Custom Autosound vs Antique Automobile Radio
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Custom Autosound vs Antique Automobile Radio


Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radio are two manufacturers of direct replacement, classic car radios. And while they both serve the same market, they do it very differently, and they don't necessarily target the same type of customer. We are going to break down the features of each of the radio models to give you the information you need to make an informed decision as to which is right for you.
Radio Models

(1957 Chevy Radio Pictured as the Example)

Features

  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • RCA Aux Input (Rear)
  • Fits in Original Dash Location
  • Officially Licensed GM or Ford Logo

The Custom Autosound USA-230 is the lowest cost direct replacement classic car radio. This radio doesn't have many features, but it gets the job done if you want a radio that will fit in the original dash location, look classic, and play music. It has a digital AM/FM tuner, an auxiliary input, and most of the features you would expect in a radio today. It does not have Bluetooth, and it does not have a CD player.


Features

  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • Option to Add Bluetooth (BluKit Sold Separately)
  • Option to Add CD Player (External. Sold Separately)
  • USB Port (Rear)
  • RCA Aux Input (Rear)
  • Fits in Original Dash Location
  • Officially Licensed GM or Ford Logo

The Custom Autosound USA-630 is a step-up from the USA-230, and it adds more power, a USB port, the ability to add Bluetooth by purchasing the BluKit, and the ability to add a CD player by purchasing the CD-1. From an appearance standpoint, the USA-230 and the USA-630 look nearly identical. When installed, the only visual difference is that the right button says "AUX" on the USA-230, and it says "MODE" on the USA-630.


Features

  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • Bluetooth Built-In
  • Option to Add CD Player (External. Sold Separately)
  • USB Port (Rear)
  • 2x Aux Input (Front & Rear)
  • Fits in Original Dash Location
  • Subwoofer Control & Pre-Out
  • 7 Color LCD Display

The USA-740 is the top of the line Custom Autosound classic car radio. The biggest difference is that it has Bluetooth built-in. Whereas the USA-630 requires you to purchase a separate, add-on module, the USA-740 has the Bluetooth chip integrated in the main circuit board. In addition, the USA-740 has an 3.5mm auxiliary jack on the front of the radio as well as the RCA AUX input in the back. The USA-740 has a 7 color LCD display that allows you to change the color of the LCD readout to match your vehicle's exterior color or the color of your digital gauges. The USA-740 radio has a separate subwoofer pre-out and controller that the USA-230 and USA-630 do not have and it has both front and rear buttons on the shafts. The one thing that the USA-740 does not have that the USA-230 and USA-630 have is an officially licensed GM or Ford logo for those specific vehicles.


Features

  • Trap Door Analog Display that Disappears to Show Digital Readout
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • Aux Input (Rear)
  • Option to Add Bluetooth (BluKit Sold Separately)
  • Option to Add CD Player (External. Sold Separately)
  • USB Port (Rear)
  • Fits in Original Dash Location
  • Subwoofer Control & Pre-Out
  • 7 Color LCD Display

The Custom Autosound slidebar radio has limited fitments and is in between the USA-740 and the USA-630. The Slidebar radio uses an actual slidebar on the radio face itself to reveal and hide a false front, analog display. When the vehicle is parked, you can flip the slidebar to conceal the digital LCD and show a classic looking, analog display. You can then flip the slidebar back to have a fully functioning, modern radio when you are driving. The Slidebar radio does not have Bluetooth built-in, but you can add the BluKit module, and it sells as a package for the same price as the USA-740. The Slidebar radio also has a seven-color LCD display and the subwoofer pre-out and control like the USA-740. You can also add the CD-1 to the Slidebar just like you can with the USA-740. The Slidebar radios have the most. "Original" apperance among Custom Autosound radios with some single year specific models for tri-five Chevys, Mustangs, Corvettes, Chevy Trucks, and more.


