Kenwood DNX893S – Looks awesome on paper and in person

I recently had the chance to go to a Kenwood product training where I got to check out a prototype of the new Kenwood DNX893S.

Kenwood DNX893S
Kenwood DNX893S

Just on paper alone, this model has my hopes up and has got me excited about Kenwood again. It definitely looks like it has the potential to be the best double din navigation system of 2016. The DNX893S is part of Kenwood’s eXcelon line and has some pretty desireable features:

  • Glass capacitive touch screen (like what is on your smartphone – so it is vibrant and responsive).
  • Onboard Garmin GPS navigation
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • iDatalink Maestro RR compatible (featuring advanced iDatalink features)
  • 13 Band EQ with 5 volt preamp outputs
  • High Res Audio (supports up to 192kHz/24bit resolution in FLAC or WAV)
  • New user friendly graphic interface and menu system

User Friendly

“Simplicity” and “Ease of use” were two catch phrases strongly emphasized during the training. It appears the designers at Kenwood finally realized these are legitimate and desirable features and they really made an effort this year to make their products more user friendly. Thank you Kenwood!

Kenwood DNX893S GPS Widget
Kenwood DNX893S GPS Widget

Kenwood has incorporated customizable widgets into their screen making it easy to personalize the home screen and easily access the most used sources/features of the stereo. Easily swipe the top right corner of the screen to change the widget displayed.  Maybe you prefer to display basic GPS instruction while you listen to your tunes and have a few easy short cuts to radio, nav map or your phone menu.

Kenwood DNX893S Clock Widget
Kenwood DNX893S Clock Widget

Or maybe you want a big fat fancy clock on your widget screen. It seems like such a miniscule feature to some, but for someone like me with ADHD (constantly a victim of time warps!) that clock is the easiest and safest way for me to see how late I actually am as I race against the clock to get to my shop before it officially opens for business. Sure, I have a clock on my iPhone, but I don’t want to be fumbling for my phone while I’m speeding to work. It’s the small details that can make a big difference.

Kenwood DNX893S K40 Radar Integration

Speaking of speeding to work – finally! I have had countless customers ask for some type of integration of their radar detector to their stereo system. Most built in radar detectors do have an analog mute wire so you could potentially wire up your radar detector to the mute output of your aftermarket head unit, but this feature goes way beyond the basic mute function. The Kenwood DNX893S will be the first aftermarket touch screen head unit I’ve seen that can give you on screen alerts and information about the radar detector threat.

Kenwood DNX893S K40 Radar Integration
Kenwood DNX893S K40 Radar Integration

Not only does the Kenwood DNX893S interrupt and mute the audio (kind of like Bluetooth when you get a call coming in), but it will also show you the speed you were at when the initial threat was detected along with the posted speed limit. Depending on what vehicle you have, you can even use the steering wheel controls to mute the radar detector.

This very cool integration feature is not available just yet. At this point I’m not sure if this will be an add-on K40 accessory that will be able to be integrated with older models OR if this will only be a feature of new K40 systems moving forward. K40 was pretty mum about the exact details of their iDatalink partnership, but did say we can expect to see this integration available in the second half of the year.

More iDatalink Maestro Perks of the Kenwood DNX893S

Aside from K40 integration, iDatalink Maestro has added a few more perks to the Kenwood DNX893s over what was available in last year’s models. There are a few updates in particular that I’m really happy about. In previous Kenwood iDatalink Maestro installations, there was nothing we could do to eliminate unsupported sources on screen.

So for example, let’s say you had a 2012 F-150 without factory SiriusXM. In older Kenwood models with the iDatalink Maestro RR, under OEM features/sources, you might see the SiriusXM icon listed even though it might not be a compatible or available feature – just like what you see with this older DDX9902S in an F-150 below:

DDX9902s Ford iDatalink Integration Features
DDX9902s Ford iDatalink Integration Features

That was because in some vehicles it was an available integration feature, but not all (more so compatible in GM vehicles than Ford in my experience). So with this minor update, you don’t have any extra and sometimes confusing unused icons under this OEM features menu – it makes a lot more sense to only show the available/compatible features for the particular vehicle the radio is installed in.

