Radio, Radino: Fears Surrounding Car Stereo Systems

Long commutes or hours spent in traffic can be frustrating to say the very least. The frustration can be amplified if one is on their own. This is why vehicles having an inbuilt car radio can be perceived as a great feat. Since their inception, the focus on improving the quality and features of the sound system has only grown. In contemporary life, there has been a focus on getting more out of the system. More speakers, more channels, more options for the average driver. People often spend large sums of money to upgrade their sound system. Some people, however, are content with the basic sound system. Today, this basic system provides access to stations and a CD player, with volume control. People can either decide to listen to stations or their own personal collection of CDs. The stations themselves will likely switch between broadcasting shows, music and news. This can mean that for those long commutes or hours spent in traffic, drivers are able to keep up with world events, get traffic updates and be entertained all simultaneously. 

While this today is common place, there was once fear in the audio system. Prior to them being inbuilt, many automobile clubs and services in the 1930s feared the impact that audio systems would bring to drivers. Drivers were used to hearing only the sound of the vehicle traveling on the road beneath them, and otherwise had all their attention focused on the road in front of them. Common fears that were expressed by members of motor vehicle clubs and surrounding communities involved drivers being distracted by what was being played on the station at that time, resulting in delayed responses contributing to accidents. Another fear was that drivers would be put to sleep by the music that was played, causing accidents on the road that would have otherwise been avoided. These fears, however, were soon washed away.

In the 1920s, individual men in England were placing their portable audio systems in the back of their vehicles in order to listen to the wireless. The men were not alone in this concept. There is no certainty regarding the exact first sound system in a vehicle, as people in varying places were attempting to work on it via different means around the same time as each other. What did have perhaps the first sense of commercial success was America’s Galvin brothers, who were able to build sound systems inbuilt into cars in the 1930s, a decade after the experimentation from those men in England. These sound systems were only very basic, very large and took up quite a lot of space, only allowing one station to be played.

They were, however, the stepping stones for others to expand upon. Since the 1930s, there was focus on improving the quality and the size of the audio systems, as well as their functionality. Today, people are free to alter their sound systems by easy means.

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