Alpine iLX-407 Review

This week in the shop I received a couple of long awaited Alpine iLX-407’s. Actually, what I received were the i407-WRA Restyle kits for 2011 – 2018 Wrangler JK. But inside that box was an iLX-407 which I immediately pulled out and wired up so I could write this Alpine iLX-407 review.

iLX-407 Review - Back side of radio
iLX-407 Review – Back side of radio

For those unfamiliar with Alpine’s Restyle kits, the i407-WRA is the Alpine iLX-407 plus a very nice Wrangler dash kit, iDatalink Maestro module and a pre-wired harness with all necessary install parts. It’s a very nice plug and play sort of kit Alpine has put together for 2011 – 2018 Wrangler JK. Additionally all Alpine restyle kits have a 3 year warranty vs the standard 1 year warranty.

Alpine i407-WRA
Alpine i407-WRA bundle which includes iLX-407 and all necessary install parts.

Why the delay?

After numerous delays due to the chip shortage, raw material shortages, global shipping challenges and the nightmare that 2020 was and that 2021 continues to be – I am grateful to Alpine for their support. Like everyone else in our industry, I have a ton of backorders. However, they have been great about staging releases, allocating the limited inventory that is available and even air freighting in product (at a much higher cost to them) in order to support their strong independent dealers and keep things rolling. It seems like right when I’m about to be completely sold out with no ETA in sight, they release another backorder so I and our team at the shop can continue to do what we love.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - CarPlay screen
Alpine iLX-407 pictured with i407-WRA install kit – Apple CarPlay

Let’s talk about the radio

All gushing aside about the company itself, I am super stoked about this unit. It has an attractive and sleek, minimalist design – similar to the iLX-W650 (which will continue to be a part of the Alpine line up). There are some major key differences and upgrades over its predecessor. One of the major differences is this model is iDatalink Maestro compatible.

Key distinctions between the iLX-W650 and the iLX-407:

  • iDatalink Maestro Compatible
  • HD Radio
  • HDMI input
  • Multiple background colors to select from or upload your own splash screen
  • 5-band EQ

Shallow mount is where it’s at!

Interior automotive design has changed a lot in the past couple of years and there are some vehicles out there – like the 2014 Ford Explorer in my garage right now – that are only going to be compatible with a shallow mount, mechless iDatalink Maestro radio. That’s assuming the client doesn’t want to lose anything when they “upgrade”. If they want to retain the features of the vehicle like the climate controls, reverse camera and access to vehicle settings while adding new technology like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, then the iLX-407 is going to be a perfect fit. You can also put 2018-up Wrangler JL into that category. Shallow mount, mechless is the only style that will pass muster. My point being this radio will be perfect for a lot of vehicles on the market that have these kind of space and technology restrictions.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - Home page
Alpine iLX-407 – Home page

Customizable

Unlike the iLX-W650, the iLX-407 has more screen customization controls. You can easily press and hold a source icon and drag and drop it to another page. I love this feature because I like to be able to organize icons in the order that makes most sense for the client. Usually what I do is place what they need on the home page and leave the sources they will rarely access on the 2nd and 3rd pages.

 Alpine iLX-407 Review - Page 2 of the radio screen
Alpine iLX-407 – Page 2 of the radio screen

Not only are the icons easily rearranged, but the colors can be changed. There isn’t a creepy blue iris staring at you like there is on the iLX-W650 home page. Instead you have a few different color splash screens to choose from or you can even upload your own.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - Color and splash screen options
Alpine iLX-407 Review – Color and splash screen options

Sound quality features

Although I didn’t have the ability to wire this up to my display board to listen to it with speakers, I can tell you looking at the chassis and specs, I suspect it sounds just as great as the iLX-W650. It appears to be the same exact chassis and like the iLX-W650, the iLX-407 is also made in Korea. However, there are some key differences in the audio control.

Alpine iLX-W650 Review – Audio menu options

The iLX-407 includes features we’ve grown to expect from Alpine such as:

  • Time Alignment
  • Crossovers
  • Easy audio controls like bass/treble plus more advance EQ controls
  • 4 Volt front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp output
  • 24 bit DAC
Alpine iLX-407 Review - Basic audio controls
Alpine iLX-407 Review – Basic audio controls

However, the graphic EQ is a bit of a disappointment for me with only 5 bands of equalization. At the same time, from an ease of use standpoint, I totally get why they did that.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - 5 band EQ
Alpine iLX-407 Review – 5 band EQ

End users can easily be overwhelmed when they see a 9-band parametric EQ or 13 band graphic EQ. For many, less is more. Yet even a car audio novice can appreciate that 5 bands is definitely better than 3.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - Preset EQ curves
Alpine iLX-407 Review – Preset EQ curves

If they provided more than that, it might get confusing for someone just looking for some basic mid range adjustment. With 5 bands, they’re kind of in that goldilocks zone. In addition to the 5-band graphic EQ, the iLX-407 features several preset EQ curves making it even easier for the less than tech savvy to adjust.

Alpine iLX-407 Review - Time alignment menu
Alpine iLX-407 Review – Time alignment menu

Those that are more technologically inclined will appreciate the time correction menu. This is probably a feature the average user will overlook, but for anyone setting up a high fidelity audio system, this is a great tool to have.

