Alpine Headphones – Full Frequency Immersion Technology

Alpine Headphones

Looking to immerse yourself in your own personal musical experience?  Consider the new Alpine headphones.

Alpine has announced a new product designed to do just that.  Alpine’s new headphones feature technology that is designed to immerse users into a listening experience that enlightens all the senses.  Alpine promises its users the ability to Feel, Hear and See their music.

Alpine Headphones
Alpine headphones are designed to immerse users in an audio experience that can be seen, heard and felt.

I didn’t quite understand how they will be able to see it, but here is what Alpine says about their new technology:

  • FEEL: Alpine’s patented TKR3 Full Frequency Immersion Technology delivers a unique sound field expansion that recreates a live event sensation so users can feel the beat in their core.
  • HEAR:  Exceptional audio reproduction with user customizable sound settings.
  • SEE: Users can interact with music via Level Play iPhone App.

See the music?

I think this is kind of a misnomer, but what it refers to is actually pretty cool.  Seeing the music is a reference to seeing the energy levels of your music.  You see, the new headphones from Alpine utilize this app called Level Play.  Level Play scans, analyzes, and organizes your music library into so called “energy” levels.  Users can select a particular “energy” level and the app responds with a randomized song flow that correlates to that particular energy.  So if you’re about to jump into some high intensity interval training, select a high energy level.  Going for meditative walk in the park?  Select a more relaxing energy level.

Feel the music

Alpine hopes their headphones will deliver the ambiance of a dance party, nightclub or live concert.  They’ve made it clear, they want users to not only hear, but feel their music.  They attempt to accomplish this using something they call TKR3 Full Frequency Immersion Technology which Alpine defines as “Unique sound field expansion that recreates a live concert like listening experience”.

They attempt to convey this experience in a video shown on their new promo page, but all I see are a bunch of people that can’t dance doing some weird shit with their hands while wearing some hot new Alpine headphones (maybe I just don’t get millennials even though technically I think I am a millennial).

Alpine Feel Your Music from Alpine Feel Your Music on Vimeo.

Hear the music

There is no doubting Alpine’s ability to produce high quality audio equipment.  These headphones are touted to be true to Alpine’s legacy and heritage.  Alpine has a long history of designing and delivering premium audio components to consumers all over the world.  These headphones in particular feature 40 mm high performance drivers and 24 bit digital to analog convertor.

No wires

Using Bluetooth technology users can easily pair to their iPod or iPhone.  Interestingly, Alpine’s press release specifies Apple products only.  Quite honestly, I’m not sure if these headphones are proprietary or can also be paired with other non Apple devices.

Full features and specs

  • TKR3 Full Frequency Immersion Technology: Unique sound field expansion that recreates a live concert like listening experience
  • 24-bit stereo audio analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converter
  • Powered Digital amplifiers
  • 2 X 40 mm high performance drivers
  • Fully programmable audio processing for separate bass and equalization
  • Bluetooth Low Energy for easy-pairing with your iPhone device for user-programmable sound settings
  • Level Play application, an application that scans, analyzes, and organizes the listener’s music library into “energy” levels. At Playback, Level Play presents the listener with a randomized song flow from a particular “energy” level
  • Fixed rechargeable Li-ion battery with 10 hour capacity
  • Dynamic circuitry allows for listening in case of fully depleted battery
  • iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iPod ready audio cable with remote and microphone
  • Available in Apollo White and Onyx Black
  • Comes with: USB Charging cable, Audio Cable, and Headphone pouch

Availability

Due to a limited ‘first run’ production, these Alpine headphones are not available at Alpine dealers.  I guess that’s fair.  Apple has a huge market share and has been working with Alpine for at least 8 years by now, but you know, we’ve only been Alpine dealers for 20+ years.

Starting Friday, October 17th, these Alpine headphones will be available for purchase at Apple stores and apple.com for $299.

Pioneer AppRadio 4 vs Alpine iLX-007

Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash

Pioneer AppRadio 4 vs Alpine iLX-007

I’m pretty psyched about both of these two new models from Pioneer and Alpine.  It’s about time Pioneer ramped up their audio section in their AppRadio.  It’s nice to see they’ve finally included higher fidelity features into the new AppRadio 4 such as three 4 volt RCA preouts and a 13 band EQ.  I never understood the logic, “Well if they want apps on their radio, they obviously don’t care about system expansion or sound quality.”  The additional sound quality features and user friendly interface are a welcome change to the AppRadio series.

