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Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/6/17 10:49 p.m.

I used to be Alpine only, but man they got expensive! I need to upgrade the stereo in the Mazda5 before it dies completely, and a deal on a head unit, install face, wiring, and speakers is looking good through Crutchfield. I don't see why the Kenwood Excelen (DPX592BT) on matching 6x8's (x4) are worth $40 more ($279.90 vrs $239.90)than the JVC double-DIN (KW-R920BTS) with matching speakers.

Any advice?

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
3/6/17 10:56 p.m.

I don't know those specific units but I tend to like Kenwood's interfaces better. Only speakers I buy are Infinity so I can't help you there.

If you use Crutchfield's tool to compare features side by side you might see why one is more expensive. Or perhaps one is just a little older and beginning the discount slide.

SkinnyG
SkinnyG SuperDork
3/6/17 11:25 p.m.

I ditched my last Kenwood in favour of Alpine. Wow, what a difference. Deeper bass, clearer, I love it.

It took me over 30 years to finally get there, with a wake of stereos behind me, but now I'm an Alpine believer. :)

QuasiMofo
QuasiMofo GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 5:11 a.m.

Today I view car audio much differently than I used to. Previously I would package a couple Fosgate or JL 12" subs with MBQuart mids and highs all powered by Lanzar amps processes by AudioControl from an Alpine source unit. May have built the same system in a dozen cars. Today I still have the OE head unit in the Cruze and RX8 because I can't decide on a head unit!

This thread interests me.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/7/17 6:31 a.m.

My wifes 5, we did infinity reference 6x8 in all openings, added tweeters in the side mirror caps, and sound deadening everywhere. Even with the factory head unit, its sounds great. Needs a sub, but wife says no.

I like jvc interface and features. Radio reception is sub par. Kenwood gets much better there. Similar sound quality.

jr10cross
jr10cross Reader
3/7/17 6:44 a.m.

I've always been an Alpine head unit kind of guy. The clarity is just there if you're using the unit to push you mids and highs. They don't waste money in crazy graphic, but rather in usability and materials. I've always used Polk audio for my mids and separate infinity tweeters. Bass can go many ways but at this point in my life I wouldn't do anything larger than a 10. With the Alpine unit in my opinion, you get what you pay for, sound excellence, but there may be other units that do offer a better feature set for your money. Pioneer for instants, always had more bling, but their head unit could never produce the best fidelity, again in my opinion.

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 8:07 a.m.

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. Definitely going the Alpine head unit route. My 5 already has the mirror tweeters, and they are crazy expensive, so I'll just be doing the four 6x8's. Alpine doesn't have a good potion in that size, so Polk? Infinity? JBL?

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/7/17 8:16 a.m.

Infinity all day and twice on sunday.

What they lack in bass response, the make up for in clarity and midrange. A small powered 8 or 10, and perfect.

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
3/7/17 9:07 a.m.

I really liked Fujitsu-Ten/Eclipse before they went out of business. :-/

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 9:31 a.m.

I would go Alpine simply because I had this poster on my wall. I have nothing else useful to add here.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/7/17 9:51 a.m.

I need to replace the steereo in my Element. I haven't bought a car stereo in over 20 years. Was kind of shocked how inexpensive they are. What's the best place to go to see what's good and what's not?

failboat
failboat UberDork
3/7/17 10:06 a.m.

Put together a few stereos in high school with Alpine headunit and polk speakers and was super pleased with those. (I worked at circuit city so hooked a few friends up with employee discount)

I ran into one of my friends a few weeks back, he STILL has the same stereo setup in his car after all these years.

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 11:16 a.m.
Kreb wrote: I need to replace the steereo in my Element. I haven't bought a car stereo in over 20 years. Was kind of shocked how inexpensive they are. What's the best place to go to see what's good and what's not?

