During CES 2012, the Car Stereo Chick had a chance to visit the Alpine booth.  Amazingly, Alpine has redesigned and revamped almost everything they offer in car audio.  Check out the new Alpine products arriving in 2012.

New Alpine head units to be released in 2012

Typically, most brands will redesign and reveal a new line of head units each year and showcase the new models at CES.  Often times the changes are minor over last years model.  Sometimes they only upgrade or change a few models in their line up.  Every 3 years or so, you usually see a speaker and amp redesign.  This year, Alpine has made aggressive changes across the board in their car audio products.  After a few years of dismal head unit offerings, including quirky and disappointing navigation systems, it’s good to see Alpine has taken this year as an opportunity to grow and excel.  Remember the ever annoying adapter upon adapters that were necessary for adding basic features that other manufacturer offered built in?  Thankfully, that is now a thing of the past.  The only add on I found this year for Alpine head units was for adding SiriusXM.  No longer is it necessary to add on a separate Bluetooth module or HD module, just pick the head unit with the features you want built in.

Alpine’s new CDE-134HD includes builtin HD Radio

Take a look at all the choices we have here for single din Alpine head units in 2012.  Starting with the CDE-133BT at $159.95, you will get features like built in bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming along with being steering wheel remote ready.  Next up would be the CDE-135BT at $189.95.  The CDE-135BT will add additional features like Pandora control with iPhone, Blackberry and Android using their Bluetooth Plus technology.  Bluetooth Plus eliminates the need for entering a pass code upon pairing.  It also allows for control over Pandora when paired with devices like Android and Blackberry. For $10 more, the CDE-136BT will give you a little more flexibility with expansion as it includes 3 pre-outs.  Both units have a front USB/Aux with an optional USB mass storage mode.

What about HD radio you ask?  The CDE-HD137BT adds HD radio to the list of features for only $219.95.  If you’re looking for a no frills HD radio, the CDE-134HD for only $179.95 will get the job done.  For those that want all the features in a single din option, you’ll want to check out the CDE-HD138BT.  The CDE-HD138BT includes Bluetooth Plus with Pandora control on iPhone, Android or Blackberry, built in HD Radio, three 4 volt preouts, and it’s SiriusXM ready.

Other offerings in the line up this year include a nice, easy to use, basic, double din head unit.  The CDE-W235BT features large easy to use controls, front USB/Aux and built in bluetooth for only $199.95.

Speaking of double din, Alpine is proud to offer 4 different double din AV units in 2012 starting with the IVE-W530 at $449.95.  The IVE-W530 has a 6.1″ touch screen, 3 band EQ, 3 preouts, rear USB port, built in Bluetooth, along with being steering wheel remote ready and including an optional app mode for iPhone.

Step it up to the IVE-W535 for $699.95 and you’ll add a 4 volt pre-amp section, HD Radio, Bluetooth Plus and you’ll have the option to add SiriusXM.  With the app mode, you’ll have the option of accessing the navigation app from your iPhone.  It’s unclear to me whether or not you’ll have control over the navigation from the screen using the app mode.  The app mode cable feature will not be available until August 2012, even though the compatible double din A/V units are expected the ship in April or May 2012.

The technology to be able to control your phone from your screen is called Mirror Link.  Currently, there aren’t even any phones on the market capable of Mirror Link.  Alpine is testing prototype phones and Sony had their own prototype head unit on display with a prototype Mirror Link cell phone.  When Mirror Link does make it to the market, it will completely change (once again) the way aftermarket car audio manufacturer’s design their head units.  The only downside to this technology is you are still relying on your data plan, which may not be unlimited and you are still relying on your cell service.  Drive through a dead zone and you’ll lose your navigation signal.  For those looking for a more reliable navigation option, Alpine is offering the INE-S920HD.

The INE-S920HD will feature the same 6.1″ touch screen offered in their IVE-W530 and IVE-W535, but it includes an on board navigation system.  Unlike Alpine’s previous navigation systems, the navigation screen on the INE-S920HD has a nice high resolution picture with recognizable graphics and large, easy to use icons.  A clear favorite buttons allows users to customize their home screen with 8 different selections.  Program your favorite source, favorite channel, favorite contacts, favorite addresses and easily access them with the touch of a button.  A nice large volume knob adds to the ease of use on this Alpine navigation system.

