So, for months now I have been researching and compiling options to build my very own head unit. My specific requirements for not throwing this build out were:
  • Touch Screen
  • ARM Processor in Mini-ITX Motherboard
  • Well designed double-din case
  • At least 1GB of RAM
  • Interface with my current speakers and AMP
  • An operating system that could tether with my iPhone to use its internet connection

First thing I found was a nice double-din case with the capability of being mounted in my car nicely and have a nice touch screen mounted on the front. Then came the 7" multi-touch touchscreen (multi-touch requiring a driver but most ARM operating systems supported). Finally, the motherboard with built-in Atom processor running at 1.6GHz and space for up to 2GB of RAM, fairly cheap.

Having VGA out on the motherboard and USB ports, I am not only able to properly hook up the screen but allow usb to be connected as well for touch options. Power comes direct in the mini-ITX case with a 4 PIN 12VDC adapter. Everything is working out well, except for when it comes to speakers.

On the motherboard it supports a 2.1 channel audio out jack which simply will not cut it. I need a solution to not only split my front and back speakers to equalize on the operating system but I also been sub output isolated to split into RCAs and run to my amp. My thought is getting an external USB sound card, capable of 5.1 surround sound with ports for front, rear and sub/center. Probably not something cheap but I'm noticing that external sound cards are becoming a thing of the past.

One of my biggest concerns with this is if this is enough pre-amp to compare with my current headunit or any headunit on the market today. Also, where am I going to put this external sound card in my dash? I suppose I could buy a new harness to split each speaker into audio jacks and then mount the sound card below my headunit, but I need to know if it's worth it.