: Any audio junkies here? Looking for new headunit :(



Stingroo
03-12-11, 10:48 AM
So the Alpine that was in the car when I bought it seems to have taken a huge shit on me. Alpine, I am disappoint. :lol:

But no, seriously. I don't even know how old it was so I'm not too mad, just bummed that I'm facing a 300 mile drive home with no music.

So now it's time for replacement! I don't know what I want, really. My only requirements are under $100, and a USB port (preferably, a rear-USB so I can leave my flash drive in my glovebox, but if not, I suppose I'll live).

Any ideas guys? :)

hueterm
03-12-11, 10:57 AM
Both of mine in the RMWs are Alpine, and were more than $100...

I've always had good luck with Pioneer, however, that was 20 years ago...

Stingroo
03-12-11, 11:14 AM
My dad's always had Pioneer stuff too, but there aren't many (if any) that I can find that fit my budget and have a USB port.

I wish they still made 1.5 DIN radios. I hate the plastic crap. :(

Right now I'm looking at these two:

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_158GT35U/Sony-CDX-GT35U.html?tp=5684

and

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_500CDE100/Alpine-CDE-100.html?tp=5684

I'm leaning more toward the Alpine because I guess I could re-use the harness and stuff that's already back there...

ThumperPup
03-12-11, 11:20 AM
the only cheap unit i ever bought was a sony i paid like 110 for the cheapest sony CD deck about 10 years ago
it was in my GMC Jimmy it worked held up and was preaty decent with the factory speakers for about 8 years untill i rolled it a few years ago
i bet know the cheap sony ones would be around 60 bucks

just go into walmart pick up what ever you like for under 100 they probalby have like 5 or 6 unites right around your price range

Stingroo
03-12-11, 11:28 AM
I was going to stroll through WalMart today too, (since I need to buy food for this weekend lol) but it needs a USB port, and I'd prefer if I could at least recognize the name - lol.

hueterm
03-12-11, 11:38 AM
The new Alpine I bought for the DCM only has a USB out the back. However, this sucks, because I didn't know at the time, I had to use an AUX to stream Pandora from my phone to the thing... So half the reason I bought the thing is now moot. It is awesome, however... And I'm surprised how good CDs sound on the factory speakers after 15 years.

My older Alpine I bought for my RM sedan several years ago. It has the XM tuner built into the head unit, which saved me 100 bucks, plus the cost of the radio. My only AUX option was an adapter that runs from the back of the head unit. That one is in the white wagon.

I like the look of the Alpine you posted...I'd go that route.

Stingroo
03-12-11, 11:50 AM
I prefer the USB in the back, because having stuff sticking out of the dash bothers me. I suppose a flash drive won't be too bad, and maybe I can find a smaller one. Who knows... but for now it should do. I'm gonna miss my radio, man. :(

http://img848.imageshack.us/img848/3373/dsci0214.jpg

OffThaHorseCEO
03-12-11, 12:09 PM
good luck with the search man. I havent bought a headunit in years so i cant offer any advice other than output should be as important as inputs. If you have factory speakers make sure output is at least 20w RMS per channel.

Stingroo
03-12-11, 12:20 PM
Nah, aftermarket speakers. :)

OffThaHorseCEO
03-12-11, 12:21 PM
with amp?

Stingroo
03-12-11, 12:32 PM
Nope, no amp.

Jesda
03-12-11, 01:15 PM
I like my JVC, and its endured a lot of abuse. I use the HD Radio on occasion.

http://jesda.com/2011/02/11/review-hd-radio-jvc-kdhdr-20/

Sevillian273
03-12-11, 04:11 PM
Crutchfield.com has a good database of models for searching specific features. They are uber expensive though but at least you can find what you want and search for it elsewhere. I used it to find my Alpine since I was looking for a unit that had BBE sound processing. I've had my Alpine for over 5 years and it still kicks ass(knock on wood!). I had an AIWA before that and it was a total piece of garbage. I'd definitely buy another Alpine though.

Playdrv4me
03-12-11, 04:19 PM
The Alpine you posted would be my choice, unless you find something with rear USB. I'm sure there's a bunch of off brand radios out there that do it, but I'm not sure I'd trust one of those.

