Kenwood CarPlay & Android Auto – DDX9902s & DDX9702s

Kenwood reveals two new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible models at CES 2015 – DDX9902s and DDX9702s

My first stop at CES 2015 was over at the Kenwood booth in the North Hall and my timing couldn’t have been better.  I wandered into the unattended room which was displaying the DDX9902s and DDX9702s, Kenwood’s new Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible models.  I would later find out this room was normally closed off to attendees and only accessible via supervised demonstration by appointment.  Luckily I snuck in before their first appointment of the day and I was able to sit in on the demonstration and ask questions.

DDX9902s - Home screen CES 2015

DDX9902s – Home screen CES 2015

Kenwood has two versions of this stereo.  The regular Kenwood model is the DDX9702s and the Kenwood eXcelon model is the DDX9902s.  The stereo menu and user interface is essentially the same as last year’s DDX8901.  I was concerned about processing speed as it was always lagging a bit on the DDX8901, Kenwood was unsure at this time whether or not the processor has been upgraded over last year.  For what it’s worth, I did not see any lag time in any operations in either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Kenwood DDX9902s - CES 2015

Kenwood DDX9902s – CES 2015

The DDX9902s will include the standard Kenwood eXcelon 13 band EQ, digital time alignment, built in crossvers, 5 volt preouts, high quality digital to analog convertor.  The regular Kenwood version, the DDX9702s will still have 4 volt preouts and most likely come with a more basic EQ like what we saw in last year’s DDX771.  The exact details of the EQ are still to be determined.

Kenwood DDX9702s - CES 2015

Kenwood DDX9702s – CES 2015

You have to keep in mind, these models are prototypes.  Often what vendors display at CES are products they are still developing that are about to go into production. Because these products are still being developed and they are not finished samples off the production line, there were some questions I had that were left with open ended answers and flat out, “We don’t know yet” responses.

Here is what I do know about the DDX9902s and DDX9702s

  • Compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but not at the same time.
  • Both models include a separate GPS antenna designed to work with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto devices.  The stereo takes information from both the external GPS antenna and the information from the phone for the best GPS coverage.
  • When using Android Auto – the phone is locked, everything must be accessed from the stereo (not the same for Apple CarPlay).
  • You can access music from other sources such as HD Radio or SiriusXM while accessing Google Maps from Android Auto or Apple Maps from CarPlay.  The audio prompts from the navigation are overlaid and reduce volume on whatever media source is playing.
  • Android Auto relays traffic information when using Google Maps app.
  • There is no on screen phonebook access – Android Auto really wants drivers to rely on Google Voice and this feature encourages them to keep their eyes on the road.
  • Connection for Android Auto through USB to micro.
  • Connection for CarPlay through USB to lightning.
  • Probably will have two USB ports, but not positive at this time.
  • Will have HDMI input and can use new optional Miracast adapter KCA-WL100 to wirelessly mirror audio and video from phone (kind of like Airplay from Apple)
  • Will support iDatalink Maestro integration
  • Samsung phones will still most likely need a tip adapter.
  • Android Auto requires Lollipop 5.0 or higher.
  • You still can’t have more than two phones paired at the same time for BOTH handsfree and audio – you can have one paired for music and one paired for phone calls, but that’s it.
  • Estimated release date May 2015

Whether you’re using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, there is a huge push by developers to get drivers to rely on their smartphone’s voice control.  Android Auto’s voice control function was impressive.  Not only can you tell it what artist to play, but you can tell it which app to use to do so.  In all verbal test commands, Android Auto obliged. See image below, this is from the command “Play artist Maroon 5 on Spotify”.  It was spot on (LOL – I couldn’t resist).

Kenwood DDX9902s - Spotify on display at CES 2015

Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto voice commands responding at CES 2015

What we don’t know and won’t know until we try it

I have concerns about Samsung devices running Android Auto.  I have seen charging issues with the more popular Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3 running through a USB to micro while running navigation apps, music apps, making and receiving phone calls and received social media and email alerts.  Usually the charge supplied by standard car stereo USB (like Pioneer, Kenwood or Sony) is usually not enough to keep up with the phone.  Kenwood’s technical rep stated that charging is .5 amp on their USB while their white display board shows 1 amp charging.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Android Auto Phone Menu

Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto Phone Menu

Kenwood was running their Android Auto display with a Nexus phone and the stereo alone was maintaining the phone’s battery over the course of CES 2015.  When asked about what we could expect to see with the more popular Samsung devices, their guess was as good as mine.  It hasn’t been tested, so they simply don’t know at this point nor do they have plans to test every Android phone model and relay to consumers the efficiency or lack of efficiency a particular phone has.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Google Maps

Kenwood DDX9902s – Google Maps

It amazes me how car stereo is really moving into sort of a software and hardware industry.  Kenwood has built Android Auto compatibility and hardware into their products and cell phone manufacturers build phones that support Android operating systems.  Cell phone manufacturers still build their own cell phones.  Some cell phones charge more efficiently than others.  The stereo is just a portal at this point so we really don’t know how any one particular phone will respond until we try it.