Features

  • Nearly Identical Reproduction of the Original
  • Bluetooth Built-In
  • AM/FM Digital Tuner
  • Aux Input (Rear)
  • Metal Knobs
  • Working/Moving Station Indicator
  • Fits in Original Dash Location
  • 3 Channel Pre-Outs (L/R/Sub)

Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios designed their radios to look as close as possible to the original radio that came in your vehicle and provide you with modern features. These radios come standard with Bluetooth built-in and an auxiliary input in the rear. This attention to detail on these radios is unbelievable. The displays have roll-over dials where appropriate. The pushbuttons work and feel like mechanical pushbuttons even though there is a digital tuner on the board to ensure you don't have the stations jumping on you. They are metal where they are supposed to be metal and plastic where they are supposed to be plastic. The difference between some models might be the color of an LED indicator light. The Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios are specifically tooled to fit the exact years that are specified. Some of these radios have even fooled judges at car shows thinking that the radio is an original when it is a brand new, modern replica. If you want the most original appearance possible, the AAR OE Replica is the way to go.


Similarities
They both fit in the original dash

Both the Custom Autosound and AAR radios will fit in the original dash location. There are a couple of Custom Autosound applications that aren't ideal (1949-1950 Ford Car and 1951-1952 Ford Truck), but outside of a couple of exceptions, the radios fit in the original dash location, and you don't have to cut or modify any metal and damage the originality of the vehicle. The AAR radios fit in the original dash locations perfectly.

They both look old

Both Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radios will look "old" in your dash. The Antique Automobile Radio OE Replica radios will look "older," if you will, but neither company is going to give you a Las Vegas Strip light show in your dash with a big old rectangle of colored lights. Outside of us "classic car guys/girls," people will see the radio and think that it is an old radio in an old car, giving you the classic appearance you are looking for.


Differences

While both Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile Radios are classic car radios, there are some differences. These will likely help you determine which one is right for you.

Price

One of the most noticeable differences between Custom Autosound and Antique Automobile radio is the price. The AAR Radios start around $600 and go up to around $800. The Custom Autosound radios start at $190 and go to $350. Depending on your vehicle and your budget, the price difference could be a significant factor. You can get an entire stereo system with an amplifier for the cost of an AAR radio. But, you might have a beautiful restoration, and you want to make sure the radio looks exactly like the original. If you have over $50k into your car, do you care about $500? We can't answer that for you, but the price differences are pretty big between Custom Autosound and AAR radios.

Bluetooth

All AAR radios come with Bluetooth built-in. The Custom Autosound USA-740 radio comes with Bluetooth, but the rest of the models do not. You can purchase the BluKit to add Bluetooth streaming and hands-free calling to the USA-630 and Slidebar radios. If you only need to stream music from your phone to the radio via Bluetooth and you don't care about hands-free calling, you can purchase our 12V RCA Bluetooth adapter and add Bluetooth to the USA-230 as well for less than half of the cost of the BluKit. It all depends on how you want to deal with and manage it. You can add Bluetooth to any classic car radio if it doesn't have it. Often though, it's way easier to buy the OE Replica or the USA-740 and not deal with an adapter.

Appearance

There is no doubt that the AAR radios look better than the Custom Autosound radios. The attention to detail and the originality is on another level. But so is the price point. If you have a concours restoration, it probably makes sense to purchase the OE Replica. At the same time, you could have a pro-touring car and want the dash and the radio to look as original as possible. You could also have a weekend grocery-getter, and you want something that will look old. The Custom Autosound USA-230 and USA-630 radios have officially licensed GM and Ford logos. The Slidebar radios look close to the original on some of the models. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder on this one. You have to decide which one you like better, or how much you are willing to spend to have your radio look exactly like the original.

