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A close look at CTS' infotainment technology

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The Cadillac CTS: The Future of Rock 'n' Roll in Cars
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By Bill Howard | Link to Original Article @ Technoride


I've seen the future of rock 'n' roll in cars—and its name is the 2008 Cadillac CTS. Ditto for the future of classical music, hip-hop, and country. Unless Cadillac screws up royally between now and the car's launch in August, the CTS will have the most versatile audio system ever developed for a motor vehicle. I could tell at today's press briefing, just from sitting in the car—parked in an outdoor courtyard at a fancy New York City restaurant—and tinkering with the center stack.

The CTS is Cadillac's small luxury/sport sedan, sent out to do battle with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Infiniti G35, and Lexus is350. Though it's fully renewed for the 2008 model year, we don't yet know how well the CTS handles driving through mountain passes. But when you're cruising on the highway, nothing is going to beat Cadillac for breadth of audio sources and musical entertainment. Here's why: Cadillac's center-stack design team (the engineers responsible for what goes in the middle of the dashboard) thought it through better than anyone else has so far, and then implemented every possible feature you could want.

In this category, you need solid electronics hardware, to start with. Cadillac teamed up with Bose, which should delight all but the worst of the audio snobs (who think Bose is forty years of hype). The navigation module comes from Alpine, one of my favorites. The hard disk comes from Toshiba, and what's important to us is the 40GB capacity. Roughly half is available for ripping music. (The other half goes for navigation data.)

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Satellite radio? XM is included. Line-in jack? Of course. USB socket? Check. iPod compatibility? Part of the USB configuration. Database for music lookup? The latest version. Touchscreen display for ease of use or cockpit control knob for tech buffs? It has both. Plays MP3, WMA, and AAC files off CDs? All of them, and even rips (transfers) MP3 CD data (some cars with hard drives rip only music from the original CDs).

So far, so good? There's more. Cadillac added a TiVo-like feature that caches a rolling hour's worth of audio from the radio or satellite radio. So if you like a song and want to hear it again, just hit the rewind button. With satellite radio music, the recorder uses the track/artist/time-of-day information to insert bookmarks at the start of each song, so you can find what you want quickly. (For AM/FM radio, the skip feature works in 30-second increments.)

There are a couple of gotchas: If you change from satellite to radio, or even station to station, the cache flushes. And Cadillac won't let you save favorite XM satellite songs to the hard disk the way the Pioneer Inno handheld XM receiver does. Why not? "Because they [Pioneer] are in litigation," explained engineer Charles Massoll. But bless the engineers: The feature was engineered into the audio system but not activated, so if the recording industry ever decides features are good if they get music fans to listen to more music, it's ready and waiting.

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The CTS uses a new generation of Gracenote tools. There's the usual artist, song, album data called MusicID, which lets the car add that information when a CD plays or is ripped to the hard disk. In addition, says Vadim Brenner, a Gracenote senior product manager, there's additional editorial information about each CD and song, such as era (when the music was recorded), artist type, region of origin, and genre—not just rock, classical, and jazz, but 1,600 mini-genres. That allows for a "Play More Like" button that finds all the music on your hard disk (or 2GB memory key) just like the music you're now hearing.

The navigation system has one nice feature. When you identify a favorite—say, McDonald's—and press one of the six onscreen buttons to assign it as a favorite, the nav finds not that McDonald's but the nearest McDonald's, or similarly, Home Depot, or Hooters. You can restrict the search to not just the nearest favorite but the one that's on your route if you're navigating. So if the closest Waldenbooks is two miles behind you on the expressway, it points you to the one five miles ahead in the direction you're headed.

The nav system also has XM NavTraffic, with traffic updates that can be overlaid on your map—nice, but not unique to the CTS. You can even get the multi-day forecast for the city you're headed to.

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The Cadillac CTS comes closer than any other car I've seen to date in providing the kind of entertainment features and telematics tools the driver and passengers want. But here's what the CTS missed on:

Limited recording capability. Cadillac could have let you record individual songs off XM for your enjoyment, as noted above. Okay, so they'd get sued by the recording industry.

No Bluetooth. Incredible to believe, but the CTS doesn't integrate Bluetooth.

