encode and decode USB, allowing the connection of other storage and playback of MP3 devices as well. Audiobahn also has the muscle to shake your windows too if that's your idea of fun. From 4,000-watt amps (yes, that's three zeros) to hard-hitting subs, Audiobahn has what you need. Its latest subwoofer, the ALUM10N is just such an example with dual 6-ohm voice coils (designed to be used in sets of three and wired to 1-ohm or 4-ohm loads) and a six-leg, high-pressure-cast-aluminum basket, this sub can handle an earth shaking 800 watts of bass. The sub is topped off with an exclusive crown, which hovers over the woofer cone to protect it during cone excursion.

Auto Meter

Entering into a new arena for Auto Meter [(815) 895-8147; www.autometer.com], the gauge gurus have come up with a great way to monitor all that high-end gear crammed into the trunk of your Mustang. Auto Meter now has audio gauges in its Cobalt line to protect your investment. Available in the Cobalt Audio Gauge line are these 211/416-inch digital gauges that will help you easily keep tabs on amplifier temperature, amplifier current, and audio system voltage. The Cobalt line features a black face with vivid blue LED numbering surrounded by a bright-anodized bezel. They can be mounted with your audio gear for competition use or mounted within the driver's eyesight for daily use.

Boston Acoustics

If you're looking for a direct-replacement speaker for your Mustang's audio system you might want to check out the new S Series line of component and coaxial offerings from Boston Acoustics [(978) 538-5000; www.bostonacoustics.com]. The S Series (ranging from $75-$220) features a compact design for easy installation while utilizing top materials like copolymer woofer cones, rubber butyl surrounds, and 31/44-inch Ferrofluid-cooled dome tweeters for excellent power handling and reliability. The S Series applications include 311/42-inch coaxial (perfect for Fox dash locations), 611/42-inch coaxial (and component), and 5x7-inch coaxials that are direct drop-in fitments for the Mustang. The S Series also features several popular universal sizes if you want to do something custom with your audio system.

Boston Acoustics has also released the G5 high-performance subwoofer with its companion GTR TunableRadiator. The unique design of the G5 subwoofer allows for installation in small enclosures-just one cubic foot for the 12-inch model and a half a cubic foot for the 10-inch model subwoofer, while the GTR TunableRadiator provides additional bass without extra amplifiers or enclosures. Boston Acoustics' patented RadiaVent cooling technology uses the woofer's own piston action and integrated cooling vents to re-circulate fresh air around the voice coil. What's more, the G5 subwoofer is the first automotive subwoofer to offer in-field stripping to replace a damaged voice coil and woofer cone. Available in 10- and 12-inch applications in dual 4-ohm models with pricing ranging from $349-$399 while the GTR TunableRadiator is also available in 10- and 12-inch sizes, priced between $99-$119 respectively.

Clarion

When it comes time to upgrade your factory in-dash stereo to something with a few more features why not look into Clarion's line of head units that feature CD/CD-R/RW/MP3/WMA playback, internal MOSFET amplifiers, high-quality displays with screen savers, remote controls, and more? Its top of the line model, the DXZ955MC shown here ($899), has all these features and more you'd find in a Clarion [(800) GO-CLARION; www.clarion.com]. Clarion has added its two top technologies to this new unit, Music Catcher and Optimedia. The Music Catcher feature allows the user to press an onscreen "record" button to save up to six CDs worth of music to the head unit's internal storage allowing skip-free playback at the touch of a button. The Optimedia technology includes a high contrast touch screen positive display that produces multiple background colors, screensavers, and wallpapers in a 4.2-inch full color TFT display. The DXZ955MC also features six channel line level outputs (three pairs of 4-volt pre-outs) and is CeNET ready, allowing users to connect third generation and newer iPods directly.

If you're thinking about adding a navigation unit or maybe a mobile video system to your ride, why not do both with Clarion's new N.I.C.E. transportable navigation system ($1,399). Clarion's new 7-inch touch screen system gives users point to point visual directions while also getting turn by turn voice guidance to their destination. Automatic route recalculation helps with routing to your destination should you need to take a different route than the one recommended by the unit. Easily moved from vehicle to vehicle, the N.I.C.E. is simply mounted with a suction cup glass mount. The unit can also be used for MP3 storage and playback, video playback (via A/V input or downloaded through its USB port), and is Sirius satellite radio ready. The built-in FM transmitter will allow stored content to be played back over the existing audio system.

Speaking of Sirius satellite radio, Clarion also has its new Calypso plug and play Sirius player out for those looking for portable satellite radio in the car, at home, or on the go. The Calypso has a compact design and features a blue positive LCD display with multiple preset station buttons for one-touch music listening. The Calypso is just $199 with the car kit and home kit priced at $99 each and the boom box kit priced at $229.