Kenwood DNX893s iDatalink Maestro
Kenwood DNX893s iDatalink Maestro – Less clutter on the OEM screen as only available features are shown.

The Kenwood DNX893S is faster and more reliable than previous Kenwood models

This is probably one of the MOST exciting aspects about this stereo to me. Start-up and boot up time has always been a sore spot for customers with previous feature packed bogged down Kenwood models. Thankfully, the Kenwood DNX893s has a faster processor and more memory than previous models. Additionally, this new Kenwood model is linux based which is generally faster and more reliable.

Users can expect to see speedier boot up times and far fewer quirks/hang ups than seen in previous Kenwood models. With a new dual core processor and automatic cache clearing on start up/turn off, Kenwood has decided to eliminate the old red triangular reset button. What does all this really mean? No more waiting for your Kenwood to boot up in order to back out of the driveway! Kenwood claims their unit will power up and display the reverse camera screen in under 2 seconds.

Kenwood DNX893S Garmin
Kenwood DNX893S uses internal solid state device for Garmin GPS

To keep the Garmin GPS more stable and reliable, this portion of the unit is no longer SD card based and has been switched to a solid state device which has been deemed more reliable. I know I’ve had my share of Kenwood units where the radio itself was okay but the Garmin GPS failed. It’s nice to know Kenwood has addressed this issue.

Additional Cool Features of the Kenwood DNX893S

Additional cool features are the ability to have TWO Bluetooth telephone devices paired and functional at the same time. How many of you have a work cell phone and personal cell phone? Quite a few of my customers do. This feature has been added with you folks in mind. You can still only connect to one Bluetooth audio device at a time and I can see why – it wouldn’t really make sense to try and stream audio from two different Bluetooth audio devices at the same time. Adding to the Bluetooth updates, the Kenwood DNX893s is using HFP 1.6 (previous models were 1.5) which Kenwood says has twice the bandwidth as previous versions. Bottom line? Kenwood claims this is the best handsfree profile chipset they’ve ever used.

The EQ is source dependent – so if you’re still subscribing to SiriusXM you can EQ and boost the snot out of it independently of your cleaner audio sources so you’re not reminded of how crappy it sounds when you switch sources from your iPod to SiriusXM.

Kenwood DNX893S Tire Temp
Kenwood DNX893S Tire Temp Feature

And for those of you that really like to be in tune with what’s happening inside your ride, you will enjoy the newly added tire temperature feature under the vehicle info section available with the iDatalink Maestro integration.

Overall the Kenwood DNX893S looks like it could be the best double din navigation system of 2016. Only time will tell. This model is scheduled to ship this month (fingers crossed).

Kenwood DNX893S
Kenwood DNX893S Garmin Split Screen

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  1. I have the android auto and it is terrible. This unit was designed for Carplay. They knew it and no one tells you that the messaging system and others are unusable with an android. If you are not on the home page you don’t get text messages. If you are on the home page and don’t answer or read right away, you lose the message. There is no icon for unread messages. Kenwood says it’s android’s fault. I purchased this and was never told of all the limitations with androidauto. I am being forced to buy an iphone or live with a $1800 mistake. Please warn the Samsung users to steer clear.

    • I posted this comment because I wanted consumers to realize there is a big difference between the user interface of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Although Joe spent time with me in our showroom with his phone connected to the radio and Android Auto, he didn’t realize it won’t show you or read you your text messages unless you’re connected to the stereo, on the Android Auto screen (listening to Pandora or Google Play Music etc) and a new text message happens to come in.

      Apple CarPlay is a little different in that there is a separate messages icon and you will be alerted to messages even if you’re on another source screen on the radio. I will note even though you have the separate messages icon, Siri will only read you your new messages. Perhaps this comment would be best posted on an Android Auto forum so they can add some more helpful features to the interface.

  2. Annie, I haven’t bought a dnx693s yet. Partly because of mixed reviews from Crutchfield 893s and 693s purchasers. Kenwood recently released a firmware/software update. Here are excerpts from their announcement:

    Improved functions


    Support for “KENWOOD Smartphone Control”.
    Improved Mirroring/APPS Function.
    Improved Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Function.
    Improved USB/SD Function.
    Improved HD Radio Function.
    Improved SiriusXM Function.
    Improved Navigation Function.
    Improved iDataLink Function.
    Improved stability of performance.