No integration between Alpine navigation and OnStar Turn-By-Turn navigation. With TBT, you call an operator (OnStar Advisor) and tell the operator where you want to go, and the route instructions are downloaded to the car. If you can press a button, you can use this kind of navigation. Unfortunately, the instructions are shown not on the 8-inch widescreen LCD but on the simple multi-information display next to the speedometer, and there's no way to use the OnStar download to program the route on your real navigation system. "Soon," says Cadillac's Massoll.

No transflective display. The display pops up from the dash and looked plenty bright under the shade of several trees in the restaurant courtyard (this is not your usual New York City eatery). But when you've seen a transflective display, as on the BMW 3 Series convertible, you're spoiled for how good a display can be in direct sunlight.

Other than Bluetooth, these are relatively minor issues. Cadillac appears to be in the lead, at least on audio entertainment technology, with the new CTS. We'll drive one the minute it's released.
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Wasn't there a recent post that said it DID have Bluetooth?

Ahhhh... I see... (here)

From a tech perspective, Cadillac is the best American brand out there, having been a leader in putting advanced navigation, Bluetooth, and stereo systems in its cars.

Edited by AAS
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Sweet. The less things for the media to bitch about the better. This is going to be a wicked ride both inside and out. :)

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No Bluetooth!!

That is a huge issue if its true. Bluetooth is required in this kind of car these days.

Don't give me the Onstar excuse, this car needs Bluetooth.

Someone, please tell me this car has Bluetooth?!?

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Someone, please tell me this car has Bluetooth?!?

It will be a dealer-installed option.

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No Bluetooth. Obviously they still haven't weeded out all the boneheads from the design team. Typical poor-GM-decision-making right there.

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No Bluetooth. Obviously they still haven't weeded out all the boneheads from the design team. Typical poor-GM-decision-making right there.

Did you not read the previous posts? It's available as a dealer-installed option.

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bluetooth should be standard equipment IMO, and i think it will be made standard soon. As for all the other tech goodies: :thumbsup:

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We should all know that dealer installed options are manufactures way of giving its dealers ways to make more money for them selves. I doubt there will be many CTSs that leave a dealership without blue tooth. Most dealers will just install it on all their CTSs and charge you for it, from the sound of a few of you here there wont be to many complaints if the dealer makes their easy money this way.

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bluetooth is a requirement. phones, you know.

40gb? pathetic and paltry.

where's the dvd-audio? Acura has that.

voice activated ipod control? ford sync has that.

i dunno. looks like they still don't have it all.

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bluetooth is a requirement. phones, you know.

40gb? pathetic and paltry.

where's the dvd-audio? Acura has that.

voice activated ipod control? ford sync has that.

i dunno. looks like they still don't have it all.

20 gigs stores ALOT of music.

Bluetooth from the dealer (for now).

It WILL play DVD Audio as well.

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Anyone catch the "August" release month? Told you so earlier...Of course not available everywhere in August, but still here then. :)

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This is really great. In the past, GM would have put this kind of stuff on its most expensive cars only, but now they're really aiming to beat the world.

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20 gigs stores ALOT of music.

Bluetooth from the dealer (for now).

It WILL play DVD Audio as well.

20gb is NOT a lot of music. my 3-4 year old Ipod has 40gb. The first mp3 jukebox i bought like 6 years ago had 40gb. 20gb is less than 5000 songs at crappy bitrate.

20gb of music may seem like a lot but typical mp3's have atrocious sound quality. If you used a higher bitrate mp3 or some other sort of lossless format you'd quickly find out 20gb is very paltry.

I have like 1000 cd's myself. A friend has well over 2000. Not to suggest everyone has a library like that, but seriously, someone who buys this car in 2008 will want storage capacity in 2013 that still seems usable. the cts ought to have at least 60-80 gb, or some way to swap out the drive later down the road, easily.

You say it plays 'dvd audio'. I am referring to 5.1 surround DVD-audio format. not simply just the downmix sound track of a typical movie dvd or even the pcm track off a dvd-audio disc. I am asking if it plays the high res surround track off a dvd-audio formatted disc.

and where's the voice activated audio commands like ford sync?

