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What's the best option for car digital music storage?

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April 22, 2011 6:45:09 PM

So, my music collection is around 500 GB, and I'm hoping to find a way to have access to the entire collection while driving my car, without having to rely on multiple media players, SD cards, or some comparable option. Is there a relatively painless option that allows me to have ~1 TB of storage in a car, with easy access from the front panel? Thanks in advance.
April 23, 2011 12:31:49 PM

if there is such an option, chances are, it would use a solid state disk or vibration resistant hard drive.

sounds like you are in the market for a 'car-puter'
just make sure the heatsink on the processor isnt heavy (or prevent it from moving with zip ties)
you dont want it to wiggle and snap/crack the motherboard.

the pci cards are held in place with a screw, so you dont have to worry about then wiggling.
heatsinks are a problem.. and hot summer days (or extremely cold winters) are also a problem.

most processors have a thermal limit of 60 degrees celcius = 140 degrees F
on a 100 degree F day.. the processor might heat up faster than the air conditioner cools the vehicle.

remember, trunks usually stay hotter than the rest of the car.
and if you use water cooling, you could have two radiators with an a/b valve.
one radiator goes inside the dashboard in the air vent to cool..
the other vent goes anywhere in the trunk.
but
the coolant needs to be freeze resistant.
April 25, 2011 2:19:26 PM

external hard drive????
Related resources
a b G Storage
April 25, 2011 3:27:16 PM

the trouble with just connecting a hard drive is that your stereo needs to be able to decipher the files and play them. if your stereo suggests loading from hard drives or flash drives then you are set. if not then look elsewhere.

i've heard of portable mp3 players with up to 250-300gb but they are expensive. similarly music players have been modded to use larger hard drives but your battery life will be crud.

i've heard that some people are using larger storage tablets on mounts to play their files. this provides a large screen, decent storage, and a nice interface. however, it is also really distracting and an invitation to thieves.

a car pc is in the same boat as a tablet in that it can be distracting and an invitation to thieves (unless you remove the screen each time you exit the vehicle). they also typically require more work to install (modding maybe) and you have to figure out a way to cool them. (as stated by poster above)

----

perhaps you should tell us what head-unit you will be using if aftermarket, or what car make, model, year if using the integrated stereo. include any optionals like the add-on module for bluetooth, ipod, etc.

budget, display types, etc should also be listed.

without any information to go on we can only give vague advice about possible solutions. with more information we might be able to eliminate a few ideas (or maybe add some)
April 25, 2011 7:47:56 PM

you dont have to have a screen.
for example, if you use anything with enough buttons.. you can connect the device to the computer and assign each button to the radio.
- one button to open up the music player
- one button to go to the next song
- one button to go to the previous song

this allows you to always load the music player with every single song on the hard drive.
it makes browsing for the right song difficult, considering the high number of songs on the hard drive.

most people would be advised to place the touch screen monitor inside the arm rest (or in the glove box for the passenger to control the radio)
place the screen inside and run a wire under the carpet to the computer.. thats the standard choice.
the computer isnt supposed to be distracting at all, you simply load up the songs you want to listen to before you put the car in gear and drive away.
or
you could build playlists for whatever reason (music genre, year, artist, ect) and load the playlist before putting the vehicle in gear.


the alternative that i would suggest hasnt been built with parts yet, meaning i dont know if there are pieces of hardware to do the job.
but
it consists of an interface like one from a cd changer.
there is a little display to show the name of the artist and the name of the song, and there is a number to tell you what cd is being played.
this is supposed to work kinda like the display on a logitech g15 keyboard (or any keyboard with an LCD display)

i havent used a keyboard with an LCD display, so i dont know if the display shows only the name of the artist and the name of the song
or
if it allows you to browse folders like an mp3 browser.
but
it should be somewhat simple, as it has been done before with an mp3 browser many times in the past.
all you need is a button to pull up your main music folder, then another button to open any folder inside of the main music folder.
you need a button to either 'add to playlist' or 'play track'
if you have a 'play track' button.. the computer would be distracting and i would recommend letting the passenger flip through the folders to select a song.
but
it is possible to memorize the structure and keep your eyes on the road while using one hand to flip through the directory.
my mother had a cd changer in her car, and i found it easy to change disc and select a song without taking my eyes off the road.
sure
sometimes i picked the wrong disc and had to go up or down one, but it was because i forgot which slot the disc was in.


if you get this to work, its good.
you just setup your plugins and audio effects with a regular monitor.. then once that is all setup, you are ready to fly with the small 'lcd joystick'
and you could setup your plugins and audio effects inside the house before you put the computer into the car.
if you ever need a monitor in the car, it shouldnt be difficult to drag your monitor from the house to the car to make a quick adjustment.