    The firmware for the following products have been updated.



    Download file

    File “” download (423 MB)

    • Hey Steve – FYI I’m half way done with my review on the DNX893s, Alpine INE-W967HD and Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX. I took a peek at the reviews on Crutchfield to see what people are complaining about. One guy sounds he like he has a bad iPhone cable or doesn’t have all of his apps updated on his phone. Same thing happened to me today after I updated to IOS10, but I failed to update all my apps. Additionally a faulty Apple cord or a cord that is not Apple certified can cause freezing on CarPlay. As far as iDatalink Maestro goes, I’ve had no issues there and have found the iDatalink engineers to be more than accommodating. They are often willing to write custom software if they encounter an issue. You can’t retain Sync AND also use Siri or Google Voice, perhaps that’s what one user was complaining about? We usually eliminate the Sync Bluetooth and use those buttons for Siri/Google Voice, but retain the media (USB/AUX input). The other thing about iDatalink people need to remember is it’s talking to the CAN bus system – so if you have another device that is constantly communicating or some kind of buggy custom tune, it can cause hiccups with the Maestro. I’ve only seen that happen in one car, a VW GTI with a funky custom tune and something in whatever program they wrote for the car was basically interrupting communication with the Maestro.

  3. Hi Annie, I ran across some of your video reviews on YouTube and found your site through them. Great site and a lot of useful info for those who are not audiophiles but want better sound and head units in their car. We are ordering a pair of ’17 Subarus next month and I already know the stock Starlink systems sucks to say the least. I am willing to live with it short term until I get a replacement figured out. That said your write up here was awesome and I use a Valentine1 radar detector, integration of that type is nice, plus have two phones connected via bluetooth is also a key benefit, work and personal phones given my daily travel. I see this unit is up on their site so it must now be shipping. Any demonstrations planned or a video review?

    • Hi Michael, I’m working on it right this evening (started it last night) hope to have it up later tonight. By the way, the radar detection integration will only work with K40 and there will be an additional part needed which is not yet shipping.

  4. Annie, Now that they are available have you sold and installed any Kenwood Excelon DNX893S or DNX693S head units? How well do the features work? Are there any difficulties or disappointments?

    • I have yet to install my 893s but from others the unit is Junk. Many have failed in less then 2 days, I waited over 4 months for kenwood and for their top of line unit to have software issues, idatalink issues, garmin issues is not right, but don’t worry there will be a “fix” software update in ohh maybe October they say, don’t rush or anything which seems that’s the only thing kenwood is good at is being late.

      • I’m sorry to hear that, but I do find that’s interesting – I’ve only sold a couple, but haven’t had a single issue. One in a 2010 Mustang (using iDatalink Maestro for heat A/C controls with the iDatalink dash kit) and the other to a good friend of mine in his 2003 Tahoe. And then I’ve had the display model going every day since I got them in July. The only issue my friend has reported so far is that he found the Inrix traffic app to be annoying. He and I haven’t figured out a way to limit the range that it shows you traffic information on. In other words it will let him know there is traffic 50 miles ahead, but he’s only going 5 miles down the road.

        Can you elaborate on the exact issues you’re experiencing? What kind of car is this in? I’m curious for the feedback. Thanks.

  5. Hi thanks for the write up. I am eyeing up the new Kenwoods for my vehicle but the Aus/NZ version as I am in New Zealand. I believe this is the DNX8160DABS= DNX893S capacitive touch.
    I was wondering a few things with regards to Carplay and whether you can answer the following questions?

    When receiving a phone call will it show in the Carplay interface or exit and show in the Headunits phone interface?
    When playing radio through the Headunit (in NZ we only have AM/FM) and launching Carplay, will Radio sound continue while you use Maps?
    Also if a phone call came through in Carplay interface, will it pause the radio and maps, and continue after hanging up?
    If I was in Carplay playing a track via Apple Music, and then stop the car and get out taking my phone. Will it resume the apple music track via Carplay when I get back in?

    It’s all about the functionality for me, so if these or other units don’t do this, would the Alpine iLX-007?