As well as being SiriusXM ready, the INE-S920HD also includes HD Radio built in.  For those looking for better control over their audio system, the INE-S920HD features a 9 band parametric EQ along with easy to program digital time alignment.  Access the audio menu and simply select your cabin style, the number of speakers in your cabin, speaker size, speaker location and listener position.  The Alpine double din navigation system will automatically customize, adjust and implement individual speaker delays to create a balanced and centered sound stage.  With an expected release date of March 2012 and a sale price of only $999.95, I expect this to be one of Alpine’s best selling navigation systems of all times.  I know that sounds drastic, but they really haven’t had a competitively priced, full featured, quality navigation system in well over 6 years.

Alpine’s INE-Z928HD features an over sized 8″ touch screen for $1499.95

Even more innovative than the INE-S920HD is the over sized 8″ navigation system, the INE-Z928HD.  The INE-Z928HD does something that Kenwood and Pioneer haven’t even thought of.  It provides a larger than double din, OEM style screen for the newer vehicles on the market that can accommodate larger than double din navigation systems.

Working with Scosche Industries, Alpine will be releasing specialized dash kits just for these over sized 8″ navigation systems along with true plug and play wiring harnesses that will make installation a breeze.  For example, let’s say you have a new Chevy Tahoe, equipped with Onstar and steering controls, and you want to install the INE-Z928HD.  Alpine will not only be offering the dash kit you need, they will also be offering an all inclusive wiring harness.  This true plug and play wire harness will be pre-wired and will include a preprogrammed steering wheel control module as well as your Onstar retention module.

Prototype Double Din Dash made by Alpine and Scosche Industries for the INE-Z928HD on display at CES 2012.

Now that you’ve picked out the right AVN unit for your vehicle, which back up camera would you like to select?  There have been many recent advancements in OEM back up cameras and it looks like Alpine has taken notice.  This year they are offering a competitive aftermarket back up camera with moving object sensing technology.  Take a peak at the HCE-C305R.  With a 180 degree viewing angle, park assist lines, moving object detection and four optional view modes, this back up camera has the most features out of all the back up cameras Alpine has ever offered.  With a retail price of $499.95, this back up camera is expected to ship in May 2012.

The HCE-C305R back up camera from Alpine detects and highlights moving objects on screen.

Moving right along, next up in the Alpine CES booth was the amplifier section.  Last year Alpine came out with the new X power series amps which were a welcome addition to the limited choices of V Power or PDX series amplifiers.  Boasting similar sound quality and the same Class D technology that is used in the PDX series, the X Power series amps provide consumers a more cost effective alternative to the PDX series without the fancy cosmetics.  This years X Power amps have been given a power boost.  Introducing the all new line of X Power amps from Alpine:

The MRX-V70 is the new X power 5 channel amp from Alpine featuring 60 watts x 4 at 4 ohms and 350 x 1 at 2 ohms.  Retail price $399.95

Alpine is including a redesigned 5 channel amp within their X Power amplifier line up.  The MRX-V70 will put out 60 watts RMS x 4 at 4 ohms and 350 watts RMS x 1 at 2 ohms for only $399.95.  Not shown are the new 4 channels including the new MRX-F35 rated at 55 watts x 4 RMS at 4ohms for $299.95 and the more powerful MRX-F65 rated at 110 watts x 4 RMS at 4 ohms for $399.95.


The all new MRX-M55 puts out 550 watts RMS at 2 ohms. What if you need more power than that? Like enough power for the all new Alpine Type R subwoofer? Take a look at the MRX-M110 boasting 1100 watts RMS for only $399.95.

The new Alpine MRX-M110 will put out 1100 watts RMS at 2 ohms.

Maybe you need enough power for two of the new Alpine Type R subs.  Like 2400 watts RMS.

Alpine’s monsterous new Class D X power amp featuring 2400 watts RMS for $699.95

Alpine has quite a few space saving solutions in their amp line up.  One of my favorites is the KTP-445 which is an inline amp, specific to Alpine head units, which provide 45 watts X 4 RMS and is small enough to hide behind a dash,all for $129.95.  Alpine has improved upon this model by offering a universal power pack with RCA connections and more tuning adjustments for only $150.