Edited by regfootball
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You say it plays 'dvd audio'. I am referring to 5.1 surround DVD-audio format. not simply just the downmix sound track of a typical movie dvd or even the pcm track off a dvd-audio disc. I am asking if it plays the high res surround track off a dvd-audio formatted disc.

http://www.cheersandgears.com/forums/index...showtopic=17683

•SOUND SYSTEM WITH BOSE 5.1 CABIN SURROUND SOUND

AM/FM Stereo, Single CD/ DVD Player*, MP3 Playback and Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound 10-Speaker System with Radio Data System (RDS), 40GB Hard Drive Device (HDD), USB and Auto Connectivity and Steering Wheel Controls

* NOTE: System will play DVD audio. To obtain DVD video play capability, Sound System with Navigation Package (UAV) should be ordered.

-RBB

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20gb is NOT a lot of music. my 3-4 year old Ipod has 40gb. The first mp3 jukebox i bought like 6 years ago had 40gb. 20gb is less than 5000 songs at crappy bitrate.

20gb of music may seem like a lot but typical mp3's have atrocious sound quality. If you used a higher bitrate mp3 or some other sort of lossless format you'd quickly find out 20gb is very paltry.

I have like 1000 cd's myself. A friend has well over 2000. Not to suggest everyone has a library like that, but seriously, someone who buys this car in 2008 will want storage capacity in 2013 that still seems usable. the cts ought to have at least 60-80 gb, or some way to swap out the drive later down the road, easily.

You say it plays 'dvd audio'. I am referring to 5.1 surround DVD-audio format. not simply just the downmix sound track of a typical movie dvd or even the pcm track off a dvd-audio disc. I am asking if it plays the high res surround track off a dvd-audio formatted disc.

and where's the voice activated audio commands like ford sync?

I'm an audio geek. 196 KBPS is a good bit rate for songs. Of course if you use a loseless codec for songs it's going to be large. Just convert the songs to WMA, since they can be 128 KBPS and still preform better than MP3's

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Anyone catch the "August" release month? Told you so earlier...Of course not available everywhere in August, but still here then. :)

Yeah, the launch is actually slated for this month.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-Audio

Player compatibility

The introduction of the DVD-Audio format required some kind of backward compatibility with existing DVD-Video players. To address this, most DVD-Audio discs contain, at a minimum, a Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio track on the disc[2](which can be downmixed to two channels for listeners with no surround sound setup). Some discs also include a native Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, and even a DTS 96/24 5.1-channel, audio track[3].

Because the DVD-Audio format is a member of the DVD family, a single disc can have multiple layers and even two sides that contain media. A common configuration includes a "DVD-Video" zone on a DVD-Audio formatted single sided disc. The high-resolution, multichannel audio losslessly encoded using MLP is only playable on DVD-Audio hardware but the DVD-Video zone, which can contain Dolby or DTS 5.1 mixes and even video makes the disc compatible with all DVD players. Other configurations include double layer DVDs [DVD-9] and two-sided discs [DVD-10, DVD-14 or DVD-18]. Some labels are releasing DVD titles that are formatted as DVD-Audio on one side and DVD-Video on the other.

There are some software players that support the playback of DVD-Audio discs. For Example: WinDVD and PowerDVD.

[edit] Preamplifier/Surround Processor interface

In order to play DVD-Audio, a preamplifier or surround controller with six analogue inputs was originally required[4]. Whereas DVD-Video audio formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS can be sent via the player's digital output to a receiver for conversion to analogue form and distribution to speakers, DVD-Audio cannot be delivered via unencrypted digital audio link at sample rates higher than 48 kHz (ie ordinary DVD-Video quality) due to concerns about digital copying[4].

However encrypted digital formats have now been approved by the DVD Forum, the first of which was Meridian Audio's MHR (Meridian High Resolution). The High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI 1.1) also allows encrypted digital audio to be carried up to DVD-Audio specification (6 × 24-bit/96 kHz channels or 2 × 24-bit/192 kHz channels). The six channels of audio information can thus be sent to the amplifier by several different methods:

The 6 audio channels can be decrypted and extracted in the player and sent to the amplifier along 6 standard analogue cables.

The 6 audio channels can be decrypted and then re-encrypted into an HDMI or IEEE-1394 (Firewire) signal and sent to the amplifier, which will then decrypt the digital signal and then extract the 6 channels of Audio. HDMI and IEEE-1394 encryption are different from the DVD-A encryption and were designed as a general standard for a high quality digital interface. The amplifier has to be equipped with a valid decryption key or it won't play the disk.

