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Whose Head Units Do You Prefer And Why?

 
Old 02-14-2019, 01:51 PM
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j3studio
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Default Whose Head Units Do You Prefer And Why?

[2012 base coupe, Bose, upgrading to modern head unit]

So we're doing a "mid-life" upgrade to my wife's beloved Louis, upgrading to a new head unit mostly to get Apple CarPlay. With our requirements, I'm basically narrowed down to Jenson, JVC, Kenwood, or Pioneer.

What do folks prefer among the vendor and why? I know that JVC and Kenwood are now the same company.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:52 PM
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I would suggest a Kenwood. Kenwood has a nice mix of features and sound quality for the price. I have a Pioneer 8200nex, which was their top of the line model and even though it has great features I was disappointed in the overall sound quality of the unit. I would also suggest a model with a capacitive touch screen over a resistive touch screen. A capacitive touch screen is what you have on your iphone and will give you nice graphics and colors and touch response.

Here is a helpful article with some good info. It's almost a year old but still could be helpful. It compares a few of the major brands.

http://www.carstereochick.com/2018/0...alpine-review/

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Old 02-15-2019, 05:01 PM
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I would go Alpine or Kenwood, then Pioneer. I have listened to new versions of all three. I started with Pioneer in my C5 and hated how it sounded, switched to an Alpine double din and it sounded loads better but hadn't had any experience with Kenwood until recently. I installed an Excelon double din Kenwood with RF amps and speakers and Hertz subs in my son's Rav4 for his Xmas present. The Kenwood sounds fantastic and has nice features. I would'n't be afraid to buy one as I would say you get little more bang for your buck than Alpine. Alpine still a great choice though. Let me qualify my thoughts, too. Sound quality is 100% the most important feature to me so I would forego, price features, etc. just to have best sound quality.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:18 PM
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I go with Sony because they have the best sound, that is for the head unit. For speakers I choose JL Audio hands down.

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Old 02-23-2019, 07:10 AM
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I’ve gone Pioneer in all of my cars lately. Vast improvement over the stock radio and has Apple Car Play. No reason in today’s world to ever need a radio with Navigation. Apple Maps is awesome. Pioneer’s price point is lower than Kenwood and Alpine.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Boostedsvt View Post
Pioneer’s price point is lower than Kenwood and Alpine.
That is the whole point of this discussion. Pioneer's price point might be better, but you give up sound quality in exchange for some extra features when compared to the other brands. I had to add a DSP to my system to get the sound quality to an acceptable level for me. That should never be the case when buying a top of the line model. I use to dislike Kenwood, but they have come a long way in improving their sound and I would put them up there with Alpine as great sounding units. I was told the Sony's sound good also, but I am not completely sold on Sony because last time I checked, all their units were offered only with a resistive touch screen vs a capacitive screen. I want sound quality and features, so I don't mind paying to get both if I can.
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Old 02-26-2019, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by TorchRedFred View Post
That is the whole point of this discussion. Pioneer's price point might be better, but you give up sound quality in exchange for some extra features when compared to the other brands. I had to add a DSP to my system to get the sound quality to an acceptable level for me. That should never be the case when buying a top of the line model. I use to dislike Kenwood, but they have come a long way in improving their sound and I would put them up there with Alpine as great sounding units. I was told the Sony's sound good also, but I am not completely sold on Sony because last time I checked, all their units were offered only with a resistive touch screen vs a capacitive screen. I want sound quality and features, so I don't mind paying to get both if I can.
Agreed. I listened to a Sony the other day at our local audio store and was really impressed. It was in the owner's vehicle and he gave me a test listen. I would add them to my list just below Alpine/Kenwood but better than Pioneer.
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Old 02-26-2019, 01:34 PM
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I've had the Kenwood DMX7704 for a couple years now (bought it when it first came out through an old forum vendor.) No stock components reused- everything replaced.


I've been impressed with it as a headunit so far. It's not quite as responsive to touch as the unit in my wife's 2018 Honda but it's relatively close. Basically, it's slower to respond than you expect from your phone's touch screen.

I can't really add much more than the article TorchRedFred posted above. The only downside may be the lack of an actual radio volume ****. That hasn't bothered me though.
For any that aren't aware- apple carplay now works with waze!

One thing I might do differently- I maybe used the front camera a few times when first installed as a novelty. I thought it would be useful for parking since I was just getting used to the new(to me) car with such a long hood. Total waste now. I never use it. The 7704 has the ability to control a dashcam from kenwood with that input instead if you are int that sort of thing though.
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Old 02-26-2019, 02:30 PM
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IF you care about sound quality (and use uncompressed music sources), then get something with a 24-bit Burr Brown Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and more than 1.0V pre-out supply. I have an older Alpine (INA-W910) CD/DVD as my source with their outboard processor/RCA port and it's fantastic. Even if you're using radio power instead of outboard amps for the speakers, the digital conversion hardware can be important, as is having a reasonable amount of clean power available.

