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Need help buying a deck - Please give suggestions

Old 06-20-2009, 02:36 PM
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Need help buying a deck - Please give suggestions

I'm a total noob to car audio but I would like to upgrade from my 4-5 yr old Sony xplod that was already installed in my '03 Cavalier when I bought it a year ago.

Features I would like: USB port is a must (preferrably front/face mounted), sat radio ready, detachable face

I can't really spend more than $200 on a deck, so the basic decks I'm looking at are: Kenwood kdc-mp342U, JVC Arsenal KD-A605, Alpine iDA-x200 as cheaper options but I figured this would be the place to ask about better decks for under $200. As stated above, I'm a bigtime noob and would prefer to have the deck installed for me - since I already have a harness in my vehicle, how much should installation set me back? Some shops around town have said $50-75 to do it, should I be looking for a better deal if a harness and converter is already installed in my car?

I have factory speakers and no sub, I may look to upgrade the speakers in a few months but I don't see myself adding a sub as I play drums and need the trunk space. Do you need to buy an amp if you want to upgrade speakers? Or is an amp predominantly only required for adding a sub?

The Kenwood 342U has 22watts RMS Output, but should I be looking for more preamp outputs or higher preamp voltage if I want to buy better speakers down the road? Thanks in advance,

-AV
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:16 PM
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Hey Art, I posted a thread not too long ago with the same question you had. I ended up getting an Alpine CDE-102 installed yesterday and I am loving it. It has excellent sound quality, it's a decent price, looks great, and has awesome extra features. Not to mention, it can be used for more goodies like adding a subwoofer, replacing stock speakers, etc. Personally, I think it is a great buy and it is currently on sale at Best Buy if you are interested. I ended up getting mine price-matched at Future Shop only because my friend works there so he did the install for me. Anyways, I hope you find a good deck but from a fellow noob's two cents, I would definitely go for the Alpine. It's excellent quality at an affordable price. Cheers!
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Old 06-20-2009, 11:36 PM
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Thanks for the heads up, question: do you need an extra cable to play your iPod? Or can you simply use the USB cable that comes with your iPod?

Id also like to know is the difference between 2-volt and 4-volt preamp channels makes a big difference? Also, does 18W RMS vs. 22W RMS make a big difference? Thanks again
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:55 AM
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Your choice of head unit is one of the most important choices. A higher output voltage is going to allow you to keep the gain on the amplifier nice and low, this lessens the chance of noise in the system. For built in power, you will never hear the difference in output power in most head units regardless of their claims.

If you can stretch your budget some, you are going to open the door to some superior options for sure. Pioneer Premeire for example are going to afford you a 2 year warranty, USB and IPOD cables and high voltage preouts.

One thing I do not recommend is the USB on the front faceplate, it is too easy to damage the unit if someone knocks the attached USB stick by accident.
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by MR2NR View Post
Your choice of head unit is one of the most important choices. A higher output voltage is going to allow you to keep the gain on the amplifier nice and low, this lessens the chance of noise in the system. For built in power, you will never hear the difference in output power in most head units regardless of their claims.

If you can stretch your budget some, you are going to open the door to some superior options for sure. Pioneer Premeire for example are going to afford you a 2 year warranty, USB and IPOD cables and high voltage preouts.

One thing I do not recommend is the USB on the front faceplate, it is too easy to damage the unit if someone knocks the attached USB stick by accident.
Thanks a lot for the help I appreciate it.

I have been giving more thought to the face mounted USB port and you are exactly right. At first I didnt like the idea of more cables to plug in a USB device but if it's tucked away in a compartment somewhere I think it will be superior.

I will try my best to stretch my budget into the 200-250 range, meaning most likely I will have to settle for a lower level deck from Premier or Excelon...are Clarion or Alpine worth looking at in this price range too?
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:24 PM
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A Stouffville shop is offering the kdc x693 for $240, crutchfield US has it for 210 USD so I think that's reasonable, are there any vendors around that know of a better option? Cheers

Last edited by Art Vandelay; 06-21-2009 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:33 AM
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Hey Art, in response to the USB question you posed earlier. With the CDE-102 head unit I have, it includes both USB and auxillary inputs however the USB input does not allow iPod control (probably as a cash grab from Alpine). I bought a separate iPod control cable and ran it from the back of the unit into my glovebox so you do not even see the cable at all. I usually leave my iPod in the glovebox as well with the cable plugged in so it is like my head unit has an internal hard drive of music. I find this great as I can now access my entire iTunes library straight from the head unit. The cable you need is the KCE-433iv which goes for about $40 or $50 at Best Buy or Future Shop. It's a bit pricey but I my friend who works in car audio at Future Shop was able to hook me up so I didn't mind the purchase. If you do end up getting an Alpine deck I would still recommend getting the cable as it cleans up a lot of clutter in the front of the vehicle and it obviously has the great plus of allowing you to control your iPod from your deck.

As well, at your mentioned price range. If that does not include installation and extras you may be a bit out of luck. My deck (the Alpine CDE-102) is on sale at Best Buy this week for $150 plus installation and parts (you can get it at Future Shop as well for $200 but you will not have to pay the $50 installation fee so it comes out to the same price). Anyways, if you're looking for something that is clutter-free, reliable, and easy on the wallet. Definitely go with an entry-level Alpine unit. Definitely worth it in my opinion.
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Old 06-22-2009, 07:54 AM
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Thanks again for the help, I've decided to go with the offer from It Lbs Car Audio in Stouffville. itlbscaraudio (at) rogers.com

He quoted me $240 cash taxes and installation included for the excelon x693, which is pretty reasonable. After tax and installation at future shop or best buy I would be spending ~230 on a basic kenwood or alpine deck, but this way I can get a bit more quality and improved preouts should I look to upgrade speakers down the road. I'll let you know when it gets installed, cheers
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:31 PM
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Hey I pretty much have the same boat as the OP. Pretty much a car audio noob...but looking for a good price point HU. I currently have an Eclipse AVN 5500 double din...but looking to downgrade to a single din unit that has very good ipod control (which is my main focus). x693 seems like the one at the moment...but was wondering how the ipod control was as I've hearding nothing abt kenwood interface. I know alpines are a bit finicky when it comes to ipod control. Just wondering if there were any other options for around what the OP is paying.

thanks guys

btw..pm sent to OP.
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Thanks again for the help, I've decided to go with the offer from It Lbs Car Audio in Stouffville. itlbscaraudio (at) rogers.com

He quoted me $240 cash taxes and installation included for the excelon x693, which is pretty reasonable. After tax and installation at future shop or best buy I would be spending ~230 on a basic kenwood or alpine deck, but this way I can get a bit more quality and improved preouts should I look to upgrade speakers down the road. I'll let you know when it gets installed, cheers
Excellent choice....from an Excelon fan.....

The Excelons are a nice step up from the 'regular' KW line up. The better quality internals are well worth it, it will do a good job on your factory speakers and if you decide to install coaxes later the internal amp has plenty of power for them.

If you go for comps, you can shut the internal power amp off and the RCA outputs will rise substantially to help drive the inputs on your spiffy new external amp.....

If you want help configuring it let me know.....there are lots of things to tweak in that deck......
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