Other new Kenwood models revealed at CES 2015

Aside from the DDX9902s and DDX9702s, Kenwood revealed an overwhelming amount of new stereo models, many that look a lot like last year’s models with subtle differences.  One model worth mentioning is their new flip out 7″ touch screen model, the KVT-7012BT.  Kenwood had discontinued their flip out style touch screen a couple years ago, but have brought back an option for those limited to a single din stereo opening.

Kenwood KVT-7012BT

Kenwood KVT-7012BT

The new Kenwood flip out DVD features:

  • Three 5 volt preouts
  • Bluetooth for handsfree and audio streaming
  • 5 Band EQ
  • Pandora, iHeart and Aupeo compatibility
  • Waze compatibility – I’ll believe it when I see it.  They did this last year – slapped a label on a product and then legitimized it by saying, well technically using an iPod 30 pin adapter to audio and video into the Kenwood’s A/V in you could mirror Waze on screen.  The only Waze control I saw over at the Kenwood booth was on the JVC side and I wasn’t impressed.  It was very laggy, unresponsive – it just didn’t work well.  I did not see a Kenwood radio with this function set up for demo, but it’s possible I just missed it.

New Navigation Models

The DNX691HD, DNX891HD and DNN991 have been replaced by the DNX692HD, DNX892HD and DNN992.  On first glance, they look a lot like their predecessors.

Kenwood DNX692 CES 2015

Kenwood DNX692 CES 2015

And after browsing through the menus and sources of these new Kenwood models they appeared to be exactly like their predecessors.  Even their responsiveness which was a bit disappointing.  I was hoping Kenwood had improved the processing speed in these models, but it really seemed exactly like last year’s models.  Interestingly, their non navigation models did appear a LOT faster in processing.

Kenwood DDX272 & DDX372BT - CES 2015

Kenwood DDX272 & DDX372BT – CES 2015

I inquired if the Bluetooth handsfree profile had been upgraded over last year’s version as bluetooth handsfree sound quality has always been an issue for my customers on their non navigation and non eXcelon double din touch screen head units.  I was told that it had not been upgraded.  So even though processing has been upgraded and responsiveness has improved, handsfree call quality could still be an issue on Kenwood’s DDX372BT, DDX392, DDX492 and DDX672BH.

New single din Kenwood Excelon models

Kenwood introduced 3 new single din head unit models, the KDC-X399, KDC-X599 and KDC-X799 and they carried over two models from last year (the KDC-X898 and KDC-X998).  The KDC-X399, KDC-X599 and KDC-X799 essentially look the same and have very similar features and a few subtle differences.  Pictured below is the KDC-X599.

Kenwood KDC-X599

Kenwood KDC-X599

KDC-X399:

  • AM/FM CD Player (open CD slot – no dust cover)
  • Front USB/AUX
  • Three 4 volt preouts
  • 5 band EQ
  • High pass and low pass filter starting at 100 Hz (kind of high I think)
  • Variable color illumination
  • Pandora compatible
  • iHeart Radio compatible

KDC-X599:

  • Adds dust cover
  • Adds Bluetooth Audio and Handsfree Calling
  • Adds SiriusXM Ready (requires SXV300 tuner)

KDC-X799:

  • Adds HD Radio

Conclusion CES 2015 at the Kenwood booth

By far the most exciting additions to Kenwood’s line this year will be the DDX9902s and DDX9702s featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  However, we will have to be patient and wait another 5 months or so until they actually begin to ship. Estimated retail price on these models will be $700.

Kenwood DDX9902s - Android Auto

Kenwood DDX9902s – Android Auto

 

 

 

21 comments for “Kenwood CarPlay & Android Auto – DDX9902s & DDX9702s

  1. Dar
    December 20, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Hi Annie,
    First off, I’ve really enjoyed reading some of your blog posts. Very cool and useful info. I am wondering if you can give me some feedback/help here regarding the DDX9902s. I just put one of these in my car a couple of months ago (upgraded from stock HU), and while I am really enjoying the overall sound quality, the sub bass seems pretty weak compared to when I had everything hooked up to my stock HU. My sub felt more impactful (and louder) on the stock HU, whereas the Kenwood not as much and I feel like I am left with wanting more. I didn’t feel that way with the stock HU. Even the really low notes are not as present, whereas on my stock HU my sub would dig down pretty low. The Kenwood sounds more clean and detailed, but I am just really bummed that I feel the bass is lacking as much as I feel it is and I’m trying to avoid spending more money on a stronger amp/sub combo (or just adding another sub). I’ve had everything tuned professionally by a shop I’ve been going to for several years and have been very happy with. I have talked to them about it, but they said that being that the signal is cleaner now it won’t have the added noise/distortion that makes it seem louder. I never previously noticed any distortion, though, and I was always on alert. Anyway, I am rambling now, and I am sure there are other variables of info that you’d need to make a more accurate assumption, but if there is anything that you CAN give me feedback on I’d appreciate it!

