Wayne "Barney" Boettcher feels that, five years from now, you won't be able to buy a conventional car stereo anywhere, except online.
"Small or none at all" is what Resto-Mod builders want as far as sound systems go. Street-shaking boom-box-mobiles are passé says Wayne "Barney" Boettcher—a corporate jet interior rigger who builds Resto-Mod interiors and sound systems by moonlight. Boettcher says a good friend of his, who works at a local electronics retailer called Sound World, predicts all traditional car stereos will be have to be purchased online in the next 5-10 years.
According to Barney, the car audio trend has shifted dramatically away from heavy-duty hardware like amplifiers and big speakers to iPods, iPhones and small, hidden technology. He thinks no one will be retailing the old stuff we lusted for in the '60s and '70s. The only customers will be old timers and a few street rodders who want a stereo they can touch. If you go to Best Buy or Wal Mart you'll find they stock very few car stereos compared to five years ago. Some owners like Jeff Noll have no sound systems. Other enthusiasts say that the only noise they want to hear when they're driving is the sound of their engine.
Custom Autosound's Secret Audio is a popular audio tuner with hot rodders.
A company called Custom Autosound markets Secret Audio, a radio you can hide anywhere in your car. They basically took a radio apart and hid the pieces in the seat, trunk and door panels. The radio is tuned with a square little touch pad—a kind of remote control you can hide in the glove box.
A new recently released Gen III Secretaudio.SST system has a 6-3/4 inch wide 6-1/2 inch deep 2 inch high tuner/amp, a 5 inch wide x 2 inch high x 3/4 inch deep digital LCD panel, a 10-ft. cable, a flush mount bracket, a flush mount bezel and a round remote control unit with an up to 40-foot operating range. The tiny Hideaway 200 Watt AM/FM CD controller includes a USB MP3/WMA flash drive, iPod control, CD control and satellite radio control.
With this system, you either have no radio showing in the car or you leave the original radio in place, although it isn't used. The tuner/amplifier component can be mounted anywhere in the vehicle (even in completely hidden spots like under the dash or under a seat). The 10-ft. cable used to connect the LCD panel to the tuner/amp is also hidden. The you put the thin LCD panel in a convenient or hidden spot (like a glovebox or console) and operate the system with the wireless remote control unit that has volume, track, mode and mute buttons.
Boettcher says that a lack of manufacturer support is another problem chasing car owners away from conventional sound systems. One of his customers wanted a stereo hidden under the seat of a Resto-Mod truck he was building the interior for. The stereo was junk, but it was impossible to get satisfaction from the retailer, since his offshore manufacturer offered no warranty. The truck owner now wishes that he had installed a conventional CD player.
In another case, the radio was knocking the battery down and Barney had no luck getting the tech support he needed to fix the problem. His friend was able to get Sound World tech reps to call the manufacturer reps, but they got nowhere. Boettcher says the attitude was, "You bought it, tough bounce." He noted that some customers would spend $1,000 on a reliable stereo and knows where to get one he likes, but he doesn't trust its tech support.
This '57 Chevy will have a conventional-looking radio showing in the dashboard, but it will also have a hidden iPod.
Boettcher believes that a lot of Resto-Mod owners today never even run the radio. They want other types of electronics that give them music and much more. The owner of a '57 Chevy Resto-Mod wanted his car set up for an iPod. Barney purchased an iPod docking station to hide in the center console that he was building for that car. Boettcher asked if the man wanted multiple speakers instead of just one 5 x 7-inch speaker in the dash. The Chevy owner said he could do fine without lots of speakers, so his high-end car is not going to have a high-end stereo in it. The man only listens to talk radio and felt that one speaker was enough. However, he did want an iPod docking station in the console.
This is the iPod docking station that Preformance Upholstery is installing in the '57 Chevy Resto-Mod.