Stingroo
03-12-11, 07:13 PM
Well, I went with this: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_113KDC208U/Kenwood-KDC-208U.html?tp=5684&tab=detailed_info

I decided against the Alpine because I don't like how they force you to buy an extra accessory to do damn near everything. A $30 cable to plug an iPod in? I mean get real.

The Kenwood looks good, and I played with it's lesser-optioned (no USB) sibling at PepBoys today (I was bored so I decided to stop in), and I got it to a point where I was impressed with how it sounded in even the crappy speakers that were there, so I should be okay.

Playdrv4me
03-12-11, 07:39 PM
Well, I went with this: http://www.crutchfield.com/p_113KDC208U/Kenwood-KDC-208U.html?tp=5684&tab=detailed_info

I decided against the Alpine because I don't like how they force you to buy an extra accessory to do damn near everything. A $30 cable to plug an iPod in? I mean get real.

The Kenwood looks good, and I played with it's lesser-optioned (no USB) sibling at PepBoys today (I was bored so I decided to stop in), and I got it to a point where I was impressed with how it sounded in even the crappy speakers that were there, so I should be okay.

Kenwood is good stuff! I love that series with the vacuum FL display contrasting against the red accents when everyone else is doing boring ass LCDs. Great choice.

Stingroo
03-12-11, 07:46 PM
Yeah I figured the red accents would work in my car too, and like I said, the one I played with in PepBoys made the shitty Dual spakers on the wall sound just about good. It'll do better for the Pioneers I have.

I really wish I had the cash for serious audio gear... but then again, if I did, there are a lot of other places I'd probably spend it first. :lol:

It should arrive Thursday, which is good because I'll still be on Spring Break, but is also bad because it means I'll have to drive all this way without music:

http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/715/capturevg.png

http://i861.photobucket.com/albums/ab177/NozawaJess/FUUUUUUU-.jpg

billc83
03-12-11, 07:53 PM
Hit up a Car Toys or similar car audio place. I can't vouch for headunits (it's been ages since I replaced the stereo in my Thunderbird) but I'm sure you can find something.

Even if you went a bit over budget, 300 miles without music would be unbearable!

OffThaHorseCEO
03-12-11, 07:55 PM
i rode from WPB without a headunit in the allante, bose amps burned out again and i havent finished the system yet. I had to make due with my blackberry full of music and the headphones that came with the blackberry which i gotta say sound pretty freakin good

Stingroo
03-12-11, 07:55 PM
Nah, I'm gonna suck it up. I'm in super-saving mode because I really want to go to the big B-body show in Daytona, and lord knows I may find something at the swap meet that'll catch my eye.

Music be damned, wagon modifications are happening!

Stingroo
03-12-11, 07:56 PM
I have a REALLY nice pair of headphones actually. One of the upper-level Skullcandy ear bud sets. They were a gift, and were like $60, but they're the best sounding headphones I've ever owned I think.

OffThaHorseCEO
03-12-11, 07:58 PM
are they the ones with the built in amp? i tried those out and daaamn, if i flew more often or jogged or anything id have a pair

Stingroo
03-12-11, 08:02 PM
Oh, no not the cans. I wouldn't use those - too conspicuous for on-campus listening :p

Playdrv4me
03-12-11, 08:02 PM
i rode from WPB without a headunit in the allante, bose amps burned out again and i havent finished the system yet. I had to make due with my blackberry full of music and the headphones that came with the blackberry which i gotta say sound pretty freakin good

I was once taking that green Corolla on a road trip and the tape deck was busted. Well XM is a requirement for me on trips of the road, so i brought along two Altec Lansing computer speakers and a power inverter, stuffed the speakers under each front seat and voila... i had a sound system arguably better than what was in the car LOL.

OffThaHorseCEO
03-12-11, 08:04 PM
haha nice! we used to buy packs of d batteries and put the boombox in the back seat haha

Stingroo
03-12-11, 08:06 PM
lol I have some tiny USB-powered HP computer speakers that I got for like $3 at a yard sale
I'll probably plug those into my really cool 12V splitter that also has 2 USB ports in it, and plug my phone (or laptop I guess?) into it.

It's gonna be so ghetto, but whatever. I hope it's loud enough to be heard over the car itself. LOL

thebigjimsho
03-12-11, 09:42 PM
Yeah I figured the red accents would work in my car too, and like I said, the one I played with in PepBoys made the shitty Dual spakers on the wall sound just about good. It'll do better for the Pioneers I have.

