Best CarPlay Stereo – iLX-007 or AppRadio 4 – video post

Alpine iLX-007 vs AppRadio 4

So who makes the best CarPlay stereo?  Alpine or Pioneer?

Update 5/10/15 – Be sure to check out my post on the Pioneer AVH-X4100NEX.  This model is new for 2015 and is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

Well, this past Saturday I spent a few hours comparing these two models side by side.  I made a video for everyone interested in seeing and understanding the key differences between these two models.  I even connected two iPhones and played the same IASCA demo album for true side by side comparison.

Upon my initial comparison, I HAD to have had a setting off on the head unit.  We turn our board off every night and most of these stereos will default to some pretty yucky audio settings (like having bass boost defaulted On or preset EQ set to “Powerful”).

I make it a habit to check all audio settings before demonstrating equipment or doing these types of listening tests.  However I think in my excitement to check out the iLX-007, I had to have missed something on the AppRadio 4 because during that initial listening test, there really was no comparison.  The iLX-007 sounded clean and clear and the Pioneer sounded muddy.  Well, that’s what Bass Boost or a “Powerful” EQ setting will do.

So for this extensive comparison, I was extremely thorough in checking my settings and and also used an IASCA album for the audio comparison.


The difference is so minute it’s hard to even describe.  They’re incredibly similar in sound quality.

During a blind listening test, I think my average customer would find it extremely difficult to pinpoint the difference and then decide which one sounded better.

My co-worker Joe couldn’t tell the difference at all.  My husband John and I could barely hear a difference and what we did hear was an ever so slight difference in detail with Alpine having the edge.

Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay
Alpine CarPlay “now playing” vs Pioneer CarPlay “now playing”

I cannot stress how slight this difference was.  In fact, I do not think sound quality should be a factor in choosing between these two models.  It was that slight.  Consider function, screen size, flexibility and ease of use instead.

Screen size does make a difference when using navigation.  Check out how Apple Maps displays differently on the Alpine CarPlay stereo vs the Pioneer CarPlay.  This is where you can appreciate the larger screen size in Alpine.

Side by Side Alpine iLX-007 Pioneer AppRadio 4
Side by Side Alpine iLX-007 Pioneer AppRadio 4

Contacts are also displayed differently.  I think it’s actually easier to see in the Pioneer AppRadio 4 CarPlay mode due the sharper contrast between white and black vs white and gray in the Alpine CarPlay iLX-007.

Contacts Screen CarPlay Alpine Pioneer
Contacts Screen CarPlay Alpine Pioneer

Same idea in the keypad area of the phone.

Phone KeyPad Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay
Phone KeyPad Alpine CarPlay vs Pioneer CarPlay

And the winner is?

I want to know what the readers think.  A lot of people have been following my posts on these two models lately, so I’m interested in everyone’s feedback.  Since the sound quality is so similar between these two, based on the video and information I’ve posted on this blog, which model do you all prefer?

Personally, and if we’re strictly talking about CarPlay here, I like the Alpine better.  That Siri button makes the iLX-007 the easier to use CarPlay stereo, especially while driving.

Shop CarPlay on Amazon

AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

Pioneer App Radio 4 features CarPlay, three 4 volt preouts, 13 band EQ and more.

Pioneer – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

Estimated read time: 2 minutes 30 seconds.  Want to read later?

Pioneer now has two double din head units that are CarPlay compatible and feature AppRadio Mode.  Both are very similarly priced and have very similar features….So what’s the difference?

App Radio 4 SPH-DA120
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120

I decided to make a helpful feature comparison chart to really see what the main differences are between Pioneer’s new AppRadio 4 and their AVH-4000NEX.  Scroll to the bottom of the post to check out the chart.

Pioneer AVH-4000NEX

Here is a summary of the main differences between AppRadio 4 and AVH-4000NEX:

Screen differences – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

  • Capacitive vs Resistive
  • 6.2″ vs 7″
  • Fixed screen vs motorized and detachable

Capacitive vs Resistive

The Pioneer AppRadio 4 features a capacitive 6.2″ touch screen while the AVH-4000NEX features a 7″ resistive touch screen.

Capacitive is technically supposed to be brighter and more responsive, especially to lighter touches.  Although the AppRadio 4 features a capacitive touch screen, which would imply it’s just as sensitive and responsive as your new iPhone, I doubt Pioneer is using the same type of quality capacitive touch screen as what’s in your iPhone.