Crutchfield is the best, period. I do all my research, and most of my buying, there.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/7/17 12:06 p.m.
Javelin wrote:
Kreb wrote: I need to replace the steereo in my Element. I haven't bought a car stereo in over 20 years. Was kind of shocked how inexpensive they are. What's the best place to go to see what's good and what's not?
Crutchfield is the best, period. I do all my research, and most of my buying, there.

I agree with this. Their staff is also excellent. Give them a call and see what they recommend.

NoPermitNeeded
NoPermitNeeded Reader
3/7/17 12:21 p.m.

sink your entire budget into some 15'' competition-spec subs?

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
3/7/17 12:46 p.m.
QuasiMofo wrote: Today I view car audio much differently than I used to. Previously I would package a couple Fosgate or JL 12" subs with MBQuart mids and highs all powered by Lanzar amps processes by AudioControl from an Alpine source unit. May have built the same system in a dozen cars. Today I still have the OE head unit in the Cruze and RX8 because I can't decide on a head unit! This thread interests me.

As a fellow Cruze owner, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

I want a little more highs and lows from my stereo, and not above spending some loot on decent components and maybe an 8" sub. But, I cannot wrap my head around how one goes about fitting an aftermarket head unit into the equation when the car is equipped with an info center display that both displays the stereo and the HVAC details, bluetooth call status etc etc...

help me Oh brown juan kinofo

/threadjack

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
3/7/17 12:56 p.m.
4cylndrfury wrote:
QuasiMofo wrote: Today I view car audio much differently than I used to. Previously I would package a couple Fosgate or JL 12" subs with MBQuart mids and highs all powered by Lanzar amps processes by AudioControl from an Alpine source unit. May have built the same system in a dozen cars. Today I still have the OE head unit in the Cruze and RX8 because I can't decide on a head unit! This thread interests me.
As a fellow Cruze owner, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. I want a little more highs and lows from my stereo, and not above spending some loot on decent components and maybe an 8" sub. But, I cannot wrap my head around how one goes about fitting an aftermarket head unit into the equation when the car is equipped with an info center display that both displays the stereo and the HVAC details, bluetooth call status etc etc... help me Oh brown juan kinofo /threadjack

You'll end up having to buy a dash kit that has separate HVAC controls and spend more money on said dash kit than on the dang head unit.

I miss the old days of car audio.

Stefan
Stefan GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 1:00 p.m.

In reply to 4cylndrfury:

Simple: The installation kit includes a new center console panel w/display and slot for the head unit.

Another option would be amps with speaker level inputs and new speakers.

The OEMs have worked very hard to improve their audio solutions, so its becoming harder to really build your own system that is better than OE without spending an arm and a leg.

For me, I don't care as much about the head unit anymore as I don't listen to CD's or even MP3's as much as I use my phone to stream music via Pandora, etc. So as long as there are decent speakers and the interface provides a decent interface to control the phone's apps and functions, the rest is gravy.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UberDork
3/7/17 1:23 p.m.

I just did a head unit in my truck a couple months ago. I wanted something cheap with Bluetooth streaming/hands-free calling, but I also wanted something that sounds decent. It was replacing a broken Alpine. I went with this one:

Kenwood KMM-BT315U

This Kenwood I bought was about $50 on sale. It's a CD-less receiver, but has aux-in, USB, and Bluetooth streaming. I had one hiccup with it pairing with phones, and a firmware upgrade solved it. Sounds great with TONS of audio options. You can change the display colors to match pretty much any car. Only real gripe is that it's not bright enough in direct sunlight.

In the past, I've had Alpines, Pioneers, Kenwoods and JVC's. Honestly, it depends on that year's model line which brand is better. I've had two bad Alpines over the years, but when they worked, they sounded great. Last one was in my old WRX and in my truck, and the face plate started to fall apart and the CD player stopped working, and it wasn't a cheap one either. My last Pioneer had a cheap chrome finish on it and it flaked off, otherwise it worked fine. They don't use that finish anymore on the newer ones. My last Kenwood (an EZ-500) is still good and I've had no issues with it. Last JVC I had was a "shaft-style" in a 1964 Buick, but it worked great. I've put JVC's in family members' cars, and they held up great.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UltraDork
3/7/17 1:26 p.m.
Sky_Render wrote: I really liked Fujitsu-Ten/Eclipse before they went out of business. :-/

You and me both. When I was installing stereos as a side job I probably sold twice as many Eclipse head units as everything else combined.

