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Location: Lower Mainland BC
|When I got my 56 Dodge Custom Royal D500 in Sept. 2016 I was surprised by the fact that it did not come with a radio (ever). It had the factory radio delete panel in place. Knowing that I would eventually install a radio, one of the first things that I bought from my local Mopar NOS parts guy (Ron Whiting) was the radio surround panel. Sometime later I found an Electro-Touch Tuning ("Town and Country") radio and bought that. However, since I had really no interest in having a tube radio that only got AM and there was only one local "oldies" AM channel anyway, I decided that I would get the radio converted to AM/FM somehow. |
I did a bit of poking around and discovered Aurora Design:
It looked intriguing so I contacted my local supplier/installer Larry Wood of Wood Radios (about 40 minutes from me). We had a discussion about the conversion and he noted that my local licensing organization (ICBC) has pre-approved Aurora Design conversions for full approval for "Collectors" plates. On that basis, I decided to go for it. And "IT" became AM/FM plus USB plus AUX (iPod or portable CD player) *AND* (oh why not) Bluetooth. Larry had a bit of a queue of radios ahead of me so it took about a month to get done. I went out to pick my converted radio up and Larry ran through its operation. It was a bit mind blowing, so I found and reviewed (several times now) this video:
The radio in the video was a Chevy Wonderbar but it seems much the same as the Electro-Touch Tuning "Town and Country" that I have:
As I have learned, the pointy knob on the left is the on/off volume. The one behind it is the tone knob. The pointy knob on the right side is the tuning and the one behind is the front back balance knob. They all work as they should.
In addition, with nothing (no USB, no iPod) plugged in, turning the radio off/on quickly will change the radio from AM to FM or FM to AM. At that point the five colour LED pilot light is changing from one colour to the the other (yellow to red or red to yellow).
Tuning is as normal with the knob *OR*, more excitingly, with the Electro-Touch tuning bar. One touch and radio scans to the next strong station (I am not sure if there is a "Town" or "Country" bias anymore or not) and so on. Radio pre-sets are set as normal for this radio, i.e. flip down chrome panel below the glass window and move the red pointer to the desired location and then flip the chrome panel back up. Using the presets to change channels is as per normal Electro-Touch tuning, i.e. only ascending, i.e. if you wanted to go to 640 AM from 1350 AM it will move from 1350 to the right end then slam back to the 550 end of the scale before stopping at 640. Same with FM except there are no FM numbers to work with. And since the pre-sets are physical, you only have the 5 to allocate between both AM and FM (e.g. 2 AM and 3 FM).
On to the USB stick. This is where 1956 meets the digital age. I had previously ripped some CDs that I own to Windows Media format (which is not mp3 but similar) so I copied them on to a USB stick that I had from when I worked (work? what the *ell is that? ) Out to the car. Radio was playing my local rock station, I just plugged the USB stick and after a second or to stop playing FM and start playing the music on the USB stick. Now I have to admit that I am not fully up on how I can control selection of the music on the USB stick, e.g. moving from album to album (if I can) *BUT* I learned (from the video) that I can use the tuning knob to advance or go back on the playlist by twisting the tuning knob quickly (one way or the other).
I was out in garage the other day (while it was raining), putzing with rear speaker plate install and decided to touch the tuner bar while I was playing tunes off the USB stick. To my surprise, each touch resulted in moving to the next song on the USB stick. Later I learned (from Larry Wood) that two quick taps of the tuner bar moved backwards one song in the USB playlist. The tuning bar is way more convenient than the tuning knob so that will be handy.
Now the iPod (in my case a Philips Songbird): Plug it into the radio via a two male-ended AUX cable with the iPod end into the headphones jack. I did this while playing the USB stick and it automatically switched to the iPod. Control of the music is via the iPod controls (I have to review the video to confirm that). No biggy.