Pioneer App Radio 4 model SPH-DA120
Pioneer App Radio 4 model SPH-DA120

I can’t wait to test out the new iLX-007.  I think the last really exciting thing Alpine did was figure out a way to interface Pandora radio into their car stereos (Side note – the digital output on their INE-W957HD is pretty cool too, but not a lot of people take advantage of that feature or even know it exists).  Check out Alpine’s new CarPlay deck, looks pretty slick, right?

Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash
Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash

I’m writing this post now, because I anticipate both Pioneer’s AppRadio 4 and Alpine’s iLX-007 will become hot sellers during the upcoming holiday season.  Consumers are going want to know, which is the better CarPlay deck?  The AppRadio 4 of the iLX-007?

I decided to put together a feature comparison chart to best compare these two models.  This way, I’ll be ready to explain the pro’s and con’s of each when the busy shopping season arrives (Might sound silly, but seriously – the holiday season is right around the corner).

Compare the features and benefits of the Pioneer AppRadio 4 vs the Alpine iLX-007

 
Pioneer AppRadio 4
Alpine iLX-007
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash
Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash
Display
Screen Size6.2"7"
Customizable5 Display Colors, 112-Key Colors, 13-Background, Splash ScreenN/A
Audio Section
RCA Preouts3 pre outs (4V)3 preouts (2V)
EQ13 BandBasic 2 band, unless using Alpine Tune It App then 9 band EQ
CrossoverYes - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 50 Hz- 200 Hz
Slope adjustment -6 dB/oct to -18 dB/oct.
Using Alpine Tune It App - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 20 - 200 Hz
Slope adjustment 0 to -12 dB/oct.
Time AlignmentYesYes - through Alpine Tune It App only
Source & Expansion Options
BluetoothYesPhone Connection Required via USB to Lightning
USBDual Rear USB Ports1 Rear USB Port
Rear Aux inYesYes
Satellite RadioNo - N/ANo - N/A
HDMI inputYesNo
CD/DVDNo - MechlessNo - Mechless
AM/FM TunerYesYes
Reverse Camera InputYesYes
Phone App Integration
CarPlay CompatibleYes - iPhone 5 & upYes - iPhone 5 & up
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 4/4sYes - Requires CD-IU201SNo
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 5 & upYes - Requires CD-IH202, Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter & Apple Lightning to USB CableNo
AppRadio Mode for AndroidYes - Requires CD-AH200, compatible with select Android Devices.No

Searching for the Best Car Amplifier?

Best Car Amplifier

Whether you’re looking for sound quality, high output or budget friendly choices, I will break down the options and show you the best car amplifier for your needs.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes 30 seconds.  Want to read later?

Car amplifiers can generally be broken down into 3 categories:

  • Mono or single channel amplifiers – used for subwoofers
  • 4 channel amplifiers – used for interior speakers
  • 5 channel amplifiers – used for a combination of interior speakers and subwoofers

When shopping for the best car amplifier, it is important to pay attention to the following specifications:

  • RMS power ratings
  • Total Harmonic Distortion level or THD

All the amplifiers I recommend here are excellent quality.  You will see they have relatively low total harmonic distortion level, typically less than or equal to 1%.  They’re also rather efficient and come in a compact size.  I’ve also listed physical dimensions for your reference as well.

Check your specs

Note, all of the amplifiers I recommend follow CEA-2006 Compliance regarding RMS rating guidelines:

  • Number of Watts X Number Channels RMS @ Number of ohms at 14.4 volts

Make it a point to look at an amplifier’s RMS power rating and see at what impedance or ohms it is rated at.  Some less than stellar car amplifier companies out there will advertise an unrealistic power handling rating just to grab your attention.  Oftentimes it’s only when you look at the owner’s manual do you find these ratings are listed at an unrealistic impedance such as .5 or 1 ohms.

For interior speaker amplifiers, generally speaking, you’re always going to be running the amp at 4 ohms.  For subwoofers, you want your final impedance to stay in the range of 2 to 4 ohms.  Anything less than 2 ohms is typically too little resistance for an amplifier to handle effectively.  When you run a car amplifier below the specified impedance capability, you risk both sound quality and damage to your amp.