Alpine’s new KTP-445U is an efficient, space saving, 4 channel amp for only $149.95..

If you need a powerful 5 channel amp, but don’t want to sacrifice sound quality or space, Alpine’s all new PDX-V9 may be the right amp for you.  The PDX-V9 will give you 100 watts x 4 RMS for your interior speakers and 500 watts RMS x 1 for your sub channel.  An incredibly compact, clean sounding and efficient option for only $699.95.  Compared to JL Audio’s HD 900/5 for $1199.95, the PDX-V9 is far easier on the wallet.  Not only that, I personally believe the PDX line of amps from Alpine have superior sound quality over JL Audio’s HD series amplifiers.

Alpine’s new 5 channel PDX-V9 features 100 watts x 4 plus 500 watts x 1 RMS

One of the more drastic changes in the Alpine line up for 2012 is within their revamped subwoofer line up.  For starters, the all new Type E, Type S and Type R were all designed to perform optimally in the same exact enclosure specifications.  So whether you buy a Type E 12″, Type S 12″ or Type R 12″, they will all require the same enclosure size.  Both the Type S and the Type R subs have almost doubled in power handling.  The all new Type S is now rated at 500 watts RMS and the all new Type R is rated at an impressive 1000 watts RMS.

The all new Alpine Type R released in 2012 handles an impressive 1000 watts RMS.

Still relatively new in the line up is the flat Type R Alpine SWR-T12. The flat Type R subs are one of the best sounding flat line subs I have heard.

The one area of Alpine’s lineup that has not changed this year is their interior speaker line up.  Aside from the price of the raw material neodymium skyrocketing and bringing the price of the Type X components up to $1000, there have not been any changes in their already recently redesigned interior speaker line up.

Overall, I was very impressed with the improvements and changes they’ve made with their 2012 line up.  The one question I had for Alpine, and I couldn’t really get a straight answer on this, is why blue?  I wish they would provide consumers a little more flexibility by providing a multicolor illumination feature like so many other manufacturer’s offer.

I hope you enjoyed this review on the hot new products Alpine will be releasing in 2012.  What product do you see yourself purchasing this year from Alpine?  What features would you like to see that were not included in Alpine’s 2012 line up?  I’d love to get your feedback. If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Tweet it, like it, stumble it, whatever as long as you’re spreading the love. Thanks for reading.

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  1. When are the 920’s coming out it sceems like their taking forever to release, I have a whole system on order just waiting for thati

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing. Last I spoke with my rep, ETA was still June, which means they will ship by the end of June so hopefully early July. Hang in there!

  2. any opinion on the JVC KD-AHD75BT . I guess kenwood and jvc are the same company . This seems to have all the features i need and 4.8 pre outs . My eknwood 596 at the moment is just so bad at low volumes ,does not matter what settings i have tried , i have to turn it up to 20 to hear it sound good . not the case with my last units the alpine 138 , Nakamichi cd400 and even the last year model kenwood 595 all sounded better at low volumes then my current one . I looked into pioneer and they just seem so cheaply made and the display is terrible .


  3. i read it has a 1bit dac , not 24bit . is this a game changer?

    i found the europe model 123r changes colors , that would be great but you can only get it from ebay UK . still not sure if i would like the 1bit dac ?

    • Hi Steve,
      Sorry for the delayed response. Busy at the shop and I had to refresh my memory about what we had talked about. The 123 is a good deck, just lacks HD, Bluetooth. I do like that it has front USB and Rear USB. Basic EQ, but still 4V Volt. I hear what you’re saying about the Kenwood and the highs and the bigger thump from the pre-out, but this is where tuning can help. Have you tried turning your gains down on the sub amp? Or turning volume offset up a couple notches? Try turning volume offset up to about +3 (if you haven’t already) and let me know what you think. And of course, make sure things like bass boost are off (default setting is on) and start with the EQ set to flat. Make sure the high pass filter for the sub is off on the head unit (assuming you’re using the one built into the sub amp). Email me direct at [email protected] to discuss. I’ll try to help you tune your current products to your taste.