    Thanks

    • February 4, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Dar,
      That’s actually a pretty common thing. When you connect an amp and sub through a line output converter or through speaker level input it’s almost like having an 8 volt pre amp in terms of sensitivity. The Kenwood is 4 volt so although routing the amp/sub through RCA’s the signal is much cleaner, it’s still not as sensitive compared to going speaker level. The shop should re-tune it for you with this in mind. It’s common to have to bump up the gains when switching an install from speaker level to RCA.

  2. Mike Smith
    November 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Annie, I have to tell you, between your review and Crutchfield highlighting the 9902 and the 9702 in one of their catalogs, I bit the bullet and bought the 9702 in August. I wanted to comment on a few things. I have a Samsung Galaxy S6 as my android phone, and even though I purchased the optional MHL cable with the 9702, a lack of a usable or available tip adapter results in my 29.99 MHL cable being nothing more than a overpriced bungie cord. I have kind of given up on Kenwood actually doing anything other than taking my money with a lot of razzle and dazzle concerning what these two units would do, and shame on them for coming to market when the most significant thing I was purchasing the unit for, which was the mirroring capability, has just not happened. The KCA-WL100 optional miracast cable has been displayed on many sites, but no one actually has one to sell. Crutchfield actually removed it from their site a week or so ago after having “unknown” for a delivery date for over 5 months. Again, Kenwood, shame on you guys.

    Now, that was my bitching. The good part of the 9702 is simple…. This is a great sounding head unit. After a second firmware update from Kenwood, and numerous updates on Android Auto, IHeart Radio, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Google Music, everything works on this system and works well. I have the 9702 connected to my phone via the usb cable, and this connection is adequate to allow everything else to work. Seemless calling and text messaging, Google Maps just keeps getting better and better. I appreciate the verbal back and forth probably more than most due to some prior throat cancer issues took my normal voice. If the google platform can understand clearly what I am saying, well, it just made my day.

    My wife and I just took my truck on a quick 1200 mile trip. I have to admit we played with the 9702 the entire trip and hands down it worked like a champ. Even though I am still waiting on a tip adapter I can actually use to connect my phone to the MHL cable, and/or the miracast adapter for the wireless mirroring, if I was forced to give an overall rating to the Kenwood 9702S, on a scale of 1 to 10, this one is a solid 8, and an easy 10 if they would come up with the two items listed.

    • February 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Mike, Thanks for the comment. Yeah I *just* recently had a chance to putz around and listen to this (was a crazy summer and winter holiday season at the shop) and I do agree the Kenwood (I have the DDX9902S on display) has a more natural/balanced tone. I still don’t think it’s as good as the older Kenwood eXcelon stuff and I still think Pioneer is leaps and bounds ahead of where they’ve been in the past in terms of sound quality. However the most frustrating thing I’ve found is Sony trumps them both yet they don’t offer this type of integration (which is why I have a panavise mount and cell phone holder right next to my Sony head unit in my Jeep). Thanks for the tips and feedback, much appreciated.

  3. Adam Kunsch
    July 2, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I was reading a post that you published about a year ago on this topic and came across your excellent cheat sheet. https://carstereochick.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Kenwood-2014-HDMI-Final.pdf. With that said I am also looking into purchasing the DDX9702s. Would you be able to tell me for an iPhone 6 Plus, I’m wanting to (1) mirror my waze app to the headunit, (2) Control the Waze app from the headunit, and (3) have carplay capability. Do you think that the 9702s can handle all of that?

    Thanks,
    Adam

    • July 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Adam
      Short answer technically yes, but it would be a pain in the arse. The way they were doing Waze last year was really kind of wonky and didn’t work that well and it’s still going through that same interface you saw in that diagram this year. The pain in the butt part comes in play when you want to switch between the two modes. Apple CarPlay is one wire connection, USB to lightning. The Waze connection is going over HDMI and Bluetooth. So not only do you have to switch sources and switch your cable connection, you need to change your Smartphone settings from “USB 1 Wire” to “HDMI + Bluetooth” every time you want to go between Waze and Apple CarPlay.