The third option is via the S/PDIF (or TOSLINK) digital interface. However, because of concerns over unauthorised copying, DVD-A players are required to handle this digital interface in one of the following ways:

Turn such an interface off completely. This option is preferred by the music publishers.

Downconvert the audio to a 2-channel 16 bit/48 kHz PCM signal. The music publishers are not enthusiastic about this because it permits the production of a CD-quality copy, something they still expect to sell, besides DVD-A.

Downconvert the audio to 2 channels, but keeping the original sample size and bit rate if the producer sets a flag on the DVD-A disc telling the player to do so.

A final option is to modify the player, capturing the high resolution digital signals before they are fed to internal D/A converters and convert it to S/PDIF, giving full range digital (but only stereo) sound. There exist already do-it-yourself solutions for some players. There also exists an option to equip a DVD-A player with multiple spdif outputs, for full resolution multichannel digital output.[5]

[edit] Sound quality

From a purely technical standpoint, the audio resolution of a DVD-Audio disc can be substantially higher than a standard red book CD audio. DVD-Audio supports bit depths up to 24-bit and sample rates up to 192kHz, while CD audio is 16-bit, 44.1kHz. In both cases, the source recording may have been made at a much higher bit and sample rate, and down-converted for commercial release.

It is uncertain whether average listeners can hear the difference between DVD-Audio and CD-Audio, and many consumers do not regard any supposed quality improvements offered as sufficient reason to justify purchasing new playback equipment and repurchasing albums in higher-resolution formats. Many DVD-Audio releases are older, standard definition audio recordings that have been remixed in 5.1 and upsampled to DVD-Audio's higher resolution. However, the fidelity of the upsampled audio will be limited by the source material quality and may not exceed the quality of existing CD releases of the same albums. When new recordings are made using high-resolution PCM encoding, a substantial difference in fidelity can be achieved.

Three of the major music labels, Universal Music, EMI and Warner Bros. Records and several smaller audiophile labels (such as AIX Records and DTS Entertainment) have released or are continuing to release albums on DVD-Audio, but the number is minimal compared to standard CDs. New high-definition titles have been released in standard DVD-Video format (which can contain 2-channel Linear PCM audio data ranging from 48kHz/16-bit to 96kHz/24-bit), "HDAD"[1], which includes a DVD-Video format recording on one side and DVD-Audio on the other, CD/DVD packages, which can include the album on both CD and DVD-Audio, or DualDisc, which can contain DVD-Audio content on the DVD side. In addition, some titles that were initially released as a standalone DVD-Audio disc, such as The Grateful Dead's American Beauty and R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People, were rereleased as a CD/DVD package or as a DualDisc.

[edit] Copy protection

DVD-Audio discs may optionally employ a copy protection mechanism called Content Protection for Prerecorded Media (CPPM)[6]. CPPM, managed by the 4C Entity, prevents users from extracting audio to computers and portable media players.

Because DVD-Video's content-scrambling system (CSS) was quickly broken, DVD-Audio's developers sought a better method of blocking unauthorized duplications. They developed CPPM, which uses a media key block (MKB) to authenticate DVD-Audio players. In order to decrypt the audio, players must obtain a media key from the MKB, which also is encrypted. The player must use its own unique key to decrypt the MKB. If a DVD-Audio player's decryption key is compromised, that key can be rendered useless for decrypting future DVD-Audio discs. DVD-Audio discs can also utilize digital watermarking technology developed by the Verance Corporation, typically embedded into the audio once every thirty seconds. If a DVD-Audio player encounters a watermark on a disc without a valid MKB, it will halt playback.[7]

The 4C Entity also developed a similar specification, Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM), which is used on Secure Digital cards.

DVD-Audio's copy protection was overcome in 2005[7] by tools which allow data to be decrypted or converted to 6 channel .WAV files without going through lossy digital-to-analogue conversion. Previously that conversion had required expensive equipment to retain all 6 channels of audio rather than having it downmixed to stereo. In the digital method, the decryption is done by a commercial software player which has been patched to allow access to the unprotected audio. As the DVD-A format has not gained wide commercial interest or acceptance, decryption tools are still very primitive.

Such tools may be illegal in the United States under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. While the Recording Industry Association of America has been successful in keeping these tools off websites, they are still distributed on the peer to peer networks and are sometimes posted to newsgroups[8].

Edited by regfootball
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