  4. annie , what do you think about the alpine 123 ?

  5. Hi Annie, Thanks for the information . After about a month now with the Kenwood . It just does not sound as good as the Alpine did . And i ahve to turn it up much louder , I wonder if i did something wrong with the alpine , does not make sense that there was hardly any subwoofer sound and the kenwood just pounds way too loud . this is strange , And i do not use a a iphone or any other mp3 device , just cd’s and usb flash drive . I was thinking of maybe the alpine 137 but hate that it has 2.5 v pre-outs . would this mean i would have to turn it up even louder or have to set my amp gains higher?
    Jvc is a very small maybe ,since they are made by kenwood , Pioneer , i dont like that subs wont work right like you said and they look so darn cheap . I still have another 4 weeks to return the kenwood but since i only paid $130 you can’t expect much . I just miss even though i only had the alpine a 5 days . The clarity and the music was coming from high above my head not just level with the car doors .Could one set of the pre ous be bad ? i dont know if tis worth buying the 138 again for almost $300. It was very hard to use too . Just not sure about all this 🙁

    Thanks Steve

  6. Hi Annie, Thanks for the information . After about a month now with the Kenwood . It just does not sound as good as the Alpine did . And i ahve to turn it up much louder , I wonder if i did something wrong with the alpine , does not make sense that there was hardly any subwoofer sound and the kenwood just pounds way too loud . this is strange , And i do not use a a iphone or any other mp3 device , just cd’s and usb flash drive . I was thinking of maybe the alpine 137 but hate that it has 2.5 v pre-outs . would this mean i would have to turn it up even louder or have to set my amp gains higher?
    Jvc is a very small maybe ,since they are made by kenwood , Pioneer , i dont like that subs wont work right like you said and they look so darn cheap . I still have another 4 weeks to return the kenwood but since i only paid $130 you can’t expect much . I just miss even though i only had the alpine a 5 days . The clarity and the music was coming from high above my head not just level with the car doors .Could one set of the pre ous be bad ? i dont know if tis worth buying the 138 again for almost $300. It was very hard to use too . Just not sure about all this 🙁

    Thanks Steve

  7. Ive been a diehard alpine fan since 1988. I use vintage japanese made alpine amps currently (3555×2 and 3549×1). I recently decided to go bluetoith for hands free. Im a service tech and drive ALOT and jam ALOT i cant afford ro miss calls. I digress…

    Has alpine improved on their output hardware? Specifically …. the “22” volume level where it tries to cutout mids and highs? When my unit gets to #23 on volume level there is a very discernable change in highs and mids. Im not sure of the model i’ve had so many. Its about 5 yrs old.

    The 138bt shows to have a 5 band parametric eq and the 137 has a 3 band ….. is this true?

    You rock!

  8. Just got the x596 installed and aghhhhhhh . The lows are great but the alpine highs were much better . it seems they improved the kenwoods a bit but dropped on there SQ from last year . Now i need to find something in the middle . Are JVC or Pioneer worth a shot ? Looking for a HD radio with 4 or higher volt pre outs .

    • Hi Steve,
      Sorry to hear you’re still not satisfied. Hey let me ask you a question. When you’re listening to your music, are you mainly listening to an iPod/iPhone? Have you checked to make sure the EQ is set off in the iPod itself? Even though you’re still going through USB, the EQ on the iPod can still effect sound quality. Just a thought. I don’t know about JVC. Was never really a fan of their stuff, I dabbled in it, but wasn’t impressed a few years ago. Pioneer makes great stuff, but has one feature that drives me crazy. You can’t turn off the built in lo pass filter. So if you ever hook up a subwoofer to it, there’s no adjusting it or turning it off. Which can suck because most mono amps don’t have a selectable on/off lo pass filter and double crossover can be bad for phase. And I think the sound quality is a little better on Kenwood and Alpine vs similar priced Pioneer. Whenever I demo stuff on our board using a Pioneer it always sounds like bass boost is on even when it’s turned off.