  4. June 25, 2015 at 2:58 am

    Hey Annie,

    Any idea when you might get either of these models in for a comparison review against the pioneer and alpine CarPlay units? Would love to see that!

    Many thanks

    • June 26, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Hi Anthony, I have the DDX9702s on order, but not here at the shop yet. Hopefully within a week or so, but I probably won’t have time for a review until mid July.

  5. Marek
    June 10, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Will any of these unit be compatible with wireless apple car play that apple just announced?

    • June 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      I don’t think so. My understanding is for the wireless carplay to work the units have to support both Bluetooth and Wifi. Alpine will be releasing an optional USB dongle accessory and most likely a software update in the future to allow the wireless CarPlay, but I haven’t heard anything for Kenwood or Pioneer on wireless CarPlay.

  6. Aaron
    June 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Great run down on the new Kenwood models. I haven’t found any data on the Android Auto head units. Are these releasing this year? Thank you for the comprehensive information!!!!!

    • June 11, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Aaron, yeah they only recently started taking orders for these models so hopefully we’ll see end of this month or early July.

  7. Kevin
    May 17, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Manual for them is out. Looks interesting.
    http://manual.kenwood.com/files/B5A-0663-00.pdf

    • May 21, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Just got an update email from Kenwood rep. They’re estimating June delivery now and estimated prices are at $700 for the DDX9702s and $750 for the DDX9902s. One really cool thing is the switching between Android and CarPlay – According to Kenwood, you don’t have to change any settings in the menu, just connect the phone and it auto switches. That’s cool. Here are the other details they had:

      Kenwood DDX9702S Features
      Built-in Bluetooth
      Android Auto and CarPlay ready
      Rear USB and Aux Input
      FLAC Support
      5 Band EQ
      DSP with time alignment
      Selectable digital high-pass and low pass filters
      3 RCA Pre-outs at 4 volts

      Kenwood DDX9902S Features
      Built-in Bluetooth W/ apt X high res streaming
      Android Auto and CarPlay ready
      Rear USB and Aux Input
      FLAC Support
      7 Band EQ
      DSP with time alignment
      Selectable digital high-pass and low pass filters
      3 RCA Pre-outs 5Volts
      2 year warranty

  8. Gerald Springer
    February 20, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    So what really is the difference between the DNX891HD and the DNX892HD? I have a DNX891HD coming from Amazon but certainly don’t want it if the DNX892 is better.

    • February 22, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Gerald,
      Good question. I’m actually passing on Kenwood eXcelon this year based on what I saw at CES and based on sales of eXcelon product for 2014. They didn’t change a whole lot and to be an eXcelon dealer, Kenwood makes us load up on a ridiculous amount of sku’s (I can’t carry *just* their head units, I’d have to buy their speakers, their amps, their regular Kenwood products, their accessories, etc) and at the same time – they make us sign a dealer agreement promising not to sell or advertise their product below their minimum advertised price (or they threaten to terminate you as a dealer) – However, their product is all over Amazon at dealer cost anyways so it just isn’t making sense for our small business this year based on these things PLUS based on what little new product they introduced this year. The new CarPlay Android auto models are the only really cool, new exciting things I saw.

      Looking at their website, here is what I can see they added to the DNX892 over the DNX891:

      -Newly designed intuitive GUI for selecting between iPod and Tuner source with pop up menu and EQ key.
      This is good if it’s true, but looking through the owner’s manual the user interface and screen shots appeared exactly the same as the DNX891HD and I did not see any shortcut buttons for accessing EQ quickly and easily.
      -Wireless mirroring
      This is pretty cool. Keep in mind it does not mean on screen control, it’s kind of like Airplay and requires the KCA-WL100 Miracast dongle (cool if you want to mirror audio/video from your phone, but you’re cool with still controlling it all from the phone – but this adapter is not available yet, not sure when it’s shipping)
      -Parking guidelines
      Pretty cool if your camera doesn’t already have.
      -Advanced app integration on the navigation side.
      However, I’m not sure what kind of connection is needed for use of these apps. Check out page 24 of the Navigation owner’s manual for an idea of what kind of features it adds.

  9. Roland
    January 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Seems to be the most comprehensive info on Kenwood’s 2015 lineup I can find anywhere on the intarwebs right now–very nice work! Kenwood’s site has info on the DNX/DNN x92 models now, but nothing on the DDX units with Android Auto. I’m guessing that’s because they’re not releasing for a few months; perhaps also why they were in a normally closed off room!

    PS I’ve linked to this page on Kenwoodforums.com–hope you don’t mind!

    • January 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks so much Roland! I appreciate the feedback. I’m glad I could help spread some details 😉

Comments are closed.