    • Hi Jai,
      Let me try to answer your questions.

      When receiving a phone call will it show in the Carplay interface or exit and show in the Headunits phone interface?
      It will show on the CarPlay interface, it will only show through the head units interface if you’re connected via Bluetooth (wireless) rather than through USB to lightning.

      When playing radio through the Headunit (in NZ we only have AM/FM) and launching Carplay, will Radio sound continue while you use Maps?

      Also if a phone call came through in Carplay interface, will it pause the radio and maps, and continue after hanging up?
      It will pause music that is playing from the phone like Pandora or Spotify or iTunes music or map directions, but it will not pause any other audio source you may be using like FM/AM radio. It will mute it, but it has no way to pause it, so it will just resume live wherever it is when the call is ended.

      If I was in Carplay playing a track via Apple Music, and then stop the car and get out taking my phone. Will it resume the apple music track via Carplay when I get back in?
      Yes – assuming you don’t close out the app you were using it will pick right back up where you left off even if you take your phone with you.

  6. Thanks for the great review. Looks like these are FINALLY shipping. I pre-ordered the DNX893S from Crutchfield back in April and it shipped out to me on Friday for delivery tomorrow.

  7. On 6/29/16 Kenwood’s Facebook page says they now have final (Apple) approval and shipping has begun! I’m anxious to see them and to test them out.

    “Kenwood USA
    Yesterday at 10:07am ·

    We got final approval last night for the DDX and DNX receivers. They are now shipping! To sweeten the deal, we are also launching a mail-in rebate program for the DNX. See your dealer for details. Thank you for your patience!”

    Elsewhere in their Facebook page they wrote that Kenwood buys Kenwood head units from and trace the sale back to certified dealers. Those dealers can become decertified. I’ll check to be sure I buy from a certified dealer in part get a valid warranty and to be eligible for the $75 or $100 rebate.

    • Yeah, I saw that. The latest update I heard from Kenwood now is shipping mid June.

  8. I was looking at replacing my Kenwood head unit purchased back on 2008 with the DNX892 last year. But, users posted so many problems with the complexity of the system, the poor user manual and multiple firmware bugs that I held off. Have they fixed all the bugs that plagued the DNX892’s in the newer DNX893 ???

    I would like to update my unit but don’t want to buy into a headache just to get the latest and greatest…

    • Hi Peter,
      Based on the product training I attended, these issues have all been addressed, but the model I saw was a prototype and not fully functional. So I haven’t had a chance to REALLY get to know this unit yet. These units have been delayed in shipping mostly due to the Apple CarPlay certification process, but should arrive mid to late June. I will do a full review on 2016 Kenwood, Alpine and Pioneer models once I have all of them up on display and have had to time to play around with all of them.

  9. Annie, I’m anxiously waiting for the DNX693S to become available for purchase. Today, 5/13/16, I called Kenwood to see what I could find out. I was connected to Desere’ who initially told me the date is unknown. Upon further inquiry Desere’ said maybe some time in the summer it will become available.

    I have a 2015 Subaru Forester with six speakers. I’ve replaced all six stock speakers and sound deadened the doors. The dash has upgraded Subaru/Kicker tweeters. The front doors have JBL GT7-96 6″ x 9″ 3-Way Car Speakers and the rear doors have JBL GX602 6-3/4″ Car Speakers. It was a big improvement. The Forester is now considerably quieter. The tweeters provide the most noticeable speaker improvement.

    Replacing the stock head unit seems to be the next big step for me to take to improve the sound and upgrade to a built-in GPS. The Kenwood Excelon DNX693S, when it ships, is my top candidate for a new GPS HU. I hope the wait will not be an unknown number of months.

    • Hi Steve,
      Yeah upgrading the head unit will give you a huge improvement – my understanding is we are simply waiting on Apple to sign off on CarPlay certification. It’s usually a 6 month process and Kenwood applied for it back in October, but Apple is either backlogged or taking their sweet ass time.

  10. I’ve pre ordered and paid for my 893s for over a month now. Need to wipe my chin when i get it in my hands. 1-2 weeks into may seems like forever. I decided on the DNx 893s over the pioneer NEX series mainly because it seems Pioneer still never got the NEX series right and left a lot of their customers up the creek refusing to fix any bugs!

