1935Packard

Simple and cheap good music source in a classic car

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Most people on this forum may know this already, but in case they don't, I thought it might be helpful information to some to know that technology in the last decade has given us a very easy way to get inexpensive and high quality music sources in our antique cars.  I like prewar cars and I also enjoy having period music playing in the car.  In the past, this wasn't such an easy thing to pull off.  A long time ago , I used to bring a "boombox" into the car and play cassettes or CDs to get good sound.  But these days you can buy a cheap wireless handheld bluetooth speaker that works with any smart phone.  ("Bluetooth," for those that don't know, is just a technology that lets you connect wirelessly between two devices near each other, such as a cell phone and a speaker.) You put the speaker anywhere in the car, press a button that pairs it to the phone, and you can play music on your smart phone using a music app that is broadcast over your bluetooth speaker.   If you switch cars, you just move the speaker and get the same great sound in any car.

 

There are lots and lots of bluetooth speakers available. I opted to buy the JBL Flip 3, which costs about $70.  It's small -- it fits in your hand -- but it sounds astonishingly good. It looks like this: 

 

430748370_ScreenShot2018-10-03at4_19_54AM.png.c0f12e1ac46ed09e85e12211845d1cbe.png

 

(image from the web)

 

The speaker runs off a rechargeable battery that plays for about 8 or 9 hours between charges and charges easily like a cell phone.  I create playlists of period music on a music app for my iphone, and when I take a car out I put the speaker in the car and play the playlist for that car from my phone. (30s music for 30s car, etc.)  It fills the car with high quality music sound of my choosing, all for only $70.  To keep the speaker in a stable place, I ended up putting a little velcro tab on the speaker and on the carpet of each of my cars so the speaker can rest on the floor of the car and not move if I go over a bump or come to a rapid stop.  It's easy to pull the velcro off to recharge the speaker,  but otherwise the speaker stays put. 

 

I don't know if this info is helpful to readers, but I thought it might be.  Happy to share more details (such as how to link the speaker to a phone, etc) for those who may be intimidated by the technology. And my apologies if this is obvious and everyone knows it: I only figured this out in the last year or so, I confess, and it was an epiphany that really improved my driving experiences.

Edited by 1935Packard (see edit history)
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Thank you for a very worthwhile post, and for sharing a simple but helpful thought

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Hi 1935Packard,

that might be a great option for my 1938 Buick which does not have a radio fitted.

 

I gather the phone needs to be nearby to pickup the signal. Any idea what range?

 

cheers

Rodney ????

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2 hours ago, rodneybeauchamp said:

Hi 1935Packard,

that might be a great option for my 1938 Buick which does not have a radio fitted.

 

I gather the phone needs to be nearby to pickup the signal. Any idea what range?

 

cheers

Rodney ????

 

I have a Bluetooth under dash stereo hardwired in one of my trucks since I didn't want to have a contemporary radio face in the dash, and I would say I have gotten 20-30ft away from it with my phone before the stereo loses it's signal. I would imagine most of that level of Bluetooth component is pretty similar across the board. I like the one I have in my truck, (kicker brand) since it has a little mountable remote so you don't have to futz with your phone to change the song or adjust the volume, but not sure what i'll do for my '37 Buick as it will be 6volt. I have been toying with the idea of getting one of those jumper packs/ 12v power charging sources and using that as a non permanently installed source for some sort of Bluetooth stereo and phone/gps power source without having to go 12v

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My wife and I do that with our '51. We bought a pair of Sony SRS-XB3 bluetooth speakers. In addition to pairing to the phone, they can pair to each other and provide a Left Channel / Right Channel experience, they have a bass boost if need be, are splash proof and work for up to 24hrs on a charge.

 

Since they're black they blend in with the carpet. We put one in the driver's footwell and one on the passenger side and leave a phone inside the car playing a pandora "50s" station. Weather permitting, we'll be doing that on the 13th. Look for the yellow Kaiser. 

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Per the difference in voltages;

My 1941 Cadillac convertible is 6 Volt throughout, and will be kept that way. We've replaced the wiring harness in an otherwise essentially all-original car, bought with +/- 20,xxx miles, and now having been toured extensively and showing +/- 42,xxx miles. When we did the new wiring harness we used a small inverter to change 6-Volt Positive ground to 12-Volt negative ground, enabling the use of 12V accessories, GPS, radar detector, cellphone charger, dashcam, etc. - all of which came in handy when we drove the Caddy nearly 2,000 miles last month when our tow vehicle went down 500 miles short of the Glidden tour location in Twin Falls, Idaho. We drove the Caddy from near Rawlins, WY to Twin Falls and back again, in addition to the very long driving days on the tour itself - thankfully performing effortlessly. The Caddy radio had previously been converted by Retro Radio in Elizabethtown, PA to play AM/FM, and has leads in the back to allow attachment of iPod and other input devices.