  9. I’m returning it for the Kenwood X596 at half the price . Played around with it all day and does not match the SQ of the kenwood . and it’s way too complicated 🙁 The EQ makes it sound worse.

  10. Hi Annie ,Thank you for all the advice and it was the antenna adapter I think or the Alpine just has a much better tuner. HD Radio is amazing but we only have one channel. 🙁

    Well after months of waiting the Alpine 138 arrived today , I installed it and i have to say i somewhat disappointed . It seems the Kenwood x595 aside from the things i did not like about it has a bit stronger pre-outs and better overall low end sound , The Alpine is actually harder to figure out the EQ controls then the Kenwood was. So I’m thinking all this time and what i did not like about the X595 seemed to be addressed on the X596 at about $100 cheaper . What luck 🙁 . The Kenwood had a bit more natural sound while the Alpine is very bright . The pluses on the Alpine are the vocals and separation are amazing and a stand out , But the mid-range is not there and no low end kick like i got from that Kenwood . The blue light is a negative also .It’s very bright i can’t even find how to dim (i know you can ) and it just does not distracting while driving since my gages are green and amber . SO with Crutchfields return policy seems very good i may exchange it and get some money back . I just thought this was the one to wait for 🙁 .

  11. HI , I just wanted to let you know that the Alpine hd138bt just shipped from crutchfield . I should have it by Monday 🙂 . Sooner then expected . I have been without a stereo for 3 months .

    I have a question over the last year all of a sudden i started getting really bad AM/FM reception am would not come in at all and FM was horrible , I never had this problem before . So since i was up for a new head-unit I went with the kenwood X595 and it did not pix the reception issues . I returned it , cd sound was amazing but i hated how hard it was to work and the joystick was a pain . anyway …. I tried to check if the antenna got loose or something but i can’t find what it is attached to . It seems it goes up the dash board and i can’t reach the end . Its 2000 Chevy Monte Carlo
    . Any idea on what could be wrong . Before i put in the Alpine i just want to make sure I’m getting the best connection possible .
    One more thing ,Will I be able to use are android phone with the Alpine .What is the sound quality like using the AUX . Or it’s best just to use cd’s and the USB port ?

    Thanks .

    • Hey Steve,
      Reception is tough, there are SO many different things that can effect it:

      -the radio
      -the antenna
      -the antenna cable from the radio to the antenna
      -the composition of materials in the car
      -the height of the vehicle
      -the height of the antenna
      -corrosion on any power wires in the vehicle
      -whether or not you’ve had your spark plugs changed recently

      the list goes on and on and on. 1st thing I would check is the antenna adapter that you would have had to use. Judging by the age of the car, it’s very possible it’s just corrosion somewhere causing interference. Other than that, I think the easiest thing to do is use your smart phone. As long as you have decent cell service you can listen to whatever radio station you want through a radio app on your phone.

      I prefer bluetooth audio over the headphone jack as the headphone jack will use the little internal amplifier on your phone (for when you’re listening with headphones) as well as it using the amp built into the head unit. So even though you lose a little top end and low end, I think the end result is cleaner as you’re not using the amp for the phone. USB is even better.

  12. that makes me want to cry, I was hoping by mid April at the latest :'(

  13. Any new word on when the new alpine subs and amps will ship? I’m just dying waiting so I can get my 12 installed.

    • Hi Jeremy, my best guess is Summer 2012. They just had a training recently for dealers in our area and we learned a lot of products are being delayed. The double din A/V units for example probably won’t drop til July and I don’t even see the new subs on their website yet, so I don’t think they’ll be shipping any time soon. Sorry for the bad news!

  14. So much info here! But I do have one question. Can the CDE-135BT or any of the units for that matter play and control Pandora on a Android device through the USB like the iPhone/iPod? I ask because the USB can charge the phone wile BT will just kill it faster.

    • Hi Chris,
      Excellent question! I was highly disappointed to learn that Alpine’s Pandora control for Android and Blackberry was via bluetooth not USB connection. I suppose you could still plug in to charge while you listen via Bluetooth.

