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Changing car audio technology – RadioInfo Asia


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American automakers are ceasing production of car audio systems that include the medium wave AM band. European car manufacturers have been doing this for years.

So why are American automakers removing the AM medium wave band from car audio systems? The reason may not be so obvious.

In the United States, almost all AM stations have reverted to news/talk programs as car listeners have realized that the audio quality of AM medium wave is clearly inferior to that of FM and digital audio . However, an additional reason for the abandonment of AM stems from the fact that electric vehicles (EVs) produce electromagnetic waves at about the same frequency as medium wave AM signals. The result is significant interference between the AM receiver and the EV motor.

It’s ironic that the advent of electric vehicles is the straw that broke the camel’s back for AM radio listening in the United States.

Electric vehicles are here to stay. EU member countries have agreed to halt sales of internal combustion automobiles by 2035. Major US automakers are unlikely to be far behind as internal combustion engines follow the path of the tyrannosaurus rex.

The Jacobs Media Tech Survey 2022 which was conducted in the United States shows that Bluetooth has now overtaken FM as the preferred audio source in automobiles. The reason is quite obvious. An increasing number of motorists are using their mobile phone as their primary audio source, and Bluetooth is currently one of the most common methods for connecting a smartphone to a car audio system. We can safely conclude that the smartphone is for many users the primary source of in-car audio content.

As this trend progresses, radio stations find themselves directly competing with virtually every other digital audio source available on a smartphone.

Even FM radio has become harder to find in modern car audio systems. FM is just one of many listening choices on the car’s touchscreen.

Again, we are reminded that radio companies are essentially audio content providers. Our job is to make sure our program content is engaging and unique. In the age of digital audio, all gamers are equal. Only content separates winners from losers.

By Andy Beaubien, OPI