Alpine iLX-407 – Best Value Apple CarPlay Android Auto radio 2021

I think it’s safe to say this is going to be the best value Apple CarPlay Android Auto radio of the year. For not much more than the iLX-W650, the iLX-407 packs in the features:

  • 6.95″ glass capacitive touch screen
  • Wired Apple CarPlay
  • Wired Android Auto
  • 4 Volt front, rear and subwoofer pre-amp output
  • Built in crossovers
  • Time alignment
  • HD FM/AM Radio
  • HDMI input
  • iDatalink Maestro compatible (ADS-MRR)
  • Shallow mount flexible install (and KTA-450 or KTA-200M power pack ready)
  • Reverse camera input
  • Front camera input
  • SiriusXM Ready (requires SXV300v1 tuner)
  • Multiple display options or upload your own background
  • Customizable source icons

For those interested in using the HDMI input for Apple, you will need an HDMI Cable and a lightning to digital A/V adapter. Readers interested in buying an Alpine iLX-407 should note most dealers have not received them just yet. Although it’s still a good idea to contact your local Alpine dealer since most already have them on order and perhaps they can notify you once they arrive. What do readers think of this model? Please let me know in the comments below.

6 comments for “Alpine iLX-407 Review

  1. Andy
    September 12, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Good Article. Would you happen to know if I can connect a laptop to this unit via HDMI? Or to put it another way, can the HDMI input be used in the same fashion as a normal TV would? could I plug my Xbox into it, for instance?

    • September 12, 2021 at 10:36 pm

      Hi Andy, glad you enjoyed the write up. That’s the idea. I haven’t tried an Xbox or laptop in particular, but it’s designed just like an HDMI input on your TV. Whatever you connect to it you have to launch/control from the device, but the audio/video would be piped through the radio when you select the HDMI input. I know there are certain limitations on devices due to copyright law. For example, there are certain apps on the iPhone that won’t display. I think one that I tried on my iPhone that didn’t work was Comcast or Xfinity, but Netflix and YouTube works. If whatever you’re using works when you’re connected to a TV, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in the car unless it also needs to be connected to a specific internet provider to function. Also, don’t use anything other than a straight HDMI to HDMI cable for connection.

  2. Mike
    September 8, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    So.. which unit would you go with? 650 or 407? Best Buy has 650 at $349 right now

    • September 8, 2021 at 11:25 pm

      Hi Mike – that all depends on the application. Me personally for my 2014 Wrangler? The iLX-650 because of the sound quality control, 9 band parametric EQ. But in reality I’ve got a Kenwood because 9 bands isn’t enough for me and even 13 doesn’t always cut it. For a client, however – I always look at the year, make and model and how it’s being used – just a nice tech upgrade or are we building out a full system? Does the car have a stock amplifier? Is it a vehicle that would be better matched with a Maestro compatible radio?

      If you had a Wrangler JKU with the stock premium sound and all you’re doing right now is the head unit, you’re better off the the iLX-407 because of how the Maestro interfaces with the stock amp – we have gain control, fader control, etc. Whereas with the iLX-650 you lose fader and there is no ability to adjust the input signal from the factory amp unless you add in a separate line level adjuster like a PAC LP7-4. There are some vehicles where if you don’t use a Maestro you lose access to vehicle settings.

      For non amplified, non maestro compatible vehicles, and for someone who doesn’t need HD Radio or HDMI, the 650 is the better way to go because of the better EQ and because you’re not paying for features you won’t use. I expect the 407 to sell for much higher than MSRP with the limited availability. And $350 is a steal right now for the 650. What’s the year, make and model and do you plan on just doing the head unit or a full system? And are you using Apple or Android? Just heard from someone that the charging on the 650’s USB is only 1 amp which will keep an iPhone slowly charging, but is not quite enough to really charge an Android. The 407 is 1.5 amp.

  3. August 27, 2021 at 2:06 am

    I’m disappointed. You have gone backwards. This is the ilx-207 with a 5 band equalizer instead of a 9 band parametric eq. You could have at least make this unit wireless caraway and Android auto! I’m so happy that I was able to find a ilx-207 before you discontinued it. You didn’t even make the presets 5 volt! I don’t get it!

    • September 4, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks for the comment Salvatore. I agree Alpine makes sometimes weird choices, but I think they saw the run away success of the iLX-W650 and knew they had to make something like that but that was Maestro compatible. However that Maestro licensing, I’m sure costs them quite a bit, so I think to do that, they had to cut back elsewhere and decided to use the same style operating system on their successful line of Halo units. I am glad to see they included HD radio and the HDMI, a lot of clients like having those features. I too was disappointed about the 5 band vs 9 band. Next time we get the chance, we’re actually going to test the pre-amp and see if it’s really 4 volt. I think largely due to the semi-conductor shortage and just the general increase in costs of raw materials and global shipping costs (which have quadrupled in the last year) we are going to be seeing a lot of manufacturers skimp on certain features in an effort to keep the retail price as palatable as possible. Just another form of shrinkflation I guess.

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