Pioneer Booth CES 2011

What’s up my fellow car audio lovers? I am getting totally psyched up for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas which is happening NEXT WEEK. For those of you that don’t know, CES is the largest consumer electronic trade show in the world.

Companies from all over the globe display and promote the newest technologies and innovations they have to offer. If you have a great appreciation for cutting edge future technology and design, you will appreciate the sneak peek of the latest consumer electronic goodies revealed at CES. Vendors will display and demonstrate their sleek, new models that are destined to arrive on the market in 2012.

Join me as I visit and meet with the designers and engineers behind brands like Alpine, Pioneer, JL Audio, Directed Electronics and more. Watch me as I demonstrate new product features and divulge details on upcoming consumer products about to hit the market.

As I discuss the advancements these companies have made, I will also be putting these engineers and designers on the spot.  After selling and installing a couple hundred of these products, I’ve realized that many car audio companies don’t put a lot of time and money into consumer product testing before they go to market. After hearing customer after customer complain about what they consider obvious design flaws (such as miniscule clock displays, tedious menu designs and clumsy controls) I thought it’d be a good idea to speak with some of the men and women who made these decisions and gain some insight into their bizarre design choices.

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Alpine, Pioneer, JL Audio or Viper? Tell me what you’ve always wanted to say to Alpine, Pioneer, JL or Viper. Check back next week to see what’s coming out in 2012 and how our brands respond when I put them in the hot seat with your questions.

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  1. Does Parrot intend to offer HD Radio in their Asteroid line?

    • Hi Chris,
      That’s a great question. Sadly, in the few days I was at CES, I did not have a chance to get over to the Parrot booth to check this out. The Asteroid line looks like a lot of other stereo’s coming out these days where manufacturer’s are really just creating stereo’s designed to interface with cell phones allowing users to access the awesome features and apps of today’s smart phones. Parrot takes it one step further by actually creating a stereo with the Android platform built in. Because you have access to radio apps and over 5000 radio stations through 3G connectivity, the HD Radio option is probably not a necessary feature in the manufacturer’s eyes and I doubt they will work to integrate it within their Asteroid line. That’s just my guess as I did not have a chance to speak with anyone directly at Parrot. Thanks for checking out the blog and thank you for your comment.

  2. Hey Annie. Glad you guys came out. If I could add to the iPad. Check out Hirestech, they make a product called istreamer. It’s a device that takes the iPod/iPhone/iPad 30 pin to USB cable, plug this directly into their device and gives you 4v analog (RCA) 2ch output. Then use a bitone for your volume, etc.
    Oh and the good part? Istreamer will charge the ipad2 and iPhone4.

    Check them out while your out there. Not sure which booth they are in.
    Have fun 🙂

    • That sounds really cool, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks David.

  3. I am very familiar with the Bit One but couldn’t justify the cost of it as opposed to the CDE-123 that does everything and more as far as my needs for integrating the iPad in my system. The Bit One is WAY overkill for my application. …I’ve been following Soundman Car Audio ever since they did the iPad in their vehicle. It’s good to hear Alpine’s coming out with several offerings in their double-din lineup. They used to have killer offerings but have lagged to their competitors recently. Thank you for your insight and look forward to reading what you experience at CES. Enjoy yourself there!

    As a background of myself, I used to be a salesperson 8 years ago with a small independant shop selling Alpine, among other brands, and have installed myself numerous systems in all my vehicles, including my current Ridgeline. I dont do this full time anymore but I still install systems for another shop as a hobby now so I’m still in the industry. I change out my components fairly regularly so I’m always interested in the latest products.

  4. I have been a big Alpine fan in the past but I don’t understand some of the features/connections Alpine has been incorporating into their single-din head units. When I was looking at getting a head unit to act as the audio controller/source selector for my system that incorporates an iPad 2 in it, I was pretty much limited to one unit that had what I need, and stuff I didn’t need. I had to choose the CDE-123 based on some very specific needs. Which were 1) it had to have 3 sets of RCA outputs, 2) had to have steering wheel button control cabability as I would be mounting the head unit in a remote location, 3) had to have a rear iPod/iPhone connection.

    Here’s what I don’t understand, and what you should ask of Alpine…why are they insisting to put the iPod plug solely on the front of the units now and not on the rear? It makes for a very unclean setup if you have the cable for your iPod dangling from the front of the stereo and hanging down the dash in front of your HVAC controls etc. Also, why are they insisting to put only one set of RCA pre-outs on the head units that have built-in Bluetooth? they are basically stripping the features off the head unit so they can offer the unit with Bluetooth built in. The newly released CDE-133 has an improved display but again…only one set of RCA preouts and only a FRONT iPod input and no rear one.

    Offer something with 3 sets of pre-outs, steering wheel control capability, REAR iPod input, and Bluetooth built in, and I will be sold! Until then, I may be looking elsewhere when I change things up with my system this summer.

    Also, ask why they don’t offer a double din unit in the $5-600 range that everybody else does?

    • I agree 100 percent with everything you said! Luckily, rumor has it that Alpine will be unveiling at least 4 different double din models this year with and without navigation. Some of these new 2012 Alpine double din head units will have 8″ touch screens for vehicles that can accommodate larger than double din and they will require special dash kits which Alpine will be producing. I will be at their booth Wednesday morning and will be sure to bring up the valid points that you’ve mentioned here as well as report back on the new products Alpine will be releasing in 2012.