So pay close attention to those RMS ratings when shopping for an amplifier.  For reference, RMS stands for Root Mean Square.  Simply put, it is an approximation of continuous average power.

Power vs Size vs Sound Quality vs Budget

For this post, I’ve included a basic $ rating system in the amplifier comparison charts to give you an idea of cost against power, overall size and sound quality.  Here is the key for that simple rating system:

  • $ = $75 – $150
  • $$ = $150 – $250
  • $$$ = $250 – $400
  • $$$$ = $400 & up

Best Mono Car Amplifiers

In the mono amp category, the more popular amps are in the 500 watt power handling range.  In our shop we sell both the JL Audio JX 500/1D and the Alpine MRV-M500.  Either amp is a great choice when you need a 500 watt mono car amplifier.  If you are also installing the optional bass knob, JL Audio’s RBC-1 is slightly easier and cleaner to install.  It’s slightly smaller so it’s easier to dismantle and mount in a stealth manner than Alpine’s RUX-KNOB.

If you need something slightly more powerful, like in the 600 watt range, I recommend the JL Audio XD 600/1 v2.  It’s a great compact little amplifier that is very efficient and reliable.  For a 1000 watt RMS mono amplifier, consider the JL Audio JX 1000/1D.  The JL Audio JX 1000/1D puts out 1000 watts RMS at 2 ohms, but only 500 watts RMS at 4 ohms.  Alpine’s PDX-M12 on the other hand has a regulated power supply and will consistently put out 1200 watts RMS whether you have a 2 ohm, 3 ohm or 4 ohm load.  If you need a high output mono amplifier with a small footprint, the Alpine PDX-M12 is the way to go.

 Best Car Amplifier – Mono up to 500 watts RMS

 
Best car amplifier - MRVM500
Alpine MRV-M500
Best Car Amplifier - JX 500/1D
JL Audio - JX 500/1D
RMS @ 2 ohms at 14.4 Volts500 watts500 watts
RMS @ 4 ohms at 14.4 Volts300 watts300 watts
Bass Knob ReadyYes - RUX-KNOBYes - RBC-1
THD<1%<1%
Physical Size L x W x H7-7/8'' x 7-7/8'' x 2-3/16''7-11/16" x 7-13/16" x 2-1/8"
Gauge Power Wire RecommendedMinimum 8 GaugeMinimum 8 Gauge
Price$$$

Best Car Amplifier – Mono up to 1200 watts RMS

 
Best Car Amplifier - JL Audio XD600/1v2
JL Audio XD600/1v2
Best Car Amplifier - JL Audio JX 1000/1D
JL Audio JX 1000/1D
Best Car Amplifier - PDX-M12
Alpine PDX-M12
RMS @ 2 ohms at 14.4 Volts600 watts1000 watts1200 watts
RMS @ 4 ohms at 14.4 Volts400 watts500 watts1200 watts
Bass Knob ReadyYes - HD-RLCYes - RBC-1Yes - RUX-KNOB
THD<1%<1%<1%
Physical Size L x W x H8-1/2'' x 7-1/8'' x 2-1/16''10-15/16" x 7-11/16" x 2-1/16" 10-1/8'' x 7-9/16'' x 2''
Gauge Power Wire RecommendedMinimum 4 GaugeMinimum 4 GaugeMinimum 4 Gauge
Price$$$$$$$$$

4 Channel Amplifiers

When shopping for a 4 channel amp, keep in mind, there is actually a sound quality difference between amplifiers.  Take these three amps for example:

All of these amps are great options with various power handling ranges.  They’re all compact and efficient.  The KTP-445U is the most compact and efficient of all.  Aside from power output and physical size, there is also an audible sound quality difference between all of these amps.

If you were to compare the KTP-445U to the built in amplifier of an Alpine head unit (about 18 watts x 4 RMS) you would notice a considerable difference in output, clarity and vibrancy.  Yet, when compared to the JL XD 400/4 v2 amplifier, the Alpine KTP-445U sounds rather flat.  If you had the opportunity to listen to these car amplifiers on a sound board (like I do) you would notice the XD 400/4 v2 sounds more lively and vibrant.  If you then compared the JL XD 400/4 v2 amplifier to the Alpine PDX-F4 amplifier you would find the PDX-F4 is even more vibrant and has greater detail and subtle nuance.