When comparing Pioneer’s AVIC-7000NEX to it’s capacitive sister, the AVIC-8000NEX, most of my customers and staff did not find the capacitive version to be that much more responsive to warrant the additional cost.  Additionally, both myself and consumers have been concerned about glare issues in practical applications.

Take a look at two examples of capacitive touch screens installed in vehicles below.

Alpine iLX-007 installed in dash
Check out the glare reflecting off this capacitive touch screen from Alpine, the iLX-007.

I had recently had a customer exchange his Kenwood DNN991HD (capacitive touch screen) for a Pioneer AVIC-7000NEX.  He was thoroughly annoyed at the glare he encountered and the difficulty he experienced just trying to see the screen.

Kenwood connected to iDatalink Maestro RR in Jeep
Dome light reflecting off Kenwood’s DNN991HD capacitive touch screen in a Jeep Wrangler.

Aside from the style of screen and size, the Pioneer AVH-4000NEX has a motorized screen so you can adjust the angle and how it sits in your dash.  Additionally, it also features the added security benefit of a detachable face.

Feature differences – AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX

When comparing the AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX, it quickly becomes apparent the AVH-4000NEX has a few more features over the AppRadio 4 including the following:

  • CD/DVD Drive
  • SD Card
  • HD Radio
  • SiriusXM Ready (requires SXV200)
  • Navigation Ready (requires AVIC-U260)
  • Dual Zone

Dual zone is a pretty cool feature largely for parents.  It allows you to load a DVD in the front player and have the audio and video of that DVD fed to a rear monitor.  Kids can stay entertained while they listen and watch using headphones while Mom and Dad can listen to another source on their front two speakers.  Pretty cool, right?


Based on features alone, the AVH-4000NEX seems to be a better value.  What do you think?  Take a look at the feature comparison chart below and feel free to weigh in with your own comments and thoughts on the topic.

AppRadio 4 vs AVH-4000NEX feature comparison chart

Pioneer AppRadio 4
Pioneer AVH-4000NEX
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
Pioneer AppRadio 4 SPH-DA120
AppRadio4 vs AVH-4000NEX
Pioneer AVH-4000NEX
Screen Size6.2"7"
Type of Touch ScreenCapacitiveResistive
Anti Glare Screen CoatingNoYes
Adjustable AngleNoYes
ResolutionWVGA (800 x 480)WVGA (800 x 480)
Customizable5 Display Colors, 112-Key Colors, 13-Background, Splash Screen5 Display Colors, 112-Key Colors, 13-Background, Splash Screen
Detachable Face for SecurityNoYes
Audio Section
RCA Preouts3 pre outs (4V)3 pre outs (4V)
EQ13 Band13 Band
CrossoverYes - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 50 Hz- 200 Hz
Slope adjustment -6 dB/oct to -18 dB/oct.
Yes - HPF & LPF
Adjustable from 50 Hz- 200 Hz
Slope adjustment -6 dB/oct to -18 dB/oct.
Time AlignmentYesYes
Source & Expansion Options
Navigation ReadyNoYes - Requires AVIC-U260
SD CardNoYes
USBDual Rear USB PortsDual Rear USB Ports
Rear Aux inYesYes
Satellite RadioNo - N/AYes - Requires SXV200
Dual ZoneNoYes - Awesome feature for parents.
Allows audio and video of a DVD from front source to be routed to rear monitor. Kids can listen on headphones while parents can listen to another source on front speakers.
HDMI inputYesYes
CD/DVDNo - MechlessYes
HD RadioNoYes
AM/FM Tuner with RDSYesYes
Steering Wheel Control ReadyYesYes
Reverse Camera InputYesYes
Phone App Integration
CarPlay CompatibleYes - iPhone 5 & upYes - iPhone 5 & up
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 4/4sYes - Requires CD-IU201SYes - Requires CD-IU201S
AppRadio Mode for iPhone 5 & upYes - Requires CD-IH202, Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter & Apple Lightning to USB CableYes - Requires CD-IH202, Apple Lightning to Digital AV Adapter & Apple Lightning to USB Cable
AppRadio Mode for AndroidYes - Requires CD-AH200, compatible with select Android Devices.Yes - Requires CD-AH200, compatible with select Android Devices.