audio players like foobar have plugins for the LCD screen on keyboards.
there are hotkeys allowed to program the buttons on the joystick (if the joystick is recognized by the computer)
you could simply use a usb keypad if you want.
but
there are other alternatives already out in the market.
quite a few soundcards come with a remote control.
there are also remote control kits you can purchase.
but
above all of that, you can explore the bluetooth options (or even the wi-fi options)
for example, there are quite a few cell phones that have a screen and offer the ability to control things like a radio or even turn on the lights inside your house when you pull up to the house.
the playstation portable video game system (psp?) can also allow you to control things using wi-fi
you would need a wireless router for an antenna, but those are easy to find and dont cost much (especially if you buy used or refurb)

the cellphone or portable video game option are probably the best until you decide you want to allow a passenger to watch movies (then you need a monitor with a cord)
the cellphone and psp are wireless, they have a screen, AND they are small enough to put in the glove box and lock it (or put it in your pocket when you get out of the car)
you really cant ask for more considering the screen is already there..!
but
if you want a challenge, you could try the 'lcd joystick' that might require some manual programming (a need to know how to program computer software is needed, unless you find a plugin/software that already does what you need)


to be honest, i think the original poster doesnt have the option to connect a hard drive to the radio
or
the option is there, but there is a size limit on how big the hard drive can be.

a computer in the car can really add features to your radio experience.
for example:
time delay is an absolute must if you want the absolute best sound in one seat (and with some practice, you can make the entire vehicle sound better by adding some time delay to the rear speakers at least)
if you have a passenger, perhaps its best to measure the distance from each rear to the front seat on the same side of the car.
(rear right speaker to front passenger seat ... rear left speaker to front driver seat)
(front left speaker to driver seat ... front right speaker to front passenger seat)
these will show an improvement for both front seats.

if you want the front seats to have an improvement and the rear speakers to have an improvement..
then you need to do some custom programming.
measure rear right to the right backseat head position
measure rear left to the left backseat head position
measure front left to the left backseat head position
measure front right to the right backseat position
then
use the custom programming to flip back and forth between the two sets of measurement as fast as it will go.


you can also try to measure the front left speaker to the rear right listening position
and
the front right speaker to the rear left listening position
but
there is no guarantee that the soundwave path will or will not collide
suggestion:
try both and see which one is more pleasant for the rear seats.
because the front left speaker has a more direct outlook to the rear right listening position.
its almost a straight shot to the ear, except for the driver's leg in the way.
but
its alot more straight than the front right speaker to the ear of the rear right seat.


anyways, any combination can work for you when you consider adding delay to the far speakers so they blend in with the speakers closest to your ears.


i would highly recommend downloading foobar and use the vst adaptor plugin, then go grab the 'transient monster' plugin that uses the vst interface.
you will also have the chance to use reverb, especially useful for rear speakers that bounce off the rear window (or front speakers in the dash that bounce off the windshield)
an equalizer is also there to help you.
and
if you want to go the extra step, you can use digital room correction in the car..!
using the DRC program, you can create a correction file to equalize (or help the equalizer) to optimize the frequency response of the speakers.
load that in SIR impulse response processor.. another plugin that uses the vst interface.

you'll have the ability to use other plugins like chorus or a stereo widener.
when it's all said and done, you should have a system in your car that can battle with a factory bose system.
if you take care to the details, you will probably cause the bose system to be embarassed.
but
if your system has a subwoofer, it can sometimes prove to be difficult to make the subwoofer sound better than the bose system that has a subwoofer.
usually this is becaue the bose subwoofer cone is visible to the interior of the car.
and when the only thing that is visible is the port, usually the port is pointed at a pillar to bounce the soundwave in the appropriate direction.
seems like the best chance you'd have is to have big output in the trunk and adjust the time delay with the radio.
you wont be able to adjust the delay of the subwoofer all by itself with foobar when playing stereo audio.
the audio would have to be split into 5.1 (or otherwise a dedicated subwoofer channel) so you could then be face to face with the subwoofer output, BUT the radio probably wont accept 5.1 audio anyways and you'll be forced to use stereo inputs.

you can make time delay with the front and rear speakers using only stereo inputs on the radio.
the custom software needs to add the time delay for each speaker channel (one delay for the front speaker / one delay for the rear speaker) and then flip between the two.
if you want time delay for front seats and rear seats, you need to flip between four different time delays.