Best Car Amplifier – 4 Channel

 
Best Car Amplifier - KTP-445U
Alpine KTP-445U
Best Car Amplifier - JL Audio XD400/4 v2
JL Audio XD400/4 v2
Best Car Amplifier - Alpine PDX-F4
Alpine PDX-F4
RMS @ 2 ohms at 14.4 Volts90 x 2 (bridged to 4 ohm load per channel)200 x 2 (bridged to 4 ohm load per channel)200 x 2 (bridged to 4 ohm load per channel)
RMS @ 4 ohms at 14.4 Volts45 Watts x 475 Watts x 4100 Watts X 4
Sound Quality Rating6/108/109/10
THD<.03%<1%<1%
Physical Size L x W x H7-7/16'' x 1-1/2'' x 2-1/12''8-9/16" x 7-1/8" x 2-1/16" 10-1/8'' x 7-9/16'' x 2''
Gauge Power Wire RecommendedMinimum 18 GaugeMinimum 8 GaugeMinimum 4 Gauge
Price$$$$$$$$

5 Channel Car Amplifiers

5 Channel car amplifiers are a convenient option for anyone looking for a space saving, total system amplifier.  In my shop, we sell both Kenwood and Alpine 5 channel amplifiers.  The major differences between these 5 channel car amplifiers is their power capabilities and overall size.  They all have great sound quality and provide warm, rich and natural tonal qualities.  The Kenwood has a very small footprint along with pretty impressive power output – note there is no optional plug in bass knob for the Kenwood.  If you purchased this amplifier, you could always install a universal bass knob, like the PAC Audio LC1.  That’s what we do in our shop when we sell and install this amplifier.

Best Car Amplifier – 5 Channel

 
Best Car Amplifier - Alpine MRX-V70
Alpine MRX-V70
Best Car Amplifier - Kenwood Excelon XR900/5
Kenwood Excelon XR900/5
Best Car Amplifier - Alpine PDX-V9
Alpine PDX-V9
RMS @ 2 ohms at 14.4 Volts90 watts x 4 + 350 watts x 1 into 2 Ohms75 watts x 4 + 600 watts x 1100 watts X 4 plus 500 watts x 1
RMS @ 4 ohms at 14.4 Volts60 watts x 4 + 250 watts x 1 into 4 Ohms60 watts x 4 + 400 watts x 1100 Watts X 4 plus 500 watts x 1
Bass Knob ReadyYes - RUX-KNOBNoYes - RUX-KNOB
Sound Quality Rating7/108/109/10
THD<1%<1%<1%
Physical Size L x W x H10-5/8'' x 9'' x 2-1/4"10-1/4" x 6-5/8" x 2"10-1/8'' x 7-1/2'' x 2"
Gauge Power Wire RecommendedMinimum 8 GaugeMinimum 4 GaugeMinimum 4 Gauge
Price$$$$$$$$$$

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a variety of choices and options out there when shopping for the best car amplifier.  Space constraints, desired RMS power output, sound quality and budget can all factor into your decision making process when selecting the best car amplifier.  I hope this post has made it a little easier to select the best car amplifier for your unique needs and vehicle application.

Still confused about the best car amplifier for your needs?  Feel free to post a question in the comments and I’d be happy to clarify any details and answer any questions.  Thanks for reading!

Alpine CarPlay Car Stereo Revealed iLX-007

Surely a simulated image of the new Alpine CarPlay head unit the iLX-007

Alpine may beat Pioneer at being first to release a CarPlay compatible car stereo

World's first dedicated CarPlay stereo, the Alpine iLX-007
World’s first dedicated CarPlay stereo, the Alpine iLX-007

Check out Alpine’s new iLX-007 CarPlay capable car stereo.

Estimated read time: 1 minute 33 seconds.  Want to read later?

According to Alpine, this is the world’s first car stereo dedicated to the Apple CarPlay experience. The iLX-007 is a Mech-Less unit (meaning no CD mechanism) which is a growing category in this industry.  This new CarPlay model from Alpine features a 7″ capacative touch screen designed to look, feel and fit just like an iPad or in your dash.  CarPlay will allow iPhone users to access apps such as Maps, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Beats as well as utilize Siri to send, read and reply to text messages for you.