As to the original JVC vs Kenwood, I have a touch screen JVC with a backup camera in my Silverado and a button and knob screenless Kenwood in my Transit and the one thing the Kenwood does better, a lot better, is navigate file structures on removable media. If I put a thumb drive in with a single folder full of individual songs and want to listen to them in random order both work fine. If I have a drive with several audio books in individual folders and want to listen to them in order the JVC is so bad that I just use my Sansa and the aux in port.

appliance_racer
appliance_racer New Reader
3/7/17 2:03 p.m.

My $.02 on this subject is probably worth less than $.01, but here's my experience. I had three Kenwood Excelon line recievers and EVERY single one ended up dying within 6 months of purchase. I'm not hard on stuff either. I've had JVC and found them to be very reliable but a little lacking in the sound quality. The last head unit I personally have used was an Alpine. As has already been said the Apline made my stock Jeep speakers sound way more quality than they were. I had no plans to upgrade the speakers in that Jeep but the Alpine sounded so much better with crap OE speakers that I had to swap some Infinitys just to see how much better it could be. I was very happy with the results. Maybe Kenwood has gotten better but I haven't been compelled to give them another shot when I know there's Alpine.

I guess all that is to say I agree with everybody else. So +1 for Alpine Infinity combo.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
3/7/17 2:26 p.m.
Stefan wrote: In reply to 4cylndrfury: Simple: The installation kit includes a new center console panel w/display and slot for the head unit. Another option would be amps with speaker level inputs and new speakers. The OEMs have worked very hard to improve their audio solutions, so its becoming harder to really build your own system that is better than OE without spending an arm and a leg. For me, I don't care as much about the head unit anymore as I don't listen to CD's or even MP3's as much as I use my phone to stream music via Pandora, etc. So as long as there are decent speakers and the interface provides a decent interface to control the phone's apps and functions, the rest is gravy.

This was kind of what I thought I was going to hear. Not trying to threadjack further (well, I guess I am, so Im really asking for forgiveness for threadjacking) but, do I need to run wire from the door speakers all the way back to the trunk to get speaker level signal to the amp, and then run it aaaalll the way back to the door to get the amplified signal back to the speaker?

I browsed on Crutchfield (and I was finding myself looking at a few Kenwood amps), and a number of amps indicate they have a “Speaker Level input” socket, the female end of a multi-pin connector. The manuals indicate the amp comes with an input harness containing the male end of that connector, and that harness also brings in the power signal. That makes me think that the harness connects to the head unit somehow…I’m very confused…I will go back to my corner now…

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired HalfDork
3/7/17 2:43 p.m.

Anyone have luck, good or bad with Pioneer?

I just ordered one last week for my NB as I had previously had good luck with their head units. Crutchfield also rates them pretty well.

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/7/17 4:24 p.m.
Cooper_Tired wrote: Anyone have luck, good or bad with Pioneer?

I put the cheapest $50 Pioneer cd player with 1/8"input I could find in both my, and my special lady friend's car. Great deck for the money. A cheap stereo for simple tastes. My only real complaints are too much bling, and if not careful, you depress the volume knob, and it takes you to a menu you didn't want to be in. This could be handled by reducing the bling. I realize I'm probably in the minority here, but there's my opinion. Still, amazing what fifty bucks gets you.

Stefan
Stefan GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/7/17 4:35 p.m.

In reply to 4cylndrfury:

Unfortunately, more than likely you will have to do that.

Unless the amps are on the small side, then you might be able to fit them in the doors or dash. Some OEM's did this (Chrysler's Infinity systems for example).

Id' probably just look at replacing the existing speakers and maybe add a powered subwoofer if you need more low end response and call it a day.

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