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The funny part is if you look at your charger you have you will notice most electronics are 5.5V dc, so all this stuff will run on a 6V system.

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12 minutes ago, Graham Man said:

The funny part is if you look at your charger you have you will notice most electronics are 5.5V dc, so all this stuff will run on a 6V system.

 

I always had trouble with electronics in my 6 volt cars they always blew out the plug converter when I put it in the lighter socket. I think its something to do with the regulator because the current is up and down so much its not as smooth as a modern electrical system. I kept trying USB plugs and they always blew out instantly.

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1 hour ago, Graham Man said:

 

I searched this store and found the one that puts out 12 volts plus or minus 4%. Input is like 3 to 12 volts.

Whet does it mean when they are available with or with out a PIN?

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I agree the JBL flip is a great little speaker for the price, my wife has one and always brings it in the old cars.  Just to add a point that it does have an input jack so if you have an older MP3 player or iPod you can still use them. Apparently you can pair two of the flips together wirelessly but we’ve found that one does a fine job of covering up road noise with music.

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If your car already has speakers, but you want to update the source of your music, consider an amp with Bluetooth connectivity.

 

I installed one of these using all the factory wiring and left the factory unit in place, but it's disconnected. The music streams from my phone, though it does not work to make phone calls.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Kenwood-1177524-Automotive-Amplifier-Kac-M1824BT/dp/B00UTXQL74/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538588168&sr=8-1&keywords=kenwood+bluetooth+amp&dpID=41Nb2eq0r5L&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

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5 minutes ago, Buick64C said:

If your car already has speakers, but you want to update the source of your music, consider an amp with Bluetooth connectivity.

 

I installed one of these using all the factory wiring and left the factory unit in place, but it's disconnected. The music streams from my phone, though it does not work to make phone calls.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Kenwood-1177524-Automotive-Amplifier-Kac-M1824BT/dp/B00UTXQL74/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538588168&sr=8-1&keywords=kenwood+bluetooth+amp&dpID=41Nb2eq0r5L&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

I use something similar in a c10 truck that I have, though I built a dash for it and did not have a factory or speakers to connect to as it had been  stripped by a previous owner, but also did not want any stereo face visible. Just mounted the very small amp, (about the length of a pen) under the dash and mounted the little remote between the seats to make changing songs or adjusting volume easier. Really easy to install, and just has the speaker receptacle connections as well as an auxiliary input. It can probably be found cheaper elsewhere by now, but its a great hidden stereo that just connects to my phone when I start it up without having to do anything  https://www.crutchfield.com/p_206PXIB502/Kicker-40PXIBT50-2.html

 

 

20150616_111823.thumb.jpg.a217a22c2ce4455fe9cedeaff77548ed.jpg

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8 hours ago, rodneybeauchamp said:

Hi 1935Packard,

that might be a great option for my 1938 Buick which does not have a radio fitted.

 

I gather the phone needs to be nearby to pickup the signal. Any idea what range?

 

cheers

Rodney ????

 

Rodney, I believe the Bluetooth protocol for smart phones specifies a range of 10 meters.   Put in more personal terms, my experience is that if the speaker is in the passenger compartment, and the phone is in my pocket, I can be in the car or out working on parts of the car (under the hood, getting stuff from the trunk, etc.) and it still works great.  If I walk across the driveway,  on the other hand, it begins to cut out.

Edited by 1935Packard (see edit history)
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Another thought for those wanting to keep their smart phones, bluetooth speakers, etc. charged on long drives:  One easy way to do this is with an external battery source that has a 120v outlet.   Many battery boosters that we carry to jumpstart our cars have them -- just insert the plug like you would in your car, and in addition to jumping your car you can charge your various battery-powered devices. This is good in case the power goes out at home, too.  Alternatively, you can bring along an external portable battery source like a laptop (or a dedicated battery source just for electronic devices ,which are cheap and fit in your glove box).  At the end of a few days of driving, you may need to charge up your battery source, but that's easily done at a wall outlet at the hotel that night.  

 

Sorry if this is all obvious; just thought some might not have thought of it.

Edited by 1935Packard (see edit history)
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