sometimes it is easier to have time delay on the radio, then add the second set of time delay to the values input into the radio.. then turn the time delay on and off really fast.

if i had to do it, i would measure the distance from the speaker to the other side of car (usually a window)
..front right speaker to left driver window
..front left speaker to front passenger window
..rear left speaker REFLECTION (from the rear window) to the windshield
..rear right speaker REFLECTION (from the rear window) to the windshield
then take these distances and convert them to the time delay.
i would then try to center the speakers to the middle of the vehicle and input those delays into the radio.. and have the custom software turn the other delays on and off extremely fast.

the point of all this is to make the system sound better while you can.
the sound should be all around you and no speaker should be louder than any other.
it is often difficult to do one or the other:
1. get sound all around you
2. make the speaker closest to you no louder than the speaker farthest away from you

but it is desireable, because you dont lose the feeling of 'perfect' when you move or twist your head.

if all of this sounds too complicated, use the transient monster plugin at least.
it should help the speakers play more clarity and detail.
the program makes the soundwaves 'last longer' so the speaker has enough time to play the sound (sustain)
it also makes dull sounds louder and sound like they have more energy (attack)
a b G Storage
April 25, 2011 9:08:41 PM

I use a pioneer head unit with USB in. From there, I can plug in any hard drive I want.
However, you may find your hard drive dying often without proper vibration reduction.

I personally use solid state for carry my music around.
April 25, 2011 10:14:54 PM

...and thats the wy it should be done. i believe most cars now have the standard to have a USB plug device.
April 25, 2011 10:20:42 PM

a radio with USB input is an option, but i have heard DVD players have a USB input and the size of the hard drive is limited.
with that said, i would be nervous when searching for a radio that has USB input.. i wouldnt want to see the same 400 GB limit when the original poster said the size was going to be 1 TB .
April 26, 2011 8:35:11 AM

ye i beleive the dvd player will have a limit, bvut maybe that can be increased?? dunno, but i jsut meant one for ACESS of a storage like a music player and such.
a b G Storage
April 26, 2011 12:37:59 PM

technically, yes you should always play with your radio while stopped. however, i think we all know that this just isn't a reality so you need to take this into account. if you have a large display within arms reach it will be used when driving. also, unless you have the brightness turned way down or the screen off when not in use it will be distracting at night.

i've played music over bluetooth from my phone. typically internal storage is limited though. even portable music players offer larger capacities. from what i've read accessing an external hard drive from an android/iOS phone is possible but requires a little knowhow and research. so technically this is feasible if one is prepared to invest a little research time.

to solve the maximum hard drive supported issue one could always have multiple hard drives and a usb manual switch (either flip switch or push button). from a quick search i know they make 2:1, 3:1, and 4:1. if 400gb is the maximum recognized then a 3:1 switch with 400gb hard drives will give you 1.2tb which is what the OP wants. or 800gb with a 2:1 switch which is alot smaller and easier to hide. yes you would have to flick a switch but its still much easier and cheaper than a full blown car pc, tablet, or other fix. this is assuming that the OPs head unit supports this. we still haven't heard back on this.
April 26, 2011 4:43:43 PM

ssddx said:
technically, yes you should always play with your radio while stopped. however, i think we all know that this just isn't a reality so you need to take this into account. if you have a large display within arms reach it will be used when driving. also, unless you have the brightness turned way down or the screen off when not in use it will be distracting at night.


technically,
if you have a light source inside the vehicle.. it can only help your vision while driving at night.
especially when the light is ambient and not directly in your field of view (could be a personal preference though, about where the light is located)

because your eyes will dialate (the pupil widens) to allow more light into the eyeball.. this is how your eyes adjust from massive amounts of light to only the light from the moon.
if your eyes are wide open to allow maximum amount of light into the eye.. it helps you see in the dark, but when an oncoming car approaches .. those headlights are going to cause your vision to adjust for the added light.
meaning, your vision will be high in the dark and go slightly dull for the oncoming headlights.

when you have a source of light in the car, your vision will be slightly dull .. as if constantly looking at oncoming headlights.
without any adjustment to your vision, you can remain clear-minded, and thus your ability to remain in full control doesnt deviate.

if the source of light from the screen is brighter than the oncoming headlights.. you still benefit yourself, because not all headlights are created equal.
some of the newer cars have much brighter headlights, and the display should be on par with those types of headlights.

your ability to see the curb with your headlights turned off (and no other source of light) is highly dependant on the quality of air.
one location might be highly visible in the moon light... you can see the ground and even potholes in the ground (i'm talking about a field at night - or even in a forest with an opening of trees)
another location might be under the same moon (full moon / half moon / whatever)
but
because of the character of the air.. you simply cannot see your hand moving in front of your face.