Sound throughout all this (USB and iPod) is much better that the FM stations (not a surprise). Sounds great to my old ears (one mono 6 x 9 in the dash and two 6 x 9 stereo speakers in the rear parcel tray). The front speaker is hooked up to the Front Left (+) and the Front Right (-). There is a possibility that I might connect two kick panel speakers in the future.
Now the piece de resistance: Bluetooth. I don't own a Bluetooth phone so I hadn't investigated the option even though it was installed when I had the radio converted. However, yesterday afternoon, my neighbour came by to get the tour of the radio. I explained the AM, the FM, the USB and the iPod. He says "Too bad, it doesn't do BlueTooth". "AH HA!!", I say, "It does do Blue Tooth!". Took me a minute or so to figure out which knob had to be twisted quickly (the volume) and then a nice lady voice came on and said "Ready for Pairing". He set up his phone to pair and in few seconds they connected (I think the lady said "Paired") and the pilot light came on blue. He played a few tunes (Van Morrison) while we chatted. Sounded good (needed more volume though than the FM). Pretty amazing to me.
It is early days but I am pretty impressed and happy with the results so far.
Local dealers are available on this list:
No, I didn't get paid to do this. I just like to share good news.
Edited by 56D500boy 2017-09-30 2:14 AM
|I have a Aurora conversion on an Olds radio from 62. While the functions are nice, I did not get the Bluetooth option, the performance is lacking. Turnswitch did the conversion and customer service has been great.I sent it back in twice because the performance was so lacking I thought something was wrong. |
I bought a pair of their top of the line 6X9" speakers which they said are highly efficient and should therefore perform well with low power.
The Aurora is said to have 4x45 watts@4ohm/2x75 watts @ 2ohm. In my opinion it's not even close to performing at those levels with acceptable levels distortion. Turn it up loud, it distorts. Moderate listening volume is as loud as it gets with distorting. I confirmed this with another set of speakers, and running both sets of speakers on a decent amp. That rating must be a magic music power spec or something.
I have it in a convertible cruising with top down a background music is all it's good for.
Also, I am in an area of admittedly not the greatest FM signal strength. But the Aurora would seem to be at a level with the tuner in my little MP3 player. It is in no way comparable to the FM reception in my 2006 Honda CRV.
After the Aurora at $400 I bought a Kenwood KAC 1824BT blue tooth amp, find them from $150 to $250.
Wow, what a difference. Great sound, clear at volume. Bought another for another car. It REALLY will play 4 speakers if you want. Hidden.
For music, just leave your original radio in the dash and hide the Kenwood.
Location: Lower Mainland BC
When I bought my Aurora Design and had it installed in an OE Town and Country, I opted for the additional BlueTooth module. Up until very recently I did really use it. However, lately I have and I am liking it more and more.
I turn the car on and before I set off, I turn on the radio. Then I fire up the smart phone and find some music to play. The radio immediately recognizes the presence of the blue tooth and the music coming out of the radio switches from FM to the smart phone. Once I figured out that I needed to have the volume up on the smart phone to make things work better, I don't need to crank the volume on the radio much differently than on FM.
Two things that I found out in the last few days:
1. When I reach my destination and stop the car and turn off the radio, the radio communicates with the smart phone and pauses what was playing. When I get back in the car and fire everything up again, the phone and the radio talk to each other again and the song continues where it left off before I turned off the radio. Thankyou.
2. The next one pleasantly surprised me: Tapping the Town and Country bar on the radio changes songs in the play list on the phone. "Country" advances to the next song and "Town" goes back one song (repeat, as necessary). I think that it did that advance/reverse with the USB stick as well.
All that said, I do get half decent FM signals in my area and I listen to Rock 101 the most. However, I would probably go for the digital FM module as well if I did it again. I have heard digital FM and it is marvelous (at least out of a good mult-speaker system)
Not sure about the Aurora 4 x 45W thing. I don't crank the volume enough to distort.
I did check out the kenwood bluetooth amp suggested above but it is only blue tooth so no FM unless the smart phone has an FM tuner.
Edited by 56D500boy 2020-10-08 6:18 PM
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