RCA Outputs

All of the Custom Autosound radios come with four-channel pre-amp outputs. The Slidebar and USA-740 radios come with a separate subwoofer pre-out and subwoofer control. The AAR OE Replica radios come with three-channel pre-amp outputs, left, right, and subwoofer. If you aren't going to add a subwoofer, the subwoofer pre-out doesn't mean anything. Even if you add a subwoofer, the amplifiers these days will sum the full-range signal and send the bass frequencies to the subwoofer channel. We like to control the subwoofer on the amplifier with a bass knob. It's faster, easier, and safer because you can keep your eyes on the road without having to toggle to a different screen. The thing with the AAR radios is the ability to fade between front and rear. If you add an amplifier with an AAR radio, you will have to fade between front and rear with the gains on the amplifier. Once you set the gains, you are probably not messing with them. The other thing to ask yourself is this, "How often do you adjust the fader in your vehicle?" For me, that answer is never. I set it once, and I leave it center. So, if you don't mess with the fader (you shouldn't) and if you add a bass knob to control your subwoofer (you should!), the number of pre-outs doesn't matter. When you consider that most amplifiers also accept high-level inputs (Speaker wires), the three-channel vs. four-channel vs. five-channel pre-outs don't matter.

Lead Times

We try to keep all of our top moving products in stock, on the shelf. But, there are peaks and valleys with consumer demand and with manufacturing. If a special order or not in stock, Custom Autosound radios typically take about a week in production. It can then take up to a week to get to your door, so, from the time you place your order to the time you receive it, usually, a maximum of 2 weeks IF THE RADIO IS NOT IN STOCK. If it is in stock, we ship it out right away from our facility in Oceanside, CA.

Antique Automobile Radio products have significantly longer lead times. They usually take 10-14 weeks in production. We probably keep more AAR radios on the shelf than anyone else in the world, but we also get some crazy demand spikes, and we can run out. We try not to, but it happens. To be safe, if an AAR radio is out of stock, plan on it taking 10-14 weeks before you receive it. If it happens faster, great. But, you will need to plan ahead and or plan for delays if you want an OE replica radio and the particular model is out of stock. If you see that it is in stock, and you want it, don't wait.

Warranty

Custom Autosound warranties their radios for two years. Antique Automobile Radio warranties their radios for one year. However, if you buy your AAR radio from us, we provide an additional one year warranty at no additional cost.

Knobs

The knobs on Custom Autosound radios are made of plastic. There are several different options, and they are "Period Correct." The Custom Autosound knobs may not be an exact match to your original, but they should still look appropriate in your vehicle. The AAR radio knobs are exact replicas of the original radio knobs. If your original radio knobs were metal, so are the AAR knobs. If they were plastic, so are the AAR knobs. The AAR radio knobs are year and model specific to ensure that your radio looks as close to the original as possible.


Key Questions to Ask Yourself

These are the questions we ask customers over the phone to help them decide which radio is right for them.

How much are you willing to spend?

Do you want to spend $600-$800 on an AAR radio? If you have a bone-stock, concours restoration, you probably should. If you want your radio to look exactly like the original, you should get the OE replica. If you have a highly customized vehicle, is it worth it? We can't answer that question for you, but that is something you should consider.

Do you have a concours restoration or is it customized?

This question is similar to the question above regarding price. If you have a highly customized vehicle, you don't want to cut the dash and ruin the originality because you don't have to. But at the same time, if the car is super custom, do you need to spend the extra money for an OE Replica radio? A Custom Autosound product will get the job done and still sound great. It will fit in the original dash location. It will give you modern features and maintain the vehicle's integrity. If you have brought the car back to showroom condition, you probably should get the AAR OE Replica.

Do you see the OE Replica and have to have it?

If you love how the AAR radios look and have the budget, go with the AAR radio. If you look at them and think that they look cool, but you aren't going to spend $800 on a radio, save your pennies and go with the Custom Autosound one. At the end of the day, it is your car. You will be the one that drives it (or sells it), and you are the one that needs to be happy with your decision.

Are you going to be using an amplifier?

If you use high-level inputs, this doesn't matter. If you use the RCA pre-outs and do a typical amplifier installation, the Custom Autosound radios are easier to connect to an amplifier.

What is your time frame?

This question only applies if the AAR or Custom Autosound radios are out of stock. But, if you need a radio in a month and the AAR radio is out of stock, you are probably screwed. It would be best if you went with a Custom Autosound radio.

Need more info? We'd be happy to help.
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