I really wish I had the cash for serious audio gear... but then again, if I did, there are a lot of other places I'd probably spend it first. :lol:

It should arrive Thursday, which is good because I'll still be on Spring Break, but is also bad because it means I'll have to drive all this way without music:

http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/715/capturevg.png

http://i861.photobucket.com/albums/ab177/NozawaJess/FUUUUUUU-.jpgNo, you don't want the cash for serious audio gear. It will NEVER stop...

I thought you wanted audio junkies? For under $100 I was going to say you want audio junkers. However, I used to pay HUUUUUGE dollars for a serious 24bit D/A converter. Now, the quality in that Kenwood may not be great but it is amazing what we used to pine for in the mid-90s is so readily available today.

I just picked up my new Town Car on Thursday and the dealer had aftermarket options you could add. I ended up getting the "Pioneer" nav option. Which is pretty nice. I'm making some concessions in comparison to the Eclipse unit I had in my '07 in the nav department but the audio portion is much better than in the Eclipse. It has the USB on the back but a really helpful microSD slot on the front. And I'm loving the Bluetooth for both phone functionality and streaming audio so I can play music from my phone and whatever online stations I like to play.

http://www.crutchfield.com/s_130AVIC920/Pioneer-AVIC-X920BT.html?search=pioneer+car+stereo&nvpair=FFCategory| (http://www.crutchfield.com/s_130AVIC920/Pioneer-AVIC-X920BT.html?search=pioneer+car+stereo&nvpair=FFCategory%7C)[rank266150]Car+Stereos+%26+Components

Stingroo
03-12-11, 09:48 PM
lol I know full well it'd never stop. I got it from my dad though... in the 80's, he used to build auto systems.

My radio and car have a mind of their own, btw.

My ghetto rigged cell phone idea DID work, which made me happy. So I put the trim ring and faceplate back on my radio (so I could see the clock), and all of a sudden it started working just fine. WTF!

I still think catastrophic failure is imminent, so replacing it is still the best course of action.

ThumperPup
03-13-11, 11:22 AM
did you pick anything out yet ?

i was just browsing the Best buy adds in the paper today
not sure if the price would be the same or different in your area
but they had a Sony that had some good stats for 106.?? just a few bucks over your limit of a 100
with a front USB port

when i saw that i right away though oh this might be something you would like so decided to throw it in here

Stingroo
03-13-11, 11:30 AM
Yeah, check the first page (or the post that Ian quoted at the start of this page). I went with a Kenwood KDC-208U.

ThumperPup
03-13-11, 11:45 AM
ah cool cool
kenwood is good
not one of my favorits im more partial to pioneer then sony after that for aftermarket
maybe a nice JVC

but factory i like the bose
how ever i found the bose in my Mercedes years back that sucker was better rocker factory then the cadillac bose not sure i understand why

OffThaHorseCEO
03-13-11, 01:34 PM
mercedes probably paid more for their system so it included better components even though they were both branded bose

Playdrv4me
03-13-11, 07:18 PM
ah cool cool
kenwood is good
not one of my favorits im more partial to pioneer then sony after that for aftermarket
maybe a nice JVC

but factory i like the bose
how ever i found the bose in my Mercedes years back that sucker was better rocker factory then the cadillac bose not sure i understand why

I sincerely hope you aren't talking about the W220 S Class Bose system... that is one of the worst stock Bose systems i have EVER heard... topped only by the QX4.

Aron9000
03-14-11, 02:22 AM
Sting, save that reciept for that radio you just bought. You might get lucky when disconnecting that Alpine unit and realize you have a bad connection on your power wire or something stupid like that.

Stingroo
03-14-11, 09:10 AM
Yeah, that's what I'm hoping... but I'm not feeling too optimistic about it - after all, it worked just fine for a year under my ownership and then... kaput. :lol:

But we'll see. Probably diving into that today.

Playdrv4me
03-14-11, 08:19 PM
Actually if its just completely dead i would be suspicious of a broken or loose connection too.

Stingroo
03-14-11, 08:29 PM
It's not though. The display and all the buttons work, but sound just stops coming out. I can do anything else with it, but no sound is emitted. It cuts out randomly. Like today for example, it worked all day (and I never got a chance to take the dash apart to look at it.. probably tomorrow).