Like most Alpine car stereo models, this new model is Power Pack ready.  Additional features include 3 preouts (2 volt), back up camera input, and aux input.  This new tablet style stereo from Alpine also lists the feature “CarPlay wifi ready”.  Without any further elaboration at this point from Alpine, I am assuming this means it tethers off of your iPhone for internet access allowing users to access many of the apps on screen that require internet access (much like Kenwood’s wifi enabled receivers such as the DNN991HD).

The new Alpine CarPlay head unit is mechless and thus 1/2 as deep as traditional double din stereos.
The new Alpine CarPlay head unit is mechless and thus 1/2 as deep as traditional double din stereos.

It’s possible users will be able to access an internet browser from the dash when the vehicle’s parking brake is engaged, but at this point that is my own personal speculation.  We will have to wait for further information.  More details are expected to become available after Apple’s press event currently scheduled for Tuesday September 9th where industry analysts expect the iPhone 6 to be announced.

This model does not feature iDatalink Maestro integration, however we may see additional models come out in the future that do support this feature (hopefully along with other desired features such as 4 Volt preouts and 9 Band EQ maybe?).  This may be the first in a whole new line of CarPlay head units from Alpine.  Alpine’s anticipates this model to be released and begin shipping this month.  If that’s the case, you can expect to see this model in stores in early October.

Surely a simulated image of the new Alpine CarPlay head unit the iLX-007
Surely a simulated image of the new Alpine CarPlay head unit the iLX-007

Shop for Apple CarPlay Compatible Stereos

Alpine INE-S920HD in stock and on display

INE-S920HD Navigation in stock and on display.
INE-S920HD Navigation in stock and on display.
INE-S920HD Navigation in stock and on display.

The Alpine INE-S920HD just arrived to our shop yesterday. We got it hooked up last night and honestly I haven’t had a ton of time to play around with it. I tried pairing my phone up to it and it took a good 10 minutes to pair. I think that might be because the Alpine stereo was seeing so many other bluetooth devices in our store (there’s got to be at least 20 other bluetooth stereo’s on), but I was finally able to get it paired up.

I don’t have any speakers hooked up to it yet, so I have not had a chance to listen to it. But I did see all the usual Alpine EQ features like time correction and a nine band EQ.  So far it seems easy to use.

It appears to have good screen quality and I do like the graphics on the navigation, they seem similar to Garmin or Tom Tom. Favorites button is nice, but you only get 6 favorites (that I can figure out anyways).

We’ve been crazy busy at the shop, so I apologize for the lack of info in this post, but I was so excited to share that it was finally here.  Hopefully the 928 will be here soon.

When I have more time to play around with it, I promise I will do a more in depth review/video.  Check back soon for more info!

INE-S920HD Pandora Screen
INE-S920HD Pandora Screen

 

Best new car stereo head units for 2012

New full featured Alpine single Din head unit unveiled at CES 2012

Update – Looking for the best car stereo head units for 2014?  Check out my latest review for best single din car stereo head units for 2014 here.

Looking for the best car stereo head units available this year?  Look no further.  The Car Stereo Chick will show you her top 3 picks for single din head units in 2012.  At my store, I carry Alpine, Kenwood and Pioneer.  I feel these are extremely strong brands in car audio and provide consumers with a great mix of features, sound quality and reliability.

Best Single Din Head Unit from Alpine for 2012

By far, the CDE-HD138BT will be my number one selling single din head unit from Alpine this year.

Buy the CDE-HD138BT on sale!

It’s packed with features every consumer will benefit from:

  • 3 preouts, 4 Volt rating
  • 5 or 7 Band Parametric EQ adjustable per source (Media Xpander Pro)
  • Built in crossovers
  • SiriusXM ready
  • Built in Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth Audio Streaming
  • Bluetooth Plus for easier phone pairing, text message alert for select devices, call waiting functionality and Android & Blackberry Pandora control through Bluetooth Audio connection
  • iPhone Pandora control through USB connection
  • Built in HD Radio with iTunes tagging
  • Steering wheel control ready
  • Front USB/Aux
  • Optional passenger iPod control mode

For customers that demand great features, excellent sound quality and ease of use, I always recommend Alpine.  So what is this head unit missing?

  • Multicolor illumination.  Your choice is either blue or blue.
  • Front only USB.  Not everyone has a nice little storage pocket above or below their stereo for their iPod or iPhone.
  • Lacks digital time alignment.

