This week in the shop we had the pleasure of working on this mint 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Our client explained to us her kids were finally all grown up and out of the house so she got rid of the big family car and traded up. Now it is her time to have and enjoy the sports car she’s always wanted.
Except this sporty little convertible had some serious blind spots when backing up as it lacked a reverse camera. And although it had Bluetooth and navigation, the PCM 3.1 navigation was extremely dated. Luckily we were able to address that with a Porsche Apple CarPlay upgrade.
This Porsche Apple CarPlay upgrade was completed using an interface from ZZ-2 which is just one of many manufacturers that we work with for these kinds of retrofits. It does require a bit of expertise to install. It’s not a simple plug and play module.
In order to utilize the factory touch screen controls, John had to open up the OEM radio and add a few components. This type of work is very delicate and not for the faint of heart. Luckily he has experience in this type of work as you can see in the pic below.
Once John successfully added the new hardware, he reassembled the radio and began preliminary testing. This Porsche Apple CarPlay retrofit kit utilizes the factory microphone which is great. Not only is it a clean look, the OEM mic performs quite well.
Along with Apple CarPlay, John also installed a reverse camera. We used the Rydeen CM-HD4 which is a surface mount style (no drilling!) reverse camera featuring high resolution (960 lines), 170 degree viewing angle, .1 Lux with a standard composite video connection. The reverse camera is triggered automatically when shifting into reverse. It also features dynamic park assist lines which is courtesy of the ZZ-2 interface – not the camera.
What to be aware of
Whenever we add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to a factory stereo, there are usually some functional limitations to be aware of. In this particular vehicle, accessing the Apple CarPlay is actually pretty easy. Number one, you have to select the AUX input source on your radio. Then simply press and hold the info button to prompt the ZZ-2 menu/Apple CarPlay. At that point you can connect and enable wireless connection. Once that connection is established, Apple CarPlay will launch automatically upon vehicle start up. The trick is you must be on the AUX input to hear and use the features of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. If you are listening to another source such as SiriusXM or FM/AM Radio, you will not hear GPS directions or text message notifications.
To learn more about adding Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to your vehicle, contact us today. Call/text, email or stop in the shop. We’re happy to explain the options for your particular vehicle.
It’s been a few months since we received our first shipment of the Alpine iLX-507. Now that we’ve sold and installed a few, I feel I’ve gotten to really know it intimately. It’s time to share my thoughts! For those not familiar, the 507 is essentially the direct replacement for the iLX-207 which we used to have in our old 2013 Wrangler.
Where is it made?
One of the first things I always like to look at when a new product arrives at the shop is the outside of the box. Where’s it made? It’s predecessor, the iLX-207, was made in Japan. For comparison, the wildly popular iLX-W650 and subsequent iLX-407 are both made in Korea and the previous Halo models, iLX-F409 and F411, were made in China. I was intrigued to see the Alpine iLX-507 is made in Thailand. Fun fact. I recently had a client ask me where every radio we sold was made. He based his purchase off of the country of origin. As I rattled off the names when I finally got to Indonesia (Kenwood) he stopped me and said, “I ain’t got no problem with them, that works”.
HD Screen Quality – But is it really?
Once I got the unit unboxed and wired up, the HD quality of the screen immediately stood out to me. The Alpine iLX-507 features a 1280 x 720 HD screen with a 2,764,800 pixel count. Not bad. Check it out against this Kenwood DMX1057XR on display right next to it. Keep in mind, the Kenwood is physically closer to the camera because it’s floating away from the display board.
Although this new style screen is much more vibrant and aesthetically pleasing than previous models, sadly, I don’t think it’s as accurate/responsive to touch. For example, just playing around with the iLX-W650 and iLX-407 on display, I find their touch screen is more accurate and responsive than the iLX-507. The Kenwood right next to it blows it out of the water in terms of touch reactivity and exactness .
Check out the drop down tab on the top of the screen. This is supposed to be a quick and easy short cut to get to basic audio controls – which I do appreciate! The Alpine iLX-507 features an incredible amount of audio control such as a 13 band parametric EQ (per channel), BUT there are a lot of clients out there that just want a quick easy bass/treble adjustment.
The manual says to simply tap the blue tab on the top of the screen to display this easy sound set up menu. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately it usually takes me 2-3 tries to get it to actually show up. Super frustrating. Especially when I’m trying to show a client how easy it is to use. Imagine trying to do that while you’re driving and hitting bumps and potholes.
Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto plus iDatalink Maestro compatiblity
The most attractive feature of the Alpine iLX-507 for most clients is the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On top of that, this receiver is also iDatalink Maestro compatible which is a critical feature for a lot of different vehicles. Although not required for every car, even something like a 2012 Ford Escape will benefit from the iDatalink Maestro ADS-MRR which can retain OEM features like audio controls on the steering wheel, factory amplifier if equipped, park distance sensors and even the separate radio display that is mounted above the factory radio.
Two USB ports – Optional GPS Navigation
In addition to wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, there are TWO USB ports for this receiver. Bonus points – the main USB features 2.4 amp charging. That is huge. I was super surprised this wasn’t covered in an earlier product training when the question was asked, but I’m happy to report the main USB finally has a decent charging rate.
Another super attractive feature is the secondary USB port. This can be used for an additional device such as music files on a thumb drive or for future unit expansion. Eventually Alpine plans to release an optional satellite based GPS navigation add-on (release date TBD – keeps getting pushed back).
I think optional GPS is a no brainer for radio manufacturers and I really don’t get why more companies don’t offer it. Although the Alpine iLX-507 includes a GPS antenna, which helps to improve accuracy on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can still run into coverage issues in dead zones. And trust me, there are still plenty of areas especially in New England with zero cell service. That is the drawback of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. No cell service? No GPS. For many clients driving in more densely populated areas, this isn’t a concern, but for folks still out in the country, it’s nice to have satellite based GPS navigation. Keep in mind if/when you decide to add that optional GPS when it becomes available, it will occupy that secondary USB input.
Optional Volume Knob
Speaking of options, would you like to add volume knob? Well luckily you can and the best part about it is you can stick it wherever you want on your dash. The Alpine RUX-H02 is an optional Volume/Subwoofer control knob that works via Bluetooth with the iLX-507. By pushing the knob in you can toggle between master volume control and subwoofer level control. How clever!
I do love this accessory. It is such an awesome add-on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a clients car to show them how to use their new stereo and they immediately start reaching for the volume knob that is no longer there. People like knobs, what else can I say?
HD Radio – Scrolling presets
Personally I am not a fan of FM/AM radio, but there are some clients that still like to listen to local radio for music, news, traffic and weather. If you’re in an area with a lot of coverage, you may appreciate the added benefit of HD Radio compatibility. What might peeve you however, is how you access those presets.
Alpine iLX-507 – Scrolling presets
This is another design aspect I don’t understand. Scrolling presets! Fixed presets 1 thru 6 on the bottom of the screen with a clear band button (like the iLX-W650) is the way to go IMO. It’s just difficult to scroll and select while driving especially if the screen responsiveness isn’t 100%.
Hi-Res audio playback
You may have noticed that the Alpine iLX-507 features Hi-Res audio playback. It’s compatible with higher resolution audio apps like Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon HD or tracks downloaded from HD Tracks and capable of playback at 96kHz/24Bit. This may be a very important feature to a lot of you out there. You might be surprised I haven’t made a bigger deal out of this feature. Practically speaking, most of the clients that have bought this unit are not purchasing it for this reason. Hi-Res audio isn’t even on their radar.
Alpine iLX-507 – capable of Hi-Res Audio
In general, many of my clients don’t really understand that the music they are streaming from Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM is wildly compressed. Whenever possible, I take the time to let them hear a track off their playlist from their phone using their preferred app and then I let them hear the same track from my phone using Apple lossless. They’re usually blown away by what they’ve been missing. If you are using high res audio apps, you will totally appreciate this feature. If you’re still rockin’ with a free Pandora subscription, it’s time to upgrade and try a higher quality app.
Control up the Wazoo
As nitpicky as I am, one thing I really love about this unit is all of the control it has. There are SO many settings. You can get lost in the settings for days. Telephone/Notification volume settings. Mic gain and echo cancellation/noise reduction settings. Key feedback tone settings. Camera image settings. Source volume settings. Background image/color settings. 13 Band parametric EQ adjustable per channel. In depth crossover settings.
Alpine iLX-507 – Various menu settings
Just look at this. Not only can you adjust Low Pass Filter and High Pass Filter separately for front, rear and subwoofer, look at the frequencies you can choose from. LPF: 4k, 5k, 6.3k, 8k, 10k, 12.5k, 16k & 20k. HPF: 80 Hz, 100 Hz, 125 Hz, 160 Hz, 200 Hz or 250 Hz. Slope: 0, 6, 12, 18 or 24 db per octave plus level adjustment from -12 to 0 dB. Holy crossover control Batman!