But like I said, either way, if it works - cool. I can send my unit back and save $100 more toward my trip to Daytona (which is awesome, because I saved another hundred bucks today by not having to buy new brake rotors). If it's dead, the replacement is right here waiting. No big deal either way at this point, the money's already gone from my account. :lol:

cadillac kevin
03-14-11, 08:42 PM
check your connections. I've had that problem before.
as for cheaper aftermarkets, I prefer kenwood and JVC. I have had 3 JVC's headunits (all same model) - one in a work van, another in the cutlass wagon, and another in the lesabre. I loved them to death. decent sound, tape deck, and 12 disc changer and they had 2 line outs (2 left and 2 right).
I also have a cheapo kenwood in my safari van (20 watts rms x4). sounds great with 2 6 1/2 kenwoods and a set of blaupunkt 4's in the front doors (nothing in the back.)
as for factory bose- meh. miles better than some base factory systems, but only as good as the cheaper aftermarket units. they're not bad, but not all they're cracked up to be. clear sound (no distortion at all) but no pulse pounding lows either.
I'd avoid sonys. I've never heard a sony car stereo that sounded good or had a decent button layout (IMO of course).

cadillac kevin
03-14-11, 08:44 PM
oops

Playdrv4me
03-15-11, 01:25 AM
Yea, fingers crossed it's a connection or grounding issue. Intermittent audio and and complete lack of power on a head unit are usually traceable to some issue outside the radio itself, while the radios internally tend to have more mechanical problems (CD and tape drives) and broken controls (especially the rotating electronic knobs).

Jesda
03-15-11, 01:30 AM
I've seen some head units installed with only electrical tape.

Stingroo
03-15-11, 08:49 AM
That's a scary thought. lol

And yeah, Ian that's what I'm hoping for too, but it never hurts to have a backup plan :)

The-Dullahan
03-16-11, 02:01 AM
Jesda, headunits are SUPPOSED to be only installed with electrical tape.

Jesda
03-16-11, 04:48 AM
Jesda, headunits are SUPPOSED to be only installed with electrical tape.

Maybe in regions where redneck engineering is acceptable. Some "professional" shops like Circuit City have been caught doing it the twist-and-tape way, with speakers that intermittently stop working or head units that short out due to twists that come loose.


The best compromise between soldering or ghetto-twisting and taping the wires is a bulb connector. If someone can't afford a $2 pack of connectors, they don't deserve music.

Playdrv4me
03-16-11, 05:09 AM
I've seen some head units installed with only electrical tape.

I don't know what you're talking about.

Aron9000
03-16-11, 03:09 PM
I've done it three different ways. First headunit I used those crimp butt connectors, wires seemed to fall out the end of those if you didn't crimp them exactly right.

Next time I sodered the wires, then wrapped them with electrical tape. That worked great, a little time consuming though.

The last one I did, I sodered the wires together, then used heat shrink wrap on the wires. That right there is the way to do it, quick, easy, never coming apart. You do need a heat gun though, hair dryer won't cut it.

OffThaHorseCEO
03-16-11, 03:18 PM
i used to use the butt connectors as well, but like you said, time consuming and the wires fall out.

So now i solder and heat shrink em, i use a lighter

OffThaHorseCEO
03-16-11, 03:20 PM
Maybe in regions where redneck engineering is acceptable. Some "professional" shops like Circuit City have been caught doing it the twist-and-tape way, with speakers that intermittently stop working or head units that short out due to twists that come loose.


The best compromise between soldering or ghetto-twisting and taping the wires is a bulb connector. If someone can't afford a $2 pack of connectors, they don't deserve music.

talking about these?
http://www.wiringproducts.com/contents/media/l_74h-outlined.jpg

they work but they take up ALOT of space.

Good for something you dont think will be permanent though

Jesda
03-16-11, 04:03 PM
The ones I'm thinking of are white bulbs with metal inside that you crimp. And of course, it doesn't hurt to cover a proper connection with electrical tape just for safety. When properly installed, they're only removable by cutting (I've tried). The only annoyance is crimping them tightly -- it wears out your hand. There's also some tubular pass-through connectors I've used that you also crimp.

I guess twisting could maybe work if you used shrink tubing instead of tape, since it would actually grip the connection rather than just covering it.