So your only color option is blue and your USB connection is only through the front of the stereo.  What features are more important to you?  Ease of use, price and pretty colors are often determining factors for my customers.  I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my customers: don’t feel bad about being picky on color choice.  Seriously, you’re the one that has to look it every time you drive your car.

Thinking about buying the CDE-HD138BT online?  Buy from an authorized reseller!  Don’t get duped by rock bottom prices.  Alpine has a strict dealer agreement that every authorized reseller has to sign, including dealers like me.  Part of this agreement is we agree not to advertise their products below the minimum advertised price.  Did you find this head unit priced way below that mark?  Guess what.  It’s not legit, which means as far as Alpine is concerned they’ve never heard of you, the retailer or the warranty that you claim you have.  Only authorized resellers can guarantee you’re receiving A-stock product backed by the manufacturer’s warranty.

So what if you want all that and pretty colors?

Check out Kenwood’s Excelon KDC-X996. Not only does the KDC-X996 add variable color illumination, it also adds some pretty advanced audio control features.

The KDC-X996 from Kenwood Excelon is on sale now!
  • 3 preouts, 4 Volt rating
  • 13 Band Parametric EQ adjustable per source
  • Built in crossovers adjustable slope settings 0, 6, 12, 18 or 24 DB per octave adjustable individually for Front, Rear, Sub and Tweeter
  • Digital time alignment for Front, Rear and Sub
  • Cabin selection and speaker size selection for additional audio customization
  • SiriusXM ready
  • Built in Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth Audio Streaming
  • Android & Blackberry Pandora control through Bluetooth connection
  • iPhone Pandora control through USB connection
  • Android Music Control via USB with Kenwood’s Music Control app
  • Built in HD Radio with iTunes tagging
  • Steering wheel control ready
  • Rear USB/Aux
  • Variable Illumination
  • Optional passenger iPod control mode
If you know how to use an iPod Classic you can figure out how to use the KDC-X996

So what’s the catch?  Well, for some people, Kenwood stereos can be difficult to use.  I feel that if you have an iPod and if you’re comfortable using an iPod, then you will be able to figure out the controls on this deck.  They’re set up very similar to an iPod Classic.

You have a center select button.  Your volume knob circles around the selection button and then you have your track up and down buttons to the sides, and your menu button on top and play button below.  Look familiar?

I’ve always been a huge fan of the advanced audio control features that Kenwood Excelon head units have.  Many of these features are not well explained either by the person/website trying to sell you it or by the manufacturer themselves.  Take for example, the wonderful feature of time alignment.  You may be wondering, what the hell is time alignment and why do I need it?

Time alignment is freaking awesome.  Basically, when you’re sitting in your car, typically the left speaker is going to hit your ears first.  Then the next closest speaker, like the rear driver’s side.  Next is usually the front passenger speaker and last is probably the passenger side rear speaker.  You might not have realized it up until this point, but the slight delay in when the sound waves actually reach your ears greatly effects your sound stage and your overall listening experience.

Digital time alignment allows you to digitally delay the closest speakers so that every speaker reaches your ears at the same time. It’s awesome.  When set up properly, you can sit in the driver’s seat, close your eyes (not while driving) and you will NOT be able to pinpoint where the music is coming from.  It will envelop and surround you creating a truly sublime listening experience.

Digital time alignment is freaking awesome. Sound travels slowly.  This is why you need it.

Other awesome audio tuning features include advanced crossover settings.  Sometimes when doing a full audio system with aftermarket amplifiers, I prefer to use the crossover adjustments within the Kenwood over the crossovers on the amp.  They’re that good quality and fully adjustable with 6/12/18/24 DB per octave adjustments separate for Front, Rear, Sub and Tweeter.  And don’t forget the 13 band EQ.  The KDC-X996 has massive amounts of audio tuning capability.  On the flip side, if you have no clue what you are doing you can make it sound really, really, really bad.  So choose wisely.

What about Pioneer?

Pioneer is generally well known for their successful line of AVIC GPS head units, maybe not so much for their single din options, but this year, they’ve stepped up their game.

Meet the DEH-80PRS.  Pioneer calls it Audiophile Grade.  They’re comparing it to their Stage 4 head unit which features a 31 band EQ and copper chassis.  The Stage 4 head unit also sells for around $1200.  At just $349.95, the DEH-P80RS is presumably a bargain.

