Michael Arbaugh, chief designer of Ford interiors, describes center console space as "oceanfront property" – already fully populated, with more tenants trying to move in every year. Speaking to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, Arbaugh said one tenant he'd like to evict is the CD player because it's dead weight for audio Luddites.

Ok, so he didn't say that exactly. But Arbaugh believes they're out of fashion with people under 30, and that growing lack of interest means they occupy space that could be better employed. They also add weight that has to be countered somewhere else in the march to meet CAFE regulations, an endeavor with nearly aerospace tolerances anymore.

The CD-less car is just talk at the moment but there's no doubt it's coming. More and more computers are being sold without optical drives, and as it goes in the tech world so it shall go in the car-tech world. If we could just get carmakers to properly integrate connections for other PMPs that can play lossless codes and don't mutilate the music, then we wouldn't mind at all – especially since weight savings is one of the best ways to improve fuel efficiency.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      PeterScott
      • 3 Years Ago
      In other news, my last car didn't come with an 8-track player...
      Joeviocoe
      • 3 Years Ago
      I moved on from CDs, moved on from Flash Drive MP3's, and even moved on from the Aux port. Bluetooth sound quality is fairly decent now with the latest versions. And my stereo connects automatically to my Android phone and plays music from my Cloud storage of tens of thousands of songs... or runs Pandora or whatever Internet radio. Sure, not everybody has unlimited data, but it is just as cheap as Satellite radio. Shifting the media technology (which doubles every 18 months according to Moore's Law) to smartphones (which most young adults trade in every 2 years or less) and away from car stereo head units (which most people change every 4 or 5 years) is the clear winner.
      SVX pearlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      The easy way to deal with the "CD" problem is to give us AUX IN *and* a SD Card slot. SD card storage is up to 64 GB. If that is high-quality music MP3s, that's about 10,000 songs. Enough to hold 1000 CDs worth of music. And the AUX in takes everything else.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        USB is also fine - small SSDs can hold 1+ TB of data - it's just that you can also plug a wireless mouse/keyboard and expect that to do something intelligent?
        Rotation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Audi does that. But other makers are just putting in AUX in and a USB port where you can plug in a USB memory key or a PMP/phone.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      My current car doesn't have a CD player, I installed an eMPEG in-dash MP3/linux player back in 2000. I have been using mp3s since 1997. It was tapes and radio before that.
        Ryan
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        They really should work with Apple to create an iPhone/iPod dock system if they really wanted to save weight and costs.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      How can you listen to one of your cd if there is no cd player. Can you load it via a portable computer then to the radio via a usb port or if the radio is connected via a wifi internet connection then you download music in mp3 form . I won't buy any car that do not come with a cd player except if i can load from my house any multimedia files and music directly via an internet application to the radio and test it in the car dealership showroom before i buy without fees. I recommend to test any new electronic equipment that are now sold with new cars before buying. If like me you come from a car just equip with a basic radio and you don't know how the new electronic equipment work then it might take a day or two in the car dealership to grab learn and test all the latest option, method and interface and judge for yourself if it worth it. As i observed it yet, these are lemon gadjets causing more troubles and complications then a simple basic radio with cd player and not a single buging computer aided gadjet.
        amtoro
        • 8 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        gorr types his posts on his trusted typewriter and then takes it to kinkos so they can do their magic and send it to the interwebs...
          Dave D
          • 8 Months Ago
          @amtoro
          It's a series of tubes... :-)
        Vlad
        • 8 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Through in cassette and vinyl just in case someone wants to listen to that, too.
        jkirkebo
        • 8 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        I tranfered all my CDs to MP3-files 15 years ago, and have not bough a CD in 10 years. Why buy CDs when I get everything new (and old) from Spotify... Our Leaf has a CD player. Never used, never will be (as long as we own it at least). Now put in a DAB+ tuner in the European models instead please.
        DaveMart
        • 8 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        I use a phonograph. They would be particularly suitable for electric cars as winding them up saves draining the battery.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM already dropped CD players from the Sonic and Spark and gave the lack of demand from the target audience as the reason.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Considering how much useless garbage BMW and others are packing into cars...the weight saving factor of a CD-player is a joke. It has obviously more to do with cost cutting. How about: Heated / Cooled seats? 50-way power-adjustable / massaging seats? 15-zone climate controls? Multi-function entertainment systems? 20 speaker audio system? Power everything?
        SVX pearlie
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Nick
        On net, it probably saves a pound. Maybe two. If the "maybe" is a really heavy one. But a pound is a pound, and every little bit helps. While I do get your point on feature bloat, I will say that the 18-way seats in my BMW *are* excellent. They are definitely worth the extra weight over basic 6-way seats. If they were manual adjust to save a few pounds of motors and nobody else ever drove it, that'd be just fine, too. Tho being able to immediately return to "saved" position after wife / valet drives it is worth something.
        Joeviocoe
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Nick
        "Behind the interface, a CD player competes for space with heating and cooling units and other technology." Although the interview was mostly about saving weight... it looks like the the reporter focused on the CD Player thing and assumed too much. The weight is not much of a concern.. it's the space it takes up... being "oceanfront property".