yes, some people can see in the dark better than others.. but the character of air can be more powerful than the best natural eye sight.

people used to put black lights in their cars and would get pulled over for having them turned on while driving.. and this always made me upset, because i know good and well that the light inside of the vehicle can adjust your eyeballs light intake and make driving at night much more comfortable.
it's like it takes the ocean out of peering out of the windshield.. besides, usually that ocean is blinded by headlights that are pointed too high.
i thought those people who got pulled over for having the light strip in their car should actually sue for being bothered.
its mistreatment regardless of what rule is in place.
nature's law should be accountable for safety.
and its hypocritical to say your light is illegal when other headlights of improper height are placing more strain on your vision than the light strip in the car.. ESPECIALLY when the light strip is helping you avoid the blinding effect of oncoming headlights.

to be perfectly clear..
i like to lower the dash panel lights when i am driving on a country road, because it helps me see the outdoors better.
but when i am in town, there are other headlights and street lights and lights from businesses that all contribute to a varying level of light seen by the eyeball.
simply being trendy and helping yourself limit the varying level of light should be praised.

truth be told..
many cars of today have more light coming from the dash panel, as there is a screen to show information.
instrument panels have been growing more complex since the 1990's .. and with that complexity means more light emitted.

to say you cant have a 10 or 12 inch black light in your rear window .. but you can have a 5,6,7 inch LCD screen right there in front of you inside the instrument panel - again, that is hypocritical.
and because its hypocritical, that means being harassed about it is abusive.

if the police where pulling people over in the country roads where no street lights exist, i would have had less to say.
but if the road was busy with oncoming traffic, i wouldnt hesitate to make my life easier.
you will still see a deer.. the only difference is, if you have your dash panel lights as low as they will go ... you can see the deer at the edge of your headlight beam, where there is a mist of light that fades to darkness.
with an interior light on, the more bright - the further into the fade of dark to light the deer needs to be.

many times it is a stupid situation to argue about.. because if the deer is on the side of the road, you arent going to hit it unless you:
1. aim for it
2. the deer moves into the road

and if there is something obstructing you (preventing you) from moving into the other lane, the only thing you can do is press on the brake and hope the deer moves out of the way.
this is especially true for driving in the city.
if a person is on the road in your path, you might not be able to swerve into the other lane because a car is there blocking your point of exit.
sometimes you can TRY to leave yourself a way out, but other people are usually traveling faster .. meaning they will overtake your vehicle and totally remove your point of exit as they are overtaking your vehicle.
some people will overtake your vehicle as slow as 3 or 4 mph
meaning
the car will be blocking your point of exit for like 20 or 30 seconds.

ANY screen can be memorized and navigated without looking at it.. that is the wonderful working of the human intelligence.
it doesnt have to be a cd changer joystick.. it can be a touchscreen LCD.
if you are reaching down at the center console OR leaning forward for the radio position.. it really shouldnt matter.
your will power will be the final decision as to whether you steer the wheel while leaning up for the radio, or if you feel that you are in an ackward position and your mind/body refuses to move the steering wheel (known as 'locking up' )

most people with an advanced car audio system should be parked in a parking lot somewhere listening to music.
you cant get pulled over (you can be asked to leave the area)
and this would be a good time to play with the buttons and learn the way around the interface.
if you do this enough, you'll memorize the actions needed to do what you want to do .. and you wont have to look at the screen anymore.

and if you do have to look at the screen.. you are supposed to look from near field to far away and check for anything that might become a problem.
if the coast is clear, you have a moment to look at the screen.
one or two buttons and you need to check in front of you to make sure it is clear again.
this can prevent you from being held responsible if something 'darts' out in front of you.
'dart' means the rate of travel is faster than can be avoided, meaning if you press on your brakes.. the impact remains guaranteed.
that is why you check the edge of the road AND you look further to the right to see if there is anything that might run onto the road.
its a good idea to look a full car distance for the left side, and a minimum of two and a half car lengths on the right side.
a person will never run fast enough to become a problem.. but a go kart or four-wheeler or dirt bike can travel fast enough to fill in two and a half car lengths.
a b G Storage
April 26, 2011 5:12:52 PM

to sum it up:

you think bright lights at night and playing with electronics while driving are both ok.

i'll keep my responses short:

its true that in a brightly lit area at night such as in a town or on a major road such things as a backlight will not bother your eyes as much as on a dark back road, however, this doesn't mean that the backlighting won't affect you.

while true that you can memorize screens and reduce risk this doesn't mean that there is no risk. there is a reason why texting is quick becoming illegal while driving. don't think that this situation is any better. we are all guilty of it every so often, however that doesn't make it unsafe. i think we all know how to reduce risks but again, it is a distraction.

if you hit something while playing with a device try explaining to the police "but i was looking up at the road once in awhile" and see how far it will get you. you are in control of the vehicle, you are liable. the only way you wouldn't be is in the case of some freak accident where there is nothing you could have done. even in such a case if they found out you weren't entirely focused on driving they still might try to nail you with reckless driving.

