Station Wagon


August 2005:

    A friend/coworker of mine and I both had MP3 players. We both started ripping our CDs. I bought a home CD recorder and started transcribing my vinyl also.) Soon, we had a pretty impressive collection. I had been using Easy CD to create audio CDs from this collection, but the disks are pretty fragile.

    I then heard through the grapevine that a company called PhatNoise was making MP3 players for cars. It used a notebook hard drive in a cartridge. The player imitates a CD changer, but can hold many more songs. The ones for Audis were $800. Interesting, but out of my price range. I watched and waited. It went to $600, then $400. I was highly tempted then. One day I noticed it was off the Audi Collection's web site. A quick run to eBay found them at $160. At that point (two years after I first heard of them) I jumped.

    The instructions called for me to put it on the side of the cargo bay, but I use my cargo bay. I thought a logical place for it was where the CD changer would go, if I had one. It took a little hacking, but it works. Here are the installation pictures.

Foam removed here Changer cage removed Pesky connector
Drilling for the case Test fit in cage  
Unit in place With door in place Looks almost OEM
With cartridges Modified door Lip painted black

    Of course, I spent dome of my savings on an 80 Gb cartridge ($400) and a spare cradle. My MP3 collection is almost 60 Gb now, and the standard cartridge is only 20 Gb. In all honesty, I would have bought the larger cartridge anyway. I don't have any way to back up my collection, and you can't easily sync the data on the cartridge if your collection is larger.

    The software lives and dies by ID3 tags, and I've spent a lot of time editing; first fixing/editing tags then modifying tags. The CDs I recorded from vinyl are not in anyone's CDDB, and I like to tweak them anyway. The PhatNoise plays songs in one of four modes; Playlist, Artist, Album, and Genre. I am a playlist guy; I'll create one called "Blues" for example. Typically "Red House" by Jimi Hendrix will be listed under "Rock", while "Give Me A Reason" from Tracy Chapman is listed under "Folk", so sorting by the genre blues would exclude these two songs. Also, most head units won't display the ID3 tags like most portable players will, but it will talk to you! Being the geek that I am, I recoded my kids saying some of my playlists (Classic Rock, 16 Points) using my IPF-100. (I had to convert them to 22.050 kHz, 16-bit mono.)