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Heated and cooled seats are a vital part of electifying a vehicle. It is vastly more efficient to heat/cool on the part of the car that you touch as opposed to the entire interior volume of the auto. Power windows and locks also have advantages in allowing door structures to be built with out the need for heavy and complicated lifting mechanisms. Also, there's more room for safety structure and insulation.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      This 61 year old moved on from CDs years ago......
        Letstakeawalk
        • 8 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        LOL - I still use my Philips CD-104 on a daily basis! And I pick up used CDs for pennies, because everyone dumped them at the thrifts and pawn brokers... But that's at home, where my system can really shine. In the car, it's either burned discs (so as not to ruin my originals) or WAV files. Different formats have their advantages in different environments.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          LOL
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I use a phonograph. They are particularly suitable for electric cars as winding them up saves draining the battery.
      rallykeeper
      • 3 Years Ago
      I know you were likely baiting us iOS-ophiles, but I'll respond anyway. Any car with a true iPod USB interface can deal with at least one lossless codec -- as long as the iPod is doing the decoding, it works just fine. Apple Lossless has been available for years and plays without a hitch through my 7 year old BMW iPod interface. Admittedly, it's not the more common FLAC, but does it really matter? Lossless is lossless. (Well, at least in a car). For the true audiophile, you can even bypass lossless, go uncompressed and use WAV files on iPods.
        SVX pearlie
        • 8 Months Ago
        @rallykeeper
        "For the true audiophile, you can even bypass lossless, go uncompressed and use WAV files on iPods." For the true audiophile, they're not using an iPod. They're using a Sansa Clip playing FLAC and OGG. Or something else with an excellent DAC and lossless encoding support.
        Michael
        • 8 Months Ago
        @rallykeeper
        Rally, While everything you typed is true, the iPod's digital to analog conversion chip is junk, even lossless audio sounds crappy compared to CD quality. Then again as someone mentioned earlier, its a car and there are plenty of other noises that will degrade the sound coming from your speakers so it doesn't matter.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          "That being said, are there any PMPs that have a much better DAC than an iPod?" Cowon devices are pretty much agreed to have better sound quality than iPods. The Hifiman line are marketed based on their SQ: "The HM-801 was conceived as an audiophile player, so non-sound-oriented features are pretty scarce. The HM-801 has a user removable headphone amplifier circuitboard/module that makes future upgrades easy as pie. Hifiman already has one such upgrade in the works, a $170 board specifically designed to maximize detail and resolution of high-end in-ear headphones. Looking inside the HM-801--it has removable panels--so you can see it features top quality components, like a Burr-Brown PCM1704U digital-to-analog converter and Burr-Brown OPA627 Op-Amp. This is a level of technology normally found in audiophile home componentry, and never before used in a portable music player. " http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-10466722-47.html But remember - the iPod wasn't meant to compete on SQ, so it really wasn't a major design consideration. It is meant to appeal to someone who wants to carry their music collection in a very convenient package that is very simple to use.
          SVX pearlie
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          "are there any PMPs that have a much better DAC than an iPod?" Sansa Clip is known to have a good DAC, especially for the price: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/sansa-clip-measured.html
          Letstakeawalk
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          "its a car and there are plenty of other noises that will degrade the sound " Not to mention that NVH wasn't a serious concern for automakers until recently, but now even the most inexpensive cars receive specific treatment to minimize NVH. As we transition to EVs, external noise and vibration will become nearly non-existent, and sound quality will become even more important.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          "Yes, so all the better reason to start with higher-quality baseline sound, so that whatever you hear is due to external noise outside your control, rather than distorted by something you can control." You also don't need as much amplification power because the signal is cleaner. Of course, using better, more efficient speakers also makes a huge difference in that regard.
          rallykeeper
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          Fair point. Off-board DACs perform much better. That being said, are there any PMPs that have a much better DAC than an iPod? Moreover, does the DAC in any car CD head unit (I'm including after-market models) perform much better than the iPod's? I think my only point was that Lossless is available for car audio that's superior to MP3/AAC and on-par with car-audio CD quality.
          SVX pearlie
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Michael
          "its a car and there are plenty of other noises that will degrade the sound " Yes, so all the better reason to start with higher-quality baseline sound, so that whatever you hear is due to external noise outside your control, rather than distorted by something you can control.
      Dave D
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why would anyone want a CD player in the car anymore??? I'm with Peter...BRING BACK 8 TRACKS!!! lol
      Aaron
      • 3 Years Ago
      Codecs, not "codes". If you're concerned about using lossless codecs when playing audio in your CAR, you must have a very high-end system. You wouldn't be concerned about a "stock" system anyway. Most people can't tell the difference between 320kbps MP3 or 256kbps MP4/AAC files and uncompressed audio in CONTROLLED environments. In the car, I bet even fewer people could tell the difference with road noise, wind noise, and kid noise.
      Duncan Watson
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't want a CD player in my vehicle. I want some solid state storage where I can load mp3s, flac, oog, or whatever. And support for bluetooth and aux input is needed as well. I would likely remove any CD player myself and install some after-market player as I did on my current car. But I prefer it to be integrated and have a decent touch interface.
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