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Horntones FX-550 MP3 car hornCNET's Brian Cooley shows off new tech at the 2007 SEMA show in Las Vegas: a way to download MP3s to your car horn. If you hate other people's booming car audio systems, Horntones might push you right over the edge.
^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:05 >> You hate all those loud systems in other people's car you're listening to all the time. I have good and bad news. The bad news is you end up hearing a lot more noise from other cars; the good new is it's gonna sound a little clearer thanks to something called Horntones. This is the first MP3 based automotive horn. Let me show you how it works. This controller is mounted in your car, it's got 256 meg of RAM in it so you load that up with MP3 clips; then you pull up a set of them, they call them themes, and hit the button. Here's one here. [ Horn sounds ] >> Or this one. [ Horn sounds ] >> That'll wake the dead. >> How about this? [ Horn sounds ] >> So from fun to serious you load up whatever you want--songs, sound effects, it doesn't matter; MP3's is MP3's. Let me show you the guts that make it work. Okay so you get this kit and I showed you the controller already that goes inside the car; that's where the memory lives as well. They include an amp, an amp's an amp; and this is the speaker but they actually call it a compression driver. In here this thing's really heavy; you've got a speaker that is pounding on a compressed air chamber down in here, a sealed air chamber to be exact; and then it vibrates this cone but it's not actually open to the driver so you don't get water and junk in there. Now here's how you load up the head unit. Now to program that head unit you've got to go to their web service; and here you have a virtual version of the player. You can either pull in their tones from their library which are a whole variety under themes and such here, or you can go to virtual player and just load up your own MP3's whether it's music or a sound effect, whatever you want. Now one thing you've got to realize, you have to upload your tones here to have them compiled and then sent back to you to be transferred to your head unit and along the way it's a buck a track one time fee. So the more tracks you have the more it's gonna cost you above and beyond the base price of this unit which is 300 dollars. Now a couple of practical considerations--don't go nuts with this thing because it's really loud. Someone's gonna jump out at an intersection and pop you in the mouth if you're hittin' that button too much. Legally, the Horntones folks say a short clip would qualify as a horn in most areas so legally that's how you'd have to use it. If you load a 3 minute song, you're probably getting in to the area of operating a PA system and that might require a permit or something, so good luck. [ Horn sounds ]