      As far as the iPad install, there are some other cool ways you can do that. Check out the Audison Bit One. It’s a pre-amp and EQ. It takes the speaker level out from a source (could be an ipad, could be a stock head unit, it’s a great option for OEM integration) and it gives you pre amp connections (offered in several models between 5 channels and 8 channels), a USB connection and software for setting up the tuning on the Bit One. The tuning section includes a 31 band EQ per source, per channel, digital time alignment and 12-24 DB per octave crossover adjustments (depends which model you get). A lot of people have used the Bit One to install an iPad in the dash as your head unit. Check out this link to see what I’m talking about.

  5. I’ve purchased four Pioneer Nav units in the past year and a half (what was I thinking?). I also have an OEM Porsche PCM system in one of my cars. Although I believe Pioneer offers one of the best after-market options, the OEM factory units like the Porsche PCM are are infinitely superior in my opinion. I would be willing to pay double or triple the price for a Pioneer unit that even comes close to the performance of an OEM unit. Unfortunately, in many cases it is difficult if not impossible to get an OEM Nav unit which is why I went with the Pioneer. Here are some of the most important gripes/suggestions that I have for improving the Pioneer Nav units:

    • AV “buttons” (on screen) should be moveable to a different location on the screen. Currently they are only in a column (on the left) directly adjacent to the home, mode, and volume controls. It is easy to mistakenly tap one of these screen AV buttons causing a change from FM to ipod, for example. If these could be relocated I wouldn’t constantly be swearing when I reached to change volume and instead switching to blaring FM from a quiet song on my ipod by accident. I am supposed to be focusing on driving after all…

    • I believe rotary volume control is desirable over up/down buttons (I have both styles). The unit having the rotary volume knob – main gripe is the knob is too small. Knob should be larger (especially for those people with larger hands or wearing gloves in the winter).

    • No way to turn down radio volume when on a call. This is really annoying. For example, phone is answered while a quiet song is playing. During the call, a new, louder song starts playing. There is no way to turn down the music volume while being on the call. Have to end the call, turn down the volume, and call back. This should be an easy fix.

    • Pioneer unit does not automatically determine which phone is being used by the driver. For example, husband drives car with his phone connected through bluetooth one day. The next day, wife gets in the car with her phone and assumes her phone will connect with the Pioneer Nav unit. Pioneer Nav unit is not smart enough to try one of the other phones in the list and does not search (or connect) to the wife’s phone. Only solution is to go to bluetooth settings and manually choose wife’s phone as the phone for connection via bluetooth. Should happen automatically (in my opinion).

    • In order to get to the phone screen, too many buttons need to be pushed. After pushing “home” and then OK (for legal warning), the next screen should not go to the map. It does this in all my Pioneer units. Why???

    • Search function in the phonebook is awful. Should have a smarter search feature – spell by name. Current setup makes it hard to get to the desired entry in the phonebook.

    • For units that have voice recognition, Pioneer’s voice recognition feature is terrible. It would be nice to be able to use the voice recognition software built into the phone since these typically work pretty well (ie, iphone).

    • Pandora integration does not always work well. Starts out working well but eventually screen freezes (especially when using the Pioneer cable). iPod screen sometimes freezes as well when iPod or iphone is connected via the Pioneer cable.

    • Bluetooth audio works better, in general, than direct connection through the cable (for ipod and Pandora functions) in my experience. Exactly the opposite of what one would expect. Wired connection usually freezes the screen eventually (as already pointed out above).

    • Bluetooth audio works well with one exception – this is actually my favorite mode of operation for listening to music off my iphone. Occasionally, the volume on the phone will go to zero (seems to be a random event). This is a problem because the phone needs to be fished out and the volume manually raised on the phone before one can hear music. It would be good for the volume to be controllable on the phone from the bluetooth audio.

    • My Pioneer XM receiver does not receive satellite signal very well. This makes XM pretty much unusable. I’ve cancelled my XM subscription.

    Finally, the first time I purchased these Pioneer products, I decided to buy three of them for three different cars. I filled out three separate rebate forms and eventually got a rebate for one of the units. I contacted Pioneer customer service to find out why I didn’t get rebates on the other two units. The reply from Pioneer was not very nice – the basic message was that I obviously didn’t bother to read the fine print. Nice way to treat a customer that just purchased 3 units together!

    • Thanks Vlad, I will be sure to bring it all up when I’m at the Pioneer booth. Can’t wait!

  6. Ask Pioneer why their head units don’t bypass the iPod DAC. I’m happy with every other feature on my X930BT except for that. I can get better sound quality listening to music off of the micro SD card than I can using my iPod because of this, but lose features like album art. The only reason I can guess that they do this is because of Apples DRM and not wanting to pay for the rights to do the decoding. In the past I’ve used Alpine and Clarion head units and haven’t had this issue and was surprised to find out Pioneer does this.

    I’d also like to know if any manufactures have plans to support Android phones. As far as I know, you can only stream Pandora with an Alpine or Pioneer head unit, but only through an iPhone. This may be been a market issue last year, but I hope they decide to introduce some new options soon if they don’t already have something planned.

    • Hi Joe,
      Those are awesome questions and I can’t wait to ask them. I will post their response via video by Wednesday night, 1/11. Thank you so much for stopping by, I really appreciate you taking the time to post a comment. Check back soon!

  7. Why do you not offer a backlighted remote control and add some metal to it like the Yamaha upper end models? Also, how about a netflix button?
    Great job with adding air play and then large power transformers.

    • Hi Paul,
      I’m not sure who this is directed to, but I specialize in car audio and will be visiting the booths at CES 2012 for Alpine, Pioneer, JL Audio, Kenwood and Viper (aka Directed Electronics). If you have any questions for the designers and engineers of these car audio companies, please let me know! Thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog.

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