If you're listening to 128bit MP3's on your phone, it's probably not the radio's fault that quality is low.
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Old 02-26-2019, 09:18 PM
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Kenwood for sound and Garmin. I have the DNX890HD
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Old 02-26-2019, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 02BlownZ06 View Post
I would go Alpine or Kenwood, then Pioneer. I have listened to new versions of all three. I started with Pioneer in my C5 and hated how it sounded, switched to an Alpine double din and it sounded loads better but hadn't had any experience with Kenwood until recently. I installed an Excelon double din Kenwood with RF amps and speakers and Hertz subs in my son's Rav4 for his Xmas present. The Kenwood sounds fantastic and has nice features. I would'n't be afraid to buy one as I would say you get little more bang for your buck than Alpine. Alpine still a great choice though. Let me qualify my thoughts, too. Sound quality is 100% the most important feature to me so I would forego, price features, etc. just to have best sound quality.
How about Sony? I am leaning towards the Kenwood 905s, but the Sony AX5000 is an option for me as well and at the same price point.
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by TorchRedFred View Post
That is the whole point of this discussion. Pioneer's price point might be better, but you give up sound quality in exchange for some extra features when compared to the other brands. I had to add a DSP to my system to get the sound quality to an acceptable level for me. That should never be the case when buying a top of the line model. I use to dislike Kenwood, but they have come a long way in improving their sound and I would put them up there with Alpine as great sounding units. I was told the Sony's sound good also, but I am not completely sold on Sony because last time I checked, all their units were offered only with a resistive touch screen vs a capacitive screen. I want sound quality and features, so I don't mind paying to get both if I can.
Re-reading the OP’s post, and if they are only replacing the radio, not all the speakers and adding aftermarket amplifiers, do you not agree that the sound quality will be better than the factory system? It seems that his biggest “need” or “want” is Apple Car Play. OP, all of these radios listed will have wonderful results and you’ll love the Apple Car Play. Double check the Sony, I am not sure if it has Apple Car Play but am not saying that it doesn’t.
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Old 02-27-2019, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Boostedsvt View Post
Re-reading the OP’s post, and if they are only replacing the radio, not all the speakers and adding aftermarket amplifiers, do you not agree that the sound quality will be better than the factory system? It seems that his biggest “need” or “want” is Apple Car Play. OP, all of these radios listed will have wonderful results and you’ll love the Apple Car Play. Double check the Sony, I am not sure if it has Apple Car Play but am not saying that it doesn’t.
The Sony I am looking at has Apple Car play. The AX5000 has a Capacitive screen and does Android as well as Apple Car Play. Wired. I think the only one that does wireless Apple Car play is the Alpine ILX107.

Check out Crutchfield's site. They have a great site and you can go search based on all sorts of options. I would recommend a Capacitive screen

I noticed the Alpine ILX-W650 as well. Looks to be a nice system and it is super shallow and has the option of adding a "Power Pack" mounted to the radio for an additional amp installed right with the radio.

I need to go check out the Alpine, Kenwood, and Sony's to get a feel of the interface/OS on each. I have read one review that said the Kenwood "OS" is a bit dated. But if you are going to be using Carplay or Android not sure if that is an issue.
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:29 PM
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Pioneer. I got Pioneer head-units from the early 90's that are still playing as if they were new. The one in my Expedition (pictured) is a 1992 unit hooked up to an equalizer and two 6-disc changers. Just recently replaced a 1991 Pioneer unit in my Talon TsiAWD with an Alpine, not because the Pioneer quit working, my installer just talked me into a new double din, I regret that decision.
I've never had luck with Kenwood products. I've purchased 3 items from them and all went bad (two sets of speakers and one amplifier)

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Old 02-27-2019, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by knewblewkorvette View Post
Pioneer. I got Pioneer head-units from the early 90's that are still playing as if they were new. The one in my Expedition (pictured) is a 1992 unit hooked up to an equalizer and two 6-disc changers. Just recently replaced a 1991 Pioneer unit in my Talon TsiAWD with an Alpine, not because the Pioneer quit working, my installer just talked me into a new double din, I regret that decision.
I've never had luck with Kenwood products. I've purchased 3 items from them and all went bad (two sets of speakers and one amplifier)

OMG!! I remember selling these at my brother's shop back then. Kenwood amps and speakers are not made as good as they used to be IMHO. Their head units are still good. I have a DDX9903s that I like. Alpine has also been another favorite of mine.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Boostedsvt View Post
Re-reading the OP’s post, and if they are only replacing the radio, not all the speakers and adding aftermarket amplifiers, do you not agree that the sound quality will be better than the factory system? It seems that his biggest “need” or “want” is Apple Car Play. OP, all of these radios listed will have wonderful results and you’ll love the Apple Car Play. Double check the Sony, I am not sure if it has Apple Car Play but am not saying that it doesn’t.
One of my first mods to my car was replacing the head unit. I purchased the Pioneer 8200nex which was Pioneers top model at that time and I ran it with the stock Bose speakers and amp. I have since replaced my Bose speakers and amp, and added a subwoofer and DSP to do a complete aftermarket system. I do agree that almost any aftermarket head unit, form one of the major brands, will improve the sound of the stock system. But I will also say that although the Pioneer was better than the stock head unit it was not as good as I thought it would or should be. Even after I went high end with the rest of my equipment, I still found the sound to be irritating and over processed for lack of a better term. At first I was reluctant to admit that it was the Pioneer that was the weak link in my system. But after much trial and error, and research, I realized that Pioneers sound is just not up to par when it comes to trying to get high end clean sound, even when you move up to their top model. For that reason, I find it hard to recommend them when you have other brands that put a greater emphasis on sound quality.

