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Sony introduces stereo systems for high-end iPhone audio without breaking up the dash

Sony Mobile Audio today introduced a new car stereo system that brings high-quality sound to cars that aren't already equipped with the latest and greatest in car audio. The XDP-PK1000 (and its companion unit the MU110, whose only difference is that it requires a third-party subwoofer and amplifier) is headed out to car stereo retailers this Fall, and it will allow consumers the ability to improve their car stereo systems without having to mess with the dashboard or replace any head units they're already using.

Essentially, this new unit is just a box that goes inside the car, and connects to the existing stereo system, an iOS device dock, and an amp and subwoofer, and brings high-end premium audio sound into the car without having to replace all of the gear inside. The device uses Sony's Digital Link Sound System to not only control the way audio is delivered through the speakers, but even adjust things like timing and "staging" to make the audio sound like it's live inside the car, and coming from right in front of you on the dash.

Before you go running out for the XDP-PK1000, know that it's not cheap -- the unit itself will run $799, and that's in addition to any installation costs your local stereo retailer will charge. This is high-end sound, and you'll be paying a high-end price. But the real benefit here is that you don't have to rip up your car -- whatever dashboard unit or setup you have can stay in place. That's a big trend in the car industry (the "disassociated dash," they call it), so a lot of consumers want an audio system to install that won't mess up what they already have.

The other big benefit, of course, is that the iOS dock actually plugs right into the XDP-PK1000 unit and then is transmitted out to the amp and speakers, so if you want to listen to your iPhone audio without rewiring your speaker system, this will make things a little easier.

I got to hear the unit running in a car the other week at a Sony event, and it sounded as good as you'd expect -- nice highs, and lots of lows bumping through the loudspeaker. I did try listening in to the system via Pandora on my iPhone, and there, because it's free streaming audio, the quality wasn't really good enough to quite justify a whole system like this. If you are going to shell out this one, you should definitely start with high quality MP3, AAC or even go back to CD-quality sound.

Still, if you want great sound in the car and also need a place to plug your iPhone in, Sony's setup will do just that. If you're interested, check with your local stereo dealer later on this year.

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