BA Falcon INTRODUCTION:

Audio

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INDEX:

The BA Falcon's Audio Systems took as large a leap as did the rest of the car, giving the following improvements:

Audio Display:
All Audio display functions are now incorporated into Ford's new Interior Command Centre with control available via buttons conveniently located on it's lower edge and below.  This display center is shared with the climate controls giving a one stop viewing center located just in the right place without having to look all over the place for the necessary viewing information.

Audio Controls:
With it's centrally located volume control knob on Fairmont and Fairmont Ghia, the BA finally fixed what has been for a long time a fault of most RHD (right hand drive) vehicles - having the volume control on the left - in the furtherest position from the driver as possible!  Operation has been significantly simplified with a multi-function design allowing one button to do a multitude of tasks.  Fortunately the display center itself is also more conveniently placed allowing reaching of the dials, buttons and viewing of the display itself right where you want it to be - every time.      Right: BA Fairmont Ghia center consol.

Falcon's convenient volume / seek radio controls continue to be located at finger tip's reach via buttons on the steering wheel.  Each of those buttons has been given a new high quality 'feel' to it's operation - one that had us checking again to see whether the surface of the button was soft or not.  With the buttons continuing to be made out of hard wearing grained plastic, the new 'feal' leaves you with a renewed confidence in the reliability of the controls - something that occasionally let you down in previous models. 

Hidden Aerial:
With the BA Falcon came the move from the more traditional retractable (both powered & manually operated) aerials to a more European style integrated aerial as part of the vehicle's rear glass.  Located via 2 vertical strips on the rear window (sedan & ute) or on the rear side window of wagons, the new placement avoided the increased windscreen expense normally associated with on-glass placement via use of these less often broken panes rather than on the windscreen itself.  

The change brings with it minor aerodynamic advantages with reduced wind noise, but more importantly puts an end to broken aerials and gives instant radio reception on turning on of the radio without the need to manually raise the aerial or wait for the electric motor to do it's job.  - A boon to those who choose to use mechanised car washes, the new technology also avoids the burnt out electric motors encountered as vehicles age - giving a worth while reliability increase as well.  Another benefit of the on-glass application is that the unsightly mast is gone from the front mudguard removing the need for a hole in the panel as well as eliminating a key NVH generator. 

Improved Reception:
According to Ford, special pulse filters have been fitted to all BA radio systems to help reduce interference that commonly degrades reception within inner-city areas.  AM station listers especially should receive crisper reception thanks to the new circuitry that dials out interference.

Audio and ICC security: 
Replacing the previously used coded audio systems by which you had to remember the radio code for re-entering when ever the power had been disconnected, the BA now has it's own security codes permanently embedded within the stereo head unit and ICC (Interior Command Center) meaning that your radio will not operate in another BA Falcon.  The ignition key transponder initiates another security check, by sending a signal to the Powertrain Control Module to provide power to the audio system - but only once the PCM has determined the correctly matched audio system is installed.

The audio system emits a unique code at start-up that has to match a pre-programmed code held in the PCM memory.  If the code is incorrect the audio system will refuse to work, rendering it useless.  After a battery disconnection, the security code for the radio does not need to be re-installed, saving inconvenience for drivers and owners who may have misplaced the back-up card with the radio code inscribed.  The Interior Command Centre module is also protected by the same coding system that prevents stolen modules being swapped from car to car.  The ICC and Radio security code is buried deep in the unit's electronic memory and does not rely on battery function to continue to work. 

Audio and cruise control button upgrade: 
Falcon's steering-wheel-mounted button feature has been enhanced for greater customer benefit with the arrival of the BA family.  The audio (and cruise control where fitted) buttons now number four per side, with the addition of a 'mode' button for the audio and an 'on/off' for the cruise.  The mode button allows drivers to cycle through AM, FM and CD options, as well as being able to change discs and tracks, while the button operational 'feel' has been vastly improved removing the cheap and flimsy sounding 'click' of the AU items replaced by a silent rubbery feel that has you scratching the surface of the buttons to see if they are really rubberised or not.