Pioneer’s new Audiophile Grade Head Unit

Check out some of the great features:

  • 24 Bit Burr Brown DAC
  • A-hem, correction, THREE 24 Bit Burr Brown DAC’s.  One for high, mid and low frequencies.
  • 3 preouts, 5 Volt
  • Built in crossovers adjustable slope settings 0, 6, 12, 18 or 24 DB per octave adjustable individually for Front, Rear, Sub and Tweeter
  • Auto time alignment and Auto EQ
  • Manual time alignment mode
  • 16 band EQ adjustable for left and right channels
  • Front Aux
  • Dual Rear USB
  • Built in Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth audio streaming
  • iPhone Pandora Control
  • Variable color illumination
  • Steering wheel remote ready

When compared to the competition, this head unit leaves me wanting a little bit more for my money.  It’s not satellite radio ready and it does not come with HD Radio.  However, it does have a nice display and a nice heavy volume knob.  At least the prototype I saw at CES had one.  As far as ease of use goes?  Personally I think Pioneer single din head units are often the more difficult of the bunch.  But it does have 3 DAC’s.

Let’s forget features, who has the best sounding single din head unit for 2012?

Based on the specs, I assume the Pioneer will have superior detail and clarity over the Kenwood and Alpine, but the true test will have to wait until all three have shipped and are on display at our store.  Should you believe the Pioneer hype?  I don’t know, we’ll see (or should I say hear) soon!

Update. The verdict is in! Check it out here.

Alpine reveals new head units, amps, speakers, backup cameras and more in their 2012 lineup of car audio

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.


Car Stereo Chick gets you a sneak peak at new Alpine products at CES 2012

Alpine’s new oversized double din navigation system

Alpine has unveiled a fantastic new line of head units at CES 2012. Probably the most eye catching and unique of these new products would be the INE-Z928HD. With an oversized 8″ touch screen, this Alpine navigation system is unlike any other aftermarket double din navigation systems. Alpine is supporting this new model by producing and distributing a line of installation kits that will accommodate this head unit in larger stereo dash openings. The image shown here is from a Chevy Tahoe utilizing one of Alpine’s new installation kits.


The other groundbreaking feature, which I did not see from Kenwood or Pioneer is not only does this baby interface with iPhone and Android for Pandora control, but also Blackberry. Users will be able to plug in their smart phone and access their channels on Pandora radio on screen as well as utilize the thumbs up/thumbs down feature and skip tracks. Alpine was the 1st company I’m aware of to interface with Pandora and it seems they have a little bit of an edge on other manufacturers by also offering this great feature for the Blackberry.

 

New Alpine INE-Z928HD on display at CES 2012

Alpine will also be offering a standard sized double din navigation system with the same technology. Other great features these new double din navigation systems will include are a 9 band EQ, 4 volt preout section and built in HD radio. I’m also happy to report that the quality of their navigation screen has vastly improved with more detail and clarity than was seen with the INA-W910BT. Expected release date on the INE-Z928HD will be May 2012 with an estimated retail price of $1499 and for your standard double din, the INE-Z920HD, expect to see those shipping in March 2012 with an estimated retail price of $999.


Besides innovative navigation systems, Alpine will be offering two other double din head units with app features in the $600 range and a full line of single din head units with some great features. I was pleased to see Alpine is finally offering a single din head unit that includes technology that most consumers want, without having to add additional modules. One to look out for will be the CDE-HD138BT.

New full featured Alpine single Din head unit unveiled at CES 2012
New full featured Alpine single Din head unit unveiled at CES 2012

The CDE-HD138BT will feature Pandora control for iPhone, Android and Blackberry and will come with 3 4 volt preouts, built in crossovers, a USB mass storage mode for external hard drives, built in HD radio (yay no add ons), built in Bluetooth (one less component to install!) and has a steering wheel remote connection.

One thing I haven’t seen yet is multicolor illumination. Does Alpine think that everyone has blue interior dash lights? I guess we can’t always have it all.  I’ll be visiting Alpine’s booth today to interview a product specialist, maybe I can gain some insight to their illumination color choice.  Regardless of color, the 2012 line up from Alpine appears to be a vast improvement over their 2011 offerings. Check back soon for more details.