  15. how come alpine can’t make a classic looking true alpine you can’t even spot them from across the room do some home work 7374 ,7272, 7909, 7949 all the green glass looking buttons and fit and finish

    • My best guess is because technology continues to progress? I’ve being doing this 12 years. I remember some older Alpine decks, maybe not THAT old, but I do remember and think nostalgically about some of the older ones like the CDA-7863, 7864, 9835. There were also many others that had some nice EQ features and even copper chassis at one point. And I did ask Alpine, “Why Blue? Why not give users a few illumination options as not everyone on the road has a new car?”. The newer cars these days are opting for blue illumination on the interiors and that was my reps best guess as to why they use the blue illumination.

      For a while, and I even have one of these, Alpine had their Flagship F1 status for the true die hard Alpine fan. If you want an original looking Alpine with the best sound quality you have ever heard in your life, find yourself a DVI-9990 and a PXIH990. DVD audio deck, insane equalization features, hand selected components for the external DAC (the size of an amp). I’ve only sold one and the guy also got an F1 amp and it all went into a 1997 Saturn. It was the sweetest sounding system I ever heard. I think we did Morel speakers, I can’t remember. The detail was just incredible.

      But as far as the newer stuff goes, even if you look at it from the quality standpoint, they have brought back great features over the past couple years like the time alignment and 5 band parametric EQ. Alpine was the 1st to interface with iPods many years ago and they’ve always been a company that is innovative. I think they did a really good job this year, huge improvement over their offerings for the last 4 or 5 years. But unless you have a few grand to shell out for some older F1 status equipment, I think the CDE-HD138BT will be a great option for many people out there.

      I would LOVE to co-design a head unit with a company like Apple. I agree there is no brand out there that spends enough time on research and development with end use consumers. I think that there could be vast improvements in ease of use, overall appearance and feel, function and features.

  16. Hi , Does the new cde-hd137bt have 4 volt pre-outs ? I also have been trying to figure out what the difference is to the 138bt . The 137 has a 3 band EQ and the 138 does not say anything about a eq . I have been without a radio in my car for 2 months and its driving me crazy > I bought a Kenwood x595 , Awesome sound and loved the changing colors but the unit was shacky and a nightmare to use so i returned it. I see that x596 is out . I think it’s easier to use and priced right . Do you know how much longer till the 137 or 138 comes out . I’m looking for a stereo with 4 volt pre outs,top notch sound and hd radio with preset bottons on the unit . Thanks a bunch for any information.

    • Hi Steve,
      The difference between the 137 and the 138 is a 4 Volt pre-out section. The 137 has a 3 Band EQ, but the 138 has a 5 band EQ. The KDC-X595/596 are good units but can be difficult to use. The Alpine stereos have always been known for their ease of use. I anticipate the new Alpine stereos to be shipping around end of April. Hope that helps!

  17. Wow! Loved the detailed responses you leave.
    I was just wondering when is Alpines cde-hd138bt head unit going to be available for purchase?
    Also, when are most off these products going to be available for purchase at local stores like BEST BUY

    • Probably by April, glad you enjoy the blog.

  18. Slight change of plans. It appears the store is willing to swap it out for the INE-Z928HD since we had also bought the HD unit. However, I worry that it won’t fit in my vehicle. I have a 2011 Toyota Sienna. There isn’t a kit specifically for my van. Will I have problems with it or will they be able to do it? Should I even go with it?

    • Alpine will be releasing a kit for the van or one can be easily fabricated. Once again, I don’t think that will help. I think these guys are just trying to push off dealing with the true issue at hand for another 4-5 months.

  19. Awesome website! I currently have an Alpine INA-W900BT. I have been going back and forth with the store because the radio signal is terrible. Some days I get lucky and only have some static and others it is pure static and not a lick of a radio signal. This is WITH the HD module installed.

    The store finally called and got Alpine to agree to swap the unit out for the INA-W910. If we want to wait we can wait for the INE-S920HD. It seems like a no brainer to me! It sounds like the 920 would be a good step up from the 910, but what do you think?

    Also, do you happen to know how many points of interest the navigation system has? Whenever we type something into the 900 it seems like it isn’t in there and we have to type in the address since it only has 6 million POI and most GPS have 12 million POI.