BA 'XLS' utility interior featuring optional Momo steering wheel and stereo shared with the 'XT', Futura and XR.

Accessory Connection Port: 
Recognising the keenness of Australians to adopt new technologies, Ford has added an extra auxiliary input cable to each audio system to allow customers to plug MP3 players, Walkman cassette players or even a Play Station into the standard BA audio systems.  The plug is connected via an easy-to-use under-dash connector. 

Multiplexing:
As part of servicing all this added complexity the BA has moved to Multiplex and CAN bus (Controller Area Network) allowing the audio system to communicate with powertrain components (re: speed sensitive volume and security requirements) while reducing wiring loom thickness and increasing data transfer speeds. 

Debuting multiplex wiring that is used as the carrier system for the data required by the Controller Area Network, the BA's main electronic nervous system joins the huge list of changes for this mid-life cycle model change.  Linking the main on-board computers, it allows each to communicate their status and report faults. These include the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), Body Electronics Module (BEM), heater integrated module, instrument cluster, audio system and traction control. 

The high-tech communications system also allows the easier implementation of smart user-friendly features such as speed-dependent audio volume control.  Music lovers will enjoy their favourite tracks at optimum volume irrespective of the driving environment thanks to speed-dependent volume control that increases volume to compensate for road noise.  The advanced CAN bus system also allows far more detailed reporting and storage of faults should they occur, helping to cut down service and fault finding times. 

Four Levels of Entertainment:
There are three levels of factory-fitted audio: 

Trade audio, limited to XL style side & tray back:

Standard audio, including:

Prestige audio, as per Standard audio plus:

Premium audio, as per Prestige Audio plus:

Sat-Nav & Parking System Interface: 
The BA Falcon's speakers are connected to the audio system but also provide delivery of spoken navigation instructions.  When these are issued, the sound level is biased towards the front of the car and the audio system mutes.  The rear speakers on Ghia also double as the audible warning emitters for the Reverse Sensing System that chimes in over the audio system.  Fairmonts optioned with the Reverse Sensing System employ a separate, rear-mounted speaker for this function. 

Appearance:

While being an item highly subject to personal taste (and therefore not able to please everybody), the new Falcon's audio system goes pretty close taking it's inspiration from high quality home theatre systems.  Thankfully moving away from the over abundance of buttons on some audio systems, the BA's appearance is especially pleasing towards the front of the cabin with the only aberration being the ghastly sub-woofer cover on the rear parcel shelf for those vehicles so fitted (replacing the AU's much more pleasant looking item).  

Oh well, I guess you can't win them all!  Overall a very well executed, well thought out and innovative system that continues Ford's tradition of providing great looking, quality sounding systems at a price that makes some more expensive marques look oversubscribed...

Right: BA Fairmont Ghia interior showing fresh new styling, ICC and improved remote button feel & function.

Modifications:
Incorporated into the dash like never before, there is no doubt system swaps will be harder than ever although it is only a matter of time before somebody comes up with a way of improving the system - as is the classic Aussie saying - where there's a will there's a way!  As such, we have set up a discussion topic for people to discuss the latest ways and discoveries in making this a reality (see our Discussions Pages or go straight to the thread by clicking here).  With Ford's exorbitant optional upgrade prices and sky-high spare parts listings (most manufacturers are the same including GM) God knows there's a market out there for those able to crack the factory system and give professional looking and sounding upgrade options to the new and second hand car buyer.  So go to it - and make sure you include your successes on the thread on our Discussion Pages!  

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Info By Ford Motor Company, rewritten by Doug Bevan
Site by Anthony Robinson.
Copyright 2000 by Doug & Any . All rights reserved.
Photos Courtesy of Ford Australia.
Revised: 19 Nov 2002 .