Bewith is one of the big names in high-end car audio brands in Japan. It is widely renowned for its excellent products by audiophiles and it has won a variety of awards by car audio magazines and websites.
It has gone on to make its name known well outside of Japan, winning prizes at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the United States. Bewith is a brand that is recognized all over the world.
Bewith surprised the world with the launch of its first product, the Confidence 2-way speaker system, in June, 2002. What made this speaker system so surprising is that it used the world’s first all-eccentric cone. Since the release of Confidence, Bewith has gone on to release one revolutionary product after another.
In this series of articles, we’re exploring this unique brand and delving into the world of car audio. Last month, we featured its Confidence flagship speaker. This month, let’s take a look at some of the company’s other products. All of Bewith’s products stand in sharp contrast to the offerings of other brands. A look at each of these products one-by-one reveals much about the company as well as car audio in general.
This week, let’s look at Bewith’s first source unit, Mirror Media MM-1. It first made its appearance in June, 2005. Now, ten years after its introduction, it is still the only one of its kind. It’s a product that’s symbolic of Bewith’s unique and iconoclastic place in the car audio industry.
First, we’ll gain an understanding of what type of product Mirror Media MM-1 is through a broad outline. In the simplest terms, it is a linear PCM player. In other words, it’s a digital player that can play data as-is without treating it through things like compression. It can also play compressed data. You can think of it as the car audio version of something like the iPod.
At that time in 2005, the appearance of a source unit without a CD mechanism was quite novel. This is why, although there were voices of support, there were many who viewed the product skeptically.
The Mirror Media MM-1 offered four key advantages. The first was that it used a CF card which could read digital media without a rotation mechanism. In a moving vehicle which is subject to vibrations, this is a huge advantage.
The second advantage was that it allowed the user to bring a great deal of music into the car’s audio system easily and at one time. Previously, car audio systems used CD changers for this. But the volume of data a CD changer offers doesn’t even compare to that of a CF card. One CD can hold a maximum of 700MB. A CF card holds much more data. If, for example, a CF card can hold 16GB, this is the equivalent of over 20 CDs.
The ease of installation is the system’s third advantage. At the time of its introduction, this aspect certainly opened some eyes. As car navigation became more widespread and cars increasingly had unusually-shaped instrument panels, it became difficult to use single din audio devices. However, Mirror Media MM-1 overcomes this problem by being mountable on the rear-view mirror.
The fourth advantage is that it can work together with a factory-installed audio system. This is quite a major advantage. With ordinary car audio, users often exchange the original deck for something else. This is especially the case with luxury cars. But removing the original deck often means losing functionality. But with Mirror Media MM-1, the original deck can be left as-is. A user can bring data into the original deck and use both systems in parallel. This was a completely new concept at the time.
Perhaps Mirror Media MM-1 went a bit too far. With all of its innovations, some people viewed it skeptically. These were people who didn’t well understand the four great advantages the product brought to the table. It should be kept in mind that the idea of loading CD data onto a computer was also the cause for skepticism. Today, of course, this skepticism has largely vanished.
Another problem is that Mirror Media MM-1 is not what any reasonable person would call “cheap” (200,000 yen plus tax). This is another barrier to the system’s acceptance. However, it should be noted that there were high-end car audio CD players at the same price.
But there’s a reason for the high price. The sound quality and performance was extraordinarily high. The product presented a non-rotational mechanism and various other details for those particular about their audio. What Mirror Media MM-1 aimed for was solely to faithfully reproduce sound. The result of this pursuit took shape as a linear PCM player. It was the answer to the logical reasoning and scientific research that went into solving the problems of car audio. The idea was not to create something novel and curious, but simply to offer the best performance possible.
Many people could see the value Mirror Media MM-1 had to offer. Those who understood the system’s unique advantages and sought the best, most faithful sound reproduction possible spread the word.
In the half-year since its introduction, its fans and supporters grew quickly. There was a turning point in January 2006 when Mirror Media MM-1 won the Innovation Award in the Vehicle Audio Electronics category at International CES 2006 in the US. This eliminated whatever skepticism remained.
Mirror Media MM-1 continued to gain followers and received its first full model change in February 2013, 8 years after its initial appearance. It was reborn as the State MM-1D, which has completely new versions of more than 90% point rating of the constituent parts from devices to housing, while staying true to the Mirror Media MM-1 concept with further performance improvements and even purer sound quality.
The State MM-1D maintains its strong presence in the world of car audio. It offers sound quality that is found nowhere else. It’s easy to use and has won the admiration of audiophiles the world over. The system is especially ideal for users who want to keep the vehicle’s factory-installed audio. As new models are increasingly equipped with built-in systems that are hard to replace, there’s no doubt that demand for the State MM-1D will only grow. This concept from ten years ago is still on the cutting edge. Today, there is no doubt about the quality and advantages of Mirror Media MM-1 and State MM-1D.
Next, let’s delve into Bewith’s take on the digital signal processor. It has its own unique ideas and technological innovations in this area as well.
(Translated by Greg Scott)