    • Wow, I had just written you an extremely detailed and long comment and one of my co-workers closed the window on me. Gotta love it. So reception. There are so many different things that effect reception and I can almost guarantee you that it has nothing to do with the Alpine receiver. I’m going to take a guess here and guess that you have one of those cars that has a factory amplified antenna system (select VW, Audi, BMW, Subaru, Honda, Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai). Often times it’s built into the rear windshield or it’s a little stubby antenna on the roof. These are notorious for having poor reception to begin with. To get decent reception you really need to have some vertical height, so a standard mast antenna is usually best for reception.

      If you have one of these amplified antenna systems, your installer would have to had used an amplified antenna adapter as the factory antenna connection is a proprietary connection and won’t connect to the Alpine without it. These antenna adapters (for vehicles that have factory amplified antennas) have a power lead that needs to be powered up using the Alpine’s power antenna lead. If this is not powered up, you will get no reception.

      Other things that can effect reception include how and where the radio was grounded. Sometimes it’s better using the stock radio ground wire, sometimes it’s better to go to the vehicle chassis, you just have to try it and see what’s better. Things like changing our spark plugs can even effect reception. Corrosion in any antenna cable, the antenna or any antenna connections or vehicle wiring will effect reception.

      Also, HD will only help you if you’re within range of a channel broadcasting HD and receiving clear signal. So if you have no reception to begin with or there aren’t any HD channels in your area, it won’t make an improvement.

      I doubt the Alpine itself is defective. If it was, Alpine has a very easy core exchange program the dealer could have used. Basically they just need the serial number off the stereo, call Alpine and Alpine will send them a replacement 900 unit. They send the old one back with the included shipping label. I don’t think you’ll have any difference upgrading to the 910, it might be slightly improved because the HD tuner is built into the 910.

      Right now you may have several interruptions on your antenna cable. 1st we have the conversion to go from factory to aftermarket (the antenna adapter), 2nd we go into the HD tuner and 3rd we go from the HD tuner to the Alpine. Interrupting the signal, although it’s a clean connection, can degrade reception.

      Although it would be nice to upgrade to the 920, it will be months until it ships and by then your radio will be considered 2 years old so I don’t think the dealer will give you that as an option.

      As far as points of interest goes, the Alpine calculates it differently than say a Garmin system. Garmin may count one individual Gas station as 3 different points of interest because it may be listed under 3 different categories depending on what features it has like “Gas”, “Auto Repair”, “Convenient Store”. Alpine will count it one time as it is one location. So it does have a lot of information.

      With all navigation systems it is helpful to enter information in the following order. First enter the State, then City, THEN street name, then number. I find if you try to enter street name 1st, it doesn’t always locate it. If you narrow it down 1st, it’s easier to pull up.

      The only other thing to mention is certain Nissan and Toyota have dual antenna inputs into the factory stereo wiring. Sometimes you have to use a splitter and use both connections for best reception, sometimes the second connection is for a weather band (which is not a feature on aftermarket stereos that I have seen) so it is not needed. It’s possible you have one of these cars and need a splitter connecting both antenna connections.

      I hope that helps!!

  20. Thanks for the reply! I’m glad I found a blog that answers all my questions in one place 🙂 Hopefully I’m not bothering you with too many questions haha but I’ve been looking around for a while at different Alpine head units. I’ve had the CDA – 9857 for about 5 years now and has treated me wonderfully. I then obtained a KCE – 400BT Bluetooth Unit for cheap and got the adapter cable and everything, only to find out that the two were not compatible with each other. At this point, I’m looking for something that has has bluetooth capability, ipod control through the head unit (are the new units still able to use the aI-net cable?), USB, and an auxiliary 3.5mm jack in the front. Additionally, the android Pandora control would be a nice extra feature like was mentioned in your post above. Also, I’ve always been a big fan of the single-din units. What would you say would be a compelling reason to switch to a double-din unit? Thank you in advance for your reply!

