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Car Stereo: It's not just a guy thing

Whoever said, "chicks don't dig car stereo," was sadly misinformed. This chick sure does. One of my fondest memories from high school involved borrowing my brother's car and zooming down the highway listening to Van Halen II full blast on his stereo.

Since we usually see guys with 1,000-watt amps and trunks full of subwoofers, we're tempted to dismiss car stereo as something that's not for girls. But then we miss out on some great fun.

As a former Crutchfield sales advisor, I'm the electronics expert in my circle of friends, a diverse group of women with really different tastes. Why have they replaced their factory radios? Usually, it's for one of three primary reasons:

  • It broke
  • It sounded really bad
  • They wanted to connect an iPod, a satellite radio, or both

I like loud, clean music, but I still need my trunk space, so I passed on the amps and subs. I have a Pioneer stereo, Polk 5"x7" speakers, and an XM satellite radio. With that setup, I get plenty of volume, a strong tuner, clean CD sound and direct connection for my satellite radio. I love the fact that I can listen to local radio, SEC football and basketball (Go Razorbacks), diverse satellite music and news programming, or my own CD collection. My Polk speakers handle it all beautifully, providing a full, balanced sound.

Recently, my friend Jen decided she wanted to ditch her factory radio. Since I live for this stuff, she asked for my advice. Jen is not afraid of technology. She's a gamer from way back and considers her portable MP3 player one of life's little necessities. But she didn't want anything that would distract her from driving.

For her, it was all about ease of use. She needed something with a front-panel aux input to easily connect her MP3 player. She also preferred a large volume knob, rather than tiny up/down buttons, so she wouldn't have to look at the radio to adjust the volume. A remote control would be a big bonus. Jen also wanted an all-around performer with a sensitive AM/FM tuner, good CD player, and strong amplifier. She decided on a Pioneer DEH-P3900.

I got an email from Jen the day after the installation. "I'm one happy nerd," she said. "I let the happy dance loose once I got home. I like the fact that I can take the face plate off. It's sitting right here on my desk near my car keys. I'm just mad at myself for not changing the darn thing last year. It sounds great."

We're going for new speakers next.

Chicks dig this stuff. Are you with me?

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