Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. today unveiled its new show car at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The car, which started life as a Mercedes Benz R500, was transformed into a show-stopping, elegant, rolling IMPRINT sound system demonstration.Designed and built by Alpine’s in-house Advanced Application R & D team of Steve Brown, Gary Bell, Brent Davison and Glen Swackhamer from Alpine of Canada, the IMPRINT RLS is the newest creation to emerge from Alpine’s North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

The goal of the Alpine team was to build a great-sounding show car that was sleek and sophisticated, yet with custom work that would make it one-of-a-kind. The striking shape of the RLS was created entirely by hand, using only the original roof from the R500. The front, rear and sides of the RLS were shaped from fiberglass to give the car a sophisticated, flowing shape. The RLS differs from recent Alpine show cars which had bold custom airbrush paint designs. Instead, the RLS was sprayed with an elegant custom-mixed BASF R-M Carizzma Candy Cherry Cola Brown hue, which accentuates the shape of the car. The details and shadows on the external door panels, which have curves that undulate into the depths of the door, become more prominent depending on how light reflects off of the one-of-a-kind paint.

Alpine Imprint RLS
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One of the most striking elements about the RLS is that it has two doors, rather than the four doors that it began with. It is also a center-drive car, a characteristic that is reminiscent of previous Alpine show cars. But upon further inspection inside the RLS, one would wonder how it could be center drive if there are two front seats. The answer lies in that the RLS can be driven from either the left or right front seat. The custom-cut aluminum and leather steering wheel is located in the center console next to the shifter, and gas/brake pedals were provided for both front seats. The driver can enter the RLS from either the left or right door. Each door is actually connected to a seat, and each door/seat module is on a motorized rotating platform that automatically rotates the seat outward — and the door inward — to allow the driver access to the completely custom-made interior. Once two lucky passengers are inside, they are in for the ultimate sound quality experience thanks to Alpine’s new IMPRINT sound technology.

Alpine Imprint RLS
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The strategy behind building a two-seater, center drive car was not just for eye-candy. The RLS’ interior and audio system were specifically designed to showcase the capabilities of the IMPRINT sound architecture. IMPRINT allows the listener to experience music the way the artist intended. Using the CDA-9887 CD/MP3/WMA/AAC receiver and its IMPRINT Sound Manager software kit, the build team was able to easily – and automatically — tune and calibrate the RLS’ sound system. A specially designed microphone measures the acoustic environment of the car’s interior, analyzing acoustical problems. The software then applies advanced acoustical corrections to ensure that the signal that the speakers are being fed are exactly what the artist had intended. The entire automated tuning process takes approximately 20 minutes, which is light-years faster than traditional sound tuning procedures.

For the Alpine team, it was a good thing that the system could be tuned so quickly, so that they could concentrate on other aspects of the RLS. An iPod loaded with Apple Lossless-encoded music supplements the CDA-9887’s AM/FM/CD sources and is connected via the KCE-422i Full Speed Connection for iPod cable. A SIRIUS Satellite Radio Sportster 4 also adds an endless amount of music and entertainment sources, and is connected through the KCA-SC100 SIRIUS satellite radio interface.

Two PDX-4.150 amplifiers power the front and rear speakers. The front soundstage consists of the first PDX-4.150 running four 6.5-inch mids from the SPX-17REF component set, along with channels 1 and 2 of the second PDX-4.150 running two tweeters from the SPX-17REF component set. The rear sound comes from channels 3 and 4 of the second PDX-4.150, running an SPX-17REF component set.

Alpine Imprint RLS
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To get impressive bass impact in the front of the car, the team installed four SPX-1043D 10-inch subwoofers in a sealed enclosure built into the custom-made dash. Each of these woofers is powered by one PDX-1.1000 amplifier for maximum dynamic response.

All of the PDX amplifiers are showcased on a handmade motorized cylindrical amplifier display that emerges from the back of the vehicle. The amplifier display is embellished with a custom-made aluminum,11-inch diameter, CNC-machined Mercedes Benz emblem. At the touch of a button, the display travels 27 inches out the back of the RLS while simultaneously rotating 360 degrees.

The RLS began as a glimmer in the eyes of the Alpine team, and Roybal Designs helped with the vehicle rendering to get the RLS on the path to reality. With support from Mercedes Benz, the RLS project began its 3.5-month long transformation. Monster Cable wiring is used throughout the RLS, while Kinetik batteries supply power to the car and the audio system. The RLS rides on one-off TIS Wheels (26-inch in the front, 30-inch in the rear) and Pirelli tires, with massive stopping power from Brembo brakes. Custom interior lighting was provide by Pilot, to complement the custom leather upholstery work and airbrushed wood grain panels. Indie Beach Productions supplied editing for the video content that plays in the monitors in the front and rear of the RLS as well as on the free-standing external LCD monitors that will flank the RLS at shows.

Alpine Imprint RLS
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“The IMPRINT RLS takes Alpine back to its roots by showcasing excellent sound quality,” said Stephen Witt, vice president, Marketing, Alpine Electronics. “Beneath the RLS’ custom interior and exterior fabrication lies the heart of the sound system — the IMPRINT sound architecture – which can be easily and automatically tuned for optimal sound reproduction in any vehicle.”

The IMPRINT RLS will be on display at trade and consumer events throughout 2007.

Blas Nicusor
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