    • Hi Brian,
      That’s a toughie, you’d really want one of the new Alpine decks that aren’t out yet like the CDE-HD138BT as it would give you the Android Pandora control feature through bluetooth, bluetooth handsfree calling and audio streaming, 4 volt preout and some EQ features. But it probably won’t be out till end of next month/early April. If you can hang till then I would. The only advantage to the double din is they’re way easier to use and a much nicer display. You will also have the option (probably for iPhone only, not quite clear on this yet) to launch GPS and other apps from your phone on screen. That’s pretty cool. If you like the idea of that, check out Pioneer’s new double din touch screens which are app ready for Andriod as well as Kenwood has new single din’s coming with Android control. So there’s lots of cool stuff coming out this year. You may want to just wait a couple months since there are so many cool new features from everyone coming out this year.

      The CDA-9857 is a great sounding deck. If you don’t already have it, in the mean time get yourself a KCA-121B and an RCA to mini jack cable. This way you can turn on the decks internal aux and at least listen to your Android through the Aux on the head unit (they’re Aux ready, you just need that extra $20 cable). When you have the head unit plugged into the headphone jack of your phone you’ll even hear when a call comes through, it’ll ring through your car speakers, you’d just have to answer it on speaker phone on your phone and talk handsfree. You’ll still hear the conversation over the speakers in the car though which is cool. Kind of a nice cheap way to hold you over till the new stuff comes out.

  21. Great post! Any idea when these will be available? Also, what would you recommend the CDA-117 for a recent model?

    • Hi Brian,
      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! As far as head units goes, the more entry level stuff starts to trickle out this month and March, the higher end models usually end of March/April. The navigation/touch screen units between April and May. The new amps should start shipping in March/April. Not sure on the new subs yet. I just received one of the plug and play GM kits with the interface module and steering controls a couple weeks ago. I forgot I had it on order, I ordered it last year. They’ve been working on that for a long time, not sure when the other models of special kits are shipping yet.

      For a current model the CDA-117 gives you tons of control. 5 Band EQ, digital time alignment (allows you to digitally delay the closest speakers to you so they all hit you at exactly the same time, it completely centers your sound stage to right where you’re sitting, very cool stuff), built in crossovers, 4 Volt preouts, USB and pretty easy to use iPod search functionality. Another nice option for less money, but with less audio control features is the CDE-123. You give up time alignment and the 5 Band EQ, but you gain a front or rear USB and Pandora iPhone control which is pretty cool.


  23. I really appreciate the detail you put into this article. I’ve been looking at all sorts of forums trying to decipher more information in regards to these units. One question though, do any of the new single din units (i.e.CDE-135BT, 136, 137 or 138) have button illumination options besides blue; previous models had the option of red, green, amber or blue illuminations. Just curious, thanks again.

    • Hi Miguel,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I had a great time writing it. That’s a great question about the illumination. That was my main complaint with the lineup, it’s a feature so many other manufacturer’s offer seemingly so effortlessly. Starting at $119, Pioneer offers a head unit with CD/USB/AUX, an easy to use button layout and over 200,000 colors for illumination. I don’t know why it’s so hard for Alpine to grasp that people would really appreciate that feature. It’s often a deciding factor for many of my customers.

      I did ask around at the booth and the response was kind of a shrug and “that seems to be a popular illumination color in newer cars”. Which is bizarre, considering people are most likely to be installing their products into cars that are not brand new. I did not have a chance to see if the new double din a/v units have multicolor illumination, but I know the standard single din and (their basic double din non A/V unit) are sadly, not multicolor illumination.

  24. Yes, I second what West Coast Mike said. Great write up here Annie, and all your CES write ups for all the booths you visited were great. Alpine’s Facebook page even has posted a link to your coverage, if you’ve noticed. Nice work.

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it, I really enjoyed reporting on everything. I wish I had time to visit more booths. It’s amazing how many people were there this year and how quickly time went by at each vendors booth. I can’t wait to for the NY Auto show to report on what cool vehicle technology car manufacturers are coming out with. I only got a few peaks at CES. I saw Audi has navigation with google maps now, pretty cool stuff. Thanks guys, it makes my day to know you’ve enjoyed it.

  25. Wow what a great write up. I was unable CES this year and I was disappointed in the amount of detailed information that was released on either Alpines Facebook or webpage but your write up fills all the gaps that have been missing for me and it gave me all the detailed information that i was looking for. Thanks.

    • Thanks, I really appreciate your feedback!

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