In addition to your standard time alignment controls, you can even select whether you want to enter that information based on milliseconds, inches or centimeters! I’m telling you, the Alpine iLX-507 has settings and options galore. They are seriously giving Kenwood a run for their money with all the audio control tools.
But don’t let all that control overwhelm you. For those that find these kinds of options and settings far too advanced, Alpine does include a basic preset EQ section shown here:
What can’t you control?
Unfortunately there are a few things you cannot control such as the blue color on the buttons. You can change the screen color, but not the button color. Go figure. The other thing that kind of drives me batty is automatic front camera control. There isn’t any. Even though the iDatalink Maestro supports automatic front camera control, Alpine does not offer this feature on any of their models right now. You want to use the front camera input, hit the camera button and tap the screen to alternate between the rear camera input and front camera input. On some higher end Kenwood models, the front camera can be automatically triggered for 10 seconds when shifting from reverse to drive. This is what clients expect when they see a stereo features front camera input.
But wait – there’s another catch!
I remember being really excited about this model when I found out it would support a front and rear camera. It’s about time. It always blew my mind that the more basic iLX-W650 supported 2 cameras, but yet the higher end models did not. Unless of course you dropped bank spent more than the cost of the receiver on their HD cameras: HCE-C2100RD, HCE-C2600FD and don’t forget the fancy camera switcher control module KCX-C2600B.
Alpine iLX-507 Review – Camera connections
Alright, so the Alpine iLX-507 supports a front and rear camera and it doesn’t have to be a proprietary Alpine direct camera. You can use a composite camera using the included adapter in the box. Great! Except they only supply you one adapter. So let’s say you are like my client here the other day with your daughter’s 2017 Subaru Forester that has a factory reverse camera and you want to add wireless Apple CarPlay, retain the steering wheel controls, factory reverse camera and add a basic front camera. Guess what – you will need to buy another part! Available from PacParts.com – 82076-85781C78. I must say that kind of shit drives me crazy. Clients don’t want to be nickel and dimed or surprised to find out they need another part mid install.
It’s also important to note the chassis design. Unlike Alpine’s other mechless models iLX-W650 and iLX-407, the iLX-507 does not have a shallow chassis. Full single DIN on bottom with a double DIN screen. For most installs that will still leave you some extra space for wire management. All things being equal, I prefer the chassis design of the iLX-W650 and iLX-407 because quite honestly they will fit a larger variety of vehicles. There are some Ford’s on the market (2014 Ford Explorer, I’m looking at you) that simply will not accommodate a full depth chassis like this unfortunately. So just be aware of any depth limitations, if any, in your particular application.
Alpine iLX-507 Review – Single DIN chassis
Overall – Amazing value and feature packed
I know I can be real nit picky on certain features and aspects, but it’s largely because of feedback from clients. I’ve learned what they like, what they don’t like and what they absolutely can’t stand because let’s face it. If I sold it and they don’t like it, I’m the one that’s going to hear about it.
Alpine iLX-507 Review – Home screen
At the end of the day, the Alpine iLX-507 has a ton of fantastic features and very few drawbacks which is why it’s such a popular choice amongst our clients. Alpine, let me count the ways I appreciate you:
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
iDatalink Maestro compatible
TWO USB ports
Main USB 2.4 amp charge
Secondary USB 1.5 amp charge
Optional GPS navigation (connects to USB 2)
Included GPS antenna
Bluetooth settings galore – regarding notification volume, GPS volume, echo cancellation, noise reductions, mic gain, etc.
An extravaganza of audio control – 13 band parametric EQ per channel, digital time alignment and a plethora of crossover adjustments
Simple preset EQ option along with basic bass/treble, balance/fader controls
Hi-Res audio compatible – playback up to 96kHz/24Bit
4 Volt pre-amp
HDMI output (great for rear seat entertainment systems that accept HDMI input)
Front and Rear camera input – includes one composite adapter – a second one can be purchased from PacParts.com
Compatible with optional Alpine dash cameras
Direct connection for optional HD Cameras – HCE-C2100RD & HCE-C2600FD – no switcher required – on screen control for various views – top down, panoramic, corner, etc.
Optional Volume Knob RUX-H02
Did you install the Alpine iLX-507 in your vehicle? What has your experience with this stereo been like? Let me know in the comments below. And as always – thank you for visiting and reading!