Submariner409
03-16-11, 04:32 PM
talking about these? -they work but they take up ALOT of space. Good for something you dont think will be permanent though

Wire nuts - several sizes for home AC wiring only. Automotive and marine wiring is subject to constant vibration and must be properly connected using crimp terminals or butt connectors - maybe a well insulated solder connection- nothing else. A shop that uses wire nuts is playing with your money and your car's safety.

cadillac kevin
03-16-11, 05:16 PM
I've used wiring nuts in my cadillac on my home made adapter harness for the radio, as well as the speaker wire and power/ ground connections for the bose amps. never had a problem with either safety or the nuts coming loose. they do take up a TON of room though. I also taped the wires together w/ electrical tape to prevent them pulling on each other/ out of the nut.

Sevillian273
03-16-11, 06:38 PM
Obviously solder is by far the best but when you cant,

Twist --> fold --> heat-shrink --> ziptie

Butt connectors look professional but are unreliable. And for the extra-anal, they add a second contact point to the splice.

Stingroo
03-16-11, 06:50 PM
Yeah, I'm gonna fully admit I didn't solder anything I've ever done, nor has my dad. I've always learned the twist, fold, heat shrink, lighter method.

If it's good enough for air horns... :lol:

OffThaHorseCEO
03-16-11, 07:15 PM
wait so when you guys twist and fold you put the wires parallel to each other?

like this?:

x <-- twist
x
| | <-- wires

i usually do this:

wire twist wire
=====xxxxx=====


i slip the heat shrink on before twisting, then twist, then solder, then slide the shrink tube over the twist, then heat. this way the wire stays straight.

Sevillian273
03-16-11, 07:37 PM
fold the twisted part of the wire so that it lays parallel with it. Then slip the heat shrink over that. Afterwards, I like to put a ziptie tight around the twisted ends and the wire, then tighten the ziptie with a needlenose pliers. Takes attention to detail but it's quick, cheap, and strong.

Sevillian273
03-16-11, 07:49 PM
Examples:

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1840.jpg

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1841.jpg

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1842.jpg

A 2 into one:

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1843.jpg


http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/brilliant.jpg

Playdrv4me
03-16-11, 08:24 PM
Bah! Scrape it n' tape it.

Aron9000
03-17-11, 01:42 AM
Examples:

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1840.jpg

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1841.jpg

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1842.jpg

A 2 into one:

http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/03-16-11_1843.jpg


http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m280/merc892003/brilliant.jpg


Serious mustashe envy right there.

Sevillian273
03-17-11, 07:54 AM
With great mustache comes great responsibility.

Stingroo
03-17-11, 09:21 AM
QFT right there.

Playdrv4me
03-18-11, 12:39 AM
So Ray, what did you find when you finally tore it all apart? And how is the new unit compared with the old one?

Stingroo
03-18-11, 01:12 AM
I found perfect wiring back there, and the fuse in the head unit was still good, so I'm guessing the amp is/was dying. Made me a little sad, until I started playing with the settings on the Kenwood. I'd say it's a 100% improvement over the sound of the old Alpine. That feels weird to say.

Still getting used to the controls for the USB music. It's not as easy as it was on the Alpine (I bet over time I'll get used to it), but still. I also am willing to bet that most head unit manufacturers weren't anticipating scrolling through 6gb of music on a flash drive either. I'll take pics in the morning, it looks really good in the dash for an aftermarket unit.

Getting the dashboard apart was a serious bitch though. In order to access it you have to take all of this wood grain off, all the way over to the driver's side vent. And the kicker is, the whole dash face from the left of the glove box all the way to the end of the dashboard is ONE BIG PIECE. Let me tell you how much of a bitch that was to remove.... Google pic for reference of bitchassness:

http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/213/3621/25531810005_large.jpg

Otherwise, worth the effort. Took about an hour from start to finish (I realized I didn't own any wire crimpers, so I had to make a run to Advance for those, getting the dash out, installing the new radio, and putting the dash back together).

Playdrv4me
03-18-11, 01:18 AM
You don't have to tell me twice, I installed the Nav unit in the 'lade today (had the base radio) and I cracked the f****** defroster vent in two places trying to get to the area where the factory GPS antenna goes. In the end, I could have just tucked it up anywhere inside the dash to add insult to injury.

Stingroo
03-18-11, 01:19 AM
Yeah, all of my 20 year old plastic screw holes broke. It's still plenty secure without the screws though... and it won't matter once I find a 9C1 cluster and surround. :)