BOSS, makers of lower cost car a/v systems, have introduced four new wireless CarPlay receivers. What?s interesting is that they seem to be higher quality than we might normally expect of BOSS.
What?s the same across all 4 models?
All four models are wireless – you don?t have to plug in your phone to be able to use CarPlay or Android Auto. This is the sort of thing you?d find on models costing twice as much.
And, all four models use capacitive touch screens, instead of the more affordable resistive touch screen.
Resistive touchscreens have the benefit of working when you?re wearing winter gloves, as opposed to touch requiring contact from your skin (or gloves with conductive threads in the fingertips.)
All models have the following features:
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Capacitive 6.75-inch Touchscreen
- Multicolor Illumination
- Bluetooth Audio Streaming
- Compatible with Audio Output of iPod?/iPhone?, Smartphones and MP3 Players
- Front & Rear Camera Input
- Front, Rear, Sub Pre-Amp Outputs
- Aux In (3.5 mm)
- Switchable U.S. & EU Tuner Frequencies
- Steering Wheel Control Input (Interface not included)
- USB Port: CarPlay & Android Auto, USB 2A Fast Charging
- RBDS Tuner (available with BVCP9850W, PCPA975W and DD999ACPW models only)
To make it really clear, there are four radios here:
- BOSS Audio BVCP9850W
- Planet Audio PCPA975W
- Sounds Storm Laboratories DD999ACPW
- BOSS Elite BE950WCPA
Outside of branding on the radio and on the touchscreen interface, these are all the same, with the exception of the Boss Elite BE950WCPA, which does not have RBDS for the FM tuner.
RBDS is the ability to display metadata for an FM station and what?s playing. For example, you?d see the call letters of the station, the artist, song title, and any other info the station chooses to broadcast along with the audio.
What would you be missing out on?
You don?t get a CD or DVD player.
There?s no option to add an XM tuner.
And, as said, one of them doesn?t have the RDS data (RBDS) for the FM tuner.
Is it good?
Well, mixed. If you want a wireless CarPlay or Android Auto radio, it does this. But the audio section may deliver less than you hope.
It?s difficult to declare something ?good? or ?bad? just off the specifications, although they do tell us something we can go off of. From the SSG install manual, we know about the audio output of these units.
The built-in audio amplifier is 80 watts across 4 channels, max power. That?s 20 watts per channel, max. But max isn?t a useful number, because you want to listen without distortion, and at a consistent level, not just what it can deliver at peak.
To find RMS watts, you multiple peak watts by .7071. That leaves us with 14 watts per channel, RMS.
Now imagine instead of using the built-in amplifier, you?re going to use a dedicated amp downstream. The pre-amp outputs put out 2V (for front, rear, and mono subwoofer, each) for audio. Some of the higher end radios put out 4v.
Technically, the more voltage, the louder the volume. But if you put an amplifier after the pre-amp outputs (as you?d want to do), you don?t want to overdrive the amplifier. So what?s the point of higher voltage outputs?
The answer is this: When setting the gains on a car stereo setup, you set the car radio volume just below where the outputs begin to distort. And then, you set the amplifier gain below where it begins to distort. Generally, you do this by playing a 40Hz and 1KHz tone at -10dB consistently while measuring with an oscilloscope for distortion of the audio waveform.
Doing that with a higher pre-amp volume means that the gain at the amplifer can be set a little lower, which means less potential for distortion, and a reduction in background noise. Basically, you get better sounding audio.
2V preamp outs are pretty common. More than 1v is probably above the noise floor. I?m writing this so you know what the numbers mean, and what to look for when buying car audio.
Where can you get them, and how much will you spend?
Priced at $399.99 MSRP, all four models are available for purchase now through bossaudio.com, planetaudio.com, and soundstormlab.com, respectively. The new portfolio of wireless car audio products is also available through Amazon and will be coming to local and nationwide retailers soon.