    • That’s weird, I haven’t had any customers up a creek with their NEX units. Perhaps it’s because they bought from unauthorized re-sellers so they didn’t honor the warranty?? It’s important to buy from authorized dealers to get the best customer support in the event you ever did have an issue.

  11. Cool review. I am actually looking to possibly pick this unit or the new DDX9903S. It would be awesome to get confirmation that the 9903S really is just the DNX893S minus the nav.

    Also, what is your take on in car navigation all in one units? I currently have factory navigation in my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, but have found that it’s slow and not very user friendly (to me) and that using an app like Waze is much better. Has in car navigation units gotten better/kept up with app navigation?

    • Hi Merlin,
      I also find apps like Waze are sometimes faster than built in units, I don’t know if it’s because the GPS antenna is more accurate in the phone than the built in nav unit or if it has to do with memory/processing capability of the on board GPS system. I did not get to play with the Garmin GPS in this prototype so I can’t give you any good feedback on how well it works. And yeah I was told the DDX9903S is essentially same as the DNX893s minus the nav. The only thing I wasn’t sure on was whether or not that model also had the capacitive touch screen, for some reason I thought it didn’t, but another reader pointed out it says it does on Kenwood’s website.

  12. Annie, thanks for the glowing write-up of the Kenwood DNX 893S. I’m eagerly waiting for it and the very similar DNX 693S with a 6.2″ screen to become available. I’ll probably buy a 693S to save money and also because it has a volume control knob. My preferred local installer let me know about the soon to be released 693S. Your initial review makes me feel it will be a big improvement to replace the disappointing stock head unit in my 2015 Subaru Forester.

    • Yeah, it definitely looks good, but we’re still waiting on Apple to sign off on the CarPlay certification…

  13. Another great write-up! Thanks for taking the time to post. And am glad to hear that you think Kenwood is moving in the right direction in addressing issues with previous models.

    Any insight into other new Kenwood models like the DDX9903S or 9703S? I’ve been patiently waiting for Kenwood to release the new models – had read it would be in March but nothing yet. I see last year they released in June – should we expect that for the 2016 models as well?


    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks! Yeah, I just bugged my regional Kenwood rep yesterday, the DDX9903s/9703s are in the same status as the DNX893s. I am told they have technically arrived in California, but they wanted to update all the units in house before shipping them. At first they said they were shipping 4/11. Then they said, no we need more time should be 4/18. Now they’re saying we have no exact ship date, but basically as soon as they’re all updated and ready to go, they’ll release them. Hopefully soon.

      Additional details – I hear the DDX9903s is exact same unit feature wise as the DNX893s minus the Garmin GPS and minus the glass capacitive touch screen (but it still has a markedly improved resistive touch screen over last years, they know Pioneer beat them there as far as brightness/contrast so they stepped that up too).

      • Annie – thank you so much for the shipping info! This is the first bit of info I’ve been able to get. Hoping my wait is almost over! Interesting that Kenwood’s website says 9903 is “Glossy & Capacitive Touch Panel” which is the same description they use for the 893. Wonder if that’s a typo given what they told you. 9703S is listed as resistive touch however.

        I think the interesting comparison will be the Pioneer AVH-4200 NEX vs the DDX9903S. I saw the 4200 in a store and the display is pretty awesome. Pioneer’s graphics and user interface on the other hand is a hot mess. Most probably don’t mind or might even like it – I’m looking for a simpler/cleaner interface.

      • Huh, it’s quite possible I misunderstood. I took notes throughout the training but perhaps I got that detail on the screen incorrect. I guess we will have to wait and see 🙂

  14. Great write up on the 893 Annie, I was pretty impressed with demo unit at CES, which would have been an early beta version of course – and it was very responsive and the new GUI is very impressive.

    Thanks for taking the time to do the write up.

    PS – do you have a FB page for carstereochick?

    • Hi Tony, thanks. Yeah it’s looks pretty sweet, right? I don’t have a facebook page for carstereochick, just Sounds Incredible Mobile. That’s a good idea though, I probably should. Thanks Tony! Hope all is well.

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