In keeping with Blaupunkt's audiophile reputation, the Brisbane SD48 delivers plenty of punch output (18W RMS x four channels), with a host of audio refinement features. Basic EQ controls are adjusted using the four-way keypad to the left of the main dial, with standard options for bass, treble, balance, and fader levels. There is also an option labeled "Enhanced," which gives drivers to option of setting the gain and frequencies of bass, middle, and treble outputs or to select from a range of EQ presets for different types of music. The system also puts a lot of emphasis on enhanced bass settings: a dedicated "X-Bass" button beneath the main control dial lets drivers boost bass output at low volumes. The X-Bass settings can be tweaked through adjustment of the level of boost, and--through the "Enhanced" menu option--the cutoff level frequency.
Because of its exclusive support for compressed digital audio formats, it is difficult to objectively assess the quality of the Brisbane SD48's audio output relative to disc-playing head units in its price range. Unsurprisingly, all the focus on bass adds up to a solid low-end sound. We were less impressed with audio clarity and separation at the higher end of the range, although this is probably more because of the quality of the original sound files than the stereo itself.
With its discless design and support for a range of digital-audio sources, the Blaupunkt Brisbane SD48 could well represent the future of the car stereo (although it could do with being more iPod-friendly). It offers decent audio output and a good range of audio-customization features, and with a price tag of around $160, it offers an alternative to entry-level stereos from the likes of Sony and Alpine. However, its lack of disc-playing capabilities and its basic faceplate design may deter some.