Taylor: I prefer a knob for volume. I feel like I can quickly turn it up or down as need be.
I agree with you about the animations. The high end units are all disgusting like that. Luckily, the JVC I feature here doesn’t have that. Neither does the Sony I have in my Focus. They simply clearly display song playing or time.
Notably, my Sony has a button to dim the display that is easy to reach. Unfortunately, the JVC buries the dim function into submenus that require a lot of attention to reach. Fortunately, I find the display to be the perfect brightness: legible in the sun, not distracting at night.
I agree that many car stereos are awful. Here’s my head unit, a cheapo ($120) stereo made by pioneer. It has basic features and the menu is large text only (no Dolphins) with a dim blue backlight that’s not overly bright. I think it’s actually not too bad, compared to most. The large analogue knob IS volume. It can be pushed to cycle through input modes (radio, cd, aux, etc) and the four directional buttons around it do different things depending on the mode, explained via a small diagram in the LCD.
I’ve got a crappy aftermarket stereo too. I want to find the person responsible for it and beat them about the head with the faceplate. Volume is controlled by +/- buttons that BEEP really loudly (far more loudly than the music emitted by the stereo itself) every time you press them. If you’ve got the volume up a bit and the phone rings, you have to hit the minus button about 30 times before you can answer it. Oh, and you turn it on by pressing a button labeled “Off.” Well done.
A few additional notes: I got the JVC because it has USB on the front. I keep everything I want to listen to on a couple USB keys now, so this is ideal for me.
Another feature I like on the JVC is that I can pause by hitting the volume knob. I’ve never had a pause button on a car stereo before (I think). This is so great for when I listen to long podcasts and need to talk to someone.
Benny: I like that Pioneer too.
It seems for some reason that the entry level brand names are decent designs. They are also dirt cheap now. The generics are so crap as to be unusable. The high end are so over-designed as to be unlovable.
Is it just me or has every single one of these units i’ve every used feel creaky when you press buttons, maybe because it’s that they had removable face plates? A lot of OEM stereos seem to integrate better with the interior design. Ford pushed this a bit too far with the “stereo bubble” in the mid-late 90’s Taurus, it fit the interior design, but wasn’t the best if you wanted to install an aftermarket.
I don’t know a whole lot about car stereos, but isn’t it more the type of amp and speakers that up the audio quality. What is it about aftermarket in-dash receivers that makes them better than an OEM? Equalizer, output, dolphins?
My thoughts exactly, I can’t exactly hear the squeakiness of the buttons over the stereo. Though OEM quality has come a long way in the past 10-15 years, they don’t allow you to add more speakers and amps. They tend to be an integrated system. Do any new car OEM stereos come with pre-amps and extra output channels?