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Old 02-28-2019, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by TorchRedFred View Post
One of my first mods to my car was replacing the head unit. I purchased the Pioneer 8200nex which was Pioneers top model at that time and I ran it with the stock Bose speakers and amp. I have since replaced my Bose speakers and amp, and added a subwoofer and DSP to do a complete aftermarket system. I do agree that almost any aftermarket head unit, form one of the major brands, will improve the sound of the stock system. But I will also say that although the Pioneer was better than the stock head unit it was not as good as I thought it would or should be. Even after I went high end with the rest of my equipment, I still found the sound to be irritating and over processed for lack of a better term. At first I was reluctant to admit that it was the Pioneer that was the weak link in my system. But after much trial and error, and research, I realized that Pioneers sound is just not up to par when it comes to trying to get high end clean sound, even when you move up to their top model. For that reason, I find it hard to recommend them when you have other brands that put a greater emphasis on sound quality.
How hard was it to go in and replace the speakers and amp after you had the head unit installed? That is probably how I will go, if I eventually replace the speakers and amp. I am mainly looking for modern niceties in the unit like Apple Car Play which will give me an up to date NAV.

Anyone have experience with Alpine? Had a unit WAY back in the day, but no idea how they stand in the sound department when compared to Kenwood and Sony.

The Alpine ILX-W650 seems like it could very nice and having the ability to put a piggy back amp on it seems like a good choice and it only being 2-7/8" deep should make install a breeze. I know year ago it could get a bit tight getting everything in there when you are pushing the unit in.

Think the second camera option would be nice and of the ones I was looking at the Alpine ILX-W650 and the Kenwood DMX905S both support a second camera. Would probably go with a dash cam and rear camera instead of a front and rear camera as I don't think I need to worry the camera out front. Haven't had any issues parking, but would be nice having it for backing up. Especially with people around.

Do they make any cameras out that integrate with these head units that have a sort of sensor as well?

Edit: Nevermind, the Alpine only has a single USB connection while the Kenwood DMX905S has 2, which would definitely be nice to have. Guess I have figured out which unit I will go with.

Some of the reviews mention that the physical buttons stick out a bit far on the bottom which can impact touching the bottom of the screen. Does anyone agree with that, or is it a bit of nitpicking?

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Old 03-04-2019, 09:23 AM
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I have the INE-W960 Alpine and it works great and sounds even better. I don't think you can go wrong with Alpine or Kenwood, and even the new Sony's. As I mentioned earlier, I got to listen to a Sony the other day and was really impressed. the Pioneer AVIC-7200 I had never sounded right. It had a muddled midrange and off sound that I just couldn't tweak out of it. I finally just sold it and replaced with an Alpine (this is in a high end system) and the difference in sound quality was staggering.

I think maybe some of the older Pioneer head units had good sound quality but I am not impressed so far with the new ones. Bang for the buck would probably be the Kenwood, and they sound good to boot.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:24 PM
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Thanks to all for their contributions (and please keep them coming)—I was worried for a little that I'd somehow found a question that would get few responses but now I know that isn't true.

It strikes me that almost everything in upgrading audio/electronics is a want not a need.

To be clear, the immediate goal is to upgrade the 2012's aged telematics—what makes this otherwise magnificent vehicle (we're big fans of Louis) feel dated. The most desired feature is the CarPlay the lady has gotten used to in her foul-weather driver and CD playback is still required. Integration with steering wheel controls and car warning sounds is also desired and I feel like I might as well add a backup camera while I'm at it. XM/Sirius is no longer relevant.
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Old 03-04-2019, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SPSandman View Post
How hard was it to go in and replace the speakers and amp after you had the head unit installed? That is probably how I will go, if I eventually replace the speakers and amp. I am mainly looking for modern niceties in the unit like Apple Car Play which will give me an up to date NAV.
It's not that much extra work if you decide to add aftermarket amp and speakers later on after installing an aftermarket head unit. When installing amp and speakers, almost all of the install will be running the wiring to and from the new amp and it's location. From the amp to the head unit is only RCA cables and one wire for the amp turn on.

As far as cameras, I only installed a back up camera and have no regrets that I didn't add a front camera. To me it wasn't worth the additional work required for a front camera and I always back up into any spot with a curb. Having a backup camera in a C6 is a huge bonus.
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