I've got one. They're very nice. Sounds excellent if you feed it high-quality MP3's; >192Kbps pref with VBR encoding.
Can be fitted in the LHS Cubby Hole where the CD Changer sits (I used sticky pads to fix it to the BOSE Sub / Tupperware box), but you'll have to leave the cubby cover off unless you cut a hole in the cubby cover. http://www.blaine-t.net/phatbox/
Currently listening to it via the BOSE speaker system, but plan to (dream about) upgrading to a Kenwood Multichannel Amp, Speakers and an "AndyMac Sub(TM)" in the Summer (or at least when it stops raining for more than 5 minutes).
NB: You will need to have a regular Audi Headunit and an Audi CD Changer Cable to use it - you can re-flash the firmwire to use it with other headunits (e.g. SONY), but you'll also need to get hold of the correct "pig tail" adapter as well.
I've read posts about hard drive noise leaking through to the HU/speakers, have you experienced this?
Also, that tracks are a lot quieter than the equivalent CD, but I'm assuming this is just down to the way the mp3 files have been created.
I think I must be the lucky one as don't get any "alternator whine", just the regular "hiss" from the Audi HU / BOSE Amp - which you can only really hear when the engine is off [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
My MP3 Collection has been ripped from original CD's using good old LAME with at least 192KBPS VBR. I've done some equalizing of quiet albums with MP3Gain (no need to fiddle with the volume when switching tracks or back to the Radio), and would confidently say that the PhatNoise has better (more detailed) sound quality than my old SONY MiniDisc Changer. I've demoed it to my Brother (who's now set his sights on a Kenwood Music Keg to match his Kenwood HU) and a couple of mates who are seriously thinking of getting one themselves (BMW flavour).
NB This is the official Audi version of the PhatBox, it came in box with official looking Audi part stickers and even says "Audi" on the sticker on the base of the unit. I bought it from a US Audi Dealership's Parts Department c/o eBay. Got stung for Import Duty and VAT, and had to buy a UK PSU for the docking cradle (£15 from Maplin), but I reckon I got a good deal vs. UK Price for a Kenwood Music Keg (lower spec DAC and only a 10Gb Cartridge vs a 20Gb Cartridge on the PhatBox).
The Audi PhatBox is earthed and powered via the Audi Headunit (a v1 Concert Radio/Cassette in my case), so there shouldn't be any problems with clean electical power [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]
The one niggly thing is that it's a new design unit and doesn't have a separate pair of RCA/Phono outputs for the audio signal - that's all fed back to the HU via the Audi CD Changer Cable - as I was planning on using a high quality screened Stereo Phono Lead [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
I suspect that the people who've had problems either have a dodgy CD Change Cable (the earth wire is connected to the HU via one of the ISO connectors, and not to the body of the HU!) and/or dodgy wiring on the HU.
Having said that, I've always had an annoying whine on poor MW stations, which can make listening to the footie on Radio 5 Live unpleasant whilst cruising the wilds of Wiltshire [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/goofy.gif[/img]
Thanks Mark, really useful feedback.
How do you get the tracks onto the cartridge? Can this be done at home or do you have to sit in the car with your laptop?
dont have one (yet!!), but expect that's what the USB cradle is for.
Yep. The PhatBox comes complete with a high-speed USB2 Docking Cradle to attach to your PC.
The data-cartridge thingy has to be removed from the in-car PB when it is OFF (ignition off *and* HU off), but it is "hot plugable" into the USB Cradle; i.e. you can have your PC up and running [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
The data-cartridge is a custom built shell with a "centronics" parallel data interface recessed in the bottom edge. Inside is a high-quality ruggedised 2.5" IDE Laptop Hard Drive; I think PB use Toshiba drives. The PB data-cartridge is factory sealed and it's not recommended to try to open it as you'll invalidate your warrenty and may damage the electronic gubbins inside. They cost $175+ for a new one [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]
The PB comes complete with a suite of software for ripping CDs to MP3s (you can also use your own choice of Encoder, I use LAME) and for copying the MP3 files onto the data-cartridge. Once installed it monitors the USB Docking Cradle and will auto-run when you install the data-cartridge [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]
You can manualy copy the files yourself (the data-cartidge is mounted as two disk partitions, one for PB system files and the other for MP3s), but you'll need to use the PB software to update the catalogue on the data-cartridge for the in-car PB to recognise them.
Well I got one of these and there defo is a whine linked to engine revs/ alternator. I haven't as yet resolved it - had the unit nearly over a year.
alternator whine phatbox
I suggest you read carefully before you buy. Note also that is the longest running and most often viewed thread on their support forum.
Mark - have you tried keeping the volume high, whilst accelerating & changing track? You should hear the whine.
It does not in no way make my unit unuseable - just a little annoying to live with on long motorway journeys.
sorry to hear that you're also suffering the dreaded Alternator Whine, but I can assure you that I don't get the whine on mine, even when belting along the motorway at .. ummm .. 70mph (Officer) with the music on ... err ... loud [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/groovy.gif[/img]
As Andy has suggested, it's a good idea to check all the cables and make sure that there is good electical contact.
The other threads on the PhatNoise forum are related to VW Jettas, but there are a number of people with other VAG cars that don't have a problem [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
I have a new-style Audi Phatbox that doesn't have the RCA Stereo Out Connectors - the audio is passed back up the Audi CD Changer Cable from the "centronics" interface at the rear of the unit.
Fitted the CD Changer cable myself - had to order one in from VAGParts.com as I didn't get one with my car (cheapskate Audi) - so I took care to route the cable behind the GloveBox, via the LHS Door Sill, behind the LHS rear cabin interior trim and into the boot. Same job as when I ran the Control and Audio Cables to/from the boot for my old Sony MiniDisc Changer - never had any alternator whine on that either...
Perhaps the folks at PhatNoise have fixed the Alternator Whine issue with the new design PhatBox? Could Audi have improved the quality of their CD Changer Cables? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]
FYI, my car is an MY01 S3, built sometime in the week begining 5th July 2001. It has heated electric Recaro Sports Seats, electric sunroof, heated door-mirrors (shiny ones), auto-dip rear-view mirror, BOSE Speaker System, Audi Concert (v1) Radio/Cassette, Cruise Control, DBW Throttle, Electric Door Windows and a 210BHP ECU. Which results in a heck of a lot of electronics all being fed through the dashboard area.
Maybe I got "lucky" with the wiring on my S3, I'll be sure to flag that as a feature when I come to trade it in [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
P.S. I do get a very loud buzzing/humming sound on MW Radio from time to time which I've tried to isolate, but without success [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
No radio and cd head unit are crystal clear. I've obviously tried all the 'obvious' & some unusual fixes, to no avail.
Its not that bad, I still run the unit - just not as good as I would expect.
Bacon foil & direct earthing of PB unit maybe a solution I'll try soon..
I've got the Phatnoise system, and don't get the whine, however, I get TERRIBLE interference when I have my mobile connected up via the headunit, clearly the speaker is not shielded correctly