--

i'm not here to argue with you on your preferences with driving. the topic at hand is that the OP wants a music storage system for their vehicle. opinions are noted but it is ultimately up to the OP to decide which route they want to take and whether they want to accept any risks or possible outcomes. so, back to the topic at hand please.
April 26, 2011 6:34:28 PM

as the topic involves music storage in a moving vehicle, that indicates discussion of using the music storage in the vehicle.

a word from the wise,
simply becoming bored while driving can have the exact same effect as watching the road for obstacles and taking a moment to view the radio.

as i myself am a solid judge, there is no sense insisting what i said needed clarifcation.
and there is no point scaring people that what they are doing is wrong when it has been clearly structured to be admissible in court.

i am saying how and when its safe to look away from the road, and this is relevant to the function of the music storage device when the vehicle is in motion.

when you look half a football field in front of you, a quarter of a football field to the right side, and again on the left side.. whatever runs in front of you has to be aligned with the point of impact, meaning there is only a chance to brake IF the direction of travel is sideways.
a straighter approach to the front of the vehicle means slowing down is still going to cause an impact.. except that the impact will happen at a slightly later time.

if anybody has ever hit something, they can be reading this to find themselves guilty or innocent.. and stop torturing themselves when the fault was not theirs.

being in control of the vehicle means the direction of travel was sideways.
that does not mean you are liable for the accident, it means the pedestrian has the right of way - stating the person has more agility than the 3,000 - 4,000 lb vehicle.
you will not imply or insist the driver of the vehicle is of fault when the person by the road clearly knows there is a road right there and all instances of being on that road should be avoided.
it is the irresponsibility of the person on the side of the road, not the person driving the vehicle.

such a judgement shows morale (ones view of right and wrong) and could/should be enough for the judge to lose their license.

a vehicle can only operate within its limits.
if you swerve, the rear of the car can still swing around and smack the object (or run it over with the rear tire)
the direct approach to point of impact is not as important as the mental thinking of the person who traveled onto the road.
if such a case where true, that person is mentally retarded to a degree of being unsafe to walk/roam outside (meaning they need to be locked into a mental institution with a fence)

i'm hoping this will help readers who are thinking of such an addition to their vehicle
or
anybody that has been in an accident involving an object on the road.

there are many many radios that do not have the features a 'car-puter' can provide.
therefore it is well worth going into depth about the troubles and precautions of having such a system installed in the vehicle.

perhaps we are all guilty of growing bored at the wheel.
but
perhaps we are also guilty of growing angry when car after car is breaking the speed limit and passing us.
or
perhaps we are guilty of growing angry watching car after car fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

there are other things that can cause a person directly viewing the road to be distracting.

texting on a phone shouldnt be compared with controls and dials on a radio that are specifically designed to make navigating while driving easier and safer.
texting on a phone requires you to do a large amount of reading.. much longer focus is needed than simply blinking at the radio display to learn where you are to know where you need to go.
more focus is required to maintain your position on the keyboard.. and this is especially the highest risk with texting while driving.
sometimes a message can be small enough to be read with a simple quick blink of view.
anything involving a grid, and having constant 'know' of where you are on the grid, requires more effort than a simple jog dial or button (not to be confused with buttonS)

i would like to think, if somebody read this and didnt follow the methods.. then they would be more at risk towards everyone else.

as technology evolves.. it should be well had to learn if the person has been taught right from wrong and then done something other than what was said to be right.
it could increase the fine, cause higher insurance rates, and maybe even cause a license suspension.

i believe i am adhering to why these products are available on the market, rather than been ruled illegal and banned from production.
there really isnt much more to be said, unless the original poster informs us of whether or not the radio has a usb input - or telling us the direction they want to go.
seems like there is nothing left but to suggest a piece of hardware.
and i see that as a reason why the original poster hasnt replied.
a b G Storage
April 27, 2011 11:40:12 AM

without any more input from the OP this discussion is closed. we have given as much general information as we can at this point.

OP, if you want any further information you will have to provide us with a few answers.
!